SEO for manufacturers 101

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Doing SEO for manufacturers can be challenging.

I’ve been running SEO campaigns in the manufacturing industry for a little over four years.

After a few years of selling CNC machines and copper pipes on the Internet, you pick up a few lessons.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is this:

Surface-level content doesn’t work well for most manufacturers.

When I say “surface-level content”, I’m talking about basic content designed to attract every Tom, Dick and Harry remotely interested in your industry.

Beginner-level blog content that glosses over general topics without digging into specific issues.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

Most manufacturing customers want to read technical, expert content that addresses the challenges they’re facing.

They want facts, technical specifications, case studies and a nice breakdown of how all those little details can lead them to the promised land.

Or at least that’s what I’ve gathered from my experience in manufacturing SEO.

Let me give you a scenario.

Picture this: You’re a seasoned supply manager with ten years of experience at a window manufacturing company. The company you work for depends on a steady supply of aluminium extrusions to keep production running smoothly.

But a change is coming soon. The company is planning to switch to a cheaper supplier in a few weeks.

So your job is to evaluate the different aluminium extrusion suppliers out there, find the one that best matches your company’s requirements, and negotiate a contract.

You’re interested in three things: the product quality, cost, and lead times of your new potential suppliers.

So you jump on your laptop, Google the words aluminium extrusion supplier and hit the search button.

The clock is ticking. You don’t have time to read a basic What is Aluminium Extrusion? article that some college grad intern whipped together on ChatGPT.

You don’t need to be spoon-fed this simple information.

What you do need is specific, detailed reasons why you should choose one aluminium extrusion supplier over the other one.

Let’s step out of that scenario for a moment.

Do you see the problem with writing basic, beginner-level content for a knowledgeable B2B audience?

Advanced customers are already aware of the products you manufacture.

They’re ready to buy. They just need you to give them that final nudge. So your focus should be less on making them problem-aware, and more on showing them how your products and services solve their problems better than the competition.

Most manufacturing companies overlook this fact when they’re working on their SEO and content marketing strategy.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The problem with how most manufacturers do SEO
  • Why you should prioritise targeting keywords with high buying intent instead of high search volume
  • How you can write SEO content that targets manufacturing keywords and resonates with readers

If you’re looking for someone to handle SEO for your manufacturing company, visit my work with me page.

Read on for the rest of the article.

Quickly skip to the section you’re interested in using the Table of Contents below. 

Table of Contents

The problem with how most people do manufacturing SEO

From the last four years of working in SEO, I’ve seen many B2B manufacturers putting too much value on the amount of website traffic they receive over the quality of website traffic.

They choose blog topics based on how popular the topics are rather than how relevant they are to their ideal customers.

They target high-volume keywords, no matter how irrelevant they are, all in a bid to chase that extra traffic.

So what happens is that you get many B2B companies writing basic, filler content that attracts the wrong audience.

They end up ranking for a bunch of keywords that look pretty on paper but make little impact to their sales. Keywords like what is aluminium extrusion?

Sure, if you simply chase as much website traffic as you can, you’re bound to get more sales down the line. But targeting the wrong audience will waste your time and resources more in the long run.

There is a better way to do SEO for your manufacturing company.

And that’s to choose keywords based on how high the buying intent is rather than the search volume.

With this approach, you’ll narrow your reach, but you’ll also pour more energy into attracting your ideal customers.

In the next section, I’ll explain how to target keywords with high buying intent, and then we’ll cover how you can fit these keywords into the rest of your manufacturing SEO and content strategy.

How to do keyword research for manufacturing companies

You’ll need to use a keyword research tool to find the keywords your customers are searching for.

I recommend using the free Ahrefs Keyword Generator.

Type in any keyword into the search bar and you get suggestions for similar keywords people are searching for.

Press the search button and you get a list of keyword suggestions right at your fingertips:

The great part? Ahrefs Keyword Generator is free, so you won’t have to spend a penny for this information.

