This blog post aims to be the ultimate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guide for architects & architecture firms by explaining everything you could possibly need to know to create a winning SEO strategy that drives traffic & generates leads.
We’ll be diving deep into all of the major areas you will need to focus your architecture firm’s efforts on if you want to have a successful SEO strategy.
By following the strategies and tactics discussed in this article, you will have a step-by-step action plan to help you research, plan, and execute an SEO strategy for your architecture firm.
Why Is SEO Important For Architecture Firms?
Let’s start off by discussing why SEO is important for architecture firms in the first place (and what potential benefits you can expect from pursuing an SEO campaign).
SEO is simply the practice of producing quality content and optimizing your website so that it ranks high up on Google search engine results pages when prospective clients search for terms related to your firm’s services and geographic area.
Whether your firm offers residential or commercial services (or a mixture of both) potential clients will almost always go to Google to search for firms in their area who would be a good fit to help them with the project they are considering.
This is unless they already know of a local architect/architecture firm or have someone in their personal network that refers them to one.
So basically, optimizing your website for SEO is essential for getting found organically online by people who have never heard of your firm before.
Because if someone doesn’t know of an architect or has someone that can refer them to one, you can be 99% sure that the first place they're going to go to find one is Google.
And if your firm doesn’t show up on the first page when they go to make that search, your firm might as well not exist at all.
That’s why SEO is so important for architecture firms.
The Benefits of an SEO Campaign For Architecture Firms
SEO has become one of the most lucrative traffic channels for all types of businesses because it provides the highest ROI of nearly any online marketing effort.
This is because the traffic you can expect to receive from ranking on the 1st page of Google will be of very high quality.
And that’s because the traffic generated from an SEO campaign comes directly from people who search for the keywords you are targeting.
Because of this, you can be sure that the people that find your website via Google are actually in the market for what your firm offers (because why else would they be searching for it?).
Contrast this with something like Facebook Ads where you are targeting people based on a demographic profile or past actions they’ve taken across the internet.
While on paper it may seem like they are a potential prospect, in reality, it’s very hard to tell.
That’s why even if you have a Facebook Ads campaign that does well driving traffic, you may not see any conversions (leads) from your efforts. That’s because the traffic in this example was low quality.
Or maybe you’re able to generate leads, but once you get on a call with these prospects you discover that they’re unqualified and not a good fit for your architecture firm.
This isn’t to say Facebook Ads don’t have their place in a well-rounded digital marketing strategy for architecture firms - they certainly do. They just don’t tend to be the best lead generation source for service-based businesses like architecture firms.
SEO is great because your architecture firm will get in front of potential prospects at the exact moment they begin to research their project. This means they are in the market for your firm’s services.
Further, SEO will give your firm a tremendous competitive advantage over its competitors.
That’s because SEO requires a long-term commitment and firms that don’t have a strong SEO presence won’t be able to suddenly compete with you overnight.
Instead, they’ll need to spend at least 6-12 months pursuing an SEO strategy in order to begin ranking on the 1st page of Google (and let’s be honest - most of them will drop out well before that).
Contrast this with online advertising such as Google or Facebook Ads, where any architecture firm can begin spending money to target the same prospects as you.
At Inbound Web Development, we tell our clients that SEO provides a protective moat around our architecture firm clients' online marketing strategy.
This is why we recommend that SEO is the first digital marketing channel clients focus on at the completion of a website build.
Once your firm has established a strong SEO presence, then it makes sense to expand into other areas of digital marketing.
How To Plan An SEO Campaign For Architecture Firms
So now that we’ve covered why SEO is important for both individual architects & architecture firms along with the benefits that come with strong keyword rankings on Google, let’s discuss the key things you need to do to plan your campaign.
As the saying goes: Failure to plan is planning to fail. That’s why it's critical you take a few hours to do the necessary research to put together a strong SEO plan.
Audit Your Site’s Current Rankings
You can’t get to where you want to go without first knowing where your architecture firm stands regarding its current SEO rankings.
That’s why the first thing you need to do is audit your website to discover what keywords it's currently ranking for.
This will allow you to see what categories/topics of keywords you need to focus on and prioritize what service pages & content to focus on once it is time to execute the SEO strategy you put together.
Fortunately, it is very easy to find out what keywords your architecture firm’s website is currently ranking for.
There are many SEO tools out there that will simply have you paste in the URL of your firm’s website and it will return a list of keyword rankings.
Our favorite tools at Inbound Web Development for this are SEMrush, Ahrefs, and SERanking.
While these all require a paid subscription, quality SEO software is ultimately necessary to track the results of your efforts and continually optimize your firm’s website for SEO.
If you are just getting started with SEO, the three tools above all offer a free trial that will allow you to view your website’s current rankings. For those that would prefer to stick with a free tool, we recommend Ubersuggest.
However, do note that in our experience the paid tools offer much more accurate data along with many other features that make the investment well worth it.
Once you’ve audited your website’s current SEO keyword rankings, you can save them in the SEO software to track them going forward or export the results to a spreadsheet.
Audit Your Competitor's Site Rankings
Once you’ve got your architecture firm’s SEO rankings on hand, it's time to figure out how your competitors are currently performing on Google.
Here you will basically repeat the step above, just instead of pasting in your firm’s website URL, it will be that of your competitors.
We recommend compiling a list of your top 5-10 competitors and saving their SEO rankings into the software tools above.
Or if spreadsheets are more your style, you can create one master competitor SEO spreadsheet and save each competitor as a separate tab (or however you like - we’re not in charge of how you organize your spreadsheets).
