By Marci James
Social media marketing may be hot, but online search is still king. That makes it imperative for real estate professionals to have a website that finds itself at the top of major search sites like Google and Bing. If you do not show up at the top, you are missing an opportunity to drive qualified traffic to your site and the chance to be discovered by potential new clients.
So what can you do to make your website search-optimized? If you are tech savvy or have a WordPress site, you will find most of the tips below can easily be accomplished without help. If you are not tech savvy, simply ask your webmaster for help. With this list in hand, you and your webmaster can make your site a search magnet!
1. Submit your website to as many major search engine directories as possible. There are hundreds of search engine directories. Most are free, some charge a fee. Use only the free ones; they work just as well as the paid ones. This process can get time consuming, but it’s worth the effort. Free Web Submission is a tool that you can use to help you with the process.
2. Choose a URL that includes keywords. Instead of a short URL, try a longer URL that includes keywords. Keywords are the main terms clients will type in to a search engine as they look for the information you have to offer. That could be your name, your city’s name or the obvious, terms related to real estate. Use this guide of keywords that are great for SEO to instantly make your site more searchable.
3. Every page on your website should have a unique keyword phrase that is included in the title, tag, body, and meta description. I recommend that you choose one keyword phrase for EVERY page of your site. That keyword phrase should be in the page title, the page text, the page tags, and the meta description for that page. The meta description should include keywords and phrases, but should NOT duplicate the page title. If you do not know how to do this, check with your webmaster.
4. Write a lot of text content for your site. Include those chosen keywords and phrases in your writing, but write for your audience, not for SEO. Depending on your area of expertise, you could add a page for every neighborhood or community you work within. You could then write a page for buyers, a page for sellers, a page for short sales, a page for foreclosures, a page for the first-time homebuyer, or a page for relocation, etc. The more content you have, the more searchable your site will be.
5. Write about HOT topics! Google gives priority to fresh/hot content. So if there is something exciting happening in your community or in the news, try adding the keyword associated with the topic to a page or post on your site. You could write a review of a new bestselling book or movie that is playing at your local theater. Or write about a big event that is occurring in your town. Whatever it is, make sure you stay topical and relevant!
6. Create pages with formatting – headings, bullet points, lists, bolded text. Google loves formatting because formatting makes a page easier to read. Check out all the formatting in THIS post! And in my opinion, formatting makes a page easier to read as well!
7. Optimize all of your website images for the web (72 dpi). Google gives priority to images that load quickly. If you upload super high resolution images, you could be hurting your SEO. Also add an ‘alt’ tag with your keywords to every photo on your site.
8. Use outbound links. Outbound links are hyperlinks that you create within your text. There are two types of outbound links: Outbound links that go to your own site and outbound links that go to other sites. I recommend placing two outbound links to other content/pages on your site on every page of your website. Also include at least one link to a website other than yours. Linking to other high-ranking sites is a great way to increase your SEO. The search engines give your site extra SEO juice when you link it to other high-ranking sites. When you add the link, be sure to add it so that the link opens in a new window. That way, visitors will not be leaving your site.
9. Use Anchor Text. The text that you highlight for an outbound link is called “Anchor Text”. In No.1 above, “Free Web Submission” is anchor text for the link it points to. Anchor Text is given LOTS of priority by search engines, so choose your anchor text carefully, using lots of great keywords and phrases.
10. Incorporate your blog into your website. If you have a blog, it should live on the same URL as your website. That way, your website benefits from the SEO your blog posts create.
11. Add a social sharing plug-in to your site. Include the Facebook Like button, Facebook share, Google+ share, and Twitter share buttons on each of your website pages. You may want to include Linkedin as well. This will encourage sharing of your content. Each time a page is shared, it creates a backlink which increases your SEO. Plus it’s really fun to see your site being shared by visitors!
12. Create a Google Analytics account and place its tracking code on every page of your website. This is very easy to do in WordPress, by simply adding the Google Analytics Plug-in. Study the analytics on a regular basis and change your techniques based on what’s working and what’s not working. You should see your site steadily rising in search engine rank.
There you have it. If this feels overwhelming, just take it one step at a time. Try submitting your site to the directories. When you’re comfortable, take one page of your site and optimize it with a Keyword Phrase that you add to the title, body, tags, and meta description.
Once you start, you’ll begin to understand the process, and see that it’s really quite simple. Go for it!
Marci James is the Director of Social Media and Marketing for Obeo.
View this original article on the BHG blog, Clean Slate.