After Reading This Guide, You’ll Understand 🡭
- Strategizing a B2B content strategy
- Building topical authority
- Keyword research for a small audience size
- Prioritizing SEO activities
Table of Contents
About The Business 🡭
OffiNeeds is a corporate gifting company based in India. The company helps organizations to plan their corporate gifting campaign.
They provide various services, from corporate gifts to building custom merchandise stores.
- Niche: B2B Corporate gifting
- Target location: India
- Branches: Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad
Results Achieved 🡭
We started working on the SEO project of OffiNeeds almost a year back.
Here’s the comparison of the last 28 days year over year:
As you can see that we have reached 3000-4000 clicks per month from 700-900 clicks per month.
Consider that the project was never optimized to drive higher traffic. Every page and element of our strategy was to get qualified traffic, specially from landing pages.
Content Strategy Breakdown (Phase I) 🡭
The SEO project starts with optimizing for quick-win opportunities. This phase doesn’t include keyword research or the creation of any new pages.
1. Understanding quick SEO win opportunities:
When you start an SEO project, you should always look for opportunities where small efforts will lead to significant improvement.
These low-effort activities may include:
- Optimizing metadata of articles on product pages
- Fixing technical issues (e.g., orphan pages, broken links, redirection, indexation, etc.)
- Content update based on Google search console data (clicks, impressions, & avg position)
- And so on.
Here’s a framework that shows you the role of quick-win SEO/ low-hanging fruit opportunities in an SEO Project.
Image credit: Aleyda Solis
Note: Keyword research, competitor analysis, and even creating new pages take enough time (say 2-4 weeks) to execute.
But in the meantime, you can also start working on the low-hanging fruit assessment. This helps you show initial results (clicks, impressions, indexing growth) based on low-effort activities.
2. Finding quick SEO win opportunities for OffiNeeds:
A little background of the website type: Before we started, OffiNeeds was an eCommerce website. And after the migration from an eCommerce site to a content-heavy site, the total number of pages has drastically decreased.
Here’s what the website used to look like (OffiNeeds website: Nov 01, 2020):
Because of this huge change on the site level, we found many technical issues such as:
- Broken links
- Pages with no H1 tags
- Adding alt tags
- The majority of the pages aren’t optimized for the target keyword
- Lots of dummy pages were indexed (increasing the crawl budget unnecessarily)
- Orphan pages (weak internal linking structure), etc.
During the project’s first two weeks, we analyzed and fixed the above site-level issues.
Note: We used the Ahrefs webmaster tool and Screaming frog to perform the site audit.
3. Removing dummy pages:
Initially, there were 3000+ dummy pages that got crawled and indexed in Google. This causes a huge problem in the crawl budget as the crawler spends most of the time on low-quality pages.
After analyzing the URLs of the dummy pages, we found common patterns such as:
Next, we fixed the issue with the following robots.txt file:
This way, we ask crawlers not to crawl these URLs with the terms ‘route’ and ‘index’ in them.
Also, we used the removal tool (from GSC) to remove these pages from the SERP.
As a result, all of these pages are removed from the SERP (from 3000+ pages to 153 pages):
Not sure what a robots.txt file is and how to use it for SEO? Then read this guide here.
4. Improving navigation structure
Site navigation is also an important aspect of SEO. Most people make the mistake of not including important pages of the site in the navigation menu.
Elements to consider while designing navigation.
- Include the important product category pages (for eCommerce)
- Include service pages with relevant anchor text
- Make important site pages (contact us, about, pillar page, etc.) accessible from the navigation.
Here’s the navigation structure plan once we scale the service page:
By placing important pages in the top navigation, you are reducing the crawl depth. That means these pages are within a few clicks away from the home page.
This not only helps improve the user experience (as users can easily navigate through the pages) but also helps bots crawl these pages regularly.
Here’s what Kailee, an SEO expert, says on the crawl depth:
“The deeper a page lives within the hierarchy of your site, the less important it may appear to search engines, and therefore those pages may not be crawled as often…
One way you can help ensure that your most important content gets crawled often is to reduce its crawl depth and place the critical pages closer to the top of your overall site hierarchy.”
– Kailee Edsall (Senior SEO Associate @ Go Fish Digital).
Content Strategy Breakdown (Phase II) 🡭
Phase II includes high-effort activities such as keyword research, content creation, creating new service pages, and execution of other SEO strategies.
1. Updating existing content
The first thing we did was to analyze the performance (in terms of average position, clicks, and number of impressions) of all the existing pages.
Step 1. Open performance report in GSC
Open the performance report in GSC and select at least the last three months of data.
Step 2. Export the data
If the last three months don’t have much data (clicks, impressions), then consider selecting a longer date range, such as six months. Next, export the data in Google Sheets/Excel.
