The internet is ripe with opportunity (LEADS) for real estate agents who can land their website on the first page of a web search.
How do you get there?
While there is no magic formula, there are several ways to polish your site and improve your organic web ranking that don’t require you to be a digital marketing expert or web developer.
We will share eight with you today. The first four will walk you through the basics of evaluating how search engine-friendly your website is. The next four outline basic website updates to consider.
One: Check Your Organic Ranking
There’s a simple way to learn whether you’ve got work to do on your website: check your organic search ranking. Organic (or natural) search results are the web page listings that most closely match the user's search query based on relevance, as determined by the Google algorithm. Organic rankings will not have the green “ad” label next to them.
- Go to your favorite search engine and type in “homes for sale (your city) (your state).”
- Then search for “buy a house in (your city) (your state)” or “sell a house in (your city) (your state).”
- Are you on the first page of results? The second? The third? If not, it’s time to put in some work. Where do your competitors land?
Two: List Your Keywords
Begin by making a list of keywords and phrases you believe are important to your clients. The goal is to correctly use these keywords on your website without overusing the same keyword on the same page. SEO consultant Steve Napier shares key places where you will use keywords to signal to search engines, such as the following:
- Page Title
- URL: The web address for your page. This is a great place to include keywords without having to sound catchy or witty.
- H1 Tag: The main header for the page. This tells the reader what the page is about.
- Site Navigation Link Text: The text that forms links on your top navigation or sidebar.
There are many free tools that check which keywords are used to find your site. Start with this WordStream tool. The instant results show the first 10 keywords; a complete list is yours for sharing an email address.
Three: Check Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of increasing the number of visits to your website by making modifications to the site that move it higher on the list of organic search results.
HubSpot created a list of tools you can use to review your SEO, most of which are free or include a free trial period: The Top 12 SEO Tools of 2018. Another great resource is SiteChecker Pro, which not only analyzes your website SEO, but also offers tips for correcting issues.
Four: Update Title Tags
Title tags tell search engines and visitors what a web page is about in short, accurate terms. This title also shows up as the big blue link in search engine results. Per Moz, having the proper title tag is important because it helps search engines understand what your web page is about.
How to write a good title tag:
- Keep your tag between 50-60 characters/spaces long – or else it may get cut off by an ellipsis (“…”).
- Put important keywords first; least important words last.
- Accurately describe the page content.
- Each page on your website should have a unique title tag.
You can add/edit title tags in your website’s content management system (CMS). For example, in WordPress, you would go to General Settings.
When writing an article or blog, the section where you write your headline will automatically create the title tag.
Five: Update Body Content
Search engines will reward well-written and relevant body content, so it’s essential to have up-to-date pages with your latest product offerings.
As you scan and update your content, keep the following in mind:
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
- Weave in your keywords discussed earlier (but not too many! keyword cramming will hurt your web ranking).
- Use bulleted lists.
- Break up longer pages of text with subheadings.
- Be specific: if you specialize in selling historic luxury homes in a target neighborhood of your city, say so.
- Include calls to action.
- Remove outdated statistics.
- Include inbound links.
If you find that your older content is receiving a lot of web traffic, a simple refresh will help you benefit from the amazing SEO it has earned.
Six: Ask for Backlinks
Backlinks are links on external websites that link back to your content. Search engines view backlinks as votes of confidence for your website as they extend your site's credibility. They not only tell search engines that your website is relevant to users, but helps them learn what your website is about. Before you begin asking business partners to be placed on their website, make sure that there is a relationship between your pages. Start by making a list of well known websites in the real estate industry and seeing if there would be a fitting place for your content to be linked to. Blog articles are great opportunities for back linking!
Seven: Use Quality Images and Alt Tags
Although a picture can be worth a thousand words, for search engines to find that picture, you have to describe it in alt content (alternative content) also called “alt text” or “alt tags.” It is also important to have proper alt tags so visually impaired users who use screen readers will be able to understand the image on the page. Your website content management system should include a place for an alt tag when you upload a picture.
“The best format for alt text is sufficiently descriptive, but doesn’t contain spammy attempts at keyword stuffing. If you can close your eyes, have someone read the alt text to you, and imagine a reasonably accurate version of the image, you’re on the right track!”
Eight: Plan Regular Updates
Once your website is up to date, develop a plan for when the About Us, home, events, blog and other website pages are to be updated. It’s not just the listings that matter. Hire someone if you can’t dedicate time every week for updates.