When someone visits an online retailer to buy a book or a Polo shirt, he or she is probably pretty far along the path to a buying decision. Two, maybe three sites are checked for the price on the book, or the colors available for the shirt. But chances are, there’s not a lot of searching going on. The buyer simply wants to find that particular item, buy it, and get delivery as soon as possible.
In the B2B realm, the situation couldn’t be more different, for several very good reasons.
First, the vast majority of B2B purchases are not snap decisions. For major supplies and capital investments in particular, the factors influencing the decision unfold over time, and in many cases can ebb and flow with business realities. In the B2B buying cycle, it can be a year to 18 months or more from the time the possible need is first acknowledge to the time the “trigger is pulled” for purchase.
Throughout the entire process, starting at the very earliest speculation, information is being gathered and preliminary decisions are being made, at least informally. These prospects—prospects tiptoeing around the rim of your sales funnel—need to know about you early to put you in their consideration set. That’s what B2B Search Engine Optimization does. And why it matters.
Not too many things to think about when you’re buying a blue Polo shirt. And only your opinion matters. That’s not true for B2B purchases. The very nature of many B2B purchases requires significant knowledge and research in order to make the best purchase decision.
The complexity of the purchase also means that more people have influence on the decision. Often, operations, technology, financial, and other company personnel have a role in the decision—and they all use the web to research, evaluate, or vet the alternatives. Savvy keyword strategy in B2B search engine optimization can make sure you get found for varied search strategies.
A bad choice of Polo shirts doesn’t matter that much. But getting an inferior piece of equipment or unreliable supply-chain partner isn’t so easy to deal with. Company productivity, profits, even jobs are at stake. So the fact-finding and the evaluation of options start early—and never stop.
For some, search engine optimization is nice extra—a luxury that couldn’t hurt. But to a B2B marketer, SEO is right up there with food, water, and shelter. B2B Search Engine Optimization makes sure you're there at the start of the buying cycle—and all the way through it.
Your prospects’ purchases may well be a year away, and right now they are “just looking.” But if your company’s website doesn’t show up prominently in the search results—if your company isn’t one of the ones they are looking at—it won’t be the one they’ll be buying from later.