Note: The awesome robot paintings featured on this post are from artist Eric Joyner. Go check him out!
Before focusing on blog posts and other types of innovative onsite content, it’s vital that manufacturers make sure their website’s foundation pages are built and showcased properly. Foundation pages contain fundamental content that describes a business, its services, clients, and differentiators.
Foundation pages make up the “brochure content” of your website. The blog and social media properties can be frequently updated with more engaging, timely, thought-provoking content … but the brochure content consists of largely static pages that answer pre-defined questions potential clients might have about a company.
Here is a list of the most important foundation pages that a manufacturing website should have before you move on to creating other types of content. Audit your website content to identify which of these needs to be created, and which are present but need to be improved upon. Building out all of the necessary foundation pages can be a project that can be accomplished in a few days or take many months, depending upon the size and scope of your company.
A well written about us page should include details about your company’s history, a brief overview of the products and services you provide, business locations and differentiators that detail how you are superior to competitors. Consider adding information about employees and management, and providing links to social media profiles and other web properties.
Remember, your About Us section does not have to be limited to a single page, and there are opportunities to break it into several sub-navigation pages. Consider creating separate pages for company history, business locations, employees and management, and differentiators (“Why Our Service is Unmatched,” for example).
If you manufacture an array of products, make sure that every product is represented by its own dedicated page. Your top-level products page should give a brief overview of the niches and industries you service, with links to separate pages detailing each individual product.
At the very least, make sure to include product description, technical specs (if applicable), and product photos. Additionally, consider beefing up the product pages by adding product demonstration videos, client testimonials specific to the product, and downloadable spec sheets or case studies.
In addition to specific manufactured products, you might also provide a range of services for your customers (for instance: custom manufactured products, produce-on-demand, or consulting). Services are also sometimes called capabilities. Include the same details in services pages that we mentioned in product pages above.
Does your company manufacture products using different materials? Make sure each material has its own page. For example, if you manufacture identification tags out of several different metals, then create a page focused on aluminum, stainless steel, brass, etc. Include photos of the products that use the specific material, descriptions of the benefits of using that material, and any other necessary information.
INDUSTRIES SERVED (OR MARKETS)
Get a list of all the different industries and markets that your company services, and create a page focused on each industry. Include a description of the industry, how you service the industry, and a list of each product applicable to the industry.
Be sure to include relevant photos, and consider creating industry-focused video content to embed on the pages, as well. You can also include examples of customers your company has served within the specific industries.
Does your business have multiple locations? One single page listing them all might foot the bill, but if you have a large number of locations, consider creating a page focused on each. Include address (obviously), contact information, photos of the facility, details on what the facility produces, and embed a Google map.
SUPERIOR EQUIPMENT & MACHINERY
Does your company use any remarkable equipment, machinery or systems that make you stand out from your competitors? If you utilize a piece of equipment or system that is higher quality than the competition uses, highlight this fact in a dedicated page. Include a description of the equipment, what products it creates, photos, and reasons why it’s superior to competitors. Also consider creating a video showing the equipment in action to embed on the page.
Some companies are not comfortable with creating a page that highlights their notable customers and partners, but always explore the possibility.
If you do create a customer page, include descriptions of the customers, their business logos, services and products that were provided to them, testimonials and photos.
Keep in mind that each partner can be broken into their own dedicated page, and that testimonials can also be given a dedicated page, as well (if there are enough of them to showcase).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Ask your sales department for a list of frequently asked questions that are posed to them by potential customers. The answers don’t have to be too lengthy (in fact, it’s better for usability if they are brief). A good FAQ page is invaluable for qualifying leads and increasing conversion rate, so make sure to talk with salespeople to ensure that all possible questions are included on the page.
Does your company have any certifications that are required in order to be industry compliant or optional certifications that set you apart from the competition? Create a page that showcases the certifications, and be sure to add information about why your company qualified, certificate photos, and links to the certifying organization websites.
BREAKING UP LENGTHY EXISTING PAGES INTO MULTIPLE URLS
One of the best sources of new foundation pages is content that already exists on your website. Existing foundation pages that are too lengthy should be broken up into multiple URLs.
For example, if you have a single existing “Industries Served” page that lists substantial details about each industry, break each of them into separate pages. (Keep the original top-level Industries Served page, add a brief overview, and link from there to the new industry pages you’ve created.)
INTERNAL LINKING FOR FOUNDATION PAGES
It’s important to practice good internal linking habits for your website’s foundation pages. If you are considering linking to any foundation page on your site from another page, always ask yourself the following questions:
- Would an internal link to this page be relevant to the content I am linking from?
- Would an internal link to this page be helpful to the visitor and provide them with more useful, related information?
- Will an internal link to this page distract the visitor from more important content or conversion elements?
- If the visitor clicks this internal link and leaves the current page, will they be more or less likely to complete a call-to-action?
It’s worthwhile to audit your website and identify all opportunities to include a relevant link to another internal page. A page detailing a specific industry served, for example, could include links to pages about other industries served. A page about your production processes could include links to pages about different types of machinery used by your company.
A good internal linking structure can help with SEO, but your first concern should be usability and visitor experience. If an internal link does not make sense from a usability perspective, don’t include it. Stuffing a bunch of internal links onto a page if they don’t help user experience is never good.
Internal pages linked from site wide header navigation should be organized into upper-level categories and subcategories with limited dropdowns, if possible. For example, a main navigation item titled “About Us” could include dropdown subcategories for “Company History,” “Business Locations,” and “Our Team.”
Never overpopulate the main navigation with too many items. If your site has too many foundation pages to link from your navigation, then link to internal pages from within the content of appropriate top-level pages.
Repeating main navigation links and sub-navigation links in a site wide footer is fine, but make sure that the repeated footer links are given a “nofollow” attribute. Likewise, any other internally linked content that serves no usability purpose (such as privacy policies) should be given a “nofollow” attribute.
Many manufacturing sites use a single, generic form for all calls to action such as “Contact Us,” “Request a Quote” and “Get Free Samples.” Consider instead creating unique conversion elements that are specialized to the specific foundation page they appear on.
For instance, on a foundation page about foil stamped printing products, you could include a form that specifically reads “Get More Information About Our Foil Stamped Printing Products.” Including forms directly on the individual foundation pages, instead of requiring the user to click through to a form on a separate page, can also lead to increased conversion rates.
USING FOUNDATION PAGES AS SOURCE MATERIAL FOR SOCIAL CONTENT
Although foundation pages are meant to be static “brochure content” that are not likely to be shared, they can used as source material for new blog posts and other social and information-based content.
For example, if you have a well-stocked Materials section with lots of foundation pages detailing the metals (such as aluminum, steel and copper) used in your products, then each of those materials could be used as a topic for blog posts.
You could write about how aluminum is mined and prepared; the different ways that steel is used in manufacturing; and when people first started using copper in tools. Just ensure that the blog post topics are related in some small way to your products and industry, and link back to the relevant foundation page in the text of your post.
LINKING FROM BLOG POSTS
When writing blog posts, be sure to include internal links back to the foundation pages that are relevant to the content. For instance, a blog post about how potholes form could be linked back to a foundation page about a company’s method for producing asphalt.
As always, don’t just consider SEO when including internal links in blog posts. Make sure that links are relevant and helpful to the reader, and do not always employ exact-match anchor text. As a general rule of thumb, don’t include more than a few internal links to foundation pages on a blog post. — Phil Van Treuren
Interested in learning more? Read The MFG Standard, a manufacturing marketing publication.