Have you ever wondered how other websites land on the front page of Google for those seemingly perfect key-word phrases? They sit back and lounge on page #1 of Google for specific keywords that generate tens of thousands of hit or more each month of prospects who are already looking to buy or sell a home, while you struggle to climb up from page #10 with hardly a trickle of traffic... Not fair right?
Well let's look at why this is happening. What does Google look for in a website, and how do they determine who gets plastered all over page #1, and who gets booted down to the unseen depths of the search results? It's simpler than you imagine actually:
3 Things Google Is Looking For:
#1 - Relevancy
Google takes its job of delivering the best search results very seriously. Because of this, it has now become your job to prove to Google that your site is listed in the right place! If your website is all about "St Louis Homes For Sale" for example, how does Google know this? Do you have site meta information properly inserted? Do you chat about those key-phrases within your site on a regular basis? Keep your site "on topic" whenever possible for best results. In fact, Google's criteria for ranking your website based on its relevancy is the best argument yet AGAINST having a "1 size fits all" or "all things to all people" style website.
Confused? Here's the best way I've seen yet to explain what Google is looking for here. Let's say you were opening a strip mall and every office was to be rented out to real estate related businesses... A title company, a mortgage company, an appraiser... What happens when someone contacts you about renting out a space, and asks for a drive through window on the building? You're going to see some red flags there aren't you? You're going to want to see evidence that this business is indeed real estate related, and not some fast food restaurant. It's all about proving yourself to Google.
#2 - Popularity
When you have tens of millions of people using you as their trusted resource, you have just a tad bit of pressure to deliver the most popular results! If you serve up websites no one cares about, then your users will leave to use something else: Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com, etc. So what this means is you're going to need to prove to Google that your site is popular, or is becoming popular. This is called "off-site SEO" in most circles.
We;ll discuss this in more detail later, but keep in mind that the more popular your site is, the easier it typically will be to rank well on most major search engines. Popularity is often rated based on how many outside websites link directly to your own. Other factors at work here as well, but todays blog post is meant to explain the basics.
#3 - Freshness
What would it be like to have a friend who always did and said the same thing every time you saw him/her? Same jokes, same stories, eating the same meal, nothing new to say or do. Sounds kind of boring doesn't it? More importantly, how often would you elect to stop by? In the same way, Google likes to see new content when it stops by. If every time Google crawls your site, everything remains identical to the last time visited, Google just may question if your website is worth the bandwidth, and choose to stop by much less frequently... This is not a good thing.
What this means to you, is your site needs to be dynamic - You need to add new content on a regular basis. I update my major sites several times per week. In fact, this is part of the advantage to having a self-hosted blog/hybrid website! Blog comments qualify as "new" activity on your site, and can help keep things fresh enough for Google to continue stopping by!
While this post is not full of links or "step by step" instructions, it does offer value in the form of understanding what's important to Google - One of the number 1 sources of traffic on the web. Use your understanding of what Google is looking for when configuring or updating your website and you just might enjoy a friendlier relationship with the 900 pound gorilla of search engines.
For those of you who want to take this post much further, here's a link to our online real estate marketing webinar today: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/707614058