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SEO for Graphic Design Studios Managers (2020)

Do it yourself SEO for Graphic Design Studios Managers in 7 steps ... plus 6 steps to avoid. Learn how successful Graphic Designers use SEO to get more Clients! In this tutorial you'll discover how to apply search engine optimization to your website and use Local SEO the way smart Graphic Design Studios Managers do.
Graphic Design related image

In this guide I'm going to walk you through how to create a successful website and online presence for your Graphic Design Studio.

At the end I'll be busting a few myths about blogging, link building and content marketing that are often recommended by inexperienced search engine optimization agencies and contractors. Spoiler ... you don't need any of them.

So sit back, buckle up and here goes.

One: Create an awesome website for your Graphic Design Studio

Now you might be thinking "I've got a website, what's step 2?". This is a big mistake made by many Graphic Designers.

When I say "awesome" I'm not talking about search engines just yet. I'm talking about something which looks great and loads fast in any device from the smallest smartphone to the widest desktop screen - and they can come pretty wide these days!

So ask yourself honestly:

  • "Does my Graphic Design Studio website look truly modern and professional?"
  • "Is it every bit as slick as my competitors?"
  • "What happens when I try to open it on a Smartphone not connected to WiFi?"
  • "Does it look great on every smartphone, tablet and laptop out there?"
  • "Am I sure its working 24/7/365?"

Why do you need positive answers to all of these:

  • If your website doesn't look the part visitors will back out ... and Google and Bing can see this - its a signal you should not be ranking high in their search results.
  • Google and Bing hate slow loading websites - its a bad experience for their users so if they can find a similar but faster loading website to offer in their search results they will.
  • Google and Bing hate unreliable websites - for exactly the same reasons as they hate slow loading websites.
Divi and Theme X demos on Wordpress
Wordpress themes like Divi (left) and Theme X (right) are solid options because they load fast and look great on all devices.

Now if you're starting to think "Yes, OK, mine isn't the best website" then you need to take action here before you do anything else. There is no point trying to Search Engine Optimize a Graphic Design Studio website which is fundamentally flawed.

The great news is you don't need to have any technical skills to make it happen these days because of instant website services like Squarespace or website platforms like WordPress (so long as you marry it up with the right host - something we'll cover here).

Start now by reading my Setting up a Search Engine Optimizable Graphic Design Studio website to get the fundamentals in place now before you SEO.

Two: Optimize your professional looking Graphic Design Studio website

OK, your website looks great for potential Clients but are Google and Bing going to understand it?

Confused Google Bot

And if they understand it will they believe it?

You're trying to persuade search engines that you have a Graphic Design Studio website but to achieve that you need to understand how Google and Bing think. They use a process known as Entity Salience Analysis when deciding what a website is about. Don't worry, its not that technical.

With Entity Salience Analysis search engines look at multiple signals coming from each of your pages and from your website as a whole. The more of these signals that there are and the closer they match the more confident Google and Bing become that you are who you say you are - a Graphic Design Studio.

To learn how to make sure you have all the signals in place and you are using them correctly read my How to SEO your Graphic Design Studio website tutorial ... no tech skills required!

Three: Get your Graphic Design Studio onto Google My Business and Bing Places ... properly!

A huge amount of Google searches for a Graphic Design Studio like yours will lead to Google showing a map at the top of the search results ... and underneath it 3 Graphic Design Studios. Bing does the same. So how do you become one of those magic 3?

It isn't rocket science:

  • Positive reviews play a role. Google wants to show its users places other users said they loved. We'll come to reviews and how to get them a little later.
  • Quality listings - full descriptions, great photos, opening hours, a website link, contact details and a whole bunch more. Google just wants to give its users quality.

I've lost count of the businesses owners I've met who approach Google My Business and Bing Places in a half hearted "OK, I'll just get my business on there because I have to".

Hey! This is your chance to be on the first page of Google! ... tomorrow!

Heck, a lot of people go straight to Google Maps to find a Graphic Design Studio which could mean your listing is more important than your website ... so make it sparkle!

OK, not more important than your website ... just as important. Chances are once they find you on Google Maps they'll click through to your website to find out more and if your website doesn't look the part you'll lose potential Clients like a leaky bucket losing water.

What should be on your Google My Business Profile

Once you have registered your business with Google go to Google My Business ( https://business.google.com/locations ), select your business and then select 'Info' from the left hand menu. This is the area you want to make sure is as complete as possible.

