You want more customers so you built a website for your interior design business. But there is little to no traffic and you don’t know why. You run a business and are crazy busy keeping the day-to-day operations moving so have no time to investigate why Google seems to be ignoring you. Even if you had the time, you have no idea where to start.
The digital world is complicated and noisy. We get it. That’s why we cut through all the noise to bring you the low down on search traffic and how you can start getting your share. Check that, more than your share.
In this article, you will learn what local SEO (search engine optimization) is, why it’s crucial to your interior design business and what you can do TODAY to begin earning Google’s trust and send traffic your way.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the art & science of optimizing your business’s online presence so that you show up in local searches. Local search has a geographical component to it thus applies primarily to brick-and-mortar businesses (those with a physical location).
Local SEO is a highly effective and sustainable digital marketing technique. And it’s FREE! If you’d rather not wheelbarrow in a giant pile of cash and drop it on Google’s front door for ads, keep reading.
http://www.michaelabrams.com/astorHow does Local SEO Work?
These days we rely on Google to provide answers and information to everything from What’s the score of the Packers game? to Who’s the best interior designer?
Google takes this job seriously and has made it clear their top priority is their customer – the person searching for information. Google doesn’t give a damn if the best answer to the searcher’s question comes from your website or your competitor’s. They just care that it’s relevant, trustworthy and high-quality content that answers the searcher’s question.
Let’s take a look at what this means to your interior design business.
Here’s a typical scenario:
A couple decided they’d like to update their living room and are wondering what interior designers are in the area, just to get an idea.
From their home in Richfield, Wisconsin the couple goes to their computer, pulls up Google, types in “interior designer” and hits enter. They see the results below.
What just happened?
The couple in our example unknowingly relied on Google’s “local search” algorithm to find a designer in their area. From Google’s perspective, it went something like this:
- The search keywords “interior designer” are noted.
- The couple’s current location is noted (obtained from the computer’s information).
- It’s assumed the search is for an interior designer in the local area. This seems obvious because why would you want someone in San Francisco, CA to redesign your living room if you’re sitting in Richfield, WI?
- More information is gathered (signals) and plugged into the algorithm. The data output includes the ranking of webpages that match the search criteria and are in the local area.
- The results are transformed into human readable form and displayed on the SERP (search engine results page).
In a nutshell, Google considers the search keywords “interior designer” then gathers data from a variety of signals and plugs them into its algorithm to determine what will be included in the SERP (search engine results page). This is an oversimplified description of what really happens, but you get the picture.
If you want more traffic to your website, you need to show up as high as possible in the SERP. In order to make that happen, you need to have a strong local SEO strategy.
Local SEO strategy
In order to win at local search, your business needs an effective local search strategy. An effective strategy includes a mix of the key signals Google’s algorithm uses to determine what results to display. The signals include your website, search engines, business listings, reviews, social and links.
Let’s take a look at the key local search signals.
Consumers expect businesses to have a website. Especially local businesses such as your interior design business, because they want to get a feel for your quality of work.
Google wants to know a ton of information about your website, below are a few key pieces:
- Is your website mobile responsive?
- Is your website content relevant, high-quality, unique and updated frequently?
- Are your industry and location keywords present throughout your website, especially key areas like your page titles, h1 & h2 tags, page descriptions and throughout your content?
- Does your site include “schema code “allowing Google to easily scan and interpret your site?
As you learn more about Local SEO, you’ll sometimes see search engines referred to as “business listings” or “citations” but search engine accounts truly deserve a category of their own –they are that important.
The search engines that matter include Google, BING and Apple Maps. The most crucial search engine account of all is Google My Business. It’s essentially a tool that allows you to manage your online presence across Google, including Google Search and Google Maps.
Below are some questions Google is asking about your search engine accounts.
- Have you claimed your Google My Business listing? Is it optimized and categorized correctly?
- What about Apple Maps and BING Places?
- Are all accounts complete and consistent: Name, address, phone are all identical on every listing?
Business Listings are often referred to as “citations” and vice versa. Business listings are online sites where your business has essentially set up an account or is included in a listing. Some accounts are free, some are not.
