Blogging SEO: Begin at the Beginning!

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Yesterday, I asked the AR Community what topics I should cover, and I got a ton of great feedback...  With Harrison Painter starting off the requests by asking for some more SEO information...

Not wanting to get ahead of myself, I thought I'd start with an overview of what is SEO in the context of blogging.   Of course, I look forward to going into more detail in the future, but we gotta start somewhere, so might as well start right at the beginning!  ;)

There are as many ways to understand optimizing your website as there are SEO "experts"... In many ways, good SEO is a science, while great SEO is an art.   However, before you become an SEO Artist, you got start with a "good" solid foundation...  With that in mind, here's the anatomy of blogging SEO:

anatomy of blogging seo

On the highest level, good SEO strategy focuses both on the stuff you can do on your site (on-site SEO) and the stuff you can do elsewhere on the web that affects how your website ranks (off-site SEO).

On-site SEO includes things like the articles you write, the titles you use, the tags you create for the post, and the page (or URL) structure you use for your site.  But here's where blogging really helps!   When you blog about stuff relevant to your market, the most important elements of your on-site SEO take care of themselves!  No kidding.   Blog platforms like ActiveRain and WordPress doing a great job optimizing your page/URL structure, metatags, etc.   As long as you write relevant content then much of your on-site SeO takes care of itself.   Of course, you could always improve your content, and you will with experience, but in terms of generating traffic and clients, you really should be focusing on off-site SEO....

Off-site SEO is all the stuff that happens elsewhere on the web that links back to your site...   And this is the money stuff!   If you have to focus anywhere with your SEO efforts... as a new blogger you want to focus on ways to generate more quality inbound links!    But before I got deeper, I should probably give some background on the three most relevant terms.

Off-site SEO Terminology:

  • Inbound Links.  In SEO circles, we often talk about "inbound" links because those are what can really help your site's ranking.  But in reality, every link is both an "inbound" and an "outbound" link.  The term you use really depends on your perspective.   For example, when I link to this post about affiliate marketing on, it's an "outbound" link from this ActiveRain blog and in "inbound" link to 
  • Anchor Text.  This is simply the text you use when you link to another site.    In the above link, the words "affiliate marketing" are the anchor text.
  • No-follow link. Because of all the link gaming that was going on around the web, google created a concept of a "no follow" link.  This allows website owners (i.e. bloggers) to link out to another site without passing that site any of the SEO benefits (often called "google juice") to the other site.   For new bloggers, the most common place you'll see "no follow" tags are in the comments of blog posts.   In practice, this means that if you put a link in a comment on most blogs (including all activerain blogs!), then a "no follow" tag is added to your link that takes away the SEO value of that link.   The result is that if you're going to link to another website in a blog comment, do it because you think it will add value to the conversation, not because you think it's going to help you off-site SEO!  

Traditionally, when real estate agents wanted to get inbound links to their site, they joined directories, where they could get one big fat link back to their homepage.   However, from the search engines point of view, many of these directory links were pretty poor quality because often the only requirment to get listed was that you paid the appropriate listing fee.  The result is that the search engines have severly discounted the value of directory links (and links to your homepage in general), so that it takes a lot more than getting yourself listed in directories to get your website to rank for most real estate terms.

What is a "quality inbound link" and how do you get them to your website?  

The concept of "quality" links is something I'm going to save for another post, but here's some backgrond on how to get them to your site.

As real estate blogs have earned the trust of the search engines over the past few years, they've become one of the fastest and most common ways to get quality inbound links...  The result is that the easiest way to get your blog to rank quickly is to reach out to other bloggers. I've seen lots of people find success by linking out to other bloggers, leaving comments on their site, bonding with bloggers on social networks and (sometimes) directly reaching out to them via email and phone calls.   Once you've bonded with a blogger, my experience has been that good bloggers will look for ways to link out to you!

The great news about this kind of SEO (i.e. reaching out to bloggers) is that it's pretty timeless.  This type of strategy has been working since the begining of google and I've been teaching this for years (see my post on the importance of linkation for an example post from December 2005)

There's so much more to be said about generating quality inbound links, but before I go there, I think I'll save some of the details for another post.  In the meantime, if you really want to dive a bit deeper, check out my post on getting SEO value out of your social media efforts...  

Comments (77)

Dawn Pratt
Orlando, FL
East Orlando Real Estate

Thank you for the great information! Maybe the comment boxes will be cleaned up once people realize that their links are no follow in AR.

Apr 08, 2009 12:05 AM
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

As someone who has a strong interest in SEO for obvious reasons this was excellent.

Apr 08, 2009 12:11 AM
Glen Kotulek
Home Critique Property Inspections LLC - Austin, TX
Austin Home Inspector, schedule online

Like everyone else has said:  Thanks, great info!  Looking forward to your follow ups as well as reading the other links you referred to,   THANKS!

Apr 08, 2009 12:29 AM
Scott Guay
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed Realty - Ocean Pines, MD
Associate Broker. Ocean City and Ocean Pines MD

All great tips. SEO is a must now in this business.

