The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Guest Posts and Beyond: Search Engine Optimisation For Funeral Directors

Friday, 17 October 2014

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Guest post by Mark Sharron

Okay Charles, challenge accepted.  This will be the first in a series of articles where I share some insights into what the readership of this site (people who work in the funeral industry, mostly) can do to increase their search engine exposure.

To give you a little background on myself I have been working on behalf of a Brighton funeral director (Sussex Funeral Services Limited) for about 18 months and I’m proud to report during my tenure their brand has enjoyed an uninterrupted strong first page presence.

As business owners, if you get SEO right, the rewards can make the difference between a healthy balance sheet or struggling to attract new clients.

This article and those that follow will give you an insight into how Google and other search engines work including how tips on how to increase your search engine exposure.  I also extend an open invitation for any readers of this site/blog to ask me anything in the comments below.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to cover a range of topics and tie each of them back to the funerary industry. These include:

  • *   Keyword research / types of keywords.
  • *   Pay per click (ppc/adwords) advertising
  • *   Your website
  • *   Content marketing / onsite seo
  • *   Google local
  • *   Google organic
  • *   Link building (including guest posts like this one)
  • *   Analytics
  • *   Social media

Keyword Research:

The foundation of any SEO campaign is keyword research.   Thorough keyword research will either make or break an SEO campaign.  When I first engage a new client, the first thing I usually get told is “I want to rank #1 in Google.”  My immediate response is “What do you want to rank #1 one for?”  The most important first step in any SEO or PPC campaign is keyword research.

A keyword is any word or phrase that a potential client may type into a search engine when looking for your site or a competitor’s offering.

The trick to keyword research is understanding your market and the kind of language prospective clients are using when they search for a funeral director.

For example:

  • *   Your brand name e.g. Sussex Funerals
  • *   Funeral director Brighton
  • *   Funeral director Hove
  • *   Funeral home Brighton
  • *   Undertaker Brighton
  • *   Funeral director
  • *   Undertaker
  • *   Funeral home
  • *   Cheap funeral director Brighton
  • *   Affordable funeral director in Brighton

This list is a very small sample of potential keywords a prospective client may use.  The idea is to create an exhaustive list of funeral focused keywords and have your website rank at the top of first page for all of them.  The greater the number of keywords your site ranks for, the more prospective clients will find your site. More clients finding your website means more potential business.   To summarise, this is known as a “long-tail keyword strategy.” A long-tail keyword strategy is not about picking one specific keyword, rather an aggregate search volume strategy that targets hundreds keywords at once.

Different Types of Keywords:

Not every keyword is equal.  Some will attract more searches and will be harder to rank for; other keywords will be less competitive and convert more clients.  In the SEO industry we give different types of keywords names.  I personally group keywords into the following categories:

  • *   Short-tail keywords
  • *   Long-tail keywords
  • *   Branded keywords
  • *   Local keywords
  • *   Keywords with commercial intent

Short Tail: 1-2 words are a known as short tail keywords e.g. “funeral director.”  These keywords attract the most searches. They are more competitive/will be harder to rank for, and users landing on your site are in research mode, therefore a high percentage of visitors arriving at a website using short tail keywords do not convert into billable business.

Long Tail: 3+ words imply commercial intent.  4+ words there is strong commercial intent.  A web user is starting to narrow down their search to a specific product or service, e.g. “affordable humanist funeral director.”  Individual long tail keywords attract fewer searches but they typically have more value.  Ranking for a lot of long tail keywords is a lot easier in organic search and less expensive in Adwords.

Local Keywords: Local keywords can be a combination of short-tail or long-tail and generally have a strong commercial intent as a user is searching for a local service provider e.g. “funeral director Brighton” or “cheap funeral director Brighton”

Branded Keywords.  This is just your brand name e.g. “Sussex Funeral Services.”  In this case my client has used a local keyword as his brand name which gives his website an advantage when web users search for Sussex Funeral Directors.

Keywords with Commercial Intent: These are usually long tail keywords where there is a clear commercial intent. e.g. “cheap funeral director”, “budget funeral director”.  Users are again searching for something specific.  They are in buying mode.  You will find your competition knows these keywords have value and they can be quite expensive to bid on.

In the next article I will explore Google Adwords and considerations / tips when setting up a PPC campaign as a funeral director.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section and I will respond within 24 hours.



