Effective search engine optimization (SEO) for your manufacturing marketing needs a craftsman’s approach: methodical, deft, patient.
The target audiences of SEO are always people, not algorithms, as some people think at first blush. You provide real value to your audiences, and the search engine will recognize that and reward your website with a higher relative ranking.
People make slippery targets. There’s no way to precision manufacture persuasive messaging like you can gaskets. There’s a reason Aristotle called persuasion a craft rather than a science.
Here are the three basic steps to craft a worthwhile SEO strategy for your manufacturing marketing strategy:
- Keyword Research
- Content Creation
- Backlinking and Citations
Below you’ll find how these abstractions can be applied in manufacturing marketing.
Although you simply must know the technical foundations of SEO, always remember to think about people before you think about algorithms and analytics.
The sales cycle in manufacturing is long. Decision-making is deliberate and rational. Smart SEO will attract visitors and, along with your other marketing, help nurture leads into conversions.
Keyword Research for Manufacturing Marketing
Keyword research is the process of analyzing your audiences, your own company, and your search-result competitors. At the end, you should produce a document that lays out the keywords most worth investing your time and resources into.
Do it right, your website will rank highly for keywords relevant to your business’s services. That means higher quality leads.
Develop a keyword strategy that targets what SEO experts call “long-tail” keywords. Long-tail keywords are longer keywords that are more specific queries, e.g. “motorcycle helmet” vs. “bluetooth motorcycle helmet.” “Bluetooth motorcycle helmet” receives considerably less search traffic, but someone searching for it has a better idea of what they want and so is likely further along the sales lifecycle.
Long-tail keywords receive less traffic, but they convert customers more effectively because the person using a specific keyword has a specific purpose in mind. These keywords are also easier to rank higher in search engine results because there’s typically less competition.
Let’s take an example relevant to manufacturing:
“CNC machining” vs “CNC machining services” vs “5 axis cnc machining”
Using a keyword analysis tool like those from ahrefs, we can see the search volume for each of these keyphrases:
Think about the people behind these searches:
Anyone from a first-year engineering student to a fan of How It’s Made, could be searching for “CNC machining.”
Someone who’s searching more specifically for “cnc machining services” or “5 axis cnc machining” is more likely to actually be searching for the service. That makes these phrases efficient targets for search optimization.
If your company can provide 5 axis CNC machining services, then ensure that keyphrase is a part of your keyword strategy.
Research long-tail keywords that are relevant for your services, and use them on your site’s metadata, in your website content, and in any other content (like blogs) you publish.
While you figure out which keywords will best represent and drive traffic to your services, you also need to analyze your competitors for which keywords they rank highly with.
Ranking is always competitive. There’s not an abstract quality you must reach to rank high in search results; you just have to do better than the people ahead of you.
You want to see what they’re doing to rank well. If the top-ranking pages are mostly pages with 1000+ word content with images, links, or other elements, then you know you’ll need in-depth content to have a shot at ranking up with them.
Looking at your competitors’ high-ranking pages will inform how your team approaches content creation to beat them. Which brings us to…
Once you have a solid keyword strategy, you need content to execute it. If you’re serious about SEO for your company, you need to make quality, keyword-optimized content the backbone.
Competitor research also helps determine the kind of content you create. You need to put out better stuff than the high-ranking competitors.
Say your company does precision machining parts here in Minnesota. Check out the top 10 results for “precision machining.”
Read through each of the competing pages to see what kind of content they have to help rank this high. What’s the word count? How do they organize their information? What keywords are being used in titles, headings, content?
Content That Helps You Rank
Remember to keep your audiences at the forefront of manufacturing marketing strategy at all times. The smart use of keywords will attract searchers, but the job of good SEO doesn’t stop there.
The content on your site must keep your visitors engaged and satisfy whatever purpose they had for visiting in the first place. Google’s eternal quest is to track user satisfaction with their search results, so if you optimize a page for “5 axis cnc machining,” it better have the substance to back it up!
When your visitor comes to your website through a search result and sticks around for a while, we call that “the long click.” Google loves the long click because that (more likely) means the user is satisfied with their search and result. That means Google wants to keep your site around, and higher, in their results for that search.
Consistent content creation also matters for optimization purposes. The more you add useful content to your site, the more you signal your website’s credibility and authority. It can also provide more entryways to your website.
For example, if your website has a well-written post about “thermoforming vs injection molding,” you can rank highly for that phrase and pull in that traffic to your site – generating more leads for customers who are earlier in the sales lifecycle and trying to decide which service to choose.
There’s much more to know about content creation for manufacturers, but we’ll cover that in a future post and stick strictly to the aspects of content that relate to optimization here. (This post will be updated when the new post on content drops.)
High-quality content creation is essential for manufacturers—it takes a lot of time and resources to switch suppliers, so you need to make persuasive arguments.
To sum it up for SEO’d content: satisfy user intent!
Backlinks and Citations
A Brief Explanation and Example
Backlinks and citations refer to other websites referring to your website and your company. It could be a link to a page of your website (a “backlink”) or name-dropping your company (a “citation”).
See our earlier post for an in-depth explanation of citations.
Other sites linking to your site lends your site more authority. Essentially, a backlink is another site stating its confidence in your site.
Backlinks are essential to building your site’s authority in Google’s eyes.
Here’s an example from one of our clients:
Northland Fastening was featured in a commercial by North American Banking Company. North American Banking Company also included a write-up on their website about their long relationship.
This link here lends the banking site’s authority to Northland Fastening System’s site.
How to Get Backlinks
When you pursue backlinks from other sites—and yes, you should invest time doing outreach if you’re serious about SEO—it’s best to get links from high-authority, credible sites who aren’t competing for the same keywords.
Some backlinks come from directory sites. For example, if you’re an industrial supplier, you’re going to want a listing and a link from www.thomasnet.com, a longtime name in the industrial marketplace and a website with good authority.
You also leverage high-quality content to get backlinks and references to your site. This veers into content marketing, which can’t be reasonably covered in this post.
Essentially, you want to create high-quality content about your business, your services, your industries, your people. Create informative content to become an authoritative, trusted. Publish content about your people and your teams to humanize your company.
After posting on your website, your best content must also be shared in appropriate platforms for different audiences. It’s easiest to share on social media—and you should do so—but it’s not guaranteed to drive traffic to your site.
You can do some outreach to relevant organizations and people in the industry. For example, if your company has expertise in plastics manufacturing, you could reach out to https://www.plasticstoday.com/, a “community for plastics professionals.”
Their website has a domain authority of 60, which would make them a great domain to get a link from.
You also want to do competitor research again. Use a link analysis tool (like from www.moz.com) to see where your keyword competitors get their best, most authoritative backlinks. Try outreach to get backlinks from the same and similar sources. If you have the right purposes and right content, classic sources of high-quality backlinks are news and education websites.
SEO for Manufacturers
Effective search engine optimization will boost your manufacturing marketing and increase quality leads. This post has focused on keyword research for content creation and distribution. However, there are other critical factors to SEO, like your site’s metadata and other more technical aspects.
It takes time and effort to build and maintain a working SEO campaign, and the information above is just the basic starting point.
To do it well, your team needs skills in research, analysis, writing, and (some) coding. SEO needs a craftsman’s approach. It’s unique for each business, and it takes a set of specialty skills; don’t count on a quick-and-dirty approach to get sustainable results.
If you’re looking for a team who’s got the skills, tools, and time to develop and maintain an SEO strategy, learn more about MLT Group or get in touch with us today. Contact us and we’ll get a site audit to you in 48 hours or less.