Do Manufacturers Need Google for Manufacturing?

Industry Week wants a special Google — that is, a special search engine — for manufacturers and their industrial partners. Pointing to the supply chain problems that have arisen during the pandemic, they suggest that part of the problem is that Google isn’t taking care of industrialists.

“The U.S. has significant advanced manufacturing capabilities, yet they are often hard to locate and access,” they complain. “In essence, we need a ‘Google for manufacturing’ that enables us to search for, for example, complex part designs or CNC machining capacity.”

Some of the supply chain issues during the pandemic were very specific. That yeast shortage that came up when we all started baking bread at home? One of the big issues there was the fact that very specialized packaging for yeast envelopes is made at one factory in India. If there were U.S. manufacturers with the capacity to recreate that packaging fast, and the yeast makers were able to find them easily online, we might have gotten our yeast a little faster. If only we had a special search engine for this type of thing!

The author is an engineering professor and an authority on smart manufacturing. So we may be looking at this the wrong way. But when the author says that “A core technical obstacle is how to describe diverse manufacturing resources and capabilities in a way that aligns with the requirements of today’s search engines and semantics” and uses the example of “5-axis CNC milling center,”  I have to wonder whether he’s overlooking some basic things. 

Google can already find you a 5-axis CNC milling center

Not only can Google find close to five million possible results, they’ve got ads for you if you’re in a hurry.

I can even find local talent. 

I’m using the author’s own examples here, but we’ve had enough industrial clients that I know you can get very specific and — assuming someone with SEO skill has written their websites — industrial websites will pop right up in your search results. 

You have to know the keywords to use, of course. This may be what Industry Week is lamenting when they say that “A core technical obstacle is how to describe diverse manufacturing resources and capabilities in a way that aligns with the requirements of today’s search engines and semantics.”

Identifying the right search terms can be a challenge. As it happens, when I asked Google Trends what terms people mostly use when they search for 5-axis CNC milling centers, they acknowledged that they don’t have enough data on this to know.

Fortunately, this is the kind of question you can easily ask a human being. “Charlie,” you can yell down the hall, “what would you type into the search bar at Google if you were looking for a 5-axis CNC milling center?”

Google’s Manufacturer Center

There already exists a special Google for manufacturers, called the Manufacturer Center. It’s not really what Industry Week was looking for, because it will only list products, not labor capacity or even services. 

However, if you want Dual Disc Wafer & Lug, ANSI Class 125-2500 valves, that’s a product. Search for it at Google, and you will find ads based on th Manufacturing Center data (plus 10,000 other results).

If you are peddling yeast envelope style packaging or Dual Disc Wafer & Lug, ANSI Class 125-2500 valves and you haven’t signed up with the Manufacturing Center, that’s on you.

And this is probably the most important point. While it would be possible for manufacturers to get together and create a search engine focused on diverse manufacturing resources, it would be more efficient to learn how to use Google correctly.

Identify the keywords your customers will tend to use, make sure you have content using those keywords in a useful way for your potential customers, and get your website cleaned up enough to rank. Make use of the extra resources Google offers in the Manufacturer Center. 

Pay for ads if you want to. 

But the most recent data we found says that only 48% of manufacturers have websites: fewer than half. Small companies that will be ready to provide quick turnaround on items top provide flexibility to the supply chain are very likely to be among the 52% that don’t have websites. This is a fair bet simply because businesses without websites are pretty much always smaller than those that have websites.

Thomasnet

One of the commenters at Industry Week mentioned Thomasnet, and you might have noticed it in the search results above, or in your own Google searches if you tried some out.

They were the first thing I thought of, too, after I thought that those manufacturers need to learn a little SEO. Thomasnet is a directory specifically for industrial folks, including manufacturers. They’ve been around longer than Google (in print, of course), and now provide the most comprehensive listing of suppliers and service providers for manufacturing in existence.

Does Industry 4.0 need a new search engine?

Manufacturing probably doesn’t need a new search engine. If they want to hang out with each other, there are 1,200,000 of them hanging out at Thomasnet each month. 

If they want something even bigger and broader, they can learn to communicate well with Google and get their websites online.

Need help? We like working with manufacturers. Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss what we can do for you.

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