Most of these are real basics but be absolutely sure they are right or there will be times that Google doesn't show you in its search results when it could:

  • The location or area you serve - get this exactly right, Google won't believe you are a Graphic Design Studio that covers the entire country so decide where, even down to a neighbourhood level if you like, you want to target customers.
  • Your full address.
  • Your opening hours - make these accurate, if you are open when you say you are closed Google might not show you in map search results but if you are closed and claim you are open you'll annoy potential clients!<.li>
  • Your telephone number
  • Your website - make sure to include the starting 'https://' part which makes it clear you operate a secure website.
  • Products - These can be products or services, add your key ones here (not all of them or people will get lost in the detail) alongside good quality photos.
  • Highlights - These are characteristics of your business (e.g. "Women Led"). You might not see this option but if you do you can confirm or remove some of the ones Google created by guess work but not the ones it created based on user feedback.
  • A description of your business - you have 750 words here, take them directly from the 700 word summary of your business that you created for your home page earlier. Google likes consistancy from brands!
  • Photos - if you sorted out your website as we discussed earlier you'll have a great bunch of photos to add here ... put them all on to your listing.

Four: Get online reviews for your Graphic Design Studio

There are endless places where people leave reviews but I'd focus first on the one that really matters, Google Reviews, because that's the one Google's going to be looking at when considering both your website rankings in general and your rankings on their maps.

They also won't hound you with sales calls as Yelp! tends to do because they have no 'Premium' option for you to trade up to.

Getting reviews is essential to Local SEO

But how to get those 5 star feedbacks? You try every time you make any type of contact with your Clients such as:

  • when you start working together
  • when you deliver the final project
  • on your receipt or invoice
  • in a follow up email or letter
  • in a promotional email or letter

And don't be afraid to just be honest. Explain you are trying to build up your Google Reviews and why you are doing it. Clients that are happy with your Graphic Design Services will be ready to help.

Five: Get your Graphic Design Studio website one click away from Google's top ten.

Eh? For some internet searches you're just never going to rank on page 1 of Google ... you might not even rank in the first 10 pages. But what if you could have links to your website on the website pages which are in Google's top ten?

Its usually not as difficult as you might think. So often Google's top 10 are:

  • Directories such as Yellow Pages
  • Blogger or Press Media - you know the sort of thing: "8 Best Graphic Design Studios in Riverdale (2020)" type posts or articles.
Yellow Pages screenshot
Directories like Yellow Pages often dominate Google's Top 10.

The first type (directories) are easy but once again fill out your entry with the same care and attention as you used with Google My Business and Bing Places. You're not going to get potential Clients clicking on poorly presented listings.

The second type (bloggers and press media) are straightforward as well, just reach out and ask! If you have a rock solid block of positive reviews (remember Step Five?) its going to be hard for a blogger or journalist to refuse. They are trying to build authority themselves and if its obvious your business belongs in their "8 Best Graphic Design Studios in Riverdale (2020)" piece they'll want it there for their own reputation's sake.

And if you want to sound a little swish as we get towards the end ... this activity is known as "Barnacle SEO"!

Six: Navigate the Social Media Maze for Graphic Designers

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram ... where should you be and how on earth can you manage them all?

Social Media Graphic

The answer is: Pick one or two and make them count. Half a dozen slap dash profiles with almost empty content will do you more damage than good.

As a Graphic Design Studio I would definitely go with Facebook and Twitter, just like with your Google My Business and Bing Places entries, put aside some quality time to fully set up each account - Photos, descriptions, company details, location, opening hours, contact details, back story, etc.

With Facebook especially there is a huge amount you can add so don't skip any of it, especially as people sometimes search Facebook instead of Google!

Then make sure you post something once a week just to give potential clients confidence because they see you are an active, modern business.

You don't need to even think of your own post. Just follow your favorite Journal or a leading figure in your field and share something they post. Its the added bonus of showing your current and future clients that you keep up to speed with developments in your industry.

The only other two I would consider are Pinterest and Instagram but only if your graphic design services are unusual and photogenic. If there is nothing truly remarkable about them (visually) then your images will never get shared on Pinterest and you'll never build a following on Instagram.

In other words you'll waste time you could be using for other SEO activities.

Seven: Register and monitor your Graphic Design Studio website

I mean this in many ways:

  • A Pingdom monitor - so you can be sure your website is up and running 24/7/365.
  • Google Analytics - so you can see who is coming to your website, from where and what content is working.
  • Google Search Console - so you can see where you really rank (what you see in Google itself is not always where your website really ranks, search engines personalize their results so if you spend a lot of time on your website they might rank your site higher when you search certain words).
  • Bing Webmaster Tools - Bing's version of Google Search Console. Don't ignore it. Generally Bing users are high quality and convert from visitor to client better than Google!

Now that you are all set up we just need to make sure both Google and Bing know about your website (in SEO jargon we need to know if it is "indexed").

In Google search "site:yourdomainname.com" and see if your pages are listed.

If not then in Google Search Console:

  • Look for the box at the top of the screen with the text that starts "Inspect any URL in ..."
  • Copy and paste the home page of your Graphic Design Studio website here (your home page URL will be something like "https://mydomainname.com/".
  • Hit enter and let Google gurgle away.
  • If the next screen says your page is not on Google click 'REQUEST INDEXING'
  • This will normally be enough for Google to find all your pages via your website menu but you can add each page individually if you like.
  • Be patient, it could take a few days before you are added.
Google Search Console URL Check
Use Google Search Console to check if Google knows about your website

In Bing do the same search "site:yourdomainname.com" and see if your pages are listed.

