Does Search Engine Optimization & Digital Marketing for Manufacturers Work? A Personal Story
Is SEO & Digital Marketing for Manufacturers too Much Work?
10 years ago, after many successes in getting websites ranked at the top of Google results, the search engine algorithms became more complex and started to focus on metrics that were difficult to predict, and even more difficult to manipulate. Even I started to wonder does SEO work for manufacturers? The statement above was the feeling I was starting to get about SEO for manufacturers and other businesses. SEO is the process of getting a website ranked higher in search results for the terms that will bring them business.
I was a new business owner with a fresh MBA and a recent honorable discharge after 4 yrs in the Marine Corps. I was bootstrapping my marketing company with two partners while doing construction and taking loads of scrap metal to the scrapyard for extra money.
The Customers Just Weren’t Getting Results
I knew I had the expertise to get results, at least I had in the past, but I was working non-stop and getting no results. To show you the evolution of SEO here is a brief timeline of changes:
Year 2000 – The more keyword repetition, the more times a keyword is mentioned, and the more relevant to the search query the search engine assumed the piece was. Backlinks (links to your site) were important, but it was only a matter of how many backlinks you had. SEO campaigns centered on building thousands of backlinks from any source possible. There were tools and press release sites that would make this easy to do.
2005 – 2010 Search engines started to care more about the quality of the backlinks and the quality of the content, but they weren’t very advanced in their ability to analyze quality. SEOs could use techniques like buying expired domains (domains that used to have a website on them but no longer did) and building small blogs that included the links to their sites. Content became more focused on length and specificity.
2015 – 2020 Google slowly became more intelligent about the relevance of backlinks to your industry, and the length and value of your content.
2020 – 2022 Google is using more and more metrics on the engagement of the user on your content. For example, how long are they staying on the page? How far into the article are they reading? Is the clicking on any of the links contained in your content? The need for backlinks is just as important as it has ever been, but industry-specific, high authority, high engagement links are going to provide the most value.
In 2012 I was using extremely complicated processes, using expensive tools to identify expired domains with good authority, building blogs on them, diversifying hosting sources (so all the sites didn’t have the same patterns which search engines could identify) and so much more. All these activities were focused on getting enough good backlinks to get my customers’ sites to rank.
PBNs, Backlinks, Keywords, Stuffing, Tracking, Conversions, Bounce Rates, Content Writing – How could anyone maintain this for one site, let alone numerous customer websites?
Soon all of these activities became unmanageable. I was spending countless hours reading forums and blogs, trying to identify patterns, and analyzing search engine algorithm updates to find the technique that would consistently work.
I quit analyzing Google updates, I quit reading forums, and I quit trying to copy techniques other people were using. I suddenly began to tally massive successes for manufacturers and other types of companies. It all started with the question: What would Google do? Instead of trying to chase Google, I began to consider the actions I would take if I was creating a search algorithm. What improvements would I make to display the most valuable content to the person that is searching? As I considered these questions, SEO became rather simple to implement, at least a heck of a lot more simple than what I had been doing.
Throughout my career as an owner of a marketing company, I’ve often received the question: What do you do to keep up with search engine algorithms? My answer? I don’t keep up with them, I anticipate them.
Search Engine Optimization and Digital Marketing For Manufacturers is Simple if You Have the Right Tools and Good Writers
There are two key items that are nearly impossible to remove from the SEO equation:
- Well written content
Good SEO Content
A search engine only has one way of matching up a search query with relevant content. The search engine needs to have a database of all potential content matches to a search query, and that content has to address the topic being searched. Search engines have gotten much better at matching search queries with content that contains a synonym (for example, you search for “Top marketing companies” and you receive content matches that contain the phrase “Best marketing companies”), but the bottom line is: If you want to rank for a search phrase, you need a piece of content that contains that phrase or something very similar. This process is fairly simple, but there are a number of nuances in how and where these keywords or phrases are incorporated into the content. You can read more about that in our article “Manufacturing SEO”.
We define backlinks as “a link on a website other than your own, that points someone to your website”. An example of a backlink might be: If you were a member of a manufacturer’s association, and that association had a list of their members on their website, with a link to each, you would have a backlink from that manufacturer’s association. If you think about it, it makes sense why a search engine would care about backlinks, and why they hold an important function in SEO. First, when you generate a valuable piece of content, other people will read that content, and if they write their own content, they will want to quote the information you shared, which should be done through a link to your site. Also, it makes sense that if you are an established company, you will have joined industry-related associations, participated in trade shows, sponsored events, and engaged in other activities that other websites would reference. Google sees backlinks as a measure of the size and authority of your company. From an online perspective, there isn’t a better way to measure credibility than through how many other people refer to your company. As with content, there are many nuances that are considered by search engines, and not all backlinks are created equal. Here are a couple of highlights that address some frequently asked questions:
Frequently Asked Questions about SEO
Do I get a powerful backlink from a profile on Facebook and other social media outlets?
