SEO Basics All Marketers Should Know

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Every company wants to rank high on search engines. Appearing on the first page of search results for important keywords is an effective way to drive motivated traffic to your website and attract quality leads.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your rankings on organic search results for a specific set of keywords. However, “organic” doesn’t mean free. Like any marketing initiative, SEO requires budget, resources and expertise. Still, there are some basic SEO tactics that almost every industrial company should deploy to help improve their rankings. Let’s look at each one of these in turn and how they can help improve your SEO rankings.

1.      Identify targeted keywords.

Before you can perform any search engine optimization, you need to know which set of keywords you want to target for improved search results rankings.

To identify the most relevant keywords:

  • Evaluate your existing content for the words you use to talk about your products and services.
  • Ask salespeople or customers to describe your products or services.
  • Analyze your competitors’ content for keywords.
  • Use one or more of the many available keyword discovery and analysis tools to identify those words most relevant to your offerings.

You may not be able to rank well for the most popular keywords in your sector. Instead, focus on more specific keywords that may not have as much search volume but are more targeted to your offerings.

Once you have identified your keywords, you can use them to write content, optimize web pages and build links.

2.      Write great content for your audience

Fresh content – new and updated web pages, articles and blog posts – is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. Search engines use software programs called spiders that roam the web and index content. Fresh content is considered more relevant than old content.

Use keywords in your content, but don’t stuff pages with keywords. Write for your target audience, not for search engines. Users will quickly spot content that overuses keywords and is designed for search engines rather than user needs. Such content is annoying and typically doesn’t read well, and users that come across these overstuffed web pages through search are likely to go elsewhere.

Instead, produce and post a continual flow of fresh content for your users: how to solve problems, how things work, etc. Your audience will appreciate it, increasing your chances of improved search results.

3.      Optimize web pages for search engines

If stuffing keywords onto web pages isn’t the right approach, then how do you optimize web pages for search engines? The process is called “on-page” optimization. There are a number of tactics you can use:

  • Use the title and description tags as places for keywords. If you are responsible for your website, you can do this yourself. If an IT or web development department manages your website, you will need to collaborate with them. The title and description appear in the search engine results for users to read. This is also a good place to mention your brand name.
  • Make the URL simple and include keywords. Separate words by dashes. If possible, avoid URLS that have long strings of search parameters.
  • Use alt-tags on images and video. The alt-tag is a brief text description that search engines will pick up. It also provides context for users who block images.
  • For video or audio content, you can include text transcription, which will give more detailed content for search engines to pick up.

4.      Build reputable links

Within your site, linking is relatively straightforward. Use keyword-based text links within your content to link to related pages within your site. Search engines rank pages that are connected to other pages higher than those that are isolated.

Getting external links back to your web site is called “off-page” optimization. The theory is that if you have relevant and reputable websites linking back to your site, your pages increase in importance and can rise in rankings. For example, IEEE GlobalSpec clients can link back to their websites from their listings on Globalspec.com, a well-respected and popular site in the industrial sector. Additionally, seek out links from partners. Try to publish content such as articles or blog posts on other industry sites that will link back to pages on your website. Comment on industry blogs and be active on industry forums where you can link back to your website.

Next Steps

These are the four broad categories of SEO you need to familiarize yourself with to improve your search rankings. If you perform the basics, you should see improvement in your organic search engine results for your targeted keywords. If you want to take the next step, you will probably need to enlist the help of an expert well-versed in SEO practices.

There are many firms and consultants offering SEO services. Be sure to ask the agency how they approach SEO to make sure they only use reputable tactics, and try to work with a firm that has experience and satisfied customers in your industry.

 

 

Marketing, General SEO

3 Tips for Industrial Marketers to Handle Rapid Change

The rate of change is fast and furious in marketing these days, making for both exciting and challenging times for industrial marketing professionals. Engineers and technical professionals use more resources than ever before to find information, products, services and suppliers—from general search engines and suppliers websites to online catalogs, directories, events, social media and more. Which means as an industrial marketer you must be able to evaluate and manage the effectiveness of these new channels. And it seems that more new marketing channels are popping up all the time.

Today’s marketers also need a broader skillset. They must be both strategists and tacticians. They need to integrate and manage multi-channel marketing campaigns. They need to be analysts to evaluate opportunities, interpret reports and calculate marketing ROI. They need technology skills to understand how to use mobile and social and to assess new tools such as marketing automation.

On top of this, marketers may be asked to manage this rapid change without an increase in budget or resources.

It’s a lot to handle. A recent survey conducted by Forrester and the Business Marketing Association found that 34 percent of marketers feel overwhelmed by the change occurring in B2B marketing and 21 percent feel the skills they were hired for are now obsolete.

You’re not alone if you’re feeling these pressures as a marketer. And the good news is you can do something to alleviate the pressure and better handle the rapid pace of change. Here are three ideas to help you:

Collaborate with other internal teams and external experts.
There’s no reason for marketers to work on an island and do everything alone. Think about teaming up with people from IT to help streamline reporting or more efficiently manage your lead nurturing and scoring processes. Customer support reps are close to the customer and can provide useful feedback about your marketing efforts, strengths and weaknesses of products, and overall impressions of your brand. You can save a lot of time and effort if you work closely with the sales team to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of roles and responsibilities for managing leads through the sales cycle.

External help is available too. Work with media partners to develop more integrated, multi-channel programs whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts in terms of reach, visibility and generating engagement opportunities. Also, seek out research and information to help guide your marketing decisions. IHS GlobalSpec publishes a helpful library of industry research and reports specifically designed to keep industrial marketers up-to-date on industry trends in the manufacturing sector.

Rethink your marketing strategy and reevaluate priorities.
Rapidly changing times require you to take a step back and assess your marketing situation. You may have new responsibilities and expectations now. For example, according to the IHS GlobalSpec report, “2013 Trends in Industrial Marketing,” measuring ROI is the biggest challenge industrial marketers face today. Ease this challenge by devoting marketing resources to programs where it’s easier to measure investment vs. return. Digital channels—which are most frequently used by your target audience—offer almost instant metrics in terms of impressions, clicks and conversions. Media partners should offer convenient and robust campaign reporting.

Marketers also say that customer acquisition is their primary marketing goal and that customer acquisition, customer retention and customer satisfaction are important measures of marketing success. Plan marketing strategies that focus on your customers.

Create efficiencies through technology.
Technology can help reduce many labor intensive processes in marketing, and as more technology tools and platforms become available to support marketing, IT and marketing departments are working closer together. Thirty-six percent of industrial companies now use a marketing automation tool, which can vastly increase efficiency in managing, integrating and tracking marketing campaigns. There are many affordable, cloud-based offerings available that don’t drain internal IT resources, but that your IT team can help you evaluate to make the right implementation decision. There are also tools that let you monitor social media networks for mentions of your company, brand and products. You should also consider a content management system (CMS) to manage your website. Again, there are many good choices on the market that your IT department can help you evaluate.

Change is inevitable, in marketing and all other aspects of work and life. Sometimes the change happens fast. Collaborate with others, evaluate your priorities, and use technology to help you keep pace and come out ahead.
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Have you handled rapid change in your job? What tips and ideas would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General