Local search results are great for B2B if your physical location is in the middle of the city you serve—and your prospects actually use search terms that include the name of your city. But what if you serve a broader region (e.g., Northern California)? Or what if your office is in a smaller town and serves the B2B needs of a larger city nearby (e.g., located in Gary, Indiana, but primarily serving Chicago)? With either, chances are you’re not going to show up in local search results because the geographical search term your prospect enters won’t match the physical location of your business.
Many B2B companies are business service companies and professional service firms that largely operate on a regional basis. Also, many manufacturers and distributors serve a limited geographical region because transportation costs prohibit economically shipping their products to locations further away. For many of these regional B2B companies, the majority of their revenues come from part of a state or from a multi-state area. How do you capture geo-specific search when local search won’t work for you?
The best answer is SEO. While it would be great to also be in the local results, and while you could use geo-specific PPC, don’t be too disappointed. Research continues to show that B2B purchasers still tend to overwhelmingly look at (and click on) organic results first—much more frequently than local search results or PPC. But to get found for organic geo-specific search, you’re going to need to do a few things.
Practical SEO for B2B markets
First, make a list of the geographical regions for which you want to get found. Think of the most likely geographical modifiers (terms) prospects in your markets will enter when searching for what you offer. Depending on your business and your prospects, the most likely search terms for each market may be very specific or fairly broad, e.g., Santa Clara to San Jose to Bay Area to Northern California to West Coast.
Once you’ve settled on the most likely search terms for each region you serve, you’ll want to set up separate URLs for each geographical market. Be sure to include the respective geo-specific search terms in each URL, each URL’s title tag and meta description, and in the anchor text of links pointing to these pages.
Next, logically incorporate these market URLs into user-friendly, intuitive navigation on your site, perhaps into a “markets” or “locations” section visible from your home page.
When it comes to page content for each page, be sure to mix it up. Don’t use the same copy and simply swap in the name of another region. If you use basically the same content on each geographical market page, search engines will likely see these pages as duplicate content and choose to index only one of your market pages. Obviously, the page content should reflect the respective geographical market (i.e., city/region names), but other things might vary as well (e.g., types of services offered, corporate contact information for the respective region, perhaps different phone numbers). In addition to this market-specific information, make sure you vary the boilerplate page content as well.
One last word about page copy. Treat each market page like a landing page, like it’s the first page the searcher is going to see, because it is. Therefore, don’t just include the minimum geo-specific information. Make the searcher feel like she’s landing in just the right place. Make sure you convey not only that you match her geographical market, but also that you credibly offer what she’s looking for. Use that page to sell, and to create desired click-through to other pages on your site.
Lastly, make sure these pages are static URLs, or at least appear that way to search engines. Don’t dynamically generate the content for these pages. Also, don’t make these pages only accessible through some sort of location finder, (e.g., pull-down menus to select a region). Doing so will render them invisible to search engines.
There’s a lot of B2B search using geo-specific search terms. Sure, organic keyword research for any given geo-specific search term may show minimal promise, but by the time you add up all the geo-specific searches, you may find that market-specific B2B SEO could yield a wealth of opportunities.