Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Search engine optimization for interior decorators is challenging, particularly in larger markets where there can be hundreds of businesses vying to appear on Google’s first page and in the “7-pack” of business listings. Designers often have limited time for online marketing, working seemingly around the clock to design spaces, meet with clients, and oversee contractors. Even so, local SEO is a must-have to ensure that clients can find you in the first place. So here’s a list of 10 tactics to help improve your rankings.
Many creative individuals are intimidated by web technology. But trust me, none of this is rocket science. “Do-it-yourselfers” can perform many of these tips for themselves, and you can hire good web developers or search engine marketers to help you with any of the steps you can’t do.
SEO is similar to interior design in some ways — elements can be placed within a space, but if placed optimally they work together better and make the space both functional and simultaneously more attractive. As with an interior space, if a company’s online presence isn’t optimal, it’s less attractive to visitors. I have a design degree and career in search marketing, so I feel I’m informed enough to claim this similarity.
Before reading this list, you might first familiarize yourself with “Basic Checklist for How to Rank in Google Places,” my previous article that outlines the foundational steps necessary to achieving rankings in Google local search results. If you are familiar with my basic checklist, here are 10 local SEO tips for interior designers.
1. Market your Business with the Best Keywords
Most people in this industry have marketed themselves using the more contemporary business category name of “Interior Designers,” but in some states the older industry name of “Interior Decorator” is nearly as popular. In most major cities it’s best to just use “Interior Designer” when promoting your company. But do your research to see if you might also want to include the words “Interior Decorator” on your website to appear in those searches as well. Google Trends shows that “Interior Design” has the most search volume in the United States.
Also, include pages on your site, mentioning your specializations or types of building interiors or businesses that you focus on so that others looking for your expertise can easily locate you.
2. Include Company Information on your Home and Contact Pages
Include your company name, address, and phone number in plain text on your site’s home page and contact pages. Doing this makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site and verify that it should be associated with your business listing in their databases. There’s a tendency among design fields to make home pages to be image heavy, with animated Flash “splash” pages containing little HTML text. If your text is embedded inside an image or animation, it’s not text that search engines can easily read and thus may be missed. To see what HTML text is on a web page, visit the page in your browser, right click on your page, and click to “Select All.” Plain text will be highlighted and can be copied and pasted into text documents. It’s possible to incorporate search engine friendly text while also having an attractive, image-prominent design.
3. Add your Company Listing in Online Directories
If your business is new, listing in online directories is critical because your information won’t magically get distributed by itself. Without being present in those directories you have little hope of ranking for local searches. If your business has been established for a while, you still should double check to see if a listing represents you in major directories, and check to see that your info is as up-to-date and as correct as possible. Claim and update your listing in Google and Bing, too. Check your listing with GetListed. Using a data aggregator or distributor like Universal Business Listing or Localeze can help expedite distribution and correction across major directories for busy designers. There are also a number of online directories just for the design industry. Getting listed in those will further help your cause. To find which are most beneficial, search for “interior designers” for your city and then see which directory sites show up in the first few pages of search results.
4. Share Photos on Pinterest, Flickr, and Instagram
People frequently browse Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, and similar sites for ideas on decorating, inspiration, and to find vendors of furnishings or even to find designers to hire. While much of this falls under the category of research for do-it-yourself decorating, even that activity can benefit you if you get increasing numbers of social media interactions. You can often add your links to your social profiles or to media that you upload, so when people share it, search engines can take that into account as a signal for relative popularity. For any image-sharing platform, include a link to your site with each image you upload so that consumers can easily locate you. Being influential in social sites translates into added visits to your site and increased ranking advantage in search engine results. If you think you only have time for one, use Pinterest. To get ahead of the curve, add your images onto your Google+ profile in addition to these other social sites, since Google is progressively adding the “local carousel” of images to the tops of some local business search results.
5. Make Site Images Crawlable
Designers sometimes get too uptight about allowing others to access their images, which can result in shooting themselves in the feet — as far as marketing — if taken too far. Insisting that your designer make it so search engines cannot crawl the subdirectories on your website server in order to access and index the images means that people cannot find your images in search results. This limits your online visibility when people are researching. You can still include a copyright notice on your web pages or your images — but, allow the images to appear in search results so that you will get more visits from potential customers.
6. Blog Often
I harp on this all the time because the more frequently you blog about topics related to your site, the better your site will rank and the more keyword phrases you will rank upon over time. Set up your blog for SEO, and find a way to post to it once or twice a week. You can write a number of blog posts and schedule them to publish on different days of the month, so if you only have half a day per month to spend on such activity, you can still get a lot out of it.
7. Implement the Author Tag on your Site
There’s a reason why I declared authorship as the top search marketing tactic of 2013. The author tag makes your listing in search results much more attractive. For sole proprietor interior designers and firms headed up under the name of a primary founder, this tactic is an absolute must-have. A substantial portion of the design industry is personality-driven, and having a professional photo icon accompanying your business listing and web page listings in search engine results will attract attention and increase trust and respect before people even click through to read up on your business. The author icon in search results apparently increases clicks, which in turn will likely indirectly improve your search rankings over time — possibly even rapidly. Here’s an example of a prominent designer’s listing that uses the author treatment in Google.
Notice how her listing stands out, since others haven’t adopted the author tag.
8. Join Professional Organizations
Some professional organizations provide online local guides of their members, and these member listings can provide citations and links for your business. For instance, American Society of Interior Designers has an online member directory, and the member profiles can include links to design firm websites. Don’t forget to also list your accreditations and memberships on your website and on your LinkedIn profile.
9. Encourage Positive Online Reviews
When consumers are unfamiliar with contractors, they will look to online reviews on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List for ratings and recommendations. Don’t ask for positive reviews and don’t offer to pay or incentivize for positive reviews. But when you have clients who are pleased, ask them to post a review of your company in Yelp, Angie’s List, or on Google+. While rating values and review content generally are not a ranking element, positive ratings may affect click rates, which indirectly affect rankings over time. The total numbers of reviews and frequency or recency of being posted on your business listings likely does influence rankings as well.
10. Post Videos of your Designs on YouTube
Videos can rank well in search results by themselves, and they also can include links back to your business website. Interior design is such a visually oriented profession that any way in which you can display your designs through visual mediums can improve your overall profile and visibility. Videos are an effective means of conveying three-dimensional information. Use videos to provide panoramas or walk-throughs of spaces along with voiceover descriptions. Since relatively few designers post videos, doing so will give you an advantage and help you move ahead of the local pack.
Use these tips to design your way into ranking higher in local search results and your company will reap the benefits of increased referrals.