How Industrial Companies are Stuck on SEO for Content Marketing Strategy

I find too many manufacturers and industrial distributors basing their entire content marketing strategy with one goal in mind – getting found in Google. In other words, the entire focus is on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

“What’s wrong with that?” you ask. After all, your content is useless unless people can find your website when they search.

Focusing your content marketing strategy only on SEO or top of the funnel traffic has many drawbacks. If I had to summarize it in one sentence it would be, search engines are not your target, human visitors are.

People won’t automagically convert into qualified leads just because they found your industrial website in Google or other major search engines. That’s why your industrial content marketing strategy must be based on the entire sales funnel and not just ToFU (Top of Funnel) activities. Traffic by itself means zilch if you can’t convert it into opportunities.

Technical SEO vs content SEO

Right or wrong, SEO has an aura of mystery about it. This in turn turns off many site owners and marketers. While it is true there are certain aspects of SEO that are technical, it is only a small part of optimizing content.

Thanks to the recent algorithm updates by Google, current best practices in organic SEO go far beyond keyword matching, Meta tags and keyword density. The new Google is smart enough to understand and interpret search intent.

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Industrial Blogging Lessons Learned from Working with Technical SMEs

IndustrMy clients often ask me to write posts for their industrial blogs. This requires me to work very closely with engineers and technical SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) on a daily basis for creating content. I have learned some important lessons about blogging that are specific to this technical and industrial audience.

  • Editorial calendar: This may sound like content marketing 101 but let me tell you why it is so important for industrial blogs. At a recent discovery meeting, I received little to no response when I asked a group of engineers about their customers’ challenges that we could blog about. I was expected to do the industry research and come back with a list of topics.

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Industrial Content Marketing is Not Just for SEO

Content marketing is a central topic in most of my recent conversations with industrial companies. The primary goal is to generate better quality leads from their websites. That is the good news.

The not so good news is that they have a mistaken belief that content marketing is for search engine optimization (SEO). They’ve heard/read that Google loves fresh content, therefore all they need to do is publish lots of content and they’ll be on the first page of Google’s search results.

I agree that SEO is a very important goal of content marketing; after all, your website needs to be found by the right people when they are searching for industrial products and services that you provide. However, your industrial marketing content must do a lot more than just SEO.

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You’ve Got Traffic. Now What?

You’ve done all the hard work of optimizing (SEO) your industrial website and now you have a steady stream of traffic to your site. Congratulations!

Sorry to rain on your parade but that is only half the equation. The other half is all about converting that traffic into leads and customers.

I find there is a strong but mistaken belief among industrial companies that somehow their site visitors will interrupt their online activities and pick up the phone to call their sales people. Even though this behavior is contrary to how they themselves interact online, they expect their target audience to behave differently. (See my post, “Do You Believe in Industrial Websites?”).

The reality is that the vast majority of site visitors will do nothing and leave. What they have is a website that is leaking potential leads like a sieve. Whenever I make that statement, there is silence on the other end of the phone or in a face-to-face meeting; I get a look that says, “What the heck are you talking about?”

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Internal Links – the Secret Sauce for DiY SEO

It is no secret that link building is critical to SEO success. However, some people often ignore internal links because they are just not aware of their SEO benefits. To most do-it-yourselfers (DiY), link building for SEO means external or inbound or backlinks. These are links that originate from another site and point to a page on your domain.

Don’t underestimate the SEO power of internal linking. They are not only great for increasing the number of pages indexed by Google but also help you target a larger number of keywords, especially long tail keywords. The number of site pages indexed by Google has a direct impact on your online lead generation. For every 50 to 100 pages indexed by Google, expect double-digit growth in the number of leads. (Read my earlier post, B2B Lead Generation Using a Business Blog).

The best news is that building internal links is completely in your control.

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2012 Content Marketing Trends for Manufacturers and Industrial Companies

I just finished reading an excellent research report from the good folks at Content Marketing Institute (CMI). This report is chock full of statistics and graphs about B2B content marketing. In this post, I want to focus on some of their findings that I feel apply to content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies.

Even though the content marketing adoption rate for these companies is at an impressive 83%, I am surprised that it is even that high; the Manufacturing/ Processing industry (as defined in the report) is dead last among the six industries studied.

What is encouraging though is the fact that 68% of companies with 10 – 99 employees maintain a blog as compared to only 55% for larger companies that employ this content marketing tactic. Many of the manufacturers and industrial companies fall in the smaller size category.

That’s not the only good news for blogs. Even though other marketing tactics like in-person events and webinars are still seen as the most effective tactics, this year blogs registered a 45% increase in “perceived effectiveness” as compared to the study done in 2010. (See chart below).

