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White hat search engine optimization (SEO) principles that apply to B2B online marketing also apply to B2C, but B2B is otherwise a different animal.

True, to generate leads, local doctors or lawyers go after the appropriate local keywords to help their site rank well. And product pages on e-commerce sites can easily be optimized to match common keywords that users search for. But B2B online marketing involves other considerations for getting the most out of your SEO.

There is much more to understand on the B2B side, so let's break it down into three major components: understanding your business cycles, incorporating different types of keywords, and using offline marketing efforts.

1. Understand your business cycles

Just like the B2C buy cycle, B2B business cycles must be factored into SEO.

The Sales Cycle

The sales cycle begins the moment you get a sales lead. How long is it going to take to close a deal from that point? If a B2B company sells very expensive technical or complex equipment, its sales cycle is probably going to be much longer than that of a B2B company that sells office supplies.

Why is the sales cycle important to SEO? It's simple: SEO is a long-term effort. If it takes six months to ramp up your SEO program, you have to wait that long, plus your sales cycle time, to be able to determine ROI. You can't kill your SEO program if you don't see immediate results; that's because it already takes time for your sales cycle to go from "new lead" to "closed."

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Nick Stamoulis is the president and founder of SEO and social SEO firm Brick Marketing. He publishes a weekly SEO newsletter and an SEO blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal. Reach Nick via 781-999-1222 or nick@brickmarketing.com.