Manufacturing Case Study

The Thomas Register of American Manufacturers is an online platform for supplier discovery and product sourcing in the USA and Canada. It was once known as the "big green books" and "Thomas Registry” and was a multi-volume directory of industrial product information covering 650,000 distributors, manufacturers, and service companies within 67,000-plus industrial categories that are now published on ThomasNet.


In February 2011 due to a host of problematic SEO tactics, was devastated by Google’s newly updated Panda algorithm. Panda was designed to lower the rank of "low-quality sites" or "thin sites” and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results. ThomasNet was by no mean a low-quality website but was affected due to outdated procedures and duplicate product descriptions. ThomasNet’s search rankings slip drastically and continued to slip month after month with no end in sight. Through no fault of their own, duplicate content contributed immeasurably to the near demise of one of the web's top industrial resources. Another occurrence was the existence of negative brand sentiment, which went unchecked and had now begun to seep into the results of branded company inquiries across the major search engines.

The underutilization of social media marketing channels signified a change in rationale would be required. Due to unfamiliarity with this new marketing medium, the company employed a social media strategy that broadcasted information instead of having a 2-way meaningful conversation.

ThomasNet had a golden opportunity to acquire and cultivate an audience of millennials who would not only digest information but share it too. The added emphasis by Google’s new algorithm to include social signals as a factor directly attributed to 1st-page rankings made social media no longer a commodity but a requirement.


I started by performing a SWOT analysis to identify KPIs within the organization and the industrial and manufacturing space. Shortly thereafter I developed user personas through the utility of the now-defunct Google Ad Planner, Google Insights for Search, and

Competitive analysis through the usage of uncovered the link profile of the top 5 competitors, lending a hand in planning possible expansions of the company’s backlink. Analysis of rival backlinks also allowed me to expand target lists by initiating the “related sites” search operator (related:

A company initiative to improve backlink quality via email requests took place subsequently after links were processed. This initiative yielded few results, it was apparent that improving content quality could lead to higher-quality backlinks, and another byproduct of great content would be improved lead quality. I established a protocol to create content based on relevance and not just to attract search rankings. Working with the ThomasNet news team I implemented that protocol.

I began by first addressing how to identify the intent behind keywords, whether a user is performing a search to find information, shopping around, or ready to make a purchase. Second, I advised on how to determine what question the target audience had about a specific keyword or subject. Improving delivery came in the form of trend analysis and devising a strategy to map content over the current industry trend.

Improved content quality meant nothing if the right set of eyes could find company publications. ThomasNet's primary audience was between the ages of 45 - 65 most were holdovers from their days in paper publishing. The new tech-savvy audience required to produce social signals was between the ages of 25 - 35.

A plan was implemented to utilize organic social media marketing to Improve Search Rankings. Real-time search analysis, social management, and a monthly social media editorial calendar were installed to take advantage of trends in the industry. This was a valuable tool for establishing thought leadership within the target customer segment.


Social channels were utilized to counteract negative brand sentiment by optimizing social channels for company terms and frequently updating key social channels. Decreased negativity and increased exposure paved the way to building new and strengthening longstanding relationships.
An added advantage to boosting the effectiveness of publications meant media advisories before and information during tradeshows not only well received but amplified foot traffic to the company’s booths and kiosks.

By providing guidance on how to utilize Social Media to extend the lifecycle of their efforts public relations benefited from increased visibility and a structured approach to content marketing. ThomasNet saw increases in KPI in the following categories between the years of August 2011 to October 2013:

  Increased organic Social Media following via Twitter by 1070% 
  Increased organic Social Media following via Facebook by 645% 
  Increased organic Social Media following via LinkedIn by 122% 
  Increased organic Social Media following via Google Plus by 422% 
  Increased daily Click-thru from social media content by 3223% 
  Increased visibility to industry and mainstream publications 
  Increased Navigational searches by 68% over 2012 
  Increased Company Awareness to Key Industry Bloggers and Influencers 
  Increased Awareness and foot traffic to the company’s booth during industry tradeshows and conference 
  2012 Increased exposure to annual branded manufacturing survey over 405,861 brand impressions, 221,043 
  2013 Increased exposure to annual branded manufacturing survey over 725,966 brand impressions,
401,821 accounts and a 304% click-thru increase over previous years 2012 via social channels  
Contributed 1,200+ Brand Mentions and 3,000,000 impressions via Twitter Social Media Channels

  Over 75+ articles enjoyed viral exposure  
  Established thought leadership through hyper-targeted content marketing 
  Created Brand Advocates "in" the Government Industrial and Consumer Goods Sectors 
  Decreased negative sentiment by 26% 

ThomasNet enjoyed increased exposure within the B2B and Industrial space and has now improved the quality of inbound leads. 

Fun correlations during this time:


Written by Tisho Richardson

Tisho Richardson has 13+ years of experience as an SEO, Content Marketing Specialist, and B2B Social Media Manager. He can track and measure large amounts of data to present actionable strategies to reduce marketing expenses and increase KPI.

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