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The 4 Biggest Factors Determining Your B2B Site Ranking Angling for better site ranking can feel like being lost in the wilderness, until you recognize the right landmarks.

By Tony Messer Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


You're busy running your business.

You've got a ton of things to do each and every day. You know you need to work on your website, but something more important always keeps cropping up. Not only that, you've heard all these conflicting stories about what works and what can get you into trouble.

Some people tell you that backlinks are important. Then you read that Google punishes websites with an unnatural link pattern. Whatever that is.

Then you hear that Content is King. But what type of content and how do you find the time to create it anyway?

It's no wonder you never seem to get round to making those changes.

My company, Pickaweb works with thousands of B2B businesses and these are concerns that we hear them raising all the time.

That's why we conducted our own research into what separates the Best in Class B2B websites from the Industry Average.

We studied over 440 Industry Average websites and compared them to 100 Best in Class Websites in the UK to identify where the major differences existed to identify where the Best in Class were getting the advantage. We looked at five specific industries: Accounting, Training Companies, Printers, Commercial Cleaners and Telemarketing Companies.

The 100 Best in Class websites all achieved a top three ranking (Google Three Pack) in their local town based on desktop searches in their industry (e.g. Printer Birmingham). The Industry Average was a top three position 25 percent of the time.

Related: The 'F-Word' in B2B Relationships

We looked at a number of common SEO Factors (both on page, i.e. on your website, and 100 percent under your control and off page, i.e. outside of your website, and outside of your control).

We've prepared an Executive Summary, but here are the headlines:

  • Best in Class use BOTH location and Industry in the page title of their home page 61 percent of the time, whereas the Industry Average was just 21 percent.

  • Best In Class have an average of 44 external websites linking to them whereas Industry Average sites have just 17.

  • Industry Average sites have half the number of Google reviews that Best in Class have (0.4 vs 0.93 on average).

  • Industry Average sites have less than half the number of pages than Best in Class. The figure is 48 vs 104 respectively.

So if you are determined to get a higher ranking then read on, because here's what you need to focus on.

Embedded from Pickaweb

1. Get the SEO basics right.

The data showed clearly that Best in Class were consistently getting the SEO basics right. That means using the right industry and location related keywords and including them where they matter -- in the metatags of their websites.

Don't worry too much about the jargon. What's important is that you understand that Google is a machine and it needs you to tell it exactly what it is you do on each and every page. The way that you achieve this is through the use of the keywords in your site.

The general term for this code is metatags and you see them in the first two lines of the Google search results. The first one is called the Page Title and the second one is the Meta Description.

The most important is the Page Title. Ideally it should be between 67 to 70 characters long. Any longer and it won't fit in the search results so keep an eye on this. Our research showed that Best in Class did two things consistently better than the Industry Average sites.

First they included BOTH Industry AND Location in the Page Title. So if they are an Accountant based in Manchester they would have "Accountant" AND "Manchester" in the Page Title Element, i.e.: "Accountant in Manchester -- Offering Personal and Company Tax Advice".

The other thing we identified about the Metatag was that Best in Class made use of the 67 to 70 character limit whereas the Industry Average did not. Best in Class averaged at 66 characters while the Industry Average sites used just 44 characters.

These two factors are quite basic really but the difference between the two groups was quite significant statistically speaking.

Finally, the data also showed that Best in Class paid better attention to the use of H1 Headings on the home page. If you're not familiar with Headings then think about when you create a document in Microsoft Word or Google docs. When you format the headings to better structure the page, it's exactly the same thing.

Headings are important because they give your web pages structure that helps Google "understand" the content better. There is a hierarchy of Headings and the H1 heading is the most important. SEO Best practice suggests that you should only use one H1 heading per page.

Our research identified that Best in Class websites use an H1 heading on their homepage in 72 percent of instances whereas the Industry Average is 53 percent. Not such a major difference this time, but it does reinforce the impression that Best in Class are paying more attention to the details.

Related: The Top 4 Basic SEO Principles That Increase Your Website Traffic

2. Go for the easy, quick links.

Despite the fact that Google took the nuclear option on underhand and spammy link building techniques back in 2012, backlinks from external websites pointing to your site still have a major impact on your rankings.

There is a debate going on amongst SEO Professionals about what constitutes underhand and what is acceptable. But if this argument goes over your head and you haven't been involved in link building previously, then the chances are you have nothing to worry about.

Generally the only people who need to be concerned are those who have been building links on an industrial scale with links from bad neighborhoods and low value link directories.

