The B2B SEO Formula: How To Make SEO Work In 2024

B2B SEO is actually pretty simple. It's not easy, but it's simple. I've boiled it all the way down to one basic 3-part formula—and this is it.

I found the cheat codes.

And I’m going to share them with you right now.

In this article, I’ll explain the exact B2B SEO formula I’ve used over and over and over again to get predictable results across virtually any industry. The difference between the SEO winners and the losers comes down to three specific areas.

Sorry, had to try to bring the “wow” in the intro. Promise I’m not going to sell you a course at the end. I will share a picture of my puppy though, so stay tuned.

What’s the ultimate goal of SEO in B2B?

SEO isn’t about traffic.

It isn’t about rankings, getting clicks, backlinks, or whether or not you pop up in ChatGPT answers or AI Overviews (or whatever they rename it to next time).

The goal of SEO in B2B is this:

To reach in-market prospects and get your products on their radar.

That’s it.

Yes, you can peel back the layers and get into some secondary or tertiary goals around brand and building “mindshare” for the future, but I prefer to simplify things.

What’s the formula for achieving that goal?

First thing’s first, let me be crystal clear here:

There is no silver bullet.

SEO isn’t an exact science and there is no “one perfect method” that works universally across every vertical, every type of business, and every audience segment.

That said…

Some methods are more predictable than others.

And more predictability leads to a greater likelihood of success—in this case, reaching in-market prospects to get your products on their radar.

Here’s the formula I constantly lean on:

Good base + good content + good links = profit

That’s it.

Three variables that, when executed well, lead to profit virtually every single time in B2B. The best part is, you don’t even need massive search volumes for it to work either like you would selling a B2C product (more on that later).

1. Good base

First, build on a solid foundation.

These days, it really isn’t that tough either which is great. Just use a reputable website builder that does most of the basics for you out-of-the-box like WordPress or Webflow and you’re already 90% of the way there.

A good base will have:

  • Pages that load fairly quickly (you don’t need to over-optimize for this though)
  • All of the basic technical features in place (sitemaps, robots.txt, canonicals, etc)
  • An easy way to stage and publish new pages

And honestly, that’s pretty much it. You don’t need to get into all of the advanced technical bits like schema markup, render-blocking javascript, core web vitals, crawl budgets, user agent directives, etc.

If your site loads quickly (just do an incognito gut-check test), you’re good.

2. Good content

Second, figure out what your prospects are searching for and publish content that matches up with those searches. Answer their questions and give them what they’re looking for.

To use a more specific phrase here…

Match their search intent.

  • If they’re looking to compare you and a competitor, give it to them.
  • If they’re looking for the best software options in your category, give it to them.
  • If they’re looking for how to solve a problem you can help with, give it to them.

You get the point.

Figure out what your prospects want as their searching, then create good content that aligns with those wants.

Keep in mind though:

The key here that’s always been overlooked but is even more overlooked in the age of AI is the “good” part of the equation.

It’s not “create content that aligns…”

It’s “create GOOD content that aligns…”

You can’t just ship a piece of unedited, single-prompt ChatGPT trash that you wouldn’t even read yourself and expect it to attract and convert prospects. If that was really all it took, everyone would’ve already done that by now.

Here’s how to make sure you’re checking the “good” box:

  • Include actual stories and indicators of experience in your content.
  • Don’t follow the same boring “SEO content” templates as everyone else.
  • Write like an actual human speaking to another human, not like a bit.
  • Bring actual data and research to the table that’s new and novel.
  • Add visuals like diagrams, screenshots or examples that add to the content.
  • Give actual answers and actual takes in your writing—don’t just float in the middle.

Side note…

That last bullet is something that really grinds my gears, both when I see others in the space doing it and when I’m doing research of my own.

There’s nothing worse than reading a “this vs that” article that’s just 2,000 words of “both are fine, IDK…” with no answer and no opinions. Like, what? Huge waste of time.

3. Good links

Third, get backlinks from high-quality websites.

Yup, that’s right, links are still a thing in 2024. I’ll admit the system is harder to cheese these days than it was 10 years ago, but links are still one of the main factors in determining whether you show up on page 1 or on page 100.

Just like with content, though, not all links are created equal.

The links need to be good.

I’ll take the page with 3 genuinely good links to beat another page with 10,000 trashy spam links 7 days a week and twice on Sunday.

So what makes a link good, you ask?

Once again, there’s no exact science or threshold you must hit to appease big G (ahem, Google). But all hope isn’t lost—you can still set some quality thresholds that likely indicate a link is high enough quality to actually count for something.

They’re just arbitrary, but here’s what I use:

  • 20+ domain rating (DR)
  • 50+ organic visits/mo to the website
  • <200 outgoing links from the individual page
  • Links placed in the page content (filters out spammy footer links)

It’s a blend a domain-level metrics to filter out spammy sites and page-level metrics to filter out spammy pages. Again, not perfect, but far better than nothing.

I’ll also typically filter to just “dofollow” links and exclude nofollows, but that’s just me being stubborn and stuck in my ways. I’d still happily take a nofollow link that checks the rest of the boxes over no link at all.

Generally speaking, those filters typically trim a list of backlinks down by 90-95% overall.

That’s right, about 1 in 20 links suck.

In fact, let’s run a lil’ experiment.

Here’s the current results on page 1 for the search term “best visitor management software” from Ahrefs:

Hmm, that looks like a lot of backlinks.

