B2B marketers receive some sage advice this week to boost web leads and conversions as the New Year inches closer.

As retailers around the United States enjoy what has been a very successful holiday shopping season so far, B2B marketers may be wondering when they get their holiday. With the year coming to an end and businesses thinking about 2012 and methods to improve their companies, redefining marketing strategies is one way to reinvigorate leads and conversions heading into 2012. Businesses considering some new campaigns received some pretty strong indicators this week that SEO, content marketing and a well-integrated web strategy may be the best bet for success next year. 

On Monday, Brafton reported that Google’s distinguished engineer Matt Cutts named trust as a critical component of success in SEO. In a Webmaster Help video, Cutts said that Google’s search algorithm rewards business websites when they attract frequent repeat visitors and receive inbound links. Both of these are signals to search algorithms that a website is well visited and a trusted source of information in its industry.

Building this trust can be difficult, and doing it properly can require patience, as Cutts’ has said in the past. More than anything, though, businesses must focus on developing content that is engaging and valuable to prospects.

Moreover, the potential audience for content is growing every day. On Tuesday, Brafton reported that a study found the average American adult spends 167 minutes per day using the internet in some capacity. During this time, these users are reading news articles, watching videos, listening to podcasts and the like.

Much of the time, they begin their session on the web on a search engine, which a business can rank well on by creating quality content. The study also showed that companies are spending too much time and money investing in marketing channels that are no longer as popular. According to the report, nearly one-quarter of marketing investment goes to print media that American adults spend just more than 6 percent of their time using.

Using a marketing strategy that ultimately fails is a bad thing for businesses, but doing so when the tools necessary to make improvements are available and ignored is even worse.

Local and small businesses are especially well suited to leverage SEO and content marketing, Brafton reported on Wednesday. More than half of consumers turn to search before any other platform when looking for information related to local businesses. These searches occur on multiple devices, whether desktop or mobile, and will likely continue to be the primary research point moving forward.

Users still rely on the content they see on television and in the newspaper, but search provides multiple resources for them to choose from. Businesses looking to target this market should focus on on content marketing campaigns targeted at those nearby. 

Bolstering this content with images can help improve SERP standing, Brafton reported on Monday. Aside from the visual benefit of photos on content pages, the metadata used for photo titles and captions has even greater SEO benefit for a business.

Pictures simply make pages more engaging, and Brafton said on Wednesday that users respond to content with visual elements. According to the report, news content marketing has proven more engaging than promotional content, while social media content that contains questions, links or images is more likely to evoke a response than other content.

This content should focus on positive engagement – answering frequent questions, providing a look into the business or any other message likely to paint the company in a good light. Brafton reported on Tuesday that 52 percent of companies believe social media marketing has meant good things for their company and encouraging positive engagement is a major reason for this. Still, many organizations using social media marketing do not believe it is properly integrated into their business.

Despite the poor integration, web marketing should include frequent updates on all channels. A report published by Brafton on Thursday showed that businesses sharing content across social, their own website and other channels see more frequent engagement, greater traffic and lead generation figures than other companies.

The ultimate engagement tool, Facebook’s Timeline, was officially rolled out to the public at-large on Thursday, Brafton reported. Users have between Thursday, December 15 and Thursday, December 22 to rearrange their content to suit the Timeline function or alter dates simply to paint a more accurate picture of their life.

Timeline was initially announced in September and rolled out slowly. However, the company took longer than expected to make it entirely available.

For social media marketing campaigns, Timeline makes visual content an especially appealing element for businesses. Photos are more prominently displayed on the page, largely overshadowing status updates and other types of social content less likely to garner a reaction from users.

At the moment, though, businesses using Facebook for social media marketing do not have access to the Timeline feature, and there is no timetable for its release, nor is it known if Facebook has a separate feature in the works for business use.

As the holiday shopping season continues to wind down, next week will give us a better idea of the best marketing campaigns businesses used to succeed this year. For the results, you’ll just have to check back with us in seven days.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.