An important component of a B2B online marketing campaign is sharing informational content with your target audience. Unlike many B2C products that are fairly straightforward in nature, B2B products and services tend to be more complex and in order for target audience members to understand what it is that you offer and how it will help them perform their jobs better, there needs to be an adequate amount of informational content for them to consume. B2Bs often use their content as a form of lead generation.
In exchange for the content, they ask prospects to provide their email address and some additional information. The email address might then be added to a newsletter list or the contact information can be passed along to the sales team. This seems like a fair trade off- the website visitor gets some valuable information and the company gets the name of someone that is interested in what they have to offer.
This is a great approach, however from an SEO perspective we always advise our B2B SEO clients against keeping all of their content behind a lead form.
Content that requires a download after completing a form isn’t seen by the search engine spiders. If the search engine spiders can’t access the content it won’t be crawled, indexed, or appear organically in the search engines for targeted keywords. Since the search engines are a primary destination for information seekers, keeping all of your content gated means that you are missing out on a lot of potential search engine results page real estate.
Keeping content gated also means that it can’t be linked to or shared, two additional elements that contribute towards SEO success. The search engines pay attention to how often content on a site gets shared across the web as reference links or within social media. People are more likely to share a link to a page of content as opposed to a link to a lead form and download page.
In addition, you need to think about the behaviour of your target audience. They are busy people with limited time to browse the web. If your content is behind a form, they might not even bother with it. They might also be hesitant to provide their contact information if they don’t know much about your company yet.
This isn’t to say that you should unlock all of your B2B content. Keeping some content behind a form certainly serves a purpose. We recommend keeping long format content like whitepapers or eBooks behind a form, but publishing short form content (think 400-500 word blog posts) on your website as well. The long form content can serve as a reference point and can be broken down into smaller segments as blog posts.
You can also publish promotional blog posts with a short summary each time a whitepaper or eBook gets published. This still allows you to target keywords in the blog post and get it crawled by the search spiders. The blog post can then link over to the download/registration page.
Online B2B content should include a mix of gated and “open” content to enhance visibility while still generating leads.