After reading this article, I realized just how far some companies will go to spread misinformation and take advantage of funeral directors’ trust and lack of web experience.
The article is titled “Traffic vs Visitors” and attempts to convince a funeral home why it’s ok to host their obituaries on a 3rd party site instead of embedded directly in your funeral homes’ website.
It is critical to your funeral home’s online success to host the obituaries on your own website, rather than on a 3rd party obituary providers’. It results in more traffic, better SEO, more leads, increased sales conversions, and increased revenue. It allows the obituaries of the families you serve to benefit your funeral home, rather than some other company. And with today’s technologies, there is no technical reason you should be using iframes or a 3rd party obituary host.
Our customers have seen up to 15,000 visits for a single obituary! To claim that amount traffic (times thousands of obituaries) has no value to the funeral home demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding modern web strategies. In fact, these obituary providers know exactly how valuable that traffic is, which is the reason they choose to keep it on their own site rather than the funeral homes’!
So to help set the record straight and educate you on how your funeral home can succeed online, here are the top 5 reasons why it is critically important for your obituaries to be hosted on your website within your funeral home’s domain.
1. SEO, aka “Google”
An average funeral home gets between 30-50% of their traffic from search engines. Much of that traffic results from people searching for a particular obituary, and the rest of it is for potential customers who are searching for a funeral home in your area.
If someone searches for “funeral home in iowa city”, how does Google (or another search engine) decide which to show first? Here are some ways your funeral home SEO is calculated, but the main criteria is popularity. What makes a website popular? Other sites linking to pages on that site. And can you guess what pages other sites are most likely to link to on a funeral home website? Yes, the obituaries.
In other words, if the obituaries aren’t hosted on your site (and your domain), then you aren’t getting credit for any of the links, and as a result Google and other search engines will not consider your website popular. So the next person that searches the web for a funeral home in your town will see your competitors’ website come up before yours. You’ve just lost a sale!
Most funeral homes, like other small businesses, spend a lot of money on branding and marketing. It’s important for your firm to project a single vision and voice, so potential customers understand what you stand for and why they should use your services. It’s so important that businesses spend tens of billions of dollars per year on advertising!
While some 3rd party obituary providers put your name on the obituaries they host, that it not enough. The obituaries should be part of your funeral home’s brand, and thus need to be fully embedded in your website.
If your obituaries are not on your website then they are out of your control. The links found on the obituaries likely point back to the obituary provider’s website, and are put there in order to benefit your obituary provider, not you. Any link on the obituary that does not point back to your own website or services is potentially stealing away traffic and conversion opportunities. If a visitor clicks a link that takes them away from the obituary, they will likely not come back and they will certainly be unable to visit any other part of your website at that point. Again, a lost sale.
Even worse, if you don’t control your own obituaries, someone else does. And they might put tracking cookies or even ads and content on the obituaries or their linked-to pages that you or the families you serve don’t approve of.
If the obituaries are hosted on your website, you can control the monetization options. If you want to sell flowers, goods or services on the obituaries, that’s a way for you to make money from the service you are providing. If you want to keep the obituaries free, that is up to you as well. It all comes down to your funeral home’s approach and how you want to balance serving families with increasing your revenue. We advocate both approaches!
However, if you do not control the obituaries, guess who is likely trying to make money from them in your place. Yes, the obituary provider. Many obituary providers put ads or try to sell flowers, goods, and services within their obituary directories, or even worse, right on the obituary itself. In our view, the obituary and its content is the property of the funeral home, and if it’s going to be monetized, that money should rightfully go to the funeral home!
At Funeral Innovations, we pride ourselves on partnering closely with funeral homes and providing the best customer service in the industry. In fact, our customers are so impressed with this approach that they have never left for another provider!
But what happens if a funeral home wants to leave whomever is providing their website and obituaries to find a better provider? If the obituaries are hosted right within your website, then the old provider will work with the new provider to seemlessly transfer the obituary data and there will be no negative impact on your brand or SEO. All of your existing obituaries will still be found right on your site.
However, if your obituaries are hosted outside of your website, then you will be shocked to discover that the obituary provider was poaching your traffic and search engine optimization all along. Since the obituaries were hosted by them, not on your site, you will have very few pages indexed in Google’s search engines. You will realize that the obituary provider is your competitor, not your partner. In that case, you are trapped and the obituary provider knows it. Therefore they have little incentive to keep up with the competition and as a result, they become old, slow and stale in comparison.
As the funeral industry’s reliance on the web continues to accelerate, your firm’s online success depends on you optimizing your web presence. You literally can’t afford to be giving away your most precious online asset: the obituaries.
If you aren’t sure whether your obituaries are optimized for the web today, give us a call and we’ll be happy to review your current web strategy with you.