The Challenge of SEO for B2B Companies in Local Markets

The other day a B2B company called inquiring about our SEO services. While our services where not a good fit in this specific circumstance, a distinct challenge surfaced that’s worth writing about.

The company was interested in gaining visibility for broad keywords (unrelated example: “packaging manufacturer”) but only served a specific regional market (such as “packaging manufacturer in Boston”)

B2B organizations focused in a local or regional market will find difficulty creating an SEO campaign for broad-based keyword strategies. A few possible reasons:

  1. Lead Quality
    The inability to focus broad keyword targets to a specific regional market with traditional SEO becomes problematic. Local B2B companies do not want to receive leads from outside of their market, which will happen if their site ranks well for broad-based keywords (sometimes even when copy clearly indicates a lack of focus outside a particular geographic location).
  2. Brand Building vs Sales Targets
    Regional businesses often have a smaller budget for brand building, which often becomes part of the SEO strategy when targeting broader keyword phrases. When considering resource allocation, there is a delicate balancing act required between hitting sales quotas and generating long-term value.
  3. Link Building ROI
    Aside from traditional link building outlets it is difficult for organizations to invest in creating content assets (outside of sales collateral) necessary to fuel high quality, passive inbound links. Even with known commercial quantities (paid directories, reviews, etc) immediate ROI will be hard to realize, since it can take months and even years to rank well for competitive keyword targets.

What’s The Solution?
These types of factors make comprehensive SEO difficult for local B2B companies; and the concerns are reasonable. Here are some practical alternatives and potential solutions for integrating a search marketing plan into the local B2B online marketing strategy.

  • Regional Keyword Strategies
    The immediate recommendation is a shift to emphasizing regional keyword focus. Make sure landing pages and content are tailored to the regional market but still include broad-based information.
  • Link Building via Ad Budgets
    While company budgets might not account for link building, there usually will be advertising budgets. Try to find advertising opportunities that create SEO friendly link opportunities. Examples may include local sponsorships and advertisements manually integrated (IE, not using dynamic banner placements).
  • Leverage Blended Search
    While Google Maps is a good place to being, opportunities like Google News, Shopping, Video, and Google Images also provide ways to get into first page search results without traditional SEO tactics. Pay attention to the search results for keyword targets and build blended search strategies accordingly.
  • Don’t Ignore PPC
    Most important, consider the opportunity presented with Pay-Per Click Advertising. PPC can be tailored to regional campaigns, and the ability to immediately track leads, conversion rates and costs per conversion should make it an attractive alternative.

Final Thoughts
Competing for broad-based organic keyword rankings can be challenging for B2B companies with a regional or local focus. When working with limited resources and focusing specifically on lead quality, consider specialized search engine marketing solutions and opportunities. The key to a quality SEO campaign is in generating results, today, tomorrow and for the long-term.

Author Note: David Mihm recently launched the third edition of Local Search Ranking Factors, a collection of criteria for local SEO as reviewed by 34 prominent bloggers and practitioners. It’s worth reviewing and evaluating for any local SEO strategy, B2B or otherwise.

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— Chris Long, CMO, L-com Global Connectivity

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