“We got busy very quickly because our SEO started working!”
Today I’m talking to Sarah Bernhardi from Secret Blooms. A boutique artificial flower studio based in Sydney. We going to talk about her SEO challenges, what she’s learned along the way, and how getting to grips with Google has transformed her business model.
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1. Tell us a little about your business and your website
Thanks for having me Kate. Alright, well welcome to the world of Secret Blooms. We’re a small boutique studio based in Sydney, servicing Australia and New Zealand and we specialise in artificial flowers – we like to think, the very best artificial flowers.
And we do everything from arrangements for home users right through to corporate hire for our Sydney based clients, and feature installations for exhibitions and visual merchandising.
We’ve got a WordPress website so our business is relatively new.
We’re about 7 months old and one of the things that we spent a lot of time and effort on was around branding and positioning. And we were clear that we wanted to position ourselves as a premium brand and really differentiate any online perception and experience a customer might have of us.
So we spent a lot of time looking for a website designer, which we used a company called Morris Bear and they helped us create what we think is a fantastic online experience using WordPress and it’s an enjoyable experience.
We see that through our engagement scores – our customers are spending a long time on our website.
It helps that our products are so beautiful, it’s visually appealing, it’s easy to make it look great. But we’ve also spent a bit of effort on online content and tried to make the website engaging as well.
But if I’m perfectly honest with you, it was all about design and less about function when we first started.
2. What was your experience of SEO before the course?
Up until 3 months before I discovered your services, I didn’t know what SEO was.
I didn’t know the term, I didn’t know what it stood for. I just thought if you build something they will come.
So it was a hard and fast listen that I learnt very quickly after spending thousands on a beautiful website and not understanding why we weren’t getting any traffic. I spent some time doing some research and discovered there’s this thing called SEO.
3. What were your reservations about the course before you signed up?
Absolutely none. I can confidently say that because I count myself very lucky that I stumbled across your website. I do remember coming across you in the very early days of Secret Blooms and thinking to myself – mental file note: I must look this woman up at some point and really just for your copywriting services, not acknowledging what SEO was or what it meant to me.
Then when I had this harsh realisation that I’d spent thousands on a website and wasn’t getting any traffic, I rediscovered you and immediately signed up to the 10 day challenge and went through it studiously and did it every day and it was hugely invaluable.
I saw results within a week of doing the course and realised I was onto something.
And if I’m perfectly honest, my only reservation/frustration was that I couldn’t enrol until you opened the course.
4. Which aspects of the course did you find most useful?
Everything. I obviously continue to get great results from everything that you’ve taught us.
I again haven’t completed 2 of the modules as yet because the good news is we got busy very quickly because SEO started working.
The phones haven’t stopped, the inboxes are full and we’re a small business that are struggling to keep on top of it but our customers come first and we’re doing that now.
And I guess one of the advantages is that I can rest assure that every day I can go back to the content and look at it.
And I guess as a small business owner, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt about SEO is that I definitely do not want to outsource SEO.
I hope my position on that changes in a year’s time when I’m that big and that busy that I do need to outsource it. But then I will do so confidently knowing what I’m talking about and what it is that I want an agency or an independent person to do on my behalf.
SEO isn’t a tick box on a start-up spreadsheet, it isn’t something you do like setting up Zero? or registering your company. It’s something that you have to do every single day.
Just like your iterating your product development or your service proposition, you need to be thinking about SEO every day. And if you don’t understand what drives SEO, you’re going to be doing stuff every day that could add value to SEO without even knowing it.
And then just the other value I would add – well the 2 very key ones for me. The first is obviously the coaching course – this wasn’t an eCourse, it was an interactive course.
You took a strong interest in our business, you understood what we were doing, you answered my questions with a context, you held me accountable to turning up every week and at least participating in the conversation even if I hadn’t done the module.
And then third and finally, the other key value would be working alongside other small businesses, seeing them at some of the stages of their journey, taking comfort that I wasn’t alone or that in fact I was actually doing pretty well compared to the others.
5. How do you feel about SEO since taking the course?
Well with like I said earlier, we’ve seen traffic through the website increase 10-20 fold. Our conversation rate increased as well.
We’re actually getting daily orders, whereas previously it was weekly or every fortnight.
We’re getting a lot more people engaging with us via our social media channels and I know that they’re finding our website initially so we get a lot more traffic through there as well. It’s taken our business in a direction – so what’s happened is that we’ve been discovered by people who are looking for a need that I’m not currently catering for.
So very similar to a very large deal that we’ve just completed where we helped a national retail chain dress their windows with spring and summer. It wasn’t a line of business that I’d had previously considered – it is now!
So it was allowing us to be discovered by people that I didn’t know I was ready to service and that just screams growth for our business, which is exciting.
I feel empowered by SEO, I’m not scared of it, I know exactly what it is. I do believe that certainly within my very niche industry, it is currently my competitive advantage.
Well we’ve got a gorgeous website – secretblooms.com.au. We’re on Instagram, we’re proud of our feed – we’re taking great pictures every day from the studio and from our client’s homes and we’re on Facebook as well so get in touch!
Over to you
Have you taken The Recipe for SEO Success Course and have an SEO story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you.