Here is my list of the top ten things Real Estate Brokers (or any independent business owner, really) should know about SEO:
1. Over 70% of online consumers start their search for products, services, and information by typing in what they need on a search engine. You probably can’t afford not introducing your company and yourself to this process (AND an enormous new audience!)
2. Most internet users don’t bother clicking past the first couple search results pages (many don’t even bother reading past the first one!) so it’s clear why a good position on the first page is paramount to your success.
3. Unlike paying for a banner advertisement or a sponsored listing on a search page, you can’t buy a good position in the organic search engine results. What you can do is invest in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to target visitors, provide publicity, exposure and revenue.
4. While you cannot actually buy the keywords that will optimize your website, it helps to imagine that you are in fact paying for them. This will help you narrow down your list until you have the ones that will most effectively drive traffic to your site and provide the most return on investment.– For example, “BC apartments” might have a TON of global searches that aren’t relevant to a Boston broker because they could be searches for apartments in British Colombia rather that Boston College.
5. When choosing a keyword, you must understand that the more popular the keyword is, the more competitive it will be to achieve a high ranking for it. Typically, very general keywords tend to be more competitive. For instance, “Apartments” is extremely hard to rank for, but “South End Apartments” is much easier to achieve a high ranking for. Take advantage of the free Google Keywords Tool to determine a keyword’s difficulty rating in Local and Global Search Volumes. If you are a local company, place your focus on ranking high in your Local Search Volume and don’t worry about how you rank globally.
6. Don’t be afraid to use specific keywords. With the advent of Google Instant, online consumers are naturally becoming more intelligent searchers. The search results morph in real time for each letter typed into the Google search box, so often consumers end up typing in very specific search terms. Search results now will appear and change almost instantly as the keyword phrase in the search box is edited. This will start getting rid of the need to scroll through pages of results; rather consumers will just refine their search and focus on Long Tail Keywords.
7. After you determine how competitive a keyword is, you have to figure out how much traffic it will drive to your site. Luckily, there is no need to hire a psychic to predict the success of each keyword.There are two ways to predict the traffic from a keyword:
- Use industry standard keyword research tools such as Overture or WordTracker. These won’t be 100% accurate, but they offer a basic estimation of traffic flow.
- Set up a Google Adwords (pay-per-click) campaign that ties into web analytics. While Pay-Per-Click advertising is not the same as SEO because it is paid for, you can use Adwords to see the exact keywords that were typed in the search engine by a visitor. To start out, make sure to check the setting “broad match” so that you allow a variety of keywords to prompt your advertisement. While you have to pay for this service (you can rank for the first paid advertisement slot within 24 hours) it will help you learn about the keywords that will benefit your website.
8. After you pick your keywords, it is important to make sure you aren’t just shoving keywords into your site without good content. Even if your site is easily found by search engine robots, you must have unique, correct, specific, and appealing content in order to entice online consumers to actually stay on your site. Updating your content often is also important; if you regularly update your website, you are giving consumers more reason to return. One of the best ways to ensure new content is to blog. We recommend blogging at least twice a week to keep a constant stream of content flowing. Search engine robots will also visit your site more often as it is updated, leading to a quicker index in the future.
9. One of the hardest parts of SEO is acquiring incoming links. The only way you can make sure that other people link your website is to have good content. This is something that is sort of out of your hands, but by networking and blogging, you can often acquire incoming links. It is important to create social media accounts on popular websites and add links to your website on your profiles. Good websites to make accounts on are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It is also helpful to add your website to directories like Yelp, Google Places, Yp.com and industry-specific directories like Angieslist.com. You should also register your website’s blog on blog directories like Blogcatalogue.com.
10. Do not try to fool the search engines. While it may seem appealing and easy just to stuff your website full of keywords to up your traffic, it is the easiest way to get your website penalized or even banned from search engines completely. Search engines need their results to reflect accurately on content, not on link farms, alt text spamming, cloaking or keyword stuffing.
This content originally appeared on the RealEstateSEO1.com blog. I wrote it while working at Boston Logic.