You should review your competitor's SEO rankings because it will give you insight into what keyword phrases would be worth researching & pursuing in the future (more on that in the next section).
This will reduce a lot of manual research you would have had to do otherwise. And it will help you further prioritize what keywords to initially target based on the competitive landscape.
Finally, by reviewing your competitors’ SEO rankings you can see what’s worked for them and use this information to your advantage. Think of it like a cheat sheet you can follow.
Do Keyword Research
Now the last part of planning out this SEO campaign for your architecture firm will be to research specific keywords that you want it to rank for.
Doing this will allow you to see how many people are searching for a keyword, how difficult it will be to rank for it, and how much traffic you can expect to receive if you do.
With this info on hand, you can then prioritize what keywords to begin targeting once you begin executing this SEO campaign on behalf of your firm.
All of the SEO tools mentioned earlier will allow you to research keywords and save them all to a list.
We recommend starting out researching keywords related to the core services your architecture firm provides. You can also explore potential keywords based on the project types your firm works on.
The key thing here is to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal prospect and think about what they would be searching for at this stage.
You should then branch out into exploring terms that feature the location (state, city, and potentially the county) your firm is located or services clients.
If your architecture firm has multiple locations, you would want to repeat this step for each location.
While this may seem daunting at first, the tools above will help by providing you with related keywords to whatever you type in. So this will help you discover high-volume search keywords people type into Google related to whatever you input.
At this point, you know your architecture firm’s website's current SEO rankings, and that of your competitors, and have a list of keywords you want to target and rank for once it comes time to execute the SEO strategy you’ve put together.
With this preliminary research now out of the way, let’s discuss what you need to do to begin ranking for these keywords.
Optimize For Organic Results
The organic search results on Google are all of the non-paid listings you see after entering a search. The goal of any SEO campaign is to rank as high as possible on the organic listings for your target keywords.
So, how do you do that?
That’s what we’ll be addressing in this section.
Fortunately, it’s very straightforward to see how you can begin to rank for all the keyword phrases you found while doing keyword research earlier by breaking down what types of content you need to create in the below areas.
Create Service Pages
The first thing you will want to do is create a service page for each of the main services or project types your architecture firm works on.
This will let Google know the types of services you offer to clients. It’s also the first step towards ranking for all the different variations of that service (which you will want to eventually create additional service pages for) and local service pages which feature the service keyword along with a geographic location.
Many architecture firms simply have one main service page linked in the navigation of their website that briefly lists all of the individual services they offer.
But they don’t have dedicated pages for each one explaining the specific details that they entail.
This is a big mistake.
At a macro level, the more quality content you feed Google’s search algorithm, the more keywords you can expect to rank for along with stronger rankings of those keywords.
Creating main service pages is also necessary to provide a great experience to visitors on your architecture firm’s website and explain the key details they need to know.
These pages will ultimately have a direct impact on the number of leads your site is able to generate.
This will help you educate prospects (leading to fewer questions during the sales process) and lead to more conversions.
Now when it comes to developing these pages, you’re going to want to be creating them with the primary focus being on humans, not search engines.
That’s because these pages will be featured on the main navigation of your website (unlike the other website pages we’ll be creating which will only be found via Google search - more on that in a moment).
It’s also necessary to create these main service pages before or alongside the other service area and local service pages you will be creating.
This way your firm’s website has a higher chance of appearing when prospects in your state or city search for architecture firms.
Because before you can rank for very specific service area keywords (ex. Nashville Mid-Century Modern Architecture Firm), you first need to have a page dedicated to the main service keyword.
Create Service Area Pages
The next type of service page you will want to create is what is called “Service Area” page. You should create one of these pages for every location your firm has or every large metro area your firm services.
So if for example you run a small architecture shop in Hoboken, New Jersey, and primarily work with clients in that area, then you would only need to create one service area page.
However, if you are a large architecture firm with ten locations across the United States, then you would want to create a service area page for each of those ten locations.
Think of these pages like a mini Google My Business profile that you have self-hosted on your firm’s website. They don’t have to feature a ton of content. And if you have multiple locations, each can share the same design template so all you have to do is vary the copy.
What these pages do is make it crystal clear where your firm is located, what areas you service, and what project types/services your firm provides in these areas.
Providing Google with this information is essential to be able to rank for local keywords in the geographic area(s) of your firm's services.
Simply having the location of your firm listed on your site’s footer & contact page doesn't cut it anymore. SEO has been around for at least 15 years at this point and is simply too competitive for that to work.
Overall, these pages will be helpful for bolstering your site’s overall SEO presence but are not a critical ranking factor.
We just tell you this so you can prioritize what SEO deliverables to work on (because as you are probably starting to see by now, there is a lot that goes into an SEO campaign for architecture firms).
The main area where you will want to focus your efforts on is creating local service pages, which we’ll cover in the next section.
Create Local Service Pages
Developing Local Service Pages is the primary way your architecture firm will begin to drive highly-qualified traffic to your website by ranking for keywords related to its services within its service area.
Further, the keywords these Local Service Pages will rank for are highly-valuable bottom-of-the-funnel keywords.
Meaning these are the types of keywords people search Google for when they are ready to hire an architecture firm and are now in the market to find a quality service provider to help with their project.
These pages are very similar to the main service pages linked to the navigation of your firm’s website. However, you can be a lot more specific by clearly targeting a local service-related keyword (ex. Traditional Architecture Firm in Denver).
Now, these pages wouldn’t be found on the main navigation of your firm’s website. Rather, they would only be able to be found in Google search as people search for that term or a related one.
Ever come across an architecture firm’s website that seems to be ranking for every local keyword related to their services?
