Specialist manufacturing SEO strategies that will build your search visibility and help you convert more traffic into customers.
Manufacturing companies have to work hard to build a lasting search presence and it can be challenging to climb above rivals ranking above you in the search results. While you can pay for targeted traffic with PPC ads, capturing organic leads at the earlier stages of the buying journey is key to achieving sustained growth.
In this article, we look at specialist manufacturing SEO strategies to generate organic leads at every stage of the customer journey.
For a manufacturing company, the two most important types of searches are product searches and informational queries – and you need to optimise for these differently:
Product searches revolve around specific products or product categories where users demonstrate a specific intention to make the purchase – either now or in the near future. Generally, these users either know what they’re looking for or have a pretty good idea about the kind of purchase they need to make, even if they need a bit of help getting there.
Informational queries are the search terms your target customers type in before they know what they’re looking to buy.
With product searches, the distance between the first search and the purchase is relatively short compared to informational queries. Informed buyers know what they’re looking for and they’re generally quick to make the purchase once they find a suitable offer – so they’re not looking to read through a bunch of blog posts.
They’re interested in product pages, specifications, product images, price comparisons and purchase options – eg: bulk purchases, delivery times, etc.
So these are the interests you need to optimise for.
The highest-intent keywords are normally the ones that include specific products and the more specific a user is, the more likely they are to complete the purchase when they find the right product.
As we’ve explained before, in our PPC strategies for B2B eCommerce companies article, these keywords tend to be quite specific because buyers have specific needs – specifications, tolerance requirements, regulations to follow or specific quantities they need to purchase.
There’s a big difference between a roofing company needing very specific nails and an everyday consumer looking to hang up a picture in their home.
So you need to pinpoint what these purchase requirements are and identify the keywords your target audiences are using to find your products.
These are the high-intent keywords that lead to fast sales so it’s worth putting in the research to determine exactly what your target buyers are looking for.
Manufacturing SEO needs to focus on two levels. First, you’ve got the top-level product category pages and, for a company that specialises in manufacturing bricks, these might include pages for engineering bricks, facing bricks and ornamental bricks.
These category pages serve a number of roles on your website and within your manufacturing SEO strategy:
By concentrating your optimisation efforts on top-level category pages, you’re basically putting all of your ranking juice into one page instead of splitting it across several pages that all end up ranking further down the search results.
So, when users type in something like “red clay bricks,” you’ve got the best chance of ranking for this keyword instead of having a bunch of pages for different types of bricks that are difficult to match to the search query.
The second level is optimising the individual product pages for queries like “65mm red clay facing bricks”.
Now, here you can see you’re competing against paid shopping ads and you may run into this depending on the type of products or parts you manufacture.
What really matters here, though, is that the user has specified the size, material and type of product they’re looking for. They don’t want 60mm bricks or concrete bricks; they’re only looking for 65mm red clay facing bricks and your best chance at grabbing their attention is making these specifications visible in your listing.
Again, this is why it’s so important to do your keyword research and know what your buyers are really looking for.
Below, we can see Jewson ranking for the top two organic positions, which is great for coverage, but it’s actually that second listing that stands out the most, thanks to its shorter, punchier title and the inclusion of the 65mm measurement.
Ideally, you want to match the keywords of your target audiences in your page titles with as much accuracy as possible because the details clinch the click-through rates in these scenarios.
People who buy directly from manufacturers are typically more informed and knowledgeable about products than regular consumers and, as we’ve already explored, often looking for certain specifications.
So your product pages need to include all of this information – not only unique descriptions for every page but complete specifications so visitors can make informed purchase decisions faster.
You might find it challenging to fit all of this information on one page but you can break everything up into clickable tabs, as we’ve done for one of our furniture clients below:
We’ve also used visuals to communicate important information faster, rather than bombard visitors with endless bullet-point lists.
Also, consider how much visual information buyers will need to get from your product images. If buyers are likely to zoom in and check the quality of joints on parts, for example, you want to have enough resolution to show that your products deliver.
Informational queries may be lower intent but they’re also higher volume and this is where the majority of your SEO leads are going to come from. Unfortunately, these are also the more difficult queries to optimise for, especially with organic results getting pushed down the page by ads and other search results features.
Now, more than ever, you have to claim the top spot for organic keywords to even get seen.
Each search query can generate a variety of different results formats in the search results, meaning you’re not always going to win the click from the blue organic links, even if you’re ranking in the top spot.
In many cases, you’ll find featured snippets dominate the top of the page for informational queries and these are often followed by the “People also ask” section – although, this can vary from one query to the next.
Sometimes, there’s no visible result above the fold at all. For example, look at the results page for “roof trusses” where we see a feed linking to Google Image Search and a “People also ask” section with no ads or organic links in sight.
Under the “People also ask” section on this page, there’s a local pack of results and a Google Maps feed before we, finally, see the classic list of blue organic results. So, in this instance, your chances of winning the click might be higher by optimising for images, “People also ask,” or the local pack, depending on what’s most relevant.
The point is, you need to know which results formats you’re optimising for across your keyword opportunities.
For the more generic informational queries, featured snippets are your biggest shot at getting to the top of the results page. We’ve covered this topic in detail before in our How do you get featured snippets in Google Search? article where we cover the following seven steps:
Getting your content to show in featured snippets can be challenging but it all comes down to producing better content than the pages currently featured. So analyse the content Google selects for featured snippets and look for the common strengths that you need to replicate, as well as any weaknesses you can exploit.
The “People also ask” section is one of the most important elements on the results page. First of all, you can use it to find related featured snippet opportunities but you can also use it to target related keywords and get your content seen by relevant audiences who wouldn’t otherwise find it directly.
