Search Engine Marketing for Manufacturing Companies
Client: John Deere Machinefinder
Program Type: Hybrid B2B/B2C Search Engine Optimization & Pay Per Click
John Deere Press Release: John Deere integrates used equipment inventories into eBay
The integration between Deere’s used equipment Web site, http://www.machinefinder.com, and eBay was done by Deere’s Web site development team, using eBay’s publicly-available API for developers. Search engine optimization strategies and tactics were recommended by KoMarketing Associates, LLC.
When KoMarketing started working with John Deere in 2003 (they continue to be a client), the Website had virtually no search engine optimization, and the Website technology dated back to 1995. The Website is highly dynamic, providing users with a powerful way to search through John Deere’s dealers’ used equipment inventories, by location, zip code, equipment type, and in multiple languages.
We identified basic issues with the Website that were preventing Machinefinder.com from improving its search engine visibility.
- No keyword strategy was in place for determining which keywords had the most value to target for improved rankings.
- One element to maximizing search engine visibility is to ensure that your HTML code is optimized so that search engines understand each page. On this site, basic page tagging, such as HTML page titles, header (H1) text, etc., needed to be done
- There was not enough content that appealed to users and search engines.
- Equipment listings could not be indexed by search engines because they were only available for viewing using the site’s search functionality.
- URL structures are important to gaining search engine visibility, so we made it a high priority to change dynamic URLs with multiple query variables and on-URL session tickets to static URLs. (For example, http://www.komarketingassociates.com is a static URL, while /ows/db-apps/owa/tr.browse\?dest=*&date=??/??/???? is a dynamic URL).
- Foreign-language URLs could not be adequately crawled and indexed by search engines.
- The site needed foreign-language content optimization.
- Individual John Deere dealer pages could not be crawled and indexed.
- The site had the potential to gain many more backlinks (links pointing to a website) than were currently present.
- Pay Per Click activities were being managed in-house with resources that did not have time to extend and optimize the campaigns.
- Pay Per Click campaigns were not set up to track any user actions, limiting the ability to effectively target spending by keyword.
The Steps Taken:
- Keyword Research – The SEO process began with extensive keyword research to identify the most valuable combination of words people used to find the used equipment listed on the site. There are over 40 equipment categories and many sub-categories contained within each of those larger buckets. We worked with the John Deere Agricultural Remarketing team to identify potential keywords based on their deep industry experience, used keyword research tools, and surveyed the competitive landscape. We initially identified 90 primary high-level keywords, and additional secondary keywords.
- Page Tagging – The Website needed a small update in order to accommodate the process of applying page titles, meta description tags, and keyword tags. We worked with the Website development team to create a quick administrative add-on to allow the Deere team to assign these variables to individual pages.
- Content Creation – The Website had almost no pages beyond the basic search interfaces and user registration pages. We created 50 new pages of content to target the basic equipment categories and address some of the additional content needs.
- Unlocking the Equipment Listings – Because the individual equipment listings (over 60,000 individual equipment pieces at the time, changing daily) were “locked” behind the equipment search interface, we had the challenge of making the individual URLs accessible to search engines. One step that we took was to create a Google Site Map and automate the process of refreshing the equipment listings. This first required that we re-write the URLs for the individual equipment listings in order to make them friendlier to search engine robots. Another step that we took was to use the same file to submit equipment listings to Google Base.
- URL Structure – Because of the legacy technology platform of the site (dating back to 1995) we were very limited in our ability to completely re-write the URLs of the Website, without having the entire site re-developed. We made the changes that we could, and the end result was a URL structure that was a bit more friendly, but not 100% where we wanted it to be. Technology limitations of an existing site are always one of the challenges we face, and we work with the Web development team at a client to find the most appropriate solution.
- Foreign Language URLs – In order to give search engines access to the content in the 12 non-English languages that the site supports, we created a URL structure to present the localized content to search engines appropriately. In order to make a stronger connection to the content we added on-site navigation to get to these localized pages.
- Foreign Language Optimization – The process for localization of the page content is managed by each territory separately. We needed to provide the country managers with the education and training to conduct keyword research, tag pages, and localize page content. We started by conducting our own foreign-language keyword research. We then presented the data to the individual country managers, and then provided individual training for how to take over the process and take control of localizing the content with search engines in mind.
- Individual Dealer Pages – We worked with Deere and the Web development team to create a new format for the Web pages that represent each individual Deere dealer on the Machinefinder.com Website. The new page layout and content components were more appealing to search engines, providing more valuable content to crawl and index. URLs were also re-written to gain maximum indexing exposure.
- Link Building– The longevity of the site and the Deere brand name provided a nice initial base of links pointing to the site. However, a concentrated effort to generate additional links had not yet been undertaken. We took a highly-customized approach to the link building campaign, making sure to target high-quality links from Websites that were thematically-related to the Machinefinder.com site, approaching each opportunity with the appropriate outreach.
- Pay Per Click Management – KoMarketing took over the management of the PPC campaigns in Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. We established over 30 new campaigns within each engine, added keyword depth, removed under-performing/overly-generic keywords, and wrote new ad copy versions to test simultaneously. As important, we established actions that needed to be tracked on the Website and added the appropriate Website analytics and tracking tools.
- On-Going Recommendations– As part of an on-going monthly program, KoMarketing continues to provide content evaluation, recommendations for new content & new content types, identify new link opportunities, and manage the overall SEO program for the site. We have worked with the client every month for over three years to continually improve Website optimization, facilitating the steady growth of Website traffic and visibility.
Quality traffic from search engines has consistently improved over the more than four years we have been working with this client.
- The initial optimization quadrupled the search engine traffic to the site.
- The index of pages in search engine databases went from a few hundred pages to 50,000 to 60,000 indexed pages at any given time.
- The PPC campaigns dramatically improved, producing increased results, including measurable performance on an individual keyword level.
- Most importantly, the John Deere dealers who list their equipment on the Website have experienced a pronounced increase in direct inquiries for specific pieces of used equipment!
Our significant success in providing the needed SEO and PPC results, and our ability to do so within the limiting corporate guidelines for the Website, continues to satisfy this client above and beyond all expectations. The client continues to entrust its search engine optimization and pay per click management to KoMarketing today.
Contact KoMarketing Associates
If you have questions or would like to talk with us about our online marketing services, call us at 1-877-322-2736 or use our contact form to get in touch with our leadership team.