Every real estate agent wants to be at the top of a Google search. But many Realtors don’t have time or simply don’t understand the ins and outs of search engine optimization. Perhaps you are familiar with S.E.O. basics such as keyword placement, Meta tags, anchor text, and the importance of blogging, but what about the optimization techniques that will actually hurt your real estate web site more than help it?
The days of Google and other major search engines falling for tricks that will artificially get your site a higher PageRank in a shorter amount of time are long gone. Spamming and other black hat search engine optimization is unethical and will no doubt bury your website over the long haul; and these days, it’s takes a lot less time for Google to catch on to such behavior.
So instead of taking short cuts to get instant gratification out of your real estate site, I urge you to try and avoid the following negative S.E.O. strategies and set your website up to be a strong lead generator and have long-term, sustainable success.
- Link Farm: A link farm is a basically a cluster of websites that link to one another. Search engine algorithms look at page links to determine a site’s relevance and overall authority, so the idea behind a link farm is to fool a search engine into thinking certain sites are of significance because of the high number of inlinks. This practice was used years ago, but should you try it today, your site will be considered spam and you rank will steadily drop. Don’t do it.
- Keyword Stuffing: Most people with basic web knowledge understand this is something you don’t do. But many people not familiar with website principles still think jamming keywords throughout a website and inflating your keyword density will help achieve a higher rank. This is not the case, however, and as search engines see an unusual amount of repeat keywords, your site will more than likely be penalized for it.
- Cloaking: The purpose of cloaking is to feed search engines certain text, while giving users something entirely different to see when a website is viewed. How it works is that web masters will input misleading meta tags into the coding of web pages, while what will be seen on the frontend of such these pages fails to correspond with such tags. What makes this practice especially frowned upon among search engines is that if web users come across a site totally different from what search engine bots sees, the effectiveness of these search engines greatly diminish. For that reason, some search engines have even banned sites that use the cloaking technique.
- Duplicate Content: Many real estate agents around the country who rely heavily on web leads have more than one web site. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for agents in larger markets to have up to 20 domain names that relate to specific neighborhoods, buildings, or subdivisions. So with an abundance of websites, it’s sometimes hard to find the time to write unique, quality content for each. As a result, some agents will cut corners on generic “About Us” or “Our Policy” pages and use the same content throughout all their sites. Bad idea. For every website you own, take the time to write out unique content for each. And if you have generic pages that will contain the same information over and over, simply redirect each back to one page on your main site.
Building a proper real estate web site the right way is a lot of work. Sure, it may take a bit longer for you to see positive results in terms of PageRank and web traffic, but over time, I think you’ll be glad you followed the white hat S.E.O. trail as opposed to using some of the practices mentioned above. Most usually are, at least.
Joe Heath is a graduate of Indiana University and also holds a Graduate Certificate in Real Estate Development from Drexel University. After working in market research and authoring published Market Snapshots for Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, Joe now works as a Web Marketing Specialist and is a managing partner at Real Estate Web Creation, LLC.