If not then in Bing Webmaster Tools:

  • Select "Submit URLs" from the left hand menu.
  • Copy and paste your home page URL or all your URLs into the box and click "SUBMIT"
  • Bing won't tell you if it knows about your page but it will send its crawler along to have a look anyway.

Perhaps once you have finished all seven steps here you'll be more than happy with your client numbers or perhaps you will be saying "OK, this is better but I still could handle more". If its the latter then these tools, which are all free (except Pingdom), will provide the basis to identify how you can go forward productively. But that's a story of more advanced SEO.

So what to avoid?

Step One: Don't blog

I mean do blog if you enjoy it but don't blog just because everyone who you ask about SEO says you need to blog. It just isn't true.

How can every Graphic Designer run a blog and have something interesting to say? And even if each one did how would that benefit their business? How is having an article about something Graphic Design related becomes incredibly popular in Europe going to help your Graphic Design Studio in Riverdale.

Blogs do have a role in SEO and that's why those who have lived in a text book and haven't done real life Search Engine Optimization for a local business successfully think its important. But I'm telling you for Graphic Designers it isn't and if its not something you enjoy doing you are highly unlikely to get any SEO benefit from it that also benefits your business.

Step Two: Don't do content marketing

This is the thing where people tell you that you must create lots of 'great content' and then go running around contacting bloggers and others asking them to link to it.

No ... just stop! Its the same blogging mistake pushed by people who have eaten one too many SEO theory books. Are you really going to produce some Graphic Design related content that will rock the world? Maybe ... but probably not (no disrespect!).

And besides you are a Graphic Designer, not a writer. Yes, some people are great at both but don't worry if you aren't. Steps 1-7 of the what to do tutorial above are more than enough for most Graphic Designers as long as they are done right.

Don't waste your time struggling with content, spend it on Steps 1-7.

Step Three: Don't get depressed and buy a short cut

Yes, what I've covered on this page is a lot of work when you sit down and think about it. Wouldn't it be easier just to pay a few hundred bucks for one of those "guaranteed ranking" schemes?

Well, they might rank you for a short while (long enough to get their bill paid) but by using Black Hat SEO (techniques that breach the terms and conditions of search engines) on your website you will have lined it up to get banned from Google and Bing not too far down the road.

Step Four: Don't believe you need to submit a sitemap to Google and Bing

Sitemaps are special files that you can upload to Google and Bing which list all the pages on your website and inexperienced Search Engine Optimizers will jump around and tell you its a must do activity.

But if you have a standard Graphic Design Studio website its only going to have a few pages on it - the home page, a page or some pages about your various Graphic Design Studio, perhaps a page with testimonials on it and a page with contact details.

Tell Google about one of those pages (which you will have done when you registered with Google Search Console in Step Seven) and it will find the rest immediately.

Sitemaps are for highly complex websites where the crawler robots from Google or Bing might get bogged down 'over there' when you need them to see the new content 'over here'.

Once again banging on about Sitemaps is the rhetoric of those who understand SEO theory but don't do it in real life for Graphic Design Studios.

Step Five: Don't produce content which has no purpose

In some ways this goes back to blogging. I've seen blogs where the Graphic Designer is so stuck on what to say they create posts about new receptionists and stuff. They literally become a slave to their blog which sucks time they could be using for something productive.

Content without purpose doesn't have to be just about blogging. It can be general information like articles as well so before you go anywhere near creating content ask yourself "How will this benefit my Graphic Design Studio?"

Step Six: Don't waste time and money on keyword tools

If you pick up any "How to SEO" guide they usually start with "Choosing keywords". My generic How to SEO your Website Guide does! But its not aimed at local businesses like yours (and it says so!). Now OK, if you are a blogger and you want to start ranking for certain words you are going to have to do some research.

But you aren't! You are a Graphic Designer, you run a Graphic Design Studio at a certain location and you offer Graphic Design Services like poster design, leaflet design, product packaging design, etc.

Your Studio might employ Adobe Illustrator specialists, Corel Draw experts, etc.

So these are your keywords:

  • what your business is (a Graphic Design Studio)
  • What you are (a Graphic Designer)
  • What you do ( poster design, leaflet design, product packaging design )
  • Who you employ ( Adobe Illustrator specialists, Corel Draw experts )
  • Your location

Make sure Google and Bing understand those things and you are going to rank for potential Clients in your area. You don't need to research if people actually search these and how many times a month they search them. In any population people want Graphic Design Services. You just need to make sure you are ranking in your geographical area.

Location is the critical one. Just go to Google now and start typing in 'Graphic Design Studio' and you'll notice one of the top auto suggestions Google shows as you type is 'Graphic Design Studio near me'. Yes, Google does know where you are so it can do that sort of thing!

But getting your location right was covered in Step 2 of the things you should do so you're good to go!

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Check out my Really, Totally Ultimate SEO Checklist .... it's huuuuuuuuuuuuuge!!