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David Duncan Livingston

Photographer of interiors, architecture & lifestyle in San Francisco and California, a thoughtful process and perfect compositions.


The website Houzz is a very powerful marketing tool for interior designers, architects and vendors of home design to readily expose their work to viewers. Here are some insights on how professionals can use Houzz to promote products and services and get new leads.


Houzz, with over 25 million monthly viewers, is the world’s leader of online searchable home design and decorating photos. The Houzz platform gets it’s strength and reach by the depth of meta tagging that individuals and firms have added to home design photos when they list them on the site. Never before have so many photos been so deeply meta tagged. This has made the Houzz platform more searchable and the go to place for inspiration on interior design.

With over five million photos as the content base, Houzz then fleshes out their platform with a number of tools to help collect and share information via Ideabooks, Projects and Stories. The broader community provides a forum for question and answer and the site has Marketplace function for purchases and links. Most of the actual content and all of the photography is created for free by the community. Houzz has a small in-house group of writers.

A user new to the site will first create a free Houzz account, create a profile, agree to terms and conditions (including a release of copyright protection), then upload photos to the site for free. When uploading photos Houzz has created a sophisticated user interface to help meta tagging with descriptive keywords for each photo.

Pro tip: Complete your profile to help place your ranking higher in search results. Other ways to get higher ranking is to have many photos uploaded to your profile and your engagement via comments within the Houzz user base.


For a firm wanting to use Houzz for marketing and lead generation it can be as simple as uploading and describing photos. Yet like any marketing effort, your firm should know what you want to offer and how your product or service might be positioned, including what kind of client you want to attract.

Houzz, like Google, is not fully transparent regarding how searches on it’s site are filled. Some search results will be from paid placement; some will be from highly admired photos by the broader Houzz community and viewership. Many matrices can apply. For the professional wanting a higher ranking on searches within the site they need to have a basic understanding of the moving target, Houzz search result parameters. Some questions to consider:

What photos to put on Houzz?
Why holding a project off Houzz, waiting for other publication, might be the best practice?
How to use keywords on Houzz?
What are some ways to use a Houzz profile in conjunction with a firm’s primary website?
What are some ways to use Ideabooks on Houzz to showcase a service or product?
How to crop and edit photos for best optimization on Houzz?
How to get a better ranking on Houzz?
How do I get and manage reviews?
Other ways to use Houzz?

Pro tip: Use the project folders in imaginative ways, i.e. by room type, materials, colors, feeling of space.


Pro tip: Keywording of your uploaded photos will help Houzz users find your work. Once a project is loaded, see how Houzz is cropping your photo. The example below shows the importance of managing your uploads and reloading photos that have bad crops. Currently Houzz will crop a square or wide landscape out of your rectangle photo. These may not always be the best look.


Q and A With David Livingston about maximizing Houzz for design professionals

What photos to put on Houzz? Put all that you have on your website and more. Your Houzz portfolio can be a place to put photos and projects that do not fit into your polished main website. These can be snapshots, work in progress shots, secondary rooms and non professional photos.  Yet remember the keywording will be just as important when uploading these photos.Why might holding a project off Houzz, waiting for other publication, be the best practice?
Many publications want an exclusive on a new design project, so it is best not to jeopardize possible publication by putting a great project on Houzz too soon. Consider that once your photos are on Houzz they can go global in just a few days and picked up by random bloggers. How do you use keywords on Houzz? The keywords are any or all possible combinations of words someone may use to find a photo of your project, the more the merrier. An example: modern, transitional, taupe, walnut floor, wool, rug, new traditional, contemporary, clean, simple, menlo park, palo alto, chandelier, sophisticated, steel windows, art, family, antique, dining, chairs, sophisticated, steel windows, art, custom, graphic, geometric, hand blown, crown molding, brass, landscape, natural, gold leaf, branch, drapes, high-end, neutral. Consider cropping your main photos on Houzz to be square, that is how most viewers will first see them.What are some ways to use a Houzz profile in conjunction with a firm’s primary website? On Houzz, like on Pinterest, you can select and show photographs of work that is not yours but in a style that you would like to work in. If you are starting out in design and only have a few projects to show, then use your Houzz profile to share a point of view to prospective clients. A designer is a curator of ideas as much as a maker of ideas. Show how you can curate. What are some ways to use Ideabooks on Houzz to showcase a service or product? Ideabooks can be small visual presentations of any sort. You select photos to show a look or design that you want to do. You can develop a visual language for others to see your point of view. You can solve interesting design problems. You can show your creativity. How do you crop and edit photos for best optimization on Houzz? Houzz will crop photos to be a square and this cropping can appear to be random for some photos. Review your uploaded photos to see if you should crop them square and reload them. Also Houzz shows small photos in a grid, so some wide angle photos with lots of negative space will not show well. Think about re-cropping photos before you upload them to have the most impact. How can you get better ranking on Houzz? Complete your Houzz profile as directed by Houzz. Upload more photos. Reply to comments. Pay for higher placement. Get more reviews than others in your area. Make comments and reviews on the site. Write stories. Make interesting Ideabooks. Use the following section to follow great designers far away from you. Show your good taste by the company you want to keep. Also follow others. Get badges. How do I get and manage reviews? The simple answer is to ask those clients you have had great working relationship with to review you and your firm. But ask in a more direct way than using the Houzz boilerplate review request. Make your own request. Personalize it to the firm you are reaching out to and then work in the talking points your ope the review to address. The talking point can be a few simple bullet points. You will find that giving a reviewer this framework will get more reviews; in a shorter time frame and more in support of what you want to know.  Once you get the review, follow up with a big thank you! To manage reviews seek to get five more reviews than you need. This will give you a cushion and keep a high average even when you may get a poor review. Other ways to use Houzz? Create project folders by room type, style or feeling.

Pro tip,: All text is searchable on Houzz. Your Ideabooks can become portals for your firm. Think editorially with your Ideabooks and see how organic search can get your word out. This Google search below will take one directly to your Houzz page.


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