SEO – Successfully Leveraging Search Engine Optimization During the Explore Phase

Prospects search about their problem

In the Explore phase, prospects typically want to know:

  • Can I solve this problem?

  • What are ways to solve it?

  • How do I define requirements?

So, as their initial search query, they usually state their problem or ask how to solve their problem.

  • For example:

    • “Improving energy efficiency of retail lighting system”, or

    • “What are options for retail lighting systems?”

Keyword Research: As part of your overall customer research and foundation for your search engine optimization you will identify the top keywords and keyphrases that each persona uses to search in each phase. You can read more about this in the How-To Guide: Know Your Customers

Brand Agnostic

Explore keyphrases are typically non-branded and long-tail

  •  Non-branded” means that the prospect doesn’t specify company or product names

  • “Long-tail” means that the keyphrase includes multiple words, is more specific and often includes common, less competitive keywords (such as “What are options for”).

Focus on optimizing your site (More than link building)

You need to ensure that your site supports Explore key phrases from an SEO perspective since you can’t rely on branded terms for ranking in the Explore phase.

Backlinks on the Back-Burner

Until recently, external backlinks – other sites linking to your content with appropriate keyword tags – was a critical SEO factor to help you rank for Explore phase content (or any content).

Google’s own recommendation previously stated:

…webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.

But, in June 2013, Google revised this statement to:

In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.


Google goes on to define a high quality site as having “…original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

Sounds right in line with B2Beacon 😉

I wouldn’t put too much of a tunnel vision focus on just links. I would try to think instead about what I can do to market my website to make it more well known within my community, or more broadly, without only thinking about search engines.

– Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer, Google Read More >

BE FOUND: Optimize your content and site to help your prospects find you on search engine results pages.* (We’ve listed some great guides on our Resources page)

Building Links is still important for B2B SEO – just not the first priority it might have been in the past. In fact, your external link development efforts can directly influence your content and social media efforts. For example, you will develop content and connect with “top influencers” (bloggers, analysts, etc) that reach lots of other influencers but may not have a large audience of their own.

But again, be very careful and selective about links to your site because Google’s Penguin algorithm update will penalize you for anything that doesn’t appear to be legitimate.

*NOTE: BtoBeacon highlights things that change per phase or are unique to a given phase. We also highlight recent major high-level developments that all marketers need to know. This site does not try be a comprehensive practitioner’s guide to executing robust programs. But many best practices don’t vary phase and are not included here. So, here are the best guides that we’ve found for optimizing each activity.


Seth Dotterer BtoB SEO and Organic Search Expert

Expert Advisor:  Seth Dotterer

Vice President, Marketing and Product at Conductor, Inc. / Conductor
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Seth Dotterer BtoB SEO and Organic Search Expert

Seth Dotterer

Vice President, Marketing and Product at Conductor, Inc. / Conductor

Seth Dotterer leads the marketing and product teams at Conductor, responsible for branding and communications, marketing strategy, demand generation and strategic product positioning of Conductor’s SaaS SEO platform, Searchlight. Dotterer guides the highly talented Conductor team to establish product roadmap and manage its successful execution. With over 15 years of online marketing experience, Dotterer has worked with both startups and the Fortune 100 to develop effective marketing strategies and to utilize technology and metrics to increase sales and profitability.

Prior to joining Conductor, Dotterer worked for consumer electronics manufacturer, Turtle Beach, in a variety of product and marketing roles. As head of Marketing, Dotterer managed the successful market placement and deployment for over 80 products in 11 product segments.

Dotterer is the co-organizer of the 1,400+ member SEMPO NY (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization) Meetup group. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a degree in political science