If you're a cleantech startup, you need to understand why search engine rankings matter so much. It's not just about having a good website; it's also about making sure that people can find you when they type in specific keywords.

Why Do Search Engines Matter For Cleantech Companies?

You can apply the age-old philosophical question about observation versus perception that asks, "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, did it fall?" to cleantech companies in the internet age. In this case, the question would be, "If you launch a cleantech company, and no one can find it online, does your company exist?"

A vast majority of cleantech solutions are sold B2B to high consideration sources, meaning there's a long sales cycle with many players involved. Here's how those buyers are making decisions.

So if they aren't finding you online--and that's not just limited to your website--you're eliminated from the process long before the first person-to-person sales contact.

How Search Engines Work

Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other search engines use algorithms to determine where websites appear in search results. These algorithms consider how often a site appears in searches, its popularity, and whether or not other sites link to it.

In general, search engines rank websites based on how relevant they are to a particular keyword. The higher your website ranks for a given keyword, the better chance you have of getting visitors to click through to your site.

The first thing you should know about search engines is that they aren't always looking for what you want them to look for. Google, for example, doesn't care if you're searching for "cleantech" or "green energy." It cares about whether you're searching for something related to those terms.

That means that if you want to rank well for "cleantech," you'll need to be careful about what you write on your site. You might think that writing about solar panels would help you get improved results, but it won't. Writing about solar panels could hurt your chances of ranking well because it's too specific.

On the flip side of the coin, if you aren't specific enough with the terms on your website, you're likely to get lost amongst 1,000 other companies and products vying for rankings for the same word. So if you produced solar inverters, but your website focused on the more generic term 'solar energy,' Google likely wouldn't rank you very high for the solution you sell.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

If you're looking to improve your website's ranking, there are several ways to do so. One of the easiest ways is to ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices, so people who visit your website via mobile device see it correctly. While desktop computers still comprise nearly 50% of B2B searches, the trend toward mobile devices--phones and tablets--is clear.

Another thing you can do is optimize your website for specific keywords. Before developing your website, your team needs to conduct SEO research. Google even has a tool called Google Trends to show you what terms generate website traffic so you can write search engine-friendly copy.

When using Google's tools, you'll want to look beyond which keywords get the most traffic and focus on those words and phrases that are most related to your solution and have a low competition score. Why? Because even if your website is choc full of high volume keywords, you're likely competing against large institutions, government agencies, and longtime players in your sector--all of which will be ranked higher than you.

Another step to improving your search engine rankings is creating content relevant to your industry. You want to write articles that answer questions potential customers might ask when searching for information about your product or service. For example, if you sell solar panels, you should be writing blog posts about things like "How does solar power work?" and "What are the benefits of using solar energy?".

Why Does It Take So Long For My Search Engine Rankings To Improve?

There are two main reasons search engine rankings take so long to improve. What underlies those reasons are that Google, Bing, and Yahoo! provide a service to their customers: relevant search engine information. Users will return to a search engine if they find what they are looking for, and the more clicks on the search engine, the more they can charge for advertising on their network.

Google's algorithm considers the length of time a website has been active. Newer websites land in what's called "the sandbox," while Google's algorithm determines if your website has valuable content or if it's a bot or clickbait. Think of it like a probation period.

Google's algorithm also assigns all websites a domain authority score from 0-100 based on how credible and relevant their algorithm finds your website's content to a specific search term. The more content you develop and the more websites linking to your site, the more authoritative Google will find your website.

Your website needs to be dynamic and a source of specific information about your cleantech industry niche to get out of the sandbox and develop credibility.

Why Creating Content In Your Cleantech Niche Is Crucial To Being Found Online

Just because your company is a startup, it doesn't mean you're relegated to the outer reaches of the internet. Why? Because B2B companies that could be your customers are searching for solutions, not specific companies. 71% of B2B researchers start with a generic search — rather than searching for a particular company.

The glaring mistake I see on most cleantech startup websites is a focus on what the company does instead of what problem it solves for its potential customers. Simply turning the camera towards your audiences' needs instead of highlighting your team and your technology will improve your search engine rankings.

Providing consistent, high-quality content that's keyword specific is also critical to your rankings. Focus on creating unique, informative, and helpful content to help people solve their problems.

A blog is the most common method companies will use, though video typically gets far more views than a thousand-word post on a blog and is favored by Google's algorithm. The more formats you use to connect with your audience, the better. Infographics, video streaming, and podcasts are other ways to improve your rankings while standing out from your competitors.

Displaying this content on social media is where the real value lies for B2B cleantech companies. More than half (53%) of B2B buyers report turning to social media to make buying decisions, with LinkedIn ranking as the most impactful in the sales cycle.

Final Thoughts On Search Engine Optimization for Cleantech Companies

To review, if you want to be heard in the forest of cleantech competition:

  • Your digital media, starting with your website, needs to be focused on your customer's problems because that's how they search.
  • You need to invest in search engine optimization tools BEFORE you write the copy for your website.
  • The more specific your content towards a particular solution, the more credible Google's algorithm will find it.
  • Target your copy towards keywords that have lower competition
  • Consistently apply content across digital media platforms regardless of the form.

CleanTech Focus