SEO For Manufacturers And Industrial Companies In 2021: Is SEO Worth It?

For many manufacturers and industrial companies, search engine optimization (SEO) is still shrouded in mystery. It’s understandable — the rules and “best practices” are ever-evolving, shifting constantly as new technologies and trends come and go. It’s no surprise, then, that there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding SEO.

So if you're new to the digital marketing world, let's take a step back to the basics of SEO and help you understand its worth to manufacturers and industrial companies.

seo for manufacturers - is seo worth itWhat Is SEO?

If you want more new customers, and you know your website is important to generate leads, how can you connect the dots? When you do a Google search, you’re likely to click on a link from one of the first five results. Have you ever given any thought to exactly how one of those sites gets to a top slot? It's a lead generation tactic fueled by quality content and SEO to drive your target audience to your website. 

SEO stands for search engine optimization and how the search engines — Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., — use a formula to determine the results for a user’s search. This is called a search engine algorithm (“algorithms” are the formulas used by search engines to determine the search results). Google updates its SEO algorithm often. While this can be difficult to keep up with, the SEO algorithm updates keep marketers focused on creating quality website content.

SEO isn’t about “quick fixes” or “tricks” to get a handful of your pages to rank. Good SEO is about fundamental, sustainable and proven best practices, implemented and refined over time. Some SEO tactics are more technical than others and can change as your company grows.

What Does SEO Have To Do With Marketing?

Quality content relevant to your industrial buyers helps you get found online, keeps them engaged on your website, and increases the chance of converting them to a sale. When search engines are crawling websites to bring relevant web pages up for users, they’re looking for a number of key factors: content, keywords, site usability, backlinks, and page authority.

SEO uses the following marketing components to be successful:

  • Content: Your e-books, site copy and company information are all part of effective content marketing and are likely to have relevant keywords, like "metal stamping New England" or "custom injection molding for medical supplies."
  • Usability: Website user experience and design — how easy it is for website visitors to navigate through your website to find what they need or contact you.
  • Backlinks: All the other website pages that refer back to your site, like social media pages and industry newsletters or resources.
  • Page authority: How relevant is your website to your specific industrial products or services. 

There are a lot of components for SEO to bring value to your website. Having an updated website is one of the most important factors.

💡 Thomas Tip: Curious to see how your website compares against a competitor? Request our free digital health check. You'll receive an assessment of your website and see the exact items you need to increase your presence to qualified buyers. 

We’ve been through two different SEO companies. Neither of whom came close to the results that Thomas has done for us in less than a year of handling our SEO services,” said Jessica Bloor of Trans-Matic.

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"With Thomas running our lead generation efforts, SEO, and digital marketing, our sales increased by 60% in just one year. Thomas maximized our company exposure, drove a record number of qualified leads, and helped us turn these opportunities directly into sales dollars," said Bob Ryan, Group President of CJ Winter, a cold root rolling manufacturer.

Is There Value In SEO For Manufacturers Today?

In the 20th century, manufacturing was a roller coaster, with the majority of industrial companies coming out on top of their game. New clients rolled in with help from word-of-mouth referrals, direct mailings, and directories like our own Thomas Register. Then the internet spurned a period of intense, rapid change in the way businesses operate. 

As years went on and the "big green books" went out of print, prospective customers moved online, opening a floodgate of possible business opportunities — if you knew how to get found. With an increasingly large amount of data available on the internet in the past twenty years, buyers and purchasing managers began to turn there, as opposed to business acquaintances, for supplier and product information. 

So is there still value in SEO for manufacturers today?

Yes, if you're looking to connect with a new age of B2B buyers and get more qualified leads. Getting to the first page of Google became, and still is, a key priority for manufacturers and industrial companies who see value in getting more customers from the internet.

As the tail end of the millennial generation ages, graduates from college, and enters the workforce, these trends in internet usage continue to intensify. Millennials (roughly aged 20 to 36) in engineering and purchasing roles throughout the industrial industry rely on the internet, particularly search engines and Thomasnet.com, to find the information they need to make informed specifications and purchase decisions — studies show that 73% of them use your website as a critical factor in submitting RFIs.

