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SEO is Not Enough: Why B2B Marketers Need to Optimize for Trust with Influence

Posted on Jan 6th, 2020
Written by Lee Odden
  • Blog
  • B2B Marketing
  • SEO is Not Enough: Why B2B Marketers Need to Optimize for Trust with Influence
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    SEO Influencer Marketing

    Studies over the years have shown that the vast majority of B2B buyers start their journey with a Google search. But what good is being found if the content doesn’t create immediate feelings of trust for the searcher?

    According to the 2019 Content Preferences Survey Report, 95% of B2B buyers prefer credible content from industry influencers. At the same time, few B2B influencer marketing programs integrate SEO. Most business influencer marketing programs rely almost exclusively on the social media reach of the brand and influencers for content promotion and buyer discovery.

    This findability and credibility disconnect is an opportunity for marketers to optimize for a much better customer experience. By integrating SEO and Influencer Marketing marketers can attract and engage buyers more effectively.

    Time to E-A-T for Better Search Visibility

    Search engines like Google do their best to find, sort and present the best answers for those who are searching. The core approach for brands to earn top visibility on the topics their customers are searching for is through content that satisfies the searchers intent, aka “high quality content”.

    But what does Google deem the highest quality content? We can find examples and guidelines for quality content in Google search quality evaluator guidelines (pdf) that highlight criteria for content quality including E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. These guidelines apply to a website as well as the author “quality evaluators would now be asked to review not only a website’s E-A-T but also the content creators E-A-T too.” as reported by Moz. If E-A-T guidelines apply to content creators, as well as websites, then the intersection of SEO and influencers is pretty clear.

    Good for Bots, Good for Buyers – Everybody Wins

    Creating topically relevant content that is structured and presented in a way that is credible and specifically useful to the searcher is not only good for search engines but for business buyers researching solutions. As SEO becomes more ingrained with content marketing, finding opportunities to effectively deliver on the promise of expertise, authority and trust are becoming more important.

    Optimize for Findability and Credibility with Influence

    As B2B influencer programs evolve from short term campaigns to always on programs, the opportunity to fully leverage organic search as a way to attract actively seeking buyers to brand content grows significantly.

    At a minimum, content marketers should leverage the keyword and topic research done for SEO as inspiration for the queries used to find relevant influencers on those topics. In other words, as each content asset is held accountable to being optimized for specific topics that buyers are searching on, marketers should also be thinking about the influence of the content author and how industry influencers can play a role in boosting the content’s E-A-T.

    There are several ways to think about influencers from a SEO perspective:

    • Identify influencers that already create content on the topics of interest that already have great visibility on Google
    • Pick influencers identified by Google as entities
    • Evaluate influencer’s likelihood of attracting links when they publish or contribute content
    • Provide influencers with SEO audits of their blogs so they can improve their search visibility

    Also, there are several ways to incorporate SEO topics with influencer content:

    • Use SEO topics when searching for influencers using an influencer marketing platform
    • Consider SEO topics to guide the theme of the content collaboration and titles
    • Use SEO topics in influencer interview questions to inspire SEO-friendly answers
    • Provide influencers and content creators with topic clusters they can use in content and social shares
    • Track whether influencers cross post content they collaborated on with the brand to industry publications or their own blog

    Of course these are the basics and essentially the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimizing for both search visibility and content credibility. Since influencer, content and SEO are core to what we do for B2B brands at TopRank Marketing, we’re in the midst of many different applications, testing and evaluation. This intersection is definitely a space worth watching for B2B marketers that want to better attract, engage and inspire action amongst buyers that are distracted and losing trust in companies.

    For a more succinct take on optimizing B2B content for findability and credibility, here’s short video on the topic I made for Oracle Marketing Cloud.