Most B2B companies aren’t e-commerce driven. Obviously, SEO is very important to e-commerce companies; getting found means getting more sales. And good SEO results are quickly seen in the form of increased revenue. The vast majority of B2B companies, however, don’t offer products and services you can order on the web, place in a shopping cart, and pay for with your bankcard.
So why should B2B companies bother with SEO? For a business-to-business company, ranking highly in the search engine results won’t drive immediate sales, but I would argue that SEO for B2B is just as important, perhaps even more so. You have to remember the role of search in a B2B purchase. The average purchase cycle in the business-to-business transaction is several months, sometimes a year or two, depending on the nature of the purchase. That’s because the risks are higher and the implications (good and bad) of the decision of what to buy and from whom to buy it can last many years. Therefore, purchase decisions are highly researched and scrutinized.
Also, the typical behavior of a B2B buyer is not to broadcast the buyer’s intent to purchase and invite countless suppliers to pitch for the business. Once the intent to possibly make a purchase is formed, the research begins. Who sells what we need? Who else has bought from them? Do they seem like a potential fit? Who should we be talking to? Search engines are the first place potential buyers go to begin to find answers to these questions, long before they tell anyone that they’re in the market to make a purchase. And that’s when you want to be sure they find your company.
You want to make sure you make it into their consideration set early. In doing so, you have a much better shot at winning the business in the end. If the buyer finds you too late in the purchase cycle, she might not even consider your firm because she is simply too far down the road with other potential suppliers.
In the business-to-business marketplace, getting found may not automatically get you the sale, but failing to get found will ensure you don’t.