B2B Buyer Stats Infographic copy - Is SEO Worth It

SEO helps engineers, procurement managers, and B2B buyers see your business first online. Without SEO and other proper digital growth tactics in place (like online advertising!), you could be missing out on big growth opportunities. 

“86% of the businesses we get from Thomas advertising closes a deal,” said Tailor Label Products VP of Sales and Marketing, Tracy Tenpenny. "Our traditional method of word-of-mouth is at 43%. The total number of customers we receive yearly is far greater than we’ve ever realized because those referrals also came from companies who found us online on Thomas and referred us to someone in their network.”

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The best way to manage all this constant change and get the most value is to adjust your growth strategies to meet the needs of your B2B buyers so you can be where they are based on their behaviors.

Here's a head start on industrial buyers research:

 

How To Increase Your SEO Traffic In Just 30 Days

Step Up Your SEO Game With This 30-Day Planner

 

5 Steps Manufacturers Can Do To Increase SEO Traffic

There are a ton of ways you can boost your website up in search rankings. Each manufacturing company is different so finding the right mix of best practices takes some experimenting. 

Below are a few basic SEO best practices we recommend if you're just stepping into SEO — but for a more in-depth, technical guide download our complimentary SEO planner, "How to Increase Your SEO Traffic in Just 30 Days."

1. Track Your SEO Success

Before starting any content strategy it's important to sign up for Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Thomas WebTrax. Use a combination of these SEO tools and you'll be able to track the performance of your SEO strategy. The number one metric to track when starting your SEO journey is organic traffic. By curtailing your strategy to boost this metric, you'll begin to see your ranking on search engines improve.

Google Search Console is a platform that acts as an interface between a site owner and the Google search engine.  As such it offers invaluable data, tools and monitoring capability not available elsewhere.

You can also access data from the Search Console on other applications through linking other Google products e.g., Google Analytics and Google AdWords. The API allows you to also integrate CTR and traffic statistics as well as links in other web analytics tools.

Google Analytics allows you to specifically analyze the user behavior on your website and is essential in evaluating the success of your SEO endeavors. The analysis options range from very simple to very complex. Google Analytics tracks the users on your website. To activate the tracking, you must add the respective Google Analytics code snippet on every page.

Thomas WebTrax was designed as a lead generation tool that highlights firmographic and demographic data on your anonymous users, instead of just website metrics. Using Thomas WebTrax and Google Analytics together will optimize your website and continually replenish your sales pipeline with leads.

It goes beyond the analytics, by tracking the buyer throughout the journey from the Thomas Network to your website to when they pick up the phone to call you. 

2. Carefully Choose Your SEO Keywords

Keyword research helps you identify keywords that appeal to a target audience and expand the reach of your content. Using keyword research tools helps you identify what kinds of content users are looking for on any given topic. Always make sure to prioritize time for keyword research.

When selecting keywords, you should also keep the purpose of your website in mind. Opt for transactional keywords if the main intention is sales, or informational keywords if your website aims to provide readers with important information. Simple, basic industry descriptors such as “metal stamping” or “injection molding,” will be very competitive. Instead, develop long-tail keywords more specific to your work like your location or the industries you're targeting. Make sure you do your keyword research and use keywords that appeal to your target audience.

In today's increasingly competitive landscape, industrial marketers are creating complex digital marketing campaigns to boost lead generation. Pay-per-click advertising, for example, is quickly becoming an integral part of a full and successful SEO strategy, as competitors improve their SEO. 

Here are a few recommended tools to help you research keywords:

3. Review Your Redirects And Identify Broken Links

Server relocation can make it necessary to temporarily redirect certain URLs. These redirects (status code 302) ensure that Google retains the old URLs in the index, enabling users to access the older URLs even after server relocation. You should only use a 302 redirect for a limited time period.

For permanently redirecting a URL, use the status code 301, which permanently redirects the old URL to the new URL. Part of the link juice is also passed on in the process.

But what about those pesky 404 errors?

When a user visits a URL that can’t be found on a server, their browser shows them error code 404 (file not found). When this happens, it not only creates a negative user experience but also interrupts search engine crawling. If search engines find too many 404 errors on your website, they take it as a sign that your website is not properly maintained. But more often than not, 404 errors occur because of broken links.

