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Strategy & Insights

Unlocking B2B Success: Mastering Data-Driven Keyword Research

By Amanda Tietjen

June 28, 2024

gold panning as a metaphor for B2B Keyword Research

Picture a prospector knee-deep in a rushing river, pan in hand, sifting through sediment with unwavering focus. 

With each swirl and shake, they search for that telltale glint of gold among countless ordinary pebbles. 

This scene mirrors the essence of B2B keyword research. Marketers wade through vast streams of data, carefully filtering and analyzing terms. 

They sift through industry jargon, customer pain points and market trends, searching for those golden keywords that will elevate their content above the competition and attract valuable leads. 

Just as each tiny fleck of gold contributes to a miner’s success, every precisely chosen keyword builds towards a robust search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, potentially striking it rich in the competitive B2B landscape.

And just as seasoned prospectors use advanced tools and techniques to increase their gold yield, savvy B2B marketers employ a comprehensive, data-driven approach to keyword research. 

There is a refined, logical process that sifts through the vast riverbed of online data, identifying the golden phrases that your target audience uses when panning for solutions. This meticulous approach creates a map of the entire terrain of your buyer’s journey, ensuring claims are staked on keywords that resonate at every stage.

By implementing these advanced prospecting techniques, businesses can craft an SEO strategy that does more than just improve search visibility—it addresses the unique challenges of B2B marketing head-on. 

The result? 

A richer vein of qualified leads and a higher conversion rate, proving that in the world of B2B SEO, the right keywords are worth their weight in gold.

Why is B2B Keyword Research Important?

B2B companies face distinct challenges in reaching and engaging their target audience. Unlike business-to-consumer (B2C) markets, B2B transactions often involve complex decision-making processes, longer sales cycles and multiple stakeholders. This is where strategic B2B keyword research becomes not just valuable, but essential. 

Keyword research goes beyond simply finding popular search terms; it’s about uncovering the language prospects use to find solutions. Many B2B companies, before working with us, tend to use brand language that is a creative representation of the services they provide to describe their solutions online. However, their target audience isn’t searching that way. 

This is why understanding search behavior through keyword research is crucial. It equips marketers with the data to produce a strategy that aligns what the B2B company does with how their target audience uses search engines. The ability to connect with the right audience at the moment of their search, addressing their questions or fulfilling their needs at any stage of the buyer’s journey, is what builds trust and ultimately drives those long-term conversions.


9 Steps to Conduct Better Keyword Research for B2B

Effective keyword research is the cornerstone of a successful B2B SEO strategy. By understanding the specific terms and phrases your target audience uses to search for solutions, you can create content that resonates with them at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Here’s a breakdown of the 9 steps involved in conducting effective B2B keyword research:

  1. Thorough Preparation and Planning
  2. Interview Key Stakeholders in the Business
  3. Leverage Historical Performance Insights
  4. Conduct a Competitor Gap Analysis
  5. Identify Long-Tail Keywords
  6. Capture Seasonal Trends and Emerging Search Behaviors
  7. Prioritize Keywords for Maximum Impact
  8. Collect Feedback from Stakeholders
  9. Finalize Research & Integrate Keywords into a Strategic Content Plan

1. Thorough Preparation and Planning

The foundation for a successful B2B SEO strategy starts with thorough preparation and planning. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Define Clear Goals: Align your keyword research objectives with your broader business goals. What are you hoping to achieve? Increased brand awareness, qualified leads or higher conversions? Understanding these goals will guide your research and ensure your keyword strategy delivers tangible results.
  • Gather Existing Resources: Don’t reinvent the wheel! If you have any past SEO documentation lying around, like keyword seed lists or content plans, gather those for reference. Additionally, if you have access to historical paid search data, including click-through rate, conversion rate or clicks impressions for search terms, incorporate that into your research. This existing data can offer valuable insights into past performance and user behavior.
  • Utilize Webmaster Tools: Don’t forget about free resources like search engine webmaster tools. Tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools (if available) can provide valuable insights into your website’s current performance and user behavior. Leverage this data to identify existing keyword rankings and potential opportunities for improvement.
  • Consider Enterprise SEO Tools: For a more comprehensive approach, consider investing in advanced enterprise SEO tools like Conductor or Brightedge. These tools offer powerful features for keyword research, competitor analysis and ongoing keyword tracking, allowing you to make data-driven decisions and stay ahead of the curve.

