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Manufacturing Websites: 5 Tips for Website Best Practices

Best Manufacturing Website Tips

The manufacturing industry is one of the oldest industries around. Despite constantly being the source of innovation and invention in some realms, this industry has been one of the slowest to adapt to the digital world in terms of building a robust presence in the online marketplace. Slowly but surely manufacturers are beginning to embrace the fact that their customers are online and that they need to have a competative digital presence to find and serve these customers. Having a website is clearly the first step toward entering this space. But in the current arena, simply “being online” isn’t enough. You need to work on and harness the power of an optimized website. This means, you need to take your manufacturing website to the next level in order to generate more traffic, leads, and sales. This article is going to lay out 5 website best practices that you can apply to your website essentially immediately, making your website do better work for you:

1) Open With a Clear Message

According to a study conducted by Google, it takes as little as 17 – 50 milliseconds on average for a prospective customer to form an impression of your business based on what they see on your website. And, according to another study by Missouri S&T, within this short period of time, visitors focus on seven key areas of your website. These include: Logo, Main Navigation, Search Box, Social Networking Links, Main Image, Page Content, and Footer.

You have a small window of opportunity to pull your visitor in. If you don’t open your site with a clear message, chances are they will move on and look for another site that provides the information they need. So how can you stop visitors from bouncing? Here are a few ways you make a strong first impression, encouraging your viewers to explore the site further:

  • Invest in Only the Best: Manufacturing companies need to get on board and recognize the importance of hiring a professional web development company to ensure the final website persuades customers to take action, is easy to read and navigate, and complies with ADA. It may seem that image and presentation is not important in the manufacturing industry, but taking pride in the quality of your presentation speaks to your approach to your products as well.
  • Showcase Your Products: This doesn’t including only a PDF download. Instead, include a full-fledged interactive product catalog that allows your customers to research, search, and browse your products online. Consider creating individual product listings and, if possible, include video demos. This will speed up your sales cycles and will ensure your customers stay interested in browsing through your entire catalog.
  • Be Consistent: Work on the design of your website to make it unique and branded, but keep consistency and cohesion in mind. Ensure that each page delivers a well thought out, clear message for the audience. This message should be in line with your business’ story and values and should be focused. Don’t take a scatter gun approach.

2) Make Sure Navigation is Simple and Intuitive

When it comes to retaining visitors, navigation can either make or break your website’s performance. Strong site navigation will make it easy for visitors to quickly find the information they need, thus eliminating the potentially frustrating “hunt”. In fact strong navigation can also help search engines index important information in your website more effectively and efficiently, which in turn boosts your SEO rankings.

Conversely, poor navigation will impact your website negatively in a number of ways. It confuses and frustrates visitors, who, being unable to find what they are looking for, are likely to look for the exit instead. It is really imperative to ensure your navigation is as simple/intuitive as possible. Here are a few ways to improve navigation:

  • Pagination: Pagination—the dividing of website content into discrete pages—is an important feature when you have a huge list of blogs or products on your site. Pagination makes it easier for users to explore the available material by broad category or classification. You can’t just expect users to keep scrolling down on a single web page. Establishing clear page classifications and organizing content accordingly helps your visitors navigate from section to section and pinpoint the portions of your website that are most relevant to them. Further classification within each page is important too.
  • Clear Categorization: If users have to search long and hard for what they want, it will irritate your target audience, who will abandon their search halfway. Therefore, if your website contains multiple products or sections, it is imperative you categorize them appropriately. This will enable users to locate their desired products easily and will increase your chances of converting leads into sales.
  • Create a Search Box: Providing a search box on a website adds convenience for users. This way, they will more easily locate whatever they want by entering keywords. Many of your visitors my note know exactly where/how one product or another is classed, and therefore my not be able to locate it simply through your pagination breakdown. Having a Search Box eliminates the need to browse extensively throughout the site.
  • Efficient Internal Linking:  In order to enhance user experience, you need to make sure that your web pages are linked well. This way, users will be able to move from one page of the site to another without experiencing any difficulties. Keep in mind that broken or missing links will create a very unprofessional impression, disappoint the users, and damage your credibility.
  • Add ‘Read More’ Links: Another way to make the navigation of your site more simple/intuitive is to provide excerpts with a “Read More” link. This way, you can enhance the readability of your content, making it easier for the content to be displayed on a single page. Therefore, interested readers can simply click the link and read the article in depth.