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10 New Google Algorithm Changes Announced

Google changing its search algorithms is not news to most SEO experts. It’s a fact of SEO life. What is new with the latest algorithm changes is that Google is being more transparent and talking about them openly.

What caught my attention and IMO applies to industrial marketing, are these four changes:

  1. Snippets with more page content and less header/menu content: Google’s explanation: This change helps us choose more relevant text to use in snippets. As we improve our understanding of web page structure, we are now more likely to pick text from the actual page content, and less likely to use text that is part of a header or menu.
    What this means to industrial marketers: On-page SEO will now require more than just an optimized Title tag and text-based drop-down menus. There are plenty of rumors floating around that Google sometimes (more frequently lately it seems) ignores HTML title tags and creates its own titles in their coveted blue links. This latest change means you need to pay more attention to the content on site pages and make sure it is optimized for search terms.

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Google’s Latest Algorithm Update Raises the Bar for Content Quality

Last month, Google announced a change to its search algorithm, called the “Panda” update. This is a major change and there is plenty of buzz on the Internet about the dramatic drop in ranking of some well-known sites.

This change is primarily designed to cleanse Google’s search results of low-quality content. Most SEO experts expect article directories or “content farms” to be heavily penalized by Google’s algorithm change.

How does Google’s algorithm change affect industrial and B2B marketers?

Well, for starters, posting the same article in several article directories for the sake of gaining inbound links is out. This is a strategy used by many SEO specialists in an attempt to boost the number of external links pointing back to your site.

That does not mean article marketing is bad or should be banished permanently. According to statistics compiled by Danny Sullivan over at SearchEngineLand, eHow actually gained in ranking. Some of the biggest losers were associatedcontent.com, suite101.com, ezinearticles.com and articlesbase.com.

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SAL is the Glue that Binds Sales and Marketing in Lead Generation

A lead is a lead, right? Depends – are you in marketing or in sales?

SAL – Sales Accepted Leads is the bridge between Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).

No, I am not splitting hairs nor am I indulging in semantics. Clearly defining and understanding the implications of MQL, SAL and SQL are critical to the success of B2B lead generation.

Assigning a numeric score to business sales leads based on a predefined set of rules, takes away the subjectivity out of qualitative ranking like Hot, Warm and Cold leads. Quantitative lead definitions reduce the friction between sales and marketing.

B2B marketers are being held a lot more accountable (as they should be) for their contributions to a company’s revenues. This is more so for industrial marketers because generating a steady stream of high-quality sales leads plays a far more important role than other B2B marketing objectives such as branding, thought leadership and/or community building.

These days, respect for B2B and industrial marketing is spelled as M E T R I C S.

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3 DiY SEO Mistakes to Avoid When Optimizing Industrial Websites

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend (here in the U.S.) with your family. Now, back to work.

Attempting do-it-yourself (DiY) search engine optimization (SEO) is common among industrial companies since they tend to have dedicated IT departments. Can DiY SEO be just as effective as hiring an outside expert? Should IT be handling this task? Those are two very debatable questions but that is a topic for another post.

Here I want to focus on the three most common SEO mistakes that I see when industrial clients contact me for Website optimization. May be I just answered my own questions, if you catch my drift. 😉

Mistake #1: Lack of strategy and incomplete keyword research

Most people know about the free Google’s Keyword Tool and use it to do their keyword research. So far so good.

Where DiYers tend to go wrong in using this invaluable tool are:

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Inbound Marketing Tactics to Get Bulk of B2B Marketing Budgets in 2011

As we head into November and the start of the Holiday Season, B2B marketers are getting into their budgeting mode. With the cloud of economic uncertainty still hanging over many industries, it is not surprising that B2B marketers are shifting their 2011 budgets more towards lower-cost inbound eMarketing tactics.

MarketingSherpa asked more than 900 B2B marketers how they expected their marketing budgets to change for 2011. The chart below shows the breakdown between different marketing tactics and the projected increase/decrease for the next year.

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Variety of Content is the Key in the Early Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

In the early stages of the industrial buy cycle, you as the marketer have very little information about the visitor to help you tailor your marketing content to their needs.

In Needs Awareness and Research phases, the first two stages of the industrial buy cycle (see my earlier post Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle) your prospects and customers use a variety of online content to find solutions to their current problems and needs.

The chart below shows the variety of content used at different stages of the industrial buy cycle (Source: Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process from GlobalSpec).

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The Twofold Benefit of Optimizing Marketing Content

Online optimization is usually associated with natural or organic search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing your marketing content around keywords or phrases is the first step in your content marketing strategy. After all, that’s how your prospects and customers will find your blog and/or Web site.

However, there is another strong reason for optimizing your marketing content that has nothing to do with SEO. I am referring to optimizing customer engagement in B2B marketing.

