Strategy & Best Practices

3 SEO Tips for Your B2B Marketplace: How to Drive Traffic Directly to Your Storefront

By Denise Sarazin / June 27, 2022

SEO Blog

If you're planning to launch or invest in a marketplace to promote your software ecosystem, you probably already know that where your marketplace ranks in search engine results pages is key to your success. You’re constantly competing with other marketplaces for a top spot in search engine results—and where you rank is the single most influential factor in the volume and quality of traffic that lands on your marketplace.

In our recent blog, Building a Rich Partner Profile—Converting Browsers to Buyers, we offered tips on how to create engaging product profiles that drive marketplace visitors into your sales funnel. But writing great product profile descriptions is only one step in converting site visitors into buyers. If you don’t optimize your marketplace for search engines, users won’t be able to find your storefront, and they’ll never get the chance to read your compelling product descriptions or buy from you.

Why you need to optimize your marketplace for search engines

Search engine optimization is the process of improving the rank and appearance of your marketplace in the organic results on search engine results pages (SERPs). Organic search results are free listings of your information on the SERP, and they appear there because Google’s algorithm determines that your content has relevance to the user’s search terms.

Google’s algorithm uses more than 200 factors to determine how content ranks on a SERP. It also uses a web spider to crawl the web and discover new pages by following hyperlinks, then adds those pages to its index to deliver the best and most relevant content suggestions to users. In the process it catches product description updates, new product pages, new reviews, and other changes on your marketplace. As a result, SEO is a continuous cycle of measuring your SEO metrics, updating your SEO strategy, and optimizing new content on marketplace pages you want Google to crawl.

Here are some compelling reasons why you need a sound SEO plan for your marketplace:

  • As a marketing tool, organic search outperforms paid search and paid social by a large margin
    • Organic search generates double the revenues for B2B companies compared to any other channel.1

    • 70 to 80 percent of people click only on organic search results and ignore paid search results.1

    • 53 percent of trackable website traffic originates from organic search results—compared to 15 percent for paid search, and 5 percent for social.2

  • Appearing on the first page of the SERP is pivotal in driving traffic to your marketplace

    • 75 percent of users never scroll past the first page of results. If you don’t appear on page 1, you’ve already left behind three-quarters of your potential buyers from search engines.1

  • You have less than 60 seconds to secure a user’s click to your marketplace

    • On average, less than one minute elapses from the moment a user enters their initial search query in a search engine, to their last click on any of the search results for that query.2

Despite such sobering odds, your goal is to appear in the top search results, and for your page to be the first one they click on. You can only achieve that by making a commitment to methodical and sustained SEO, and focusing your efforts on factors that you can control.

SEO—A long-term strategy for search ranking success

Unlike most of your other marketing strategies that produce short-term results—like running an ad campaign for four weeks to boost leads and sales for a specific product—your SEO strategy is less about generating immediate results, and more about achieving the following pivotal outcomes over the medium and long term:

  1. Increase the Google trust and authority of your domain—SEO best practices lead to higher Google authority, which in turn leads to better organic rankings, and more clicks to your marketplace. And ranking high matters a lot, because only 21 percent of users click on more than one search result.2

  2. Enhance your storefront’s user experience, leading to more conversions—Google rewards sites that provide a great user experience, so when you optimize your marketplace for search engines, by necessity you also need to improve the user experience. This means providing high-quality content that’s clear, fast page loading, improving accessibility, and optimizing your content for mobile devices, among other things. This process is a virtuous circle that leads to greater engagement, conversions, and increased revenues.

  3. Win the long game of SEO—Although you’ll start seeing some results within a few weeks, conversions will increase progressively over the medium and long term.

How SEO differs for your marketplace and website

An application marketplace, like one built on the AppDirect platform, is an ecommerce website that lists and sells a wide variety of digital applications and products from multiple third-party vendors. It brings buyers and sellers together, enabling buyers to find and compare a wide variety of products, and sellers to easily and efficiently sell to a wide group of buyers.

There are differences in how you manage SEO between your marketplace and your company website, and the websites of partners whose products you sell. Here are some of the key things you should consider:

  • User intent—The keywords a user enters in a search query are directly related to their intent, which is driven by where they are on their buying journey. So whether they land on your website or your marketplace from search engine results depends a lot on the keywords they enter, and how well you optimize your content to match those keywords.

  • Degree of control over SEO—You have direct control over the SEO on your marketplace, and on your website. However, you need to collaborate with your partners to optimize the descriptions of their products that are listed on your marketplace. You also need to work with them to optimize the links on their website that drive traffic to their product profiles on your marketplace.

Read on to learn tips that address these considerations.

3 high-impact tips for improving your marketplace search rankings

Whether you manage SEO in-house or through an agency, start with the following tips to improve your marketplace search rankings:

1. Build rich product profiles that leverage target keywords

        Many elements go into creating a rich and compelling product profile page as covered in our recent blog post Building a Rich Partner Profile—Converting Browsers to Buyers. Many of those elements also impact your search rankings—like clear product descriptions and fast page loading. But those strategies alone won’t increase your Google authority nor land you at the top of search engine results.

