A great blog can serve as the foundation of your industrial content marketing strategy and fuel lead generation. If you don’t have a blog, or if the one you have isn’t up to snuff, it may help to go back to the basics and make sure your blog is set up for success.
Before you start putting together your blog posts, you need to have a solid understanding of exactly what you want those posts to accomplish. For most industrial companies, the primary goal of a blog is to take traffic from search engines, social media, and email marketing campaigns and drive those visitors to landing pages — so make sure you understand the goals of your blog. It will influence the way you craft the content.
Blog posts can also strengthen your SEO programs by updating your website with fresh, new content. “Freshness” is one of the most important factors taken into consideration when search engines rank your website.
There are other goals that a solid blog can help you accomplish. For example, it can help solidify your credibility by showcasing your expertise, building trust with prospects and existing customers alike. It’s also a great tool for branding, as you can establish your own unique voice to distinguish yourself in the marketplace. So let's dive into some ways you can improve your manufacturing blog.
1. Write With Your Buyer Personas In Mind
Hopefully at this point you know who your ideal personas are. You know, those folks or companies most likely to engage with your content and more importantly turn from a lead into a customer. By establishing who these personas are, you can create effective and customized content that will draw in your specific audience, provide them a solution and put more money into your pocket.
Here are the 3 B2B personas that most we see most typically influence manufacturers, distributors, and OEMs buying processes.
- Design Engineers
- Procurement Managers
- MRO Managers
2. Get Familiar With Basic SEO Principles
Look, we’ll be honest: search engine optimization is an incredibly technical discipline with tons of nuances and constantly changing guidelines. There’s also a lot of mystery — many SEO “experts” spend their time trying to determine if Google has updated their algorithm and, if so, what the heck its impact will actually be.
We don’t expect you to keep up with all of the changes and become an SEO expert — after all, you’ve got a lot of other things to do. However, some core SEO best practices have stood the test of time and will likely positively impact your blogs. We review some of them in the rest of our other tips to improve your manufacturing blog, so keep reading!
3. Use Google Search Console And Google Trends For Content Ideas
There's no denying that coming up with new content ideas can be tricky. Sometimes think tanks and brainstorming sessions in house can dry up with no inspiration for new ideas in site. Google Search Console and Google Trends make for two great places to find that inspiration that you need.
Google Search Console is a tool that reports and measures your site's traffic performance, indexes pages, and fixes issues to optimize your website better. With this tool, you can see the search queries that show your site in search engine results, but don't drive traffic. Using these keywords, you can create more detailed and specific content on your website that will perform better in Google and because it's more specific, it will engage users more and drive traffic to your site.
Google Trends on the other hand allows you to research and analyze popular search queries. By exploring terms specific to your business, products and services you can see which popular topics may be lacking on your website.
For example, let's say you're a CNC machine shop for the aerospace industry, and you’d like to bring in more customers from that target. A B2B buyer searching for those services may use service-related terms like “precision cnc machining services,” or industry-related terms like “aerospace precision machining.” That's an opportunity for you to create industry-specific content using those keywords.
Learn More In: SEO For CNC Machining Companies
4. Build A Blog Content Calendar
Your prospects want factual, educational content regularly and it's up to you to make that happen. Just like the machinery on your shop floor, your content should run like a well-oiled machine. Creating a blog content calendar can help you organize your content ideas, keep you accountable by staying consistent and better help you develop a content strategy.
You don't need some expensive software to make this happen. You can use Google Sheets (there are loads of templates!), the free version of Trello, or Airtable if you're feeling fancy.
5. Ensure Your Blogs Have A Strong Word Count
If you think you can crank out a couple of quick paragraphs and publish them as blog posts, you might want to sit down. Posts under 300 words are not recommending for SEO, and may subject your site to ranking penalties for “thin content.” When your SEO efforts aren't strong, new customers can't find you online. So that means your posts should be 301 words long, right?
To have enough “weight” to rank in search engines, blog posts should be at around 700 words in length. However, making your posts even longer is highly recommended; longer content is not only better for your rankings, it can actually be better for lead generation as well.
With that being said, a recent study of search results showed that the average word count for top-ranked pages is a whopping 2,416 words. That’s a lot of copy, and it’s not a realistic number for most manufacturing blog posts. After all, you’re in the manufacturing business, not the writing business.
That being said, you want to strike a balance between managing your resources and optimizing your content. Regular blog posts of about 1,000 words (with occasional longer posts) should help you rank without burning you out.
