Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of a number of channels that are crucial to the success of your marketing strategy and therefore the number of sales you're able to make as a business. Making sure that your website ranks well in search engines such as Google and Bing is key to ensure your business is being seen by in-market consumers who are actively looking for what it is you have to offer.
The world of SEO can be confusing though. Frequent changes to Google's algorithm, dozens of different factors to take into account and changing search behaviour all make it increasingly tricky and time consuming to understand. Staying on top of SEO and knowing how to make sure that your site continues to rank well leaves a lot of kitchen and bathroom retailers scratching their heads.
As always, we do our best here at Flo to try to help you with the many marketing challenges that lie between you and success, so we've put together this exclusive blog which highlights five of the most important SEO ranking factors in 2018. If you do these five things well, you'll be well on the way to ensuring that your website ranks well, leading to more traffic, more enquiries, and more sales.
So without further ado, let's help you get optimised for organic success...
SEO Ranking Factor #1: Direct Website Visitors
According to testing and analysis by SEO thought-leaders, SEMrush direct website visits are the most important thing when it comes to the ranking of your website.
So what do we mean by ‘direct website visits’?
It’s pretty simple really. A direct visit consists of one of someone entering your domain straight into the address bar on their browser or not visiting from a referring website. Google’s algorithm says that if a site is being visited directly with regularity and volume, it must be a trustworthy domain that people enjoy and find useful.
So how can you increase your number of direct website visits?
There are many ways in which you can drive more direct web visits to your site, and here are the 3 that we consider to be the most effective.
- Do more marketing
This may sound obvious, but the more marketing you do and the more channels you employ as part of your overall marketing strategy, the more people are going to regularly come to your site. The more regular the visits, the more likely they are to bookmark the site or refer back to it directly when making plans for their new project.
- Offline marketing
One great way to make sure people are typing in your exact URL is to use direct mail, flyers, and other types of offline marketing. We’re a huge advocate of direct mail and flyer drops here at Flo, and here’s why…
In the past few years, the cost of post has gone up considerably and more and more digital marketing channels have become available. This has lead to more and more brands cutting direct mail from their marketing arsenal. This is great news for those that choose to use direct mail, because the amount of competition on the doormat has dramatically decreased. That, coupled with some imaginative and creative ways to get your post opened, means that direct mail really is working well right now.
Flyers are also a no-brainer. Often overlooked as being ‘old hat’ and ineffective, flyers are cheap to create and get delivered (and also targeted as you can drop in specific streets and postcodes). Even selling one kitchen every couple months as a result of flyer drops means a solid # return on investment.
Both of these methods are great for SEO, too, as often a prospect will follow the link on the marketing and head straight to their browser’s address bar for a direct visit.
- Creating a plethora of valuable content – make people come back
Creating an online library full of content for your prospects is a smart way to create more direct web visitors. Think about it: If every time you had a question related to buying something you could go to a trusted source to get the answer, you would go there more often, right?
That’s the same with people who are looking for a new kitchen or bathroom. They have all sorts of questions from what ovens to buy to how big their island should be. If you have a hub of information that can answer every question they can think of, they’re going to keep coming back to your site in the planning phase of their project, which A) increases your direct visits, and B) gives you a good chance of doing business with them.
SEO Ranking Factor #2: Time spent on your site
The time people spend on your website is a clear indication of how they feel about it. If users are abandoning your site without spending enough time to look at it, then something is wrong that needs to be fixed, and Google won’t reward you for people leaving quickly.
Here are 5 ways in which you can keep people on your site for longer…
- Design and usability
It goes without saying that your site needs to look and feel ‘the part’. If it is slow to load, the design is out of proportion and it looks like a website from 1998, no one will be hanging around for long.
Many sites are not easy to read through. Remember that most people in the modern world are in a rush, so the copy on your site needs to be in an easy to read, legible font, with bolding where necessary to create what we call a ‘dual readership path’. This is where important sentences and phrases are in bold to keep the attention of a skim reader.
- Quality images
Getting professional, high quality images is a must. We operate in an industry where visuals are very important and need to inspire and have a ‘wow’ factor. Many images are blown up too big and can become grainy and, as an avoidable consequence, can have a negative impact on your prospects’ perception of your brand and the products and services you provide.
