July 2008

There’s no question that Google is the most used, most trusted search engine out there, so when talking about strategies for optimizing your real estate blog, it’s in your best interest to play by Google’s rules.

Although Google keeps their page ranking algorithm a secret, almost all of the top SEO experts out there agree that the most emphasis is placed on the quality of inbound links (also called backlinks) that you have. If your backlinks come from reputable websites with similar content and page rank, then those links will help you a great deal. Also, if the links feature relevant anchor text, they can help push your own site’s authority — and SERPs position — through the roof.

So what can you do to get quality backlinks? Here are three basic, proven techniques to help get you started.

  • Link to comparable sites in your own blog posts. You ought to be reading tons of other real estate blogs regularly, so this shouldn’t be hard to do. If you come across a post you like, you can write about it on your own blog and link back to the source. Many bloggers appreciate this so-called “link love”, and might even acknowledge you with a nice backlink in return. Even if you don’t get a backlink, you’re establishing credibility and name recognition, so you can’t lose.
  • Leave comments on do-follow blogs. These blogs have removed the “no follow” tag, meaning that search engine spiders will crawl and index the link. Make sure that your comment actually adds value to the original blog post, and isn’t placed merely for the link, otherwise you run the risk of having it deleted.
  • Write excellent, well-researched, authoritative posts that other real estate bloggers will want to link to. Of course, you have the least control over establishing backlinks via this method, but it’s worth a try — and quality content never hurt anyone!

Last week I mentioned that I would be shifting the focus of my posts from content to search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for a little while. I know a lot of people find SEO time-consuming and tedious, but it’s a necessary chore if you’re serious about using real estate blog marketing as a legitimate tool for promoting your business and services.

The first step in do-it-yourself SEO is to figure out which keywords the major search engines already associate with your real estate blog. If your blog has been around for a while, then you should be well established for certain phrases, which you can verify by checking your stats program. Even the most basic stats packages will tell you what words and phrases visitors are using to find your site.

If you’re brand-new to real estate blog marketing or would like to start optimizing for different keywords, then all you have to do is choose a handful that reflect the bulk of your business. A good keyword phrase usually incorporates the type of property you sell most often, along with your major farm area.

Thus, if you’re based in Raleigh and deal mostly with commercial lots, then “commercial lots Raleigh”, “commercial real estate Raleigh”, and perhaps “commercial property Raleigh” would be good keywords to target.

Notice that the name of your farm area generally follows the real estate keywords. While this can be a bit cumbersome to fit into grammatically correct sentences, it is how most people input the terms into search engines.

Once you’ve picked out a handful of keywords for your blog, start writing on-topic articles that contain the keyword phrase a few times. Articles of 200-400 words are best. Also, it’s important to refrain from using the keyword phrase too many times in a single article in order to avoid the appearance of “keyword stuffing”, a practice the search engines frown upon. Two to four times per article should be sufficient.

You can monitor your progress with your target keywords by searching for the terms yourself to see where your blog comes up in the SERPs (search engine results pages). If you’re doing things right, you should see your rankings improve over time!

For the past six months or so, I’ve been giving you tips about how to fill your real estate blog with great content designed to attract and retain readers. If you’ve been taking my suggestions to heart, you’ve probably developed a decent following by now, or at the very least, have more readers today than you did in January.

Now that you’ve got the content part taken care of for a while, I think this would be a good time to start talking about a few things you can do to optimize your real estate marketing blog for search engines. SEO is a broad topic that I could spend years on, but I’m just going to introduce it briefly today, and give more specific strategies in upcoming weeks.

Contrary to popular belief, online retailers, affiliate marketers, and AdSense gurus aren’t the only ones who need to be concerned with SEO. Anyone who has a website should care how major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN view their pages because this is what largely determines how readers will find you. The higher you rank with search engines, the more traffic you’ll get on your site. After all, nobody views page 12 of a Google search; they usually stop at page 2 or 3.

While many of the SEO strategies I’m going to tell you about in coming posts can apply to any type of website or blog, a fair number will be of particular importance to real estate marketing blogs. As such, be sure to keep checking back here to learn how to optimize your site and drive your traffic through the roof!

In my last post, I talked about how creating neighborhood profile pages on your real estate marketing blog can help attract readers by providing them with useful, relevant information. This week, I’d like to discuss yet another way to utilize the demographic data you already have at your fingertips: You can use this information to draw specific types of buyers onto your site — and perhaps your client list as well.

The first thing you need to do is consider your territory and determine what types of buyers you generally get. Are you in a warm, stable climate that sees a lot of retirees? Are you in an affordable, safe area that draws young married couples with children? Are most of your buyers interested in sprawling properties with seven-figure price tags?

Although you might see a mix of these types of buyers from time to time, it’s likely that one demographic stands out above the rest in your territory.

Once you’ve identified the demographic(s) that best describe your past buyers, the next step is to start creating posts tailored to their interests. For instance, retirees might be interested in golf courses, classes at the community center, travel agencies, health care facilities, and similar services.

Young married couples, on the other hand, would be interested in the public school system, private school alternatives, day care options, sports camps, restaurants, movie theaters, and shopping malls.

These are just very broad strokes, of course, but the more detailed information you provide for the kinds of buyers that typically flock to your territory, the better your chances of reeling in new readers and clients!