I get asked all the time by clients what they can do to make their websites more visible online. You’ve invested time and money into creating a beautiful portfolio but now you need people to see it. So here’s a quick overview about what search engine optimization (SEO) is, how you can make your site more SEO friendly and how that will help potential clients find you in the vast expanse that is the internet.
Before we dive into the secrets of getting clicks, let’s quickly go over some myths about SEO. The biggest misunderstanding about SEO is that meta tags, or adding keywords to the HTML structure of your website, will help it get recognition from search engines like Google. Years ago Google stopped ranking web pages by metatags and keywords as it was too easy to add thousands of irrelevant tags in order to boost a site’s visibility online. Adding keywords and metatags will no longer get your website any recognition. So now that we got that out of the way, let’s see what does help SEO!
The system for ranking websites on search results is a little more complicated than before, but it’s nothing that should intimidate you. Search engines such as Google love websites that have fresh unique content. So how do you get fresh unique content? It’s actually quite easy, and there are a few ways to go about it.
Think about your website like you would a store. There’s the physical look of the store, the helpful employees that help you find what you’re looking for, and most importantly there’s product, or content. No one goes onto a site that has no content, just like no one would go into an empty store. You can have the most beautiful website with the easiest navigation, but if there isn’t content, you won’t be getting many visitors.
Content is what brings people in. Either they want to see your listings, or they want to search listings, or they need information on the local real estate market etc. Whatever it is, the primary function of your website is to provide content to the visitor. Without content search engines aren’t going to think anything of your website.
I always stress the importance of simplicity and functionality, so start by organizing your website into several pages. You probably already have an “about” page, a contact page and a featured property page. These are all great, but they’re unfortunately not unique. Set up a few more pages for some extra content that focuses on the local market, or your specific neighbourhood you market to. Let’s say you specialize in the neighbourhood of Midtown, then create a Midtown page that explains the history of the area, some cool shops or features and an overview of the real estate market in that area. This helps search engines identify you as having unique content and will help the visibility of your site, especially with the clients you want.
Blogs are very straightforward and the most common way for businesses to keep their online content looking fresh and up-to-date. Create a schedule for yourself, let’s say once a month if you’ve never done it before, and write a short 500 word post about something related to your industry. Blogs are a great way to show your personality and creativity so go a bit astray and tell stories, or share thoughts on aspects of your work that wouldn’t normally come up in conversation. This varied material that you post regularly will help “search bots” categorize your page and give it the attention you’ve been wanting. A website that looks like it’s growing organically is of high interest to search engines.
Links are an incredibly efficient way of increasing your website’s relevance online, thus making it show up higher on search results. Find successful websites related to your industry and have them link to your site, and link back to theirs in return. The most efficient links are those that look natural to search engines. For example a known blogger who writes a post in which your name and website are mentioned and linked to will have drastically more influence on your SEO than a link placed randomly somewhere on a website without supporting content. Blogs that are connected to social media will also be drastically more efficient as people who like it or share it on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr etc. are sending your link across the web even further.
Remember quantity of links is not as important as quality of links. It’s better to have a link from a blog post that’s well written and will generate lots of traffic than to have a hundred links to your website all from irrelevant sites that don’t get many views to begin with.
These are MLS searches dedicated to specific areas of a city and they help categorize your site as one that features that specific area. Reciprocity searches can be narrowed down to a single street, such as 17th Ave SW if you’re in Calgary and focus on real estate in that area. These are a great addition to your website as they help buyers looking in your area to quickly find listings without searching through the entire city.