Manufacturing companies are just like any other company. They need to sell products to make money. The more products they can sell, the more money they can make, but how do they advertise what they do?

For many it’s a simple matter. They have a bunch of customers who keep ordering. They always order from them and it’s regular so you know what, there’s no need to advertise at all. But for those that need to market, they often have a sales team that visits their potential customers with a view to turning them into actual customers.

As for marketing, it’s paper-based or maybe emails and the phone.

For many companies, that’s fine. But I want to show you a statistic:

57%—that's how far the average B2B buyer is through the purchase decision before engaging a supplier sales rep according to Forbes.

So when a sales rep turns up, the sale is almost done. The salesman just has to close. But what if your company only uses salesmen? What if the other companies have used other techniques?

Many companies are still stuck in the routine of the “three quotes” beauty parade so they’ll want as much information upfront before they get into a discussion. At that point, they’ve probably already decided.

So it’s clear that some marketing is needed to get in front of your prospects before you engage in any sales. to be specific. All companies need content marketing, but what are the objections? Why do companies still insist on ignoring and content marketing?

Our Product is Boring and There’s Nothing to Say

borningYour product may be dull, it may be the dullest bolt in the box of bolts, but what does it do? It obviously has a purpose, it has tolerances, people use them. What do they use them for?

I’ve seen websites that have an amazing product. It’s the sort of product that keeps the cranes together on the space shuttle launch pad and you know what? It’s got two lines of text describing it.

Your product probably has a ton of applications that are absolutely fantastic and if you search on the web, you’ll find videos, information and other resources that show how it’s being used. There’s always something to say, so say it.

Talk to your customers, ask them how they’re using the product, how many they’ve bought, feature their products on your website. The opportunities are endless for even the most boring of products.

All Our Customers Already Know Us

I’m willing to bet you’re wrong. And even if you are, resting on your laurels is a very dangerous position to be in. Unless you have a patented product that only you can manufacture then there’s every chance another company will turn up and steal your customers.

And even if your customers do know you, all it takes is one little Google search for them to find another company that they can pass your work on to. If they find someone else instead of you, you might just lose that very loyal customer.

In Our Business, People Don’t Use the Internet

Almost everyone uses the Internet now. Even if they don’t directly use it at work, they’re using it at home or on their mobile. Also, their colleagues are using it, and they might find your competitors and pass the information on.

The Internet is here; that horse has bolted. If you still think it doesn’t apply to you, you’re likely to be very surprised one day when your company is overtaken by some new startup that has grasped it.

Our Website Has Already Been Optimised

I spoke to a company a few months ago who said they’d already optimised their website, they just wanted more links. Well, firstly, no. And secondly, let’s have a look at that site.

The title tag of the front page had 36 keywords in it.

The other pages were the same. All the same content, apparently “optimised”.

Optimising a page doesn’t mean banging text in various places and hoping for the best. It does mean analysing the current need for content, creating that content on your site and then promoting that content.

But what about the bounce rate for that page? Are you sure that the people going to your page are reading it? Are they interacting with it? Do you have something compelling that they can then go and learn more about?

And let’s say you do put all your keywords in your pages, did you realise that you’re essentially “keyword stuffing” and Google might penalise you?

Website optimisation is an on-going process of analysis, adjustment and then re-analysis. It’s not a one-shot go at doing something which might work. Like all marketing, you need to keep test it, do what works and stop doing what doesn’t.

We’ve bought some links

No, you can't buy them like this

There’s just been a report released from MOZ, it’s their bi-annual survey that aims to find out what are the most important current ranking factors. Again, links come out on top. Now, if you just read that and want to then get your site ranked, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you should just go buy some links.

An agency phones up and says “we can get you 100 links, no problem”. Is that wise?

Well no. Links aren’t something you can buy off the shelf like peas. It’s not a hidden fuel source that will feed your site and get it bouncing around at the top of page one. It just doesn’t work like that. Yes, you can buy links from people and some agencies make a very compelling argument for it, but that’s not what search engines want, and if they discover you’ve been buying links, they’ll punish your site.

From a blog posted in 2007, Google representatives said this:

If, however, a webmaster chooses to buy or sell links for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings, we reserve the right to protect the quality of our index. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank violates our webmaster guidelines.

“Protecting the quality of our index” means “kicking you out of our index”.

In this article, they go further:

The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
  • Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I'll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site

If you sign up to any scheme that offers links, you’re potentially setting yourself up to be removed from the Google index altogether.

Google only ranks sites that pay

This is a commonly held belief and one worth investigating.

First off, we don’t know for sure what Google get up to, but they have made it clear that AdWords do not have an effect on ranking. They say:

“Keep in mind that the Google search results page includes organic search results and often paid advertisement (denoted as “Ads” or “Sponsored”) as well. Advertising with Google won't have any effect on your site's presence in our search results.”

But what if they’re lying?

The thing is, they’d have to keep this incredibly secret, and we know how impractical that is. If it were to be announced that sponsored ads had an effect on Google ranking, the uproar would be huge. It would probably involve legal challenges from all over the world. It could potentially be very damaging for Google.

Also, we’ve seen absolutely no evidence of it anywhere. In our tests, we can’t see any data at all that would correlate with increased ranking.

But there’s a caveat.

Although spend on AdWords won’t increase your organic ranking, it might help your overall efforts. For example, if you ran an Ad for a particular product and someone clicks on it, they might mention it in a blog. This blog might have a link to your site and you would benefit from that.

The Ad itself did not pass on any ranking benefit, but it led to a link that did.

Confused? Yes, it’s a complex world, this, but getting back to the original point, it doesn’t matter what you spend on sponsored Google listings, it will not have a direct effect on your rankings. Conversely, just because you don’t spend with them doesn’t mean you won’t be listed.

SEO is bad, Google doesn’t like it

Given the fact I’ve spent a good amount of time in this article explaining all the ways Google will penalise you for bad practice, you’d probably think it’s a fair point. Maybe Google doesn’t like SEO and wants to see it dead?

No, in fact, Google does have a good relationship with good SEO tactics, they say so in this article where they explain:

“Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time”

“Many SEOs and other agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners”

Of course, they also have warning such as “they can also ruin your ranking”, but that just serves as a cautionary tale.

The upshot?

SEO and content marketing are pieces of a puzzle. It sits neatly within your overall digital marketing strategy and it should complement your other marketing roles. Like every time of promotion, it needs to be analysed and done correctly and consistently.

Although many manufacturing and engineering companies will say they are pursuing an SEO policy, the many that we see seem to be struggling with it.