7 comments on “Guest Posts and Beyond: Search Engine Optimisation For Funeral Directors

  1. Vale

    Saturday 18th October 2014 at 9:32 am

    This is like Ju-Ju – a curtain has been lifted. Thanks for the blog post Mark. I look forward to more.

    • Mark Sharron

      Saturday 18th October 2014 at 10:21 am

      Your welcome. Theres no juju here. SEO is an scientific process if done correctly. It requires research, hard work and patience.

      Once you start to understand the thought processes behind SEO, ranking your website will become less of a challenge.

  2. Friday 17th October 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Most helpful – thank you, I look forward to hearing more.

    I have to say I slightly fear the Co-op in this regard because unlike me, Holmes & Family, the Camberley funeral home (did you see what I did there and will it work?) they can afford to pay a team of experts to work on this internet google stuff constantly. That said, their actual websites are usually not the best – but it’s easy to criticise. My own website needs updating, pictures etc but my web man is not currently responding. This is a problem I have encountered with every one of the ten or so people who ever did web work for me in several areas of life. Perhaps I have just been unlucky?

    Not being completely daft, I had already guessed that if I called myself Fleet funeral director or Aldershot funeral director rather than Holmes & Family, a google search would place me higher up the rankings.

    Do you think inept people like me should be paying someone who knows to do this for us, would it be money well spent and if so, how much would it typically cost?

    • Mark Sharron

      Friday 17th October 2014 at 10:01 pm

      “Not being completely daft, I had already guessed that if I called myself Fleet funeral director or Aldershot funeral director rather than Holmes & Family, a google search would place me higher up the rankings.”


      This mechanism is known as using an “exact match domain.”
      Its frustrating and whilst Google has tried to demote the ranking effect of exact match domains, you’ll notice they still dominate most niches.

      The next important point to consider is the content on your site. Think about keyword density and the amount of content/pages.

      Your website’s home page references your location twice and “funeral director” once. The word count is also rather lite.

      Your website needs more content and it needs to “SCREAM” Funeral Directors Aldershot.

      I’ll cover onsite SEO im more detail shortly.


      “This is a problem I have encountered with every one of the ten or so people who ever did web work for me in several areas of life. Perhaps I have just been unlucky?”


      I couldn’t comment, however from experience web developers sometimes move on or are just outright unreliable.

      Your website is content managed (DotNetNuke).

      Jargon Buster: A content management system allows users to login to a website and make changes without the need for programming knowledge. This means you could actually update it yourself. Ask your developer for a login and password the learning curb isn’t too difficult you can employ someone else to update your site.

      I personally feel DotNetNuke is a little clunky and would suggest getting moved to WordPress.


      “Do you think inept people like me should be paying someone who knows to do this for us, would it be money well spent and if so, how much would it typically cost?”


      The best SEO’s are business owners but the learning curb can be intimidating. Hiring someone like myself will usually start at £500+ per month.
      Keep in mind SEO should be viewed as part of a wider marketing strategy.

      The golden rules are keyword rich content on your site and lots of it and links to your site from relevant sites such as this one. Get guest blogging on here/similar sites and you’ll notice a difference in 60-90 days.

  3. Michael Jarvis

    Friday 17th October 2014 at 6:40 pm

    All well and good, I’m sure, but isn’t it true to say that if your aspirant FD – let’s call him Mordecai Mould – wishes to be found by an internet searcher – let’s call him John Bull – then Mr Mould needs to make sure that his firm is worthy of and is listed and therefore endorsed by either the GFG or the NDC (or both). The rest of us bear the responsibility for making sure that poor old John Bull knows to whom he should turn for unbiased opinion.

    • Friday 17th October 2014 at 8:47 pm

      This Mordecai Mould — would he be Dennis Mould’s lad by any chance?

      Endorsement by feisty-but-fair organisations highly regarded by Mr Bull? You’d have thought it was a no-brainer.

    • Mark Sharron

      Friday 17th October 2014 at 10:10 pm

      There is no such thing as “worthiness”

      People give Google too much credit. At the end of the day its just a black box.

      Every website is algorithmically categorised by Google using a calculation known as “Topical Pagerank.” ) Topical Pagerank helps determine if a specific site is a good match for a specific query. It works by classifying your site based on the language used on site and the classification of links pointing at it.

      The classification for this site is “Society / Death” Obtaining a link from the GFG or similar sites will pass the “Society / Death” classification the your site and will create a powerful ranking signal when combined with strong onsite SEO (lots of relevant onsite content).

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