How Google Knows Your Site
Search engines like Google use automated code called “spiders” to crawl the web, jumping from page link to page link. Any new pages found are added to an “index” which are huge databases cataloging billions of known web pages. When you perform the search “business cards phoenix az”, the search engines data centers retrieve the most relevant and important links for that question or query. Google looks at the relational data contained on the pages along with other information like sites linking to this content and assigns each a Page Rank. The higher the Page Rank the higher the page will appear in the organic search results (not ads).
If you were a printer in Phoenix, Arizona, whose site contained the words “business card”, “phoenix”, and “Arizona”, then your results would have a better Page Rank and appear higher than the printer in NY who also offered business cards.
An entire industry has been built around Search Engine Optimization or SEO. As with anything involving money, less reputable firms have tried to game the system, generally referred to as black hat SEO, to get on the first page of Google’s search results. Only Google knows exactly how their search works. The company updates their methodology and code frequently. The focus over the past year or two has been focused on reducing black hat SEO as seen with content farms while continuing to include relevance from social media information.
Establishing a workable social presence and creating fresh, unique content can move your site up the search engine ladder. One of the simplest ways of creating unique, localized content is by starting a company blog. Your blog is your own communication platform. You can always cross link from your blog to your web-to-print storefront.
- meet the people
- company history
- what you produce/offer
- press release type information
- community involvement
- industry specific updates
- technology information
- how-to posts
- Complete your Google Place profile
- Complete your LinkedIn Company profile (show uses for your products, show off your team, etc.)
- Create a Twitter account and follow industry information (listen first, talk later)
Paid versus Earned
You can always pay to play too. Most social platforms sell some sort of advertising. Google’s show up at the top and right of the search results pages based on the keywords or search terms the user entered. LinkedIn and Facebook display the ads based off the user’s demographic and profile information.
Most platforms offer credits ($100 for Google AdWords) for new users to experiment. You can also set a dollar limit for the campaign so you won’t run over your budget. Just remember keywords, demographics, time, and other factors will affect the pricing. Buying the keyword “business card” will cost more than”4 color business card with foil stamping in Phoenix Arizona”. The more specific the search criteria, known as the “long tail”, the easier it is to target that potential customer. Intuition and tools like Google’s Keyword Tool will help you figure out a keyword strategy to use as a basis for your content creation and ad buys. Always try to think like your potential customer. How does she find your products? What questions is she trying to answer?
SEO is even more important when trying to grow your web-to-print business beyond your existing customer base or transitioning into more of a business-to-consumer model.
Below are a few technical considerations when building or changing your site.
- Create sitemaps of your websites to make the crawling and indexing easier for the search engines.
- Generally speaking it is best to have your blog and web-to-print as a subdirectory (www.myprinter.com/blog or www.myprinter.com/store) than as a subdomain (blog.myprinter.com or store.myprinter.com).
- Some web-to-print packages are built on a .NET platform using active server pages. ASP pages are dynamically generated and are usually easy to distinguish by looking at the website’s URL. ASP pages look similar to http://www.myprinter.com/forum.aspx?keyword=businesscard instead of ending with the traditional .html. Search engines struggle with indexing ASPs. Follow these recommendations along with Microsoft’s for minimizing the impact.