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.
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 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.
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 site 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).
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 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 rank well with absolutely no local presence “stealing” their orders but their websites usually look good. You won’t see outdated practices like keyword stuffing on the home pages of really successful online retailers – they use clean design that converts well and generates sales.
Ask the SEO to be clear about what they can deliver. Again – if they start promising you they can rank you 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 for 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 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.
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.