Why does search matter to your funeral home?

Technology is everywhere. It has significantly altered how we interact with each other and find information. Our industry is no exception—when people look for obituaries and information about funeral services, they often turn to the Internet.

The numbers:

      • 85% of adults use the Internet (Pew Research Center)
      • 76% of adults use search engines to find local business information (Burke, 2011)
      • 38% of traffic to funeral home websites comes from online searches (Batesville)

Search matters to your funeral home because that’s how families are looking for funeral home services and information.

Are search engines finding you?

Search engines have two major functions:

      1. Keeping track of the billions of pages, files, and media that exist on the Internet.
      2. Helping users find relevant answers and results in response to queries.

Any search engine’s primary goal is to provide relevant results to their users. If you understand what your target demographic is looking for, you can harness search engines’ functionalities to help the right people find you.

At Legacy, we receive 27.3 million visits per month from people using search engines. This is what marketers call organic traffic. Our analysts comb through our Google Analytics web traffic data to help us understand who those people are and what they do when they visit our pages. We’ve determined that there are two core types of users on our site: those in need of information regarding a recent death (Mourners) and those who have a habit of checking obituaries (Browsers).

You may not receive millions of page views per month or possess a team of web traffic analysts, but you can still use the basic SEO principles we’re presenting to better understand traffic on your funeral home website.

Batesville, one of the largest funeral service product and technology providers in North America, analyzed 190 million visits to their website platform and found three types of users on funeral home websites:

      1. Mourners: those who are in need of information regarding a recent death
      2. At-need arrangers: families with an immediate need for funeral home services
      3. Pre-need planners: customers who are interested in making advance funeral arrangements for themselves or a loved one

While all three types of users are important, let’s focus on the first one— Mourners. According to Batesville’s analysis, Mourners make up about 80% of all visitors to funeral home websites. These are family and friends of the deceased who are looking for an obituary, service information and ways to send condolences or memorialize the person.

Based on the user data that we’ve examined through ethnographies, surveys, Google search trends, and other studies, Legacy has made the following observations about the funeral industry search landscape:

      • Most people start by typing the word “obituary” or “obituaries” and work backwards to the funeral home.
          • This means that “obituary” is the core term. A direct search for other terms (including funeral homes) are much lower.
      • Searches based on geography or metro area are not the core habit for identifying funeral homes.
      • Search volume surrounding newspapers typically exceed search volume surrounding a geographically-based search, regardless of category.
          • Searching for the word “obituaries” often yields newspapers’ websites as results; since newspaper networks have higher traffic and better SEO compared to the average funeral home, they will come up first on search.

Now that we’ve given you an overview of the funeral industry search landscape, you have the first piece of the SEO puzzle. Continue to Part 2 of the Understanding SEO series to find out more about what SEO is and how to work with the all-important Googlebot.