The Honest Guide To SEO For Florists & Flower Shops
Search engine optimization is vital for florists. When somebody searches for florists every florist wants to be near the top of the list.
So why you should believe us?
Because FloristWare does not sell SEO services. We don't make any money from this. We just want our clients and real local florists to win in the fight against order-gatherers and drop shippers.
Part One: An Honest Look At How Your Flower Shop Performs In Search
You can't get a solid grasp on your SEO needs until you have a real understanding of how your flower business currently performs in search.
Evaluating your search performance (where you appear in the results for a specific search) seems easy... just do a few Google searches for the terms you are interested in and look at the results. Unfortunately that is unlikely to tell the complete story for a couple of reasons...
What You Search For Probably Isn’t What Your Customers Search For
Florists are usually interested in searches for the name of their shop and their local area – something like "Acme Florist Mytown".
Name search is interesting. If your flower store is called “McGonigal’s Floral Creations” and your url is “mcgonigalsfloralcreations.com” then good placement in a search for “McGonigal’s Floral Creations” is basically yours to lose. You should expect to rank well for that, and don’t pay too much attention to an SEO consultant that claims getting you into the top ten for that search as a testament to their incredible skill.
The problem is that there probably aren’t too many people searching specifically for the name of your flower shop. It will happen, and you want to perform well when it does, but other less specific searches are likely to be more common.
What are those searches? It is hard to say. A lot of them are likely to involve location like “city name florist”. They are less likely to involve terms used primarily by florists and other people within the industry like “high style”. A huge part of this is thinking like a customer and trying to optimize for the terms they are likely to search. An SEO expert with experience and access to that information will be a huge help to you.
What You See May Not Be What Your Customers See
Once you start trying to evaluate the searches your customer are more likely to use you run into a new problem: what you see may be quite different from what your customers see.
The goal of the search engine is to provide relevant results. The words you type into the search box are just one part of the equation. Other things, like your location and past behavior, also play a huge part in the results that you see.
Location is interesting. The most extreme example would probably be something like a search for "Greenville florist" because there are 50 different places (cities, towns, boroughs and CDPs or Census Designated Places) in the US called Greenville. How does this affect a search for florists?
If someone in one of the many Greenvilles searches for “Greenville Florist” the search engine is likely to place local matches higher. If for example you are in Greenville IL and search for “Greenville florist” you are likely to see more IL matches in the results - the search engine is using your location to return matches it thinks you will find more useful.
This is good. It means that a local customer searching for “Greenville florist” is more likely to see you in the results than a florist in (for example) Greenville New Mexico. It’s worth considering that a local customer is also very likely to be more specific in their search - perhaps looking for a specific neighbourhood or area within Greenville - but that is a different story and we can talk about it later.
But what about the customers from outside Greenville? Presumably you are also trying to get the business of the university student in Florida, or the husband travelling in Europe, that want to send flowers back to their loved ones in Greenville IL. The results they see when they are outside of Illinois are likely to be very different than what you see.
What about past behavior? To help provide relevant results search engines try and learn what you really want based on what results you click.
Let’s say you have a flower shop in Chicago called “Mary’s Flowers” and you type “Chicago florist”. The search engine presents you with a list of matches that includes Mary’s Flowers. If you click on Mary's Flowers you are effectively telling the search engine that when you search for “Chicago florist” what you really want is Mary’s Florist. In future searches Mary’s Flowers is likely to appear higher in the results. And, if you are like most business owners, you are likely to spend a lot of time clicking through to your own site and really skewing your results.
Why is that bad? Because your customers are very likely to be seeing different results that have not been skewed by repeated clicks.
The bottom line? Unfortunately your flower shop is probably not performing as well at is appears when you search yourself.
How do you see what your customers see? You can’t, not exactly, as their results will be influenced by their specific locations and past behavior.
You can however see more neutral results that are not as biased by your own past actions. One option is to change your browser settings. Typically this involves purging your browser cache and going in to what is often called “private” mode. This means that your browser will send as little information to the search engine as possible. Not knowing where you are or what you have clicked on in the past you should see more neutral, less personalized, results.
Making these adjustments to your browser can have unintended consequences so you might want to try something like StartPage. StartPage describes their service like this:
Major search engines now "personalize" or "pre-screen" the search results they serve you, based on what they know about you from past searches and other services you use. With StartPage, you get clean, anonymous, non-filtered results every time, because nobody knows who you are.
There are also specific SEO tools used by professionals. These tend to be expensive and complicated and, again, they are only really helpful if you use them to track the kind of florist searches your customers are likely to actually perform.
The best solution is to hire an expert - a dedicated SEO professional that can help you first determine what terms your potential customers are actually searching for, and then evaluate your performance for those terms.
Most florists that do a real evaluation of the search performance of their floral website are likely to realize that it needs some SEO help. This post deals with what comes next.
Part Two: Improving The Search Performance Of Your Flower Shop
Most florists that do a real evaluation of the search performance of their floral website are likely to realize that it needs some SEO help.
Should You Do Your Flower Shop SEO Yourself?
We sometimes hear from florists that have decided to learn search engine optimization in order to help their floral websites rank better. While their enthusiasm should be admired it generally isn’t an efficient use of their time and energy.
