A guide to SEO for architects

This article was originally posted on Archiboo and written by Amanda Baillieu, with contributions from Ben Storey.

Architects ask me if there are any tricks to make sure their website comes out top in Google search. To which my short answer is, not really.

However, there are some basic rules you should follow starting with Google’s own rules for ranking which are about being genuinely popular rather than – as in the old days – employing a SEO specialist who understands the way Google’s algorithms work and then tries to game the system on behalf of their clients.

This means you are in charge but it also means more work for because you need to create regular content so that Google sees your website is active.

It also has to be relevant because if it’s not, it won’t get shared around on social media – SEO and social media go hand in hand – so will just languish in the web’s great echo chamber, unread.

Second, your content needs to be optimised. Again a lot of exotic mist swirls around this word, but it’s quite simple. Just think of it like writing a catchy email subject line to make sure the recipient reads it.

If you use WordPress as your content management system, you should have a Yoast plugin that optimises your SEO and also acts as a guide on what to do, of which the most important are your key words.

This is what you should see if your content is optimised properly.

For example if you make your key word “ London architect” you will be drowned out by the competition. But if you write “Camden social housing architect” then it’ll do much better – but don’t get carried away. Four words are about the maximum – remember a larger engagement with fewer keywords is far more effective than the reverse.

You should also make sure the URLs for your website pages are easy to understand. For example a blog post of mine is : http://archiboo.com/dear/weve-just-won-a-competition-and-the-client-has-agreed-to-a-press-release-do-you-have-any-advice/ – which means a reader and Google can therefore quickly understand the subject area.

All architects should have an endless supply of great images and while Google still has a tough time understanding them and if they’re relevant, they generally make a page more engaging which Google will note and therefore increase the page’s ranking.

And because 50% of all searches now start on a mobile device and visual content is easier to digest than a long steam of content images, along with video, is the most popular form of content on social media and social media is one of the most important metrics with Google.

And don’t forget to give the image file a description – that’s the box that says ‘alt tags” in WordPress.

Finally, Google now dishes out penalties for any bad practice it sees and elevates sites it deems easy to use across laptop, tablet and mobile phone. Basically, this means if your website hasn’t been optimised for mobile, you’re in trouble.

Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s Technology correspondent has written a good blog about what has been dubbed “mobilegeddon” forcing a lot of companies to upgrade their websites since the changes came in last year.

 Every time I come across an architect’s website that I haven’t seen before, I check it on my iPhone and the results are a bit shocking. I’d say about 35% are mobile friendly leaving the rest very vulnerable to tumbling down the rankings.

Ben Storey will be running an archiboo social media workshop and how it can help your SEO. If you are interested in finding out more please email us.