SEO: Get Found Early, Get Found Often
By Seth Price
Though it may feel silly to imagine competing with huge, third-party real estate websites, the fact is that together, individual real estate agent and agency websites are slightly more popular than the leading third-party site (Realtor.com) as an Internet resource for people searching for a new home. Moreover, as the agent or broker in charge of your listings, you have a more direct relationship with a seller than any of these other sites, which means most clients will end up on your website at some point anyway.
Still, by making use of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, you can increase your odds of beating the Trulias and Zillows of the world to the top of that big blue list we call a search engine. We’ve already discussed the first way to ensure leads can find you: by producing a steady stream of content. But there are other ways to maximize your visibility, provided you have a general sense of how search engines “think,” how they decide what’s relevant.
These are the single most important components of search engine optimization. Keywords are the words and phrases people type into the search bar at Google, Bing, or any other search site to find what they’re looking for.
The more specific keywords become, the smaller the number of people using them becomes, and by extension, the fewer leads you’ll find by owning them. At the same time, the most general keywords are highly sought after by just about everybody in the industry, so that putting all your time and effort into “real estate” or “properties” hardly makes sense.
Furthermore, even if you do somehow rank highly for terms like these, the percentage of highly relevant and qualified leads you’ll receive from them will be much lower. Instead, you should find a happy medium with terms of as few words as possible that relate to exactly what you have to offer: “New Jersey real estate.” Figure out which keywords sound best and try to imagine every variation on them: “Chicago apartments,” “apartment rentals Chicago,” “find apartments in Chicago,” etc.
Once you’ve decided your keywords, you’ll want to make sure they appear at least in part in every element of a given webpage: not just page titles and body text, but also things your users won’t see most of the time: image titles, for instance.
We’re not just talking about securing www.companyname.com as the address of your main site. That’s certainly important, but even the most specific page on your website has the potential to come up in a search. As such, you should think before accepting whatever default URL your software generates. This is obvious when the automatic URL is something with random strings of lots of letters and numbers: www.companyname.com/396/jWr43n68gL9sx/. A URL like this is impossible to remember and ugly when shared.
Your blogging software will probably generate URLs automatically based on the page title, and these aren’t always bad–a page titled “Real Estate Experts,” for instance, will be generated as www.companyname.com/real-estate-experts/. But if the keywords you want to rank for aren’t in your page title, you’ll end up with something like www.companyname.com/were-the-best/, which doesn’t say anything about the page content, let alone what you do or who you are.
On any search results page, these are the small blocks of text underneath the page title and URL of each entry which describe the content of that webpage. Often, these descriptions simply draw from the first several words of text on the page itself. But if that text doesn’t include the keywords or ideas you think people are searching for, you should consider writing something different.
For instance, if your blog post about buying a foreclosed property begins with an anecdote about your cat–and far be it from us to say it shouldn’t–your automatically generated meta description probably won’t include any of the keywords (real estate, foreclosures, homes, etc) that are likely to attract the leads you’re looking for.
Published on January 6, 2012
Written by Seth Price
Seth is a brand and marketing strategist with 20 years of digital marketing experience. He’s a founding team member and VP @Placester, author of the bestselling small business marketing book, The Road to Recognition and host of The Craft of Marketing and Marketing Genius podcasts. As a speaker, writer, and marketing workshop leader, Seth brings levity, mentorship, and a dose of reality to the businesses and entrepreneurs he coaches.