SEO for Manufacturing: What You Need to Know
The goal of search engine optimization (SEO), whether for manufacturing or any industry, is to improve your website’s visibility, making it easier for customers and prospects to find you online. Why does that matter? Because today’s prospects are far more educated about buying than ever. With over 100,000 searches performed on Google every second, they’ve already done their research long before connecting with your business. Thus the dynamic between prospects and sales/marketing has significantly changed.
SEO for Manufacturing Companies in Action
To see how this works in real life, let’s use injection molding as an example. Every month, approximately 12,000 people in the US type this search term into Google and here’s what they see.
Looking at the full search engine results page (SERP), you’ll see a lot of information served using different types of content. There are:
- Google Ads
- Organic listings (web pages with titles and descriptions)
- Other questions people often ask in connection with this search term
- Places (based on your location)
- Top news stories
- Additional related searches
Injection molding is a huge subject and there are many reasons why someone would search using this term. By the way, the “why” is what SEOs refer to as “search intent” or the intention behind the search.
Google serves up a variety of different content for this search query to try and satisfy that intent. That means there’s an opportunity for a page on your website to appear in this result. However, this also applies to your competitors. And given that most people don’t venture past the first page of search results, the competition can be pretty intense. Despite this, the rewards can be significant.
How Manufacturing SEO Benefits Your Business
When people have a question or need to conduct research, they’re most likely to turn to Google. Your ability to appear in the search results, at their time of need, can make a huge difference. In our webinar, Driving Brand Growth: Effective Storytelling through Content, MarketMuse co-founder Jeff Coyle refers to a quote by Gong (a sales software company) saying that “competitive deals are won early, when the battle ground is still fertile” and that they’re won with “discovery techniques and not closing techniques”
Here’s the thing. Early in the buyer’s journey, when people are looking for information, as opposed to purchasing something, 75% are more likely to click on an organic listing in the search results versus an ad. This is the perfect opportunity to shape the narrative surrounding your business.
Incorporating SEO Into Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Tempting as it may be to jump into tactics, you’ll get better and more sustainable results by developing an SEO strategy beforehand. Now, the first part is understanding where SEO fits into marketing your manufacturing company – it supports your digital marketing activities in a number of ways.
The goal of technical SEO is to ensure your site can be crawled and indexed by Google. Because if search engines can’t discover your pages, they can’t rank. But all your SEO efforts will be in vain if you don’t produce quality content – relevant material that matches what searchers are looking for. That’s the search intent we talked about earlier. And as you continue to consistently produce helpful content around your subject of expertise, you will develop authority in the eyes of Google.
Helpful content, by the way, is a term Google has recently started using in conjunction with their “helpful content update” that rolled out in September 2022. It’s all about focusing on people-first content as opposed to that created primarily for search engines. As Google states, “ Our advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide. SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.”
Keep in mind that this helpful content needs a purpose beyond just ranking well in Search. That purpose is to guide someone, who may not be familiar with your company, all the way down the marketing funnel to becoming a customer.
Best Practices for Industrial SEO
Search engine optimization is a deep and complex subject affecting many aspects of your online presence. While the following information won’t turn you into an SEO expert, it will give you a basic understanding of the role it plays in your content marketing activities.
Employ Good Web Design
Poor website design can significantly impact your ability to rank and convert potential clients. Even if you’re not directly selling from your website, it should at least generate leads. If your website looks like it was designed last century, it’s time for an update! That means making it mobile-friendly and making it fast. Mobile-friendliness is important to Google, so it should matter to you, from an SEO perspective. Fortunately, Google Search Console makes it easy to check if your site has any issues in this regard. But you can do a quick visual check yourself to see if it looks something like this. It’s hard to read because of the small fonts which also makes it hard to click on any links.
Page speed is another important factor for Google, so take note. According to the search engine, “For every second delay in mobile page load, conversions can fall by up to 20%.” While you may not be selling directly from your website, at the very least it should help generate leads. But a potential customer visiting your slow site is unlikely to take the next step to becoming a buyer. Once again, Google has some free tools for checking page speed.
Be Careful With Keyword Research
For many, keyword research is the basis for content creation and most often it rests on a combination of search volume (the popularity of a search term) and keyword difficulty (the perceived difficulty of ranking). This is the stage at which things often go horribly wrong, when marketing becomes subservient to SEO. Instead of creating content with an eye to progress down the marketing funnel, it gets created based on traffic volume and the ease of which that content can be ranked. I’ve written extensively keyword search volume and keyword difficulty in the past, but if I could sum it up into one sentence, it would be this:
By the way, MarketMuse can help with providing the right data centered around decision-making. Using predictive ROI, you’ll know how much content to create and update, and on what topics. Plus, you’ll refine your planning — cluster creation, owning a topic (what and how much needs to be created/updated), and prioritizing those efforts. Then you’ll build the editorial calendar, build the content briefs, and assign the writers to those pieces.
Consistently Publish Quality Content
In theory, the more content you have the more opportunity you have to rank. Which makes sense, assuming you’re not creating SEO content as mentioned above. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure you publish content which exemplifies your expertise.
Make sure you write about the right stuff
This all starts with proper decision-making by combining your site data, competitive data, SERP data and using AI to help determine what to prioritize.