2. Interview Key Stakeholders in the Business

Effective B2B SEO hinges on understanding not just the search landscape, but also the internal landscape of your organization. Stakeholder interviews are a powerful tool to bridge this gap and gather crucial insights that will inform and strengthen your keyword research strategy.

Schedule meetings with key stakeholders across marketing, sales, product development and other departments and teams. By understanding their goals and any existing initiatives, you can ensure your keyword research aligns with the broader business objectives. For example, the sales team might reveal specific customer pain points, while product development can provide insights into upcoming features or industry trends. By incorporating these insights into your keyword research, you can also identify the language prospects use to search for solutions. 

Stakeholder interviews should be a two-way street. Openly discuss your research goals and initial findings. This fosters collaboration and ensures everyone is aligned on the SEO strategy. Clear communication will be crucial for its successful implementation and ongoing optimization.

b2b keyword research on brightedge
B2B Keyword Research using BrightEdge

3. Leverage Historical Performance Insights

The past often holds the key to future success. By meticulously analyzing historical performance data, valuable insights can be uncovered, helping drive a keyword strategy. This process involves a deep dive into past keyword rankings, search volumes and overall organic performance.

Enterprise-level tools like Brightedge and Conductor—alongside Google Search Console data when available—can help paint a comprehensive picture of the competitive SEO landscape. This analysis reveals not just which keywords have performed well, but also identifies emerging searches you may already be ranking for – just not well enough to get traffic from. These are your low-hanging fruit to optimize in the future. 

4. Conduct a Competitor Gap Analysis

A thorough competitor analysis is also fundamental to a successful keyword strategy. 

Advanced tools like Semrush, Conductor and Brightedge can analyze competitors’ organic search performance, identifying the keywords driving their traffic and visibility. This process reveals content gaps and opportunities for differentiation in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

This doesn’t mean simply mimicking competitor strategies. Look for untapped niches and long-tail keyword variations that competitors might have overlooked. By understanding where competitors excel and where they fall short, you can craft a keyword strategy that not only competes effectively but also carves out a unique position.

A comprehensive competitor analysis allows you to develop content that fills market gaps, addresses underserved pain points and ultimately helps outperform their competitors in organic search rankings.

5. Identify Long-Tail Keywords

Don’t underestimate the power of long-tail keywords! Tools like Answer The Public and analysis for Google SERP features help you explore niche opportunities and identify long-tail variations. This allows you to strike a balance between search volume and relevance, ensuring your content resonates with your target audience while attracting qualified leads.

6. Capture Seasonal Trends and Emerging Search Behaviors

Staying ahead of seasonal trends and emerging search behaviors is crucial for maintaining a competitive edge.

By examining seasonality in search data, fluctuations in volume and intent can be uncovered, allowing you to proactively adjust keyword strategies, ensuring optimal visibility during peak periods and maintaining a strong presence during off-seasons.

Simultaneously, keep a pulse on emerging search behaviors—such as the growing prevalence of voice search and mobile queries in the B2B sector—and adapt keyword strategies to accommodate these trends.

And always keep an eye on industry events, technological advancements and regulatory changes that might influence search behavior. Anticipating these shifts and incorporating them into your keyword strategy ensures you remain at the forefront, capturing both immediate opportunities and long-term trends in the ever-evolving search landscape.

7. Prioritize Keywords for Maximum Impact

Not all keywords are created equal. By carving out dedicated time at the end of your research for keyword prioritization, you can ensure focus on terms that will drive the most significant impact.

Begin by assessing keyword relevance, ensuring each term aligns closely with the organization’s offerings and target audience. While search volume is a crucial factor, don’t solely chase high-volume keywords. Instead, balance search volume with competition level, identifying opportunities where you can realistically compete and gain visibility in search engine results.

After you’ve confirmed the relevance of your keywords, assign groupings to the keywords to strategically segment and prioritize them for future content creation and optimization. Example groupings could include: 

  • Topic: Group keywords by topics or themes. Not only will this make content planning easier in the future, it also lays the groundwork for a Topic Clustering model. 
  • Audience: Group keywords targeting specific audience segments
  • Buyer’s journey: Align keywords with the buying stages (awareness, consideration, decision, retention) to address user needs at each step. SEO is about the sum, not just the parts. It’s essential to create content that offers a holistic search experience for prospects and current customers on your website. By aligning keywords with the buyer’s journey, marketers can address pain points and information needs at each stage, ensuring content relevance and impact.
  • Product or Service: Group keywords related to your offerings.
  • Location: Group keywords by geographic location.

