A Step-by-Step Guide to Keyword Research For B2B Tech Companies

by | Jul 16, 2019

If you’re a digital marketer, B2B keyword research can be a pain when you’re in a highly specialized B2B industry with very specific users and terminologies. That’s going to change starting TODAY. Once you learn the system we’re offering you, you’ll understand all that you’ll ever need to know to be an expert in B2B keyword research.

A quick Google search might give you tons of results regarding this topic but this blog post differs from others by showing you the step-by-step keyword research process to use for B2B marketing that, to this day, continues to generate real results from our clients.

NOTE: The system that I’m about to teach you is not platform dependent. You can use it in Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords), Bing Ads, or any search engine marketing platform — or even in your SEO.

Generally, to get a sale in the B2B industry, the customer needs to go through different funnels, starting with the “Top of the Funnel” or ToFu, as we call it. The ToFu’s purpose is to target the discovery and learning stage about the problems and challenges your product is trying to address through education.

The next step in the sales funnel is the middle of the funnel (MoFu), which has the purpose of introducing your solution as the answer. Finally, the purpose of the bottom of the funnel (Bofu) is to compel them to take action to purchase your service. Below is the graph of funnels with the appropriate offer your customer goes through during the buyer’s journey.

5d2e0dbfb4a76d79653cb2a7 funnel 1
Red (top of funnel), Orange (middle of funnel), Green (bottom of funnel)

Top of funnel contains offers like:

·       Free Ebook

·       White Paper

·       Free Report

Middle of funnel contains offers like:

·       Webinar

·       Free Tool

·       Case Study

·       Quizzes

Bottom of funnel contains offers like:

·       Free assessment

·       Free consultation

·       Free Trial

·       Demo

B2B Tech companies benefit from a top of the funnel offer because, usually, the customer needs to be educated first about the company’s product before signing-up and purchasing your service.  To formulate a keyword strategy you need to plan the content offers and how you will move the user through your full funnel.

Different types of top of funnel offer

Top of the funnel offers include ebooks, white papers, reports, surveys, templates, or anything else that educates the user and contributes value.

The “search intent” of the keywords for the top of the funnel could be problem-based, and topic-based. As an example, informational search queries would include “how to increase data query speed”, and solution-based search queries could be like “database providers”.

1. Problem-based search queries are  when the customer didn’t know what their problem was called and are researching it.

2. Solution-based search queries depend more on your offer, if it is enticing enough there’s a good chance they will give their email for your free offer.

The process for keyword research  promoting the top of the funnel offers

  1. For our example, assume our company has a Gartner Magic Quadrant Multi-channel Marketing Hub report as their asset, by reading through the report we can come up with “seed words” to begin our research like the ones squared in red.  These should be highly-relevant keywords and yield a high conversion rate by reaching only the qualified searchers.
KWFinder Keyword Research for Tech

Next we target the competitors that are in the Gartner MQ Report, In this case, it is the following:

·       Episerver

·       Zeta

·       Emarsys

·       Marketo

·       Salesforce

And many more….

PRO TIP: Targeting the competitors could also be a middle or bottom of the funnel target audience and using a well known research brand like Gartner adds credibility.

  1. The way to do keyword research with eBooks that are solution-based is to check the table of contents, use those keywords and also find keywords related to those keywords in the table of contents using Wikipedia, most of the solution-based keywords have a high search volume.

For example this asset by Aqua, a DevSecOps company (https://blog.aquasec.com/kubernetes-rbac), we can find keywords like “linux”, “kubernetes”, “rbac”, “rolebinding” and if I search those keywords in Wikipedia I can have related keywords like “open-source container-orchestration”, “kubernetes control plane”, “kubernetes node”, “microservices”, and obviously use a keyword research tool like Google keyword planner, Ahrefs to have more PPC keyword ideas.

5d2e0e362be6ba0a5ce4a015 wiki

If you notice these keywords are generic, it is actually fine to have those keywords that have low-intent since we’re offering them a top of the funnel asset, after we get them like a lead we could easily retarget them with the middle of the funnel or bottom of the funnel offers.

  1. For white paper and reports, the way to do keyword research is to use a broad match modified keywords with a format such as the following: 
    a. +topic +report
    b. +topic +research
    c. +topic +white +paper and so on.

This way we know that the user is interested in the topic and also looking for a report, research or white paper, these types of keywords have a lower search volume than exact or phrase match types but since we use broad match modifier there’s a higher chance to hit those target keywords.

  1.  This could also be done for +templates, +ebooks, or any other type of asset the user could search.

BONUS TIP #1: Another method for finding more top of the funnel keyword ideas using SEMrush’s keyword gap tool to see what terms your competitors are bidding on and ranking against organically, then add those same keywords into your program.  This is especially effective when you have a highly sophisticated PPC competitor that has done a lot of the research for you!

With this tool you’ll put your company URL and your competitor’s URL, then you can select from the following:

5d2e0ea4b78ea81eab87d237 kw
  • All keywords will show keywords that you’re using and the keywords that your competitors are using
  • Unique to the first domain will show keywords that are only from the first domain.
  • Common keywords will show keywords from both URLs
  • Unique keywords will show only unique keywords from both URLs
5d2e0e8db78ea816b987d210 kw gap

As you can in the image above, you can get keywords that have low-intent and keywords that have high-intent, using this tool is a good way to do keyword research for the entire funnel.

BONUS TIP #2: Use the Google Ads search terms report to know which keywords converted and start adding and bidding on those long tail keywords, and since it has a conversion in the past we know for a fact that keyword has a buyer’s intent. See image below.

5d2e0eec358ee9b7b71e9153 conv

BONUS TIP#3: Use the Google Ads search terms report to find keywords that have a good amount of impressions and create an ad group for that keyword, these keywords will be highly relevant to your existing keywords and increase your target audience.

How to do the keyword research step-by-step guide for the middle/bottom of the funnel offers

Another keyword strategy to use is bidding on your competitors’ brands since the user interested in your product or service category.  Because bidding on competitors is a good strategy, you want to protect your own brand by also bidding on it.

  1. Bidding on competitor brands, the CPC will be high and you will have a lower Quality Score. There are few things you can do to combat this. 
    a. First, bid on a misspelled names competitors
    b. Second, bid on keywords that you’re competitors wouldn’t advertise. E.g. “company name bad review”, “company name bad service”, “problems with company name”.
    c. Lastly, create an RLSA with increased bids for people that are searching for your competitor that already visited your website in the last 30 days.

2. Bid on your own brand, the reason we do this is because our competitors’ might be bidding on our brand and we want to make sure we’re on the top of the search engine results page, and normally with the Brand campaign you’ll have cheap CPC’s and high-quality score.

PRO TIP: Create a landing page comparing your service vs your competitors’ services, highlight your wins against your competitors. See image below and link to the actual landing page.

5d2e0f75b78ea8069d87d4ce landing%20page


Keyword research is a never-ending process, targeting the right keywords with the right offers in mind will bring a surplus amount of leads that can turn into buying customers. If you’re interested in using this system that we have in your organization we would love you to take our 20-min free consultation that would determine if we’re a fit for each other. Learn more about Upgrow B2B tech digital marketing capabilities.

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Ryder Meehan

Ryder Meehan

Ryder has been on a 16-year journey to master digital marketing from every aspect. His resume includes Razorfish, Slighshot, Fossil, Samsung Mobile and Tatcha before launching Upgrow. Ryder is the acting CEO, heading business development and account services. He has been featured as a digital marketing leader on Forbes, PRNews, Business.com, Workamajig, Databox, Fit Small Biz and other outlets.

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