Funeral Home SEO 101

Yesterday's post covered a portion of "the what" of Search Engine Optimization. Today the topic is what your funeral home can start doing to improve it. As long as you own your website, you can make these changes yourself or get your webmaster to make them at your request.

NOTE: Let's get this out of the way first. If your website does not already have online obituaries on it, start there. That is the overwhelming reason families go to your website. If you do not have that essential piece, fix that before going further.

Each page of your website is built using website code called HTML. Inside this code is Meta-Data. Meta-Data is not seen by the website visitor, but is read by all website browsers (like Internet Explorer, FireFox, etc) and search engine crawlers (like Google, Yahoo, MSN). This Meta-Data tells the browsers and crawlers what your site is about.

There are three vital components to Meta-Data that you should know about.

Title - As Meta-Data goes, the Title is the most important part there is. The title is the portion of your website that shows up at the top of the browser. This is the piece of information that describes what your website is about to the search engines. Search engines give a lot of weight to the title. Would you publish a book without giving it a title? Of course not. Make sure EACH PAGE has a title that reflects what that page is about. For example, just "Home" is bad because it does not mean anything. "Smith Funeral Home Plano, Texas" is good because it has the business name "Smith Funeral Home", type of business "Funeral Home", and location "Plano, Texas". You have 70 characters available for each title on each page so make them count.

Description – This is the elevator speech or summary of what that specific web page is about. Ideally this summary should also include the keywords you are optimizing that page for. Google uses the Meta-Description as the sentence you see in the results as long as the website has provided it. If it is not there, then the search engines just pick the top text on the website regardless of its relevancy. "Smith Funeral Home in Plano, Texas is available to help with all burial, cremation, and prearrangement needs" would be a good Meta-Description for a home page.

Keywords – Keywords are basically the bullet points that describe each web page. Keywords are no longer weighted as heavily by the search engines as they once were, but are still important. It works very well when the Keywords match the content on the website, the Meta-Description, and the web page Title. Do not go crazy adding keywords just to see if it will help potential searches. If your website is not geared towards selling caskets and urns online then do not include "caskets, urns" in your keywords. "Funeral Home, Cremation, Mortuary, Prearrangement, Plano, Texas" is a fair selection.

To see what Meta-Data is already in your website, you can view the page source. For Internet Explorer, click View from the drop down menus. Then click Source or Page Source (depending on version). The Meta-Data should be near the top of the HTML code.

Mastering these three components puts you well on your way to improving your website's search engine performance. Remember something important though, do this for each page of your website. The Title, Meta-Description, and Keywords should be different for your home page, your preplanning page, your staff page, etc. That gives each page the opportunity to rank for those particular searches where it is relevant. Thus you have more opportunities to be found higher than the competition.