Nov 102014
 

This article focuses on changes in search engine marketing for REALTORS and the real estate industry but the information given here applies to any business.

The days of optimizing a website for search engine positions by adjusting things like meta tags, keyword density ratios and headers have been over for quite a while now. Search engines like Google now analyze more than website code, visible text, and links when deciding how to rank a website especially when the keywords being searched are competitive commercial keywords which includes everything related to real estate.

If you are not fully aware of the changes Google has made you may want to read a couple of the recent articles here to get up to speed.

How To Build Your Brand To Improve Search Engine Positions
The State Of Real Estate Web Promotion In 2014

Search engines have decided that it is better to show a searcher a real business – a real brand – rather than a web page that can’t be connected to a real business regardless of how well optimized and linked that page may be.

How do search engines determine whether a business is real? There has to be some evidence that the business is a known brand and that people arrive at the page in ways other than the page being found in search engines. Search engines want to know that search engine traffic is only one way people find a website and not the major way.

A real business also has to have a presence and/or following in the searcher’s local area. When you type a search into Google it knows exactly where you are. When your search is commercial in nature they attempt to first show you results that they know for sure are actually located near you and second show you results where they have evidence that the sites they are showing you in the search results do real business in the area.

This presence and following is your branding. To increase your search engine ranking and results what needs to be done is the strengthening of your brand.

How does one go about showing search engines that the business is a known brand and the site receives traffic from the searcher’s geographic location?

Take a look at the results for any “mycity real estate search” and you find it is dominated by sites like Zillow and Trulia followed by national brokerages and large local brokerages. All of these receive most of their actual traffic from sources other than search engines even though they rank at the top of search engine results.

They receive this traffic because of the strengthening of their brand that they do through offline and online promotion. Zillow’s recent financial report states “The majority of our traffic comes direct, not dependant on search engines. With demonstrated consumer intent to visit the Zillow brand.”

To strengthen your website’s brand for better search engine traffic and results you need to increase the traffic the site receives from local people who arrive at your site from sources other than search engines.

One way to do this is obvious. Just like Zillow, you would make sure to increase your offline advertising and promotion making sure to include your web address with a call-to-action to encourage visits to your website. The address bar on most browsers double as a search box for Google. When someone types your web address directly into a browser address bar Google is aware of this and it is noted as traffic that came to you directly from a person in your geographic market area. Google now has greater confidence that you actually have a real brand and presence in the area you say you do business in. You have strengthened your brand in Google’s eyes and made them more confident that you deserve placement in search results.

In addition to increasing your offline promotion you can also increase your online promotion to build your brand. Developing good links pointing to your website from other websites that Google is aware are expressly about your market area builds your brand as a real business servicing the local area.

We are talking about branded content marketing. These links can come from directory pages that are about your market area, blog posts that are about your market area, and other websites that are about your market area. The page on which your link resides should have content about your geographic market area and ideally should be focused on themes related to real estate.

There are a few good Realtor Directories around and as long as the page on which your link will reside is actually included in Google you will receive benefit. Ideally you will want links that have not been given the “no follow” attribute since that is a sign of editorial approval. EpoweredProfessionals.com is one such directory that you should list yourself in.

Finding other real estate websites that will provide you branded content marketing is a little harder. Setting up a bunch of websites on your own may seem like a solution but search engines have access to registrar records and can ascertain the all the sites are owned by you and/or are hosted on the same server. They will then choose to ignore all your hard work and depending on how vigorous your strategy they may choose to penalize your main website.

You need to find websites other than your own for branded content marketing. One solution you should consider is from RNC Internet Services who has been providing branded content marketing solutions for a long time – from before anyone knew what it was or why it was a good thing. Some of the websites on which you would appear are a decade or more old and search engines have known and trusted them for a long time. This allows your branded content and link to be quickly included so you realize the benefits faster.

By showing search engines your website doesn’t really need them very much they then want your website in the search results more than they did before. The side benefit to strengthening your brand to help your search engine positions is that you then receive more business from sources other than search engines too. You have to like that!

May 082014
 

If you are a regular reader you already know that there have been big changes in the past year in how search engines rank commercial websites, including real estate websites. Recent articles here have outlined what the changes have been and in case you missed them you may want to read The State Of Real Estate Web Promotion In 2014 and The State of SEO for Websites in 2013 and 2014.

Those articles mention how Google now favors the big national listing aggregators and larger Broker sites for the most popular ‘money’ keywords such like “mycity real estate”. These larger sites are “brands.” Last year Google began favouring “brands” in their results. Brands are more trusted and must be a better result to put in the serps according to Google.

