I frequently hear from worried home stagers that their websites aren’t showing up on Google. They added keywords, they list the name of every town within 50 miles, and they load pictures. Why isn’t their website showing up first in Google?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
The company that they got their website from says that they optimize for SEO (search engine optimization), and their clients will show up high in the SERP (search engine ranking page, i.e. Google). Some even go as far as saying that their service is great for SEO. Does that sound familiar?
The truth is that any website service can say that they are great for SEO, just like any plumber can say that he’s great at connecting pipes. It might take a couple of years before the shoddy plumbing work behind your walls starts to leak and create mold, and you don’t find out until much later that you didn’t get much help with SEO.
The Reality About SEO
Your website developer can only do so much for your website’s SEO so you can rank high in the SERP. SEO is mostly up to the website owner, which means YOU.
Before we get too far, let’s define SEO and SERP.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. That means that your website is optimized for search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing (going forward, when we say “Google”, we’re talking about all search engines). Google considers your website “optimized” when you have the website that provides the best experience for the term someone is searching for. For example, if you want your website to be optimized for “home stager in Anytown”, your website better provide someone who searches for that term a lot of value about home staging and information about Anytown. Just saying on your website “I am a home stager in Anytown” isn’t good enough anymore.
SERP stands for Search Engine Ranking Page. The SERP is where your website shows up when people Google your company. You want your company to show up high on the first page of SERP when someone searches for “home stager in Anytown” in the search bar.
That’s all great, but how exactly does your website get good SEO? Unfortunately, Google doesn’t release their formula. It’s more secret than the formula to Coca-Cola. It’s more guarded than the gold in Fort Knox. Ok, maybe it’s not that secretive, but it almost is.
And just like people trying to figure out the formula to Coke, there are computer geeks out there trying to figure out Google’s algorithms. But just as Coke puts the ingredients on the side of the can, Google does tell the world some things that they view as very important to helping out your Google profile.
So let’s talk about the top 9 things that you can do to improve your SEO.
The Top 9 Things You Can Do To Improve Your SEO
- Keywords – Imagine someone is on Google, and you want them to come to your website. What do you want them to search for in order to get to your website? Maybe “home stager in Anytown” so you can let them know that you service the area? Possibly “vacant home staging pictures in Anytown”, so you can show them the great work that you do? Then those are the terms that are the more important keywords for you to optimize for. Make sure that your website tells the story around those phrases. Don’t just write “I am home stager in Anytown” over and over again. That’s called keyword stuffing, and Google will penalize your website for doing it.
- Images – Google really likes it when websites have images on them. Plus, pictures of your work will be valuable to your website visitors. You want to show the person who needs a home stager that you do great work, so make sure your pictures tell that story.
- Image Titles and Alt-Tags – You have a beautiful picture of the master bedroom in a vacant home staging job you did in Anytown. The problem is that Google doesn’t know what it is, except for a bunch of pixels and that the name of the file is IMG_2879.jpg or something meaningless like that. “Titles” and “alt-tags” are the way for you to tell Google that you have a picture of a master bedroom in a vacant home staging project in Anytown. Pictures are worthless to Google without titles and alt-tags.
- Meta Descriptions for new projects – Meta descriptions are the description that show up on Google when your website appears. Google doesn’t care so much what it says. But a good description will help convince the person searching to click on the link to your website. The more people that click the link to your website, the more it improves your website’s SEO. People clicking the link to your website tells Google that they did a good job showing your website on the SERP.
- Blog – Google loves websites with blogs. Why? Because a blog tells Google that you are an expert of home staging in Anytown. It tells Google that you keep your website fresh and up to date. It helps people stay on your website longer, which is a big component of how Google scores websites. And a blog provides value to your website visitors who want to learn from your expertise.
- Portfolio – You have done great home staging work on a lot of homes, right? And you probably have a hard drive full of pictures on your computer. Create a portfolio on your website to show off your work. First, Google loves pictures. Second, a lot of pictures with their titles and alt-tags will eventually tell Google exactly what you do, which is home staging in Anytown. Third, your potential clients will want to see your work.
- Google My Business – Google My Business is a free service from Google. You tell Google a description of your business, your service area, your hours, your website, and pictures for your business. Then when someone searches for your business, your business will be highlighted on the right sidebar of Google all by itself. And here’s a secret: Google likes it when you use more of their services. Google My Business is great for local SEO. Every home staging business needs to do this.
- Social Sites – Create a Yelp listing, and link it to your website. Spend some time on your Houzz profile to make it look nice, and link it to your website. Add a link to your website from your RESA profile, from your Facebook page, and from any other social account that you control. Google likes it when other websites link to your home staging website, and it will help people who visit those sites find your website easier.
- Videos. Did you know that Google owns YouTube? Make some videos of yourself, your business, your projects, or anything else related to your business. Then post them on your YouTube channel, and embed a link to the video into your website. Remember the secret I shared in Number 7? Google loves websites that use YouTube videos. But master the first 6 items before you start adding videos.
SEO is mostly up to you. Your website developer can only do so much, but there are at least five things they should absolutely do to provide your website with good SEO bones.
The Top 5 Things Your Website Developer Needs To Do To Help Your SEO
- Hosting – Your website should be hosted with a service that is fast. Google considers page load speed an important part of SEO. Pay extra, and don’t host your website on a shared server.
- Submit your website to Google, Yahoo, and Bing – Normally, the search engines will eventually figure out your website exists. And then they will eventually look at the structure. Next they will eventually try to figure out what your website is about. Then they will score it for different keywords, and decide which pages good enough to show on the SERP for each keyword. This takes time. You can bypass some of those steps by submitting your website directly to Google, Yahoo, and Bing so that they know about your website immediately. Your developer should be able to help out with this.
- Responsive – Responsive means that your website shows up properly on tablets and smartphones. Since over half of all website searches are on a mobile device, Google considers responsive to be an important SEO factor. So important that this is one of the few rules that they told everyone about.
- Permalinks – This is a little tricky to explain but it basically has to do with how your website pages are formatted in the address bar. Just make sure your website developer creates logical permalinks.
- Image Size – Remember what we said about page load speed? Large images are typically the culprit for websites loading slowly. And most pictures that a home stager would have are very large files. There are tools that can reduce the size of images so that they don’t impact your page load speed too much. Your developer can integrate these into your website.
There is no switch that a website developer can flip to make your website have good SEO. There is no secret setting that your website developer can activate to make sure your website ranks first. A website developer can only do so much.
Your website developer should lay the foundation for you to generate good SEO. It is still possible for your website to have good SEO without these, but it takes more work on your end. Those five steps are easy, so any website developer should be able to create your website on a good foundation.
Final Thoughts on SEO for Home Stager Websites
Google can be a valuable source of visitors to your website. Those visitors can become leads, and then eventually your client.
In order for Google to show those potential clients your website for your search keywods, Google needs to know what your website is about and that it will provide value to the people it sends your way. That means that your website needs to have good SEO. Your website developer can lay the foundation, but the quality of your website’s SEO is up to you. SEO takes work, but your business will benefit.
If you are a home stager who is interested in having a beautiful website, with the SEO foundation built in, and training on how to improve your SEO, then Stager Sidekick can help. We build websites for home stagers who care about their business. To learn more about what your website from Stager Sidekick, we welcome you to visit our Features and Pricing page.