Scarcity and fear are perhaps the greatest motivators for change. Most manufacturers, like other organizations, change their behaviors drastically only when facing the prospects of recession. Every recession has motivated manufacturers to adopt new marketing tactics. Even though search engines have been in play for over a decade and have been adopted by fast moving industries like retail and finance, manufacturers are just beginning to see it as their savior. Looking back, I believe manufacturers will remember the Great Recession as the period when they discovered the power of search engine optimization (SEO). Now that the SEO tsunami is here, we recommend manufacturers get the most out of their search strategies. Here is a list of ten pearls of wisdom we have gathered from our work with manufacturing clients:
1. Begin by asking “what do you want more of?”
When Alice asks the Cheshire Cat for direction in Alice in Wonderland, the cat responds “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Before you begin the journey, know what mountains are yours to claim and what keywords are yours to own. These could include geo-targeted, product-centric, reputation-minded and decision-oriented keywords.
2. Greed and naivete are fool’s paradise. Calibrate your ambition.
Shorts keywords have higher search frequency, but take much longer to rank and may drive traffic but not quality conversions. There is ample proof that the longer (long-tail) keywords convert better and translate into meaningful relationships.
3. Realize that your website is a store with a thousand doors. Map keywords wisely.
People don’t enter from the front entrance, or homepage, only. If you optimize the entire website correctly mapping the keywords to the right website pages, prospects will enter from many pages of your website.
4. Make promises and fulfill promises. Avoid bait-and-switch.
If you get a page ranked on search engines, the little snippet of text that appears on the search engines is an idea and a promise of what the user will find when they jump to your website. Amplify the idea and fulfill your promise. People don’t like surprises.
5. Quench their thirst, but don’t satiate it.
When prospects are looking for information, give them enough to invite a call, but not so much that they make up their mind. Sales are still made on trust and emotional factors, not just rational facts. So, create pages that are long enough but not longer than necessary, ensuring that the keywords are embedded on the code, content and story level.
6. Embrace a broader definition of search.
Once upon a time, SEO happened on Google, Bing and Yahoo only. It now also happens on new hangouts like YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn. Scrutinize them and optimize them all.
7. Call spade a spade.
A website is a conversion machine. SEO is a demand engine. Don’t confuse their roles.
8. What you can’t measure, you can’t manage.
Go beyond the basic measures like traffic, likes, etc. Work backwards from the goals like inquiries, calls, sales, etc.
9. Catalog and eCommerce Manufacturers: Dream Grand Tetons.
Lift the valley floor (all products) and claim your beautiful mountains (core industry categories and reputation keywords).
10. SEO, social media and PR2.0: Good alone, better together.
Once distinct, they are now mutually reinforcing and giving search ranking lifts. Orchestrate them wisely and smartly.