As a manufacturer, if word-of-mouth and a sales team are no longer ensuring you hit your revenue targets, it’s time to start getting serious about your digital marketing strategy. Not feel-good marketing, but tried and true, measurable marketing. Just like how you have inputs and expect certain outputs in your production line, the same can be done with the right digital marketing for manufacturing companies.

When it comes to measurable marketing and digital marketing ROI, search engine optimization and paid advertising have shown time and time again to be the most effective forms of digital marketing campaigns, across the board. But to do them right, you have to understand the significance of keywords. Keywords are the words your customers use to find your products online. If you get found, you can get their business. If you don’t, you won’t even have a chance at a sale. 

Knowing your target keywords is especially important for industries that naturally receive less search traffic than other industries, such as manufacturing and distribution. Why? Because it means you are more likely to win when most of your competitors don’t even know what game they are playing. 

Many companies view marketing as an expense, but it’s essential to see it from a bigger-picture perspective and, instead, view your marketing as an investment that drives revenue. So, let’s explore how betting on sure things, a.k.a. knowing the right keywords to use online, will drive conversions for your manufacturing business. 

Identifying the Right Keywords

In any market, no matter how big or small, only about 5-10% of people are actually buying at any given time. The other 90-95% of the market has a need for what you do, but they aren’t ready to make a purchase yet. What do you need to get in front of the 5-10% who matter? You need what we call “money terms”. 

Money terms are the high volume keywords that your target customers use to buy more than any other keywords.  They are selected because they focus on the 5-10% of consumers who are ready to buy right now. Customers who are ready to buy have certain search habits that differ from those who are either gearing up to make a purchase down the road or are still in the decision-making stage. Focusing on those ready to buy is the easiest way to guarantee you’re betting on a sure thing.

Consumers who have an immediate problem and are looking for a solution are likely to search for terms directly related to their issue. These are generic, non-branded, problem-solution keywords that can drive customers to your services. Take the plumbing industry, for example. A common problem the company can solve for customers is “fix burst water pipe.” This term is generic and can be converted into a keyword that can easily solve someone’s problem and ultimately drive conversions for your business. 

Another example is to turn a service you provide into a keyword like “drain cleaning and clearing.” This non-branded term describes a service that you and your competitors offer and is likely to be searched for by consumers who are ready to buy this service right now.

The key here is these terms are all about needing a solution NOW, not later. The problem is specific, and they are looking for a solution. You need to be there, where they are looking, when they are looking, with the solution. Your solution. 

What Doesn’t Drive More More Conversions

You should rank first for your company name. However, you don’t want to invest in organic ranking or buying clicks with your paid search campaign for your own name.  Why is that?  Because if they are already looking for you, they will find you anyway. When choosing what keywords to target with your paid and organic search campaigns, you want to minimize using branded terms whenever possible. These include any keywords that include your company’s name or your product’s name in them. While these terms aren’t useless, they won’t drive incremental conversions as effectively as the search terms highlighted above. We want to keep our focus on sure things and branded keywords don’t drive additional conversions. Why? Because if they already know your company name well enough to look it up, you are already likely to close that business. 

Another area to avoid is research or informational terms that people are searching for before making buying decisions. Going back to our plumbing company example, a research term for this industry could be “how to pick a plumber.” These kinds of searches make up 80% of total search volume. It’s good to write supporting content and blog content on your site about these terms. What you don’t want to do is invest heavily in SEO or paid search for these terms.  Consumers using search terms like this are still in the decision-making stage of their customer journey and are less likely to be a sure thing for your business. Additionally, you want the highest SEO return on investment possible, so it’s best to invest your marketing dollars in more profitable SEO terms.   

Remember, the goal is to have our marketing drive revenue and do the heavy lifting for us. So, focusing your investment on keywords that are less likely to result in a conversion should be avoided if possible.    

Dialing in Your Keyword Choices

So now that you know what a sure thing is when it comes to keywording, the next question is, “How do I find the right keywords for my industry?” 

There are a few tools and approaches to determine what will drive the most conversions for your manufacturing company’s digital marketing strategy.

  1. Brainstorming: Collaborate with your team about generic services and problems customers face that your company can solve right now.
  2. Go straight to the source: Ask your customers what problems they face related to your industry and what they would search for to find solutions online.
  3. Competitor Analysis: Examine competitor websites to understand the keywords they are targeting, how they rank in searches, and what content they’re producing to target customers.
  4. Use third-party tools: Utilize tools like Semrush, SpyFu, and Google AdWords to identify high-value keywords  with the best pay-per-click ROI and gauge competition.. 