It’s because they likely have a local service landing page targeting that keyword.
And they likely don’t just have a few of these pages.
To rank for every single service they offer, associated variations, and the different areas they service, they likely have anywhere between 25-50 (or maybe even more) of these types of pages.
This is what is ultimately necessary if you want your firm to rank for hundreds or thousands of keywords related to its services and local service area.
At the end of the day, SEO is a marathon and not a sprint. It will take time to create all of these pages, but it's absolutely necessary if you want to do SEO right and get the results you want.
What we especially love about creating these local service landing pages is that they can easily be plugged into a Google Ads campaign.
So if later on your architecture firm would be perfectly set up to pursue a paid advertising campaign (which we recommend in conjunction with SEO to get the most results from your digital marketing efforts).
Click here to see how we’ve successfully implemented this local service landing page strategy for one of our architecture firm clients.
Produce Quality Content
The types of pages we covered above (Service Pages, Service Area Pages, and Local Service Pages) are critical for ranking for terms related to your firm’s service area.
Further, these types of keywords are bottom-of-the-funnel ones. Meaning the people who search these are ready to hire an architecture firm.
However, for your architecture firm’s SEO campaign to be truly effective at driving new business, it needs to rank for keywords across the marketing funnel.
Here is a brief overview of what the three steps of a marketing funnel typically entail in regard to your architecture firm.
Top of Funnel: Prospect has just become aware of the need/or desire to hire an architecture firm but needs to do research on their project before they can move forward with eventually hiring a firm.
Middle of Funnel: Prospect is aware of what they want to accomplish and has a general idea of what it will take, but needs expert help to make a purchasing decision.
Bottom of the Funnel: Prospect has done all the research they need to and is ready to find an architecture firm in their area capable of doing their project right.
Your firm’s goal with any SEO campaign is to rank for keywords across each step of the funnel.
This will allow you to become known to prospects who are both just starting to research a potential project and those who are ready to hire a firm very soon.
The primary way your firm can rank for top & middle of the funnel keywords is to produce high-quality blog, video, or audio content (don’t worry - we’ll provide specific tips for each).
Here, you will want to explain various aspects of what specific architecture projects entail and answer common questions people tend to have before hiring an architecture firm.
By producing this type of content, your firm’s website will appear when people Google these search terms (because Google is always the first place people go when they have research-related questions).
People will then engage with your content just as they begin to research their project. Based on the value they receive from your content, they will begin to view your firm as an expert, trustworthy source.
And as they continue to engage with more content, they will begin to know, like, and trust your firm.
Once you’ve built this type of relationship with a prospect, the sales process will be very smooth once they reach out to schedule an initial consultation.
To plan out what topics you want to cover with this type of content, we recommend starting with the types of questions your business development team (or you - if you’re the owner of a small team) finds itself repeatedly answering during the sales process.
This way going forward prospects can get these answers ahead of time as they browse your firm’s website.
And even if they don’t consume the content ahead of your initial meeting with them, you can simply then offer a short response during the sales meeting and send the piece of content over after for a more in-depth explanation.
This also goes a long way towards convincing prospects that your architecture firm is the right one for them. Because clearly you know what you’re talking about and have done your homework.
Plus, if they happen to be considering other architecture firms, all things being equal if you're the only firm that provided value and educated them during the sales process, it’s pretty straightforward who they’re going to choose.
Now once you have a list of topics that will help with the sales process, we then recommend doing more keyword research.
But this time instead of focusing on service & geographic-related keywords like earlier, focus on finding keywords that prospects in the top and middle of the funnel are likely to search.
Typically, you can use the words how, what, when, where, and why as the basis to form a top or middle-of-the-funnel search query.
These types of searches tend to be question-related, whereas the bottom-of-the-funnel ones is very statement oriented.
Now when it comes to creating content for your architecture firm to rank for SEO, you really need to focus on creating high-quality content.
SEO for architecture firms is too competitive today to be able to rank with low-quality content.
While a decade ago you could write up a quick 500-word blog post and be on the first page almost immediately, today you need to take a totally different approach.
Key Factors For Creating Quality Content
When it comes to creating content for your architecture firm’s SEO campaign, quality is more important than quantity.
Seriously, producing low-quality content will not only do anything to improve your website’s SEO presence, it could actually harm your rankings.
Below are tips to ensure your architecture firm follows SEO best practices as it begins to create content across a wide variety of mediums.
About two years ago, Google’s search algorithm received a major update called EAT which stands for Expertise, Trust, and Authority.
Essentially, Google now heavily considers the source/author who produces the content to determine how trustworthy and authoritative the content is.
As you can probably guess, the more trustworthy & authoritative your website’s content is, the higher Google will rank it.
Below are specific tips for the main types of content your architecture firm will likely produce as part of its SEO campaign.
By following the advice for each content medium, you will position your content to match Google’s latest algorithm updates and dramatically improve your chances of ranking for your target keyword.
Of all the different digital content mediums, quality is the most important for blogs.
That's because there are so many blogs out there and the competition is fierce.
So if you plan on making blogging the main part of your content marketing strategy for your architecture firm, then you need to prioritize quality over quantity.
Seriously. Your firm would be much better off releasing one new blog post a month which is ~2,500 words than releasing three blog posts that are each under 1,000 words.
After you’ve written a high-quality piece of content, you then need to ensure it follows on-page SEO best practices so that search engines can crawl and rank your content.
Don’t worry - we’ll cover exactly how to do that in a bit.
When it comes to videos, the production quality is actually quite a bit less important than the quality of the content itself.
