[Update] we've just put together our Ultimate Guide to Managing a Coworking Business: download it here for free!
Whether you’re opening a new coworking space, looking to grow your membership number, or simply looking to nurture the current members you have, your website is one of the most powerful tools you own.
Organic search traffic, or web visitors that arrive through a search engine like Google, accounts for an average of 64% of a site’s web traffic.
What would a 64% increase in traffic to your site mean for your business?
Unfortunately, without a SEO strategy for your coworking space, driving that much traffic to your site through search engines is nearly impossible.
We know as a manager or owner, you’re often stretched so thin that it can be hard to see the bottom of your to-do list. Adding website SEO to your list of things to tackle may seem daunting, but we promise it can be done.
Below we’ve laid out what exactly SEO is, why you should tackle it, and how you can get started.
By the end of this post, you should be able to make some significant, yet manageable, changes that will directly impact your website’s traffic, engagement, and conversions.
Are you ready to take your website to the next level? Here we go!
What exactly is SEO?
Search engine optimization – SEO – is the process of incorporating search engine-friendly elements into your website with the intent of ranking higher for searches your target markets are likely to be performing.These elements include things like keywords, backlinks, quality content, and more (we’ll explore these below).
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo regularly “crawl” websites to understand a website’s purpose, how authoritative it is, and who it was designed for. After crawling, search engines then “index” pages of your site that will appear as results in searches.
Because these search engines use the content and structure of your website as context when determining where and what keywords you should rank for, it’s critical to design your website with your target market in mind.
In other words, what you are saying and showing on your website should reflect what your target market is asking in search engine queries.
The goal of SEO isn’t just to drive more traffic to your website – it’s to drive more qualified traffic to your website. Driving 1000 new visitors to your site because of your SEO efforts is great, but if none of those visitors convert into members, does the spike in traffic really mean anything?
Driving quality traffic – visitors who arrive to your site because you have an answer to a query they asked – will lead to more conversions and, ultimately, more revenue for you.
Understanding your target audience
By explicitly defining and completely understanding your target audience, you significantly increase your chances of driving qualified traffic to your website. As a coworking space, you’re very fortunate in that you’ve already built a community that embodies the audience you will be targeting with SEO.
Using the knowledge you have of your community’s most successful or ideal member, create a profile for this individual. Clearly define their coworking persona by answering questions like:
- Background – What kind of job? Industry?
- Demographics – Age? Gender?
- Goals – Grow business? Flexible schedule? Temporary solution? Community/networking?
- Challenges – Loneliness? High rent? No networking opportunities? Need to move fast?
- Objections – Price? Scalability? Flexibility?
We’ve created a persona template you can use to create and refine your member personas. After you’ve filled out each section, you should have a good idea of your target market for your SEO goals.
Download here our Coworking SEO Checklist + Persona Worksheet as PDF!
With these personas, you can now move into thinking about search terms you’ll optimize to drive the right traffic to your website.
Keywords are the heart of SEO – they’re how your potential members will find you when searching for coworking related terms. By definition, a keyword is a term that represents or defines what is on a webpage. When optimizing your website for search engines, you’ll want to use keywords within your webpage content that parallels the search terms your target audience will be entering into the search engine.
There are many ways to determine what your target keyword should be, so we’ve laid out some of the easiest and most popular ways to build a target keyword list.
1. Use your community
Speaking with your current community is one of the first – and easiest – things you can do when tackling keyword research. Whether it’s a survey, focus group, or a casual conversation, your members will have great insight into the typical Internet search habits of your target audience.
In these conversations with members, you should aim to understand:
- Coworking-focused websites and blogs they frequently visit
- Searches they typically perform that involve coworking-focused keywords (i.e. “coworking space in New York City,” “tips for coworking,” “what is coworking”)
- Types of coworking-focused content they like to or would like to read
2. Google suggested queries
One of the easiest ways to figure out terms your target market is searching for is to use the Google suggested queries. I’m sure you’ve seen this plenty of times: you go to Google to search for something and as you type out your term or phrase Google guesses what you’re looking for and suggests complete terms or phrases for you.
