Let’s Talk About Website Ranking

There’s a lot of talk in real estate marketing circles about website ranking. A lot of it is confusing for a couple of reasons:
  • Google, which is still by far the dominant search engine, changes the order (rank) it shows sites for a search quite often.
  • Most articles and instructions about ranking are aimed at a national or international market – which isn’t what most real estate agents want or need.

The Google conundrum

When marketing folks talk about website ranking they are almost always talking about Google.  Small wonder. Feb. 2016 estimates for the number of unique monthly visits to Google is 1,100,000,000.

Top of the page on Google

Marketers often send messages telling website owners they can get them to the top of the first page of Google, which can be a tall order. If you read closely, you’ll see that what they are offering is to get your site in the top 10 results or so for a particular keyword or phrase. You can spend a lot of time and money chasing keywords and phrases, and getting to the top of search results for any of them may or may not do you any good. The first entries in search results are typically paid ads, followed by Zillow, Realtor. com, Redfin and the like. If, however, you search for a “long tail” keyword (something very specific that is not searched very often), you may find that there is less competition for the term. This is especially true for searches with qualifiers, like horse property or cabin. Users are getting more and more detailed in what they’re searching for, so it pays to rank for these “long tail” keywords. It’s also worth noting that in smaller towns and rural areas it can be much easier to rank well than in the bigger cities.

Tweaking your site for ranking

Although it’s tempting to buy keywords and phrases, before you spend all your marketing dollars there are some things you can do that will improve your ranking.

What’s your speciality?

You don’t think you have one? Think again. Specialties include neighborhoods, types of properties you like to work with – think old, new, etc. You also prefer one type of client over the others – first time buyers, investors, families, singles, etc. Look closely at the listings and sales you’ve made and chances are you’ll find a pattern that indicates at least some specialization. Specialites make ideal keywords and phrases. You can work them nicely into whatever text you have on your home page, any articles or blog posts you’re doing and maybe even into your site’s title.

Your name

Your name is an ideal search term because that’s how people know you. Your About page should use the whole name you’re known as several times. You can also develop a signature for your articles and blog posts that says something like, for example:

Anne Wayman, City Heights expert

John Jones, specializing in first time buyers

You get the idea.

Updated, relevant content

Google loves new, relevant content and they want more than just your multiple listing feed. This is why blogging weekly or every other week or so can be so effective. Blog about your specialties, making sure you name the specialty even if you don’t call it that. For example, I could do an article on City Heights parks, City Heights restaurants, etc. This will work for any neighborhood your services. Be sure to include a couple of links out to the park or the restaurant.

Inbound links

Google still likes inbound links, but they must be legitimate. So ask your lenders and your service people to include a link to your site on theirs. You might even set up some sort of a local directory and offer to trade links – just make sure the directory has some real relationship to real estate ownership and your specialties. If you think about it, each of these suggestions is pretty easy to do and will over time boost your ranking in the search terms you decide to focus on. Got questions about improving your ranking? Ask them. We’ve got answers.
Anne Wayman real estate writer