Meaning even if you were to just turn your iPhone around and begin creating simple talking-head-style videos explaining key architecture concepts and answering common questions your clients have, that can be highly effective.
To get an idea of what this looks like in practice, check out our most recent marketing videos.
While videos are great for building relationships with prospective clients, the one thing they typically aren't great at is getting indexed for SEO.
That's because if you simply embed a video into a blog without any text content, it's hard for Google to tell what the video is all about.
So if you're going to pursue video as a way to rank for top and middle of the funnel SEO keywords, we'd highly recommend transcribing whatever is said in your video.
That way you can simply copy & paste the written content of what you say and have that be the text of the blog post.
We love this video blog post strategy because it's especially user-friendly. Instead of having to sit through an 8-minute video, people can just skim the blog post itself to read up on the main ideas.
We get it - writing can be tedious and time-consuming, and videos require technical editing skills and the ability to speak well on camera. This may leave you feeling as if you can't pursue either content strategy.
However, a happy medium between videos and blogs is podcasts.
That's because you can simply talk into a microphone off the cuff (or with some key bullet points you want to mention) about the content you would have written about or recorded a video on.
This is helpful because it requires less preparation and editing than videos, and you may be able to produce podcasts faster than you could write a blog on the same topic.
Further, podcasts allow you to tap into a whole other content distribution platform via podcast feeds (you could also always repurpose the audio from your videos and make a podcast out of that - but then you would not be able to use many visuals in your videos).
And you can also transcribe the audio of the podcast to add written content to your blog post.
If you’re a fan of podcasts, make sure to check out our Business Talks Podcast which features weekly interviews with industry experts in marketing & sales that will help your architecture firm improve its lead generation strategy.
What Content Medium Should Your Architecture Firm Choose?
At the end of the day, the content medium that will be best for your firm comes down to whichever one you can commit to the long-term and what medium the person who will be producing the content is best at.
It's rare to find someone who is great at producing all three types of content mentioned above.
Typically a good writer is going to be more introverted and not be inclined to speak on video or podcasts.
Whereas someone very extroverted may love creating video or audio content, they may dread sitting down in front of a blank screen to write a 2,000-word blog post.
And that's totally fine.
So just pick a content platform that your architecture firm can produce quality content for the long term.
Because SEO is a long-term game and you will need to be producing great content for a long period of time to get the results you're after.
Optimize On-Page SEO
Alright, so we've talked about what it takes to produce high-quality content and why it's important for your architecture firm's SEO strategy.
Now, it's time to talk about the specific on-page SEO best practices you need to ensure are in place for every single piece of content your firm produces.
This is important because it is directly responsible for ensuring Google can tell what your content is about, index it, and rank it on the first page for your target keyword.
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual content pieces & website pages to rank higher and earn more traffic from search engines like Google. It's one of the most important aspects of SEO, and it's essential that you make sure you follow on-page SEO best practices for every piece of content you produce.
Fortunately, it's not as difficult as you may be imagining.
Below we will cover the major areas of on-page SEO optimization. You can keep this section handy to use as a checklist as you begin to create content.
Optimize Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Ensuring that you're SEO meta titles & descriptions feature your target keyword is essential for ranking for that keyword.
This makes it crystal clear to Google what the focus keyword of the content is.
While it could probably still be able to tell since its search algorithm is so advanced, this makes it explicit and leaves nothing to chance.
It's also helpful to prospects who are doing the search.
That's because they likely typed in something related to your target keyword (hence why they are seeing it in the search results) and by seeing the target keyword highlighted they will be more likely to click through to your firm's website since they know it matches what they search for.
Use Short and Descriptive URLs
A small but never less important thing you need to do for SEO is to make sure your URL slugs (what follows the slash past your architecture firm's domain) are short and descriptive. This is because Google takes into account the URL slug when ranking content.
So if you have a long and complicated URL, Google will rank that content lower than if you had a short, concise URL that accurately reflected the topic of the content.
Additionally, it's a best practice to include your target keyword in your URL slug. This also helps Google understand what the focus keyword of the content is.
And as we mentioned earlier, it's helpful for prospects who are doing the search since it lets them know right away that the content is relevant to their query.
This is pretty simple. You can just make your target keyword the URL slug in most cases (unless it's too long - then simply shorten it) and you can call it a day.
Add Internal & Outbound Links
Internal and outbound links are both important when creating content as part of your architecture firm's SEO strategy.
Internal links are links that point from one page on your website to another page on your website. They are a great way to help Google understand the hierarchy of your website and how everything is connected.
So for example, if you have a main service page for custom home projects (as we advised you to develop earlier), you should find a place to link to that service page for any content related to a custom home project.
By adding internal links to your content, you are telling Google that the content is important and should be ranked higher. Additionally, it's a great way to keep people engaged on your website by providing more relevant information on the topic they're reading about.
It's also great because it allows people who are in the top of the funnel doing research to learn about a topic from your content and then be able to quickly get to a service page. From there, they are likely to stay on your website and are more likely to convert into a lead later on.
Outbound links conversely are links that point from your website to another website. They are a great way to establish authority on a topic by linking out to quality resources.
While we don't recommend linking to competitor websites, including outbound likes are great for when you mention a complex idea or topic.
So instead of adding more content about it, you can keep writing about the main topic at hand and link it out to an external resource for people to quickly learn more.
Additionally, outbound links help Google understand the topics you're writing about in relation to other topics online. This is known as link juice attribution and it's one of the factors that Google takes into account when ranking content.
Our last piece of advice here is to make sure the inbound and outbound links you include in your content are set to open in a new tab or browser window. That way people will stay on the content they are on and not leave your website.