While the length of your post certainly does matter, the quality of your post matters even more. The time people spend on page reading the article plays a huge role in your rankings, and if your content is awful — whether it’s 2,500 words of awful or 25 words of awful — people won’t read it, and Google takes note of that. Many manufacturers partner with an SEO expert who has knowledge of the industrial world too to make sure no opportunities are overlooked. (Thomas offers a free digital health check to see exactly what efforts you can improve online!)
6. Implement Keywords Your Target Audience Relates To
When your prospects sit down at their computers and begin sourcing for new suppliers, what terms do they use? Those are the keywords that you want to rank for.
Each blog post you write should focus on one of these terms while using up to three other related keywords. Tools like Google Keyword Planner (free), SEMRush ($99 a month), and Moz Keyword Explorer ($99 a month) can help you brainstorm and identify these related keywords.
When writing your posts, keep in mind that your priority is to engage your readers. Therefore, write as naturally as possible, and include keywords where they make sense. Don't overdo it.
7. Take The Time To Write Clear Blog Titles And Headings
Your title is the first thing people see when landing on your blog post. It’s also the first thing search engines crawl to get an idea of what’s on the page.
Thus, the title of your post is the single most important text element for SEO purposes. Try to work your keywords into your title (without letting it get awkwardly long or distracting).
Depending on your blogging platform, your title and your first heading may be the same. On platforms where these differ, be sure to work keywords into your first heading as well, and utilize the proper HTML tagging (<title> and <H1>).
Similarly, h2 and h3 tags (heading 2 and heading 3, respectively) also have some value for SEO, as well as for conversion and usability. Use these to break up the topics in your blog post to make it more readable (instead of using bold text), and, when possible, naturally work keywords into these headers as well.
8. Don't Forget About Adding Metadata
You may have heard of the term “metadata.” In addition to sounding like the name of a villainous conglomerate in a bad Sci-Fi movie, the term simply means data that describes other data. It helps search engines make sense of your web pages so that they, in turn, can help visitors make sense of them in search results.
Here are the types of metadata that your blog posts should have:
- Title Text: Your title text should be no more than 70 characters. Try to work in a keyword naturally, if possible.
- Meta Description: This is a short, focused description that should be about 156 characters. Again, write for the reader first, but try to work in keywords if you can.
- URL: Don’t just use an auto-generated URL (www.yourblog/post7232382938 doesn’t have a great ring to it). Instead, write a brief, keyword-rich, relevant URL.
9. Link To External Sources — And Your Own Content!
Links serve various purposes; they help guide readers through a story, provide credibility for statistics and information, tie together relevant posts, and drive potential customers to conversion pages. Links also represent a good opportunity to boost SEO.
Here are some guidelines for using links on your site:
- Internal Links: Include links to other pieces of your content marketing — eBooks, whitepapers, videos, etc. — in every blog post. You should include links to core website pages whenever it is appropriate. Work keywords into the text that you are linking from for maximum SEO impact.
- Other Links: It’s important to cite sources and link to other high-quality sites to give your blog credibility. However, do remember that these links take your visitors away from your page. So, with that in mind …
- Set All Links To Open In A New Window: Opening links in a new browser window helps readers navigate to related content without taking their focus off your page. Add a target="_blank" tag to all links.
- Use Absolute Links: Content management systems such as WordPress and HubSpot give you the option to use “relative” links, which means you don’t have to enter your domain name. So "https://yoursite.com/blogpostyoushouldread" becomes just "/blogpostyoushouldread." While relative links take less time to create and may offer some other advantages, absolute links are preferred. There is much less chance of them breaking; they are easier to bookmark; and they eliminate any issues when search engines crawl your site.
10. Use Images & Visual Elements
You know the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? When it comes to your blog, that’s 100% not true. You can’t just have one visual on your page. Guide your readers through the page with multiple images to enhance the story, break up text, and keep them engaged.
Images and visuals play an important role in improving the amount of time users spend reading your blog and interacting with other pages. This can, in turn, improve your SEO and help you maximize traffic.
With that in mind, here is some guidance:
- Make Content Skimmable: If a reader lands on your blog and sees nothing but long, unending blocks of text, they’re likely to get intimidated. Make your blog posts appear more approachable by breaking things up with subheads (which should be your H2s), bullets, tables, quotes, and other content elements. Also, use paragraphs of varying lengths to improve flow.
- Use More Than One Image: Every blog post should include at least one image. For longer posts, try to use one post for every 350 words of content. Make sure all images you use include alt text, which appears in place of images when they can’t load or are blocked.
- Make Your Content Shareable: A great way to break up a post, boost SEO, and increase social media engagement is to use a Click To Tweet box. Create yours using the free share link generator tool.
Also, did you know you can embed videos into your blog? It keeps readers on your page longer and improves SEO. More industrial marketers are using videos in their content marketing strategy because they're easy to share and effective at increasing sales.