One of the hardest things to produce, but yet the most important as we move into the future of marketing, is video. Good video is engaging, informative, positions you as an authority in the market place and, most importantly, keeps the user on your site for longer. It’s also something that many of your competitors aren’t doing.
- Internal links
Using a content strategy is key, and you can help people to navigate around your site by creating internal links. This is something that many news websites do very well, by linking to a similar story to the one you are reading. You can do that too by interlinking all of your blog posts.
SEO Ranking Factor #3: Minimising your bounce rate.
To the uninitiated, bounce rate simply means the percentage of visitors to your website that navigate elsewhere after viewing just one page, and it’s a really important ranking factor, sitting high on Google’s list of important SEO metrics.
The good news is that there are many things you can put in place to reduce your bounce rate, and we’ll talk through those in more detail here.
But before we start, what is a good bounce rate in the kitchen and bathroom industry?
It’s hard to give an accurate number, but what we know is that not many people stumble across your website. We don’t work in an industry where too many people browse for fun – there aren’t many ‘window shoppers’ on your site, and that’s good because it means that they should be there because they’re in-market for services you provide. So visitors who do bounce have done so because they don’t like what they see for one reason or another.
So, that said, the lower the bounce rate, the better, but you want to be aiming for a bounce rate of under 50-60% ideally. This will mean you’re doing well at creating an engaging platform for people to explore further and that your content is valuable and site experience is strong.
So, how can you decrease your bounce rate?
In truth, there are a long list of tasks to be carried out, but here are 3 things to start with…
- User Experience
A great user experience is key to making sure users stay on your website. You’ve probably been on websites which take ages to load because of annoying pop ups and adverts? Get rid of them, as they won’t help your bounce rate.
Also, a website that is too busy won’t help your search ranking optimisation because it will lead to confusion for the user, hence more bounces. In fact, that leads us nicely on to our next point…
- Clear call-to-action buttons
Some people already know what they are looking for when they come to a kitchen and bathroom website, and it’s your job to join the conversation that’s already going on in their head. For example, they may want to see your range of kitchens, so have a free download available where they can request a brochure. Alternatively, they may want to see what kitchens are in fashion right now, and you should have a clearly defined section for that content.
Everyone has been on to a site that is far too busy and has too many options and buttons to click. The human brain can’t make that many decisions in such a small amount of time, so keep everything simple, clear and concise.
- Brand storytelling and character
An old business phrase says that ‘people buy people’. It’s a cliché that we’re all sick of, but never the less, it’s true.
Your customers want a brand they can relate to and trust, and if your company projects a faceless image, they may just go elsewhere. As well as a quality product, your prospects are looking for the human touch. Why did you start the company? What is your mission? What do your staff like to do outside of work? People want to relate to you and your team, and storytelling and characterful writing is a great way to do that.
How to get full visibility on your bounce rate, direct visits and time spent on site…
You may well know exactly how many people are visiting already, but if you don’t, log into Google Analytics to see the facts and figures. Here you will be able to find your way around various different statistics of your website’s performance.
SEO Ranking Factor #4: Content
The world is changing at a faster rate than ever before, leading people to always want ‘new’. A new phone, the latest model of car, the new restaurant in town. It’s all about new experiences, and it’s the same for your blog. No one wants to read content that was posted in 2015 – they want fresh content that is on point with how they feel today, which is why you should probably be producing more of it.
Content is just content without proper value…
Gone are the days where people are reading articles for the sake of it. Your prospects will only be spending time on your website if it’s adding value to them. Internet users are a selfish bunch, and if they get bored they head back onto social media – welcome to the struggles of online marketing!
Your content needs to be properly valuable to the reader, and specificity is key here. There will be hundreds of blog posts online about general kitchen information, but your prospects want the nitty gritty details, like the ins and outs of work surfaces, the best gadgets and methods for reducing condensation after cooking a Sunday roast. Your job is to hit them right between the eyes with the specific content they need.
The dangers of writing without a plan…
Not all content is created equal in the eyes of Google and Bing, the UK’s most popular search engines, so it’s always best if you write to a plan.
Let’s face it, there’s no point writing about topics that no one is searching for, right? That’s why it’s important to do some keyword research before you start typing.
The long and winding blog post…
The length of your content is also taken into consideration by the big players in the search engine world. There is a direct correlation between ranking and length of content, and you should be aiming to be producing at least 2,000 words depending on the keyword, according to Snap Agency, the online SEO authority.