Most social media outlets and large directories attach a “no-follow” attribute to their outbound links. This means that Google will not consider them in their algorithm, or give you points for having that backlink.
If my company was in the news, that should be a really good backlink right?
Most news publications generate content very frequently, and a piece about your company (assuming there was a live link included) will only be featured for a short amount of time. Three months after the article was published, it will be so far back on the news site, that no one will be able to find it. Generally speaking, the less visible a link on a website, the less valuable Google will consider it to be.
I know quite a few companies that would link to my site from theirs, so I should be all set with SEO, right? Every website has its own “authority” which comes from its own backlinks. There are a number of tools we use to measure this authority. One common tool is moz.com and its domain authority metric. The higher the authority of the domain (and more specifically, the page on the domain where your backlink will be placed) the more authority it will transfer to your website. Even if you have 10 sites that would link to you, if they don’t have good authority, they won’t help your SEO.
I only have one service, so if I write a page about it is that sufficient?
We see this way too often: A fixation on one keyword set. For example, you provide material converting services. The term you use for your service is “material converting”. Your customers might be looking for “a gasket manufacturer”, “vinyl cutting”, “custom seals for glass containers”, “edge trimming services”, and on and on for infinity. Each keyword set contains a variation of your core service, either phrased differently or applied to a different industry. The big idea is, that the more content, the better. The more content you publish, the more data you have to expand your content further.
How do I get good backlinks? First, you need the ability to analyze the power of the backlink opportunity so you don’t waste time contacting websites that aren’t worth the effort. Obviously, hiring a qualified SEO company is the easiest way to get good backlinks, but if you just have to do it yourself in between managing your employees, developing your business, dealing with customers, and running the production floor, then here are some ideas. We look at your existing and potential relationships. Is there a company that uses you exclusively for a function? Where do you buy your supplies? Who are your customers and are any of them exclusive? Are you a member of any associations or can you join some? Have you purchased services from a company that would use your testimonial on their website?
More advanced, we use competitor research to analyze the links your competition receives and identify opportunities you could use.
What Other Types of Digital Marketing for Manufacturers Should I Consider?
In the current digital environment, marketing diversification is important for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is that your potential customer can be at a hundred different points in the sales cycle, and your messaging and the platform are going to be relevant at different points. In addition, repetition matters more than ever. As our world moves more and more digital, it means that our exposure to advertising becomes overwhelming, which means that we get really good at ignoring ads. For this reason, you are more or less taking your target customer on an advertising journey that sends varying messaging over varying platforms over a period of time. This article from Forbes does a good job of describing such a journey. For an extremely simplified priority list for manufacturers, the digital marketing techniques in order of ROI are as follows. Combinations of these strategies can enhance each individual technique:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Google Text Ads
- Programmatic Display Advertising
There are even more options than these, but here’s the deal. You only have so much time and so much budget. If you want the technique that will provide you with long-term value, and that will also work independently from any other digital marketing, then SEO is your candidate. The reasons SEO works independently, and reliably are as follows:
- SEO has residual value. Unlike most other types of marketing, SEO works long after you quit doing it. If you can get to #1 in Google for 4 or 5 of your main services, you will retain that position for a period of time (in some cases – years), which means you continue to receive leads.
When someone Googles a search term like “gasket manufacturers”, there’s a high likelihood they are in the market for your services. You will have a high conversion rate from this type of search, and you will have a relatively easy time closing the deal. People use organic Google search when they are ready to purchase a manufacturing service.
- When you spend money on SEO, you are investing in content and backlink assets that stay with you, instead of just giving it to a platform like Facebook.
Our customers are generating thousands of viable leads through our manufacturing SEO services
So does manufacturing SEO work?
Well, when you start thinking like the search engines and thinking about what information your customer will want in order to buy from you, then you can bet that the results will follow. Our customers are at the top of search results for keywords that we know their target customers are looking for. We use data, intelligent interpretation of that data, and qualified writers and marketers to generate consistent, and dramatic results for our clients.