Apr 08, 2009 12:32 AM
Alice & Jim -- Team Hayes Realtors
Loveless Realty - Libby, MT
Double the Service - Double the Care!

Thank you very much for the good information.

Apr 08, 2009 02:03 AM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Hey thank you.  I'm always looking for new ideas/tips as I'm not the most  technical Realtor out there. I need all the help I can get and love getting it.

Patricia Aulson/Portsmouth NH Real Estate

Apr 08, 2009 02:16 AM
Mike Frazier
Carousel Realty of Dyer County - Dyersburg, TN
Northwest Tennessee Realtor


Thanks for the information and congrats on the feature!

Apr 08, 2009 03:16 AM
Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Dustin - I've been working on my own web site and learning about the basics and it's a perfect time to read your post.  Very good refresher for me and very easy to understand for the non-techy side of myself.  So Thanks for sharing!

Apr 08, 2009 03:28 AM
Erin Newington
5305573559 - Grass Valley, CA
Sierra Foothills Realtor

Good stuff.. thanks for sharing have bookmarked for later :)

Apr 08, 2009 06:37 AM
Heather Fitzgerald
REALTY WORLD-Harbert Company, Inc. - Greenwood, IN
REALTOR Greenwood Indiana Real Estate

Thanks for sharing this info, still getting a hang of the SEO.  Keep this great info coming.

Apr 08, 2009 06:38 AM
Jim Marks
Virtual Results - Laguna Beach, CA

Dustin, Search Engine Optimization really is a science...  The science, however, is ANTHROPOLOGY...  agree?

Apr 08, 2009 07:40 AM
Dustin Luther - Calabasas, CA

Katerina: From everything I can tell,  you stated the no-follow policy on AR exactly right...

Jim:  Anthopology?  I'd say it's probably closer to the science of googlepology!   :)    Actually, I love the idea of studing google as if it's behavior were human!  The domain name is available... Should I buy it for my rainmaker blog?

Everyone else:  So glad you're finding this stuff helpful! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and feel free to return with your comments/questions any time!

Apr 08, 2009 03:03 PM
Don Anthony
Don Anthony Realty ~ - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte & Triangle NC Discount Realtor

Good info.  There's so much beyond real estate to learn isn't there.

Apr 08, 2009 04:30 PM
Dustin Luther - Calabasas, CA

Don:  You bring up a great point...  and the truth is, it isn't necessarily to master SEO in order to be a great real estate agent...   Nonetheless, if you want to be great at online marketing, then you've got to at least have a basic understanding of SEO... Hence, I agree that there really is "so much to learn beyond real estate."

Apr 08, 2009 04:41 PM
Michael Barrow
Keller Williams Realty - San Diego Metro - San Diego, CA
Realtor, San Diego CA Real Estate

Thanks Dustin!  I'm always looking for good SEO advice!

Apr 08, 2009 06:13 PM
Sonya Loose
Modern Realty - Beaverton, MI
Helping Buyers & Sellers of Waterfront Property

Good post and I'll look forward to the next as I actually understood this one!

Apr 09, 2009 12:32 AM
Jerry Gray
Wilkinson ERA Real Estate - Winston-Salem, NC
Serving the Triad Since 1980

Hi Dustin,

Thank you for the great information. It was timely for me. Keep the info coming!

Jerry gray CRB, CRS /Prudential Carolinas Realty / Winston Salem, NC

Apr 10, 2009 06:27 AM
Edward W. Lui
Mars Hill Realty Group - Georgetown, TX
Georgetown Texas Real Estate

great article thanks!

Apr 14, 2009 04:31 AM
Angelo DiStefano
Exit Realty of the South - Greater Nashville TN area - Nashville, TN

Thanks for great info. I find it interesting that most of the comments are by people who appear to be in their 30's or older.  Do the Twenty somethings just know this stuff intuitively because they were  born with an I-Phone/IPOD in one hand and a gameboy in the other?  It seems that technology has created the greatest generation gap ever, esp in terms of how we communicate.  In the 80's I was a fairly advanced techie and did tech support for a living.  Now I feel like techno-idiot.  I guess its about time to start climbing that learning curve again.  Or can I just hire a kid to do it for me?  All this SEO tech stuff just seems so intangible, maybe that's why it is difficult to grasp for those who grew up in a very tangible generation.  In the 60's and 70's we had to be "real".  Remember "the Real Thing".  Today everything is "Virtual" and simulated.  Even Reality shows are not reality.  A new show claims "not reality, but actuality". 

Oh well I digress and ramble, but really thanks for great info. I will become a fan and learn more.

Apr 14, 2009 04:54 AM
Dustin Luther - Calabasas, CA

You rock Angelo!  It's an intresting observation.   I'm not sure what makes SEO such a tricky thing for some people to wrap their heads around, but I know that even when I talk to young tech audiences, I'm often surprised at how little SEO knowledge people have.  For me, the google "puzzle" has always been interesting and one of those nuts that are impossible to completely crack.  

Apr 14, 2009 09:47 AM