Key Differences Between B2B SEO and B2C SEO
by Mike Lagman on Wednesday Feb 07
They say if you’re not online, then you don’t exist. And while it’s true, I think that phrase has evolved into something like if you’re not on the first page of Google, then you don’t exist.
Of course, that’s a bit of a dramatic way to put it. But out of all the digital marketing strategies that have come and gone, SEO is still one of the most effective ways to make your brand known and reach your target market.
Whether you’re doing SEO in-house or outsourcing it to an SEO services provider, there are still some key factors to keep in mind in making successful SEO campaigns both in B2B and B2C brands.
But first, let’s talk about what B2B and B2C mean.
What are B2B and B2C?
We can look at B2B and B2C as two primary methods of doing transactions. B2B stands for business-to-business, which means selling products or services to other businesses. Meanwhile, B2C stands for business-to-consumer, which means you’re selling your products or services directly to end-consumers.
Take note that a business can have both B2B and B2C offerings at the same time. Many brands do this to cater to a broader market and diversify their business.
One example of this is Amazon. They’re known as the global leader in e-commerce with Amazon.com (B2C), but they also cater to businesses with their cloud computing services (B2B).
Now that we got that out of the way let’s look at the key differences between B2B and B2C in terms of SEO.
Audience and Buying Process
The first distinction between B2B and B2C, as you may have already noticed, lies in their audience and market size. Because of this difference, these two also have different sales cycles. In B2C, the buying process usually takes less than an hour from end-to-end, while for B2B, this could take months.
Why? Unlike its counterpart, the buying process for B2B usually involves a lot of people. You may be pitching to a manager, but that manager will need to get his manager’s approval, and then it will move higher up the chain of command until your product has been thoroughly screened and deemed valuable for their business.
All this back and forth could take 3-24 months to complete, which bring us to our next point.
Because they have different audiences with different sales cycles, it doesn’t make sense for B2B and B2C to aim for the same goals. In B2C, the goal is to reach a high volume of leads or get customers to place an order as fast as possible, usually within a single visit to the site.
In B2B, on the other hand, playing the long game is key, as your target market will take as much time as they need to decide if they really need your product. This means getting quality leads or leads that see a need for your product (instead of just being spammed), being the trait that matters more in B2B.
The target audience for B2B include business managers and decision-makers, so it doesn’t make sense for them to have the same target as B2C SEO, which is often a high volume of leads.
As mentioned, the B2B sales cycle could take weeks, if not months, to complete, so B2B SEO’s common goal is to obtain qualified leads that will stay for the long term.
Keyword optimization is a tedious aspect of both B2B and B2C SEO.
Since the sales cycle usually takes a long time in B2B because of the number of people involved in the decision-making phase, B2B companies typically focus on keywords that are more technical and informative that appeal to audiences from all levels of the buyer’s journey.
The main problem with this is that in B2B, there’s often no single standard for how a particular concept or idea is called.
Let’s use this article as an example. If you stumbled upon this article from Google, you might have used any of the following keyword variations:
- B2B search engine optimization
- business-to-business SEO
- B2B vs. B2C
- keyword optimization B2B
You get the idea.
On the other hand, the trouble in B2C keyword research is the usually high search volume of keywords in the niche. Therefore, the challenge for B2C companies is finding keywords that are not too saturated, but still, have a decent flow of traffic that could be converted to leads in your site.
Because the market for B2B and B2C brands hang out in different spots online, each type also uses different strategies for promotion and link building.
Often, the target audience for B2C SEO usually hang out in popular social media networks like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, so it makes sense to optimize a link-building strategy that will build on those platforms.
On the other hand, B2B link-building is a lot more challenging because it targets a more specific group of audience and has a longer sales cycle.
Due to B2B’s longer sales cycles, link building has to incorporate keywords from all levels of the buyer’s journey—from product awareness to decision making to ensure that whatever stage their potential customer may discover them, they can make a great first impression for their brand and make the buyer’s journey as quick as possible.
The nature of link building efforts for each type also differs. B2C requires a more flashy, click-baity approach, while B2B ideally aims to educate potential customers wherever they may be in the buying stage.
As for both business types, randomly asking for backlinks won’t work either. You have to pick relevant sites that are relevant to your niche or risk getting penalized by Google.
While B2B may require a little more elbow grease because of its longer buying process, SEO is a strategy that needs constant adjustment for both B2B and B2C. Google is ever improving its algorithms to “punish” those who use bad practices like “keyword stuffing,” so as long as you regularly evaluate your SEO strategy, you’re good to go.
Are you outsourcing your SEO services to a third-party or are you doing it in-house? What aspects of B2B/B2C SEO do you prioritize the most? Share it with us in the comment section below!
Mike Lagman is a Search Strategist with over 7 years of experience in SEO & Content Marketing. He currently writes for Spiralytics & the Atmosly Blog. In his spare time, he watches his favourite TV show The Office.