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.
“The user intent of a keyword is the goal of the user typing the search query, and it typically falls into three categories: Do something (Compare or buy), Know something (Find information), or Go somewhere (Find source(s)). In fact, there’s often more than one intent per query.” (Source: Searchengineland.com).
Content optimization is all about satisfying intent and not just keywords. Your content should address the real needs of humans first and let the search engine bots follow. Not the other way around.
Converting site traffic into leads
The content on your industrial website must strike the right balance between SEO and persuasion that will lead to conversion. Don’t assume that detailed product features are sufficient to move the needle.
Neither are generic value propositions very effective because your competition is probably claiming the same thing. For example, “We have XX years of customizing solutions for the ABC industry and offer the lowest price.” (See Content Can Differentiate Industrial Companies When There’s Parity in Value Propositions).
I’m not trying to minimize the importance of gaining rankings in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). I want to emphasize that it is just as challenging if not more so to persuade human visitors to take action once they land on your site. Understanding the difference between discovery optimization and conversion optimization is critical to your success with industrial content marketing.
A more effective content marketing strategy is to focus on answering the needs of your visitors and helping them frame the decision at the very early stages of their buying cycle. By the time they get to the RFQ stage, they’ll have formed a very a good idea of who you are and how you stack up against your competition. Now you can talk value instead of the customer pushing back on price.
Lead generation and conversions will only happen when your content is relevant and engages your visitors. (Defining engagement is a topic for another post).
5 common hurdles in industrial content marketing
Content marketing is not just copywriting or clever wordsmithing. A good content marketer must play many roles – he/she must be an experienced strategist, know SEO, be an investigative reporter who knows how to work closely with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), be a copywriter, an editor and be savvy about social media. Those skills are hard to find in a part-time marketer or freelance copywriter. (See Industrial Blogging Lessons Learned from Working with Technical SMEs).
Things begin to get very complicated when industrial companies realize that there is much more to content marketing than just publishing content for search engines. Here are some of the common hurdles that I have come across in my conversations with manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies:
- Our Founder/President/Owner has a clear vision of his business but it is in his head. He finds it difficult to articulate it into written words and differentiate our company
- Our in-house subject matter experts (SMEs) know their technical stuff but are not good writers and they don’t have time for marketing
- We are afraid of giving away our trade secrets if we reveal too much in our online content
- We don’t want to give away free information. We want site visitors to call our sales people who will explain everything
- Freelancers don’t understand our customers and they lack the technical background to understand our business
Factors influencing SEO success
I could probably write thousands of words here. Instead I’ll use an excellent infographic that summarizes all the factors into a neat periodic table. (Source: The Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors by Search Engine Land).