Step 3. Filter the data
You’ll now have a list of page URLs along with metrics like impressions, clicks, and CTR.
First, remove the page URLs with low impressions. In my case, I’ve removed all the URLs with less than 1,000 impressions in the last three months.
In your case, you may set a different limit of impressions (say 5,00 or 5,000) accordingly.
Logic: This way, we can focus on the pages that are already getting a lot of impressions for some queries. But somehow, these pages are not getting enough clicks or have low CTR.
Second, sort the CTR column from smallest to largest.
This helps you identify pages with the lowest CTR.
Third, I’d also recommend you tag each URL with a page type. For eCommerce sites, page types will be product pages, category pages, etc.
Now, the sheet will look like this →
Step 4. Study the low CTR pages
Now comes the hard time; manually analyzing individual pages with high impressions and low clicks.
There could be various possible reasons for pages with low CTR and high impressions:
- Not matching the search intent
- Page is not optimized for the target keyword
- Weak backlink profile and internal links – as it may impact the ranking position.
- Content information gap – headings structure, lack of content depth, etc.
Therefore, you need to analyze each of these page URLs to find the possible reason for poor performance in the search.
Step 5. Organize the action items
While analyzing each page, I’d recommend tagging each URL with the possible solution/ action item.
Here’s an example →
This way, you can easily forward the entire data to your content team or prioritize the SEO tasks.
The same process we followed for OffiNeeds. One of the common reasons for underperforming pages of OffiNeeds was thin content and not optimized with the target keyword.
Next, we created a content brief for each of these pages and forwarded it to the content writers’ team.
2. Audience and keyword research
Start with a keyword research tool, and you’ll find high-difficulty terms that don’t convert. Start with audience research, and you’ll find low-difficulty terms that do.
– Ross Hudgens (founder of Siege Media).
Now, the goal was to find new content opportunities with business value. We didn’t only rely on SEO tools for content research.
Instead of we started with audience research which includes:
- 1/ Studying online forums (Quora, etc.) to see real challenges, questions, and pain points of the audience
- 2/ Talking with the customer support team (got insights on the questions asked by the audience before buying products)
- 3/ Question analysis (used tools like AnswerThePublic, Sistrix’s keyword research tool)
- 4/ Using SEO tools for competitor analysis and finding keyword gaps (competitors are ranking for the keyword, and we are not)
This was our initial approach to audience research to find content opportunities.
The important point was that we had a criterion before finalizing every keyword, which is:
- The keyword should be relevant to our business offerings (ignoring high volume keywords if they are not related to our offerings)
- We can match the search intent for the keyword
Note: There is so much buzz about search volume. But in our case, we have never ignored any keyword because of low search volume (shown in an SEO tool). We have targeted the keywords if the keyword is relevant and useful for our audience.
- 5/ Wildcard keyword research (the goal was to see if there’s any opportunity to scale our landing pages.)
By this method, we got the opportunity for pages like:
- Corporate gifting for new year
- Corporate gifting for women’s day
- Diwali corporate gifting
- Corporate gifting for Christmas, and so on.
3. Building FAQs
One of the challenges at OffiNeeds was to answer every customer’s query during and after the purchase.
This is why we planned to build self-help content FAQs to allow users to get their answers as quickly as possible.
The goal was to give users a solution to each of their queries related to OffiNeeds policy, product-related issues, delivery, etc.
The FAQs page not only improves the user experience but also satisfies users at the bottom-of-the-funnel stage.
Step-by-step process we followed to build the FAQs page:
Step 1. Find the common questions to answer
The first step was to build a list of frequently asked questions. After getting inputs from Google autocomplete, sales team, email conversion with users, etc., we built the list of questions.
Step 2. Categorize each question
Next, we planned to categorize each question into three buckets such as:
- Pre-sale questions
- During sale questions
- After-sale questions
This helps to build a proper information hierarchy to design the page.
Step 3. Optimize the page for SEO
Each answer should be in short and to-the-point form. To win a featured snippet, it is important to give the answer in the first paragraph.
Step 4. Add FAQ schema with internal links
Adding FAQ schema will help Google with the questions-answers and intent of the page. Also, we strategize our FAQs page to drive traffic to other important pages using internal links.
We focused on adding links to other related pages within the answer, which will help to bring traffic to the overall site.
Here are some examples where the FAQs page is ranking for branded queries:
Query 1: Does offineeds offer customized products
Query 2: Does offineeds offer a replacement warranty
4. Optimizing for the brand name entity
Take a moment and Google the following questions now:
- Who is the founder of [your brand]?
- Where [your brand] is located?
- When [your brand] is founded?
Ideally, Google should show a clear and accurate answer (with a featured snippet) to these questions.
