23:16:53 | 2012-08-19
You’ve probably figured this out by now: “homes for sale” in your city is one of the most competitive search queries on Google. If you’ve accepted the fact that your website will only get up to the 10th page – DON’T! There are a lot of things you can do to move your website further up in search engine results, if you are willing to put in a little work.
The payoff will be occupying the most valuable real estate on the web! Here are 12 ways real estate agents can move up in search results:
Focus on Specific Keywords
You cannot skip this step because every step after it is based on this one. These keywords represent what people are searching to get to your website. I could write endless blog posts on how to choose keywords and do keyword research, but here are 3 basic tips:
- Choose 5 keywords to focus in total on your website, and use only one (maybe 2) for each website page. I know that might not seem like a lot. But, what you are aiming for is more precise targeting. If you have 20 keywords, your site will be watered down, and you won’t rank very high for any of them. But, if you have a small manageable list of keywords, you can focus all of your content around those and be more competitive against sites that are trying to do it all.
- Choose keywords that are popular, but maybe not the most popular. Everyone will go for the search term that is the most popular. But sometimes the 2nd or 3rd most popular keywords still have a high volume of search traffic, but might have less competition.
- Keep your keywords up to date. As a real estate agent, you know what communities are booming and where people most desire to live. Take advantage of that knowledge and tailor your keywords to one or two of those micro areas. You’ll pick up added SEO value where the big guys may not be looking yet.
Add A Blog To Your Website
Blogging is one of the primary ways you will become competitive in search engines. Make sure the root domain of your blog is your website, and it’s on a good blogging platform like WordPress. Also, when you’re blogging make use of the different headings (heading 1, heading 2, heading 3, etc) to organize your posts (just like how this blog post is organized), and include your keywords in these headings if you can. You’ll find these in the text editing section options.
Install a Good SEO Plugin
Once you have your blog, add a good plugin to help guide you in adding keywords properly to your blog posts. If you’re using WordPress, my favorite is the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
Write a Blog Post Everyday
What? You want to be competitive, right? This is the most valuable real estate on the web we’re talking about here! Yes, you should write a blog post everyday. If you have other agents working in the office with you, take turns! Or, hire a writer. Make sure you have a solid content marketing strategy so that you know what to write about, and include those 5 keywords cleverly in your posts (one keyword for each post).
Add Social Sharing Buttons To Your Site
Add buttons that will easily allow readers to share your blog posts on their social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc. The more shares your content gets, the better your content will rank in search engines. When you’re writing your blog posts, keep this in mind and write blogs that people will want to share.
Use Video Regularly
Videos uploaded to YouTube are a great way to add more content to be found by search engines. Set up your YouTube channel so it is branded properly and clearly directs viewers to your website. Videos should be less than 3 minutes. 90 seconds is about the perfect length. You can video anything: house tours, neighborhood tours, customer testimonials, tips for selling your house, interviews with agents and staff. Be creative! And no, you don’t need professional camera equipment to pull this off. If you have an iPhone or a FlipCam, you’re armed with all the equipment you need. Once you upload them to YouTube, make sure that the description and the tags include one or two of your keywords, as well as a great description of what the video is.
Post Photos Regularly
Take tons of photos of your properties. When you upload them to your computer, make sure you change all of the file names to include one of your keywords and then a couple extra description words, all in lower case letters and no spaces. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a home in Orlando and one of your keywords is homes in Orlando, label the photo orlando-homes-address-room.jpg. Then upload them to a good photo sharing site like Flickr, and tag them with a keyword and a good description, including a link to more information on your website. Also add them to your website, using keywords in the ALT tags and descriptions. These photos are also very valuable for posting on your social networks – just make sure they are good photos! Spend some time learning how to take a good photo, especially since your photos do not have a human subject to focus on.
Create A Facebook Page…And Update it
Create a Facebook page, and add as much content and photos as possible – using a few of your keywords. Your Facebook page will be one more piece of property on the web that you own that can be found in search results. Once you have it all set up, make sure that you are updating it every other day. If you have followed the other steps, you should have plenty of blog posts, photos, and videos to post. But, also remember that Facebook (and any social network) is a two way street. Ask questions, have conversations, solve problems, interact with followers through your Facebook page, and you will increase the exposure of your site.
Claim Your Office on Google Places
Claim your office on Google Places, and fill out the info completely making sure to use a few of your keywords in your description and categories, if possible. All of those real estate directories that usually hog up the first few pages of Google can’t compete when it comes to local search of agents. The more complete your information is and the more reviews you have, the higher up your office will rank in local map search.
Create a Google+ Page
Like it or not, Google gives preference to their social network in search engines. Completely fill out your Google+ page and include a few of your keywords as well as your photos and videos. Once you’ve done this, you should update it regularly with your blog posts, and also add everyone at least into your peripheral circles. The reason being Google customizes each person’s search results, and if they have you in their circles, your updates will rank higher in their search results. This is just the beginning of what’s being identified as social search. Not a lot of agencies have caught wind of it yet, so you will have a competitive advantage if you lay the groundwork and start doing this early.
Ask For Reviews & Testimonials
Like I said in the Google Places step, the more reviews you have there the higher your agency will rank. After every closing, send a thank you note (email or snail mail) along with a link to your Google Places page requesting a review of their experience.
Create An Overall Online Marketing Strategy
All of these tips will help you rank higher in search engines, but it’s not an exhaustive list. Also, if you don’t have a succinct strategy and blueprint for execution, this list will be hard to tackle. Consider hooking up with a digital marketing agency such as Shift Digital. You will get a full assessment of what you’re doing well and where you need work, and guidance in creating a complete strategy for all of the content you create and post. Shift Digital can give you endless ideas on content to create, help you with writing all of those blog posts, keep you up to date on the changing web trends and best practices, and more. Since there is a large learning curve involved in digital and social marketing, and the industry is changing everyday, talking to an expert will save you a ton of time and money in the long run.