Use Schema Markup
Schema markup is a type of code that you can put on your website to help Google further understand what your website is about. Schema is also a good way to help prospects understand what your website is about when they see it in search results.
You interact with content all the time because of the schema markup it features. For example, whenever you do a Google search and get the answer right away, that's because of schema code.
Unlike the other on-page best practices mentioned in this blog post, we wouldn't say Schema markup is mandatory. It is a bit complex and you would likely need a professional web developer to help you implement it on your architecture firm's website.
But it's helpful because it feeds Google a lot of extra information about the content and your firm. And whenever you feed Google more information, your SEO rankings generally tend to improve.
Feel free to get started on your content without schema. But later on when you've got some solid content resources and want to further improve their rankings, adding schema can be super helpful.
Add Images and Make Sure They're Properly Optimized
Images are one of the most important elements of your blog content. Not only do they help break up the text and make your posts more visually appealing, but they also play a role in SEO.
This is especially worth noting for architecture firms since they operate in a very visual industry and having images in your posts will help explain what you are writing or talking about.
So as a general rule of thumb, definitely add a few images to every piece of content your firm produces. This is less important for video & podcast content, but an absolute must for blog articles.
Now, you can't just throw in any image and call it a day. For one, Google seems to prefer unique images (such as of your past projects) and not stock photography (likely because it makes your content less unique).
However, stock images are better than no images at all (and this is a relatively minor ranking factor).
But if you do have unique images of your firm's work that can be used, or have the resources to create custom graphics, this can help you maximize the SEO effectiveness of the images used in your content.
Now, you also need to ensure your site's images are optimized for the web to get the most SEO benefit from them as well as provide a good experience to visitors to your website.
That means compressing them using a tool like TinyPNG and making sure the dimensions are of a reasonable size (typically no wider than 1920px) so they load quickly.
Adding alt text is also something you should do so Google can understand what the image is about.
This is simply a quick little description you can add to your images that illustrate what it's about. Also, make sure to have a descriptive file name for the images you upload.
If you can take the time to do all of that, your images will help improve your blog's engagement and SEO rankings.
Translate Content (if multi-national firm)
If your architecture firm is based in more than one country or has a significant portion of its online audience that speaks a different language, it can be helpful to translate your website content into different languages.
This way, people in different parts of the world will be able to understand what you are saying on your website.
Additionally, translating your content can help you rank higher in search engines for keywords related to your business.
There's not much to say here since most modern browsers can translate content automatically and this only applies to a very small percentage of architecture firms. But it's still worth noting.
Re-Optimize Older Content
If your architecture firm has already produced a large amount of content, we'd recommend performing an SEO content audit to see if these on-page SEO best practices were implemented.
If not, definitely go back to add them in and also add more details to the old content.
Refreshing old articles with new content is a great way to increase the ranking authority of that post.
Off-Page SEO & Backlinks
SEO is not just about on-page optimization techniques that you can control. There are a number of external factors that also play a role in how your website ranks in search engines.
This is what we call off-page SEO.
The most important off-page SEO factor is backlinks. Backlinks are simply links from other websites that point back to your website.
The more high-quality backlinks you have, the better your website will rank. Think of it like a bibliography (you remember having to add those to your school papers, right?).
Essentially, the more citations (backlinks) your website gets from other sources, the more authoritative Google will begin to view your architecture firm's content and website as a whole.
That's because other outlets wouldn't be linking to your content if it wasn't any good.
Google also takes into account the quality of the websites linking to you as a measure of how much SEO value to assign to your website thanks to that backlink.
So a link from a brand new blog probably won't help much, but if you can get a link from a place such as Architectural Digest, you might want to start popping champagne in the office.
Now, earning high-quality backlinks isn't easy and usually requires a lot of manual effort. There isn't anything you can do to automate this or guarantee results.
All you can do is put in consistent time and effort.
There are lots of specific tactics you can pursue to begin getting backlinks for your architecture firm's website - which we've detailed below. But before you do that, here are some big-picture things to keep in mind before executing a backlink-building campaign.
First, make sure your website is setup for SEO success.
That means following all the on-page SEO advice we mentioned earlier and having a modern website infrastructure/CMS that follows the latest technical SEO best practices.
Second, your firm needs to create valuable content that people will actually want to link to. This is probably the most important factor as it's hard to get people to link to something if it's not interesting or useful.
With that out of the way, let's dive into some specific actions you can begin to take to build up your firm's backlink profile.
Note: Backlinks are great, but it's the SEO ranking factor most out of your architecture firm's control. As such, we'd strongly recommend only pursuing this strategy once you've already created several service pages and have a strong backlog of content developed.
Tactic - Press Releases
Press Releases are perhaps the most straightforward way architecture firms can gather backlinks for SEO purposes.
A press release is a way to tell people about something your architecture firm did. Examples include recently completed projects and company news. You have your marketing or PR team write it and then send it to news organizations who might want to write about what you did.
This is likely only going to work if your firm is fairly large and working on big projects relevant to the public interest.
Once you have a press release written, you can send it to relevant architecture industry publications at both a national and local level.
We'd recommend gathering a list of outlets that would make sense for your firm to be featured in. From there, gather the contact info of relevant contacts who have editorial influence/control that will help your firm be listed.
Once you've done that, simply shoot over an email to the contact with the press release and explain the benefits of having the news featured for their audience.
Tactic - Newsjacking
Newsjacking is a way to use current events or news stories in your industry to promote your architecture firm. You do this by writing articles or social media posts about a breaking news story relevant to the AEC industry.
