This is the second installment in a series on How to Establish Your Real Estate Site in Google Search Console (inspired by an IDX Broker Blog Post written on Dec. 15, 2016).
As I covered in Part 1, Google Search Console is a free suite of informative tools which provides you with valuable feedback about how your site performs in Google Search results. This platform (formerly known as webmaster tools) can monitor which queries cause your pages to appear in search results, how said pages rank for specific keywords, and much more.
By now, you not only know what Search Console is but also how create your CName, add your site(s) and verify ownership. If you haven’t done so yet, I recommend reading the first part in our series so that you’re set up for success and Google can start indexing your site.
Help Google, help you: In Part 2 of our series we will cover a few tools to help you optimize your website posts or pages, and IDX Broker pages.
1) HTML vs. XML Sitemaps…
There are two kinds of sitemaps, but what's the difference? Let me explain- an HTML sitemap is used by people like you and me, while the XML is designed specifically for the search engine crawlers. XML sitemaps give search engines a head-start when it comes to finding your pages. Eventually the bots would be able to crawl and find all of your content, but an XML sitemap shows them what to expect so that they don’t have to go hunting for all the links on your website(s). The XML sitemap can also provide metadata- meaning when your pages were last modified.
Okay, so perhaps the more important question is why do you want one? XML sitemaps are extremely valuable for boosting your SEO. Google ranks individual pages, not domains – a common misperception. By submitting an XML sitemap, you are giving search engines a full list of your available pages in a simplified list format. While an XML sitemap isn’t required, it has become a best practice for SEO optimizers.
2) Create your XML Sitemap(s)…
In order to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console, the link needs to be created. As you remember from Part 1, you technically have two sites- your domain and your subdomain (or CName). Creating the XML sitemap for your domain can either be done manually or by a third party generator (definitely the preferable method). For example, if you have a WordPress Site, you could install and activate the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, enable XML sitemap functionality and save your settings.
For your CName, I have good news… if you’re a client of IDX Broker, the sitemaps (both HTML and XML) for your IDX pages are automatically created by the IDX system and include categorized links that lead to all of the active listings from your MLS. If you have sold data enabled, sold listings from your MLS will also appear in the sitemap. This means potentially thousands or tens of thousands of indexed property results and details pages.
You will find your Sitemap in your IDX Control Panel under the Designs button, and in the Pages section.
3) Submit your XML Sitemap(s)…
Now that you have the sitemap links, it’s time to submit them to Google Search Console… by far the easiest step. Once logged into your Google account, head to the Search Console homepage where you will see a list of your verified properties (as explained in Part 1). Simply click the url of the property you want to work on. For this example, we will use our CName. Once in the property’s Dashboard, click the Crawl drop-down menu and then hit Sitemaps. Simply click ADD/TEST SITEMAP and copy and paste your sitemap URL.
Once added it’ll show as pending, but as time goes on you’ll capture more useful information!
Check out the last post in our series in which we dive into what to do with this information now that you have it. To reiterate, sitemaps aren’t required but if you submit them, Google will reward you for it. Once you begin to explore what Google and other search engines have to offer, you can create better content to get more traffic and ultimately sell more real estate.
In the meantime, find more tips and tricks on learn.idxbroker.com!