In the third edition of our special industry series podcasts, Danny sat down with AZoNetwork content manager, Ben Stibbs-Eaton, to discuss everything that goes into developing an effective SEO strategy for industrial companies.
You can watch, listen to or read the discussion by clicking one of the links below.
Watch SEO Strategies for Engineering Applications
Listen to SEO Strategies for Engineering Applications
Read SEO Strategies for Engineering Applications
If I were your new client, what SEO strategy goals are you setting out from the start?
Let's start with an overview of the process you can expect working with AZoNetwork. One of our account managers and I would be in the meeting, going through the basics of keyword research, onsite optimization, technical SEO, and reporting effectively. We’d then move to my side of the strategy, which is content and how we will implement it.
Intensive keyword research creates the initial blueprint for the campaign; we will check the search intent on Google, what results already appear for those searches, and what kind of content is ranking.
How do you ensure relevance with keywords that have large search volumes and are more competitive?
Often, new clients will ask to rank for general terms like stainless steel or engineering. We look at expanding this into a long tail term as well. So, ‘the applications of stainless steel,’ where the specificity is much higher, and there’s more context.
What challenges do you face in the strategy phase?
One challenge we have in the earlier phases with clients is convincing them of the importance of blog content. Alongside onsite optimization, improving a site’s internal linking strategy, technical audits, and reporting, we also generate content. By creating fortnightly blog posts to compete for new rankings and to drive traffic to existing landing pages, blog content is generally top-of-the-funnel, educational content. As we deal with people in relatively technical B2B spaces, the type of content we suggest can be looked down upon.
If we again use the example of stainless steel, I might suggest a blog post as simple as ‘what is stainless steel?’ The client argues that the people they want to attract will already know what stainless steel is and that the content is a waste of time. When you look at what that content can do for your site, over 60% of all unique search queries are information-based, and only 8.5% are commercial. You can’t only write product-focused content.
How do you enhance the key landing pages with your content strategy?
One of the most important ranking factors is high-quality content alongside an excellent internal linking structure. Every new blog post is fully optimized with keywords that match the key landing pages and use secondary keywords for further linking.
For example, ‘stainless steel for ship building’ might be a secondary keyword, and the different grades of stainless steel might be semantically related. Every blog we create has all of that enrichment in it, as well as links back to the original landing page, and, ultimately, they drive authority and traffic.
What is a semantically related keyword?
Some people call semantically related keywords tertiary keywords. They are keywords that link one piece of content to another to align your content with similar content. Demonstrating your expertise in a particular area makes you more likely to rank higher.
How do you identify content gaps on a client's website?
Let's start with competitor analysis. Compare with your competitors in the traditional sense, where you compete for a market share or find your search competitors. For many businesses, Wikipedia is a competitor; while they aren’t conventional, you will still want to knock them from the top spot.
With your conventional competitors, compare the key areas that you both have offerings or products in, consider what information or questions they are answering with their relevant content and ensure you are also answering these questions.
How do people react to the idea that competitors might be entirely different from their commercial competitors?
Education on SEO is generally more comprehensive now, and people are more involved than they used to be. Of course, it does work with conventional competitors, too, as there is often a clear overlap.
For example, if one company is selling the same alloy as you, you most likely don’t have identical product offerings. You are comparing the overlaps between your websites and offerings to find potential gaps in your content where you aren’t performing.
Once you are ranking, how do you ensure you don’t slip back down again?
It’s challenging to make rankings stick because the volatility of keywords at the moment is high. Volatility is a metric that measures the likelihood that a search engine results page will change in a given day. At the moment, it’s roughly 50% of days in the year where there are likely to be changes on search pages.
Is it mainly volatility between ranking number one and two, and three? Or are there circumstances where you are moving from page one to page two?
We have seen significant variations. It can be due to an algorithm change, which you can’t always safeguard against; you just have to implement the best possible strategies you can.
The black hat tactics that we are told to avoid, why do we avoid them?
Google recognizes what bad content is and what is not genuine. The introduction of the E-A-T principles, expertise, authority, and trust stopped many of those tactics.
As more marketers within the industrial engineering space pick up SEO tactics, the keywords will become more competitive. How can you guard against that?
In one way, competitiveness is a good thing. The more companies are aware of SEO, the better content they will serve their customers. Niches will get smaller, and become more specific, so your customers can find what they are looking for. Every time your website achieves a position one ranking, you should get the exact users you want.
Google Analytics 4 is coming out soon, so we'll be able to measure that UX better. What other impacts might there be?
GA4 won’t significantly impact; it’s a seismic shift in how we track analytics. The launch is because the way that Google serves content to people via the search results page has changed so much. Keywords are still important, but the factors which go into getting to the top spot have grown exponentially. GA4 is designed to track that better.
GA4 is something people should be looking into now because it will change how you're setting up, and the system will change. As long as you are implementing the right strategies now, it shouldn't affect your site performance or what you're looking at.
We're helping our clients set it up early so that, when it launches, they have historical data to go off for the following six months. In contrast, many people may be in a situation where, if that data isn't carrying over from Universal to GA4, they might have a blank spot in their analytics.
If you’d like to discuss your SEO or content strategy with the team, get in touch here.