A common question that I hear when a business-to-business (B2B) organization begins an ecommerce initiative is: “Does SEO REALLY matter for our ecommerce site?” When I answer with the question, “Why wouldn’t search engine optimization matter for your ecommerce initiative?” I typically get one of the following answers:
“The bulk of our site pages are secured behind a user log-in screen. The purpose of search engine optimization is to power the search engine results pages. What will SEO techniques do for us since our pages won’t be indexed?”
“We already know all of our customers, so whether we appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) isn’t important to us.”
Regardless of the reason why search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t seem like a high priority for the average B2B organization, it should be. The reality is that B2B ecommerce is rapidly adopting the techniques and functionalities of business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce and that the business consumer expects a certain level of user experience while shopping. Search engine optimization techniques not only drive more qualified traffic to an ecommerce site, they also improve the overall onsite customer experience.
Let’s consider the two most popular reasons that manufacturers and distributors give me as explanation as to why they aren’t taking advantage of search engine optimization on their ecommerce sites.
“We already know all of our customers.” This is the response that makes me want to bang my head against my desk simply because it is not true. Too many manufacturers and distributors mistakenly believe that they are already doing business with all of their potential customers. They are unaware of the magnitude by which their industry has changed with the introduction of the Internet and the consumerization of B2B ecommerce. Since search engine optimization is the most effective way to drive qualified traffic to an ecommerce site as well as increase potential customer leads, they mistakenly believe that search engine optimization isn’t necessary for their ecommerce success.
I had the opportunity to work with a visionary corrugated box and point-of-purchase display manufacturer that understood how the advent of the Internet drastically changed things for their business. While corrugated products had been historically limited to regional sales areas by the cost and logistics of shipping the finished product, the manufacturer knew that the Internet would level the playing field, effectively allowing competition into their geographical area as well as provide them access to other areas of the country or the world. To keep ahead of the competition, this organization launched a custom box website and now sends custom orders to customers all over the world who found them via online searches.
The B2B Ecommerce Take Away: You don’t know all of your customers and strong search engine optimization techniques will ensure that your future customers successfully find you.
“Our pages are behind a secured log-in screen.” While it may be true that a company’s product catalog may be secured behind a secure log-in screen, good search engine optimization techniques aren’t only for serving up information to the search engines. For example, utilizing unique, key-word rich page titles gives the site visitor an idea of where he or she is within your website by showing the page title on the tab in their web browser. If a customer book marks one of these internal pages for use later, the page title serves as the descriptive name of the bookmarked page. Additionally, the SEO technique of providing key-word rich page content educates the visitor and helps them decide which of your products to buy.
The B2B ecommerce experience will only continue to become more and more consumerized as time goes by. As this happens, there will be a greater demand for public-facing web pages–with rich SEO techniques–to drive placement in the search engine results pages. Knowing what needs to be done on each public-facing page of a website will ensure that those pages do as much heavy lifting within the sales cycle as possible.
The B2B Ecommerce Take Away: The search engine optimization techniques that are good for the search engine crawlers on public-facing web pages are good for your human visitor on both public-facing and secure pages. Utilize them to provide a superior online customer experience.
Search engine optimization techniques are essential to B2B ecommerce success, regardless of whether a site is secure or public-facing. Savvy B2B organizations will implement them to maximize their ecommerce success.
To learn more about how to maximize the effectiveness and reach of your B2B ecommerce site, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.