Interior Designers can spend hundreds or thousands of pounds/dollars on websites. That CAN be a good investment or it can be a total waste of money.
Not just interior designers, but people from many industries bemoan the fact that no-one is visiting their web site. Then the next (incorrect) step in thinking goes that “well maybe I need to pay someone to get links to my site”… or something along those lines. And so it goes on, more money is spent on technology, on social media, on the web, on the net, on web 2.0 – whatever you want to call it. I’m sure you recognise the picture, perhaps from other designers you know that have these awesome looking websites…with no visitors!
This all-too-typical situation raises a whole raft of questions, points and observations. I’ll try to cover a few of them here.
1. Why on earth should I visit your web site?
I think you, the interior designer, really have to answer this question. Yes I’m sure your site looks great. Yes I’m sure it highlights your services and showcases your past projects (hopefully!). But let’s say I’m a potential customer, really, why should I visit your site? What’s in it for me? Your site MUST address this issue. IE the issue of your customer. Your web site should NOT be set up solely to gratify the interior design company’s owners or marketing team or web designer…I’m sorry but what you guys think is not that important to most people! You need to add something to the (potential) customer. Ideally something that will take them on that metaphorical ‘voyage’ towards closer links with your company and ultimately turning them into a customer and advocate of your firm.
So, simplistically, your site needs to contain the words and images necessary to give the client the information they need in an appropriate format.
This questions is important because even if your site is set up to cater for the needs of your perfect potential customer that’s absolutely no use whatsoever if the search engines do not place your company on the first or second page of a potential customer’s web search. And even if you understand this issue it is still awfully hard to achieve such a placing in search engine results.
So, part of the solution here relies on your site having sufficient words and properly ‘tagged’ images (I won’t go into that that means here, look elsewhere on this site or the net). Remember that google cannot really see images at all, only words. Look at the sofa/fireplace image below only ONE OF YOU UK INTERIOR DESIGNERS IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY automatically came up with an image that I can could choose from to publicize on this blog (automatically generated by Zemanta from Google ). Only one. Amazing. And who are Rogue Designs? Never heard of them…but google.co.uk, wordpres.com and zemanta.com have and now so have you. Go figure!
So you have to have the right words. You have to know what the words are that your customers use in their searches (not so easy!) and then you have to use those words a lot…but not too much! How much is not too much? No-one really exactly knows. But you have to use them sufficiently frequently and towards the start of the various pages on your site. But just write stuff that makes sense don’t try to write the key words a million times per article… that doesn’t work either.
All well and good you might say. If you’ve got this far…which most people haven’t…you’re a long way down the line.
Now the next problem is that the search engines also look at the frequency of how often your pages change. So now you really have a problem. Even if you did a great web site last year Google will downgrade it’s importance in search results this year because the content hasn’t changed in the 12 months. The solution to this is of course to change your words and pictures a lot….but that takes time. Either your time or the time of someone that you pay for. That’s annoying and expensive. But that’s the way it is. Oh yes, and you quickly run out of interesting things that your customer will want to read. That’s annoying too.
If your web site has some sort of e-commerce facility ie products are sold, introduced, discounted etc etc. Then I think that meets the ‘sufficiently changing criterion’ of the search engines. But you are interior designers and many of you will not have a retail front or an internet based retail front. So you won’t be able to do that or won’t want to do that. So what you would do instead is write a blog. And that blog should ideally be a physical part of your web site not an add-on somewhere else on the internet. It must also be frequently updated with posts that contain the right pictures and keywords.
I guarantee you (with caveats! hmmm) that if you do that, then blog weekly for a month and then write an ‘appropriate’ article/blog page; within an hour or so it WILL be on the first page of google for a suitable ‘keyword search’ (techy term, sorry) but obviously things too generic like bbc or ‘interior designer’ won’t work. Maybe, of course, a week or month later it won’t be on the first page as something ‘better’, or more recent or more ‘trusted’ is written! Sorry again! But at least you will have proof that what I am saying has some truth in it. I did the same thing in about September 2011 for our new ‘Luxury Cashmere Throws‘. Click on that link and see if we still come up. If we do still come up then, of course, I am wonderful (hmm) but the more generic you get such as with ‘Cashmere Throws‘ then the less likely our articles will be to come up. [So here 'Cashmere Throw' is a quite generic search with many results returned; but adding in something specific to the market I am targeting, ie the word 'luxury', narrows the results sufficiently so that my new/well-written post figures highly].
Indeed if KOTHEA’s articles still do have a first page listing for that search then it will be because we have been doing this blogging thing for quite a while. And if you have done just that then Mr Google gives you extra gold stars (pagerank) and you rank even higher in search engine results.
So if you are just starting out with a blog and use the wrong or widely used keywords then you will not appear on the first page of your customer’s searches. You have got to be in it for the long term.
Now, to complicate things further. Take a closer look at the search I got you to do on Luxury Cashmere Throws. If you actually click through onto the page in question. You, as a customer, may well be disappointed!! (See I am fallible). The pages that were coming up top were an image of ours on FLICKR and a general press release on one of the colours of our throw. So if you were looking to buy a throw then those pages might not have been good enough for you. Maybe you’d have gone off and looked somewhere else very quickly? Well yes probably. Especially because I did not include a ‘call to action’ to take you from that click to our website or request samples page further down the sale process.
So even if you do the right technical things ie intelligent(ish) blogging, then that’s no good if the customer is not drawn further onto your web presence and actually goes on to buy something. So I committed the cardinal e-sin. I got a click but did nothing about it to convert it into a sale.
3. The Big Brands
If you have a big brand then people will visit your site because they know the brand and at least vaguely associate that brand with selling what they want. So in that situation, it is your branding driving web site visits rather than the content of the site per se or how good the search engines think your site is.
So you smaller interior designers have yet another problem to overcome. Branding of course is a whole different kettle of fish of which web-presence is only one part.
4. Link Building
You will probably get hundreds of overseas based companies emailing you every day to say they can boost the SEO of your web site or guarantee you inbound links to boost your ranking. Hint… they can’t really. And even if they can…it won’t last. And even if they do what are they going to link to? Remember you have to have stuff that your customers is genuinely interested in, can they write that? I doubt it. YOU have to do it.
5. Social Media
And now of course you have to have a presence on Facebook and twitter and all the rest of it. Well, yes you probably do. But don’t get your hopes up too much.
Bizarrely I think that Twitter may well end up being the most effective. There will be the odd few of your blog posts, that effectively get syndicated across like minded people on Twitter, and those few posts will hit home to them and turn into something for your business.
Facebook. Only really useful I think as a mechanism for interacting with people on the move (via smart phones) or who just spend their time in that world more than the other parts of the digital world.
If your blog automatically sends updates to your facebook business page and twitter i think that will be enough to cover you there.
Before you embark on building a facebook world for your potential clients think again why on earth would they come to your facebook world for anything other than a cursory look or query? When they do you have to respond to that but the reality is that you will not have some all-singing all dancing interior design world on either the web or twitter. And even if you do who will go there… other interior designers or your clients!
Good luck. Getting clients was never easy – if that’s any consolation.
For more information on luxury cashmere throws or to request cuttings please visit www.kothea.com. For black faux leather upholstery fabrics try <here> and for mohair velvet and mohair velvet upholstery fabric please follow the links. Upholstery Linen is also one of our specialities as are luxury silk velvet fabrics.