This article delves deeper into what a “brand” is in the eyes of search engines and how you can strengthen your own brand and thereby improve your search engine rankings.

For Realtors’ websites it is pretty hard/impossible to compete with the big brands if you are in a mid-sized to larger market area. If you are a Broker in a small market area and your personal site and company site are one and the same then Google often recognizes you as a Brand and you can place well.

I have seen agents in some mid-sized market areas place well by making it look like their website is the actual company/office site (when the office itself is of sufficient size and does not have its own effective presence). Locals who search for the office in Google end up at the agent’s site and this just reinforces the agent is the company brand in the eyes of Google.

Over the years it had become possible for agents to shift large portions of their marketing to the internet and rely almost exclusively on the internet and in particular search engines for their business. You would think concentrating on internet marketing would be just what one needed to do in order to be considered a “brand” by search engines, right? As it turned out, internet marketing alone does not make for a successful internet presence.

Real estate is local. A “brand” has to be well known in the local community being served in order to be worthy of consideration for better search engine placement. Links to your site located on pages that are focused on your local area is one way of building a brand that is connected to the market served. Having links to your site from well regarded directories that target your local market area would be one way of doing that. Having links from other websites and blogs that focus on your area would be another way. The Page Rank that your website has should come from links on pages that are about the area you serve.

Some of these local websites and blogs that link to your primary website could also be your own. For example, if you have a blog or other websites located on different domains than your primary website some carefully placed links would be helping to build your “brand”. That is where Multi Site Branded Content Marketing Package can be helpful.

For a Realtor to be considered a “brand” there also needs to be evidence that the local community considers the Realtor to be a brand. Remember, Google knows where pretty much every searcher is located. People from your local community have to searching specifically for you – you are your “brand”.

Keep in mind that the address bar in browsers now double as a search bar. When someone located in your market area has a good old fashioned “just sold” card in their hands and is typing your website url into their browser’s address bar it actually is seen by Google as a search. Not only that, it is a search of the best kind! This is a search specifically for you from someone located in the area where you want to build your “brand”.

To build your brand and thereby improve your search engine positions you need to do what Realtors used to do – send stuff out and advertise in your local market area making sure your website’s url is included so local people can find your website by typing in your url. You need to step up your conventional marketing to support your internet marketing.

This is especially critical in this smartphone era where people have a mini computer with them wherever they go. They can type your url into their mobile browser while they are right in front of your ad on the billboard, poster, bus bench, flyer, newspaper ad etc. Every local person who types in your url provides evidence that the local community considers you to be a “brand” and helps to raise your search engine profile.

In summary, nowadays linking is still important but you need to concentrate on acquiring links from pages where the content refers to your market area or at least your state or province. The days of just acquiring links from everywhere and anywhere are gone. Also, just having your name or website mentioned in articles, blogs, and websites about your market area can help to build your brand even if it is not linked (or if the link is no follow).

Conventional marketing methods may be more important than they have ever been. Your conventional marketing will build your brand in your market area the same as always but now also on the internet in search engines. Aside from generating phone calls, your conventional marketing will generate search engine searches and traffic and be helping to build your online search engine presence.

Ranking in search engines now depends on the strength of your brand and you can use these tips to build that strength!

 

Mar 252014
 

Even with all of the recent search engine changes ranking is still all about links and finding beneficial links is harder than ever. Most of the sources of links we have all relied on in the past are now “no follow” which means they do not help your search engine positions.

On top of that, misinformation abounds which scares agents and webmasters away from some sources of links that are among the most beneficial. One of these sources is directories. It is true that the vast majority of directories are worthless for helping your SEO and in some cases can be hurtful. That doesn’t mean all directories are bad though.

Google has recently said that niche directories are one of the best places to have your site listed in.

How can you tell which niche directories are of value? It can take a lot of knowledge and time to properly assess all of the factors and since most just can’t do this we have done it for you!

Since this blog is about helping Realtors with their online promotion that is the type of directory this article is concentrating on.

One of the best places you can be listed in is the Epowered Professionals Real Estate Agent Directory. Because this directory is manually curated it can still offer you a “DO follow” link which will be beneficial in helping with your search engine promotion. The actual pages your listing /link resides on has actual Google Page Rank (currently PR 2 ) which means that these pages are recognized as being a valuable resource by search engines.

The site itself ranks well for many real estate related keywords and  being listed  can send targeted visitors to your website which in itself can generate real business for you. In addition, being listed can provide significant  benefit in providing a valuable link back to your website which can help increase your website’s position in search engine results resulting in even more business for you!

You can be added to the directory by following the instructions here.