As we saw earlier, this often ranks above the pack of blue links for a lot of informational queries and, according to data from SEMrush, they show for the vast majority of searches.
Of course, there’s an opportunity to generate targeted traffic here but you’re also looking to build your brand image and search visibility across as many relevant queries as possible. By showing in both featured snippets and PAA, you can build a presence above the blue links that are sinking further down the page for informational queries.
Manufacturers will find a lot of their top-level keywords are highly-competitive so it helps to have a solid long-tail keyword strategy supplementing your efforts to rank higher for the most competitive queries.
Long-tail keywords aren’t only a second-prize backup for top keywords, though. They’re also an opportunity to rank for high-intent keywords that your rivals may not have discovered yet – search queries that include specific needs like the kind of specifications, materials and ratings that are often important to manufacturing purchases.
One of the SEO benefits of being a manufacturing company is that you probably sell products to companies across a range of different industries, which puts you in a good position to get content published on high-authority sites in each niche – the kind of websites you want to be earning inbound links from.
For example, let’s say you produce industry-standard silicone products and your list of industries looks something like this:
Each of these industries is filled with authoritative websites that you can earn quality links from and, as a manufacturer selling to companies in each sector, you’re justified in having content published on relevant sites – as long as you’ve got an obvious “industries” page on your website and industry-relevant content published on your own blog (we’ll look at this in more detail shortly).
Now, let’s head over to Google and type in one of these industries as a top-level keyword.
Already, we can see which websites are ranking in the top spots for this keyword and, if we head down to the People also ask section, we can start to see which search queries are related to these top-level keywords – and which websites are ranking for them.
This is a treasure trove for finding high-authority websites for each industry and you can use keywords research tools to find plenty of other opportunities for getting your content published on high-authority websites.
With the technical aspects of your manufacturing SEO strategy covered, we need to spend some time talking about the content that brings it all together. We looked at outreach and guest blogging in the previous section but, now, let’s focus on the content hosted on your own domain.
For manufacturing companies catering to businesses across a wide range of markets or industries, the first challenge is creating relevant content for all of these sectors. Your aim is to create content clusters for each target industry, filled with valuable content that addresses the needs of every audience.
So you don’t want to create broad, vague content that covers the basics for everyone; you want to pinpoint the unique needs and interests of prospects in each industry. Search engines want to see this relevance in your content and visitors aren’t going to respond if you fail to address their needs.
As a general rule, the more specific you are, the easier it is to rank for target keywords and, more importantly, convince visitors to take action after engaging with your content.
First, you need to find the keywords your target audiences in each industry are using, the questions they’re asking and the problems they face – so it all starts with keyword research, once again. Long-tail keywords are your best friend when it comes to creating content clusters, not only because they tend to be less competitive but also because you need a constant flow of content ideas.
The biggest challenge with creating content clusters is that you need to invest a lot of time and resources into creating high-quality content for each industry – but this is what’s going to set you apart from the competition.
Another challenge you might face with creating content as a manufacturing company is keeping things interesting. After all, how many times can you talk about bracket joints before things get stale?
Well, the golden rule is to spend less time talking about your products and focus more on the interests and needs of your target audience.
If you can describe every piece of content using one word, make it “valuable”. In other words, ask yourself what value each piece of content is adding to your audience’s day, job, life, etc. The answer to this question should be obvious and, if it isn’t, your content probably isn’t hitting the standard it should.
The good news is, your customers face business challenges on a daily basis and a sure-fire way to create valuable, interesting content is to help them solve real-world problems. Your task is to determine which of these problems you have the authority to advise and provide solutions for.
Your aim is always to beat the competition – both in the search results and when it comes to capturing new customers. The best asset you can have in achieving this is better content than your rivals so keep a constant eye on what they’re publishing and analyse their content to determine the strengths and weaknesses in their content strategy.
You want to know which topics they’re covering, which content formats they’re producing (blogs, videos, downloadable guides, etc.) and how good their content is.
At the very least, you want to match them for quality and everything they do well but also take measures to beat them at their weaknesses to give yourself a healthy advantage.
We’ve talked about long-tail keywords a few times in this article but they deserve a section of their own. As a manufacturing company, you’re going to have some highly competitive keywords in your SEO strategy and it’s not easy to build traction on these quickly.
Long-tail keywords help with this in several ways:
Long-tail keywords build quick traction, which gets the wheels moving and help you make progress on more competitive keywords faster. They also expand your search coverage and the actionable nature of long-tail keywords means they often perform better when it comes to conversion rates, even if traffic volumes are comparatively lower.
We’ve also mentioned the “People also ask” section in Google Search a few times in this article but this is one of the best places to get content ideas and long-tail keywords for your content strategy. In many cases, the questions you find make excellent blog posts in themselves but you can also group relevant questions together to form extensive guides and longer pieces of content.
You can also use these to create FAQ pages on your website and the Q&A section in your Google My Business profile. Just remember to use the FAQ schema markup for any of these pages you add to your website to get them ranking in the search results.
Another great way to get content ideas and business insights is to speak directly to your customers, and target customers for that matter. Find out the problems they face, the challenges they experience in buying from companies like yours (especially your competitors) and which types of content they prefer to engage with (article, video, long, short, etc.).
Address these interests in your content and, who knows, you may even get some valuable feedback or ideas on how to improve your services vs the competition.
In this article, we’ve looked at how you can optimise your website to capture organic leads at every stage of the customer journey by catering for different user intents and delivering high-quality content that satisfies user needs every step of the way.
If you need more help with manufacturing SEO, you can speak to our SEO team by calling 02392 830 281 or fill out the form on our contact page
Sally is an SEO Specialist at Vertical Leap.
We send a semi-regular newsletter on business and other related topics, with links to the latest stories from us and what we’re reading around the web.
Categories: PPC, SEO