In the case of OffiNeeds, you will mostly see clear information in the SERP (featured snippets too).
Here are some examples:
This wasn’t the case before when we started working on the project.
As a result, we started providing important information about the entity to Google using separate pages, adding structured data, creating third-party business profiles, etc.
If Google shows inaccurate or unclear information, it may not have enough information about the entity. If that’s the case with your brand, follow the action items.
- First, make a list of all the important branded queries.
- Second, cover these questions either on your website (recommended), third-party websites, or both. e.g., you may create a separate page for the founding team members.
This is why you should also focus on building social profiles with accurate information about the brand (team, about, foundation, etc.)
Branded queries (navigational intent) can contribute to the bottom of the funnel.
When users don’t find a clear answer to their branded query, it gives a bad user experience from a branding perspective.
In fact, Google prefers to rate a website low-quality if the following information is not covered:
- Who’s behind the brand?
- What’s the expertise of the brand?
- Contact information
- Information about who created the content
This can help in getting featured snippets for the branded queries.
5. Creating a content hub
Creating new pages is equally important to categorizing content for better user experience and helping users to navigate the website easily.
After we created a certain number of pages on ‘corporate gifting,’ we focused on categorizing the content by building a content hub page.
- To create one hub page (for corporate gifting) from which users can navigate all the corporate gifting-related pages (including informational and money pages)
- Better internal linking between all the corporate gifting-related pages
- Build an educational hub for startups interested in corporate gifting campaign
- Helps the sales team to share useful resources with the users at the bottom of the funnel stage
- Helps in building topical authority as OffiNeeds covers almost every topic about corporate gifting
6. Link building (let’s not make it too complex)
The link-building strategy depends on the website’s current link profile, industry, competitors, etc.
Overall, we have diversified the link profile of OffiNeeds with different strategies such as:
- Business directories (local and India specific), founder’s profiles: Helps to build trust signal in Google
- Publishing quality guest articles: Consistently publishing guest articles on the niche-specific website
- Creating linkable asset: Original research pages
- Brand story publishing: Since OffiNeeds is a well-known brand, we focused on publishing the brand/founder’s story on other platforms, such as starterstory.com.
Using this strategy, we have acquired do-follow backlinks from sites like:
- Yourstory.com (Domain traffic: 1.2 million, DR: 82)
- Thriveglobal.com (Domain traffic: 406k, DR: 87)
- Starterstory.com (Domain traffic: 46.3k, DR: 69)
- 6q.io (Domain traffic: 46.3k, DR: 69)
- Thebrobasket.com (Domain traffic: 34.7k, DR: 57)
- And so on…
Here are some link-building mistakes to avoid:
1. Problem: Lack of information
The goal of building business directories and brand profiles is never to rank your web pages higher. Instead, it helps to build trust signals in the eyes of Google.
Therefore always consider adding accurate, unique, and complete business information (goal, service types, founders, business details, etc.) on business profiles. This also helps in establishing your brand entity in Google.
2. Problem: Not diversifying anchor text
While getting links from other websites, adding the target keyword as the anchor text is overwhelming. But overdoing this may cause trouble as this doesn’t seem natural.
Instead, always focus on diversifying the anchor text for every specific target page.
For example, if you want to build backlinks for a page whose target keyword is ‘corporate gift ideas,’ then consider using variations and related terms as anchor text:
Other anchor text ideas:
- Corporate gifting ideas
- Different types of promotional gifts
- Find gift ideas for employees and clients, etc.
7. Creating regional pages
Regional pages are one of the opportunities for every service business. For example, we did some keyword research (using Ahrefs and Google Trends) to find regions with high product demand.
For example, Google trends show regions like Mumbai, Delhi, and Karnataka are the places with the highest popularity for corporate gifting.
Likewise, we have used SEO tools to find other regional opportunities.
As a result, we found keywords like:
- Corporate gifting manufacturers in (Mumbai/Delhi/Hyderabad/Bangalore/Kolkata, etc.)
Currently working: Third-party reviews.
Brand reviews are important for user trust and building an online reputation in Google’s eye.
One of the initial issues is that over 90% of customers’ reviews were collected on the official website instead of any third-party platforms like GMB, Trustradius, etc.
Why is this an issue?
If you’ve read my in-depth EAT series, you will know that Google evaluates the brand’s reputation and credibility based on third-party and individual reviews about the brand.
That means even if we have 100+ testimonials on the official websites, Google will not treat these reviews to measure the brand reputation of OffiNeeds.
From now on, we focus on collecting customers’ reviews on third-party sites (mostly on the Google My Business account).
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Credit: I will have to give equal credit to Himanshu Sharma (my SEO partner), who has been helping me (from the beginning) with this project.