Build Jargon into Your B2B SEO

If you’re new to doing SEO for business-to-business websites, you face an interesting challenge. That’s doubly true if you’ve done SEO for consumer-facing websites first. Some of the same rules apply, but others operate in exactly the reverse way. The biggest example of this involves your use of content, keywords, and jargon.

To illustrate my point, I’ll describe two parallel purchasing situations. Your eleven-year-old niece enjoys looking at things under a magnifying glass; she’s even been drawing pictures and taking notes. She asked you for a microscope for her twelfth birthday. You’re a careful shopper, so you look up maybe three or four models online, compare features and prices, and ultimately buy one that’s easy for her to use, but you think will grow with her. You’ve spent maybe two hours of your time and somewhere between $25 and $100.

Now, let’s look at someone purchasing lab equipment at the college level for undergraduates, graduate students, or researchers. Or if you really insist on a business example, let’s consider a purchaser for a pharmaceutical company. They will want much more capable microscopes; they will probably have a list of features the equipment must include, for example. They will spend a lot more money – and correspondingly, a lot more time looking for the right device. Bryne Hobard, writing for Search Engine Land, notes that your average B2B buyer “might read 10,000 words of copy before they start the purchasing process – half on the site they eventually buy from, and the rest on several other sites they consider.”

These purchasers are sophisticated; they are experts in their fields. If you talk down to them or simplify, they will leave your site in frustration because you’re not really telling them what they need to know. If you’re building a B2B website and want to reach these professionals, you need to choose your keywords from their language. This means you need to learn their jargon, and use it correctly.

This process requires that you immerse yourself in their literature. If you’re selling products and services to lawyers, read the law blogs they read; ditto for corporate accountants. You might not understand it at first, but you can learn enough to tell your prospective customers what they need to know – and in as much detail as they need to know it. Even better, if you use the right jargon in the right way (and that’s going to vary depending on the field), you’ll be telling it to them in their “native language,” so to speak.

You gain a number of advantages by doing this. First, if you’re using the right jargon, you’re not targeting regular consumers anymore; you’re focusing like a laser on your actual market. “But I’m not targeting consumers anyway; why would an ordinary consumer want to buy this expensive piece of computer equipment?” you may ask. If that expensive piece of computer equipment is a server, you need to remember that HP ProLiant servers sell for as little as $1,200. While mainframes may cost several orders of magnitude more, they’re also servers. With that much of a range encapsulated in just one word, you can’t afford NOT to use some kind of jargon that professionals will use as keywords to find your offering…and other kinds of consumers won’t use.

The second advantage you’ll gain is trust. If you use jargon correctly, potential purchasers will believe that you understand what you’re talking about. After all, you really can’t use it correctly unless you do have some understanding of the field. This operates on the consumer level, too, of course; who wouldn’t prefer to buy a camera from an experienced shutterbug who’s good at explaining what’s available and matching it up with your needs? Consider, then, how much more important it is to be able to trust who you’re buying from when you’re making an expensive purchase for your company – the kind of purchase that just might put your career on the line.

The third advantage you’ll gain from using jargon in your content, and for at least some of your keywords, is knowledge. Remember what I said earlier about needing to know a field if you’re going to use its jargon correctly. Learn enough about a field, and you can become an expert. As Hobard notes, “After a while, you can’t talk confidently about a topic without understanding it on a fairly deep level.” You’ll need this kind of deep understanding to make your B2B SEO campaign a success.

Near the beginning of this article I noted that most B2B purchasers start their decision process by reading about 10,000 words. Someone has to write those words, and they have to come from somewhere. Hobard notes that “B2B SEO is built on useful email newsletters, through whitepapers, an a staggering level of technical detail in on-site copy. The B2B sales process is extensive, and involves lots of in-person information sharing; if you can shift even a small fraction of that online, you’ve made your campaign far more scalable. (Replacing sales calls with pageviews is a massive, massive win).”

Who better to write this copy – and know which pieces of jargon to target as keywords – than a writer so immersed in the literature that they’ve made themselves an expert? On this point I can speak with some authority and experience. I think regular readers of my articles here on SEO Chat – and my occasional posts in the SEO Chat forum – can attest to this.

This approach may seem very different from selling to consumers, where you want to avoid jargon and keep your text concise. But you can win over both B2B buyers and other kinds of buyers by remembering to put yourself in their shoes, and giving them what they need to make the right decision. Good luck! 

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