Google’s suggested queries are a great way to understand other searches users are looking for based on a word related to what you are looking to optimize for. For example, below I started a search for the word “coworking,” and Google gave me 10 suggested keywords involved/related to coworking.
Note: if you are logged in to your Google (Gmail) account, Google will use your location to suggest queries that are even more targeted to you. This is beneficial to coworking spaces that are looking to attract members who currently live in the area. Can you tell we’re located in NYC?
3. Google related searches
After you’ve performed a Google search and are viewing the results, you may have noticed the related searches at the bottom of the page. This is another great place to get ideas for keywords as Google is (again) showing you closely related search terms you could leverage as keywords.
4. Google AdWords Keyword Planner
For the more advanced SEO planner, Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a comprehensive tool full of insights that will help you choose keywords based on competition and average monthly searches.
What exactly does that mean?
The less competition for a keyword, the easier it will be for you to rank for that keyword. The more monthly searches performed for that keyword, the more likely you are to drive traffic to your website.
The ideal combination for a keyword is low competition, high search volume. This means that there are a lot of people searching for a keyword, but not a lot of other websites trying to rank for that keyword, so it should be relatively easy for you to rank and start driving traffic to your website.
The Google AdWords Keyword Planner lays all of this information out for you in addition to giving you suggestions for groups of keywords related to whatever term you initially search for.
Google also groups related keywords into “ad groups” that you can click into and explore keywords Google thinks are directly related to the term you are researching.
5. Other helpful tools
There are a variety of tools that can help you identifying keywords and topics you should cover on your website.
Two examples are:
For an updated overview of free SEO tools you should use in 2019, take a look at this article by Lunametrics.
Learn how Kisi helps coworking spaces give 24/7 access to their customers while providing a seamless integration with their existing CRM system.
Creating quality content
While keywords help search engines understand what a webpage is about, the content on the page helps search engines understand how valuable the page is going to be to a visitor. Search engines take quality of content into serious consideration when ranking pages, so it’s extremely important to ensure that all of the copy on pages you want to rank for is the highest quality possible.
In other words, search engines don’t crawl pages simply looking for keywords and use the number of times that keyword is used to determine where to rank a page. If that were the case, webpages might read something like:
How was that to read? Not pretty, right?
Search engines are smart and understand what content that is easy, informative, and valuable to its readers looks like; it also can tell what spammy web content looks like and penalizes websites that host content like this. You don’t want to hurt yourself in search engine rankings, so you need to spend time creating quality content for your site.
What exactly does quality mean in relation to content on your coworking website?
Below are the basic principles from the Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Local SEO and communication
While your visitors will find you online, yours is a local business consisting of one or multiple physical locations, and this is something you should always keep in mind when shaping your content and communication strategy. There are 3 actions you can take right away to make sure that users will successfully find your business, but also
1. Verify your space on Google Business
The verification process will normally take a couple of days (you'll receive a postcard with a code) and will allow your business to appear on Google Map searches and snippets as well as on the side bar for users looking for your brand name. You can find more information on this video.
2. Optimize your listing
Now that you have a Google listing, you should make sure include accurate address, opening hours and description, but there is a lot more to that. Google allows you to share upcoming events and even updates directly in the panel, and you should take advantage of that! This is your chance to engage with potential customers that may come across an event they want to attend or read one of your recent blog posts... all even before having landed on your website.
3. Focus on reviews
Once your potential customers have found you, they need a little more information coming directly from you: that's where reputation management comes into the picture.
You should actively incentivize your existing customers to leave a review on a series of platforms.
Generic business listings:
Coworking specific platforms:
You should also identify other local business listing platforms that may be specific to your city and that include customer reviews!
You may also like: Best coworking space software reviewed
In the basic principles for quality content, Google suggests creating content that is built from “what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging.” When you take this approach in developing your website and pages, not only will search engines view your content as quality, your content will be viewed as quality and a resource by readers.