Then as journalists & bloggers do research on the same story, they will likely come across your content. This is because since it is a developing news story, there likely won't be much content around it so there is a lot less competition.
In the article (or profile of your firm's social profile) list how publications can get in contact for a quick interview. In exchange for offering an expert perspective of an employee, your firm will be mentioned in the article and the writer will include a link back to your website.
This can be a great way to get backlinks from high-quality websites, as well as generate traffic and leads from people who are interested in the news story.
Over time, it will also establish your firm as a thought leader within the architecture industry.
Tactic - Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is when someone on the staff of your architecture firm writes an article to be published on another website.
It's basically the same thing as writing a blog post for your architecture firm, only you are approving it to be published on a relevant industry site.
Typically, these articles will include a brief bio on the author, info about the firm they work for, and relevant contact details at the end of the article along with a link back to your architect firm's website.
There may also be opportunities to add additional hyperlinks throughout the post depending on the subject matter of the article.
While you can write the post ahead of time and shop it around ahead of time to industry outlets, there's no guarantee anyone will pick it up.
Because of this, consider building relationships ahead of time with decision makers at outlets you would want your architecture firm featured on. This way you may even be able to get a standing column for someone at your firm to secure a steady supply of incoming backlinks. Then you can collaborate on topic ideas together and position the content to be helpful for everyone involved.
Tactic - Guest Podcasting
Guest podcasting is similar to guest blogging, but instead of writing an article, someone at your firm would be featured on an interview-style podcast. This is our favorite digital PR tactic for gaining backlinks for our architecture clients.
The reason why is that it's generally very easy to produce this content (someone just needs to hop on a remote call for 30-60 minutes to record the podcast) and it's generally pretty fun as well.
It is also great for building relationships with relevant industry people which can help your firm out down the line in unexpected ways.
Like guest blogging, you would need to reach out to industry podcasts and pitch them to someone at your firm who can discuss relevant architectural concepts and provide value or entertainment to the audience of the podcaster.
Then once the podcast is released, your firm would get a backlink via either the show notes o the podcast or the accompanying blog post.
The great thing about podcasting is that it's a very personal medium and conveys a lot of trust to anyone who listens.
People are more likely to trust your opinion if they hear it directly from you rather than reading it on a website. This makes it a great way to establish yourself as an authority figure within the architecture industry.
Tactic - Links From Outside Organizations, Speaking Engagements, Or Professorships
Many large architecture firms tend to have staff members who are on non-profit or industry boards. Or they have done public speaking events in the past at industry conferences. Or maybe even they work as an adjunct professor after hours at a local University.
Whatever the specific circumstance, if you have people on your architecture firm's staff who hold these roles, you should definitely reach out to these organizations' websites to ask for a backlink.
These types of backlinks would be especially valuable since they likely would be coming from high-quality sources.
And since there is a personal relationship already established, they will likely be very accommodating in providing your firm with a backlink.
Local SEO is a specialized form of SEO that focuses on optimizing your architecture firm's online presence for people in the local geographic service area of your firm.
We've already discussed how creating location pages and local service area pages can help you rank for keywords related to your firm's services in its local area.
However, there is another key component when it comes to local SEO. And that is ranking on Google's local map pack. Think of this as a mini-game within the larger game of SEO.
Now, optimizing your firm's presence for Local SEO doesn't need to be a huge undertaking. In fact, what you need to do is actually fairly straightforward.
But it's important because sometimes people will use Google Maps to find architecture firm's near them.
And many times when they perform a local search, Google will display a map pack of the top 3 firms with the best local search presence.
This usually appears under the Ads section and before the organic listings. So even if you create website pages we recommended earlier, if you ignore local SEO you could still have competitor websites ranking above yours.
In this section, we'll give you a quick primer on everything you need to know to establish a solid local SEO presence for your architecture firm.
Claim and Optimize Your Architecture Firm's Google My Business Profile
Google My Business is a free online service offered by Google that allows business owners to create a listing for their business to be featured on different Google web properties (such as search and maps).
You've no doubt seen these before. The listing generally includes information such as the company's name, address, phone number, website, services, reviews, hours of operation, and other relevant details.
Your architecture firm can also add photos of the company and staff and write a short description of the firm's background and key services offered.
The purpose of Google My Business is to help people in the local area quickly get a snapshot of a business in their area as they do online research.
When it comes to Local SEO and ranking well on Google's Map Pack Results, your architecture firm's GMB profile is going to be the primary thing Google uses to determine its ranking.
So if you haven't already, you need to have your architecture firm's GMB profile fully set up and loaded with as much information as possible.
This is usually pretty straightforward because the platform provides you with a list of all the information you should provide. So we won't go into too much depth here.
Get Reviews from Past Clients
Other than all of the general information about your firm (and how closely it matches a searcher's query & location) the most important Local SEO ranking factor is the quantity and quality of the reviews on its GMB profile.
All things being equal, a firm with better or more reviews will always outrank a firm with lesser reviews.
So to help your firm build up reviews from its past clients, we recommend reaching out to all past clients to get a review. Any happy client will be happy to do so, and you can repurpose this testimonial to be used on your website.
You should also make it a standard operating procedure to reach out to clients for a review at the end. of each project going forward. This way you can begin to gain reviews on autopilot.
Keep Your Architecture Firm's Website Healthy
To this point, we've covered on-page SEO (by detailing the pages you should create on your website & how to properly optimize your content) and off-page SEO (strategies your firm can use to build up a strong backlink profile).
In this section, we're going to tackle the last major area of SEO, and that is technical SEO.
