We’ve finally come to the last installment of this series on marketing for the industrial automation industry and here’s a big thanks to everyone who stuck with it this long. It’s been quite the ride, hasn’t it? From learning how to know you actually have a problem with your marketing to learning why LinkedIn isn’t all you think it is, hopefully this has been an eye opener and given you all some ideas of how to go for the and prosper. This installment, to put a nice bow on everything, is probably the most important of them all.
This is the one thing that if you get it wrong, literally nothing else we’ve talked about is going to work.
That’s right – we’re going to talk about content. Also, in that conversation, we’re going to touch on SEO best practices and here’s a spoiler – ‘keywords’ has nothing to do with it.
Let’s jump in, shall we?
What Is Content And Why Is It So Important?
When I say the word ‘content’, the first thing that jumps in most people’s minds are things like blogs and with good reason. Traditionally, when people said ‘what kind of content are you making?’ they used to mean just that, but, like with everything else, times have changed.
Your blog is just a part of your content and we’ll get to that in a minute but right now, realize one thing – everything you do from your website to your product descriptions to videos to your blogs – is content.
One more time for the people in the back: Everything is content.
To make it clearer, I’ll list out what I mean when I say content:
- On-page website text, images and videos
- Case studies, customer reviews and star ratings
- Customer created videos and testimonials
- Everything else you create for your business
Content is the lifeblood of your online presence, brand and every other marketing channel. If you create quality content that people like and want to engage with, it can be used and repurposed for every marketing channel you have across the board.
We’ll start out with an easy example of what I mean. Let’s say you have a good blog article. People like it, they engage with it – that’s great. Now what? Are you going to let it only sit on your blog and go ‘Gee, that was great! What else we got?’ until it fades into obscurity?
You’d better not!
Take that blog article and put it back to work! How? Good question! How about:
- Take the best or most interesting quotes from the blog and put them in your next email campaign
- If you have any interesting facts or figures in the article, why not make an infographic out of them to share on social? You don’t need to be an artist, just get yourself a tool like Canva for about $12 and you can do it easily!
- Find someone in your company – preferably with a great personality or on-camera presence – to make a quick introduction video about the article. You can then take that video and put it on social or your YouTube channel (you DO have a YouTube channel, right?) and drive even more traffic
- Are there any quotes from customers in there? Why not contact them again and see if you can’t make a whole new case study? People obviously are interested in what they had to say, so give them more!
There’s more you can do if you put your mind to it but the bottom line is this: your content is the core of your marketing. Also, your content needs to be interesting. Interesting content often takes a far back seat to dry, jargon-filled technical drivel in this space and that needs to stop. Why? Well, here’s a simple formula:
Boring content is boring marketing.
Boring marketing means no attention or engagement.
No attention or engagement means no traffic.
No traffic means no customers.
No customers means no sales.
No sales means no money.
See how that works?
But This Is Industrial Automation! How Can It NOT Be Boring?
This is the best question ever because now you’re asking the right question. I’ve heard so many marketers in this space complain that they don’t like making boring content but what else can they do with the topic.
To that, I call nonsense.
Look, I get it, it’s not easy but it can be done. Interesting and engaging content can be made about any topic. I know this, I’ve done it. In a previous life, I’ve personally had to write engaging on-page content about things like chef’s hats, guitar strings, and chewable vitamins and I’ve done it about industrial automation as well.
There has been talk going around for years about how in order to survive, you need to create what’s called 10X Content, and that’s very true but you have to walk before you run and getting you walking is our goal here. You don’t have to be Shakespeare here. You’re not writing the next great novel. All you have to do are two things:
- Answer questions people are actually asking about your industry
- Have a personality while you do it
That’s literally it. Seriously.
So now we’ve talked a little about content, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite channel, SEO.
What Is SEO?
To best define SEO, I’ll start with what it’s not but everyone thinks it is: Despite popular opinion, it’s not about ‘ranking real high!’ in search engines. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is basically driving quality traffic to your website via unpaid search engine tactics. To put it even simpler, it’s making sure your site shows up for people searching for your brand, your niche or related terms in search engines like Google and Bing – and not paying for ads while you do it.
