So you’re in a manufacturing industry and you understand that search engine optimization (SEO) is important, but you’d like to know more. At Foremost Media, we’re here to help. We can dive as deep into SEO as you and your company want to go.
For now, let’s start with one of the foundational principles of SEO: keyword research.
At its roots, “keyword” sounds simple and straightforward, right? It’s an important (“key”) term (“word”) that a customer or user might think of to describe your company, product, service, or industry.
But there’s much more to keywords than their simple definition.
In a sense, Foremost’s marketing team is in the manufacturing business, as well. Keyword research is the foundation for everything else in our SEO efforts. And so one of our top goals is to help our customers by manufacturing successful keywords that will help drive traffic to their websites and produce leads to new clients.
Let’s take a closer look at the research and development of keywords while considering them as steps in a manufacturing process:
1. Knowing the client and their customers
Before brainstorming the simplest of keywords, we need to understand you, your business and your customers. We need everyone to be on the same page, with everyone’s main goal(s) aligned.
What types of products are you manufacturing? What makes those products or your business unique? What makes you tick?
Who are your customers? What types of things do they care about? What kinds of things might they be searching for online that would lead them in your direction?
Those questions surrounding your customers are especially important, because the keywords that might be front of mind for you or your business might not necessarily completely match up with the keywords that potential customers are actually looking for. It will be important for our list to cover all bases.
Step 1 Example: For the sake of this blog, let’s use the example that you are in the fertilizer manufacturing business. You offer eco-friendly products that are safe for children and pets to your customers for use on their lawns.
2. Starting a list of keywords
OK, so now that we know more about you, your business and your potential customers, let’s begin building out a list of potential keywords.
We can start with some of the broader terms that you brought to the table as important to you in Step 1. We’ll add some others that came up during that base discussion that maybe you had not thought of before, and we’ll start refining and digging deeper from there.
We will also use our resources to take a look at some of the keywords that your business’ website already ranks for. And we will take things a step further and determine what keywords some of your competitors’ sites are ranking for.
There is always more knowledge to be gained on keywords. For instance, we could add to our list by doing a simple search of one of the keywords already on our list. From there, we’ll see what kinds of questions pop up in Google’s “People Also Ask” feature.
Step 2 Example: We won't get into a whole list here, but some of the obvious keywords that will have been brought to the table for our example exercise might be: "fertilizer" "lawn fertilizer" "eco-friendly fertilizer" or "fertilizing grass" ... If your website is already up and running, we would start by taking a look to see if you are already ranking in Google searches for some of these terms, and also help determine some other search terms that come up as related to these. ... A quick Google search shows that "People Also Ask" when is a good time to fertilize a lawn, how to make grass greener/thicker and if they should fertilize before it rains. Pondering these searches could lead us to add more keywords to our list or give us ideas for content on your site down the road.
3. Diversifying keywords and goals
There are two main types of keywords: “fat head keywords” and “long-tail keywords.”
Fat head keywords are broad, shorter terms that often have higher search volumes, in general. Long-tail keywords include more terms and therefore typically have a lower search volume. (For more on these terms and others, check out our Complete Marketing Glossary for Manufacturing Companies.)
While the search volumes differ, both types of keywords can deliver great results and value to your company. Successful campaigns will often combine the use of the two. So the next step in the process is to refine the list of keywords to: a) include some fat head keywords that might be difficult to rank for initially but will make for strong longer-term goals, and b) target long-tail keywords that we might be able to rank highly for in a short period of time.
Step 3 Example: In our ongoing fertilizer campaign, an example of a fat head keyword would be the term "fertilizer." This broad term would be great to rank for, but given all the different fertilizer companies and websites, it will likely be difficult to rank near the top--especially in the short term. We will keep this keyword on our list and track our progress over time. Conversely, an example of a long-tail keyword in this exercise would be "lawn fertilizer safe for pets." You might not be the only company in that space, but this less-broad term helps hone in on a more specific search by your potential customers and might be a keyword we can target to move up the rankings more quickly.
4. Putting tools to work
Using a variety of resources, including Google Analytics, Google Search Console and others, we can continue digging deeper and narrowing down our keyword list.
This step in the process will help us estimate the search volume that comes along with each specific potential keyword, as well as its “cost per click.”
These tools can also help show us other terms relevant to those potential keywords that might bring search volume. They will also tell us, on a scale, how difficult it will be to rank for specific keywords.
Step 4 Example: After refining our list of potential keywords, we can upload them into our systems and use our tools to drill down even further. We'll see exactly where the terms rate in terms of search volume and ranking difficulty, and set targets and goals for specific keywords moving forward.
5. Creating content for your keywords
Now it is time to start putting our refined list of keywords into practice by making sure your website includes content that meshes with our list of keywords.
We can make sure your site includes pages with a general overview of your products but then also has pages that go another level deeper to explain each specific option. We won’t necessarily need a page for every single keyword we are targeting, but we want to make sure we have all of our general concepts covered.
Beyond your site pages, other content--such as blogs, videos or podcasts--can help drive traffic to your site. If you have started some of these in the past, it can be useful to freshen up the content with new discoveries or best practices on the subject.
The tools we used to set up our keyword list throughout the process will track our progress as we go and adjust our campaigns accordingly.
Step 5 Example: One of our goals is to move up the rankings for "lawn fertilizer safe for pets." To help establish the company as an expert in this area, we draft a blog post that explains exactly what is used in manufacturing the fertilizer and what makes it safe for people and pets. Since we realized a common Google search by users is wondering when the best times are to fertilize, we put that on the plan for our next blog post in the following weeks. The hope will be not only that searchers on these topics find these blogs, but other informational sites on this topic find us, see that we are experts and link to our blog. Our tools will help us track if/how/when we are able to see a rise in traffic or a jump in our keyword ranking.
You might have noticed we said “refined list of keywords” and not “final list of keywords.”
The keyword research process is neverending. Over time, new words can be added to the list, and others that become less relevant might be shuffled down the priority list or taken from the list altogether.
Just like in manufacturing, keyword research is an ongoing process. If you’ve got further questions about it, feel free to reach out to us today.