Technical SEO is all about ensuring your website has an optimized infrastructure that meets the standards of modern search engines so that your site can provide a great user experience.
In turn, this will help your architecture firm's website rank for more keywords & drive more organic traffic.
Perform a Technical Audit of Your Firm's Website
The first step towards improving your firm's technical SEO profile is to perform an audit of your website. This will allow you to see what technical areas your site currently performs well in and what areas need further improvement.
Don't worry - doing this technical SEO audit is fairly straightforward.
Any of the modern SEO tools we listed above (like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and SERanking) have a website audit tool. All you have to do is simply paste in the URL of your architecture firm's website and it will run the audit for you.
In a few minutes, you will have a report giving you a breakdown of how your site performs across every major technical SEO area along with a total grade ranking your site's technical SEO health.
These tools will also provide you with descriptions of the technical errors your site has and how to go about fixing them.
Below are the key areas that you should be aware of regarding technical SEO. Whichever SEO tool you use will likely evaluate your website based on these areas.
Do note while there is a lot that goes into each section, we'll just be highlighting the main things to look for.
Ultimately, we would advise you to hire an experienced SEO marketing agency to do any technical optimizations for your website.
One of the most important, but often overlooked, aspects of SEO is website security. These days, search engines want to see that you are providing a secure, encrypted connection as people browse your website.
To do this, ensure you have an SSL Certificate installed on your firm's website (most hosting providers offer this for free now since it's a major technical SEO requirement). This way your website will show up as "secure" with a lock next to the URL.
Whenever you see a website labeled as "Not Secure" it means that the site doesn't have an SSL installed and your connection is unencrypted.
Indexing & Crawling
The next major area of technical SEO is to ensure your architecture firm's website is able to be easily crawled by search engines so they can properly index the site's pages.
This is a necessary first step to being featured on the search results pages of a search engine.
If the search engine can't crawl your site properly, it's not going to be able to include its database and your firm won't be able to get any traffic.
The main thing here is to ensure your website features an up-to-date sitemap. A sitemap is an XML file that lists the URLs for a website. It also includes information about each URL, such as when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is.
Sitemaps are used by search engines to better understand a website's structure and determine which pages to include in their index.
If your site uses WordPress you can use a plugin like Yoast or RankMath which will create a sitemap automatically and keep it updated. If you're on our preferred platform Webflow, they have all the SEO tools your firm needs.
Duplicate content is a big no-no for SEO.
That's because when search engines crawl the web, they look for pages with original content. This typically indicted quality & uniqueness.
If they find multiple copies (or versions) of the same page or pages with sections of the same content, that can be seen as a sign of spammy behavior or even plagiarism which will harm your website's rankings.
If they see a page with enough duplicate content compared to some other on your firm's site, they may choose to not index it all together.
This is why it's important to avoid publishing duplicate content on your website - even if it's unintentional.
For example, if you're creating local service landing pages, you need to write each page from scratch and not included any templated sections (other than sections where it can't be avoided, such as testimonials).
When it comes to SEO & content production, quality is going to be quantity every single time.
SEO Titles & Metas
Any good SEO audit tool will also evaluate a website's SEO titles & meta descriptions (the headline and description you see on search engines for each result) to make sure that each page features a unique title/meta and that they are of the proper length.
SEO titles and meta descriptions are important because they are one of the main factors that influence how your website ranks in search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you want your architecture firm's website to rank higher, you need to make sure your SEO titles and meta descriptions are well-written and accurately reflect the content of each page.
This will help improve your website's click-through rate (CTR) from SERPs, which is a major ranking factor.
The best way to do this is to think of your SEO titles and meta descriptions as ads for your website. You want them to be catchy and enticing so that people will want to click on them. And, most importantly, you want them to accurately reflect the content of the page they're associated with.
The speed of your website is important for two main reasons: user experience and SEO (both of which go hand in hand).
When it comes to user experience, website speed is one of the most important factors that contribute to a good user experience.
People don't want to wait around for a website to load - they want information quickly and easily. If your website is slow, people will be more likely to leave it and go to a competitor's site.
In fact, the longer your site takes to load has a dramatic impact on its ultimate conversion rate.
Further, Google's recent Core Web Vitals update has made site speed a major SEO ranking factor - where before it was important but not a top 5 ranking factor. Now it is.
That's why it's important to make sure your website is as fast as possible. One way to do this is by using a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights to test your website's speed and see where you can make improvements. A tool like that will give you a list of optimizations you can make.
The main thing you can do to improve your site speed across the board is to use a quality hosting provider and not a budget provider (like Bluehost or GoDaddy). This will ensure your website has the server resources & bandwidth necessary to provide fast load times.
Having a logical textual content structure on each page will make it very easy for search engines to know what the key topics of each page of your firm's website are about.
The main thing here is to ensure all of your pages have a strong H1, H2, and H3 content structure. Further, use your H1 as the target keyword for the term you are trying to rank for and ensure each page has its own unique H1.
This way Google can easily tell what each page topic is and you won't have multiple pages competing for the same keyword (which will cannibalize your site's rankings).
An SEO audit tool will give you a report on this so you can make sure all your pages have unique headings.
Internal & External Links
Internal & external links are an SEO ranking factor because they help Google understand the structure of your website.
Internal links are links from one page on your website to another page on your website. They are important for SEO because they help Google crawl your website more efficiently and determine the relationship between pages on your site.
Including internal links will also help spread the SEO authority of your website from high-ranking pages to lower-ranking pages.
External links are links from your website to another website. They are important for SEO because they help Google understand the wider web and how your website relates to other websites on the internet.