However, the free version of Ahrefs Keyword Generator will show you a limited number of keywords.

If you want more keyword options and data, it’s better to invest in the full version of a keyword tool.

I’d recommend trying Mangool’s Keyword Finder, a user-friendly keyword research tool suitable for both beginners and experienced users.

Keyword Finder simplifies the keyword research process by providing insights into search volumes, trends, and competition.

Give it a test run here. Just enter your keyword below and explore the keyword data.

If you decide to upgrade to one of Mangools’ plans, I’ll earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Keyword Finder is a part of Mangools suite of SEO tools. Their plans also feature other tools, including:

  • SERPChecker: A tool for analysing the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for specific keywords.
  • SERPWatcher: Monitors your keyword positions in search engines over time.
  • LinkMiner: A backlink analysis tool to explore and analyse backlinks.
  • SiteProfiler: Provides in-depth website analysis, including SEO metrics, backlinks, and more.

The basic plan starts at $26.91.

You can find the rest of Mangool’s pricing plans here.

If you do choose to upgrade, thank you :).

If you’re a little unsure about what keywords to target for your manufacturing company, I’ve listed common types below:

Product category keywords

The products you manufacture can be broken down into more categories than you probably realise.

For example, one SEO client I worked with specialised in distributing CNC milling and turning machines.

But they distributed such a wide variety of CNC machines that every variety was a new keyword opportunity.

So on top of directly targeting the keyword CNC machines, we also targeted subcategory keywords like 5-axis cnc machines, vertical machining centre and horizontal milling machine.

Custom and bespoke keywords

Many manufacturing companies provide both standard and custom manufacturing options to their clients.

Early on in my SEO career, I worked with an aluminium extrusion manufacturer that supplied a range of standard profile aluminium extrusions but also manufactured custom aluminium extrusions for clients who had specific requirements.

If you provide a bespoke manufacturing service, target the people specifically looking for that with these keywords.

Here are some examples of these keywords that I’ve come across:

Maintenance and support keywords

Cost-related keywords

  • Affordable metal stamping services
  • Low-cost plastic injection molding
  • Economical CNC milling solutions

Industry/niche-specific keywords

You don’t need to only target keywords related to the specific products you manufacture.

If you manufacture a range of products in a specific industry or niche, I’d recommend targeting industry-related keywords too.

However, clients who search these types of keywords usually have a lower buying intent than ones who directly search for the products you manufacture.

If a supplier provided aluminium extrusions to companies in the aerospace manufacturing industry, they’d be better off targeting a keyword like aluminium extrusion manufacturer rather than aerospace parts manufacturer.

The first keyword cuts through the noise and targets people searching for exactly what you manufacture while the second is a little more broad (and less targeted)

Sure, the person Googling an aerospace parts manufacturer could be interested in your aluminium extrusions, but they could be equally as interested in the fastener manufacturer down the road.

That being said, industry-specific keywords are still worth targeting, specifically if you’ve already exhausted all the other keyword options.

Let’s look at some more examples of industry-specific keywords:

Now that we’ve identified the right keywords, we can move on to the next step.

Select 5 – 10 keywords from your research, focusing on the ones with the lowest competition and strongest buying intent.

I created an Excel spreadsheet template to make the process a little easier. 

You can grab it here:

Keyword shortlisting template

So now that we covered how to target keywords your ideal customers are searching for, we can move on to the next step:

Let’s talk a little about how to write SEO content that ranks well, converts, and is interesting to shareholders – end users, distributors, dealers, OEMs, etc.

Ideally, you should hire an experienced skilled content writer to produce this SEO content (bonus points if they already have SEO experience in the manufacturing sector)

Expertise will make a big difference – both the expertise of your writer and your team.

Let me explain:

No matter how good your writer is, they’ll need you and your team’s input during the content writing process.

Whether you hire a freelance SEO, in-house SEO, or an SEO agency, don’t let your SEO self-research the articles and landing page copy they write for your website.