        Use keywords to optimize your content for search engines

        Keyword optimization is at the top of the list of things you should do to boost your SERP ranking. Keywords (primarily through page content like headlines) are one of the biggest factors in search engines associating your pages with their users' queries. If there’s no match—or a weak match—between a user’s keywords and yours, you get no visibility on the search results page, and no clicks to your marketplace, so other SEO strategies become moot.

        Start with keyword research to help you identify search terms that resonate with your target audience and are directly related to the type of search they’re doing. For product pages on an application marketplace, focus on keywords that are transactional, with phrases that people use to find a specific product or service when they’re ready to buy.

        Google has tools, including Keyword Planner and Google Trends, to help you research keyword relevance on your product pages.

        Use long-tail keywords for your marketplace product pages

        There are different ways of categorizing keywords by type, but for your marketplace, keyword length is a good place to start because the length of the keyword phrase is a strong indicator of a user’s intent (browsing and researching vs ready to purchase).

        Short-tail keywords—These keywords generally contain three words or less. Broad search terms signal to search engines that the person searching is still in the early information gathering stage of the buying cycle, or not even looking to buy. For example, if they’re looking for a lead management solution but are still exploring available features, their keywords could include: lead tracking software and better lead management.

        Long-tail keywords—These keywords contain four or more words and are more specific and action-oriented. The person is ready to buy and actively searching for solutions. Using the same example as above, they might use search terms like best lead management software and lead management software comparison.

        To increase your chances of Google associating your product page with your prospects’ intended actions, you should focus on long-tail keywords. The good news is that there’s less competition for long-tail keywords, which increases your potential to rank higher on search engine results pages.

        To boost your rankings and ensure your content stays fresh, review and update your keywords on a regular basis, and make sure they’re used in the title tag, URL, meta description, headlines, and body text.

        2. Create category-level pages to organize your products

            For marketplaces that sell dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of products, grouping them into categories is essential for SEO. Here’s why:

            Google ranking takes categories into account

            Google treats product categories as a relevancy signal, and product pages that are included in a closely related category get a rankings boost over product pages that are standalone.

            Categories direct users to content that’s relevant to their search

            Creating categories and subcategories helps Google direct your customers to page levels that are appropriate to their specific needs, and you create a better user experience in the process.

            For example, if you sell dozens of customer management products on your marketplace, you can optimize your Customer Management category page (using the previous example) to rank on category or subcategory-level terms like call management, live chat, social CRM, and so on, and save product-specific keyword optimization for your product pages. And if a user’s search is more specific—like cloud-based social CRM for POS—Google is more likely to link them to a product page if you’ve used the right keywords on your product page.

            3. Ask your partners to create backlinks directly to their product pages on your marketplace

                Having backlinks to your marketplace from external websites helps search engines’ web crawlers find your marketplace, resulting in greater visibility and a higher authority. Backlinks are an essential part of your off-page SEO strategy—that is, SEO tactics that are managed outside of your website but over which you can exert some control.

                When it comes to your marketplace, the most important backlinking strategy is to ask the partners who sell their products on your marketplace to create links to those pages from anchor links on their site.

                But for this link-building strategy to work without raising potential issues (like sending signals to search engines that your link tactics are spammy), you need to work with your partners to make sure they optimize their anchor links using the following SEO best practices:

                • Create strong anchor links—The text of the anchor link needs to clearly identify what the landing page (the partner’s product page on your marketplace) is about, so that users know what to expect when they click on the link. The anchor text should use keywords that match keywords on the landing page to signal to the search engine that there’s a strong relationship between the content on both pages.

                • Avoid generic anchor links—Never use anchor text like learn more, or the URL for the landing page itself. They serve no purpose in SEO.

                • Embed anchor links on high-relevance pages—Links that are embedded in context—for example within a blog post or product description—have a positive influence on rank.

                • Focus on partners with high Google rank and trust—The higher the partner’s Google authority and trust rank, the greater the positive impact on your marketplace’s authority and rank. The reverse is also true.

                • Eliminate broken links—Make sure none of the anchor links are broken. For example, if you move a product to a new category on your marketplace, ask your partner to create a redirect to the right page.

                Driving Traffic to Your Marketplace With SEO—Key Takeaways

                Organic search is the single most successful marketing channel available to drive traffic to your marketplace. Sound SEO tactics increase your domain’s authority and trust, creating a virtuous circle of better content, better site usability, increased search results page rankings, and more opportunity to capture revenue. But with a constant stream of new pages to compete against and frequent updates to Google’s algorithm, you need to commit to a long-term SEO strategy to maintain and increase any gains you make.

                AppDirect marketplace configuration help topics

                Marketplace Managers and Developers can configure many of the SEO strategies described in this article directly in the marketplace user interface, or using AppDirect's Developer Toolkit. See AppDirect documentation center topics for step-by-step instructions: Configure Search Engine Optimization, Create Meta Tags, and Edit listing information.


                1 SEO.COM 23 Search Engine Facts You Oughta Know

                2 Search Engine Journal 72 Mind-Blowing Search Engine Optimization Stats