If you don’t know the ABCs of SEO, it could be costing you significant dollars and cents.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a strategy to raise organic (non paid) search engine rankings for particular keywords. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo! Search continually scour the web for content and rank Websites. In order for those search engines to deem your Website important on key phrases that consumers are searching for, such as “Atlanta homes for sale,” you need to take intentional steps to be visible.
“In mid-2007 I realized there wasn’t much competition in Spokane’s (Wash.) Web world. I dove in and saw that the number of Internet leads was going up because Google was ranking me high for the content they were searching for,” says Keith Riddle, a seven-year real estate veteran who joined the Keller Williams Spokane market center in 2007 to tap into the team- building synergies. “SEO is vital for real estate agents who want to compete for Internet leads.” He would know. His 11-member team closed $27 million in 2011 and more than $25 million from Jan. – Oct. 2012. “The phones we carry in our pockets are better than the computers we had five years ago. Everyone has access to the Internet everywhere. If you don’t use SEO, your only other option for Web visibility is paid search.”
So where do you start with SEO? Here are Riddle's Top 10 SEO tips for real estate agents:
Tip #1: Do Your Research
First, Riddle says, choose the topics you want to be known for. Consider the keywords consumers would likely use when searching for properties in your neighborhood, farm or niche. This is usually some combination of the name of a city and property type, such as “Raleigh golf course homes.”
Tip #2: Go Long
Once you’ve determined a broad range of keywords you’d like to rank for, Riddle suggests targeting the long tail keywords, which are the less competitive terms that give you a greater chance to rank higher. “If you go for popular keywords, you are going to be competing with REALTOR.com, Trulia and Zillow,” Riddle says. Use the Google Keyword Tool to estimate the number of monthly searches for your desired keywords and keyword phrases. The more searchers there are, the harder it will be to rank high.
Tip #3: Content Is 'Ka-Ching'
There’s an old adage that says, “Content is king” and Riddle says that is never truer than in the SEO world. Over time, writing keyword-rich, informative content and producing YouTube videos tagged with your chosen keywords will put you closer to the top of popular search engines.
“Commit to writing a blog post or recording a video once a week. Over a period of 40 or 50 weeks, you’ll have so much content that your Website will become a resource. Every person reading your blog may not be looking for a home, but you are raising awareness for your real estate brand and you will likely generate leads.”
Tip #4: Fresh is Best
Google has made several updates to their search algorithm in recent years. One of those is the Freshness Update helps consumers find the most recent and relevant content based on their search query. What does this mean for you? Find ways to incorporate new content on your Website and post to your blog regularly.
Tip #5: Don’t Overdo It
It’s important to maintain the right balance between just enough and too many keywords. You’ll get far more traffic if you write about what you know in the language used by the consumer you want to do business with.
Tip #6: Use Media
Blended search results, also known as universal search, include images, video, news and blog posts. On your Webpages and in every blog post, include at least one piece of media. Name images using your chosen keywords and embed videos directly onto your blog post or Webpage.
Tip #7: Leverage is an Option
Don’t have time to undertake this task on your own? Outsource it. Riddle says agents can expect to pay about $500 a month for a virtual assistant or college student looking for some extra cash. Leverage is a smart move for busy real estate agents who are already selling plenty of houses and want to build a team to drive more revenue.
Tip #8: Obtain Inbound Links
“Inbound links are like a bunch of people pointing their finger to your Website,” Riddle says. “If someone posts a link to your blog on their Facebook account, that’s valuable. So are links from your chamber of commerce, homebuilder association or local news station. If you have all those sites pointing to you, it tells the search engines your site must be important.”
Tip #9: Know Your Numbers
Agents should be looking at reports that show where their Websites are ranked on Google for specific phrases each month, tracking the data and then making decisions about content and keyword strategy based on the results.
Tip #10: Just Start
Many people get frustrated and give up on SEO tactics. Know that it may take three months to start ranking on your keywords and it may take longer than that to see the fruit of leads. But you won’t get there until you start.
For all the books and seminars about SEO and blogging, still relatively few agents actually develop content consistently,” Riddle says. “If you are purposeful about it, you can rank high in the search engines for your specialty and start generating more leads.”