As a someone at a B2B organization who is concerned about ecommerce (and I do presume you work for a manufacturer or distributor since that is our number one focus on Ecommerce Insites), you’ve probably considered the impact of search engine optimization (SEO) on your ecommerce site.
Some of you might cringe when you hear me mention SEO for B2B ecommerce–either because it’s a point of debate for your organization as to whether you need SEO in the first place or because you have no idea where to start. Perhaps you are convinced that B2B ecommerce doesn’t need search engine optimization or maybe you are hesitant to admit that you aren’t sure what SEO really is or what it means for your ecommerce site. Whatever your current position, here are three quick questions about SEO and B2B ecommerce and my answers to said questions for your reading pleasure.
Question #1: What is search engine optimization for B2B ecommerce? According to Wikipedia, “search engine optimization is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s ‘natural’ or un-paid (‘organic’) search results.” Since a B2B ecommerce site is simply a website that allows a B2B organization to sell its products and services online, SEO techniques most definitely apply. The actual SEO techniques used to optimize a consumer-focused site are exactly the same as those used on a B2B ecommerce site.
However, there’s a bit of a catch. Search engine optimization is only effective on public-facing web pages and many B2B organizations mistakenly keep ALL of their web pages under lock and key. Pages that are behind a secured log-in page are private and cannot be crawled by the search engine bots. The good news is that securing your website pages keeps competitors out of your product catalog. The bad news is that this same security keeps out the search engine crawlers. If the crawlers don’t have access to your site, they can’t index you. Translation: You don’t show up in the search engine results when someone searches for your products.
I can hear the objections from here: “But we don’t want our competition to be able to see our pricing and product selection!” Not to worry–you can easily cover both bases by carefully selecting the data that you put on your public-facing pages and what you keep private. For example, perhaps you create a product catalog without product pricing and put that on public facing pages while keeping the specifics of what each widget costs behind a secure log in.
Question #2: Why does search engine optimization matter for my B2B site? What this question is actually saying is: “I don’t think our customers are online looking for our products, so do I really have to worry about search engine optimization?” The answer is yes. If you seriously think that your customers aren’t shopping around online, your kidding yourself.
In a day and age where most folks are walking around with a computer in their brief case or backpack and a smart phone in the pocket (not to mention the tablet device that they use almost exclusively at home), it’s highly unlikely that your customers aren’t online. And when they search for the widgets that you sell, if you want to be in business next year, it’s essential that your products pop up in the search engine results or your you can be sure your competitor’s products will.
Question #3: Does my B2B ecommerce site need search engine optimization? The short answer to this question is yes. If your organization plans to continue to do business for the foreseeable future, yes, your B2B ecommerce site needs to be optimized for search engine purposes. Launching carefully crafted public-facing pages will drive traffic to your site via search engine results and bring you new customers.
In summary, search engine optimization matters to the B2B organization with an ecommerce site. If you want to find new customers and increase your sales, you can’t afford to put off search engine optimization for your B2B ecommerce site.
To learn more about how to leverage the power of your B2B ecommerce website and grow your business, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.