The ultimate goal here is to be viewed as an authority – or thought leader – in your space. You want to be seen as a resource for information surrounding whatever you are an expert in.
One of the easiest ways for search engines to tell if your content is authoritative is by counting the number of links to your page from other websites, also known as backlinks.
The thinking behind this is very straightforward – if your content is as valuable as you designed it, then other websites should want to link to it. In the eyes of a search engine, the more websites that link to your website, the more authoritative your site must be.
That being said, to prevent spam sites from taking payment to link to other websites, search engines don’t just take number of backlinks to your site into consideration – the authority of the websites linking to you in factored in, as well. Because of this, you only want to get links from other quality, respected sites that are seen as reputable resources.
The process of developing a strategy to get links is a common SEO practice called link building. There are many different link building strategies, so we’ve laid out some of the easiest that have a relatively high return below:
1. Write about your expertise – One of the easiest ways to get your content linked to is to write thought leadership content that isn’t currently being talked about. Content like this is typically hosted on a branded company blog, which gives your readers one central place to visit and see your regular updates.
As a coworking expert, you could write a guide to opening a coworking space, an in-depth checklist for keeping members engaged, or even a personal anecdote on what it means to be a manager or owner of a coworking space. Your goal should be to create content or resources that your target audience would want to read that haven’t been talked about online before.
By creating resources like this, not only will you be informing your target market (always goal number one!), but you’ll also be likely to get links from authors of other articles, resources, and webpages who are looking for sources for their work.
2. Perform outreach – If you write a piece of content you’re really proud of and don’t want to wait for the links to come to you, you can proactively perform outreach and ask for links. There are a few sub-categories within this strategy:
- Guest post – A guest post is when a website accepts a piece of content that is written by an author that doesn’t typically write for their website. After your content has been published on your website, you can reach out to websites that cover topics similar to what you wrote about and ask if they accept guest posts. If they do, you can offer to write a post for them that is a spin-off of the content you just published on your website. For example, if you published a checklist on your website on keeping members engaged, you could write a guest post titled “5 Reasons Your Members Leave Your Coworking Community.” Within this guest post, you would link to your original post within the body of the text or within the "author box".
- Press coverage – A PR strategy with a SEO spin, press coverage outreach is when you share your recently published content resource with websites or blogs that write about content similar to content you write about on your website and ask if they’re interested in writing an article about it. Usually this works when you have something very unique to say, an infographic or visual to share, or have released new data that only you can provide.
- Directories – Directories are websites or pages that feature (and link to) coworking spaces. WorkSnug is a great example – it links to coworking spaces in over 100 countries. The Coworking Wiki has a list of over 35 directories you can reach out to for links. BONUS: the Coworking Wiki also has a list of blogs and publications you can reach out to for guest posting!
3. Make shareable content – Writing quality content is extremely valuable, but you can make your content even more valuable to your readers (and increase your chances of getting links) by making your content shareable. Shareable content means including images, graphics, videos, PDFs, and/or charts in your content.
It’s been proven that readers are more likely to share content that speaks to their emotions, so including engaging visuals that break up the monotony of text means that your readers are more likely to share your content. As more and more readers share your content with their friends and followers, you increase the chances of your content getting into the hands of a blogger or publisher and receiving a link.
Take on what you can
As a business owner or manager of a coworking space, we know that you have a lot on your plate. Between networking events, managing operations, and crunching your financials, you’re a jack-of-all trades responsible for growing and maintaining a thriving business.
It’s no easy feat, but SEO is here to help you.
We’ve laid out some of the most basic and easy-to-implement SEO strategies above, and you should start by taking on what you can at the pace that is most reasonable for you.
As you take on more and more, building and refining your site with SEO in mind will become second-nature, and, most importantly, you’ll start seeing an increase in the right traffic to your website.
If you liked this article, you may want to take a look at our Coworking Space Management Guide (free eBook download)!