Ever wonder why that firm is showing up at the top of the search results for San Francisco Interior Design Firm or San Francisco Architects? Sometimes it’s by chance but more than likely these firms have invested in Search Engine Optimization. Why? Because studies show that content ranked in the top four positions of search engine results take home xx% of traffic. Hiring an interior designer or architect is a considered purchase. With a considered purchase, buyers do extensive research into the firms they want to consider and assemble a short list of brands they believe can meet their needs. Obviously, your portfolio makes a huge difference in getting you onto this “short list”. Less obviously, before this can happen you need to be findable in search and visible in social media. Here are 7 quick tips that focus on search-engine optimization, the process of making you more visible when people search in your category:
1. Keyword Strategy
Create a comprehensive and relevant keyword strategy. Keywords are the terms that people enter into the search box on Google or Bing to find products and services that solve their problems.
To get to a list of keywords, start by thinking like your prospects do. Do you do residential interior design in San Francisco? What’s your style? Edgy, traditional, transitional? Are you known for making the most of a small space? If so your keyword list might look something like this:
- San Francisco Interior Design
- Pacific Heights Interior Design
- San Francisco Architect
- Modern Victorian Architect SF
2. Domain and URLs
About 50% of your website visitors – perhaps more – will come to you by searching on the name of your firm or by putting your website address directly into Google. To maximize your chances of being found, it pays to have a domain name that is relatively short, easy to spell, and easy to remember.
Your initials are short, easy to spell, but aren’t going to be easy to remember. Also, it is quite possible that there are multiple firms that do business under similar initials. This is a problem.
Consider our client de Reus Architects. The firm is easy to find at dereusarchitects.com. We move his url from dereusarch.com to be more findable with keyword terms like “architect” and “architects”.
Contrast this with a non-client – Katie Anderson. Her firm is not so easy to find at katieworld.com. I don’t know who she is or what she does by looking at her url.
3. Optimize the Snippet that will appear on the Search Results Page
This snippet consists of the title of the page, a click through link, and very short descriptive copy.
The title of the page must be unique. Ideally, the title of the page, the click through link, and the descriptive page will include a single focus keyword (see tip #1 above). Build your pages so they focus on a single keyword.
Here’s what a snippet looks like that has been properly optimized:
Here’s an example of a snippet preview for a page that is not properly optimized or even able to be indexed:
See the difference? Not optimizing the page means in snippet view will result in fewer click throughs to your website.
4. Portfolio Images and Project Descriptions
Your portfolio is drop-dead beautiful. Full of stunning full-bleed photos of the interiors and exteriors of the houses you design. Unfortunately, if you don’t bother to describe your project in word, your portfolio pages won’t be easy to find in Google.
A picture alone is not enough. You need copy to support your beautiful image. A minimum of 250-300 words. And ideally the copy is written to take advantage of the keywords you decided upon above in our first tip.
5. Image Tags and Links
To “know” that a particular page focuses on a particular keyword, Google likes to see that keyword repeated about 5 times on a single page. (This is a rule of thumb.) Unfortunately, if your pages are short and the keyword is long, you can get a page that reads like a chipmunk wrote it. Lots of weird repetition that makes no sense.
“Sally’s Interior Design Firm is an interior design firm that does edgy interior designs for customers who like edgy interior design”
See what we mean? And please don’t use edgy. Think about how the consumer is searching for you, not how you describe your work.
The solution is to stick some of your keywords around images and links in a way that is not so visible. This greatly improves readability of your copy. Look for a CMS (content-management system) for your website that makes it easy to insert to insert keywords in the image tags and in the title tags of links. Two good solutions to consider are WordPress (a popular open-source solution) and Bislr (a new entrant that makes a complete solution for “intelligent” websites.) Run your cursor over these links and you’ll see where we’ve tagged these links with the keyword “your-keyword-goes-here”. So two links give you two mentions of your keywords in a way that is not visible to the naked eye but is visible to Google.
Likewise this visual contains the keyword “your-keyword-goes-here”.
6. Fresh Content
Sadly – Google doesn’t care how beautiful that project from 2004 is – the one that won your firm coverage in Architectural Digest plus that prestigious award. What does Google care about? Freshness. So many people tilt up faux sites with content that never changes. So the only way to prove that your site is legitimate and provides content that is useful to real human beings is by keeping your content fresh.
How to create fresh content to continue and advance your fundability in search? Create a blog and blog regularly, at least 3x per week. Your blog entries don’t have to be long – 250-300 words is fine. Support your blog entries with visuals and follow tip #5 to make sure your visuals are working hard for you from a search-engine marketing perspective.
7. Analyze Results
SEO is a process and not an event. Make sure your install Google Analytics code on your site and look at the results to discover new keywords that people are using to find you. Google tells us that well over 80% of the search terms people enter into the browser are terms that are new it. To get the most from search-engine marketing, you need to look at your Google Analytics data regularly and when you see a new keyword is coming “up”, develop content around it, content that will make you easier to find.
Does this all sound … well … complicated and technical? Well. Here’s the bad news. It is. The good news is that few interior design and architecture firms invest in SEO. Which is an opportunity for you and your firm. Search-engine marketing is relatively low cost and it brings in high quality buyers, buyers who really want to put you on that short list we talked about earlier. But before you can get on the short list, you need to be findable in search.
Work with us or another firm that specializes in search-engine optimization (SEO) and it won’t be long before you find you can dominate the search-engine results page for the keywords that matter to you.