The little manufacturers who are flourishing in the face of international competition and other challenges have spent the last five to seven years improving productivity and process efficiencies. This focus has frequently meant that advertising action was next to nonexistent — with much new business coming from word of mouth.
Nevertheless, they’re prepared to start a marketing plan that features SEO once a little producer has their process down. The difficulty is, where to begin? With so much information and so many moving parts, a small business owner is easily overwhelmed. It’s much simpler to just concentrate on running the company.
Such was the situation with one of our customers, a small manufacturing company of about 30 people. The owner and his team had done a SWOT analysis and were prepared to embark on a marketing program that included SEO.
The challenges, however, were fairly daunting: few backlinks, zero historic data, and content that is construction and brand awareness on a limited budget.
We noted right away that the client’s site had a tremendous error with regard to the Google Analytics tracking code, which had been added to the website home page only, when my business first started working with the small producer in November 2015. The low number of visitor sessions was a dead giveaway.
With our smaller customers, we see this kind of UA code/analytics error on a regular basis, along with others, such as the incorrect UA code added into the HTML code or the client not having Admin access to Google Analytics.
And then we learn that the individual who did have accessibility has fallen off earth. When this occurs, we frequently must start fresh with a brand new Google Analytics account.
The very first step in creating the customer’s SEO program, consequently, was to ensure all web pages were being properly tracked by Google Analytics. An easy fix, but one that left us with zero data on which to base recommendations for moving forward.
Months of figuring that is key word
Not having Search Games Console information or any Analytics meant we didn’t understand the kinds of search queries people were using. And since the firm had relatively low traffic volume and hadn’t done much marketing previously, it’d take before we had any information that could tell us anything.
The customer wanted to appear in Google for a couple of specific key words pertaining to the services his company provided. However, the Key Word Planner showed few searchers were using these key words in their searches.
Because we’ve worked with many small manufacturing companies and their esoteric services and products, we’ve learned the Key Word Planner isn’t always accurate, so we went ahead and optimized the website around iterations of these key words plus others.
After a few months, it became obvious that those weren’t the correct key words based on traffic and other data.
We ended up carefully analyzing the SERPs for each key word and after that making a new list. We needed to see how Google viewed the purpose of each query after which select the more transactional keywords — i.e., the keywords people would use when looking for the specific products and services the customer supplied.
In addition, we applied standard Search Engine Optimization approaches: ensuring pictures had descriptive alt tags using keywords whenever possible, creating internal links to key pages and composing descriptive title/meta description tags for all pages of the website.
Challenge #1: Few backlinks
For smaller manufacturing companies, the backlink profile is often limited, and staff and budget constraints mean the company just can’t take advantage of a full fledged content and media that is social marketing software.
However, even on a budget, some things can be done which are simple and cost-effective: One of our first steps was to create a Google My Company page, get the company recorded in the YP.com web directory and create a LinkedIn corporate profile page.
Pitch and the first press release resulted in two publications running a case study and an application note . The case study appeared online; the program note appeared in the publication’s print version and online as well — a tremendous win for any business, but especially nice for a smaller firm.
Furthermore, we continued to add content to the Resources section of the site. For small companies on a tight budget, creating a Resources section is a cost-effective way to create content. This content can then be posted on the corporate or personal LinkedIn profile, added to e-newsletters and important, optimized to attract search traffic and links.
For our client, we created FAQs, application notes and other kinds of information of interest to the audience. As a side note, among the program words was repurposed for the business print publication post — a good example of how small businesses can get maximum bang for the marketing dollar.
Challenge #2: Creating content and building comprehension
One of the tactics the client had desired to execute from the beginning was a monthly e-newsletter. The client already had an internal list, so we developed a template, imported the list and created a brand new account in MailChimp.
We created a fresh issue for each month, but midway through the effort, the customer suggested a theme we could break down into multiple articles — and which would be of high interest to the market. That’s when we hit paydirt.
Although e-newsletters usually do under the purview of SEO, they do play a part in that they assist in inquiries and conversions with time.
Based on Gardner Business Media’s 2015 Media Use in Manufacturing Report, 68 percent of survey respondents view e-newsletters as an effective method for finding alternatives-based advice and info, application stories on new products and procedures.
Based on Analytics data we’ve seen with other small production customers, e-newsletters regularly play a role in helping conversions over time and are one of several channels searchers use in their path to conversion.
This is the reason we like to concentrate on new and returning visitors to the website, conversions and conversion paths rather than open rates.
One trick we used, which helped with SEO, was to repurpose each newsletter article for the website. Afterward, in each newsletter we added links to this stuff — which drove people back to the site and gave us more content we could optimize.
Results: Slow but steady traffic increase and conversions
Starting a Search Engine Optimization program from scratch for a smaller business on a budget can be a little daunting, as the anticipation for rapid results lurks in the background (especially given all the hype and misinformation regarding SEO).
Have patience and the best technique for success would be to set realistic expectations: for smaller businesses on a tight budget and/or limited resources, it can take as much as a year to see results from content marketing and SEO.
I ‘d also add two other accomplishment tips. The first hint is to be consistent. Regularly create bits of content for the site and optimize it, release the e-newsletter each month, post to social programs even if only one platform is used and so forth. Over time, these attempts create momentum which begins to snowball.
The second tip would be to apply a little genius; make things do double and triple responsibility so that you could leverage multiple routes without a whole lot of added effort.