Speaking of paying for ads on search, there is a separate, yet related discipline called SEM, or Search Engine Marketing that is sometimes referred to as ‘PPC’ or ‘pay-per-click’. This is when you make ads that appear on search engines and their related third-party display sites across the web using tools like Google Ads (formerly ‘AdWords’). I won’t be talking about those in this series at all. Why? Two reasons:
- While I am certified and have done paid search previously, I am by no means an expert in that. That’s my weakest channel, honestly, so I’m not the one to come to for advice for this.
- The last time we’ve checked, we simply did not see enough search volume around relevant keywords to justify running paid search ads in markets we would most likely see sales so we do not currently run them.
And speaking of SEO and keywords, that leads me to my next point.
Modern SEO Is NOT About Keywords
If you ever want to know if you’re talking about SEO to someone with just enough knowledge to be dangerous, listen for some variation of the following sentence:
“Make content around your keywords and then you’ll rank really high!”
Sorry, but that’s not how it works anymore. Actually, that isn’t how it has worked in about five years or so.
With the multiple updates, especially from the Google Algorithm, SEO has gone far beyond keyword research and optimization. The days where you just shove words in the meta data of your website are long behind us and if you want to do proper SEO, you need to get up to speed. There’s literally no way to teach you SEO in one blog article so I’m going to give you a high level overview here and along the way provide plenty of solid resources to help you keep going. Let’s get started.
Fix Your Website
If you want to perform well in search engines, the first thing you need to do is to make sure your website is up to par. This includes but is not limited to making sure your site loads quickly, is mobile friendly, your redirects are working properly and sensibly, your URL structures make sense, and your website is using https encryption. Believe it or not, some people are still using unencrypted websites and that’s just inexcusable these days.
This list is absolutely not exhaustive but it’s a good place to start because a lot of websites in the industrial automation space still don’t meet even these basic requirements.
Create Quality User Website Experiences
Once you have your tech up to par, then you want to start looking at your on-page content. What you do not want to do is start making ‘SEO content’, because when people say that, they usually mean ‘keyword stuffing’ and other nonsense that not only doesn’t work but can actually get your site penalized by the algorithms. Trust me, you don’t want to get penalized by Google. I’ve had clients in the past that took months to dig out of penalties from bad SEO practices.
Instead of making garbage content, just make content for readers, not search engines. Use the tips I provided earlier in this article and apply them to making content for your site. That’s really all it is. Google has several natural language processors in their algorithm now from BERT to Rankbrain that can figure out what a piece of content should be ranked for to where you don’t need to make a bunch of junk, keyword-stuffed content. Trust me, they know what they’re doing, you don’t need to ‘help’ them.
Once you have your on-page content created, you can do things like marking up your pages with schema or JSON-LD for an extra push. Also, you’ll want to make sure your images are optimized for image search, and you have proper internal links on your pages for both SEO and user experience.
Again, this is not an exhaustive list of what you should do but this should get you started. If you ignore everything else in this section, the one thing you need to listen to me on is this: do NOT use manufacturer’s content on your product pages.
Some people will tell you it doesn’t matter but I personally have seen first-hand the difference in search performance people who use duplicate, manufacturer’s content on their pages versus creating their own content for these pages. If you can’t make content for all of your products, pick the top ten or twenty best sellers and create content around those. Trust me, your search visibility will thank you.
Backlinks. Get Them…Somehow
Backlinks are exactly what they sound like, websites that link your content. Having these are extremely important to SEO, they always have been and probably always will be – and that’s why I don’t understand why they’re so complicated. Google has always put major restrictions on how you can ‘earn’ backlinks in ways that won’t get your site penalized for having an unnatural link profile.
While what used to be called the ‘Penguin penalty’ has mellowed out a lot in recent years from what it was, it’s still a thing so be very careful how you get websites to link to you. If you pay someone to do it, that’s a penalty. If you are getting them from press releases or guest posts, that could be a penalty. If you are using PBNs or link schemes, that’s a penalty and so on and so on.
Again, there’s a lot more to SEO but it just can’t be covered here – including advice that contradicts other advice and the infamous SEO answer to everything of ‘it depends’.
To learn more about SEO, a great company called AHREFs put together a great article to help you do just that.
Of course, these articles in this series will only touch on things to get you started and looking in the right direction with your marketing. As with anything else you’d find on the internet, not everything is going to work for everyone and you should only test with money that you are prepared to possibly lose until you find strategies that work for you.
Thanks again and happy marketing!