What is it and how do I get it?
Search engine optimization is the practice of working to enhance the capability of a site’s pages to rank high in the search engine results pages for keywords. Search engine optimization can and should be done both “onsite” and “offsite”.
All pages that feature keywords and content that are likely to produce traffic should be crawlable by the search engine robots. How pages are interlinked is very important from a user perspective because you want people that click on a link to arrive at a suitable page. For example, a link titled, “3 Bedroom Homes” should point to a page with 3 bedroom homes as an example. How pages are interlinked is very important for the search engines so the relationship between pages can be understood. Inter-site links also distinguish the hierarchy of pages which indicates page prominence to search engines.
Minimal link depth (how many clicks does it take to get to internal pages) is also a factor in search engine optimization. Using flat website architecture is ideal because it’s easier for users to navigate and for the search engines bots to crawl. Most importantly, having every page optimized for a different but semantically connected keyword greatly increases your chances for gaining web traffic overall.
Keyword usage within the content of your web pages should be kept to a minimum. Use the same key phrase that is in your page title at least once in your article to support the page title and include a few variations of the term as well but stay away from forcing keywords in. It’s very easy to come up with content that is not keyword stuffed but still relevant to the page when you take employers, schools, park lands, new construction and master planned community information into account. A minimum of 600 words of content per page is recommended.
Meta keyword tag stuffing went the way of the dinosaur so don’t spend a lot of time on this. Meta descriptions however are very important because Google may use this information to pull as a snippet to explain what a particular page is about on the search engine results page. Meta descriptions can also entice a click-through on your result if the description says something compelling.
Off-site optimization has always been an integral part of ranking web pages for keywords. Off-site optimization typically results in links that point to pages on a web site from pages on separate root domains. These are also known as backlinks. Prior to the algorithm filter known as Penguin, the raw numbers of backlinks pointing to a site could manipulate ranking. Post-Penguin, raw numbers can get you in a lot of trouble particularly if you have a great deal of exact match anchor text links that use your “money” keywords such as [City] Homes for Sale or [City] Real Estate.
The Internet neighborhoods where you get your links also matter. If the bulk of backlinks that point to your site are from low authority, low quality and generic neighborhoods, this could be a spam flag to search engines. Long gone is the day when the sheer volume of links was a top ranking factor. Quantity can still have a positive impact but it’s the how, what, and where that is primarily taken into account.
Backlinks that originate from reputable and authoritative sites are the most valuable. An authoritative site is one that has developed a high trust factor with the search engines due to popularity and longevity. Since real estate websites are typically commercial in nature, real estate professionals should make the most of social profiles and sharing, blog posting, and developing a persona as an authority in the field.
A few links from reputable sources hold the same value as hundreds of low quality, low relevance backlinks from an automated source. Furthermore, using automated or spammy techniques to gain back links is likely to get a website manually or algorithmically penalized.