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SEO Underused, Forrester Report Suggests

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Some tech brands miss opportunities to tap into search engine optimization (SEO) in all stages of the purchase funnel other than to drive awareness and generate new leads, according to a recent Forrester Research study.

While 92% of survey participants used SEO in a least one stage of the campaign, the areas lacking SEO support include cultivating leads to sales status, supporting sales in moving prospects through the sales process, and retaining customers and cross-selling services.

The Forrester research called attention to findings Covario released in its report on SEO, which highlighted link-building skills.

Marketers using SEO tactics that focus on supporting business-to-business customers should try to think more like their buyers, similar to the way retail stores think about consumers searching for goods and services. It may seem like a no-brainer, but something marketers need to be reminded about.

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The Forrester report finds that 75% of tech vendors use SEO to drive awareness, and only 8% don't use SEO at all. Moreover, 48% of tech marketers will spend more on SEO this year, and only 2% will spend less.

When customers search for IT products, 20% said they primarily search for best practices; 19%, vendors and products; 18%, technology categories; 17%, other experiences; 16% business problems; and 9%, organizational adoption programs.

The report suggests that marketers need to rethink SEO strategies and optimize Web sites for business-related problems. Customers looking to solve business issues continue to take more of a broad search perspective, and brands need to accommodate for that shift.

Leveraging simple search phrases such as the "category" for best practice, adoption or dealing with a specific "vendor" will help to improve the position of organic search results.

For brands, a category-focused approach to SEO mistakenly assumes two things: customers already know the solution they need and the product category that serves it; and that they seek information on products, not solutions.

The first assumption suggests that most business professionals are familiar with categories such as "collaboration" or "cloud storage," which is not true, according to Forrester.

The second assumption suggests customers don't use search to find information on best practices and case studies or other answers to business-related problems. Don't ignore the "broader band of customers' search intentions."

About 136 business-to-business high-tech marketing executives located in the U.S. from small and medium-size businesses (SMB) and enterprise companies with 100 or more employees participated in Forrester's Q1 2011 North American B2B Technology Marketing Tactics and Benchmarks Online survey. In addition, LinkedIn Research Network fielded this survey online on behalf of Forrester.

 

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