If you’re looking to grow your real estate agent brand and, with it, your business, then understanding how to optimize your Web presence for search engines isn’t an option. It’s a requirement.
SEO techniques and best practices change often, because Google is constantly updating its search algorithm. Agents hoping to earn business from local real estate searchers should know what the most current tricks of the trade are.
According to a study and survey from SEO consulting company MOZ, these are the optimization trends agents should be focusing on this year:
1. Keywords are even less important – Evidence has repeatedly shown a dwindling positive correlation between on-page keyword use and rankings. Moz explained that the fall of the once primary indicator of the search engine relevance is a result of Google becoming “smarter” about what pages mean. The consulting group is now convinced “user intent” is the most important in determining search results.
What this means for you: Don’t try to form content around keywords. Focus more on providing solid, useful information that potential clients will find valuable.
2. HTTPS URLs a “tie breaker” – In reviewing page elements that describe non-keyword-usage, non-link-metric features, such as load speeds, research has identified “page length, international targeting and total number of links” as positive indicators of increased exposure in search engine results. However, while those results were expected, a surprise was that having an HTTPS URL – which indicates a more secure protocol for sending data between a website and your browser – provides a small SEO boost, and play tie-breaker in situations where results are similar.
What this means for you: Secure your site by requesting an HTTPS certification. Work with your brokerage’s tech support services or the developer who built your website – they can help take care of the technical aspects of buying an SSL certificate through any number of online vendors, such as NameCheap, then activating it, installing it and updating and testing your site.
3. Links on links – Though the verdict on linking will vary depending on who you talk to, Moz’s data shows that apart from an individual Web page’s authority, the highest correlation to Google rankings come from the quality of links to the page.
What this means for you: If you’re publishing quality content, other websites (and users) have more incentive to link to it. But you can also link to your webpages within your own website, which is called “internal linking,” and which, if done correctly, can also bolster your website’s user experience.
4. Dot com? Dot who cares – A unique finding of Moz’s research was that the type of top-level domain (i.e. .com, .org, etc.) showed almost no relationship with Google’s search rankings. However, as far as domains go, the consulting group did find a negative correlation between good SEO and lengthy URLs and URLs with numbers.
What this means for you: You may have your heart set on a domain name but are disheartened to find the .com version is taken. Don’t sweat it: a .net or .realtor domain will likely be just as effective in terms of SEO. What should be more of a concern is selecting a domain name that’s easy to remember and number free.
5. Social is a big deal, but not technically – Though SEO experts and digital marketers go back and forth on whether social signals directly impact Google’s search engine algorithm, the tertiary benefits are enough that having a high number of social shares still has a strong positive effect on SEO. According to the Moz’s research, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ shares have the biggest positive impact on SEO.
What this means for you: Establish a social presence and push your content out through social media (and not just on the platforms mentioned above – shares on Pinterest and LinkedIn are also valuable for SEO).