Like it or not, Houzz.com is here to stay. It’s been embraced by our clients who agree with the company tagline that it’s ‘The New Way to Design Your Home’. With nearly 16 million monthly users reported as of early 2014 it’s no longer possible to ignore Houzz as a niche social media fad. Your clients are using it; chances are your competition is using it and if you aren’t you’re missing out.
You’re probably already aware that, first and foremost, Houzz is an image-based search engine and professional directory rolled into one. It relies primarily on home professionals for the consumables. Knowing this, your goal is fairly simple: to be present in the search results for as many of your potential client’s searches as possible. But being present isn’t enough; you want them to click through to your profile, include your images in their Ideabooks, proceed to your website and ultimately hire you.
To do this you have to play by ‘Houzz’ rules. This means providing their search engine with as much information as possible, which on Houzz, is in the form of images, keywords, and the information contained in your profile.
Here’s the problem though, it can be hard to stand out and distinguish yourself from your competition especially in crowded urban markets. So how can you leverage the Houzz platform to your advantage? Here’s four ways to get you started:
1. Complete your profile.
Let’s start with the low hanging fruit. There is no easier way to begin outranking other pros in your local marketplace than by completing your profile. While it’s impossible to know the secret sauce of the Houzz search algorithm, their representatives in the pro-portal emphasize this time after time: completed profiles receive more search traffic.
It makes sense that Houzz would preferentially treat pros that completed their profile in search. They want to offer their users the best possible search results and a pro with a complete profile has more of the things Houzz thinks are important to users in one package. As consumers we understand this concept already – a pro with three reviews will have more credibility than one with no reviews.
What does this mean for you? Here’s how the profile completion percentages break down:
- Profile Basics (20%)
- Complete Your Contact Info (15%)
- Describe Your Business (10%)
- Upload 5+ Photos of Your Work (25%)
- Receive 3+ Reviews (15%)
- Place a Houzz badge on your Website (15%)
Most of these are simply a matter of filling in the blanks and completing the tasks. The primary stumbling block in the above list is usually getting past the review threshold. If your profile isn’t complete for this reason put all your efforts into this one single task. Consider asking other professionals you’ve worked with: consultants, contractors, and architects if you have to. Remember that a new client will likely view one of your former client’s review as worth far more.
TIP: Put these reviews to work as testimonials on your own website too.
2. Upload (more) high quality photos.
Five photos is a minimum for the completed profile designation, but really that’s too few to make a profile that a potential client will want to spend time looking through. Remember the primary function of Houzz is to provide users with relevant images. Your five images make for an awfully small needle in a haystack of millions.
High quality images are ubiquitous on Houzz – a minimum width of 2400 pixels offers you the best chance of being showcased on the homepage Ideabooks. If you’re lacking professional photography, upload only the best quality images you have. This is a place where poorly composed, dimly lit images can really penalize you. Remember you’re being compared to world-class professional images an amateur image is easy for users (and editors) to pass over.
If you don’t have any professional quality photos of finished spaces (Houzz’s preferred favorite) start off by uploading high-resolution computer or hand drawn renderings and drawings. Recognize that these aren’t looked upon with the same relevancy as images of finished spaces; you’ll supplement them with time and with more completed projects.
3. Add descriptions to each image.
Following the completion of the profile, this is the number one area that I find most pros can improve upon. Adding keyword-rich (for the search engine’s sake) descriptive text to each image is critical to being discovered. When you upload photos to Houzz, you’re offered a place to enter the project description, which is important, but notice that each image also has a field for descriptive text. Describe what you see in the image from the perspective of a potential client performing a search. Colors, textures, materials, shapes, furniture, appliances, and specific details – nothing is too trivial to leave out. The more you describe the more virtual file drawers the search engine will categorize your image into.
TIP: Try to avoid using ‘Archispeak’ – not the excellent, must-listen-to podcast –rather the highly technical, architectural terminology. These are less likely to be searched for by your potential clients. Some architectural parlance is okay as there are contributors (like me) who do search for those terms and you’ll stand out to them.
4. Create Ideabooks.
If you’re not familiar with Ideabooks, they’re a core feature of Houzz and one of the more useful tools on the site. They’re essentially virtual file folders for users (and pros) to store images relevant to a specific ‘idea’ or project. They’re useful for communicating design ideas between pro and consumer and for deciphering the subjective language of design in straightforward visual terms.
Your goal is to get your images into as many user Ideabooks as possible. Why? First, for social proof as images appear with a ticker showing the number of Ideabooks they’ve been added to at the bottom of the image. When a user sees an image that’s been added to 500+ Ideabooks it confirms their good taste, naturally.
But, more importantly, (assuming you’ve tagged your image with keywords relevant to your image), this proves relevancy in the eyes of the Houzz search algorithm. It understands that users are searching for a certain term – copper siding for example -and finding things they like in images like yours. It then suggests other images that correlate to your image – “People who like this image also like these images…” It’s similar to the shopping experience at Amazon, where each search prompts more products, “People who viewed this item also viewed.” Entering this ecosystem –essentially a referral engine – is the real key to unlocking the power of Houzz for your business.
This is where creating Ideabooks comes into play. When you’re first getting started, completing your profile and uploading images, they won’t be in any Ideabooks yet. You can wait for others to add your images to Ideabooks, but that takes time. You can jumpstart this process by creating your own Ideabooks (keyword rich) and embed your images alongside other relevant images. Find work that looks like the work you do (or shares similar keywords) and correlate the images. Show the search engine how your work is related to the other work. You’ll want to be selective curating these Ideabooks; there’s no reason to put your local competition’s images in your Ideabooks, right? Be thoughtful about this and you’ll begin building social proof while telling the search engine exactly how you should be found.
If you complete even one of these four tasks you’ll organically begin to appear in more search results. Of course there are many other ways to be discovered, including paying for the opportunity, but I’ll leave that for another post.
I’d love to hear how Houzz is working for YOUR business. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.Author Bio Eric Reinholdt is an award-winning architect, dedicated father, mountain climber, guitar player, blogger and author. He is the founder of 30X40 Design Workshop, a residential design studio bordering Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island just off the coast of Maine. This is where he lives and practices in a modern Longhouse, designed by himself with his wife, two boys and one cat. His architecture is simple, modern, site-specific, and craft-driven utilizing local materials and familiar forms juxtaposed against modern, open floor plans with minimalist detailing. It’s work that celebrates humble materials, subtle contrasts and finely crafted details. Eric is also a professional weekly contributor for Houzz.com where he has authored more than 50 Ideabooks published on their homepage and in newsletters to date. He’s the author of The Unofficial Guide to Houzz.com: Create a Profile That Resonates with Clients and Outranks Your Competition available on Amazon.com ***
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