For me, I ultimately decided to go back to doing it myself and while it took a while, it definitely paid off for me. I’ve helped out several companies with their online needs, as well, to prove more to myself I knew what I was talking about, and that my actions were able to be duplicated.
I am hoping to use this blog post as a way to share some of my knowledge for a couple of reasons. One, if you are going it alone you need all the good advice you can get, and two, even if you’re hiring an outside firm to deal with it, you can be much more part of the process and ensure you are getting what you are paying for! You can do this by just learning some basic guidelines.
For My Sign Company Where Should I Start?
OK so, let’s get this first part out of the way ? What software do you use to make a website? I have used many platforms from coding HTML to using robust Content Management Systems like WordPress. In the end, this article is about giving good advice, so I’m telling you WordPress is the way to go for both future growth and functionality.
You could use a different CMS and all this advice would still be applicable. Experience has taught me though WordPress has become a platform that is hard to beat.
Now, WordPress does have some learning curve to it, but it is not unlike learning Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. There are buttons, menus and other gadgets to complete tasks. This post will not be a WordPress Tutorial, as there are already tons of those on Youtube and elsewhere. With topics ranging from Novice to Expert levels.
From here on I will make a list to follow. You can use it as a guideline and also use each step as topics that can be explored further.
STEP 1: Is Google That Important?
Yes, Google is that important and you need to understand a few basic points. One is that everything you do online regarding your company will send signals to Google. Google uses those signals to determine if you are a good match for someone searching a topic, product or information. I’ll get more in details as the steps progress.
The other thing to know about Google is, they really are interested in delivering great content to its users. In the past and even still today, companies try to trick Google and this leads to spammy results and websites. Searchers get frustrated and Google becomes less used. As a result, Google has gone out of its way to make algorithms that watch for trickery and enforce penalties. Ensuring its searchers get a better experience.
All this ultimately means is you don’t have to worried about what tricks there are to using Google, or what secrets are out there. The reality is if you make content searchers are looking for, share that content, Google will reward you with visitors.
STEP 2: Specify Where Your Audience Is.
Start Local! If your Sign Company is in Charlotte NC or any other city around the country, you’ll need to get use to the idea that the words Charlotte NC has to be in the website copy, titles, headline etc. This goes back to the signals sent to Google. It is letting Google know where your audience is. If you have locations in other cities, some slight modifications will be made, but overall not much changes. Still best to start in one of your prime markets, say, where your HQ is.
When you are creating your product pages, service pages, and other relevant pages try to write what you do in the city, some projects you have worked on and sometimes just areas of interest, users might find helpful.
Example, when I finish a project like the one I did for a Charlotte company I ask them if it is OK to do a write up about the project. Hopefully, they say yes. I will take the time to show some photos of the work, talk a little about the company and ultimately about products and services used for them. Here you can read about Lobby Signs I made for them.
This important step will ensure good practices that Google wants, so you can be found specifically where you hope to be found.
STEP 3: Choosing Keywords!
So you really want to sit with your team and decide what keywords best describe your company, the products you want to sell and how you want to be found. Step 2 briefly mentions to use your target city on your webpages and that is one example of a good keyword.
Once you have a large list made, you want to scrutinize the list. You want to determine if the keywords and combination of words are actual terms people use searching online. *IMPORTANT – If you don’t already have an account with Google, get one. It gives you access to the vault. Try exploring Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. This will require opening an account, but it is free as with most of Google’s services. You will find out important info like, how often words are searched for or recommended word combinations you can use on your website.
STEP 4: Figuring Out What Makes “Good” Content.
This step is arguably the hardest step, but also can be the most rewarding. Some companies hire outside freelance writers to craft the actual verbiage. Though in my opinion this only works if the outside source takes a genuine interest in your company, so they can properly write. Otherwise, it tends to come out generic sounding, like a script.
One of the rewarding aspects to this step is, along the journey of crafting content, you learn more about your business than you ever did before. Then, the more you learn, the more you become authoritative on your subject matter. This spills over into social media like twitter, blogging and facebook. Great content is great content and should be shared all around.
With all that said, when you are staring at the blank screen it can be daunting. Some of the best advice I received years ago is, to be real. To be authentic. Whoever you are and however you speak to people in public, transfer that to the web. Also, this is where the Keyword Planning helps out. It makes perfect sense to craft articles or product pages around these keywords. For a Sign Company this might be a product like, “Window Decals“. (Read More)
It also makes sense to search Google at this time for those keywords and see who else comes up. Most likely your competitors and you can see what they wrote on pages to get an idea of what looks good and what looks spammy or tacky. If your city doesn’t have a lot of Sign Companies search a larger city and read those as well. You will begin to see trends in how people write. *QUICK NOTE – If you are in a smaller city with less Sign Companies you will be amazed at how fast your web presence rises to the top. You should start receiving some contact requests, by making some of these changes.
STEP 5: Can You Get Others Online To Agree Your Content Is Good?
Here is a topic that has more recently (last couple years) become ever more important. Imagine you’re out with friends and you ask if anyone has any recommendations on a new mattress. One friend says, “I heard about this bed online, it sounds cool” and another friend says, “I recently bought Brand A bed and have noticed a tremendous difference in how well I sleep”.
You may take both friends advice, but clearly one recommendation has more value than the other. On the web it is similar. If you read a bunch of reviews on Amazon that are 5 star, you are more inclined to trust it. Compared to reading a review on some website you have never even heard of.
So, what does this mean? It means on the web, you want legitimate websites to point to your website on occasion. This sends a very important signal to Google. It tells Google some important websites think you have great content. Let’s use an example you might find on Sign Company Websites. 3M is a huge supplier of Signage products. So, imagine on 3M’s website they showcase an amazing project you did using 3M products. Even further, imagine 3M put a single simple link back to your website. That small link is huge in the world of Search Engines. Love it or hate, this is a key metric that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Google factors this step as a huge indicator about if your content is worth serving up.
Yes there is a ton to learn on this topic, but more importantly, right this moment, is you becoming aware of its importance!
STEP 6: Final Tips and Tying It Altogether!
I have written many articles about website design and at the end of the writing I begin to feel bad because there is so much I didn’t go over. The truth is, there are schools dedicated to this topic, so the idea I will get it all in an article is unreal.
With that said, I have pointed out what arguably are the most important aspects to website creation. Now, whether you go it entirely alone, do only part of it alone, or outright hire a firm, you can be part of the conversation and have more control over what happens.
Let’s Review: Google is really important, but more importantly is how Google makes the knowledge accessible for Company Owners to understand what is needed “to play” on the web. We’ve gone over that it is very important to focus where your market is located, what product and company keywords to use and how those work together to craft Google Ready Content.
If you have only 5 well crafted webpages (Home page, About Us, Contact, Product, Blog) I will put them up against a website with dozens of pages that are poorly put together. Bottom line is, if you respect your readers time and deliver good information both Google and new clients will reward you.