Many financial and professional services firms that earn revenue by selling products and services to other businesses believe search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t important. Business comes through word-of-mouth, not needs-based Google searches.
The truth is, search can be just as — or even more — important for business-to-business (B2B) companies as it is for business-to-consumer (B2C) firms.
B2C searchers generally seek out information online early in the buying process. They research possible providers for financial products and services they plan to buy in the future. B2B searches usually happen later in the buying process. They're more about validation, ensuring that a solution, service or professional recommendation checks out.
If a B2C company doesn’t show up in an early-funnel search, they’re missing out on a somewhat remote chance to make a sale. If a B2B company doesn't appear in a later-cycle, validation-related search, they’re missing out on an opportunity to close a likely sale.
Some of the most commonly botched B2B searches include:
- Professional recommendations: A financial company representative, lawyer, accountant or other professional doesn't come up in a Google or Bing search after they’ve earned a recommendation. A variation on this: Someone’s personal or social media information comes up in search, but no professional profile. This definitely undercuts the credibility of a recommendation.
- Firm recommendations: A recommended firm doesn't show up in a branded or unbranded search. Many financial companies and professional practices have similar names or ones that aren't memorable. It diminishes the reputation of a firm if it doesn't show up near the top of the list of recommendations related to its name. It also communicates that a provider isn't a player if they're low on the list in an unbranded product or service search. This kind of failure could actually get someone who is validating a firm to check out its competitors instead.
- Product recommendation: Most insurance, brokerage and financial advisory firms have a list of approved products that their intermediaries can recommend and sell to clients. However, proprietary systems don't always have all the detailed information needed to close a sale. If an intermediary searches for a branded product, and they can't easily find information about it, they’ll move on the the next offering on the approved list.
Don't miss out on closing a deal.
Improving B2B search results isn't as difficult as many marketers think. Here are some ideas on how to get started:
- Enhance employee bios. If you want your employees’ professional profiles to top search results, you’ll need to include enough information in them to register on Google and Bing. A standard listing that includes title, education, credentials and awards probably isn't enough. Adding information about things like work philosophy, commitment to client service and the reason they work for your firm could help them get found online. Another idea: Add links to personally written or reputable third party content within a bio. Make it a point to keep these links up-to-date.
- Associate your firm name with the products and services you offer. Many companies don't use their company’s name on their website pages. This makes it difficult for search engines to understand what the firm does and link it with the products and services it offers. Inserting your business name into offering descriptions will help your company rank in branded searches.
- Avoid “burying” products or describing them in PDFs. If you post product descriptions deep in your site or in PDFs of brochures or flyers, it's unlikely that Google will find them. Make the products and services you offer a primary and visible feature of your site if you want them to rank.
Need help improving the search rankings for your B2B firm? Carpenter Group can help. Learn more about our approach to search engine optimization. Then contact us to discuss how we could work together to improve your company’s visibility online.