Obviously, if the question is a simple one, you won’t need to be producing pages and pages of text in order to answer it, but as a general rule it’s much better to go into detail than skirt around the edges of a topic.
SEO Ranking Factor #5: Getting the best out of backlinks
Backlinks can also be called ‘incoming links’ or ‘inbound links’, and they are created when one website links to another. It’s really just a technical term for a link on an external website that goes to your website.
Backlinks are crucial for your kitchen and bathroom website’s search engine optimisation because they represent a vote of confidence from one website to another. It’s almost like saying ‘yep, this website is good and trustworthy and we’re going to link to it as we believe in it’. When Google starts to see a few of those, it starts to trust your site more and push it higher in the search rankings.
Not all backlinks are the same in terms of the value they can provide to your site and search engine ranking. A link from a trustworthy, high-traffic site that ranks really well will be inherently more valuable than that of a spammy site that is very low on the SEO radar.
Many companies are devoted to generating you loads of backlinks for a small price, but it’s often best to steer away from these services as the links aren’t ‘earned’, rather just automatically generated, giving your site little to no value. When it comes to backlinks, it’s definitely a case of quality over quantity.
Do your backlink research…
It can take a lot of time to build a solid set of backlinks, and it’s often difficult to know where to start. When trying to build and expand your backlink portfolio it’s good to start with some research, usually called ‘Competitive Backlink Research’. By examining the backlinks of a top-ranking competitor for a selection of keywords, you can gain insights into what sort of places they have links from, helping you to build a picture of a good strategy. There are tools to help you with this, and Link Explorer is a particularly useful one where you can uncover links and target those domains in your own link building campaigns.
How to earn great backlinks…
Earning (and yes, backlinks need to be earned, rather than just acquired) great backlinks starts with a mindset. Often experts and gurus will talk of clever ways in which Google can be tricked into giving your SEO ranking a boost, but the best way to do it is to please your users.
Making sure that your prospects, users and web visitors have the best experience on your site is the best way to approach earning great backlinks from authoritative, popular and trusted websites.
Big media companies and magazines like Ideal Home have large readerships, and they want to provide quality content from reputable sources. A link from a company like this would be highly beneficial for your ranking with both Google and Bing.
So, here’s a handful of the most effective ways in which you can go about earning great backlinks…
- Pleasing, valuable and sharable content
Adopting a mindset of pleasing your user is the best way to go here. Content marketing is competitive in the kitchen and bathroom retail space, so yours needs to be valuable, frequent, and cover an array of topics. A good way to approach this is like the following: create an informative blog post for every question under the sun about buying a new kitchen or bathroom. Now, that may sound like a long process, but start by creating a few great blog posts every month and you’ll soon see your rankings benefit.
Sharing will have a huge factor on your backlink status. If your links are being shared constantly, other brands will start to see this through social media and start to pay you more attention. Make sure to follow all the brands that are important to your prospects and see if you can get followed back. Sending your new content directly to the pages by private message is also a great way to go, if a little time consuming.
- Go deeper into your subjects…
Some content is just ‘content for the sake of it’. Many sites will rank well in search engines because of their authority, but their content is actually a bit thin and doesn’t always help the user as much as it could.
In the kitchen and bathroom retail industry, sites that rank well with thin content are actually a great opportunity for your business as you can go way, way deeper with more detail and specificity.
Your content needs to be so good that your competitors don’t even attempt to beat it, as they won’t know where to start.
- Do the hard work that makes the selling easy…
This is a phrase that helps us here at Flo. We put the hard work into the marketing so it makes the selling easy, and you should do that with your content strategy to create authority and then acquire backlinks.
The good news is that most people are pretty lazy when it comes to creating their content. They’re happy to mess around by replicating someone else’s content, but they won’t go as far as making video, handy infographics, step by step instructions and the like.
This is where you have a big opportunity, because by putting in a few more hours to your blog post, you can create killer content that your rivals are not and will not produce.
“There’s more to SEO, than this…”
Of course, there is much more to SEO than the 5 points we have here. We just wanted to give you an insight into the some of the really important things you should be doing if you want your site to rank above your competitors in your local area.
SEO is a complex subject and there are many avenues in which you can go down. If you’d like a further chat with us about what you can be doing to increase the search engine optimisation of your kitchen and bathroom company’s website, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at email@example.com