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Industrial Manufacturing SEO: What You Need To Know About SEO for B2B
What is Industrial Manufacturing SEO?
SEO. One of so many TWAs (Three Word Acronyms) in marketing, and perhaps the most misunderstood. It’s not a silver bullet that solves all your problems, nor is it a mystic art that us mere mortals can only puzzle at.
It’s a tool, and it ought to be in your toolbox. Let’s define SEO, then look at what’s special about SEO for industrial manufacturers.
What is SEO?
SEO is Search Engine Optimization. We know what a search engine is: it’s Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or any of several alternatives. You put words in the search bar, hit enter, and get results. For the most part, SEO focuses on Google as it accounts for over 80% of all web search traffic.
So what about the optimization part? SEO is about influencing which websites get the top spots in a search engine. The top results on the first page in Google get profoundly more clicks and views than the bottom results for page one. Once you’re on page two or three, you may as well be invisible. The drop-off in visibility is that steep.
SEO pros have the knowledge and tools to analyze keywords (phrases we want to show up in Google for) and develop websites and pages that are optimized to rank highly for those target keywords.
This means crafting websites and content that are designed for two audiences: humans — your customers — and robots. Specifically, one robot: the Google Bot.
The way Google finds and ranks pages for its search engine is by sending a robot out into the world wide web to sniff around. It looks for certain signals to determine what a page is about — mostly the words on the page, but there are technical factors as well.
When it finds a page that is ultra-relevant for a particular search term, it assigns it a very high ranking. If it finds a page that is very poor for a search term, it ranks it very low, or doesn’t rank it at all.
This Google Bot doesn’t just sniff each page one then move along. It’s always circling back around to see what’s new and exciting on your website. SEO pros can help make sure your pages smell extra-good to the robot, ensuring you rank highly for your target search terms.
For example, a chemical supply company might want to rank highly for the keyword ‘US hexane supplier’. If they did, they might hire an SEO company to make adjustments to their website and content that will improve their relevance for that valuable keyword. The SEO company might also improve some technical factors to ensure the Google Bot really likes your website.
This, in a nutshell, is SEO.
What is industrial manufacturing SEO?
Industrial manufacturing SEO is one of many niches within the broad field of SEO.
Every type of company will want to rank for different terms, in different ways. News websites have a different set of requirements from recipe blogs. E-commerce websites want to show up differently from B2B companies.
Industrial manufacturing SEO is a discipline combining B2B sales and marketing experience with SEO best practices. The goal is to identify keywords and develop content that assists B2B companies with their lead generation efforts, acknowledging the unique challenges of long sales cycles and complex deals that are commonplace in the industrial sector.
Myths and misconceptions about industrial manufacturing SEO
When we consider the volume of searches on Google every day — estimated at over 5 billion worldwide — we can see why SEO is valuable for businesses, and why it’s so ubiquitous as a phrase.
Its popularity, among other factors, has given rise to many myths and misunderstandings about the nature of SEO. Let’s look at some of the common concerns we hear from clients about SEO.
SEO is a scam, myth, or money pit
First of all, let me say this: I can empathize.
SEO is a challenging and in-demand discipline. Unfortunately, it’s also misunderstood — particularly by the clients of SEO companies. This gave rise to a sea of SEO charlatans, jokers out to make a quick buck. If the client doesn’t understand what’s being sold to them (but knows it’s important), it’s easy for dishonest SEO pros to promise the earth, moon, and stars, all for just a few hundred dollars a month.
What often happens is a business gets taken for a ride by one of these charlatans. They sign up for a 6- or 12-month commitment, then wait patiently for the results to roll in. Unfortunately, they often never do.
This may be due to poor quality work. Usually it’s due to low volume of work: the business gets sold a cheap package where the SEO company does a tiny amount of work each month, resulting in no measurable impact.
SEO itself, when practiced ethically, works. It does! The biggest businesses in the world invest in SEO and carry out SEO best practices, because they see the ROI. Unfortunately, bad experiences with subpar SEO professionals tarnish the reputation of this important marketing discipline.