This strategic prioritization ensures the keyword strategy not only improves search visibility but also drives meaningful business results.

8. Collect Feedback from Stakeholders

Schedule meetings with stakeholders to clearly present keyword research findings and recommendations, allowing time for review and incorporating their feedback to align with their insights and the organization’s goals.


9. Finalize Research & Integrate Keywords into a Strategic Content Plan

It’s time to finalize your prioritized keyword list and upload it to your chosen SEO platform for tracking. But your SEO journey doesn’t stop there! 

The next step is to transform these keywords into a strategic content plan that fuels your B2B SEO success. A well-crafted content plan is the backbone of any effective B2B SEO strategy. It all starts by mapping your prioritized keywords to specific existing or net new content pieces. 

When doing this, consider striking a balance between capitalizing on immediate opportunities and pursuing long-term goals. This approach guarantees a consistent stream of SEO-optimized content, steadily propelling your website up the search rankings. A way to streamline your approach is to categorize content based on the current keyword rankings:

  • Defend (Ranked 1-3): Defend your existing traffic by tracking and optimizing keywords already performing for you. 
  • Optimize (Ranked 4-30): Grow your traffic by optimizing keywords within striking distance. 
  • Compete (Ranked 30+ or Owned by Competition): Take traffic away from your competition by focusing on keywords performing for them and not you. 
  • Expand: Create content to rank for completely new keywords to increase your website traffic. 

By integrating keywords strategically, B2B marketers can create a comprehensive content plan that not only improves SEO performance but also provides value to their audience throughout the buying process, ultimately driving meaningful business results.

Implementing Best Practices for B2B Keyword Research Success

Successful B2B keyword research relies on effective collaboration between SEO and content teams, combined with continuous monitoring and optimization. This data-driven approach is essential for delivering measurable results in the competitive B2B landscape.

Continuous Monitoring and Optimization

In the dynamic world of SEO, staying ahead requires constant vigilance. Employing sophisticated SEO tools and project management techniques allows for continuous monitoring of keyword performance. This ongoing analysis enables real-time strategy adaptation, ensuring that B2B companies can swiftly respond to changing search trends and maintain their competitive edge.

Anticipate & Address Challenges in B2B Keyword Research

While keyword research is crucial for B2B success, it’s not without its hurdles. B2B marketers often find themselves grappling with unique challenges that can make the process both complex and nuanced.

  • Balancing Volume & Value: Finding keywords that have sufficient search volume while also being highly relevant to your specific B2B offerings and target audience.
  • Building a Full-funnel Experience: Identifying and incorporating keywords that cater to all stages of the B2B buying journey, from awareness to decision-making.
  • Marrying User Search Behavior with Brand Positioning: Aligning the specific terms and phrases your target audience uses in searches with your brand’s unique value proposition and messaging, ensuring discoverability while maintaining your distinct market position.
  • Understanding Search Intent: Deciphering whether searchers are looking for information, comparisons or ready to make a purchase, tailoring your content accordingly.
  • Balancing Technical Jargon with Friendly Language: Striking the right balance between industry-specific terminology that demonstrates expertise and more accessible language that appeals to a broader audience.

Collaboration Between SEO and Content Teams

The synergy between SEO specialists and content creators is crucial for success. Aligning these teams ensures that keyword strategies translate into compelling, optimized content that resonates with B2B marketers and drives organic traffic. This collaboration fosters a holistic approach to SEO, where technical optimization and helpful content work hand in hand.

Driving Sustainable Growth Through Data-Driven B2B Keyword Research

Data-driven keyword research is the cornerstone of successful B2B SEO. 

By leveraging historical data, understanding user intent and anticipating trends, companies can gain a competitive edge. This approach not only improves search visibility but aligns SEO efforts with broader business objectives, driving targeted traffic and qualified leads.
Ready to elevate your B2B SEO strategy? Contact Noble Studios today. Our expert team can help you implement data-driven keyword research and develop a comprehensive SEO strategy tailored to your business goals.

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