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5 Ways B2B Marketers Can Differentiate Their Brand in Google Search Results

Derek Edmond | Nov 3, 2016 261 views No Comments

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Earlier this month, my colleague Kristen Vaughn wrote about ways B2B marketers can implement top-of-funnel SEO strategies to reach new audiences.

Her post details how keyword research and content marketing development can be combined to aid in the buyer discovery process, specifically through improved SEO performance.

But what about buyers further down the sales funnel who are evaluating B2B vendors more thoroughly through brand-related search queries?

In this post, I will detail five opportunities B2B marketers can capitalize on through more brand-oriented search marketing initiatives. These tactics help differentiate an organization in Google search results and build trust and authenticity with potential buyers and prospects.

Google Business Listings

When you “Google” your organization’s brand name, have you noticed a more comprehensive set of information? Here is a screenshot when searching for “komarketing” on the desktop.

Knowledge Graph + Google Maps

This result is a combination of Knowledge Graph and Google Maps information, typically appearing on the right-hand side in desktop searches but at the top of most mobile results. The combined experience is meant to provide a single source of top-level organizational information for searchers.

This includes basic brand information like social media profiles, reviews, and photos, and address/office information such as hours of operation, contact information, and a cross-reference to Google Maps for directions.

Why B2B Marketers Should Care

These results might be the first opportunity, outside of the organization’s website, to provide accurate and reliable information to potential buyers and users.

According to research from Google, 90% of B2B researchers who are online use search specifically to research business purchases. From there, B2B researchers do 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site.

B2B Buyer Research Behavior

With this understanding in mind, it is critical to provide accuracy in the first organizational information that buyers may review.

How To Manage This Result

There are at least three points of direction B2B marketers need to consider when managing this result.

  • The first step is to review, register, and then edit your business listing through Google My Business. Information on how to manage this process can be found here.
  • Google My Business registration leads to Google+ page optimization. All relevant information should be completed, along with applicable photos and media (including YouTube channel connection if appropriate).
  • It’s also important to leverage structured data markup to add identification of the organizational name, logo, and social links for organic search results. Further information and reference for how to integrate this type of markup can be found here.

In some cases, Google may pull additional information from Wikipedia and/or reviews from third party websites (including Google itself). It’s important to follow the links referenced in your business listing, to determine what additional modifications may be required.

Unfortunately, updates are not instantaneous. It typically takes several weeks or longer for the search engine to modify listing information, depending on how significant the change is.

For example, we’ve seen address/operational hours change quite quickly but elements like social media profile references take much longer to process.

Search Result Site Links

In the same example above and when searching many brand-specific queries, you’ll notice multiple, secondary results within the primary listing. These results are called “site links,” usually two columns in nature, indented from the left.

Search Result Site Links

For more competitive (often non-brand related) queries you may also find secondary site link (breadcrumb navigation) references on the bottom of traditional organic search results as well.

Search Result Site Links

Why B2B Marketers Should Care

These types of results also provide a more in-depth experience when searchers are evaluating often brand-oriented information through Google. B2B marketers have an opportunity to gain visibility for important secondary site material.

How To Manage This Result

While there isn’t a way to directly impact what web pages appear in site link results, the following best practices may influence this information.

  • Consider leveraging structured data in association with the SiteNavigationElement, found through schema.org, to highlight core navigational information found on the website. Note that this specific markup isn’t currently recognized by Google guidelines.
  • For breadcrumb trails, Google does recommend implementing the BreadCrumbList data type, which helps indicate the page’s position in the site hierarchy. A user can navigate all the way up in the site hierarchy, one level at a time, by starting from the last breadcrumb in the breadcrumb trail.

In early October Google also removed a resource, originally found in Search Console, that allowed site owners to request the demotion of an existing site link. Google indicated that the search engine has “gotten much better at finding, creating, and showing relevant sitelinks, and so we feel it’s time to simplify things.”

