It was announced recently that Legacy.com was acquired by a larger company, one that is heavily invested in the ad business. There was much discussion of this acquisition on other sites, and there seems to be a lot of confusion and misdirection regarding whether obituary hosting sites like Legacy.com and Tributes.com are good or bad for funeral homes.
The short answer is that these obituary hosting sites hurt your funeral home’s web strategy. In other words: Own Your Obituaries.
We’ve discussed before the dangers of allowing others to represent your obituaries on your behalf. We’ve also covered 5 reasons why you should host your obituaries on your own site. But since so many folks are still being tricked by these large obituary hosting sites, I’d like to illustrate these problems with some concrete examples.
The two main problems with the large obituary directories are that they hurt your SEO and hurt your branding. Keep in mind that as social media further expands your viral traffic, these drawbacks become magnified.
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your funeral home’s website rank high in Google and other search engines for your key terms. If you have good SEO, you’ll get lots of organic search traffic. With good SEO, people who search for obituaries, funeral services, cremation options, and other industry terms will come flocking to your site.
So how do you obtain good SEO? There are many factors, but primarily you need to have good, original content as well as links back to your domain from other sites.
Guess what a good source of original content is: that’s right, your obituaries! However, if the obituaries are not actually hosted on your website, that original content does not help your SEO!
The problem with the obituary directory model is that the obituaries do not exist on your funeral home’s domain. To illustrate this problem, let’s take a look at a funeral home website that uses Tributes.com.
You’ll see that the funeral home’s real domain is www.merlehayfuneralhome.com. However, watch what happens when you click on an obituary from their listing.
The obituary itself (and that valuable original content) is hosted on the domain tributes.com, not the funeral home’s domain. As a result, when this obituary gets crawled, Google attributes the content as being owned by tributes.com, rather than your funeral home!
Remember, the other main factors of good SEO are links back to your domain. Any site that links to this obituary will be linking to tributes.com domain, not the funeral home’s.
That’s a double whammy against your SEO!
Funeral homes, like any other business, spend a lot of time, energy and resources building up their brand. When a visitor comes to your website, the way your site looks and feels projects your brand. Your colors, styles, look and feel constructs your identity that consumers associate with your brand.
But what happens when the majority of your visitors (up to 75% or more) go to an obituary that does not project your brand’s colors, look and feel? Well, you just lost all that branding!
That is exactly what happens when your obituaries are hosted on another site. Take a look at Merle Hay’s website branding.
Now compare that to what a visitor to their obituaries will see. It looks and feels like a completely different site! The layout, colors, background, and user interface are all different. This inconsistency disrupts the brand’s identity that so much effort put into building!
We are not trying to unfairly bash any companies in this industry. We are simply hoping toeducate funeral directors on how their technology choices can influence their business. Hopefully these points help shed some light on the impact of owning your obituaries on your funeral home’s website versus outsourcing them to an obituary directory.