Jan 172013

There has been lots of changes to search engine algorithms in the past year or two but one thing that has not changed is the importance of links. In fact, links are probably more important now than they ever were and probably misunderstood more than ever too.

There are some that say links are no longer that important and that is just plain wrong. When you research why real estate sites place in the top 10 for the most important highly trafficked keywords what you find is that the one thing they all have in common is they all have lots of links from many different domains.

The web makes it easy to spread information that is often wrong. People then draw conclusions from often repeated misinformation or make judgements on whole classes of links without ever giving it much thought. This can result in great opportunities being overlooked and useless or very low quality strategies being pursued with negligible results. The end result is the myth that linking is a waste of time is perpetuated.

What about reciprocal linking? Google has been targeting excessive reciprocal linking and link schemes for a few years now but that does not mean that all reciprocal linking is bad or does not work. In fact, some of the websites that I checked that are ranking well because they have a lot of links from a variety of sources are still using link schemes for a portion of their links.

If you set up a multi category directory on your real estate agent site and start looking to exchange links with anyone and everyone it will not help you and may get you penalized. If you exchange links with a few dozen other Realtors who do the same and do not place those links in a “Link Directory” you will probably benefit. At worst, at some point in the future some of the value may be lost but it is highly unlikely that you will ever be penalized.

What about being listed in directories? It has become popular lately to say that being listed in directories should be avoided. Google says otherwise. Manually curated niche directories are a great place for small business – and that includes Realtors – to list themselves

It is true that most directories are a waste of time. Many directories are not worthwhile simply because they are multi-category and not specific to the real estate industry. Others that are specific are bad because the links on then are “no follow” or are written in such a way that the links will not count. It is important to know how to evaluate the directory links to determine if you are wasting your time.

Being listed in some directories can provide real benefit in providing a valuable link back to your website that can help increase your website’s position in search engine results resulting in more business for you.

If acquiring a link from a Realtor Directory requires a reciprocal link but gives you:

– the benefits of being a directory specific to Real Estate
– is trusted by Google as evidenced by the fact that Google actually includes the specific page your link will reside on in its index or better yet, gives the actual page your link will reside on some (any) Page Rank
– a link that can be followed

Go for it. You will not find very many of these directories and giving up a reciprocal link in such a case is not problematic.

If the directory meets all the criteria I outlined above and will allow you to be listed for a small fee without a reciprocal link why would you not want to do that? The fee may be for a photo or editorial revue and in such a case in that type of directory it is not in danger of being considered a “paid link” by Google.

What is a reasonable cost for such a directory listing? I can tell you that I have often been offered $30 per month to place a link on some of my web pages. That seems to be the going rate for a link residing on a page with Page Rank on a site in the same niche. I don’t think you will find too many directories that will charge you that much!

One such directory that has been around for a decade or so, is trusted by Google, and offers a quality link is the Epowered Professionals Real Estate Directory. This directory ranks well in search engines for “Realtors directory” and “real estate agents directory” as well as for individual state and province keywords.

The main attraction however is that the directory provides do-follow links on PR 2 pages which helps you with your own search engine positioning. The directory has just been purged of  Realtors who left the business or got new websites and “forgot” to take their reciprocal link with them so many of the pages have no agents on them any more. That means extra value because the PR is not being split.

Google has recently said that niche directories such as this one are viewed highly by them and the search positions bear this out. This is one of the better places to get links from – especially now that there are few agents listed in it.

These states and provinces currently have no agents listed so if you do get listed you are getting huge benefit from a large share of Page Rank.

SC, WV,IA,KS,LA,MS,ND and in Canada – NF,NT,SK,YK.

There are other states with just one other agent listed right now – SD,WI,AL,MO,MT,NE, and RI.

You can be listed for free with a reciprocal link or $39.00 annually for a picture listing with no reciprocal link required.

Go for it!