They should draw from the knowledge and insights of you and your team, so they can dig deeper into your manufacturing processes, unique selling point, and challenges you help customers solve.

If you’re looking for a professional SEO content writer experienced in writing and ranking manufacturing content, get in touch and we can talk about your SEO goals.

But not everyone has the luxury of hiring a content writer.

So if you want to roll up your sleeves and write the manufacturing content yourself, read on.

How to write SEO content for manufacturing keywords

We can’t talk about writing SEO content without first exploring the idea of search intent.

The type of content you produce for your target keyword will depend on the search intent of that keyword.

What is search intent?

In simple terms: search intent is the reason behind a search query. It’s the type of content the person is looking for when they type in your keyword.

The content you create to rank for your keywords will typically fall into one of two categories:

Landing pages and blog posts.

So what content format should you choose?

Well, I’ll give you the general SEO advice and then I’ll give my take:

Build landing pages for the transactional keywords people search when they’re ready to buy, e.g. custom aluminium extrusions. Save the blog posts for informational keywords people search when they want to learn, e.g. what are aluminium extrusions?.

The argument in favour of this approach is that landing pages convert better than blog posts. So they’re more suitable content for people who are already on the edge of buying.

While I can see the logic, the issue with this approach is that landing pages don’t always convert better than blog posts in every single scenario.

Content marketing agency Grow and Convert wrote a detailed guide about whether blog posts or landing pages were better for targeting keywords.

In their guide, they arrived to the same conclusions that blog posts are often better for keywords:

Ranking

It’s often more difficult to get a landing page to rank highly in organic search results.

A blog post format gives you more room to include relevant SEO keywords and answer the intent of the searcher, so blog posts are often easier to rank highly.

And ranking your content is the most important thing. 

If you don’t rank, it doesn’t matter how high your conversion rate is.

Intent

When people are searching directly for a product or service they want to buy, they usually want to explore their options or dig in a little deeper to find out more info.

That’s why blog posts sometimes rank higher than landing pages because they do a better job of satisfying search intent.

Linkbuilding

I’d also add one extra point that Growth and Convert didn’t mention in their article.

If you write detailed, comprehensive content people will be more willing to link to it. 

Whether you’re doing broken link building or skyscraper technique, it’s easier to build links to a useful article than to a salesy landing page.

And backlinks are one of the biggest ranking factors.

“So Aggee,” I hear you ask, “should I use landing pages or blog posts for my target keyword? What’s the deal?”

I’ll give you two simple content frameworks I’ve used to help manufacturing clients rank.

You can these two content frameworks for the following scenarios:

Scenario A: Writing content for informational search intent

Here’s how to write content for informational search intent (when the Searcher wants to learn):

Google and analyse top-ranking articles

If I search the keyword aluminium extrusion companies, I see that the top results are list blog posts:

This is what customers expect to see. And it makes sense. 

Think about it: 

They’re still at the comparison stage, they want to weigh the pros and cons of the suppliers out there. 

So now that I know what content format works, my mission is to write the most detailed, valuable Best Aluminium Extrusion Companies list post. 

If I do that, I’ve got a good chance of hitting those top search results.

Do the same. Type in your target keyword into Google’s search bar and take a good, hard look at the top-ranking content. That’ll be your guideline to creating content that both Google and the Searcher want. 

On to the next step:

Create an article following the format of top-ranking results

Now you simply create an article following the format of the top ranking articles.

Find ways to make the top search results better.

In the US, the top ranking result for aluminium extrusion companies is Zetwerk’s article.

Let’s look through a few screenshots of this article:

Overall, it’s a nice article. Certainly not the worst.

Here’s what it does well:

  • Mentions USP: Highlights each supplier’s unique selling point/strengths, making it easier for readers to understand what sets them apart. Smooth.
  • Good overview: Gives the reader a brief background of each supplier’s capabilities and experience.
  • Highlights industry specialties: Mentions the primary industries each supplier specialises in, e.g. cars, aerospace, building infrastructure etc.

