If you search for the term "sign shops" on Google, your search will yield approximately 202 million results. The number one ranked website isn't even a sign shop; rather, it is a plug-in with a forum. So how did they get to the top? A good design, lots of links, tons of text, cool pictures... try again - they got to the top because of three magic letters, S-E-O.
SEO is also known as search engine optimization, the methods necessary to take your website from page 173,000 to page 1 on Google.
If you are new to the world-wide-web and looking to promote your shop to the masses, or just wondering what the first step is in taking over the web like the plug-in site, which tops Google's organic search, ranking above more than 202 million websites. This post is for you.
Let's take it from the top, this is SEO 101 for Sign Shops - Part 1.

Create a Website

You can't compete, if you aren't in the game. Surprisingly, as the marketing coordinator for wholesale monument sign manufacturer, Peachtree City Foamcraft, I continue to speak to sign shop owners daily who do not have a website -- and are desperate to improve their monument sign sales. A web presence is just as important as having a business card, if not more important. It establishes validity, builds brand awareness and allows clients to see your work. You can sell yourself 24 hours a day/7 days a week on your website.

Quality Content - Tell Us About Your Sign Shop

Imagine you have just hired a team of sales people to go out and sell your product. How should they sell your sign company to businesses? What products do you offer? What is the process? What are the benefits? What kind of payments do you accept? Your website should answer all of these questions in order to effectively meet the quality content requirement. How to organize the content is a topic for another day - the first step is creating content that is quality, that explains who you are, what you do, the benefits, the process and how to get a hold of you. Focus on educating clients and giving them valuable information.

Call to Action

Tell me what you want me to do. In order to rank, you need to have visitors. New visitors, return visitors, links to your website -- they all count. BUT, you won't have any visitors if your site fails to have a purpose. Tell the visitors what they need to do. In example, "fill out this form to schedule a free consultation", "complete this questionnaire for an estimate", or call 555-SIGN for a free estimate. Make sure the method is consistent through out your website.

Upload a Photo Gallery

Text #1. Photos #2. Text is more important than photos as far as SEO is concerned initially, however, in order to reduce your bounce rate (customers leaving your site quickly) - you will need to keep their attention, encourage them to visit you again, to recommend you to a friend. Photo Galleries are a great way to show off your skills and establish a connection with visitors. In example, check out Peachtree's website gallery, through the gallery images you can immediately get a feel for the quality of their products and inspiration for designing these types of signs.
Now that you have a basic website, which explains who you are, what you do and points your potential client in the right direction... it is time to talk about how to optimize your site and improve your rankings.

Links, Please....

All of the major search engines utilize a unique algorithm to calculate which sites should rank above others. With that being said, links are like votes. My job is to make sure Peachtree City Foamcraft is prom king. Do your part to establish quality relationships with individuals within your field and provide links to their website, ask them to link to yours. Remember, the emphasis is quality links. This takes time and a commitment to fostering relationships with your website visitors and social media contacts.

Get Social

I have over hundreds of contacts on LinkedIn, plenty of Friends on Facebook and my followers on Twitter are the best. Many established organizations neglected the power of social media, and as a result, are struggling to play catch up. Think about the #ALSIceChallenge, the ALS Association redefined the concept of leveraging social media to build brand awareness and augment fundraising for a nonprofit organization. If you have no idea what I am talking about, it is time to create a Facebook page and "get in the know" - this will also allow you to share your website with contacts and improve those inbound links.

In Part 2, we will focus on the five components of an SEO plan....

I would love to connect with you. You can learn more about Peachtree City Foamcraft at our website, follow us on twitter, or check out our blog. I am always open to guest posts from sign shops and this is a super way to add inbound links to your website!