How to Determine Search Intent for a B2B Audience

Determine search intent for B2B audience

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Google algorithms are constantly changing. Old tactics are updated, and new ranking factors are added almost every month, making SEO an uphill battle.

To share insights and networking opportunities among SEOs worldwide, BrightonSEO hosts an annual marketing conference and a series of training courses. 

This year, AS Marketing’s founder and CEO, Adriana Stein, spoke at the conference to share her winning search intent-focused SEO strategy designed to engage and convert B2B audiences. 

In this blog post, we’ll share the key points presented, including:

  • The importance of optimizing for search intent
  • How to determine your B2B audience’s search intent
  • How to develop a future-proof SEO content marketing strategy focused on your ideal audience and their search intent at every stage of the customer journey

What is B2B Search Intent?

With access to millions of websites, obtaining information is a fairly simple process. You just need to pull up a search engine and type in a few words.

This makes it easy for businesses to find what they need.

Whether they’re looking for more information on a product or service, trying to find a specific site, or conducting research on the ROI of new technology, each query is made with a purpose.

This is known as search intent.

Search intent is the driving force behind everything typed into a search engine. It’s the purpose behind the action. Search intent helps businesses understand what their target audience actually wants, which helps strengthen marketing efforts and leads to more resonating content.

Some of the primary types of search intent include navigational, informational, transactional, and commercial. 

  1. Navigational search intent applies when a user is looking for a company-specific website or page. 
  1. Informational search intent pertains to users looking to gain a deeper understanding of a product or topic. 
  1. Transactional search intent refers to users looking to buy something, where the end goal is to buy a product or service. They might type in “best crm to buy” when looking for a better way to manage leads. 
  1. Commercial investigation is when a query is made in the initial part of the sales funnel. For example, a user wants to conduct more research on the ROI of a product or service before committing to the next steps of the sales process. 

In B2B marketing, search intent is used to understand and provide for the needs of the entire buying committee rather than just one individual.

Why Should We Optimize Content for Search Intent?

So, why is search intent so crucial for businesses on both sides of the coin?

Simply put, it helps create a stronger marketing strategy that’s saturated with relevant content, thus bridging the gap between search intent and purchasing intent.  

When you understand your audience’s search intent, you’re able to integrate psychographic marketing tactics that align with their values. This allows you to tailor content to your audience’s needs while making them feel seen and understood. All in all, this provides the best possible experience for visitors.

Search intent is also necessary when optimizing for Google’s algorithm.

In fact, recent Google algorithm updates have been increasingly focusing on search intent. In June 2021, Google got better at matching search intent to SERP results. In August 2021, the page experience updates prioritized UX and search intent over brand size and credibility.

This means if your content is not relevant to a user’s search intent, Google won’t rank it high in the search results. You need to include keywords related to search intent in your title and headings on all content to improve these results.   

What Are Some Challenges of Understanding and Optimizing for B2B Search Intent?  

Defining search intent for B2C markets is fairly straightforward, as you’re only targeting one individual. It gets a little more complicated in B2B markets, where your target audience is a committee of buyers who all need to come to an agreement on each purchase.

This creates some unique challenges, such as:

  • Persuading multiple decision-makers
  • Navigating more complex sales funnels
  • Differentiating between B2B and B2C search intent

There are also industry-specific challenges, especially with tech-related B2B. These companies tend to have huge buying committees, multiple buyer personas, and complex or techy content focused on features.

How to Determine Your B2B Audience’s Search Intent and Use It to Develop a Winning Content Strategy

To overcome the challenges of optimizing content for B2B search intent, you need to be strategic about content creation. 

The most important thing to remember when creating SEO content for the B2B audience is to help customers with their “buying jobs” as they go through the sales funnel. 

Here’s how we at AS Marketing do it.

#1 Streamline buyer personas

The first step is understanding your audience, their buyer journey, and their search intent. Creating a buyer persona gives insight into what influences their thoughts, decisions, and actions. You should organize buyer personas based on end-users, influencers, and decision-makers.

