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Paula Fargo

Pleasing and Appeasing the Google Gods

Plus, a way to stand out from 84% of your competitors.



PREVIOUSLY, WE TALKED about how to set yourself apart from your signshop competitors. While considering ways to do this that you haven’t read about a bajillion times before, I started flipping through the excellent, engaging and completely gorgeous Signs of the Times Big Survey (Mid-March 2023) issue. If you haven’t read it yet, you are doing yourself a serious disservice. This is one of the best presentations I’ve ever seen in an industry periodical. People, we are in the design business…look through this magazine and see how every single page draws you in and engages you, not just with factual, useful and interesting information, but with the design elements, photography, and whimsical nature that belies the cold, hard facts being transmitted. It’s a pure joy to look at and absorb.

One of the survey responses that jumped out at me was the answer to the question, “How often does your company update its website?” A shocking number, 84%, don’t update their sites every few weeks or more frequently. As the editors of the survey presciently comment, “Sounds like an area ripe for a competitive advantage.”

This is what we’ve been talking about and looking for: competitive advantage. Remember, that “unique” is what allows you to charge more than the other guys, reaping all of the lovely benefits we’ve gone over in previous columns.

Why is it important to update your website frequently? Let me ask another question…with a show of hands, who thinks that new potential signshop customers don’t first look you up on the internet? There’s one hand way in the back… Dude, you can stop reading now, this great advice would be wasted on you.

Yes, your website is where new clients will find you. “But wait,” you say, “I get plenty of referrals and walk-in customers, too!” That may be true; however, they will likely “vet” your shop by looking you up online, and you’d better have a presence that looks like it was created at least when Millennials were still in their nappies.

Good first impressions aside, if you don’t frequently update your website, the Google gods will certainly smite you down by putting all of your competitors ahead of you during “sign shop” searches. You want to be a page-5-in-a-search loser, or do you want to be at the top of page 1 when Josephine Customer types in “sign shops near me”?


I know you’re busy. I know you’ve got a stack of estimates on your desk to work on and Fred called out sick again and your inkjet heads are still clogged. Do yourself a favor…find a marketing intern at a local high school or college, pay them $15 an hour for 5 hours a week to post to social media for you and add some ever-changing client testimonials to your website. That act alone will serve as a small sacrifice to the Google gods, who will reward you with crawling bots calling attention to your site.

The good news: if you do this, you’ll be doing something that 84% of your competitors are not! There’s a differentiator right there. Creating a marketing plan is tough, especially for small shop owners who are already stretched thin. However, doing so will help clarify your thinking in who you are trying to attract as your customers. Once you know that, then coming up with your message and method will allow Inez Intern to really start going after more desirable clients. You’ll not only have more sign business — but you’ll also have customers that you want and are trying to attract, not just randos who slouch into your shop wanting to spend $5 for a 24 x48-in. banner while they wait.

Make the sacrifice; reap the reward.

Paula Fargo is the owner of Curry Printing, a small commercial printing and sign company in Baltimore, and has managed tens of employees and satisfied more customers than that over the past 35 years. Contact Paula at



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