I am not an SEO genius…
…but, between the articles here and my own experiences, I’ve figured out a few things that work for me. My RErockstar.com blog isn’t the highest ranked site, but it garners enough traffic that I consider it to be a successful real estate blog. AgentGenius has plenty of great writers (ever read Jack Leblond’s SEO posts?) who know tons about SEO and have written excellent articles about the finer points of the various algorithms used to figure out where you show up in search engine rankings.
This post is for everyone else. It’s about simple logic. It’s not going to fling you past Trulia or Realtor.com overnight and make you an internet sensation. It’s not going to make you a millionaire by years end. These are little things I’ve learned over the years. Simple things that have had a lot of impact on my blogging and have worked wonders for a blog that used to be read by just me and my dad. The best part – they’re logical and easy to implement. While some SEO experts may thumb their nose at the simplicity of these efforts (and argue their merits), I swear by these little tips.
SEO for the rest of us.
1. One of my favorite tricks is to throw away the two letter state abbreviation. I see it all the time in real estate blogging. “Philadelphia, PA – New listing – 123 Fake Street” – “How to buy insurance in Los Angeles, CA” – “How to choose a Realtor® in Seattle, WA” Unless they live in Springfield, many people out there searching aren’t going to include the state information as part of their keyword string. I sat a friend down and had him google a few random things about specific cities. Never once did he enter the state information. I used to use state information all the time.
Let’s say a post was titled “Best BBQ in San Antonio, TX.” When I would search Google to see how I was doing, I would be ranked low for the search phrase “best bbq san antonio” – maybe not even making the first (or tenth) page. If I googled “best bbq san antonio tx” I suddenly ranked pretty decently. Of course, you would think that this would mean that the “TX” was helping me be found, but when looking at Google Analytics, I found that few people were finding those posts through keyword searches. The day I deleted the “TX” and just went with “San Antonio,” I started to notice a strong uptick in traffic from search engines and now I was appearing higher in the results too.
2. Never underestimate the searcher. If you’ve ever taken a look at any kind of analytics for your website, you’ve probably had to stop for a moment and wonder “why in the hell would someone google that?” I do it everyday. Oddball phrasing, misspellings, made up words, and things I never thought about when writing a post. (I was showing up for “suicide listings in san antonio” thanks to a post about a seller’s responsibility to disclose death on their property. I also used to be number one for “silly realtor” from a post where I called NAR a “silly old goat.”) Although I talk about logic in this post, sometimes you have to defy logic and think like the oddball.
3. Abbreviate nothing. Well almost nothing. We Realtors® love to use abbreviations. I’d write a list of some of them, but you probably know a thousand more than I do (it took me forever to figure out what SMKAL in our old abbreviation-filled MLS meant). People don’t naturally search for a 3br/2ba home with a EIK (or even worse a 3/2/2). Use words. That’s what they’re there for. Some MLS systems don’t provide much room for remarks, so agents tend to abbreviate there, but when it’s on your blog there’s no reason to be brief (other than to avoid long winded posts like mine).
3. When you have a link you make quite often on your site (such as a link to your contact page), vary the anchor text and link title. “Contact Matt Stigliano, Realtor® with RE/MAX Access” isn’t going to be searched as often as “contact agent on 123 Fake Street” – I see a lot of blogs with repetitive link text, which might build authority on a particular search phrase, but there’s something to be said about diversity.
4. Your audience is not other Realtors® and therefore don’t always speak your language. Although many consumers know the term MLS, many don’t. Or they don’t understand what it means to them. The word disclosure isn’t exactly a tough word or one that’s never used in common English, but we use it all the time in real estate. Yet, time and time again I see keyword searches such as “do I have to tell a buyer this or that” or “do we need to reveal such and such.” Try not to get caught up in our own lingo. Think of other ways to say the same thing.
5. Don’t overlook zip codes. I used to think no one cared about them all that much unless we were talking about 90210. I started using zip codes when I started doing market reports. At first my traffic went up because people were googling “78230 market report” and landing on those pages. Now I see more general searches hitting those pages, such as “78230 homes for sale” and “search homes 78230.” Interesting thing is that these searches for homes that land on market report pages tend to keep visitors on the site. They tend to view more pages (often specific neighborhood information and home search pages) and stay longer than many other searches. There’s gold in zip codes if you ask me.
I am not an SEO genius…
…but I swear by these simple items. I can directly relate traffic back to putting them into practice and use them as often as I can. None of them are difficult to implement and all of them are quite logical, so it’s not as hard as convincing yourself to put into practice other things that might take a little more thought. Think like a searcher and throw out the Realtor® mindset. The more you think like a Realtor®, the more you’re going to attract more Realtors® (if that’s your goal, great!). The more you think like a first time home buyer looking for an agent that makes them comfortable and that they can trust as their go-to for everything real estate related, the more you will find clients who appreciate what you do and come back for more.
photo courtesy of plindberg