By Brad Shorr
Keyword selection is the heart of an SEO campaign. If you select the wrong keywords, most or all of your subsequent campaign investment will be wasted, even if you use brilliant SEO techniques. Why? Because if you select the wrong keywords, you won’t attract the right type of traffic—i.e., traffic from visitors who are interested in buying or renting real estate. Here are best practices for selecting and deploying keywords in your SEO campaign. Follow these guidelines and you will attract relevant traffic and generate great leads as a result.
- Real estate agents should be wary of optimizing for terms with very high search volume. First, high-volume terms are likely to be overly broad; for instance, people searching for a high-volume term like “new homes” probably aren’t looking for a home in your market. Result: too much non-relevant traffic. Second, high-volume terms are likely to be dominated by large real estate organizations with deep pockets. Result: you won’t get enough visibility to generate any significant traffic.
- The right approach is to look for long-tail terms—specific terms with low to medium volume highly relevant to your business. For instance, the term “short-term condo rentals in Boca Raton” will attract the attention of just the people you are looking for if this is a specialty. As an important aside, it’s critical to have a clear focus and differentiating services to fully capitalize on a long-tail keyword strategy. Trying to be all things to all people makes for tough sledding in SEO.
- “Location, location, location” applies to real estate SEO just as much as it does to the real estate business in general. The challenge is to identify keywords with a location big enough to attract a dial-moving amount of traffic, but not so big (broad) as to attract non-relevant traffic (i.e., outside of your market) and/or be too competitive to compete effectively. For example, keyword phrases with “Chicago” may be too broad, while keyword phrases with “Wrigleyville” may be too narrow. Keep in mind, though, because of the high value of a real estate transaction, real estate agents don’t necessarily need scores of conversions to produce ROI from an SEO campaign. Thus, targeting low-volume keywords in a given neighborhood could be successful: if it generates only a handful of website visits in a month, but one or two turn into sales, you may well have paid for the entire campaign. Here is more discussion on keyword selection and information about tools to help.
- Every major keyword phrase you target should have a corresponding, unique, relevant page on your website. For example, if you are targeting “luxury condos in Scottsdale,” search engine users clicking your link should go to a Web page talking about why you are the best real estate agent for that need. Sending traffic to the home page is not relevant enough; you may get a lot of traffic, but it won’t convert, because users won’t bother to look deeper into your website and be persuaded that you can help them.
- Keywords need not be repeated five or 10 times on a page. Google is smart enough to figure out what your page is about if you write content relevant to your keywords, and have enough of it (500-plus words is a good benchmark for a strategic SEO Web page). Your most important keyword for any given website page should appear in the page’s URL, title tag, page title and then two or three times in the body text of the page. Using variations of the keyword phrase is OK.
- Use important keywords in your website navigation: this is another signal to Google that those keywords are important in your business. Those strategically important SEO pages should also be the ones most linked to by other pages of your website—again, this tells Google those are important pages, and as such, should be highly ranked.
- For real estate agents who have conducted SEO campaigns in the past, check your backlink profile for over-optimization of anchor text. Backlinks are links pointing to pages of your website from other websites. Backlinks are an extremely important ranking factor for Google. In the past, it was considered a good SEO practice to have backlink anchor text (the words used in the hyperlink) to be full of keywords. Today, Google sees this as manipulative, and having too many of these links could hurt you. Contact webmasters and ask them to change the anchor text to your business name, URL of the target page, a variation of the keyword phrase, or even “click here.” Having diverse anchor text, not all-keyword anchor text, will improve rankings.
Handling keywords changes from time to time, especially on the implementation side is key. Make sure to review your keyword strategy every 6-12 months to ensure your target keywords are still performing, and that best practices have not changed for using them. A solid keyword review will keep you one step ahead of the competition…maybe even two steps.
Brad Shorr is the Director of Content Strategy for Straight North, an internet marketing company in Chicago that offers services to businesses across the country in SEO, PPC and web design. With his many years in the industry, Brad has been featured on sites such as Salesforce, Forbes and Smashing Magazine.