The average channel partner isn’t making it easy for the typical B2B buyer to find them. While the first step most B2B shoppers take in their buyer’s journey is an online query for the solutions or services they need, most channel partners are failing to follow search engine best practices to make their brands easy to discover.
At the B2B Marketing Exchange – Next-Level ABM conference held earlier this year, Janet Schijns, CEO of JS Group, a channel consulting firm, spoke extensively about the need for channel marketers to help their partners optimize their digital presence for search.
CMR reached out to Schijns to learn more.
CMR — During your presentation at the B2B Marketing Exchange – Next-Level ABM, you offered some alarming data on how poorly partner websites are optimized for search. Just how bad is it?
Janet Schijns – The data clearly indicates that most partners aren’t doing enough to optimize their sites for search. For example, 83% of the partners we looked at were not optimized for local search despite 68% being “local in nature” in their business.
Think about your average partner: they operate in their local area usually within a 50-mile maximum radius particularly for services. This means their ideal prospects are local. And yet when they built their website they did not optimize for their local customers to find them.
The domain authority of most partners’ websites suggest they are not relevant for a specific technology, subject area or industry. In fact, on a scale of 1-100, 87% of partners’ website have a domain authority of less than 50.
With numbers like these, it’s no surprise than only a handful of partners sites are sufficiently optimized to help buyers find them. Less that 5% of the partner sites were in the top three results for the keywords mentioned most often on their websites.
CMR – Research shoes that B2B buyers are doing as much as two-thirds of their shopping before contacting a seller. How can vendors affordably and efficiently help their partners optimize their sites so B2B buyers can find them?
Janet Schijns – At a high level they need to launch packages to help partners optimize their website and digital content for local search.
At JS Group we’ve built packages that help partners update and optimize their websites for results. We start by evaluating their ideal customers and how we will expose the partners brand to organic audiences via search engines; leverage digital advertising to boost lead generation; and deploy content marketing to build brand awareness and authority.
Keywords, the words and phrases that people type into search engines when they look for information, are the foundation of SEO. If you want to be found by your audience, you need to know what words they use to search for a business like yours.
CMR – Identifying the right keywords isn’t that easy. Is that a component of the packages you offer?
Janet Schijns – Yes, we use proven tools and techniques to establish a list of important keywords and phrases. These keywords are then prioritized based on relevance, volume, competition, and priority. The broad research list is then refined into a focused list that we use to guide content and copy development.
To be relevant in a search website, pages need 300 to 500 words of copy. These words need to communicate the company’s value clearly, concisely, and incorporate keywords consistently for search. This includes the development of headlines and sub-headers.
As web pages are edited another pass of SEO is made on the website. At this stage, search optimization is done to ensure that all images have ALT attributes, page meta-data is included and optimized — title, description, URL, etc. — and all internal and external linking is properly implemented.
The copy will be reviewed a final time, including headers, to make sure keywords are properly weighted and distributed throughout the page.
CMR – Can you tell us more about the importance of optimizing a website for local search?
Janet Schijns — Nearly half of all Google queries today are local searches. Even when someone performs a non-local search, the chances that Google shows local businesses nearby remains high. Google gives local search results preference and local businesses appear high at the top of the first page. If you look at a search result today, a significant amount of landscape is taken up by these local listings — reviews, Q&A, site links and videos too.
CMR — What search optimizing activities should be prioritized?
Janet Schijns — Partners should always start by looking at the health of their website, content and then ultimately their Google My Business (GMB) classifications. GMB has grown in importance since 2018 – rising from 25% of local pack ranking factors to 33% in 2020. Most partners GMB listings do not appear optimized for search. The business is not properly classified, the description isn’t optimized, and there are no reviews. This limits your business’ search exposure.
CMR — Can search engine optimizing packages be affordable enough that smaller partners might have sufficient MDF to pay for them?
Janet Schijns — Yes the program that we offer has been funded only via MDF by the majority of our partner clients. We find the partner making an introduction to the vendor can help us sell the vendor on enabling the program for their partners overall and hence for the partner who needs the help right now.
CMR — Are vendors more aware of the need to optimize local search for their partners?
Janet Schijns — Vendors are starting to wake up and realize this matters for their ongoing channel business. Consider the fact that the CCA (Cloud Communications Association) and Cavell Group recent research has shown in the cloud comms space that 30% of customers are looking to switch platforms – in that minute you need your solution to be found online on your partners sites.
CMR — Do you have any suggestions on how vendors can decide which partners they should prioritize?
Janet Schijns — Vendors should prioritize those partners who have invested in their core messaging, have localized services, have an updated website (or are willing to also have the website redone in the MDF program) and are committed to promoting the vendors solution online.