Think about how individual pages connect to one another to both guide your audience and build authority, in the mind of your readers and Google.
Thoroughly cover your subject.
In addition to having a purpose, every piece of content should be about a specific subject. Covering that thoroughly means ensuring adequate coverage of related topics. MarketMuse patented modeling technology provides a list of related topics ordered by relevance along with content length and content scoring. Use this as a guide to creating the most comprehensive content.
Conduct competitive content analysis
There’s an easy way to do this using the MarketMuse heatmap. Just enter in a topic and it will create a model based on its analysis of thousands of pages of documents. Then it compares the top 20 results in Google to see their usage of those terms. This enables you to identify topics you absolutely must talk about, because everyone else is, plus other related topics which could be covered to differentiate your content from the competition.
Links aren’t the only criteria when it comes to ranking. Not to mention how hard it is to get links these days – in fact, 66% of pages don’t have a single backlink. So let’s talk about the easiest type of link building – the ones you create yourself on your own content connecting to other internal pages and valuable external resources. They’re effective for a number of reasons:
- Connecting to other pages on your site creates topic clusters that contribute to your authority. Visitors to your site will appreciate it and so will Google.
- Those internal links can help move visitors further down the funnel with valuable resources.
- Both Google and your readers expect to see links out to external websites to show you are a part of the ecosystem in your industry. In fact, not linking out creates a negative perception of your industry influence.
When linking out to other pages, whether on your site or externally, use appropriate anchor text and don’t link out to your competitors in the search engine results pages. MarketMuse connect can help with this.
It analyzes your site to find the most appropriate content to link to, including anchor text that it draws from the content model.
Take Advantage of the Title Tag and Meta Description
Every page features additional data that describes the contents of the page. Known as metadata, two of the most most important components are the title tag and description.
The title needs to accurately reflect the contents of the page (for search engines) yet simultaneously be engaging (for humans). Think of the title as enabling a search engine to quickly bucket content prior to ranking for a specific term. So a page about ‘injection molding’ won’t even be considered when looking to rank content about ‘how to grow tomatoes.’ Although search engines rank, it’s humans that read the result, hopefully visit your page and end up a paying customer. So you want a title that creates interest.
While the meta description isn’t part of Google’s ranking criteria, it does factor into whether a Searcher clicks on an entry and visits a page in the search results. Although Google rewrites meta descriptions 70% of the time, it’s still worth creating accurate and compelling ones. Here are Google’s best practices for creating quality descriptions.
Clean up Internal Redirects and Broken Links
Sometimes content gets deleted – it could be a page, a video, an image, whatever. When that happens, any links pointing to that item are now broken and they don’t work anymore. That experience is not appreciated by either humans or search engines. The way to deal with this is to set up a redirect that points any incoming links to the new piece of content. Redirects are very common and are a simple way to deal with this situation as it often requires too much effort to update all the incoming links versus setting up one redirect.
But what if that new piece of content gets deleted? You could set up another redirect that redirects the existing redirect. But going forward in this manner creates too many levels of redirects. So it’s best to keep things clean and update your original redirect.
Tracking with Google Search Console and Google Analytics
These are two of the most common tools used by SEO experts and they are free. Google Search Console “helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results.” Google Analytics collects data from your site and provides insight into search traffic including where it comes from and how visitors interact with your website pages.
Set up Your Google Business Profile
A Google Business Profile helps a manufacturing business maintain its online presence across Google. Creating a business profile is free but you’ll need to create a free Google My Business account for that profile first. You can also use Google my Business for local SEO, primarily maintaining the quality and accuracy of information about your company while building trust (in the form of reviews and responses). Here’s an example of what a business profile looks like on a desktop search for a company name (a branded search).
The profile is a combination of information you supply, through Google my Business, and user generated content in the form of reviews and questions.
Create a Favorable Brand SERP Experience
Your brand SERP is what people see in the search results when they Google your manufacturing business. Brand SERP expert Jason Barnard calls it “your new business card, an honest critique of your content strategy and a reflection of your brand’s digital ecosystem.” There are a few things you can do to optimize your brand SERP based on particular features of the search engine results page.
A Knowledge Panel can also appear during a search for your company name. It’s different from a Google Business Profile in that you don’t have direct control over it. But often you can trigger one by making sure to appear in (link with) the most important and authoritative sources for your industry – ones with high trust and notability signals..
Consistently publishing to your social media channels may trigger SERP features like the Twitter box.
Publishing videos on your company’s official YouTube channel will similarly trigger a YouTube box in the SERP. One thing to note, both Twitter and YouTube boxes take up a lot of onscreen space and can be an effective method of pushing less desirable results off the first page.
A few other things that can help with brand SERP. Answering common questions about your brand can trigger the People Also Ask feature in the SERP. Google may include sitewide links (to popular pages) along with your brand snippet – think about this when building out your site architecture. Also, consider using Google Ads to bid on your own term. It’s ridiculously inexpensive, you’ll get the top spot, and reduce the impact of any competitive ads.
SEO success is the result of many different tactics applied consistently according to a well-devised plan. Ultimately, you want to convert that SEO traffic into either leads or direct sales, whichever is most appropriate. To do that, you’ll need to serve website visitors with the right content at the right time.
What you should do now
When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:
- Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
- If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
- If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.