It's also important to include because it provides a better user experience because you offer people a resource to learn more about something you mentioned.
Many times, we see websites that don't feature any internal or external links on their service pages or content. This can harm your site's overall SEO profile and make it harder for Google to properly index your website.
Any solid SEO audit tool will show you how many internal/external links your site has and if any of those links are broken which you should fix.
When it comes to images, you want to make sure they're as small as possible (in terms of both file size & dimensions) without sacrificing image quality. The reason for this is that large images can slow down your website's load time, which is bad for user experience and SEO.
That's why it's important to use compressed images on a website - which you can do with a tool like TinyPNG. These tools compress your images without sacrificing quality, so you can have beautiful images on your website without harming its SEO.
During a technical SEO audit, the tool you use will usually flag which images are too large so you can begin compressing them.
This is where things start to get really technical (and why we recommend hiring an SEO professional to do this technical SEO work).
But basically, an SEO audit will alert you to pages that have bloated code and from there you can research further to see what's causing it and how it can be potentially fixed.
Track Your Architecture Firm's SEO Performance
SEO is a long-term investment and you need to be patient in order to see results. Clearly, you aren't going to be able to get done everything we've talked about in this article in a few weeks.
However, once you've begun to implement an SEO strategy for your architecture firm, you need to use an SEO tool to track your website's SEO rankings so you can see whether your efforts are paying off.
Not having the proper tools in place to track the SEO performance of your site is essentially flying blind and hoping for the best (not a great strategy in our book).
An SEO tool will help you track your website's ranking for specific keywords, as well as how much traffic you're getting from organic search.
This information is important because it lets you know whether your SEO strategy is working and whether you need to make any changes. You will also get a ton of other data & insights which we'll get to shortly.
If your website's ranking doesn't improve over time, then it's likely that you need to make some changes to your strategy.
Conversely, if your website starts ranking higher for specific keywords, then you know that your efforts are paying off and you can continue with what's working.
Below are some free & paid SEO tools that we recommend using as you embark on an SEO campaign on behalf of your architecture firm.
If you hire a marketing agency to plan & and execute an SEO campaign for your architecture firm, make sure they are using tools like the below and give you transparent access to the data they return.
Track Keyword Rankings (via paid SEO tool)
You really only need one paid tool for your architecture firm's SEO campaign like the one's we've mentioned previously in this article.
This will allow you to see what keywords your site currently ranks for and track your performance over time so you can measure and adjust your strategy.
Below is just a brief list of what you get with the most popular paid SEO tools on the market today.
- Ability to track website rankings for specific keywords over time and shows you how much traffic you're getting from organic search
- Allows you to perform keyword research to see the ranking potential of new keywords to create content & service pages around
- Perform competitive analysis on your competitors to uncover insights on their SEO strategy, what keywords their ranking for and how you can beat them
- Gives you access to an SEO Audit tool that will allow you to make optimizations to your website's infrastructure
- Analyzes the on-page SEO structure of your site's pages and offers optimizations to make
- Monitors the number of backlinks to your website and offers ideas on other websites to reach out to that would be a good fit to offer your site a backlink
- Evaluates your site's content and offers ideas for optimization as well as new ideas to create content around
And honestly, that's just the tip of the iceberg. While these SEO tools can be one of the most expensive tools in your firm's marketing tool stack, they offer the above features and generally a lot more (such as social media scheduling) that make it a great overall value (and a necessity in our opinion).
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free webmaster tool offered by Google that gives you insights into how your website is performing specifically on Google search (which let's be real, is by far the most important search engine you care about for SEO purposes).
You can see how your website's pages are performing in Google search results, how many impressions and clicks you're getting, and how much traffic you're getting from organic search. You can even see this data on a keyword-by-keyword basis.
Additionally, Google Search Console offers a variety of other features such as the ability to submit your website sitemap for indexing, evaluate page speed & mobile usability, troubleshoot website issues, and more.
Overall, Google Search Console should be used in every SEO campaign. It's essentially a tool that allows you to directly interface with Google's SEO algorithm and offers insights that you may not be able to get even with a paid SEO tool. This makes it a great compliment to a paid tool.
Google Analytics is a free website tool that helps you measure how many people visit your website and how they interact with it. You can use this data to help you make decisions about what to change on your website so more people visit it and stay on it for longer.
While Google Analytics is not considering a true SEO tool (more of a general website analytics platform for measuring engagement) it offers tons of insights that will help you improve your SEO strategy.
For example, long time on site and overall engagement are important SEO ranking factors. Using Google Analytics, you can discover what pages are not performing well on these metrics and re-optimize them to have better content. If the engagement improves, Google is likely to rank these pages higher.
Damn, if you're still reading this I'm seriously impressed.
As you can see, SEO is a ton of work. There is a lot that goes into this and it takes time to see the results of your efforts. But the benefits of free organic traffic, being discovered online in your architecture firm's service area, and the competitive advantage it offers (along with a lot more) make it well worth it.
Honestly, if you could only perform one digital marketing strategy to promote your architecture firm's services, SEO would be it.
Now, if you recognize the importance & value of SEO but would prefer to have a marketing agency with a proven track record of success helping architecture firms, don't hesitate to reach out to us at Inbound Web Development.
Some quick background on us - We help elite architecture firms transform their website into the ultimate marketing machine so they can land more inbound project leads and grow revenues, without having to wait several months to see results, through our propriety 7-step growth marketing framework.
If you're interested in learning more about our unique process and how we can help your architecture firm, the first step is to book a complimentary strategy call with me. Click the link below to learn more about what we'll discuss during this friendly conversation and the value you will receive.