Are you guilty of these 5 counterproductive B2B SEO tactics?

Sam Martin-Ross, founder of digital marketing agency Digital Uncut, spells out the worst errors
Sam Martin-Ross
Image of a laptop doing SEO

SEO techniques are as varied as they are numerous, but when you’re at the mercy of the search engines, what was once standard practice can quickly see you falling foul of the algorithm.

This can be particularly damaging for B2B firms, who tend to have a much higher customer lifetime value than those in B2C, and SEO can often be one of the most cost-effective ways to capitalise on this – providing the tactics you use aren’t actively harming your ranking.

While the exact intricacies of Google’s PageRank algorithm remain a mystery, it is far more sophisticated than some heavy-handed SEO tactics give it credit for. So, could you be damaging your SEO – and your reputation – by committing some of these SEO sins?

Targeting the wrong keywords

A good SEO strategy – whether B2C or B2B – needs to start with not only a solid understanding of the relevant keywords within your section, but the ones you need to target based on your goals. Is the aim to build brand awareness, or to actively generate leads?

One of the most common mistakes here is targeting “what is” terms, when these are generally not indicative of a lead actively looking for a B2B service, but rather trying to understand what it is.

Successful SEO from a B2B perspective – that is, SEO that drives qualified leads – requires an understanding of exactly what people are searching for then they need your service, and honing in on these keywords.

The impact: While you’re obviously free to target whichever keywords you’d like, doing so without a clear strategy or understanding will ultimately result in your entire SEO investment not generating the desired return. Targeting popular keywords might succeed in increasing your website traffic, but this is rather useless if you’re not attracting those qualified leads that translate into sales.

Writing for robots

It’s not unusual for B2B product or service providers to be faced with long buying cycles. While a typical B2C customer may simply find the product they’re looking for, click, and buy, B2B buyers often have complex needs and processes that must be met before they are ready to schedule a demo or speak to an advisor.

This is where content comes in. By providing potential buyers with the resources they need to address pain points, answer questions and present up front benefits, you’re helping them move along the sales funnel.

However, just as no-one wants to visit a website that is stuffed to the brim with meaningless keywords, content should also be written with the reader in mind. Writing primarily for the algorithm, and not for the audience you actually wish to target, is a major SEO faux pas. Not only do readers hate it, but Google’s PageRank can usually spot this a mile off, and if the offence is egregious enough, may completely remove the page from ranking. Your content should have your audience front of mind, and be written in a natural way that offers real value and clarity to your reader.

The impact: Trying to game the algorithm in this way might still allow you to appear for relevant keywords, but you’re essentially squandering the opportunity to generate the volume of qualified leads that carefully written content brings. Relevant, quality content is a cornerstone of squeezing those conversions from your website traffic.

Bad link building

Once you’ve established a winning keyword and content strategy, link building is one of next most important steps for good SEO. Generating backlinks helps a website build authority and in turn increase ranking position and organic traffic.

So, given this, the more backlinks you can garner, the better, right? Well, not necessarily. Not all links are created equal, and an over-reliance on links from poor quality websites can actually drag your ranking down and harm the credibility of your website. Using questionable services that publish press releases across multiple low quality sites to build links is a particularly glaring example that will do you or your website no favours.

Another example of counterproductive link building is the over-use of keyword anchor text linking back to a website, which can often come across as spammy. While this is not exclusively a B2B problem, it can be easily over done in a B2B context.

The impact: As mentioned, Google’s algorithms are smart, and this shady tactic can cause real long-term harm to your website’s SEO. In particularly bad cases, Google can even apply a penalty to your site, hindering its ability to appear for any keywords.

Disingenuous content

The ultimate goal of any good SEO strategy is to help your website climb in the search engine page rankings, but the way this is achieved is an important consideration to bear in mind in terms of the overall branding and reputation of your business.

Attempting to rank for particular keywords by using disingenuous content can easily come off as insincere and inauthentic to your intended audience – something of particular importance to B2B firms who tend to operate within much smaller and close-knit sectors.

For example, let’s say you run a managed IT services business, and in an attempt to rank for the keyword “IT managed service provider”, you create a blog highlighting the top 10 providers, and rank yourself in first place. This may not necessarily harm your SEO if you’re able to rank for the term in question, but it immediately calls into question the credibility of your brand and your content and can easily turn off an audience. It’s important to bear this in mind when creating content, and seek to balance optimisation for both your customers and your brand.

The impact: Just as with content that isn’t primarily written with humans at the forefront, this kind of content will limit your ability to optimally convert your traffic. As an added penalty, it will also throw the integrity of your brand image (and reputation) into question. A lose-lose all around.

Inconsistent activity

Beyond outright black-hat SEO techniques that will see Google and other search engines penalise your website, one of the most damaging things to an otherwise good SEO strategy is inconsistency.

Page rankings are a zero sum game – for you to rise, someone else must fall in the rankings. Given this, it’s an incredibly competitive area, requiring constant monitoring and effort to achieve and maintain a good position.

One of the worst things any company can do is achieve a good position in the rankings, then fall into a false sense of security by halting or slowing down SEO related activity. Not only will you inevitably be knocked from your hard-won spot by a competitor, but you will face an uphill climb to attain your previous ranking once you do restart.

Seeing a real return on investment means being prepared to put in the consistent time and effort required.

The impact: SEO is an ongoing activity, and inconsistency doesn’t only mean losing your existing traffic, but it also prolongs the time it takes for your SEO strategy to actually deliver results. Stop and start at your own peril!

Final thoughts

In B2B selling, your reputation is everything, and this includes how you conduct your marketing. While the above is certainly not an exhaustive list of SEO blunders, being aware of some of the worst mistakes is the first step in avoiding them. Do both your business and your website a favour, and steer clear of cheap tactics that seek to game the algorithm, the chances are your ranking will suffer in the long-run.

Written by
Sam Martin-Ross
Written by
April 4, 2023