In other words, you’ve inserted a link somewhere on your site that goes to a landing page no longer exists. This often occurs when the destination URLs have been changed or written incorrectly. Make sure to periodically check for any broken links on your website (especially after a relaunch or small URL changes).

Here are a few online tools to help you find 404 errors across your site:

Not sure what a 404 error is and how it can hurt your marketing? For all the basics you need to know and how to fix a 404, check out What Does A 404 Error Mean?

4. Make Your Website Design Mobile-Friendly

Websites built more than five years ago likely have poor user experience and outdated technology, which isn't good for anyone — especially those searching on mobile. Older websites that don't respond to mobile device usage and aren't optimized for search engine algorithms are getting left behind and simply won't produce any positive lead generation results. Think back to the significance of the millennial generation we mentioned earlier and how they've been influencing online trends and the industrial customer buyers' journey. 

57% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, so it's important to optimize your website not only for viewing on a smartphone, but tablets, and notebook computers too. Partner with an industrial marketing expert who can make immediate updates to put your website in the best position to get found by potential customers. 

"As a marketing department of one, it has been really helpful to have Thomas around to help with our marketing strategy as opposed to making it up as we go," said Jeff Collins, Partner at Renown Electric. Renown is now ranking on page 1 of Google and driving qualified traffic to its website. 

💡 Thomas Tip: Get a free SEO audit with our Digital Health Check and learn how you can improve your website presence. Degreed engineers support our SEO experts so we have the right team to promote your manufacturing business.

Responsive website design is paramount in today’s increasingly connected, digital world. In fact, a non-mobile-friendly site design can seriously damage your SEO ranking. As internet users turn more to their smartphones and other mobile devices and less to their actual computers, search engines are doing what makes the most sense: prioritizing mobile experiences.

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This means that your website’s mobile face is as important, or even more important, than its desktop face, so make sure your design is optimized for all types of devices. Whether visitors are using a tablet or a desktop computer, your website should be intuitive, engaging, and easy to use. 

5. Update Your Website With New Content

One quick way to optimize your website for SEO is to update your website! That means posting content regularly, at least monthly, to keep search engines interested; and working to expand and improve your backlinks. A clear sign that your website needs to be updated with new content is if you only have one page. More quality website pages mean more opportunities for Google to scan your website for relevant keywords to rank your website higher.

Create pages that add real value for your visitors, providing them with directly useful information, tips, or troubleshooting like:

  • Guide To Heat Treating Deep Drawn Stamped Components
  • Plastic Injection Molding Solutions For the Medical Industry
  • Types Of Products Used In Various Electronic Applications

See Examples: 11 Content Marketing Ideas For Manufacturers 

Images are a prime opportunity for boosting rankings. Give the images of your shop floor and industrial products SEO-rich file names and alt-tags; since users can search for images, these file names and tags can be very helpful to your overall SEO strategy. Plus, image-driven SEO for manufacturing companies can work especially well when using images of widgets.

Unsure of what kind of content your industrial site needs to drive traffic and generate leads? Here are 11 Manufacturing Content Marketing Ideas (With Examples!)

SEO For Manufacturers: How To Get Started

Although we've covered the basics of SEO and what it means for your online presence, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done to optimize your website — SEO is just one component of a successful digital marketing strategy. There's also a lot to still learn about, like onsite vs. offsite SEO and how incorporating video marketing into your lead generation strategy also impacts SEO. 

When brainstorming content ideas, smart manufacturing marketing experts follow a standard content planning process of keyword research, relevance, and topic discovery. This planning involves figuring out what type of content should be created and how organic competitors are doing to best boost your SEO traffic.

To make sense of it all and add more value to your online growth strategy, contact us today. If you don't have time to manage your website and SEO but want to get found by more qualified buyers, that's okay! Our marketing team is supported by degreed engineers and can do all the heavy-lifting for you.

We'll begin with a free Digital Health Check to see how you can compare against competitors and show you what tactics you need to get in front of qualified B2B buyers.

“Thomas saw our blindspots that we didn’t know existed and filled them with data and technology to help us to fuel our sales and marketing efforts,” said Brad Godwin, CEO of E2Global, Inc. “The leads generated are qualified and real. It has been a seismic shift away from traditional sales to having a real digital footprint globally. The amount of quality leads being generated is too many to mention.”

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