When it comes to our study though it was clear that the number of backlinks was a major factor. We didn't even look at the number of links because a better measure is the number of Referring Domains (i.e. websites that link to a site) linking to a website. The reason for this is that some sites have site wide links on all pages on the footers or sidebars of websites linking to them.

So we discounted total links and looked at Referring Domains. That way even if a site has one thousand pages with a link on every page to a website, that would only be counted as one Referring Domain.

The results showed that best in Class averaged 44 Referring Domains whereas Industry Average sites get just 17 external websites (Referring Domains) linking to them.

Getting local backlinks is not that difficult though. All you need is a planned, consistent approach and you can get them. There's no need to go crazy trying to bridge the gap overnight though.

The best place to start is with Name, Address and Phone (NAP) Citations. These are just links from recognized local listing websites like Yelp. These are as easy as filling in a form on the website. Some may be paid but usually they are worth it.

Other easy wins are from your social media profiles and from your local listing with Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Then look for links from local sites that send important local signals to Google. Do you use local suppliers? If so, offer them a testimonial and get a link back from them. Or maybe you're a member of a local business group or trade association. You must get these links, they are as easy as sending an email.

What about your trade or industry? Are there specific websites that list you and your fellow businesses? Do you have a certification or accreditation from an industry recognized organization? These are all high quality links that can help you.

Overall you just need to pace yourself and make a commitment to gather these links over a period of several months and you'll notice the difference.

3. More Google reviews.

Take a quick look at the local rankings. Do you notice something that the top ranking sites have in common? You got it. They've got more Google reviews.

Now this comes with a health warning. Don't go crazy here. This is not the opportunity to start pleading with 500 customers to give you a review overnight. This is definitely something you need to introduce as a habit over time. If you go from zero to 50 reviews in a week then an alarm is going to go off somewhere in Google and you could find yourself on the receiving end of a penalty.

And you definitely don't want that.

A better way is to just approach your best customers initially and ask for a review. The chances are you know them well and they're usually happy to oblige one of their favorite suppliers.

Then once you've got a few you just need to stay ahead of the pack by getting into the habit of asking for reviews. When's the best time to ask? When you've got a happy smiling customer in front of you.

Related: How Online Customer Reviews Help SEO and Drive Sales Growth

4. Double down on content.

As shown above, the number of pages was a significant difference between Best in Class and the Industry Average with 104 pages vs. 48 respectively.

The thing is that Google does not tend to like "Thin" websites. It prefers websites with loads of relevant content and ones which add content on a regular basis.

One thing that we often notice is that small business websites don't have much content. That's a low number of pages and then not much content on each page.

For example, many will have a "Services" page where they list the services they provide. A much better idea is to have a page for each service. Doing that in itself will probably double the number of pages of most websites.

Then double down on the page length. Ideally try to make each page contain at least 500 words of text. If possible go to 1000 words. It can be done. Have a rummage around your hard drive and your outbox. Think about all of the presentations you have. All the emails you've sent with explanations.

Think about the conversations you have with prospective or existing customers about your products or services. You're an expert. You just need to get all of this useful information onto your website pages.

Then make sure you link between your pages using the keywords as the links where possible. Again, links send important signals to Google about the content of a page or the page they are about to visit from a link.

Once you've worked through your "money pages" you can turn your attention to a blog. A blog is your chance to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Google rewards websites that create content on a consistent basis over websites that are static.

A blog section can be added using a free blogging platform like WordPress.

In terms of content, this is your chance to shine. Use your experience to create content that would be of interest to your audience, i.e. your potential customers. Every question they have is an opportunity to create content.

Once you've created content then you can repurpose it into another format whether it's video or a presentation or a downloadable pdf.


Our research leads us to conclude that the bar is set quite low in the UK B2B Sector. If you run a local B2B business or you are a web professional working in this market, then you have an opportunity to achieve a high ranking and get more business through your website. If you focus on four fundamental points:

  • Get the On Page SEO basics right -- keywords, Metatags and Headings.

  • Get more websites to link to you -- go for the quick easy wins like NAP Citations and links from industry websites.

  • Get more reviews -- start with your best customers and get into the habit of asking for reviews.

  • Create more content -- start by creating individual service pages for EVERY service you offer and then move on to your blog and create content based on questions which enable you to demonstrate your expertise.

Tony Messer

Co-founder and CEO of Pickaweb

Tony Messer is the co-founder and CEO of UK web hosting company Pickaweb. Having worked with thousands of small businesses, ecommerce retailers and startups, Tony knows what it takes to grow an online business. He is the author of two books on online marketing.

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