When identifying “sure thing” keywords, the key is to find non-branded terms that solve a common problem or provide a needed, generic service for your customers, compete with other companies in your industry and location, and drive the most conversions for the least amount of money spent. This is the best way to ensure you’re being found instead of your competitors while being cost-effective in your marketing efforts, resulting in profitable SEO. 

Putting Your “Sure Thing” Keywords to Work

After you’ve identified what keywords are guaranteed to be a sure thing to drive conversions, it’s time to put them to work online. It can seem overwhelming to suddenly have a list of keywords your team is now tasked with weaving into your online presence, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. 

The first step is to target your keywords with a Google Ads campaign. If you followed the section above, you already know that the keywords you’ve identified are guaranteed to convert traffic to your business. You can either do this yourself or pay an expert to do it for you. A Google Ads campaign is the right short-term priority for a digital marketing strategy for manufacturing because it will be able to bring desired traffic to your site right away so that you can gain quick wins or sales for your business.

Next, you’ll want to start integrating them into your online presence to drive organic search.  Organic search makes up 80% to 90% of all clicks on Google, so this is what you want to prioritize in the long term. You can optimize your website with your chosen keywords by placing them in title tags, metadata, image captions, and website content, like blogs. You don’t want to spam your site with them, but placing them strategically into your online presence will let Google know how to associate your business with certain searches. For example, this blog has the word “manufacturer” sprinkled throughout; that isn’t an accident. It’s because those are some of the businesses we can help the most in their digital marketing. In addition, you will want to get other websites to use your target keywords when building links from their content to your content. Over time, your site will begin to rank well for the terms you want to target to drive new business. 

Competitive vs. Uncompetitive Search Markets

Depending on your industry, it could take some trial and error to discover what keywords drive sales leads. Even though we’re betting on sure things by dialing in our keyword choices, it also depends on how sophisticated your market is. Some markets, like attorneys, plumbers, and consumer products, are more competitive when it comes to digital marketing. 

By sophisticated, we mean most of the industry knows how to use digital marketing strategies, so they have learned what keywords will lead to new business. As a result, the companies will bid more on those terms that drive new business, increasing the cost-per-click for those terms in Google Ads.   

When looking at the keywords for those markets, you’ll notice a wide range of pricing for cost-per-click terms. In general, the higher the price, the higher the number of conversions for those search terms. The wider the range in pricing for a given market, the more sophisticated that market is likely to be. Essentially, it tells you that others have already figured out which keywords convert, and they pay a lot more for those keywords in their ads! The keywords that don’t convert are less expensive because fewer people want to buy those ads. That ad-buying activity tells you what you can aim for even without buying any ads yourself! Kind of handy. 

The good and bad news is that some markets, such as manufacturing, capital equipment, and distribution, are usually less sophisticated in comparison. In these markets, there is less range in cost-per-click pricing, and high-converting terms may be very inexpensive. In some markets, the money terms can be only $2 to $3 per click! 

This means two things. First, it means it’s harder to dial in on the “sure thing” keywords that will drive conversions to your manufacturing business right away. In this case, it might take a little more trial and error. But the second thing it means is this is where the opportunity is. The upside to being in an unsophisticated market is that the cost-per-click and your budget can be much lower. In addition, the cost of customer acquisition from those keywords is much lower than in sophisticated markets. In other words, if you find a great keyword, you might be the only one using it! And that means all those eyeballs land on your website instead of your competitors. 


The name of the game is to make your marketing drive revenue rather than the other way around. While it’s true that we need to spend money to run a successful manufacturing marketing campaign, the goal should be to have the marketing campaign take the driver’s seat to drive your paid media ROI and revenue. To achieve this, we need to create leads by betting on a sure thing, a.k.a. what keywords to use that are guaranteed to drive business to your site. Once you’ve identified the keywords that will achieve this, you can run a Google Ads campaign to discover which keywords drive the most site traffic that results in conversions, thus creating profitable SEO. After you’ve dialed in those search terms and integrated them throughout your site and online content, you can be sure that you’re betting on a sure thing.

If you’re ready to make your marketing finally drive revenue, I am happy to have a conversation. Please click to schedule a call. 

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