March 24

Federal Government Contractors Need SEO



What Does SEO Have to Do With B2G Contractors?

The 27th & 28th of March, this week, Solvability hosts the Florida GovCon NextGen Summit in Tampa, Florida.  The weather is perfect this time of year.   So are the speakers and attendees to the small and very focused event.

Agenda for this weeks conference.

Registration for this weeks conference.

What is SEO and why do government contractors need it?

Search engine optimization is a B2G technique used in web design and digital marketing to help ensure your product or services can be found by government buyers. Many government contractors start off by targeting the Federal Agencies in Washington DC only to find out that many of the organizations they are targeting can reside far from the mothership. 

A good example is this weeks GovCon Summit.  Washington DC agencies will be represented but many of the attendees will be from local commands residing at McDill Airforce Base. The base is home to CENTCOM and SOCOM.  There will be speakers from SOCOM’s contracting office and mall business programs.  Representatives from NAWCTSD, NASA, GSA, SOF Core, ASMPP will also be speaking.

If you are a government contractor attending this conference or any of the other dozen conferences put on by organizations supporting Federal Contractors you know you can’t get one-on-one time with all of the key people in attendance.  Even if you do the typical response from the expert will be give me your business card and I’ll try to remember you after I get back to my office on Monday.

So you have spoken to the expert and they took your business card.  You also got their card and rush back to the office and give it to your business development team.  You tell them “call these government agencies and see if we can get a government contract for our services.”  Of course I am being a little feseasious at this point but that isn’t far from what actually happens.

The problem is the individuals that are speaking at this conference will be explaining how to do business with them and what their agencies are looking for in a qualified contractor.  The actual targets for B2G marketing and lead generation are the prime contractors, program managers, and others in the government responsible for finding the solutions to the problems, writing the specifications, and evaluating the proposals. 

How to reach the government agency buyers?

Typical business development consists of a lot of time and expense to find potential contracts, buyers, and partners.  There are multiple tools offered that help with teaming, identifying opportunities, and lists of agencies contacts.  This approach helps define the target audience but still requires a huge amount of time and expense to track down leads or get an audience with individuals at the right time that they might have an interest.

It is impossible to do B2G Business Development, even with years of experience and effective contact list.  In 2015 the Federal government spent over $430 million on contracts for goods and services or 40 percent of the government’s discretionary budget.  It is estimated to be 50 percent this year.  Are you afraid of missing out on the pot of gold?  You should be.

What is the answer?  If you are among the estimated 7,000 contractors serving the US Federal Agencies you need a plan for them to find you.  That should include way to validate your past performance, specific expertise, and the problems you solve.  You can do this with marketing services that include B2G contractor SEO, social media, and targeted digital ad campaigns.

A view from the government procurement side.

Still not convinced that your business needs to spend money on SEO services?  This in my personal experience with procuring equipment and services while a government civilian employee working for the Office of the Secretary of Defense  in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq.  I was a GS-15 Management/Program Analyst hire to support an economic stabilization mission that wasn’t meeting its deadlines.  The new team of engineers brought on board had little government procurement experience.  The goal remained to “spend” the $54 million dollars allocated by congress for supporting the privatization of 28 State Owned Factories and economic stabilities project spread across the country of Iraq.  We had three months to the end of the fiscal year!

Our job was to purchase equipment that each of the projects required to accelerate the transition to a more stable economy and employ more civilians as a deterrent to terrorism in the country.  See the book “From War Front to StoreFront” or watch Paul Brinkley’s ConDev lecture.

Without going through too much details of the difficulties of working with 28 disparate entities to establish requirements and specification for the equipment our job was to find contractors that could furnish the materials and services.

Here is a partial list of that equipment and services needing procurement:

  • Materials & Equipment to drill and operate 28 deep water wells in Al Anbar Province
  • 630 tons of plate steel for Mechanical Industries in Basara.
  • 50 ton rough terrain crane for Basara
  • Automated welding & inspection equipment for pipeline construction – Basara
  • Complex process line equipment replacements for Petrochemical Plant – Basra
  • Complex process line monitoring equipment for Fertilizer Plant – Basra
  • Replacement parts for Cement Plant – Basara
  • 16 CadCam computer systems for Engineering Design Company – Baghdad
  • Water filtration testing equipment for University of Baghdad
  • Seed & Oil manufacturing line – Kirkuk Province
  • Dairy Packaging Line – Mosul
  • Diaper Manufacturing Line – Mosul

There were a few more that included in the $54 million budget but the larger $190 discretionary budget for operations like IT systems for compounds, living units, telecommunications, food services, and of course security.

We needed Google Search to get this done.

We had a short period of time and limited resources to find the solutions to the problems. Initially we ran to the KO/contract officers.  They told us they don’t find the equipment and services, they just write the contracts and we better adhere to the FAR.  Federal Acquisition Regulations

We tried accessing the McDill project management and procurement systems. (we were under CentCom Command in Baghdad.)  Unfortunately between slow internet speeds (remember we are in Iraq where at the time the internet was by satellite) It was time to Google!

It was a major challenge even when we found a website that looked like it had the information we needed it would take forever to get through the pages and menus to find the details we needed to make decisions.  Few, if any of the websites were designed for search. 

Designing a website to be found in a search for your products or services is only one of the important goals of SEO.  If they can’t find you they can’t do business with you.

The next goal for SEO is to make the website easy to navigate.  Help your visitors find the information they need quickly. 

You have 7 seconds to grab web visitors attention.

You have two seconds to tell your visitors what to do.

 55% of visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on your website.

If you are a B2G contractor you website needs to ensure that you are targeting the right visitors, provide information they might be looking for quickly, and make navigation or directions to get more in depth information readily apparent.

Can they see what you do in 7 seconds?  No fluff like we solve government agencies problems. 

Are they directed to the most important parts of you website within 2 seconds?  Can they see where to find past performance, NAICS codes, Teaming Partners, Contract Vehicles?

If not you need someone to assist you with SEO of your website.  I could go on about technical issues on your website affecting search, content generation, and coordination with social media but I think you get the idea.

This week I’ll be spending my time explain this to every government contractor that will listen at the Florida Govcon conference!

Want to speak with me before or after the conference

email or book a consultation.

About the author 

John Hamerlinck

John is a former USMC veteran that has spent years working in industrial leadership roles, including engineering, IT, mfg operations, marketing, business development, and sales. He earned a BSEE and MBA in marketing and finance from Lewis University.

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