Search Engine Optimisation. Sigh.

SEO is one of those lovely abbreviations that have become commonplace to the point that most people know what it stands for, but that very few know what that actually means or entails. Unfortunately we’d include ourselves in that number. To be honest, we’ve blithely ignored the topic since our inception. We hoped that as we grew as a business our placement in search engine results would climb at a similar rate. That hasn’t been the case. We do OK - we’re somewhere on the second or third page depending on the words you use (“bouquet delivery” or “flower delivery” for example), but looking at the people who come before us we’re pretty sure we should be a fair way higher, pretty much regardless of the metric you’re using.

Now we appreciate that SEO is some people’s full time job. We don’t know what that involves yet - otherwise there would be no need for this public rumination - but we have started doing some googling. We thought it might be interesting to summarise what we’ve found so far, from the perspective of people who don’t really get it.

One of the things that comes up is making sure the words you use in the text in your website is “search engine friendly”. There are subtle and less subtle versions of this. The former is making sure that you name drop the words you think people will search for as often as possible * FLOWER DELIVERY * in your copy. The latter involves what you quite often see at the bottom of quite a lot of trade websites, which is basically just a list of googleable words, sometimes in text that has been made the some colour as the background of the page to hide it. Sometimes people don’t even bother with that. Here’s a good example in how you can quite literally write down every service you provide in a page! We’ve decided against doing this, because we want people to like being on our website when they’re there. And because it sounds like hard, tedious work.

Another sneaky trick seems to be changing the names of all of the images on your website from something like IMG2017385092 to something along the lines of “Flower Delivery London” or “Bouquets by Bicycle”. Like the above, it seems to be a way of sneaking in as much googleable text as possible. This sounded easy so we did it.

Links to and from other websites also seem to be popular. We’ve forgotten the exact terminology involved, but basically if you have lots of links to relevant content in other websites and lots to your site from others. This feels a bit like all of that click-bait title stuff - “10 tips the professional florists don’t want you to know…” etc. Though this is clearly a very compelling headline, it’s just not something we’re willing to participate in. Not yet at least.

The further we get through these articles the more we get the feeling that a lot of these tactics involve a compromise on usability. That may be a misunderstanding on our part, but it’s certainly the feeling we’re starting to get. We could of course just chuck a load of money at adwords. But that feels a bit like cheating. We’ve gotten this far with organic growth, it’d be so nice to keep going the same way.

It feels like we’re building up to a question here. We don’t have one. It just feels like an interesting and relevant process for a lot of people out there and we’d love to hear from others in the same spot. Especially if you’ve totally cracked the code and are top of the google rankings for everything!

Florence Hill