Search is more than direct response: it can also be used for increasing brand awareness, proving to prospective buyers that you are a top choice in the market. This article reveals some easy wins for B2B tech companies, using LinkedIn to increase the visibility of your company and products in top search results.
Using search engines to generate sales and leads is often seen as a direct response medium. Targeting high-level keywords takes considerable time, money, and talent, and a shorter route is to chase the keywords that will more quickly convert into a lead or sale.
So–”best affiliate marketing software” would be a profitable target, one that signals a high buying intent, and “what is affiliate marketing?” would be seen as a general term, probably used by someone quite a long distance away from that final sales call.
But, as Richard Baxter, said at the 2011 London Conversion Conference, “the battle to convert people on a website into buyers starts with getting coverage, and this is SEO’s job.”
In other words, search and social media are becoming much more than driving traffic to your website. They also involve “owning the SERPS,” which means increasing the places a prospective buyer finds mentions of your brand and products online.
Image credit: Brafton News
As Michael McVeigh, from Strategic ServicesZeta Interactive, mentioned recently to eMarketer, “Search is very much part of the connective tissue of digital media.”
He pointed out that search goes beyond “finding things”: it is also about digital branding, creating an entire profile online that extends beyond your own website or Facebook page.
For example, prospective buyers will search to see if other customers are happy with your products, what the media thinks of you, and whether you have influence in the industry.
As Dylan (our fearless Marketing Director and Co-Founder) mentioned in a recent post on B2B lead nurturing, effective B2B marketing targets buyers across multiple stages of their research with the goal of shaping their decision criteria along the way.
This involves making “content production, keyword research, and social media activity align with the long-term process of research, evaluation, and decision.”
So how to do this exactly? It comes down to “owning the real-estate” around your main keywords.
Not just the keywords that you want to rank on–the ones that are directly related to your product offerings–but also the keywords that cover all stages of what our client Impact Radius calls the “customer journey”: the multi-stage and often multi-channeled path that customers move through, going from initial awareness to interest in your products to evaluation and finally conversion.
According to a study by iProspect in 2010, 39% of search engine users believe that the companies whose websites are returned among the top search results are the leaders in their field.
Michael McVeigh says:
Because search is so important, things like SEM and SEO should not be overlooked for branding. It’s always been about getting greater real estate on the search engine results page and guarding against someone from advertising on their branded term. They [top-performing digital brands] now understand the importance of owning their own brand again in the space.
That’s the theory. Now here is how LinkedIn in particular can help you claim some of that digital real-estate and to make your company visible to both motivated buyers as well as those future buyers trying to orientate themselves in the marketplace.
So SEO is about increasing the places people find your brand and product online. As you know, with B2B marketing the research process is very diligent and getting coverage in the search results involves more than just increasing the rank and traffic to your own website. This is because the buyer doesn’t just want to choose the top result in the search results. They also want to evaluate the competition, to see what the industry thinks, and to make sure they are making a safe, smart choice.
Image credit: Brafton News
With LinkedIn now boasting over 75 million professional members, including an executive from every fortune 500 company, it is an obvious resource for reaching the professional market. Further, LinkedIn has demonstrated to be the most effective lead generation social media tool, generating a visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 2.74%, almost three times higher than Twitter and Facebook.
Given these impressive metrics, businesses need to leverage LinkedIn as a viable web traffic source through search engine optimization (SEO), to drive LinkedIn’s qualified traffic onto their own sites to increase their own conversions. Fortunately, LinkedIn has features baked-in that search engines love, including groups and answers.
LinkedIn answers is a resource for professionals to post questions and have them answered by the community. The most powerful SEO tool built into this feature is the ability to add a ‘web resource’ in your responses, thereby allowing you to link back to your website.
Simply put, this allows you to mine LinkedIn questions for questions related to your industry, provide an answer, then supplement your response with a link to a resource on your own site, including a tutorial, whitepaper download page etc.
By responding to LinkedIn questions you will be increasing your own search engine visibility. As Google loves mixing the results on their pages (blogs, forum topics, video and images all appear on the results page) you can expect your LinkedIn answers to be indexed. If your answers are niche enough they could potentially make the first page on Google.
For example, note the position of the LinkedIn answer page when Googling the phrase “what is a universal container tag?” This phrase is related to enterprise level marketing analytic known as “attribution reporting.”
As shown above, the top two results are from two community forums–LinkedIn and Quora.com, an answer forum.
This is a top of funnel search that would be done by new buyers to a market. It isn’t a high-converting term. It’s an entry path. And for that reason, it’s an excellent place to capture that prospective buyer right when they begin learning the terminology of your industry.
In LinkedIn, you can search groups by selecting ‘groups’ from the drop down in the search bar, and from there find groups themed around your specific product/service/industry.
When on a group page, you will notice on their ‘discussion’ box a blue link reading ‘attach a link’. This is your opportunity to link back to a relevant page on your own site that is germane to the group’s content, while starting or responding to group discussions.
This is a pretty intuitive way to get your links out. Another SEO strategy is to mine the content of a group for keyword ideas. This allows you to do your own qualitative SEO keyword research by finding out what words professionals are actually using to talk about your product/service/industry, and use these words to fuel your own SEO campaigns.
Those are just a few examples of the easy SEO and branding wins for B2B tech companies ready for you to claim in LinkedIn.
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Image sources: Brafton News Infographic on SEO.