Why? SEO is hard. Really hard. And SEO for floral websites is even harder. Learning enough to make a worthwhile difference will take a tremendous prolonged effort, and helps only one small part of your business. It’s a little like going back to school for a degree in accounting just so you can do your own books, or the bride who "has always loved flowers" and is convinced she can do her own wedding if you would just sell her the flowers close to cost.
There is also the danger, a very real danger, that you will make a mistake that can hurt your search performance. You don’t want to have your online flower store penalized for bad SEO practices (something it is very different to recover from) because you are learning on the job.
Now – it is good to have an understanding of the basics. This will let you speak with confidence to SEO professionals, and understand what they are talking about. It also helps you spot good opportunities (a happy customer offers to link to you from their blog - great!) and pitfalls (an overseas call center that promises 1,000 links for $50 – run the other direction).
Finding a Professional
This one is tricky. SEO is a lot like driving – everyone claims they are good at it and most are wrong.
There are some accreditations and certifications but they are not widely known. And there are definitely some very talented people in SEO that have not been accredited or certified. But certification is always a good place to start, and the Advanced SEO Analyst certification is arguably the best and most respected. The Certified Internet Marketer designation also carries authority.
Look at examples of their work, both the sites themselves and how they perform in search. If they boast about getting the top spot in a search like “zachary’s flower haus burning bush tx” run the other direction. On the other hand if their client ranks well for “pittsburgh flower delivery” then they might be able to help.
Next look at the site where that link takes you. This might sound obvious but you need to confirm they did the work… any SEO specialist can claim responsibility for ranking a site well so you need to check. You will probably need to contact the owner of the website to confirm.
And how does the site look? Does it use strategies like stuffing the bottom of the page with every ZIP, hospital, neighbourhood and funeral home in the city. Maybe some random keywords as well? These techniques might have worked well in the flower business once but are now largely discredited and can actually hurt you.
And they definitely look bad! Florists get frustrated when they see out-of-town order-gatherers with absolutely no local presence ranking well and “stealing” their orders but their websites often look good. You won’t see outdated practices like keyword stuffing on the home pages of really successful online floral retailers – they use clean design that converts well and generates sales.
Also – look out for anyone that says theu have special access to or secret inside knowledge of Googles search algorithms. It's a bit like the guy that wants to sell you stock tips – if they really had that kind of knowledge they would not need to sell it to a local florist.
Define Objectives & Expectations
Ask the SEO advisor to be clear about what they can deliver. Again – if they start promising you they can rank your flower shop for unlikely searches don’t be impressed. They should research and show you the relevant searches that are being performed, along with claims about how they can help you perform in those.
At this point it is always important to decide how much you actually have to gain from better search performance. If you service an area (like Manhattan) where there are a great many people sending flowers and searching online for florists then high rankings are very valuable, and worth a serious investment. If on the other hand you service an area where there are few relevant searches you have to weigh that against the cost of performing better in those searches. It doesn’t make sense to spend thousands to rank well for a search nobody makes.
It's a little like finding a real estate agent to sell your house. Some will tell you whatever they think you want to hear in order to get the listing, others will be honest and thoughtful, making only realistic promises. You want realistic. One of the best we have encountered is Strider Search Marketing – an ideal combination of experience, expertise and integrity.
Some Of The Work Will Fall Back To You
Some of the work is going to involve you. For example you will almost certainly be asked to blog more. If you want better for search performance you are going to have to follow the advice you are given.
Keep Your Eyes On The Prize: Selling More Flowers Online
Your SEO provider may need you to help come up with good content for your blog.
And, unfortunately creating good, meaningful content for your blog is hard. Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok on the other hand are enjoyable and, if you aren't careful, you can spend far more time "working" on those sites than your blog.
Take a "no pain, no gain" approach. How often is something delicious good for you? How often is a fun, easy exercise really effective? How often does something you enjoy really help your business?
Put the blog first and make a little social time your reward for writing a solid blog post. Or consider social primarily a social activity for evenings and weekends and use your working hours to focus on your blog.
Avoid Cheap SEO Services
Cheap services that promise big results at low prices will almost certainly resort to disreputable “black hat” techniques. These can improve your search performance in the short term but will almost always hurt it in the long run. The old adage is true: if it seems too good to be true it probably is.
Sometime we will hear from a flower shop in somewhere like Long Island (in a relatively small place but near a relatively big place) that has decided they just need to rank well in searches for florists in Manhattan and they will clean up. It's a great idea, but almost impossible to execute because every flower shop in Manhattan has the same idea and already has an advantage by virtue of actually being Manhattan. And the shop on Long Island is also competing against every other shop that has the same idea – including all the order gatherers that don't need to worry about actually covering the cost of flowers and delivery.
Keep At It – SEO Is Not A One Time Thing
Everybody wants florist SEO to be a one time thing - pay somebody once and stay at the top of the rankings forever. Unfortunately it doesn't work like that.
It's a little like getting in shape – after losing weight you might be able to cut back a little on exercise and eat a little more, but you can't just go back to your old ways. Keeping for flower shop at the top of the search results is going to be an ongoing battle.
There is a lot of competition for the few positions at the top of the search results. The rankings will go to the websites that have a solid SEO foundation coupled with an ongoing commitment to good content. That last part is up to you, not the SEO consultant. A lot of this is like anything else - the winner is the one that works the hardest.