Houzz SEO Strategy Reverse Engineered: Local SEO at Scale

  • Valuation: 4 Billion (as in 2019 Aug)
  • Type: B2C marketplace to find home improvement contractors
  • Overall traffic: 25M visits/mon
  • Organic traffic: 10.6M visits/mon (accounts for 43%)

If you ever tried to find home improvement contractors on Google, you’ll probably notice that Houzz ranks well for almost everything such as “kitchen remodeling company in [XX city]”, “[XX city] interior designer”, and “carpenters near me.”.

Today Houzz has 25M monthly visitors and around HALF of their traffic is from search engines based on SEMrush data.

So here’s the billion-dollar question: How the hell do they do that???

Here’s my attempt to break down their SEO strategy for you.

Understand their buyer personas and buyer’s journey FIRST

You think I would recommend SEO for every startup just because I am an SEO expert? Absolutely NOT!

Here’s why.

To estimate the effectiveness of SEO for your startup, you need to first understand their buyer personas and buyer’s journey.

Once you do that, you will see SEO isn’t always the best option for every startup. And once you imagine Houzz’s buyer personas and buyer’s journey, you will see why Houzz invests so much effort in local SEO, or more accurately, local SEO at scale, just like Yelp.

Building buyer personas and buyer’s journey is not only useful when deciding whether to invest in SEO or not, but also CRUCIAL when planning SEO-friendly content for targetting different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Houzz’s job is to connect homeowners and home improvement service providers within a geolocation area. Local SEO is a good bet.

Houzz’s structural SEO strategy to achieve local SEO at scale

When building the product, it was built with structural SEO in mind. By structuring a website in an organized way and including keywords in some places, its pages rank well on Google for multiple keyword combinations naturally. What “keyword combinations”?

Read on.

Overview: Types of SEO-friendly page templates

For SEO specialists who first assess optimization opportunities for an online marketplace, it presents many dilemmas. The two major ones are:

  • Oftentimes SEO is a very manual process BUT a marketplace typically has thousands of pages, if not millions
  • An online marketplace typically has dynamic URLs (especially the ones built with Java Script such as Angular and React) for filtered results BUT Googlebot like static URLs

So how did Houzz solve them? By building SEO friendly templates into the following page types:

  1. Ideas-page: ranking for “[room name/improvement type] +idea” keyword combination
  2. Location targeting -page: ranking for “[location name] + [business type]” keyword combination
  3. Supplier-page: ranking for “[business name] + review” keyword combination
  4. Product prime category: ranking for “[place] + [product]” combination, eg. “[indoor]+[furniture] + on sale 2021”
  5. Product secondary category: eg. “[living room]+[furniture]” keyword combination
  6. Product tertiary category: eg. “[dining table] + on sale 2021” keyword combination

Let me break down each one for you.

1, Targeting “[room name/improvement type] +idea” keywords

It’s a part of content marketing, targeting the “top of funnel” traffic.

It’s targeting keywords like “[room name/improvement type] +idea” keyword combination. For example, if you Google “Kitchen ideas”, “Kitchen design ideas”, or “Kitchen remodel ideas”, you’d find this page: https://www.houzz.com/photos/kitchen-ideas-and-designs-phbr0-bp~t_709

Having a page template is the first step and the second step is to make sure this template has an SEO-friendly page structure.

SEO-friendly page structure: relevant and informative

You probably know Google LOVES relevant and informative pages. But what is the definition of “relevant and informative”?

The easy answer is: “relevant” is about having semantic keywords and “informative” is about unique and rich text content. Need an example?

Take a look at Houzz’s Kitchen design ideas page, it has:

  • Keywords in URL (mostly static): https://www.houzz.com/photos/……..
  • Keyword in <h1>heading
  • Photo listings
  • Text content (very important for being “informative”)

A big takeaway here:

When you need to strike a balance between nice design and SEO, ask yourself: Is growth our no. 1 priority now?

2. Targeting “[location name] + [business type]” keywords

It’s also a part of “Local SEO at scale,” targeting the “middle of funnel” traffic. Houzz rankings well on Google for almost all of their targeted services: [location name] + [business type]:

Keyword combination examples:

Page structure: How they do it?

  • Keywords in URL(mostly static): http://www.houzz.com/professionals/.…..
  • Keywords in page title
  • Keywords in <h1> heading
  • Business listings + filters
  • Related General Contractors Discussions
  • Featured Reviews for New York, NY General Contractors
  • Text content (very important for increasing relevancy of the pages)

3, Targeting “[business name] + [review]” keywords

Houzz’s individual supplier-pages are not only targeting “[business name] + review”, but “[business name] + project portfolio” keyword combination.

It’s also a part of “Local SEO at scale,” targeting the “button of funnel” traffic.

For example, if you Google the following keywords:

  • lorence ny contracting corp]
  • [lorence ny contracting corp] + reviews
  • [lorence ny contracting corp] + portfolio projects

You’d find this page on the top of Google: https://www.houzz.com/professionals/general-contractors/lorence-ny-contracting-corp-pfvwus-pf~1547653061

Lorence NY Contracting Corp.’s profile alone probably doesn’t bring much traffic to Houzz. But if you multiply by the number of companies on Houzz, the number is HUGE.

SEO friendly page structure

  • Projects/Portolio
  • Credentials
  • Contact
  • Review
  • Text content (very important for increasing relevancy of the pages)

Missed opportunity:

  • Keywords in URLs, headings, page title

4, Category-page templates: targeting product-related keywords

To target product-related keywords, there are 3 levels of product category-pages that are driving up Houzz product-related traffic:

  1. Product prime category: targeting “[place] + [product]+ on sale 2021” keyword combination, eg. “[indoor]+[furniture] on sale 2021”
  2. Product secondary category: eg. “[living room]+[furniture] + on sale 2021” keyword combination
  3. Product tertiary category: eg. “[dining table] + on sale 2021” keyword combination

Other content types to boost SEO

On the top of structural SEO, Houzz is also pretty big on content marketing, which targets users at the “top of funnel” traffic.

This is where their blog and magazine come in. However, compared Houzz’s success on structural SEO.

Missed oppotunities:

  • How to pick an interior designer?
  • How to choose the right carpenters?
  • How to choose the right home builder?
  • How to pick an …

Conclusion

When people try to find home improvement contractors on Google, Houzz ranks very well for many keywords. The site has about 25M visitors a month and about half of their traffic is from search engines. 

If you are a startup, you first need to understand the buyer persona and journey to evaluate the effectiveness of SEO and decide if it’s worth investing in it. For Houzz, because they are connecting local homeowners with contractors, they invest a lot in their SEO strategies.

These are the factors that make Houzz’s SEO strategy very successful: 

  • The site is built with structural SEO in mind to rank for multiple keyword combinations
  • They invest in local SEO at scale
  • They have an SEO-friendly page structure: Keywords in the URL, <h1> heading, photo listings, and text content

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