Many times even the most astute business leader misses what is really going on right in front of her.
I was in a meeting last week with the President of a very successful B2B manufacturer. She is an engineer, but a very astute marketer as well. Three individuals from her sales & marketing team surrounded her.
SEO was the topic of conversation. All four gave their opinions on the best way to improve site traffic and the number of leads to their web site. Most of their suggestions were wrong. Not because they are stupid, just that the rules of the road have changed dramatically for SEO in the last few months. The ensuing conversations lead to this blog post.
“Let’s do more SEO”
First, the general theme of the meeting was that SEO was going to be a quick fix for lack of traffic & leads. Before Google shook the SEO world with their updates, web developers and marketers could trick Google into thinking a web site had tons of inbound links. No more. Now industrial marketers must take a long, strategic view of their SEO efforts. Now industrial marketers must earn their links. Now Google requires industrial marketers to create quality content to rank effectively on the SERP (search engine return page). “Yikes. We have never done this kind of thing before”. Get over it.
“OK…Let’s do content marketing”
True, in many respects content marketing has replaced SEO. However, the foundation of good content marketing is SEO. The participants in my meeting mistakenly thought all they had to do was create great content; lots of blogs, e-books, white papers, etc. They do, but in the context of a solid SEO strategy. For example, I track 65 different keyword phrases as our keyword strategy. One of those keyword phrases is “industrial marketing strategy”. You will note that the title of this post is, “6 Misunderstandings Owners Have About SEO & Their Industrial Marketing Strategy” I know from keyword research (…and my own instincts and experience) that industrial marketers are searching using “SEO” as it relates to industrial marketing strategy. For the marketer that uses a “semantic search” such as, “Is SEO part of my industrial marketing strategy?”, this post will perform well. (Go ahead, check on it in a couple weeks) Develop all your content within the context of a solid keyword strategy before you start down the path of content marketing.
“OK…Let’s have Bill do all the content marketing. He is a good writer”
Bill is a smart guy, good writer, knows the business. However, just Bill cannot do good content marketing. The whole company needs to be engaged to deploy an effective industrial marketing strategy using content marketing. Frankly, there needs to be a culture change.
Industrial companies are some of the most documented industries in the world. Yet, they produce the worst content. Bill might be able to nudge the needle a little, but he will need key players within the company to embrace content marketing, most importantly, the President.
I told them the best place to start is by blogging. Hands down, blogging is the least expensive and most effective way to start content marketing.
The act of starting a blog leads your company down a unique path. If you approach blogging with a serious passion, it will naturally take your marketing in a holistic, positive, direction that just works.
“I know we had an intern do some shaky SEO practices in the past. Can great content redeem us with Google?”
Google has a long memory and, questionable, SEO tactics in the past can still hurt your rankings. If your analytics tells you there was a sizable drop in traffic, possibly, your website suffered a penalty. If that is the case, it is critical you get your website back in the good graces of Google. If so, ask Google to remove inbound links from poor-quality websites and directories. If you over-optimized some of your keyword phrases for internal links, change or get rid of the excessive anchor text.
“We need to pump up our brand. Will that help our SEO visibility?”
It can. If you follow the search engine and web marketing blogs you know that Google is moving towards “brand mentions”. So the stronger your brand theme, the more your theme resonates. Of course, the more content you deploy, with that fabulous new message, the more mentions and the more visibility your brand (i.e. website) receives.
Rather than focusing on earning inbound links you should also focus on improving your brand theme and promoting it with e-mail blasts, blog posts, how-to books, branded spec sheets, social media, etc. This will help you earn those links.
“We have Rhonda doing social media. That can help, right?”
I digress from my meeting with the B2B manufacturer.
I have twice visited a good customer in Detroit to get them to listen to my thoughts about industrial content marketing. Given their products and low saturation of competitive content, a small amount of quality content would go a long way to improve traffic and lead generation, which they had complained about in the past.
I was simply in the area and stopped in unannounced. Both times I stopped, I mentioned to the nice young lady at the reception desk that I needed to talk to the owner about doing more on the web with content. She replied both times, “Oh…we are doing a lot of social media. The owner has me doing Facebook posts between my other tasks here at my desk”. So when I got back to my office I checked to see the kind of activity she was generating. Very little content, not helpful and only hurting their brand.
This is soooo typical in the industrial market.
I believe that social signals such as mentions, likes and comments on social media (especially Google +) will have an increasing impact on search rankings. The actual impact social signals has on rankings is unclear right now. However, for the industrial market, a well-defined content and brand strategy that is leveraged by participation in Linkedin and Google+ cannot hurt. It takes little time once you have the wheels turning in your “content factory”.
I will be brutally frank. I personally know hundreds of business owners, CEOs, Presidents in the industrial sector. I believe every last one misunderstands the web and the opportunities it has created for lead generation. Several of these companies are now lead by their offspring, in their late 30s or early 40s. There is only one, that I know of, that “gets it”.
I predict in 5 years, this individual will be a rock star when it comes to industry marketing.