Exit Realty's VP of Technology Jeff Lobb asked me to reveal shocking SEO revelations and speak on "The State of SEO" panel at the Exit Realty Annual Convention this year at the Gaylord Opryland Convention in Nashville, TN. It was GREAT conference. I have a lot of respect for the Exit Realty management. They have a very different style from other real estate franchises. I was tasked to speak on a panel focused on major SEO changes with Seth Price from Placester and Luke Brookhart from Onjax, two smart guys working for interesting companies providing IDX web sites for agents and brokers.
Jeff asked the below questions, which aren't only about shocking SEO revelations, but some basics any agent or real estate professional can use. In true ActiveRain style, rather than simply think about these questions, I decided to blog the answers so that the entire ActiveRain community can benefit from it. As everyone on ActiveRain should know, there have been major changes in SEO driven by Google's algorithm changes.
Jeff's Questions on SEO:
1. What's the biggest change you have seen with SEO in the last year? (shift in consumer search, Google ad words etc.
2. If you were an agent today, where would you be spending your time and money to get ranking ?
3. What is one of the biggest mistakes you see agents or brokers making with regard to SEO?
4. As an agent without any SEO knowledge and/or time, what do I do?
The biggest changes in SEO is Google's driving traffic to high quality, local content, on high quality domains. Google Plus is opening up significant traffic opportunities for real estate professionals.
Google's mission is to organize the world's information. Google indexes more than 50 billion pages of content and spiders more than 150 million blogs. The numbers are staggering. AND the amount of data on the Internet is doubling every two years. If the current rate of growth continues, in ten years, there will be more data on the Internet than EVERY WORD EVER spoken by all of mankind over the past 100,000 years. That's pretty staggering.
In order to better organize information and help consumers actually find the right data, Google implemented two major changes: Google Panda which is focused on highlighting high quality content and Google Penguin which is focused on eliminating questionable linking schemes. Now, the most important factor in driving placement in search engine results is DOMAIN AUTHORITY or how much Google likes your web site and the content on your web site. You can check the domain authority of ActiveRain or any other web site or web page by going to Open Site Explorer. The higher your domain authority, the higher your content will show up in the Google results. Of course, your need high quality, locally targeted content. And of course, it is not that simple.
Google's move toward high quality content is GREAT for an active blogging community like ActiveRain. ActiveRain has a domain authority of 88 which is very similar to Trulia, Zillow or Realtor.com, but we generate more than 1,000 pages of unique content every day, which is shared on Twitter every 2 -3 minutes. ActiveRain has more than 65,000 Google +1's which is amazing since Google Plus has only existed for about 16 months now.
The other noteworthy change is the rise of Google Plus and Google Places to compete with FaceBook. Google Plus offers great opportunities for real estate professionals to attract more traffic based on their social circles (literally on Google Plus), their ability to create great content (Google Authorship), and get great local reviews (Google Places). In fact, for head terms like "Nashville homes for sale," Google is now only showing only the top 3 natural search results and is showing the seven best results in Google Places with the best reviews. Another great opportunity for local real estate professionals to get free traffic.
Real estate professionals should spend their time on developing GREAT hyperlocal content.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. For a strong real estate professional, that means becoming THE local expert for your community or city or specialty. Google, Yahoo and Bing love original, authentic, hyperlocal content. With Zillow, Trulia and Realtor becoming more and more powerful, focus on making content that a company like Zillow or Trulia can't recreate using an algorithm. Focus on unique insights, local photos, videos, and your community. After you develop local content, share it to your social networks.
Finally, do some local PR. Reporters are always looking for new content and perspectives. Check out a great web site called HelpAReporterOut.com (HARO) Reporters are able to screen local professionals and experts for stories that they may be writing. On ActiveRain, we have seen AOL Patch, the Washington Post, HGTV, and the History Channel and many other media outlets use members of ActiveRain in their programs.
The biggest mistake I see everyday is a lack of strategy in real estate and on the Internet.
Any agent or real estate professional that "works with any home buyer or seller" or writes a blog about "how to buy a house" is unlikely to be successful in driving traffic online. Find or discuss a differentiated strategy in real estate. Then start with a niche. (Ideally use a keyword tool like the Google Adword Keyword Tools or WordTracker to identify keywords). Build out a portfolio of blog posts with niche content. If you write good hyperlocal content with reasonable keyword targeting and have a portfolio of blogs, you will start to steady build-up of traffic over time.
Nikesh's success tips for blogging:
- Write what you know, but break up what you know into small niches
- Write regularly - blog once or twice a week
- Know your audience and engage with your audience. Think about the questions your customers have everyday and answer them.
- Share your content. Leverage social networks. Use PR to get the word out about yourself.
As an agent with NO money or time, what you do?
- Claim your address on Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing, and the other online local directories.
- Get lots of reviews on Google Places, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, Zillow, Trulia, Merchant Circle, and other review sites.
- Make sure all these online directories and reviews sites are pointing back to your IDX web site where you can capture leads.
If you have any questions, we are here for you at ActiveRain. Bob is also running regular blogging bootcamps. Find out more at ActiveRain University. (Exit Blogging Bootcamp starts on November 8th. More details forthcoming.