  • Capterra has 268 from 86 domains
  • G2 has 75 from 55 domains
  • Greetly has 371 from 234 domains
  • Envoy has 155 from 78 domains

(Of course, Reddit’s gonna be everywhere whether they have 1 link or 10,000 links. Thanks for that Google.)

It could take years to build the hundreds of links you’ll need on a fresh page to compete with those sites, right?

Spoiler: You don’t actually need 100+ links to compete.

Here’s that same group of URLs with the links numbers filtered down using the thresholds I shared above:

That’s right…

  • Capterra’s 86 referring domains became just 4 good links
  • G2’s 55 became 6
  • Greetly’s 234 became 78 (honestly a great ratio, kudos to their team)
  • Envoy’s 78 became 10

See how quickly the barrier to entry is lowered?

Instead of the average number of referring domains for page 1 competitors being 73—it’s down to 14. Take the median instead to keep Greetly’s page from skewing the data and that target number drops to just 6 good referring domains.

I think you can build 6 good links.

B2B SEO vs B2C SEO: Why B2B is better

That’s right, I’m using the word better very intentionally here.

Which would you prefer:

  • Trying to sell 1,000 things for $50 each
  • Trying to sell 10 things for $5,000 each

Both paths lead to the same top-line revenue—$50,000—but the pathway to get there looks a lot different, especially through SEO.

That right there is B2C vs B2B.

In B2C, you’re typically selling lower-ticket products to a bunch of people. In B2B, you’re typically selling higher-ticket products to a few people. There’s exceptions to both sides of course, but in most cases those statements are accurate.

Picture the sales funnel for each scenario:

For the B2C product…

In order to sell 1,000 units of your product, you need about 30,000 people to visit your product page if we use Shopify’s average ecommerce conversion rate number of 3%.

To get 30,000 people to your page, even if you’re ranking in position 1 in Google where you get roughly 25% of the available clicks, you’ll need at least 120,000 searches to happen.

Factor in that it’s going to take time to reach page 1, more time to reach position 1 (if you can even get there), and you’ll be facing ruthless competition along the way from other businesses, your friendly neighborhood goliath—Amazon.com—and now Google themselves with AI Overviews and shopping ads, and you can see why the “SEO is dead” chants are ringing pretty loud right now.

It could easily take you literal years to sell 1,000 units relying on SEO alone.

For the B2B product…

You only need to close 10 deals.

Let’s pull some average B2B SaaS sales funnel close rates from FirstPageSage to work with here:

  • Visitor to Lead ……………… 2.1%
  • Lead to MQL ………………… 41%
  • MQL to SQL …………………. 51%
  • SQL to Opportunity ……… 49%
  • Opportunity to Close ……. 36%

Working backwards from our goal of 10 closed deals, we would only need 13,000 visitors if we go with their 2.1% visitor-to-lead conversion rate.

Bump that number up to a 5% because you’re going to be targeting in-market prospects that are already showing signs of wanting to convert, and that number drops to just 5,500 visitors to close 10 deals and hit $50,000 in revenue:

Using the same estimated share of the clicks from our last B2C calculations and the number of searches you need to happen drops down to just 22,000—that’s 5x less than the B2C example.

It all comes down to one thing when comparing B2C and B2B:

Lifetime value.

Instead of chasing tons of small, one-time orders with small average cart values, you’re chasing a few big whales with 5-6 figure average contract values and recurring revenue potential.

Sign me up.

How to put this formula to use

I thought you’d never ask.

Of course, you can do it all yourself or with your team in-house. I tried to give away as much as I could here, and I’ll keep sharing more as quickly as I can on LinkedIn (give me a follow).

In reality, the path in front of you here is really quite simple.

Simple, but not easy.

Yes, there are only three parts to the equation, but two of them in particular (I’ll let you guess which two) can be pretty damn tough to get right.

“But wait, there’s more!”

You already saw this coming from a mile away I’m sure, but I just so happen to know a search marketing firm that specializes in executing this exact playbook for B2B businesses.

Shocking, I know.

It’s this new kid on the block named Backstage SEO.

All seriousness though, reach out if you want to chat about how this formula could work for your business. There’s a good chance it will, but I’d happily take a peek at your space before you end up investing 5-6 figures digging where there’s no gold.

Book a free discovery call now.

Promise I won’t pitch slap you—it’ll just be a friendly 30-ish minute chat. I’m Canadian after all, so being overly friendly is in my DNA.

Oh, and here’s Bean for those following along from the intro. She’s a Border Collie / Poodle mix. Weird, I know…

Contents

Steal our SaaS SEO checklist
70+ proven items prioritized by impact vs effort.

When you're ready, here's how we can help you:

We’ll build a research-backed, conversion-led search marketing strategy to help you bring more qualified traffic to your website (and convert attention into opportunities). 

We’ll create (or refresh) optimized content assets that help get you in front of your ideal buyers when they’re looking for solutions like yours.

Get 1:1 time with Josh to talk organic growth strategy, content marketing, demand capture, fantasy football, and anything in between. I’ve got a decade of experience working with seed-stage startups through to B2B SaaS unicorns to lean on.

Author

Josh Gallant

I help B2B SaaS companies grow with conversion-led SEO.

Big on building scalable systems & frameworks for growth. I write about how B2B SaaS companies can unlock better results from organic search. Follow me on LinkedIn for more.

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