11. Establish A Consistent Style
Establishing a consistent style makes the writing and editing process a lot easier. This is especially important if you make use of guest bloggers or freelancers.
Here are some things to consider:
- Capitalization: Should your title and subheadings be written in “Title Case,” (Where Every Word Is Capitalized Like This) or “Sentence case,” (Where only the first word is capitalized like this)? There are good and bad arguments for both sides, but everyone agrees that YOU SHOULD NOT MAKE EVERY LETTER CAPITALIZED. Pick one style and go with it.
- Fonts: Choose a font that is easy to read. Don’t use Comic Sans (we warned you).
- Colors & Treatments: Use different colors or treatments (bold, italic, underlined, etc.) for your H1s, H2s, and links. Ideally, this should be part of the style sheet for your blog (called a CSS).
- Tone: The tone of your blog should reflect you, as a company. Are you authoritative? Casual? Sincere? Approachable?
- Grammar: Nothing gets people irrationally riled up like a typo. Make sure you proof your work. If you have grammar questions, the AP Stylebook is a great resource. We've also rounded up 6 Tips For Self-Revision And Editing.
12. Structure Your Blog Clearly In A Consistent Format
While having a consistent style is important, your posts don’t have to look identical. Naturally, a post focusing on a video needs to appear different from a blog post breaking down the findings of a research study.
However, there are some core elements that all of your posts need to have:
- Title: Make sure it can appeal to your target audience, and include a relevant keyword if possible.
- Introduction: Set the table for the rest of your post upfront, and work in relevant keywords if you can.
- Images: The first image you use should appear near the top of the post, but not directly below the title as this can harm your SEO. If your blog platform supports it, be sure to select a featured image, which will be displayed when your post is shared on social media.
- Body: This is the meat and potatoes of your post. Again, strive to keep the content skimmable and easy to digest. Don't forget about the goals and purpose of your blog — make sure your content is valuable to your reader.
13. Establish A Frequency To Posting Your Blogs
Starting a blog isn’t hard. Committing to a blog, however, is a different story. We see so many manufacturing blogs left abandoned on the Internet, collecting dust (instead of leads), and it’s a shame.
Don’t make that mistake.
Commit to updating your blog at a pace that works for you, your budget, and your resources. The more, the better. Google even favors websites that at least update monthly, so start by posting a blog once a month — it's one of our top lead generation tips.
14. Create A Quality Control Checklist
You wouldn’t push an order out the door without making sure it was up to your standards. Take the same approach before clicking “publish” on your blog.
Creating a quality control checklist will help make sure nothing is overlooked. Here’s a basic checklist you can use, but feel free to customize it for your needs, style, and blog guidelines:
Is your blog post at least 500 words long?
Did you run a spell check?
Does the title include a targeted SEO term?
Does your post include at least one image?
Do all images have proper alt tags?
Have you set a featured image for the post?
Did you double-check all your links to make sure they work?
Are all links set to open in a new window?
Do all subheads look correct and consistent?
Does the post include a CTA?
15. Close With A Call-To-Action
A call-to-action (CTA) is either text, image, or a button that links directly to a landing
16. Promote Your Blog Content
Help prospects find your helpful content by promoting it using a multi-platform approach. If you're new to digital marketing and your website's domain authority is low, you can't rely solely on organic search results.
Promote your content on platforms you know your buyers will be. Think industrial spaces like Thomasnet.com (a free listing can put your business in front of 1 million buyers).
"We set a record for quotes in Q1, increasing them by 197% over the previous year," said Ken Carlton, VP Corrugated Metals. "The average value of quotes has grown. We have received orders in the same day. The sales team can’t believe how many good opportunities they have now. Participating in the Thomas program has changed the way I market my business."
Other platforms to promote your blog content:
- Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Email marketing campaigns
- Newsletter advertising (Reach +310K industrial buyers by sponsoring the Thomas Industry Update Newsletter)
- Display advertising opportunities
- Press releases
- Pay-Per-Click ads
What Else Can You Do To Improve Your Blog?
Following these suggestions will help you form a solid foundation for your blog and get you on your way to increase your website ranking and get you found by industrial buyers. However a blog is just one component to a great content strategy — and although great content is the heart of every inbound marketing strategy, it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to execute. Not sure where to start? Drop us a line! And in the meantime, visit the below resources for more tips.
- 2020 Ultimate Guide To Marketing For Manufacturers
- 10 Content Marketing Ideas That Engage Buyers
- The Manufacturer's Step By Step Guide To Driving Website Traffic
- 6 Tips For Revision And Self-Editing
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