All search engine efforts should start with SEO. First, it’s inexpensive. Second, think about how many times you click on those “paid advertisement” boxes. How many times do you think your customers will? Try climbing those ladders the organic SEO way first by following these best practices.
Content is King
The best and most effective way to climb a search engine is to keep all of the content on your website relevant, up to date and full of keywords that someone might use to search for you. But don’t overdo it. Stuffing your site with “color printing” repeated over and over again will only get you penalized and possibly banned from a search engine list. That’s called “keyword stuffing” and search engine spiders are smarter than that.
Keywords are the most important aspect of SEO. Content must be relevant to a print buyer. Notice I said to a print buyer; not to George. A quick scour of a really cool application on Google called “Trends” (which gives terms people use to search for services) tells us that not one person in the last few months has used “wide-format printing” or “digital printing” to search for printing services.
So the lesson there is to use simple, user friendly printing terms that stay in print buyer speak, not printer jargon. But George can’t stop there. Think about when you’re looking for a local service. You’re going to type in the city and state of that service to save some time, aren’t you? You’re also likely to add a little extra detail to avoid a massive number of search results. So “business cards, whatevertown, Texas” might be a more realistic search. Maybe even “fast turnaround, business cards, whatevertown, Texas.” Now you get the idea. George needs to keep it simple, local, super specific, and stay laser focused on the searching habits of his print buyer.
Tag Your Site
Make sure your website programmers are adding meta tags to your site. Meta tags are lists of keywords that operate behind the scenes of a website to beckon those search engine spiders. Focus first on title and alt image meta tags.
The title tag is the text that appears above your website on the top bar of a browser window. It tells the user what the page is about and is an excellent place to localize and personalize because spiders pay close attention. Let’s go back to those business cards. George should make sure the title tag of his website page devoted to this product not only says business cards, but where he’s located and what types of cards he provides. “George’s Printing, Full-Color Business Cards, Whatevertown, Texas,” would be a good example.
Alt image tags describe any images on a website. Not only are these tags important for the visually impaired and if an image breaks on your site (the alt tag appears when someone mouses over an image or a broken image), but they tend to be a favorite spot for those spiders to spend some time. Again, stop and think here. If there is a picture of equipment, will buyers search for “Canon XYZ 100” when looking for services? Better list the products that equipment can provide in the alt tag such as “posters, brochures, letterhead.”
A Word on the ‘M’
Once their SEO is moving along, a lot of people consider moving on to search engine marketing. SEM has proven very successful for some companies, but think very hard before making this leap. SEM is expensive and there are as many examples of companies spending a lot and seeing very little return as there are success stories. My best recommendation is to proceed with caution.
One final note, if an SEO or SEM expert comes knocking on George’s door and he decides that getting some outside help might be worth the investment, George needs to make sure he does some diligent homework. Just as the keywords need to be industry specific, the expert needs to be as well. Otherwise he or she won’t have the knowledge to really help. George’s first question to this expert should be: “What do you know about people who buy printing?” The second step should be to make sure this caller is truly an expert (there aren’t that many out there).
Keep it up George! All this work will pay off. I promise. By keeping it simple, consistent, and smart, George is sure to see results and a lot more people are a lot more likely to see his business.