What is SEO and why should I worry about it?
By Katrina Langer
What is SEO and why should I worry about it?
In the simplest terms, search engine optimization, or SEO, is about making sure that people can find your website when they search for your business or something related to it.
While companies manage their SEO differently depending on their marketing goals, there are some tried-and-true facts about SEO that should shape the strategy for your website.
A brief overview of SEO
Whether you’re searching for information about a business, a location, or a specific topic, search engine results are ordered in a specific way.
At the top of the page, you’ll find paid search results with an “Ad” label next to them. Rather than earning these placements, Companies pay to show up first for whichever keywords they’re targeting. While these results aren’t affected by SEO, they might be worth considering if your competitors are using paid search campaigns.
Below paid results are organic results—free listings of websites related to the user’s search. The order of organic results depends on a user’s previous search history and location, as well as how other people interact with and use the content on those websites. While some search terms are more competitive than others, it’s possible to use SEO practices to increase your
Finally, you may also see other listings near the top of the page with maps, top news stories, featured articles, and images. These “rich snippets” are valuable organic results for your website, especially if your business depends on local traffic. We’ll talk more about these in a bit.
Quality, not quantity
It’s clear that winning the top spot in search engine results can make a huge difference for your business. In fact, about 30% of search engine users click on the very first organic listing on the first page of results, compared to less than 2% for the ninth and tenth listings.
To get to the top of that page, you may be tempted to create tons of content—after all, the more ground you cover, the more chances you’ll have to rank highly. In reality, the golden rule of SEO is not more content, but better content. Instead of a dozen short posts about similar topics, write one really great blog post that people visit and share.
So, how do you decide what to write about? All the images, text, and videos on your site should be informative, interesting, and related to your business, products, and services. Just as important, your content should be easy—easy to read, easy to find, and easy to share.
For instance, if your business is local real estate:
- DO write about real estate, property, and investment news in your region.
- DON’T write about your favorite local sports team when they win a playoff game—unless, of course, that team or game has implications for real estate opportunities in the neighborhood.
Here are a few tips to ensure your content is checking the right boxes:
- Listen to your competitors. See what people in your industry are talking about, and use your blog to add to the conversation. Provide links back to the original articles, and encourage people to comment and share the post. Never steal content by copying and pasting from other sources.
- Listen to your customers. What are they talking about when they’re in your office? What kind of guidance and support are they looking for? What were they looking for on your site that they couldn’t find? Answer these questions in your content.
- Do keyword research. From using tools like Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Trends, to checking what’s trending on social media, keyword research can help you learn what consumers are searching for online. We’ll get into more detail about keyword research in a forthcoming post.
Other SEO factors to consider
You can write the best, most informative content on the Internet, but if no one can find or share it, you’ll never crack the top of the search results. Here are a few ways to help people find your content.
Build a backlink profile
Links from other subject matter experts to your website are small votes in your favor. Each one signals to search engines, “This content is great, and people should read it!”
Backlinks usually happen organically, but you should feel free to ask others in your network to share links to all the great, informative content on your site, especially if they’re adding to the conversation on their own blogs. Never pay people to link to your site. Search engines know what this looks like, and will penalize your website for it.
Engage with social media and review sites
You’re probably already on Facebook and LinkedIn, but don’t forget to create a business profile on review sites like Google Maps and Yelp, as the information on these sites often gets pulled into search results via rich snippets. If your business is missing from Google Maps, another business will take your spot.
Once you’ve built profiles on these sites, make sure you stay engaged with them.
See how visitors interact with your site
Set up Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools Search Console to see how users engage with your content. Do your site visitors click through to multiple pages? Or, do they leave your site and try to find what they’re looking for somewhere else? The more people who stay on your site and share your content, the more you look like a trusted source of information for users—and the more trustworthy you are, the better your chances of floating to the top of search results.
Invest in user experience and design
As an internet user, you know how frustrating it can be when you can’t find something you’re looking for on a website. Frustrated users don’t stick around to see what you have to say, or share it with other people. By building a real estate website that’s easy and intuitive for people to navigate, you’ll have a site that’s well on its way to search engine optimization.
Some agents and brokers hire an experienced web designer or firm to help them build a beautiful site that’s easy to navigate—but most of us don’t have the time or money to invest in a custom website. Luckily, there are a few platforms out there (including Placester!) that offer simple, affordable tools for building a professional real estate website on your own.
Stay tuned for more tips and tricks for SEO, including how to do keyword research, how to build links naturally, and optimization practices that could actually hurt your rankings.
Published on July 10, 2018
Written by Katrina Langer
Katrina is a Content Writer and Strategist. She's worked with both Fortune 100 companies and small startups to create awesome content on their websites. She holds a BA in English from Northeastern University and an MBA in International Business from SNHU.