Do you offer services to other businesses in your area? Maybe you’re an Accountant, a Printer or a Training Company.
If you do then I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that it’s competitive out there. And that means that if you want a consistent flow of new inquiries coming into your business then one thing you need to be sure of is a high ranking website.
But what exactly does it take to have a high ranking website?
Well, recently we did some research on B2B websites to identify what are the most important factors that determine a high ranking. So here are the four proven and practical steps that you can take today to become the dominant B2B business in your area.
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1. Tighten Up Your Metatags
The most important difference that we identified between the Best in Class websites that had a top three ranking was that they included the Industry and the Location in the Page Title Element. Meta tags are the HTML code on your website that helps Google interpret the content of each page. Of these, the most important one is the Page Title Element followed by the Meta Description.
You might think that you’ve never heard of them but you’ll definitely be familiar with them because these are what make up the search results when you search for something in Google. Basically, we noticed that the top sites included both the industry (Printer) and the location (Newcastle) in the Page Title Element on average 61 percent more often than low ranking websites.
We also noticed that the top websites tended to make the best use of the amount of characters in the meta tags. With the Page Title Element Best Practice states that you should use around 67 characters. Our research found that Best in Class averaged at around 64 characters whilst lower ranked websites averaged at 44 characters.
Other on-page factors that are often cited as being of importance such as using Headers (H1, H2, H3) for good ranking were also checked. It was no surprise to see that again the Best in Class scored higher than the average with around two-thirds of them using the H1 header in their home page whilst lower ranked sites used it 44 percent of the time.
These are simple changes. But remember that small hinges swing big doors. These types of changes would take minutes in the hands of a skilled developer and won’t cost the earth so they offer an excellent return on investment.
2. Get More (Easy) Backlinks
Backlinks are still vital to achieving a high ranking and we detected a strong correlation between a higher number of backlinks and a higher ranking. We looked at the number of referring domains as the best measure because that removed the effect of site wide (footer or blogroll links) that may skew the figures.
What we found was that Best in Class had well over double the number of referring domains pointing to them (44 vs. 17).
Now before you put your head in your hands and start thinking that you can’t get links, let me reassure you that you definitely can do it. In fact, you can start immediately and you can get links today if you want to. First things first. Have you set up your local listings with Google, Bing and Yahoo? These are the places to start. Before you tick that box, though, make sure they’re all fully optimized. That means Name, Address, Contact Info, Category, Hours of Business, Map, Photos, Videos and Keywords.
Once you’ve done these then you can look at increasing your Name, Address and Phone (NAP) Citations. These are websites that you can get listed in and point back to your website. Sites like Localeze and Yelp. There are tons of reputable NAP sites you can get listed in depending on your country. Some are free and others have a charge. If budget is an issue for you just look for ones that will allow you to link back to your site for free.
Don’t go crazy, though. Just a couple a week in the early stages is fine. If you go crazy then you may get into Google’s bad books and you don’t want that. Also look at reputable, high-quality directories like Business.com. These authority directories send strong messages to Google and are well worth the cost.
Also, don’t forget to link to your site from your social media accounts.They are free and easy to set up so take advantage of them. Finally, you need to get links from other local websites. Testimonials are a valid way to achieve this. Create a full list of all your local suppliers. Now just drop them an email with a genuine testimonial created for each one.
Try to focus on the benefits that you found from using their service rather than a bland testimonial. Create one uniquely for each supplier. Also, make it clear that you’d be happy for them to quote you on their website and you are happy for them to link to your site so that people can see it’s a genuine testimonial. Even include your photo or a logo to help them.
The important point is to take action and make sure that over time you pick up those all important backlinks.
3. Google Reviews
Another simple change you can make is to include asking for customer reviews a daily habit in your business. Ideally, you should try to get Google Reviews. Why? Well, we identified that Best in Class had more than twice as many reviews as lower ranked websites. But what was interesting was that the number of reviews was very low at an average of 0.9 for top ranked sites and 0.44 for low ranking sites.
How easy would it be for you to get just one review? But if you run a few searches in your area on your industry you’ll soon notice the sites that have the top rankings do tend to have more Google reviews. It’s not a perfect science but you’ll definitely spot the trend - top sites have more reviews. As with backlinks, there’s no need to go crazy. Start off with your best clients first.
You probably know on first name terms anyway. Most often people are more than happy to give you a review. Just send them a link and explain that you’d really appreciate a review from them. How easy is that?
Then start asking for online reviews as a standard business process. When’s the best time to ask for a review? When you’ve got a happy customer in front of you. Sure, you won’t get them 100 percent of the time, but the more you ask, the more you’ll get.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should never offer an incentive to leave a review (and especially not a favorable one). Just take what comes your way and if you do get a less than favorable review just take the time to reply to it. It shows that you care and that there’s someone real behind the business who listens to feedback.
4. More Content
When it comes to content Google does not like ‘thin’ sites. It prefers websites with more content. How much more? Well, we found that the top ranking sites had more than double the number of pages. To be exact it was 104 pages vs. 48 pages. An obvious place to start is with your Service pages. Most B2B companies will offer a range of services but for some reason, they tend to hide them on their website in a generic Services page.
That’s a mistake because you’re spreading yourself too thinly and missing out on an opportunity to create keyword rich content that specifically matches what people are searching for. So start by listing out all of the services that you offer and ensuring that you have a page for each. Then you need to make sure that you optimize each page with Metatags, keyword rich URLs, Headings, links to other pages etc..
One other point is to make your pages longer ideally more than 500 words. It’s not as difficult as it sounds if you start to include things like Frequently Asked Questions. Just imagine you are having a chat with a potential customer about that particular service and think about the questions and answers that would generate.
You should also definitely set up a blog. There are a number of advantages of setting up a blog, not least of which is the opportunity to create engaging content on an ongoing basis. You’ll get more traffic, you’ll get more social media action, you’ll be seen as an authority and you get the chance to develop relationships with complementary, non-competing businesses.
If you’re stuck where to start then first start with developing frequently asked question type content. The important thing is to get into the habit of creating content. If you can commit to one or two pieces of content per week then that’s great. Over time you can start to broaden your output to include content like Definitive/Authority Guides, Comparison Content (Service/Product A vs. Service/Product B), Buyer’s Guides and even Case Studies.
I’ll bet that nine times out of 10 you’ve already got a load of this stuff written down somewhere. It’ll be either up in your head or on your hard drive or your email outbox. You just need to repurpose it for your blog. In terms of blogging software, I’d strongly recommend WordPress. It’s free and easy to install. But the important point is to set up a blog on your site and start to create that all important content. The more you do, the better you’ll become at it.
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There’s no magic wand that high ranking B2B sites have. They’ve just got the basics right. Things like correctly optimized Metatags and headings on their website pages. They’ve also got more backlinks and reviews, especially from Google. Content is another area where they stand out and they usually have double the content of lower ranked websites.
So that’s where I’d recommend that you focus if you want to transform your B2B website into one of the higher rankings ones.