Why should you care about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Because the simple fact is that if you are not showing up in the top 3 to 5 listings on Google and other major search engines, then you are not going to achieve the online exposure needed to reach customers and grow your business.
With thousands of articles and blog posts on the subject of SEO, venturing into building an effective program for your funeral home can quickly become overwhelming. However, the key to getting results is simple. Focus on the needs of your families and what is important to them and you will be well on your way to an effective SEO campaign.
Understanding Your Audience
We analyzed the 190 million visits to our website platform last year and found that there are primarily three types of users coming to a funeral home website:
- Decedent information seekers: Making up about 80% of all funeral home website visitors, this group consists of family and friends looking for information about a recent decedent. They are looking for obituary and service information, ways to send condolences (flowers, cards, contributions and remembrance items), and opportunities to memorialize the departed (online guestbook, tribute videos, photos and social sharing).
- Immediate-need families: Today, most funeral planning begins online. You can assume that a family has seen your website before they ever call or visit your funeral home. Families with an immediate need are looking for information about your funeral home, the services you offer and education about their options.
- Pre-planners: As the name would imply, these customers are interested in making advanced arrangements. They are trying to understand their choices and often feel more comfortable starting the process online.
When evaluating the strength of your website, make sure you are addressing the content needs of each of these audiences.
Don’t Be Afraid of Spiders
You should also be aware that the search engines’ automated spiders, although invisible, are a key audience. They crawl through your web pages creating an index of the data for search engines to use. Make sure that on their journey they find all of the keywords that a website visitor might use when searching for your services. Common search terms in the funeral industry include: your funeral home’s name, city, state, funeral, cremation, and obituary. When you meet the needs of search engine spiders, a powerful by-product will be satisfying the information needs of your more visible customer.
SEO Checklist: Simple Steps to Improved Rankings
Making these straightforward updates to your website can result in improved search engine outcomes.
- Build clear, consistent navigation throughout your site which includes your keywords.
Take this step and search engines will reward you with a higher ranking for page authority. You will also get the added benefit of creating an improved roadmap for customers to traverse your website.
- Create content that addresses your audience and includes your keywords.
Most experts would agree that good content is the key to effective search engine optimization. By including pages, articles, and postings that are interesting, useful and important to your audience – you will move up in the search rankings while also providing valuable information to your target audience.
- Generate new content on a regular basis.
The best way to keep both your customers and spiders interested in your website is to actively update your content. One of the easiest ways for a funeral home to follow this rule is simply by posting all of your obituaries on the website. This serves your largest audience, the decedent information seekers, and also provides fresh content for spiders to index.
- Create external linkages to and from your website.
Joining national and local organizations is another way to improve your search engine placement – as links into your website build your SEO value. The credibility earned through these references also shows your customers that you are qualified to serve their needs.
- Claim your place on social platforms.
Social media interaction (whether a Facebook business page or Google+ listing) provides SEO momentum and also brings you closer to your intended audience.
Where to Begin
SEO is not a one-time quick fix. There is no need to undertake a huge project that could be expensive or difficult to sustain. We suggest integrating a few items at a time. Start with defining your keywords, updating your page content, posting an article or reviewing your navigation. It’s a continual process with amplified benefits over time.
An optimized website can create powerful connections between you and your visitors. Use it to actively communicate with and support families and the community and, before you know it, you’ll be in that coveted #1 position.