Why is it important? Because B2B and industrial buyers tend to be more sophisticated in the use of online content in making their decision over the entire buying cycle. BtoB marketers need to create and deliver content that is relevant to those searching for their solution while mapping it to the prospect’s buying cycle.

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Optimizing Your WordPress Business Blog

Probably the biggest benefit of creating a business blog is to engage with your readers, build deeper relationships and convert most of them into paying customers. However, none of that can happen until you drive lots of interested traffic to your business blog.

Optimizing (SEO) your business blog is critical because it allows your target audience to find you in search engines and attract traffic. An invisible blog doesn’t draw a crowd and neither will you have the opportunity to engage with them.

Organic or natural search engine optimization (SEO) has always been shrouded in mystery, bordering on voodoo. It seems the secrets of SEO are known only to a few high-priced consultants. However, you can do it too with some help. See my earlier post, “Do-it-Yourself Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Your WordPress Blog.”

I don’t deny that effective SEO does take experience, expertise and time to produce results. So no one should expect a DiY solution to achieve the same kind of results as a paid SEO expert (ethical one!). Start with some baby steps and fine tune as you learn more.

In this post, I’m going to focus on a powerful DiY SEO tool for WordPress blogs. It is called All in One SEO Pack (AIOSEO) and you can download it from here for free. After you have installed it, log into your admin panel, go to Settings > All in One SEO (See screen shot).

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Shortening the Industrial Buy Cycle in 5 Simple Steps

The other day I read an interesting article titled “5 Steps To Shorten The B2B Buying Cycle” by Kerry Spellman, Client Relationship Manager at iProspect. Even though her article is about the B2B buy cycle in general, it is a perfect follow up to my earlier post “Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle.”

The most frequent complaint that I have heard in the past year from my industrial clients is that their sales cycle has become longer, more complex and increasingly difficult to get on the buyer’s radar screen until it is too late. Any help that I can provide to my clients to alleviate the problem is greatly appreciated and rewarding for my business.

That’s precisely why Kerry’s article caught my attention. She has focused on identifying the problem and providing a 5-step solution to shorten the buy cycle. I have summarized here my takeaways on her five steps.

What is the key to shortening the buy cycle?

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How Lack of Marketing Content Can Derail Your Website Redesign Project

What comes first – site content or site design? In the words of Jeffrey Zeldman, the renowned web designer, blogger, independent publisher and the king of Web standards according to Business Week, “Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”

Are you involved in or responsible for redesigning your company’s website? Is your website redesign project on hold waiting for marketing to deliver content? If so, you know the frustration.

It doesn’t matter whether you work for a corporate marketing department or the owner of a small business website. You spend countless hours, weeks and months working with the site designers developing site maps, wireframes and mock ups – but content? It is relegated to the bottom of the totem pole of deliverables. As a result, your dream web redesign project comes to a screeching halt.

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Do-it-Yourself Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Your WordPress Blog

Instead of an industrial marketing strategies post that I typically write, this is more of an implementation post. I have listed some easy, do-it-yourself (DiY) SEO tactics to optimize your WordPress blogs for search engines.

Just building a business blog is not going to help you drive traffic or generate leads. You need to optimize it for search engines in order for your target audience to find your B2B blog (see my earlier post, “How to Use a B2B Blog to Win Customers and Influence Prospects”). Before you dive into the deep end of do-it-yourself (DiY) SEO, you should be aware of the two types of optimization tactics and they are:

  1. On-page or on site optimization
  2. Off-page or off site optimization (mainly link building, which is a topic for another post)

In this article, I’ll be focusing on a few DiY on-site optimization techniques for a WordPress business blog.

What is On Site SEO?

On-site SEO refers to changes that you can make within the code of your blog. You have full control over this SEO technique since you can add, edit code and content at anytime.

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The 6 essential rules of a website redesign – Ignore them at your peril

Is you current website an asset or a liability? Is it so outdated that you avoid sending prospects and customers to your site? It may be time to invest in your online presence.

The one thing that this recession has taught B2B marketers is to do more with less. This trend towards lower-cost content marketing is likely to continue well into 2010. It goes well beyond just cutting costs, today, it is more about accountability, analytics and engaging customers and prospects by using free or inexpensive social media tactics.

So, what should you do to revamp or redesign your current website? I’m not talking about a cosmetic facelift but turning it into a marketing powerhouse as you position your company for the recovery. Here are six essential rules that you should follow:

1. Optimize, optimize, optimize: That’s the golden rule of online marketing as is location, location, location in real estate. Unless your prospects can find your site when searching in major search engines, you are dead in the water. It is possible to do search engine optimization (SEO) by yourself but allow yourself time and there is a learning curve. Consider hiring a coach or an SEO expert to work up a strategic plan that you can execute.

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