digital disruptors | Jun 12, 2020 |
How these designers got to the top of Google

​There are plenty of ways that designers get work these days: through word of mouth, good press, even the occasional chance encounter. Sometimes it’s as simple as a client going to Google​, and typing in “interior designer” and the name of a city—so Business of Home did just that. Across four cities, we spoke to designers at the top of the heap to ask them how they approach search engine optimization (SEO).

Denver, Colorado
In Denver, the first name to show up is Andrea Schumacher, and her website has all the marks of SEO best practices: The page load time is almost instantaneous, the images are crisp, and the navigation is easy to use. From page to page, the keyword “Denver” appears, a strategic plug that bolsters search results. A major factor, though, is that Andrea Schumacher Interiors has been in business since 1999. According to Holly Borchardt, the firm’s procurement specialist (and unofficial SEO consultant), “With Andrea, there’s a few things that keep her there [at the top]—she’s been around for 20 years and has mentions and links that go back a long way. Google carries weight for that,” she explains. “Building on that, getting links from industry-relevant sources like Luxe, House Beautiful—that’s also important.”

Another key tactic: Schumacher and her team are constantly refreshing the content on their website, making a point to upload new images and press mentions and to mix up words on various pages. They also work within Google’s systems, taking advantage of all of the possible channels for businesses. “Google loves Google,” says Borchardt. “That’s where the vast majority of searches are done. So using their business listing and keeping that up to date, putting images there, making sure other online listings are accurate—we review basic consistencies.”

Calabasas, California
For Interior Archaeology founder and principal Tammy Randall Wood, SEO is a daily consideration—with the counsel of her tech-savvy husband, she’s constantly tweaking her website, checking on designer keywords, making mention of Los Angeles–area neighborhoods and making sure that the photography is up to par. “It’s something that is incredibly important. I would have hired it out [if I didn’t have his help],” she says. “When potential clients search for the website, good SEO is a huge support in their decision. When they Google us and see us come up first, it’s like ‘Ah, OK. That’s it.’ It’s not a tool to get somebody to call, but it’s amazing support,” she says.

For all of the adjustments that Wood makes to her website, she often follows a less-is-more philosophy. In retooling her website recently, she took down the photos from two projects to narrow her portfolio, ensuring that only the best images were being featured. And while she works with clients across the country, the language on her site frames her as a Calabasas designer. “We work coast to coast, but for SEO you won’t go anywhere if you focus on two places at once. We made that mistake early on—now, our focus is in L.A., because that’s where the office is.”

Boca Raton, Florida
For Nikki Levy, writing her company’s website language with Google in mind wasn’t a natural instinct. “I knew nothing about SEO when I started my website,” she admits. She hired a web designer and focused on building a site that was representative of her firm and their aesthetic—which includes a regularly updated blog. “It helps with SEO. There are a lot of posts, and it’s who I am,” she says. “I’m not doing it to be corporate or commercial—some days I’m vulnerable, some days I’m funny, some days I’m boring. It’s reflective of who we are as a company.” But in addition to a window into the firm, a blog also provides opportunities to add links to articles that mention your firm, to social media accounts, and to other pages on the website—all of which contribute to strong SEO.

Austin, Texas
John Snell of John-William Interiors suggests that his company’s SEO success might be because it’s not only a design firm, but a furniture showroom as well. When the pandemic set in, the company built out its site to include an e-commerce platform, and traffic has been up ever since. “The website has evolved,” he says. “About two years ago, we decided to go to a much cleaner format for the website, and the inventory part has helped SEO.” But that’s not all that’s helping: “We do spend money on Google Ads and Facebook ads. We have money in our budget for a photographer to do our images. We also advertise in regular media: We’ve done TV campaigns, and when we use traditional forms in advertising, there’s a boost to web traffic.”

This is all to say, there are a few things that most businesses should take care to do: Google your firm, and make sure that what comes up is what you want to see; link to press mentions, to your Instagram page, to a Pinterest board; and be sure to cycle new content through your site. In the words of Levy, though, web analytics can be something of a Pandora’s box: “If you pay too much attention to the numbers and statistics, you cater to the numbers. We’re interested in working with people.”

Homepage image: © Tierney | Adobe Stock

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.