SEO only works for e-commerce and B2C companies
Although SEO isn’t the right strategy for every business — a sole proprietor running a local lawn-mowing service may struggle to achieve ROI through SEO — it is a good strategy for most established businesses, regardless of vertical. Here’s why.
One of the biggest challenges for every business is getting customers in the door. That door could be physical or it could be digital: the point is, it’s tricky to get your customers aware of your particular business — doubly so if you’re in a competitive vertical.
SEO does a great job of getting users through your digital front door. It should be viewed as an awareness tool for B2B companies rather than a direct lead generation tool.
A B2C business has a simple path from awareness to purchasing. Consider an online shoe store. They might employ an SEO strategy to rank for ‘women’s tennis shoes’. If they get the top spot in Google, each visitor has a fair chance of making a purchase right away.
SEO for B2B companies takes a bit longer. We typically start by ranking for informational keywords instead of purchasing keywords. This helps us generate traffic volume and pre-qualify customers through things like quote forms, assessment tools, and gated content downloads.
B2B customers, particularly in industrial manufacturing, have long and complex sales cycles. We use SEO to start the conversation, while B2C companies may use it to close the deal.
Over time, SEO generates leads for B2B businesses by increasing your online ‘foot traffic’. Not every visitor will be relevant, but given enough volume, SEO will capture leads you won’t otherwise get.
How industrial manufacturing SEO works
SEO for industrial manufacturers differs based on the specific vertical and product offering. It may incorporate elements of local SEO, if the business has a particular service area. Or, it may focus entirely on globally relevant keywords if the business operates internationally.
In short, SEO for industrial manufacturers mirrors the structure of the business’ sales apparatus. If your sales team is best equipped for local sales, the strategy may become more localized, and vice versa.
Since it’s unlikely that a website visitor to a B2B site will be ready to take action immediately, as discussed above, our focus instead becomes reaching potential customers in their research and planning phase, long before they expect to make a purchase.
How do we turn this early, informational intent into leads? We prospect!
Like a grizzled prospector sluicing for gold nuggets, we process our informational traffic through other marketing tools. Consider a blog post meant to attract users researching sensor solutions for a new factory. We might add a pop-up form on that page that offers a complete spec sheet for the products highlighted in the post. By submitting their contact information to receive the download, we’ve created a cold calling opportunity.
Or, we may use an automated approach. Website analytics trackers can create audiences from users who visit particular pages. We can use those audiences to deliver targeted banner ads to users we suspect are high-value, hopefully recapturing customers who leave the website.
By using SEO to generate traffic volume, then refining that traffic into leads, SEO may provide ROI for B2B businesses regardless of the length and complexity of their sales cycle.
What should I expect from B2B SEO?
Now that we know what SEO is, and what’s different about B2B SEO for industrial manufacturers, what should we expect when we embark on an SEO journey?
First, don’t expect money for nothing (nor chicks for free). SEO requires investment, and a lot of that investment comes up-front. An SEO project is only as good as its strategy. If an SEO company approaches you offering immediate results with no strategic or planning component, turn tail and run. They’re out for a quick buck.
SEO takes time because SEO is all about content. Creating and optimizing content is a big task. It’s important to ensure your businesses has the internal resources or marketing budget in place to adequately fund content creation. Starving an SEO strategy won’t get you to positive ROI.
Finally, ensure you have the marketing tools and techniques in place to filter and prospect your traffic. SEO is primarily a traffic generation tool. The rest is up to you, your sales and marketing teams, and their tools and techniques.
The bottom line
SEO can work for your industrial manufacturing business. It works for ours, and for millions of other businesses around the world. Approach SEO with an open mind, but arm yourself with information first! Don’t allow yourself to be hoodwinked by over-the-top claims and cheap SEO packages. While there are always deals to be had, keep in mind the scope and complexity of an SEO project.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
B2B Marketing Blog
We like to stay current by keeping you current. Our B2B marketing blog covers topics ranging from technical SEO to thought leadership and company culture. Check out some of our most recent content here. We bet you'll learn something new!
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