Not bad at all. But there’s always room for improvement. Always.

This is how Zetwerk’s article could be better:

  • Visuals: They could add more high-quality images of the products each supplier has manufactured/supplied.
  • FAQ section: Add a FAQ section to address common questions about aluminium extrusion processes, materials, or supplier selection.
  • Social proof: They could also include testimonials or case studies from satisfied customers to build trust and credibility in their recommended suppliers. Or at the very least, add a banner showing the supplier’s review on Trustpilot or Google.
  • Comparison table: Adding a table comparing key features between suppliers could make it easier for readers to compare options at a glance.
  • Production-specific info: Include a section highlighting each supplier’s production capacity, lead times and delivery options to help readers pick a suitable supplier for their project timelines.
Once you write the content, that’s not the end.

Regularly update and improve your article as you go. 

Let’s dig into scenario B.

Scenario B: Writing content for transactional search intent

Here’s a quick step-by-step process of how to write content for transactional search intent (for when the Searcher wants to buy):

Google your keyword and analyse top-ranking pages

Follow the same approach as Scenario A – Google your keyword first to find out what content format works well.

If I Google custom aluminium extrusions, the top results are landing pages:

Create a landing page following the same format

So now my mission is to design the best landing page possible for that keyword.

If you want to go through the basics of writing landing pages, I’d recommend reading my website copywriting guide first.

Ranking a landing page requires a slightly different approach to ranking articles.

When you write an article, the best approach is to pack it with a lot of valuable info and insights. And that’s the case for landing pages too. Generally, the more info, the better.

But there’s one small caveat when it comes to writing landing pages. 

Your Searcher wants to buy, so it’s not enough to simply pack your landing page with tons of content. 

You need to also make sure your landing page includes the specific info that will make buying easier.

For example, if someone searches for CNC machines, they want to browse a range of CNC machine options. They want to see the type of machines you provide, the features and specifications of each one, etc.

Meeting search intent is about more than just drowning your reader in info – no, it’s about giving them the most relevant, useful content they need.

Let me give you a case study to demonstrate the power of search intent:

Case study

I was working with a CNC machine supplier and I was struggling to get a landing page to show up in searches for cnc machines (which gets over 67,000 monthly searches in the US alone).

My landing page was packed with a lot of useful, expert-driven copy about the client’s CNC machines.

I’m, of course, a little biased because I wrote it myself, but I have to admit – it was a pretty damn good landing page.

But still, the article was struggling to rank.

Then I realised the article was missing one simple ingredient. It was something so simple I had to laugh at myself.

The problem with my landing page was that it didn’t have the most important people thing people were looking for: CNC machines.

Without actually showing any CNC machines on the page, it was just another landing page flooded with information – not a page people could go on to compare CNC machine options.

So this is what I did:

  • I displayed the CNC machines on the landing page – and suddenly, it shot up in the rankings.
  • At the top of the article, I sorted the client’s best CNC machines into categories, i.e. cnc milling machines, cnc lathe machines etc.
  • I also added some info about the specifications and features of each machine (info that would be useful to someone interested in buying CNC machines).

And that was enough to turn the tide.

Here’s what happened to the client’s ranking for cnc machines after I followed these three steps:

Screenshot from SERPRobot

The client started by ranking under 200th in December 31st 2023. 

When we added CNC machines onto the landing page, the ranking immediately shot up to the 21st position, before climbing up to 11th. 

Not the best, but it came a long way from ranking under 200th, I’ll tell you that. 

Of course, other factors would have affected the rankings – for example, the domain authority, and the overall relevancy of the client website in the CNC industry.

But still, this goes to show that even one small change is enough to make a big difference in rankings.

And I’m not the only one who’s had this experience.

Lots of other SEOs have noticed that their rankings have shot up by simply changing one small aspect of their landing page to meet search intent.

For example, Ahrefs got 516% more traffic in less than six months by simply adding a free tool functionality to one of their landing pages.

