We all know floristry is a cut-throat business, this is even truer online. Competition is fierce and few businesses are successful. So what can you do to stand out? While SEO is not the only answer it’s a great start. What follows is a simple guide to SEO for florists.
Ok so what’s this SEO everyone is talking about
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. Simply put appearing on the first page on Google. SEO has many aspects, from the text on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. On some occasions, SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.
While it is good to be search engine-friendly good SEO can’t be achieved without making your site better for people too. This is Google’s logic and was confirmed by such industry leaders like Moz and Quicksprout.
Search is likely the most important element of your marketing mix in 2017. While social media gets headlines search engines quietly delivers visitors to your website. Organic Search Drives 51% Of Traffic, Social Only 5% – this is time to rethink your marketing strategy. Since social media sites aren’t the primary navigation method for most users, they will always drive less traffic than search engines.
Search engines provide results based on intent, think of a person looking for a wedding florist (or flower deliveries) and not finding you. If your website is invisible to search engines you miss out on lots of potential customers.
You should think of search engines as answer machines. When a person types words in a search box, the search engine examines its database of billions of documents and does two things: returns results that are relevant or useful to a searcher’s query, and ranks them according to the reliability of the website serving the information. It is both relevance and reliability that the process of SEO is should influence.
Popularity and relevance are being assigned by mathematical algorithms. While the inputs for these algorithms tend to change, at the moment main search engine ranking factors are:
- – Domain level link features
- – Page level link features
- – Page level Keyword & content-based features
- – Page level Keyword Agnostic features
- – Engagement & Traffic query data
- – Domain level brand metrics
- – Domain level keyword usage
- – Domain level social metrics
Above variables came from MOZ search ranking factors guide.SEO specialists always find methods to extract information about how the search engines rank pages.
So how do you get lots of traffic from search engines in general?
Search engines would never tell you which variables they use as they will quickly be gamed, but they are more than happy to provide you with best practice guides. But here are the most important factors:
Content: Create a practical and informative site. Your pages should clearly and accurately describe your content. Ensure that your elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate (Algorithms can’t analyse images, they should be told what image depicts by listing it in alt tag.)
Hirarchy: Make sure that your site has a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
URLs: Your URL’s should be human-friendly (URL – the address of a World Wide Web page). E.g. instead of www.thesmellofroses.com/faasda11456 it should be www.thesmellofroses.com/cool-article. Luckily most website content management systems make this as easy as flicking a switch.
Keywords: Create keyword-rich content and match keywords to what users are searching for. E.g. if you are a wedding florist, make sure to write about weddings rather than other events. While this may sound obvious many people ending up writing about a bunch of irrelevant topics confusing the search engines. A blog all about weddings flowers is much better than one that offers some advice on funeral arrangments as well. Even if your business is diverse, it’s best to focus at the start to build up your authority in a single niche. Think about it, the best blogs you’ve read often cover only one topic but do so from every conceivable angle.
Be Fresh: Produce new content regularly. What’s better a site that just got updated yesterday or one where the last post is from 2001?
Link-backs: Reach out to those in your site’s related community for backlinks. But avoid purchasing links from another site with the aim of getting Page Rank instead of traffic, such schemes are often picked up by google and then penalised.
OK, I’ve heard all of this before. What about florists?
1. Register with Google My Business and other directories
Google My Business listing: This one is a directory on steroids as listing with it will ensure that your business will show up on Google maps, it will also display your opening hours. Google loves local physical stores and will rank them over non-local businesses when appropriate. You can register your business on Google My Business by following the link.
Bellow is a list of directories where you can list your business. Some are free like Google My Business and some will charge a listing fee. But try to go for as many as you can to get the most exposure.
- – Google My Business (this will get you listed on Google Maps also!)
- – Yahoo Local
- – Bing Local
- – Yelp
- – Insider Page
- – Merchant Circle
- – YellowBot
- – Mapquest
- – Superpages
- – Citysearch
- – Whitepages
- – Local.com
- – Telenav
- – Getfav
- – Topix
- – Switchboard
- – Brownbook
- – Localsearch.com
There is much less competition for “wedding flowers Lancaster” than there is for “wedding flowers”. Plus you are less likely to get a contract from a bride that is based miles away. If you are UK business you would not be interested in USA searches.
Less competition equals “easier to get included in first 3 results on the first page in Google”, this is what you want, subsequent pages don’t count for much.
3.Select your keywords carefully
You don’t want Keywords that are over-saturated and ones that don’t convert well (i.e. are not intent driven e.g. wedding flowers vs beautiful flowers)
Use Google AdWords (Keyword Planner tool) and Google Trends these can help you find ideas for your keywords.
Competition for floristry-related keywords + town name can be tough if you are located in a big city, so it may make sense to be more specific location-wise. If you still want to use a town name in your keyword, start by googling it and see who are you competing against. And if you still think that it is possible to make into the first page of results go for it.
How to decide if you will win over your competition:
- – Check if the pages showing up on the first page look targeted at the keyword.
- – Would you be providing content of higher value? Be honest with yourself, people are looking for useful information not a row of perfect pictures. Don’t get me wrong pictures are still important for the floristry line of business, but they are not enough.
- – Can you get good links to your site? (We’re not talking about directories here) You will need to go the extra mile and get links from websites in the related community.
- – Check if URL’s of your competitors have the keyword in them. They don’t? this is a good sign!
4. Give Google lots of HTML Text! It loves it.
Algorithms love text as they can analyse it while Images and Videos they can’t read.
You can make images and videos visible to search engines manually but they would still have less value than HTML text.
If you are just setting up your website or going through redesign go for WordPress, google loves it and so should you. It’s easy to use and all the plugins mean you can extend functionality without a developer.
5. On-page optimiation
An ideal web page should do all of the following:
- – Be highly relevant to a specific topic
- – Insert subject in the URL
- – Add subject in title tag
- – Include subject in ALT text
- – Specify subject several times throughout text content. Keyword density is not that important so don’t try to stuff your keyword without a purpose.
- – Present unique content about a given subject
- – Link back to its category page and the subcategory page (If appropriate)
- – Have a link pointing to homepage (normally accomplished with an image link showing the website logo on the top left of a page)
6. Be mobile friendly
Don’t underestimate people’s laziness and desire for instant gratification. If someone is doing their search on a mobile device they are not gonna go through the trouble of switching devices just because your website does not load correctly. That is one lost customer!
You think that mobile devices are negligable think again. In 2015, Google officially declared that mobile searches triumphed desktop.
Hopefully by now you realise jsut how important SEO is. So if you’re going to do some digital marketing start here.
Search engines update its algorithms frequently so the black hat techniques that worked yesterday will not be relevant tomorrow. Instead, create good content what is loved by people and readable for the machines.
In order to improve your SEO immediately do this:
- 1. Register with Google My Business listing if you haven’t done so a while ago.
- 2. Target local searches by customising your keywords. Try adding town name or postcode in your keyword.
- 3. Select your keywords carefully as you want to be included on the first page of results. Don’t go after keywords that are hard to win.
- 4. HTML text is your best friend, articles will be read you algorithms automatically while videos and photographs will need so HTML specification in order to be visible to search engines.
- 5. On page optimisation in the key so don’t skip it.
- 6. Mobile is the king, so focus on it. It is now dominating the market so can no longer be avoided, desktop is now second best.
If you follow all of the above advice, your traffic from search engines will improve (after some time). It takes time for search engines to recognise changes as they have to monitor the whole web!
Want to read more about SEO then check SEO Guide by Google.
And if you want to into detail and don’t fear tech stuff have a look at Advanced Guide to SEO by Quicksprout