Posted by Todd Hockenberry ● Jul 26, 2022
SEO for Manufacturing Companies is a Strategic Issue
In the recent article Why SEO is a Strategic Priority, I made the case that a customer-first perspective and thinking about who you help and why you really help them are critical strategic questions for manufacturing companies. SEO is the ideal mechanism to force manufacturing leaders to think about these strategic questions.
Because understanding your target audience’s search intent and how they gather information to solve problems is critical to a manufacturing company’s survival.
SEO forces you to think about changing tools, technology, and search options.
How people gather information is critical to understand for manufacturing companies today. An online search is the beginning of the sales process. Even if a prospect heard about your company from someone else, saw an ad in a trade publication, or received a cold call from one of your salespeople, the first thing they will do is go online and look at your website.
The more likely scenario is that they search, more often today using voice search on their phone, looking for answers to their questions. Desktop-only search is shrinking every day. Mobile devices are the way most people access the Internet, and every day we see a new connected device, including our cars, TVs, and personal assistants.
Websites are still the hub of online connection and communication for manufacturing companies, but what makes up your website is definitely changing quickly. Business leaders must keep up with the expectations of buyers today. If your website is not credible - and the tools and designs you use are a huge signal that you are paying attention to what buyers want - then buyers will lose interest quickly, and you will never get the chance to tell your story.
I constantly hear this from manufacturing leaders - if we get in front of qualified prospects, we do very well. Today, getting in front of quality buyers means that you must have an online presence that they want to engage with, starting with your website.
If you are doing these things on your website, you might want to consider updating it:
- Not mobile optimized is a cardinal sin of online marketing.
- Not device responsive, make sure your site looks good on any device and screen size. It is the least you can do for your visitors; making it impossible to read or engage with your site on my device of choice is the equivalent of using old, worn-out, smelly furniture in your reception area and making your best customers sit there for 30 minutes before you meet them.
- Slow page load speeds, not only does this hurt your SEO and page ranking, but it annoys your prospects
- You still have an old WordPress site with copyright 2014 in the footer.
- The last blog entry was three years ago, making your visitors wonder if are you still in business or if that's the last time your website was updated (remember that old reason you had to go to trade shows- a concern that your competitors will cause people to doubt that you are still in business? Same idea).
- Not full-width design but using boxed-in content.
- Too many colors making it painful to look at your site.
- Poor navigation - 2nd/3rd level flyouts that disappear when I try to hover over them.
- Stock photos, yes we can tell that these are not your people.
- Bells and whistles that make the designer and CEO happy but frustrate your prospect - see my favorite recently designed example here.
- RSS feed link in the footer, no one uses this anymore, and if you don’t know that, then you are not paying attention.
- Home page button in navigation, make your logo a link to your home page; we all assume it is a link.
- Broken links - there are many tools to help you find these and fix them; having broken links on your site tells people you either don’t know about these tools or don’t care enough about their experience on your site to fix them. It also negatively affects your site authority for organic rankings.
- Weird fonts like comic sans... heaven help you!
- Using Flash or other tricked-out dated animation, just don’t.
- Tons of image sliders in the hero area of your home page that scroll by too fast to read.
Please leave a comment below with your worst practice examples from manufacturing websites.
SEO requires a constant effort
SEO success requires leadership and discipline not to chase the shiny thing. The shiny thing is the cat chasing the laser pointer approach to marketing.
I get this one a lot too - I read an article that this <enter your favorite marketing trend here> is the way to go. Let’s do that.
SEO is doing not one thing once and giving up but doing a lot of things right for an extended period of time. If you think you can earn search rankings for the most popular topics in your industry by creating one web page or a few blog posts, you will be disappointed.
There is no shortcut or black hat trick to magically jump to the top of the rankings. Any marketing person that says there is one is lying and will only take your money and leave you farther behind your competition.
Search options change. Search engines now provide answers for local, voice, image, video, podcasts, shopping, and more.
Search results now include paid ads, featured snippets, link sets, news, maps, ratings, phone numbers and hours of operation, related search topics, and even search trend data for the search query you entered. Many times the searcher never needs to click any link to get the answer to their questions.
Do you think about any of the above ways people find information?
SEO builds long-term enterprise value
Creating enterprise value (EV) means solving for the long-term success of the organization, so it delivers value to customers. Making the company more valuable to prospects and customers is the surest way to increase EV.
Making it easy to connect with and ultimately buy from your company grows the value of your business. This process starts with your website and your understanding of SEO because that is what your buyers want. If you think it is anything else, you will see that reality reflected when you search for your company online - and are nowhere to be found.
The good news is that any manufacturing company can be successful with SEO. Manufacturers solve problems and deliver value to customers every day, and these are the fuel for online success.
Connecting what you do with who needs it is the work of SEO.