Real Estate SEO for Beginners

The world of real estate is changing dramatically and I don’t mean the current market upheaval caused by the shift from a seller’s to a buyer’s market.

Regardless of the price level, there will always be buying and selling of real estate. But the way people seek and find housing is in the midst of a dramatic change. The internet is the great leveler, but also the great differentiator.

People searching online are not aware of your achievements, all are equal at first. If your website doesn’t offer the design and services that people appreciate, they won’t stick around long enough to find out. This is where you can differentiate yourself.

But design and functionality are secondary to the problem of how to be found in the first place. Use the analogy of websites being online business cards. New business cards are not placed at the top of the stack, but at the bottom. Customers pick up business cards from the top of the stack. SEO, or search engine optimization, deals with the effort to get your business card higher up so customers can find your site through popular search engines.

So you have a new website. So basically you just got your business cards printed but no one knows how to find them. Or even more dramatic, you don’t even know if someone is picking up your business cards, and you don’t know if your business cards are in the big stack yet.

I would define SEO as the effort to target one’s website in response to a search query on a number of search engines in order to rank higher on the results page.

But there are thousands of search engines out there. TRUE. But all but 3 are irrelevant to your optimization efforts. Google, Yahoo and MSN control about 98% of all searches conducted on the Internet. Focus on the three major search engines and the rest will take care of itself.

What is there to optimize? The goal is to be found by people who are looking for things you offer on your website. When people search, they do so textually by querying a search term or phrase. In order to optimize your website, you must first understand what keywords or key phrases you want to be found for. As I practice real estate in Aspen, Colorado, a suitable search term might be “Aspen Real Estate”.

Make sure you repeat your keywords and phrases on your home page. Make the most important key phrase a headline and put it in bold.

It is important to understand that search engines are automated computer systems programmed by humans to rank web content without human intervention. This means that the search results are based on a so-called computer algorithm. This is basically a set of instructions for the computer on how to evaluate certain criteria and translate the results into an order of meaning. Most important site first, least important last.

The art and science of search engine optimization is understanding what the search engines are looking for in a good website, and then giving the search engine exactly that. The Google search engine algorithm probably looks at hundreds of different criteria. It’s so complex that even the engineers at Google don’t know the whole picture. Now you could say, how shouldn’t Google employees know what to do?

Basically, the most important basics of what makes a good website are known. Google, for example, uses a patented mathematical concept they call “page rank” at the root of their systems. Links are considered votes. The more links pointing to a website, the more important that website needs to be. The more important the website that votes for another website, the more weight that vote has.

So try to get people to link to your site. It’s important to realize that links from sites that are on the same topic as your site seem to be more important than links from sites that are off-topic. Links from other real estate related sites are more important to my site than links from sites that advertise toys.

Search engines like content-rich websites. The more pages with useful content, the better. Blogs are a great way to collect great on-topic content over time. This is even more important as search engines like websites with fresh content on a regular basis. is a human-made directory of websites. Read the instructions carefully and submit your site in a relevant category. Yahoo and Google use this directory and it helps to get listed.

Create a sitemap and place the XML file on your web server. A sitemap is basically a long list containing all of your web pages in a format that can be read by computer programs used by search engines to browse the Internet. These programs are called “bots” or “spiders”. This helps search engines find all pages on your website. Remember, the more websites the search engine knows, the better for you.

Search engines cannot read certain content. Graphic content is one thing. If your site consists mostly of images, the search engine will not understand what your site is about and therefore will not serve it as a result of a search. Make sure your website is text rich.

The real estate website may have pages for the various subdivisions in the area served. Write a blog about the property of the week. Include a Frequently Asked Questions section. Write about yourself and give people a bio about you. Explain the buying and selling process. Provide sales statistics. The list goes on.

Get a program like Advanced Web Ranking to scour the search engines for search results that contain your keywords. Optimization is fun when you start seeing results. But manually finding your site in search results is labor intensive and a good job for an automated program.

Read web forums and a few books on SEO once you get past the basics. The field is constantly evolving and there is still a lot to learn.

Source by Toby Munk

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