3) Incorporate Clear, Compelling CTAs

Clear_CTAsThere are two key objectives of online marketing: to drive traffic to your website and then convert that traffic into customers. Traffice isn’t a stopping point in itself, however. You can have a million users visiting your website, but there’s no value in that if you can’t convert them. You need to provide visitors with clear “Next Steps” on each page in order to boost your conversion rates. This is what makes it imperative, to incorporate clear and compelling calls-to-action (CTAs). Here are a few tips for doing so:

  • Be Directive: When incorporating clear and compelling CTAs, you need to make sure that they are relevant to your business. For example, most online businesses utilize call-to-action texts and buttons like “Purchase Now,” “Order Now,” “Add to Cart,” “Buy Now,” and “Click Here.” CTAs specifically relevant to the manufacturing industry may include “Contact Us,” “Request for a Quote,” “Download a White Paper,” “View Product Catalog,” or “Subscribe to Our Blog.” Clear CTAs are directive and let visitors know just what to do to achieve their goals in visiting the site.
  • Looks Do Matter: Gmail once tested 50 shades of blue to determine the best call-to-action color for their website. The end result was a boost in overall signups. Of course, you won’t be able to test 50 different shades of color, but you can test a few different designs and colors to do A/B testing. For example, Performable found that the color red boosted their conversion rates by 21% and SAP found the color orange enhanced their conversion rates by 32.5%.
  • The Location:  Just like with any business, location is an important factor when it comes to incorporating clear and compelling CTAs. While it may not seem like it, the location of the CTA can actually make a huge difference in your conversion rates. Therefore, consider testing your CTAs in different places like below the fold, above the fold, or anywhere you think makes sense. It’s a good idea to do A/B testing with location as well.
  • Be Appropriate and Logical: Keep in mind that you need to guide your viewers and are trying to develop a strong relationship with them. Therefore, if you add CTAs that are too salesy, you will lose your chances of converting viewers into paying customers. So, focus on creating CTAs that are seen as an appropriate and logical “next step” in light of the content on that page, rather than just a way to force viewers to progress through the sales funnel or purchase a product.

4) Apply SEO Best Practices

For website success, the importance of SEO cannot be overstated. To achieve real profitability and attract new customers, a well-optimized website is essential. SEO is the process of aligning a website with the ranking methodology of search engines like Google. Search engines use “spiders” or “web crawlers” to “index” sites and then rank them according to their relevance in relationship to specific search terms and lines of query. Some of the best SEO practices include:

  • Create Unique Content: Google’s latest Panda and Penguin algorithm upgrades have forced businesses to focus more on creating valuable and unique content. Therefore, when it comes to improving the SEO of your manufacturing website, it is imperative that you focus on creating high-quality, relevant and original content that uses appropriate keywords. Keep in mind that ‘plagiarized’ content can greatly damage your SEO rankings.
  • Go Mobile: In the past few years, we have seen a rapid growth of mobile usage across different segments of numerous industries. Smartphones and devices are dominating the mobile market and every single person uses their mobile to explore the world online. As of Tuesday, April 21, 2015, Google altered its ranking criterion to favor sites with mobile friendly pages, landing pages, and blog pages. Therefore, at this point in order to boost your SEO results it’s critical to invest in the best quality solutions to optimize your manufacturing website for mobiles.
  • Utilize SMO: Social media has taken the world by storm and there is no doubt about it Therefore, Social Media Optimization or SMO is vital for increasing the publicity of a website. Almost every business maintains its Facebook pages, Twitter Accounts, RSS Feeds and Blogs on Google. As a result, these sites get a lot of popularity, as the interactive nature of social media pages allows consumers to interact in real-time with companies.
  • Ensure Pages Load Quickly: Search engines (particularly Google) take site speed into consideration when ranking pages. Ensure your pages load quickly. You can do so by using Vimeo or YouTube to host and handle the loading requirement for videos, avoiding animated elements on your pages, and keeping image file size to a minimum.

5) Track Your Results

Last, but not the least, in order to ensure your website’s success, it is imperative that you measure and track your results regularly. This way, you can identify small details that define success over failure, and can also better understand the strategies, tricks or solutions that work or do not work for your manufacturing website. The best way of tracking your results is of course to measure the 5 key metrics. These include: your website traffic, traffic sources, bounce rates, top pages and conversion rates.

Some of the best tools to measure these metrics and your website success include:

  • AWStats: Provides comprehensive logs of traffic accessing particular web pages)
  • StatsCounter: Gives real-time statistics of your web traffic)
  • SiteMeter: Gives you all basic statics manufacturing websites need to conduct a comprehensive analysis of their latest efforts)
  • Google Analytics: Perhaps the most common and most famous tools that provides accurate statistics regarding web traffic, bounce rates, and conversion rates.

Tracking your results brings many benefits to your website and business. For example, it alerts you regarding potential problems ahead of time, improves your overall website performance, and helps you build a better business by understanding your consumers and adjusting your efforts accordingly. Additionally, it can even reduce costs, pinpoint opportunities for improvements, increase overall ROI, and reduce overtime.

So, this year turn your marketing strategy around by working on your website and following these 5 best practives. No industry is independent of the technical age and having an effective website is a first step toward becoming a contender in today’s marketplace.

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