Do B2B’s and B2C’s Collide in Search Marketing?

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I talk with marketers and IT folks all across the country about their web sites and their potential to use the search engines to drive traffic. Many point out that their company is business-to-business and they want to work with someone who specializes in that space. Still others are in the business-to-consumer space and are sure they need a specialist in that realm. Often I almost lose each group’s attention when I say we specialize in both. They pause. The silence is defining. I try to get them back, “Both B2B and B2C’s want to position well in the search results. We specialize in helping sites position well in the engines. Therefore we specialize in both business and consumer flavored sites.”

I then let this sink in for a couple of seconds. If there is still a defining silence I can mention a client or two of ours that is B2B or B2C. This always seems to make the call more comfortable.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying or pretending that there aren’t significant differences between the B2B and B2C spaces. I just want to make it clear that the framework of best practices for search engine optimization and marketing is sound for both areas.

Let’s use a couple of examples to draw this out a bit. How about real estate? We all know what that is. In this case we are talking search engine results real estate. You want to have a visible listing on the search results page. This is the real estate you are working with. Whether it is in the natural or the paid listings, you need a solid best practices plan to keep visible at all. No difference between B2B and B2C here.

“Oh, but we aren’t in this for just branding,” is what you may say. Well, many sites both B2B and B2C are in this, at least partially, for branding. You may be a B2C that doesn’t want branding. You just want sales. Talk to one of your B2C colleagues at another company and she may point out that branding is precisely what she needs. In this case the B2B vs. B2C argument is thrown out. Now it’s B2C vs. B2C. You see how complicated it can get? (By the way, everyone should be aware of branding in the search results. But that’s a blog post for another day.)

Do the search engines specialize in B2B and B2C results? The answer is yes and both. Last I checked, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask (yes I dropped the Jeeves part on purpose) did not have radio buttons to mark a search B2B or B2C. Nope. Any one search starts with the same little search box and button.

In the end it is all about doing the right things to earn a decent nod from the engines. Building relevant sites that people want to visit and link to is key. The engines are happy to see you listed near the top if you deserve it. Whether you B2B folks just want sales leads that convert over months, or you B2C folks want a sale a second, its all the same to the engines. You have to earn it and there are no short cuts or tricks that work, for the long-term anyway.

Much the same can be said for the paid search marketing space. B2B and B2C sites face essentially the same challenges. They both seek a decent return on ad spend, an acceptable cost per acquisition, a workable ROI index, and maybe some branding thrown in.

As you look for a vendor or partner to help with you search engine placement you should look for companies with a solid track record of successfully and safely positioning sites. That should come first. Whatever your goals, they should be able to help.

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