The only ways to remove page information from this result are to either block indexing through a robots meta tag or robots.txt file or remove and redirect the page entirely.

Google Rich Answer Boxes

Google Answer Boxes

As detailed in recent studies from Stone Temple, Google continues to make major investments in showing rich answers (Google Answer Boxes) often at the top of organic search results. As illustrated in Stone Temple’s most recent update, Google’s Rich Answers have almost doubled in SERPs since 2015.

Stone Temple Study: Google’s Featured Snippets: Automated Continuous Improvement

Google says the answer summary is derived when the search engine recognizes that a query asks a question, and they then programmatically detect pages that answer this question, displaying a snippet as a “rich answer” in the search results.

Why B2B Marketers Should Care

For B2B marketers looking to gain more exposure and thought leadership in association with information-oriented queries, answer boxes will inevitably provide opportunity, if not today than certainly in the future assuming trends continue as they have in the past couple years.

How To Manage This Result

My colleague Ryan Young recently wrote about our experience obtaining visibility for these types of search experiences. While I highly recommend reviewing this blog post, here is a summary of steps we have learned to be critical (content marketing-specific), regardless of the question being answered.

  1. Select a Question to Answer
  2. Create Relevant Content
  3. Focus on Structure
  4. Remember SEO Best Practices
  5. Be Patient

The one additional SEO-centric point to consider is the integration of keyword research, and the specific review of keyword ideas to identify important targets for this type of content marketing effort.

Mobile Search & Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

At Pubcon this past October, Google webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes, announced that the search engine is creating a separate mobile index. This mobile index will ultimately become the “primary” index that the search engine uses to respond to queries.

Follow-up from Search Engine Land provided confirmation that this change would happen within “months.”

AMP in Search Preview

This news was swiftly followed by the announcement that Google had launched a new testing tool for AMP (accelerated mobile pages), which the search engine has been recommending that site owners adopt for the past several months.

Why B2B Marketers Should Care

These announcements represent a new opportunity for B2B marketers to differentiate their organization’s brand in organic search results, mobile search specifically.

AMP results are meant to load much faster than the typical web pages. In addition to the current “AMP” designation in mobile search results, B2B marketers will also have an opportunity to better satisfy the demands of searchers looking for a faster, more responsive experience.

How To Manage This Result

Google provides the following guidelines for building and executing AMP page experiences. In addition, WordPress users are able to leverage both Automatic’s AMP plugin in coordination with Yoast’s AMP Glue plugin to develop a complete mobile search-friendly experience.

Google AdWords Ad Extensions

AdWords Ad Extensions

For most B2B marketers focused on demand generation in particular, paid search can be just as important as SEO. It is critical to maximize exposure and the coverage in real estate available in search results, paid and organic.

As indicated in Google AdWords, ad extensions show extra information (“extending” from text ads) about the business.

These extensions can create more prominence on the search results page, resulting in improved visibility and arguably more value through increased click through rate and potential engagement between publisher and buyer.

Why B2B Marketers Should Care

Ad extensions provide an opportunity for B2B marketers to further distinguish themselves in search results and from other advertisers, particularly when considering more competitive keywords and aggressive bidding strategies.

In addition, and unlike organic site links and breadcrumb functionality listed previous, AdWords extensions will provide B2B marketers with a direct way to manage advertising-specific information presented to searchers.

How To Manage This Result

Google provides a full write up and reference for how ad extensions work, where they may be seen, and how to set up, implement, and manage these extensions.

That said, both Joe Vivolo and Mike Pickowicz have also written about specific AdWords ad extensions in previous posts.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully these five tactics provide new opportunities for B2B organizations to consider in their overarching search engine marketing initiatives.

By creating productive ways to differentiate an organization’s brand in organic and paid search results, B2B marketers build trust and authenticity with potential buyers throughout the sales funnel.

What successes has your organization seen in differentiating your brand in Google search results? I would love to read your perspective and feedback via comments below.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.


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