Back in the “bad old days” of search engine optimization (SEO), so-called experts could churn out fifty articles a day stuffed to the gills with every imaginable keyword designed to flag down the search engines and bring traffic to a client's website.

That was stupid SEO.

Fast forward a few years, and search engines have grown a lot smarter and more protective of their users' good moods. Search leader Google, for instance, has made it very clear that trying to game the system by stuffing keywords into irrelevant copy will not only not get you a high search ranking, it may even get your site removed from Google all together.

So what's a B2B marketer to do?

The answer is S.M.A.R.T. SEO:

  • Select
  • Monitor
  • Analyze and Act
  • Recycle
  • Track

SELECT the keywords your target market is actually going to use

To choose these keywords, you actually need to know your target market. So that's really the first step. You need to have a clear understanding of:

  • Who is your prospect?
  • What level of knowledge do they have in your industry?
  • What kinds of questions are they asking online (in search engines) or offline (to sales persons over the phone)?
  • What terms do they regularly use and what terms do they avoid?

Once you have a good handle on the answers to those questions, use Google's Keyword Tool or Hubspot's Keyword Tool to explore those words and phrases. (Note: we also use Wordstream, a subscription-based tool).

HubSpot Keyword Tool HubSpot's Keyword Tool will look at your website's rank for a search term, monthly searches for a phrase, competitiveness ranking of a search term, the number of visits your website gets for a search and more. To get a free 30-day trial of Hubspot's keyword tool on your website, click here.

Based on the number of searches each term is estimated to receive and the level of competition they're likely to involve, choose 1-2 keywords or phrases for each individual page that you're likely to be able to rank for.

MONITOR your competition

Take some time to go over your competition's web pages, keeping a close eye on products or services you know they market successfully online.

  • Try to determine what keywords and phrases they're focusing on.
  • Do a Google search using those terms and see how they're ranking.
  • Hint: you can cheat by right-clicking on their page and clicking “View Source”, then looking in the <title> tag, meta description tag and meta keyword tag.

Source code for Money Tree Software A quick look at the source code for Money Tree Software reveals that they are optimizing for "financial planning software."

If you're not a code-savvy marketer, you can use tools like SpyFu and Keyword Spy to find out what your competitors are ranking for by simply typing in a website address.

ANALYZE all your keyword options, then ACT on it

Between your own brainstorming, the input provided by whichever keyword tool you're comfortable using, and your legal espionage at your competition's website, you should have a long list of potential keywords and phrases in hand.

Analyze all of them, again using the keyword tool of your choice, to narrow down the very best choices for each page. Remember, you want keywords that are searched for a lot, but that require low or moderate competition, if possible.

Then, put your thoughts into action.

  • Optimize every page's title, description, and keyword tags using the words and phrases you've chosen.
  • Use those keywords while you're writing website content or blog posts and work them in naturally as you speak directly to that target audience.

Be sure to write for your reader/target audience first. But remember, Google's a reader too.

RECYCLE in other media

Now that you've optimized your page as best you can, the other half of SEO success will come from inbound links from other sites. Recycle those keywords by liberally sprinkling them throughout:

  • Social media updates
  • Blog and forum comments
  • Slideshare presentations
  • Guest blog posts you write for trade publications
  • E-mails to your in-house list
  • And any other means of broadcasting what your page is about in a natural way that encourages people to link to your fantastic content.

While you're at it, think about how you can add internal links from other pages on your site to your newly optimized page using your keywords.

TRACK your results

As marketers, this should be second nature by now. You need to track the results of your efforts on a regular basis. Doing so provides a ton of great information at your fingertips that can help you fine tune your search engine optimization efforts on a daily basis.

You can track SEO results by using Google Analytics' Traffic Sources report, our our favorite tool, HubSpot's Sources tool. The key here is to track your progress over time. Website traffic from "organic" sources should rise each month as you steadily add new, relevant, keyword-rich content to your website.

Google Analytics traffic sources report Google Analytics is a great free tool to measure organic traffic over time. You'll find this in the Traffic Sources report.

Hubspot Sources Report Hubspot's Sources tool lets you see organic traffic from search engines by day or month to track your trends over time.

Does your B2B website have increasing traffic every month?

The only way to drive more traffic through SEO each month is to be intentional about it. Let us show you how.

Learn how to get more traffic to your B2B website