Friday, December 19, 2014

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Critical for a Manufacturer’s Website


search engine optimiation (seo) for manufacturers
Quick exercise: open up Google in another tab or window. Pick a topic that interests you and conduct a Google search. When Google displays the results for you and provides you with suggested websites, click on one of the links and learn more about your topic. Finished? I bet my bottom dollar that you opened up one of the links from the first page of your results.

Now let’s look at things from a customer’s perspective. When your target audience types in your products, parts or services into Google, you want your company’s website to be found on the first or second page of the results section, correct?

This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in. SEO is the process of improving your website’s visibility on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. SEO is very technical and a tricky thing to understand initially. So we’ll try to provide you with a little “SEO 101” to get your feet wet with the topic.

Search engines such as Google have a proprietary algorithm to determine which websites appear on the first page of their results section. There are things you can do with your website, both directly on your website and “behind the scenes,” to help it get found before your competitor’s.

Due to variation in search engine methodologies, there is no surefire way to immediately go from the bottom of the list to the top in search engine results. Correct SEO practices take months, if not years, to show significant improvement in search engines, but the ROI for this work will end with more of your target audience being able to reach your website. While there are many factors that determine your ranking, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Content: An easy first step to improving your website’s SEO is to go over your content. The subject or focus of your business should be reflected in your websites pages. For example, if you’re a food manufacturer from Detroit, the words “Detroit food manufacturer” should appear in the content of your pages, as well as more specific details of your individual products. This way, when customers use Google to look for local food manufacturers, your website will be pulled up along with any others.

  • Indexed pages: In a nutshell, an indexed page is any page on your website that can be discovered by search engines. The quality of your pages is more important than the quantity of your pages. However, it’s generally easier to be discovered by search engines with more indexed pages.

  • Page titles / Meta data: Simply put, there are things you can do “behind the scenes” with your website that can improve its visibility. A page title is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of quality keywords that will better tell search engines what the content inside contains. You may or may not be able to change your page titles depending on your website platform, or you may have to talk to your website programmer or a marketer for more information on this.

  • Content vs. Images / Videos: Visuals such as pictures and videos are very important to a manufacturer’s website. However, your website shouldn’t exclusively be limited to visuals. Although this may be more visually appealing, it may not be as functional from an SEO perspective. Make sure that your visuals are accompanied by descriptions and key words.

A website is a solid investment for any manufacturer looking to grow their client base and provide information to potential and current clients about the products and services they offer. However, there’s no point in having a strong website if it can’t be found.

For more information about MMTC’s website and SEO services, click here or contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at inquiry@mmtc.org.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Materials and Lightweighting — A Threat Or Major Opportunity?

We are hearing about prospects for major changes in material specifications coming down from automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. The shift is primarily due to regulations requiring big gains in vehicle fuel economy. These changes may also impact non-automotive industries as demand for new, stronger and lighter materials increases.  

In 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that require average fuel efficiency for new cars and trucks to reach 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. That’s nearly double 2010’s required 27.5 miles per gallon! For complete information on regulations and testing for the EPA’s CAFE standards, check out http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regs-light-duty.htm#new1.


The MMTC recently conducted a survey to discover what challenges may lie ahead for Michigan manufacturers due to potential transitions in material requirements. We reached out to casters, forgers, stampers, molders, fabricators, tool makers and finishers from all over the Mitten (and the Upper Peninsula!). We heard back from 260 manufacturers. Approximately half of the responding companies rely on the automotive industry for a significant portion (70% or more) of their revenue. Three in five agreed that their customers and markets will transition to products that are lighter weight in the next three years.

Manufacturers have plenty of hurdles to overcome when faced with processing new materials. The learning curve associated with it can be expensive and lengthy. The most common concerns include:
·         Capital investment in new equipment to handle different materials
·         Costs associated with testing and validating new materials
·         Developing new supply chains that include new raw material suppliers
·         Lost productivity due to unfamiliar materials
·         Training production staff on properties of new materials
·         Assumed price increases for raw materials

However, more companies see the opportunity to diversify into new materials as a potential opportunity (31%) than as a threat (18%). Proving your company can quickly adapt to change, while managing costs, can set it apart from competitors. It can also help win new business and drive growth as the automotive industry focuses on vehicle lightweighting.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org

Friday, December 5, 2014

Size Doesn’t Matter: 5 Ways Small Manufacturers Can Compete with the Big Guys


If you’re the smaller guy in the locker room of U.S. manufacturing, you have nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, you should embrace your size because bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better in the world of manufacturing.

Sometimes, larger companies intimidate their smaller counterparts. Because bigger companies have more resources, it can become discouraging trying to compete with them. They’re typically better known, boast a stronger customer base and have more money to invest in things like advertising and new product development. You’ve probably thought to yourself, “I can be just like them if I had their budget…”

Don't despair! Today’s global economy is constantly evolving, and consumer attitudes are changing. Here are 5 ways that smaller Michigan manufacturers can stay toe to toe with the big guys in town:

1) Proactively Highlight your Size: Studies are showing that consumers and businesses are favoring smaller, local companies. We’re a nation that likes to root for the underdog. A recent survey by Public Affairs Pulse found that “two-thirds of respondents said they prefer to shop at small businesses, even if it means paying more.” The same study found that small businesses have a 90% favorable rating while larger companies had a 61% rating. Even U.S. Internet users prefer smaller companies: they cited supporting the local economy and personal service as the top two considerations when shopping online.

Key takeaway – don’t run away from your size – own it!

2) Speaking of the Internet...: You don’t need to have a huge budget in order to have an effective website.  With the right website strategy supported by SEO and social media, you can get found by your target audience when they’re researching for products and solutions.

Key takeaway – improve your website and online marketing tactics in 2015.

3) Stay Current with Technology: Many smaller manufacturers disregard technological advancements because they believe it will be too costly or difficult for them to adopt. The reality is, there have been many recent breakthroughs in technology, enabling equipment and processes to become more affordable. For example, additive manufacturing is anticipated to become more common and cost-effective for smaller businesses. Remember, the VCR and the microwave are just two examples of products that were initially released as costly luxury items.

Key takeaway – do your research and be on the lookout for advancements you can adapt for your business.

4) Highlight Quality as Opposed to Price: Candidly, we can’t always compete with bigger manufacturers or foreign competitors on price. They have the economies of scale that we just don’t. Nonetheless, quality is making a comeback. You have the ability to trump bigger companies on things like customer service and the reliability of your products. Obtaining quality management systems or training employees through proven methodologies such as six sigma can help you provide better quality to your customers.

Key takeaway – the price of your products and services doesn't have to be a deal-breaker. Emphasize the value your company brings to your target audience.

5) Target International Markets: Even the biggest companies aren’t everywhere. Did you know that 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside the U.S.? Exporting is becoming a viable option for small manufacturers to increase sales and diversify their portfolio.

Key takeaway – don’t limit your products and services to a 50 mile radius. You have the potential to increase sales overseas.

small business growth in Michigan
Let’s be clear: growth is something that every small manufacturer should strive for. Increasing profitability and creating new jobs for our economy are good things. However, it’s simply not in the cards for all of us to become large multi-million dollar corporations… and there’s nothing wrong with that. Embrace your size and remember – you can compete with the bigger guys!

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.