There are many different categories of business listings including:
- Review and recommendation sites like Yelp!, Angie’s List and Better Business Bureau
- Industry-specific sites like and Houzz, ASID and NARI
- Local sites like your chamber of commerce and Yellow Pages
- Social Media like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter
The key is to be present on the listings that Google considers the highest authority and the listings your competitors are on.
Concerning your business listings, Google wants to know:
- How many total business listings are there for your business?
- Are the listings consistent? Name, address, phone are all identical on every listing?
- Are you listed across a variety of business listing categories, especially those that are specific to the interior design industry like Houzz, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor?
- Do you have at least as many business listings, if not more, than other businesses in your industry?
According to BrightLocal, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This isn’t lost on Google. If you want a better local search ranking Google needs to know your home improvement business is worthy based on the feedback of other customers.
For reviews, Google looks at:
- How many reviews you have?
- How many reviews are good vs. bad?
- What is your review velocity? Did you just get 100 reviews in a day or are they spread out over the year?
- What is your review diversity?
- What is the trustworthiness of the review site(s)?
Google wants to know you care about your customers. Presumably, if you have social media presence and activity, you are engaging with your customers and care about them.
Google will be looking at:
- Do you have a presence on the top social platforms?
- Do you engage with your customers? Post and respond to comments regularly?
Your website should be linking to other pages on your website. This helps Google determine your site’s structure which helps provide information to the searcher.
Also, other websites that link to your website can provide immense benefit to your search rankings, but they must be trustworthy and related to your industry.
Google will be looking at:
- How many links are internal and external to your site?
- How many links are trustworthy and credible? (and how many are just an array of random and spammy links you collected trying to fool Google?)
- Does the site linking to you have a high domain authority?
- Does the text associated with the link contain relevant keywords?
Personalization refers to the location and previous search and clicks habits of the person requesting information from Google. It could be considered a key search signal because it affects the search engine results. In fact, it’s super important. However, you have no control over it so just sit back, know what it is and let the cards fall as they may.
Google’s number one mission is to provide the best results to the person searching. In order to do that Google considers information related to that person.
Google looks at things like:
- The searcher’s location (city, state, country)?
- The searcher’s previous search history?
- Sites the searcher visited before and where have they clicked?
Why Local SEO Rocks
It’s FREE! Well, at least it doesn’t cost any money. It does, however, take time and effort to implement a local SEO strategy and begin getting noticed by Google. Did I mention it’s free?
It takes time to build a local SEO presence but after it’s built and continually maintained, it becomes a highly sustainable tool in your marketing box.
If you ignore Local SEO, you’re losing Business
As an interior design professional, your customers are local so you absolutely must have a local SEO strategy– and implement it.
Your competition has a sound local SEO strategy, at least the worthy ones do, and in order to compete for customers, you also need a local SEO presence. Otherwise, Google will send the people searching for a kitchen redesign, to your competitor.
Just like there’s no shortcut to learning and perfecting your craft, there are no shortcuts to SEO. It takes time to do it right. You have to put in the time, focus and keep at it. Before you know it, you’re seeing real results.
Don’t be enticed by the latest SEO guru claiming you can get up Google’s rankings faster by paying for a boatload of links to plaster all over the internet or stuffing keywords in your content to a point where it’s difficult for a human to read it. Google’s not stupid and if they think you’re trying to gain an unfair advantage they will either ignore you or worse – ban you. Zero traffic from Google. Not cool.
The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a simple step – a Chinese proverb.
Eventually, you will want to define and implement a solid local SEO strategy. It is an effort well worth the time and effort. But for today, let’s take a few simple steps that will almost immediately establish you as a worthy competitor for local interior design search traffic.
- Claim your Google My Business, BING Places, and Apple Maps search engine listings.
- Setup accounts on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
- Setup key business listing accounts on Yelp!, Better Business Bureau, Houzz, Angie’s List, and Home Advisor.
We made it super easy for you! You can download our free cheatsheet that provides direct links to the sign-up pages to the key accounts you should be listed on. You can even document your account information right on the sheet for safekeeping. Download your Local SEO Key Accounts Cheatsheet now.
What are you waiting for? Your ideal customer is searching for your interior design business right now! Will they find you?
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