SEO for Agents: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Limelight Marketing
July 23, 2014

It is rare for a Real Estate Agent to go a day without reading or hearing about the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) and how strategic it is for their website and listings. But sifting through the information and acting on advice is difficult.

Without enough knowledge or time to spend on SEO, it is sometimes easier to take the easy route and hire the first person you come in contact with. Do so at your peril, as your efforts can fall into one of three categories: the good, the bad and ugly.

Blogging:Blogging is one of the most important tasks you can undertake. Write blog post about topics and use keywords that buyers and sellers use to search the internet for a home or Real Estate Agent. Google visits your website daily and looks for new content. If you write a blog post titled "New Listings of Vancouver Houses for Sale," write a few lines about the new listings and add the addresses, there is a good chance this blog post will rank well with search engines.

Sitemap:Make sure your sitemap is submitted to Google Webmasters so Google can properly index your website and be notified when changes are made.

Analytics:Set up your Google Analytics so you can monitor visitors to your website and their activities while visiting. The more you know about your visitors' behaviour the better you can adjust your SEO efforts.

Page titles/descriptions:Add page titles and descriptions using keywords and phrases that best describe the communities you work in and the types of real estate you sell. This is a one-time task that pays off forever. If you do a Google search the page titles are the 64 characters in blue and the description is the 160 characters in two lines of black text. When you search for a term you will see the words you search for highlighted in bold. Search for something you want to be found for and see if your website is on page one and if your titles and descriptions have the keywords.

Hiring an SEO amateur:Employing an amateur to optimize your website is like hiring your neighbour's teenage son who is taking a high-school auto mechanic course to fix the brakes on your family car. You only get one chance to add the most descriptive, keyword page titles and descriptions that Google will use in part to rank your website, so turn to an expert.

Duplicating content:Buying content for your website runs the risk of the content being duplicated across many websites and Google will penalize your ranking. The only content that should go on your website is original content you write related to real estate, you and the services you offer. Google ranks websites based on the probability of the website answering the search query in context. While adding generic content might seem easy do you really want to attract visitors searching for "bathroom renovation ideas"?

Unnatural links:Buying links from unknown websites was popular a few years ago, but recent Google algorithm changes actually punish websites that have "unnatural links" coming in to a website. If the link is not from a legitimate, known source such as a supplier or customer then turn it away.

Believing the marketing hype:Falling for SEO claims to get your website on page one is like believing in the tooth fairy. Do you really believe someone when they make a claim they can get your website on page 1? Do you really think the Google algorithm with a reported 200 elements that no one knows about can be tricked by the guy who emails you or calls you randomly? Would Google jeopardize the multibillion-dollar search business by letting inferior websites on page 1 of a Google search? If you're tempted to work with someone who approaches you with such claims, evaluate their claims carefully, check out their references and get assurances from any SEO company you work with.

In the words of Vince Lombardi, "It's not very crowded on the extra mile". This is certainly true for search engine optimization. If you make an effort to optimize your website and listings for search engines, you can be on page one of a Google search.

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