The most important marketing tool for any business owner, especially real estate agents, should be your personal website. If a realtor does not make the effort to properly learn the fundamentals of SEO, it can mean the difference between a website being successful, or failing. Success in terms of your website should mean that potential clients are finding you on the internet, picking up the phone and calling to ask you questions. Fortunately, it is not extremely difficult to master good search engine optimization techniques, and there are various web based books that can teach you the basics.
The four most important aspects of great SEO are: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, keyword density, and back links to your site. If you master these four elements, your website will be significantly better optimized than if you completely ignored SEO and rely on luck for the search engines to find your website. Google, Yahoo, Bing and AOL don't place websites at the top of the rankings because they randomly select them. You move to the top by making sure all of the pieces of the puzzle are properly placed.
To optimize a website properly, your site needs to have good content and articles, or "on-page Search Engine Optimization". By having keyword rich articles and website content material, the major search engines will be much more probable to rank your website highly for the keywords phrases you have selected. Good on-page search engine optimization involves using keywords throughout your articles yet not engaging in what is known as "keyword stuffing", where key word phrases are overused making the information read the wrong way.
This is where the term "keyword density" becomes important to your website. Keyword density is simply how many times you have a targeted keyword inside your text or your content, and how long the content or blog is. If you have content that is 400 words long, having a keyword density between 1 to 3% is generally ideal for SEO. Checking out keyword density is pretty easy with a variety of free web based programs.
Off-page SEO is as significant, if not more important than on-page SEO. Using sites like Active Rain, Twitter, Facebook and other social sites can do a lot to boost your off-page SEO. Making content, videos, and other subject matter and submitting them to additional internet websites and blogs is a vital method to build up credibility for your web site. Google takes this into account when it ranks your website. Having other internet pages with a good page rank that hyperlink your websites is a very important solution to achieve higher rankings in the search engine results.
Builiding off-page content, or backlinks to your site is very important and can take a lot of time. It can be done by simply getting in touch with other online businesses that can link back to your site. For Real Estate agents, a great link back to your site would be from your mortgage lender, broker, title company, home inspector, general contractors, landscapers, etc. Anyone that you do business with is a potential opportunity for you to request a link. The best forms of links are one-way links which come from one site to your own. Take a little time to learn the types of backlinks and what might work most effectively for your website's search engine optimization.
One other thing that I would mention is that the search engines do not like duplicate content. As a mortgage lender for 11 years, I spent a lot of money on template based websites, which you could have up and running in about an hour. Although it is extremely tempting to be able to have a website done so quickly, a lot of companies (not all) will put the site together and have the same sites for 100's of realtors or mortgage lenders. The only thing that really changes is the name and phone numbers. The coding of the site is the same, the keywords are the same, and many other parts of the site are identical. This can actually penalize you in the search engines. Although it is easy to follow the lead of another realtor or mortgage professional, being unique is what will get you the most bang for the buck.
There are a lot of variables to SEO and for many people, it is exausting to keep up with new articles, blogs, tweets, videos, and all the other requirements neccessary to getting great placement on the search engines. Google offers some great free tools. Simply type in "Google SEO" in your search bar and you can read a ton of information on meta tags, descriptions, keywords, keyword density, etc. You can always work with a reputable SEO company as well, but that requires you searching through all of the companies out there to find one that works and guarantees what they do.
One of the sites I used to see how well my website was optimized was through a company that offers a free optimization tool. You can see how well your site is optimized for website traffic. It is another free service but gives you a great idea of where you stand as of today. We all know that blogging can be a great way to find new potential buyers and sellers, but if you are short on time, you may need to call in the big guns!