The steps to creating a buyer persona include:

  • Researching your audience
  • Finding pain points (financial, support, process, and productivity)
  • Establish motivators (social approval, need to achieve, obtain power, avoid risk)
  • Identify how your product/service helps them
  • Finalize persona

For example, one of your buyer personas might be a content marketer stressed about the challenges that come with the job. Their pain points may include inadequate support or unclear processes. Their motivators may be social approval and the need to achieve a certain degree of success to avoid losing clients.

We help B2B CMOs and marketing teams develop insightful buyer personas based on real data and thorough market analysis.

#2 Perform keyword research and clustering

Once you understand your buyer personas and their content needs, perform comprehensive keyword research to increase the likelihood that your page ranks according to search intent. Cluster different keywords according to intent to increase the chances that your page ranks for multiple keywords with the same search intent. This helps you tailor your content to the needs of your audience.

To perform keyword research, use tools like Semrush, Moz, Ahrefs, or Ranktracker.

#3 Create a keyword map

Once you’ve completed your keyword research, consider how your keywords are related and organize your clusters based on search intent. This allows you to see the big picture in relation to your audience’s buying journey. Keyword maps also provide insight on other keyword opportunities.

Below is an example of a simple keyword map organized according to search intent.

When creating your keyword map, consider the type of search intent:

  • To rank for navigational keywords, your website should be easy to navigate and your pages need to be optimized for the keywords people are using to find them.
  • To rank for informational keywords, focus on creating informative content relevant to the keywords people are using.
  • To rank for transactional keywords, confirm that your pages are optimized for conversion and that your website is set up to handle transactions with good user experience.

#4 Develop SEO content

Finally, use your keyword map to create content aligned with search intent. For example, if you create content for the buyer persona of a stressed content marketer, then you may create content about “how to build a content strategy” or “how to use personalized content to enhance your marketing strategy.”

You’ll want to make sure that your page title, meta descriptions, and subheadings include keywords relevant to search intent to enforce strong SEO tactics. This helps reduce the risk that your content is directed to improper search intent, which can dissuade users from taking action.

Future Proof Your B2B SEO Strategy: Optimize for Search Intent

For lasting success with your B2B SEO strategy, always optimize your content for search intent and continuously scale your SEO strategy. You can achieve this by focusing on keyword research and clustering to help you find content opportunities that your target audience is already looking for. It’s also essential to understand the search intent behind the keywords. Doing so allows you to take advantage of creating comprehensive content that’s useful to your audience.

About the Author

Adriana Stein is an Online Marketing Consultant based in Hamburg, Germany. Originally from the US, she is a native English speaker and specializes in helping companies with their SEO & content marketing strategies, along with graphic design, brand copy and website development.​

Real people, real results, real international market growth

“Working with the AS Marketing team has been a pleasure. The team was able to not only craft a content and email marketing strategy to help us reach our goals, but also to lead us throughout the whole implementation process with dedication and expertise. I would highly recommend them to any company looking to up its game in content marketing.”

Tobias Arns

Chief Marketing Officer, Kindly

“AS Marketing has been very helful in developing and executing our SEO content plan. Before working with her, we didn’t know how to approach our content marketing in an efficient and cost-effective way. But from day 1, Adriana gave us a concrete plan that was really centered on the needs of our customers. Thanks to her, our organic traffic continues to increase, and with that, our user base and revenue. We’ve never worked with an SEO consultant like her before with suck a holistic and customer-centric approach to marketing.”

Anja Zschörnig

VP of Marketing, Loyalty Prime

“With the launch of the new company, we were looking for an agency to place us effectively. We started working with AS Marketing, and so far, it has been really good. Not having to micromanage the project was one of the key advantages of working with them. While it’s only been 6 months, I am sure we will have our desired results in a year. AS Marketing delivers regular content and audits, so we know we are on the right truck.

Kanika Choudhary

Brand Marketing Manager, Restructum

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