By adding a free backlink checker to their landing page they were able to increase their ranking for the keyword backlink checker:

Image by Ahrefs
Image by Ahrefs

Contrary to popular belief, writing a great landing page is not about squeezing as much valuable content as you can on your landing page. 

It’s also about taking the time to sit back, and think about what would make it more relevant. 

Local SEO for manufacturers

So we covered everything you need to know about finding suitable keywords and writing targeted, on-page content that ranks well.

Now let’s talk a little about how to set up your local SEO strategy.

1. Set up Google Business Profile

Start by setting up a Google Business Profile (GBP).

A well-made GBP profile will help your business appear higher in local Google searches, making it easier for customers to find you.

You can start creating your GBP profile on this page.

Just press the Manage Now button and you can get started. 

Type in your business name: If your business is already listed on Google, you can claim it.

You’ll know if your business is already there because its name will appear in the dropdown menu.

Like so:

If your business does not have a GBP profile, you can simply create a new one.

List business categories: Next we have categories.

Listing primary and secondary categories helps you get discovered in relevant searches.

For example, if you run a subcontract CNC machine workshop in Toledo, Ohio, Google will recommend it when someone local searches for cnc machining near me.

Add your business address: If customers visit your location – for example, for factory tours – display your address.

Side note: Verifying your GBP location it can help your business show up better in local Google searches and on Google Maps.

Find out how to verify your GBP profile here. 

Add your business phone number: Customers need an easy way to reach you. If the number on Google Maps doesn’t work, they might think you’re closed.

2. Optimising your GBP profile

You want to pack your GBP profile with a lot of info.

That extra will give Google and your customers a better idea of what your business is.

Tick all the following boxes below when editing your GBP profile:

Include your business hours: both regular and holiday hours.

List your business attributes: such as delivery options or accepted payment methods.

Put up good photos: A picture is worth a thousand words. Your GMB profile should include:

  • A photo of the outside so people can easily find you.
  • Several inside photos to show what it looks like indoors.
  • Photos of the products you manufacture. Show your product/component in all its glory.
  • Team photos; these show the human side of your business.

Write business descriptionUse relevant words related to your business to help people find you in searches. 

For example, if you specialise in manufacturing aluminium parts, include words like “custom aluminium parts” or “aluminium components.”

Keep an eye on questions: Customers might ask questions about your business, and you should answer them accurately. 

You can also add questions you think customers might ask and answer those too. 

Just remember, customers can also answer, so make sure you keep the info accurate. 

Regularly update your Google listing: Setting up your Google Business Profile isn’t a one-time job. 

If anything changes in your business, like your name, phone number, product offering, update your listing accordingly.

Even small changes, like closing a bit earlier, can affect your business, so check your profile regularly.

3. Invite customers to review your product/service

Reviews from your customers can boost your ranking on Google, so it’s important to encourage them.

But don’t try to cheat the system by offering discounts for reviews or setting up review stations at your place—that can get you in trouble with Google!

Instead:

Make it easy: Create a simple link or QR code that customers can use to leave reviews.

Follow up: Send customers reminders to leave a review after they’ve visited your business, whether through email, text message, or in-app notifications.

Respond: Show your appreciation by responding to both positive and negative reviews with a thank-you note.

4. Get listed in local directories/citations

Citations — mentions of your business’s name, address, and phone number — are important for validating your business’s location on Google.

They can also help improve your rankings.

Here’s what you need to do:

Audit your citations: Use tools like Semrush’s Listing Management to find and fix any duplicate or incorrect citations.

Build citations manually: Submit your business info to local directories where your business isn’t listed yet.

Check and update: Regularly check your citations to make sure they’re accurate and up to date.

Stay consistent: Keep your business info the same across all directories so Google and your customers don’t get confused.

Thanks for reading. This is a guide. Not an instruction manual.

Stay tuned in my SEO For series, where I cover how to do SEO for more industries, including:

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