B2B SEO vs B2C SEO: Discover the key differences

15 August 2023
6 minutes

In short

B2B SEO vs B2C SEO, you might think that they are not that different, but B2B and B2C marketers target different audiences and often have different goals. As a result, they take different approaches to SEO.

There are some similarities (such as technical SEO: mobile optimisation and fast page load speeds are a must for everyone). There are also key differences (buyer journeys, keyword focus, content strategies, link building and key metrics). No matter who your audience is, your SEO activity should always focus on delivering high-quality, user-focused content.

B2B SEO vs B2C SEO, what are the key differences?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an essential component of any content marketing strategy, whether you’re targeting a B2B or B2C audience. But there are key differences to take into consideration when working in these two different markets.

If you’re a digital marketer switching from one of these markets to another, or you’re working for a brand that targets both B2B and B2C audiences, it’s important to understand those differences to ensure you’re taking the right approach. In this article, we’ll show you how to adapt your SEO tactics, so you can ensure your content is easily findable for the right audience.

Definition of B2B SEO and B2C SEO

B2B SEO refers to optimising your content to attract business clients. It’s used by marketers whose companies offer products and services that cater to business customers, such as business software solutions and professional services like consulting, facilities management or IT support, just to name a few.

In contrast, B2C SEO is also about making your content accessible to individual consumers. B2C SEO is practised by any consumer brand that wants to reach customers online, whether in fashion retail, telecoms, fast-moving consumer goods, personal financial services or any number of other consumer-focused industries.

Both B2B and B2C SEO have some common goals and characteristics:

  • Making your content – and your brand – easy for your audience to find via online search engines, especially Google.
  • Ensuring your content ranks high on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Ensuring your content is designed to cater to your audiences’ search intent, pain points, questions and needs.
  • Optimising technical aspects of your website to ensure a positive user experience (for example, by ensuring fast page load speeds and optimising content for viewing on mobile devices as well as desktop).

The myth of the purely rational B2B buyer

image of a woman walking while on her phone

Though there are still key differences (as we will discuss below), the lines between B2B and B2C SEO can be blurry at times. This is mainly because more and more marketers are discovering that emotions actually play a much larger role in B2B purchase decision-making than once thought.

For years, conventional marketing wisdom said that B2C customers are emotionally driven, whilst B2B buyers are rationally driven. Whilst it’s true that B2B buyers often search for comprehensive factual information before making a purchase decision, it’s also important to remember that they are still very much human beings with emotional needs and preferences.

Experienced marketers know that B2B buyers feel emotionally invested in their work and they are responsive to sales arguments that appeal to them on a personal level. In short, it’s important to remember that B2B SEO should also be designed to appeal to buyers’ feelings. That means designing and optimising your content so that it emotionalises your audiences’ pain points and shows empathy towards their situation, no matter which market you’re targeting.

For example, instead of focusing purely on the functional or financial benefits of your product or solution, be sure to integrate human aspects into your content. Talk about how your B2B solution helps your customers work together more effectively, enhances their company culture or frees up time for them to focus on more meaningful tasks.

image of a man working on a laptop searching on google

B2B SEO vs B2C SEO: So, what are the real differences?

Now that we’ve covered the overlaps between B2B and B2C SEO, let’s look at the key differences:

Keyword research

Tailoring keyword research to your audience intent is crucial to any SEO strategy. B2B content marketing is usually directed towards highly specialised niche audiences, so keywords should include industry-specific terms and technical jargon. B2C keywords can focus more on everyday language used by people who may not have a detailed technical vocabulary to describe what they’re looking for.

Another key difference is that B2B customer journeys are often longer and more complex. As a result, B2B marketers need to identify keywords that resonate with potential buyers’ search intent at every stage of the journey, from awareness to consideration and beyond.

Content strategy

There’s also a difference in which types of content will have the biggest impact. B2B buyers have more interest in in-depth articles, whitepapers and case studies, all of which should be designed to help them make confident, informed decisions. B2C customers, in contrast, prefer easily accessible, visually appealing formats like illustrated tutorials, videos and infographics. However, the lines can be blurry here too, because fun, user-focused content also makes a strong impact on B2B audiences.

One great example of this is Dropbox’s Marketing Dynamix B2B content marketing campaign, which is built around a free personality test that lets marketers discover what their marketing personality is. This people-focused, emotionalised B2B campaign resulted in a 220% boost in lead generation.

Link-building strategies

Domain authority is a decisive factor for SEO success, and it’s especially beneficial for B2B marketers, who are generally more focused on showcasing thought leadership and original insights than their B2C counterparts. For B2B content marketers, it’s smart to invest in gaining backlinks through PR and guest posting. B2C marketers usually stand to gain more from focusing on social media shares, influencer collaborations and links on lifestyle-oriented domains.

Analytics & performance

B2B marketers often track different metrics than B2C marketers when it comes to evaluating their SEO content’s performance. That’s because these two types of marketing often have different goals. Whereas B2B content marketing is more sales and conversion-driven, B2B marketing plays a longer game. Generating leads, raising brand awareness and establishing domain authority are often just as important priorities for B2B marketers as directly driving sales. So, monitoring signups, new traffic and backlinks are useful ways for B2B marketers to assess their SEO content’s performance.

Best practices to help achieve your goals

Despite the differences between their two markets, B2B and B2C marketers can benefit from many of the same SEO best practices – as long as you align your SEO strategy with your specific market’s needs and preferences. Here are some all-around best practices to incorporate into your strategy:

Comprehensive audience research

Conduct surveys and interviews with customers, customer support team members, sales reps and other customer-facing employees in your company to gain a detailed knowledge of your customers’ pain points, needs and preferences. Use your findings to create detailed audience personas. For B2B marketers in particular, remember to focus on differences in your personas’ interests at each stage of the sales funnel or buyer journey.

Tailored keyword strategies

Based on what you know about your customers’ needs, interests and pain points, conduct keyword research that reflects their search intent. Focus on keywords with a realistic difficulty score (lower or equal to your website’s domain authority). Long-tail keywords are less competitive than more popular terms, but can often provide valuable insight into your buyers’ search intent.

Content diversification

Use a mix of formats and channels that you know will appeal most to your audiences.

High-quality, user-focused content

Above all, ensure your content is genuinely useful and valuable to your audiences. After all, content quality and user experience are among Google’s top criteria for determining how well your content ranks, no matter who you’re targeting. User focus also means offering a smooth content experience, with technically optimised, mobile-friendly content.

The right approach for the right audience

Despite their many differences, both B2B and B2C SEO come down to the same thing: aligning your content with your audience, so you can offer the best possible content experience while achieving maximum visibility for your brand.

As with most topics in marketing, there are always exceptions to the rules. Except there’s one rule that applies no matter what: the best thing you can do to boost your content’s SERP ranking is to focus on creating high-quality content that really caters to your audience’s needs.

SEO is a complex and ever-changing landscape, get in contact with our content advisors, we are happy to help! 

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