“Houzz, in particular, presents an excellent model for how a high degree of user engagement can result in premium local search results.”
– Search Engine Watch, June, 2012
Houzz has become an integral part of any Interior Designer’s marketing campaign largely because of its dominance in the search engine results. In a search for an “Interior Designer in Philadelphia” Houzz came up first in the organic results, just in front of my client Donna Hoffman.
This is a mixed blessing for Interior Designers. On the one hand, if you are already at the top of your SEO game you might find that Houzz has taken your top position and bumped you down a notch. And, this definitely results in traffic going to Houzz instead of to you. In the case of Philadelphia there are 400 designers there registered on Houzz displaying their work. Ouch! The competition.
The good news is that if you haven’t yet developed your marketing you now have a chance to be listed at the top via Houzz.
Once you see the value of Houzz you will want to create a professional profile, upload your project images, and begin participating in the optimization of your profile.
As with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Houzz uses secret algorithms to determine the order of their search results.
After careful analysis (I applied my SEO knowledge to examining Houzz results), here are the important factors in their secret algorithm, listed in what I consider to be their order of importance:
- Having a photo that is placed in other people’s Ideabooks (see below)
- Reviews- quantity and quality
- Having lots of followers (and possibly also following others, but not as many as are following you)
- Number of project photos
- Responding to questions from others (discussion participation)
- Having a Houzz link from your website’s homepage to Houzz (can be in the form of their “badge” or not)- homepage only.
- Participation with Ideabooks
- Reviewing other Houzzers
Thus, don’t expect to be found in the top of Houzz search without the minimum of 5 photos, 3 reviews, and the Houzz badge on your website (unless you don’t list a website, and then they appear to overlook that you didn’t provide them the backlink).
What Really Matters
When I did a Houzz search for Interior Designers in New York City the results (here) show the #1 position belongs to Marie Burgos Design. This top placement should yield her more great design projects then she could ever accept. In examining her position, I notice that she has:
- 12 5-star reviews
- 373 followers (and she follows no one)
- She does NOT have a Houzz badge on her website (which really intrigued me)
- 19 projects consisting of 152 images
- 69 discussion comments
- 0 Ideabooks
- 17 Facebook likes, 2 Tweets, and 1 Google +1 on her profile page
- and, a Best of Houzz 2012 badge on her profile from this bedroom image that was added to 12,097 Ideabooks
Added to 12,097 Ideabooks. This is why she is #1 in New York City (and why she has 373 followers) and this is why we determined that the single most important metric in Houzz’s algorithm is having a photo that is placed in other people’s Ideabooks.
Some of Houzz’ system can be gamed. Other elements, like having 12,097 people add your image to their Ideabooks cannot, although it can certainly be encouraged through marketing efforts. In the end, your images will speak for your work. If you have fantastic images that people love, you will rise up. If you don’t, you will be largely unnoticed. In less competitive markets, involvement alone will take you far. In more competitive environments, you need to both be involved and to have the images to flaunt your design work.
Not everyone searches by major metropolitan area, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t compete in those searches. There are always town/zip code searches that provide more local and less competitive searches.
So you have now seen Houzz through the eyes of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultant. As with search engine results positions, top Houzz placements leads to more eyes on your work, more calls coming your way, and more projects to engage with. If done well, you’ll be turning away clients for a lack of time.
Houzz Effects Your Website’s SEO
Houzz does not give what we call dofollow links, which means that the link on your Houzz profile that points to your website does NOT help your website’s SEO. Most social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, provide no-follow links that do not help your SEO directly. Houzz is now the same.
However, Google is always trying to find new ways to determine how to deliver quality search results, and thus a powerful Houzz profile, which can be partially determined by the Page Authority, MozRank, and MozTrust (see below), can help Google understand the connectedness between your firm/name and your major keywords.
To understand this better I turned to one of my SEO tools and fed into it three different Houzz interior designer profile pages- the top NYC position holder Marie Burgos, the active Houzz user Joanne Jakab, and the relatively inactive profile of Washington DC interior designer Ebonee Bachman of Moonlight Interiors. I tried to also include this new account for interior designer Donna Hoffman in the testing, but the tool did not yet have sufficient information on her profile page to include it. Here are the results:
What this tells us is that your success on Houzz, as determined by your placement in the rankings and your connectivity to other pages via engaged activity, yields a higher SEO value for your profile page.
Marie’s getting a link with an SEO value of 62/100, which is exceptional. Joanne is getting one of 54/100, which is very good. And, Ebonee is getting one of 40/100 which is still of value, but not enough to bump her up too much in organic search. What interesting is that Joanne’s MozRank and MozTrust (two SEO metrics) are higher than Marie’s metrics probably because Joanne links to her page from her website and Marie does not.
In many ways, Joanne is sending a link to Houzz that is hurting Joanne in search, as Joanne, the authority in her geographic keywords, is recommended Houzz, but Houzz is not recommending her with a link.
It is up to the SEO strategist to decide how to best handle this situation. By providing the link to Houzz you are increasing your Houzz profile’s strength, however you are voting Houzz up in the search engine results for “your town interior designer.” Since the best course of action on this is situational, I’d turn to your SEO provider to give you suggestions on how to best handle your specific case.
Surely this inquiry will help DIY marketers with their Houzz efforts, and it will help any good SEO to see what needs to be done to help their clients. The only thing I left out is the recipe for my “secret sauce,” or the unique, advanced strategies that I employ based upon these findings. And, these are too situational to be put into universal strategies. What would be a positive strategy for one situation could actually hurt another. And, it is always changing.
Let me know if you have noticed anything that factors in Houzz’s algorithms that hasn’t been mentioned above. Thanks!
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