Consider this: In 2011, according to J.D. Power reports as noted on an AGBeat release, only a measly 58% of home sellers use websites and website listings to promote properties. This number was peaking at 82% in the year 2010.
The total percentage of sellers listing homes on websites could be attributed to homeowners doing it themselves or real estate agents doing it on their behalf. The numbers are shockingly disappointing given the growing importance of web presence and Internet marketing for all businesses.
As a real estate agent, there’s plenty of opportunity to add value to your businesses by promoting online. Evidently, search marketing proves to be a behemoth with long-term returns. Every real estate agent, however, has a learning curve. If you are looking to make your real estate website work for you, here are at least 7 SEO Must-dos for your website:
Before you spend a lifetime with SEO, your website needs a preliminary check. Google Webmaster tools provide you with everything you need to know about how your website is indexed by Google, how many links point to it, and how many pages are indexed. If you have too many pages but Google indexes only a few, there could be a problem of duplication of content or anything related. You may also use SEOmoz’s tools (free and paid) such as On-Page Analysis, Link Analyzer, Keyword Analysis, and Crawl test to get a diagnostic of your real estate website.
Keyword Research and Content Inclusions
Create compelling, industry-leading content for your real estate website. In time, your website should become the “go to” resource for all things real estate or perhaps gain local, regional, or national authority. Great content automatically leads to other websites and bloggers pointing to your real estate website as a resource which helps you to gain authority which in turns boosts the probability of your website getting found on search engines for keyword phrases or terms that pertain to your real estate business.
While you focus on developing great content, fish out keyword groups or key phrases that customers are most likely to search for and include them in your posts, articles, and other content you are likely to publish. Ensure that you don’t overuse keywords to the point that your posts don’t make any sense for humans.
Google already provides you with Google Keyword Tool. You may also use third-party keyword tools such as the Free Keyword Tool from Wordtracker.
For instance, if you are a real estate agent in Ohio, Athens, U.S., some of the keywords that relate to your business could be:
Condos in Ohio
Apartments for rent in Athens Ohio
Homes for sale in Athens
Find ways to insert these keyword phrases creatively into your content. The keyword tools help you find the exact keyword phrases and also many “opportunities” – in essence, many other keyword phrases close to your search – which you can use.
Get linked, the right way
As relevant links point to your website appropriately, it gains authority and relevance – a few of the many parameters that search engines value. As a real estate agent, you also have more enterprising opportunities available to hasten link building for your website apart from creating content that’s automatically shared on social media or linked to by bloggers and other publications.
For instance, start with your local chamber of commerce and have them link to your website (you might even want to pay them a visit as it’s well worth it). You could become a member of local real estate associations and have them list your website on their membership guild or leader board. Create a buzz, have local bloggers mention your business, launch innovative schemes, launch a walking tour for potential customers, and use contests. Get them talking online and you’ll build links faster than what seems possible.
It’s Real Estate. So, Go Local
Google Places allows you to take advantage of the local search scene. More often than not, Google Places listings precede normal search listings. Google Places Support pages are a great place to start with the basics. Follow Rand Fishkin’s post on Google Places SEO if you’d like a more technical explanation. Real estate makes a resounding case study for going local and using the “local search” advantage since the nature of business is such.
Dress up every page
On-page SEO is where you could stumble and swagger. Yet, it’s crucial to make sure that a few wrinkles are ironed out:
- Avoid too many links on your web pages. Instead, judiciously choose which links are to be displayed on your website or blog since Google search bots (also called as crawlers or spiders) cannot possibly visit every link on every page.
- Link to every important page (originating from your home page). Links are the only way for crawlers to find your pages.
- Every page or blog post should have its own title (along with a meta title). As such, every page or post should also have tags, a specific category that this content relates to, Meta description, and search-friendly URLs.
- If you use images for your real estate blogs or web pages, include keywords or relevant descriptions while uploading every image.
Press Releases (Every real estate listing is news)
Press releases are great for your SEO efforts as they are search engine fodder. Since search engines always look for new information, sending out press releases helps promote your brand, increase exposure, allow you to capture new audiences, and gain massive traffic windfalls to your website.
Further, since press releases are published on news aggregator sites, PR sites, and even picked by Google News, you’ll create a rich group of inbound links from these authority news sites to your website.
Now, many business owners and real estate agents think that press releases make sense only if you have to publish something that’s “newsworthy”. Every new property listing on your real estate website is “news”. Likewise, new real estate services, updated property listings, etc., will all make for great content to publish as press releases.
To be social is plain nice (and potentially profitable)
Create accounts on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any of the other leading social media platforms. Create a content schedule (separate from your blogging, Press release, and other content creating schedule) and post content on your social media sites related to your real estate business.
You can share news, comment on published articles, and share information on everything that relates to your business. Search engines also capture social media signals, although no one’s sure as to how social media contributes to search). The rising importance of Google+ and the fact that Google includes Google+ posts in searches is a strong clue that social media also adds to your SEO efforts.
Are you doing enough justice to your SEO efforts? Do you invest in long-term search engine marketing? As a real estate agent, does SEO work for you?
About the author: Pratik Dholakiya is the Lead SEO Strategist and VP of Marketing at E2M Solutions, a fastest growing internet marketing startup providing post panda/penguin era SEO services to their clients. Get in touch with him through Twitter @DholakiyaPratik.