Years ago, cramming website copy with meta tag keywords was all it took to achieve a top ranking in Google results. These days, the search engine giant requires a more nuanced and sophisticated effort, rewarding sites that provide a fulfilling and enjoyable experience for users.
What happens when people click on your site is of paramount importance, writes contributing author Tom Gresham in the cover story of this month’s Floral Management. “After all, just because you show up in online searches doesn’t mean customers like what they see,” he said. “If online shopping and dating have taught retailers, marketers and consumers anything, it’s that there’s always something (or someone) else out there vying for your attention. Why settle for the first thing you find?”
What makes for an amazing customer experience on a website? Search engine optimization experts offered Gresham a few examples:
- Easy Selection and Checkout. According to Ken Sons, director of operations for GravityFree, the most common and consequential mistakes that florists make online often can be traced to one overarching oversight: failing to put themselves in their customers’ shoes.
Who wants to wade through pages and pages trying to find the right option? Make sure your site is organized by category and prices and updated with product that is actually available.
Another faux pas? Requiring too many clicks for customers to purchase. “Without an effective checkout process that removes as many barriers as possible, you will lose sales,” said Michael Delgorio, director of corporate development for Lovingly.
Paul Danehy of Currans Flowers in Danvers, Massachusetts sets his shop’s checkout page to allow Paypal and ApplePay, in addition to storing customers’ preferred credit card info. “Customers want a hassle-free shopping experience that lets them choose a gift and check out quickly so that they may go on with their busy lives,” he said.
- Good Looks. In the Instagram era, you better believe people expect to see beautiful images that reflect a florist’s creativity and artistry. That means updating your site with seasonal designs personalized for your shop. Without them, you’re giving customers a reason to simply price-shop online, said Ryan Freeman, president of Strider Search Marketing. “Unique-to-you products with great descriptions let the customer create a scenario in their minds involving your product and service,” he said. “Tell them how it will make the recipient feel. Push the benefits, not the stem count.”
Click here for tips on taking high-quality photos.
- Keeping Content Fresh. If your home page is still showing Mother’s Day arrangements, stop reading and update it pronto. “Google interprets written content to confirm a sit’s relevancy to a user’s search,” said Katie Kerr, CFO and head of EFlorist for Teleflora. “Without it, a site can appear less relevant to a search engine and therefore lose ranking.” Examples of fresh content include a blog, where you discuss trends, new designs, seasonal specials and activities, events and care and handling tips; gift-giving categories organized according to timeliness (i.e. prom is front and center in the spring, while Valentine’s Day dominates in January and February); and an “About Us” page rich with personal details about your shop’s longevity, community ties and staff personalities.
“The biggest mistake is to do nothing,” said Renato Sogueco, PFCI, vice president of digital strategy and education for BloomNet. “Google and other search engines want to see regular changes made to websites, not only to what is presented on the page for consumers, but also in the html code, such as the ‘Title’ and ‘Description’ tags for every page. SEO changes should be applied monthly.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg. For more detailed advice, check out “Rank & Style.”