And yet, I still see these everywhere! Every day I look at someone's website because they've either called for business or someone wants me to review their website. More often than not I find hundreds of mistakes and bad or outdated SEO practices. I understand why; some of those things that worked ten years ago have never been updated. Many people bought a website, left it as is because they thought they needed one and went on with their career. They weren't updating the site or learning anything about keeping the site active and on tune with SEO practices. I get it; this is not your job. Your job is real estate. The last thing you want to do is spend hours figuring out search engine optimization rules, regulations, and the changes that come along almost every week. Google changes something every couple of months and if we are not on board with that we will be left far behind.
But there are also those rare, weird websites that no one has touched for years that for some reason are number three for their keyword on Google. How in the world did that happen? I have a lot of their competition asking the same question.
If the site has not been updated in years but ranks high, there could be a number of reasons. Either they have a great back link from a high quality and high authority website or it could have some longevity and consistency that Google really likes. Perhaps the domain was purchased 20 years ago and was purchased for an additional 10 years into the future. Google sees this as stability and trust that the website is not a fly-by-night company. The website is designed to stick around for some time. Also, it's a vicious cycle in that the more people that go to a website the higher Google will rank it, however, to get more people to the website Google has to rank the website higher. It's a weird circle that could be almost impossible to break into.
#1. Messing with What's Already Working
One thing I do want to stress when updating or revamping your website is that if you do have a page or two that is ranked very well you don't want to mess with it too much. Simply perfect the rest of the website around that one page. Perhaps you are the go-to person for a specific neighborhood, community or town in your area and you have a web page on your website that gets really good rankings. It's probably best not to mess with that page too much. Find out what could be going right on that page and then mimic it on the other pages that may not have as much traffic.
For instance: one of my real estate websites is http://www.portlandonthemarket.com. We have hundreds of blog posts, pages and neighborhoods around the Portland area but the main keyword his homepage gets picked up for is "RMLS Portland". This is a local multiple listing service. Yes, that term is in his homepage title but we hardly ever focus on "RMLS". For a couple of reasons; that keyword is already being picked up and gaining traffic and there's no need to over saturate or over optimize for a particular keyword.
What we focus on with his website is neighborhood community posts, continually reworking existing blog posts and perfecting those neighborhood community posts that he really wants to rank for. We try not to put out a lot of mediocre content for the sake of additional pages. We focus on what he has and build on that so that the entire website as a whole become stronger.
#2. Pumping out Mediocre Content
Do you blog every day? Do you write similar content and just change the figures? I can't tell you how many websites I've come across or blog posts that are literally the same content over and over again just some figures changed out as in market reports or updates for a particular neighborhood. This mediocre content goes nowhere. I know, I've heard some people say, "but this blog post gets ranked and I get traffic from it!" Okay, you have one blog post out of 300 that's actually getting some traffic. How much time did you waste writing all the rest of those that are buried on page 100? Don't you think you could've benefited more by perfecting that one blog post that is getting traffic?
If your website has dozens, even hundreds of mediocre blog posts or web pages that have no more than 100 to 200 words on them, it's time to clean house. This collection of pages really doesn't benefit your site at all. If you're going to start deleting pages or combining pages, take a look at what's actually ranking. Do some searches on some of the pages that you really like or have good content and see if they rank well. If you can't find them anywhere, you might consider combining them with other, similar blog posts.
Take the time to write out a really good post. One of my clients is Panama City Beach online.com. I spend some time writing at least a 500 to 1000 word post a couple of times a month and then I share that post a variety of ways and link to it, just as I have done here. Yes, it does take the time to write a really good post with a lot of information and then spend the time creating amazing images as well, but it will pay off. Over the Christmas season, I wrote about "great reasons to spend Christmas in Panama City Beach". This is a post that I can use next Christmas as well. Perhaps I will add onto it, change some things up or maybe even add in current events. But this post will remain a solid piece on the website that will morph, evolve, and grow. Google loves that because it's great information that is relevant and current.
#3. Keeping All Your Eggs in One Basket
Are you only writing on your website? Why? There are multiple blogging platforms out there that you can use as a real estate agent. Activerain is one of them as is other real estate blogging websites, bigger pockets.com, and even social media sites like LinkedIn. One of my clients not only writes on ActiveRain but blogs on Linkedin as well. LinkedIn recently allowed you to write an entire post, not just share a status or link. This has become very lucrative for him in that he gets a lot of feedback, people talking to him about the articles and it spurs on conversations among peers and potential clients. Check out his blog here: Donald Payne - Vision Realty.You can see that not only are we providing some great tips and real estate advice but local market information, pairing that with great images and of course, links back to his website.
Perhaps your website doesn't allow you to have a blog. You might be able to add static pages but those pages either end up in your menu, which clutters up your menu or gets buried somewhere on your website. This is where you can add on a WordPress blog to your website. You can link it from the menu on your main site and then use that word press blog as a sub menu or subpage of your main website. One of my clients has a main website keytothebay.com and his blog is blog.keytothebay.com. His main authority lies with the website but by attaching the blog onto the website, it boosts the authority of the blog rather than being a completely separate entity. Google doesn't want you to open up a blog simply for backlinks to the main site. They want it connected and intertwined so that it works as a whole. However, blogging both on your main site, your blog, and maybe an off-site blog from time to time all adds authority and spreads you out so that you have backlinks coming from a variety of high authority places.
#4. Paid Links
I'm not sure this ever was a good idea but it may have worked 10+ years ago. I for one have never bought backlinks unless it is an advertisement in a particular newspaper or online forum where I have a connection with that person. For instance, if I'm helping a client in Oahu I might contact the Honolulu newspaper that has an online resource and ask about doing a blog post in their newspaper. I may have to pay for that but I also get a link back to my website.
That's a completely different paid link then throwing five dollars at someone on Fivvr.com to give me 100 mediocre, useless links that I don't know where they're coming from. If you've bought backlinks in the past it's time to do a backlink audit. Look over all of your back links and see if any of them through Google analytics pop a warning or spam detection. It's best to get rid of those or disavow them if you can. This is a pretty tricky procedure but if you've bought back links the only way to come back from that is to either disregard them, disavow them or ask the webmaster to remove your link.
You should never have to pay for a link. Your links should come from outside sources because you wrote amazing content. People want to share your information because it gives value and authority to whatever it is you do. Ask people to share on their social media; ask to do a guest blog post on someone's website, a link from other social media and blogging platforms but never pay for a slew of links that will just harm you.
#5. Bold Keywords and Overuse.
I have no problem bolding words or phrases in a blog post if that's what you want to emphasize. But don't bold keywords just to make the keyword stand out. Google completely disregards this. The only time you should be using bold, italicized, or underlined is when you want to emphasize something to the reader, and that's it. You can see from a recent article I did on buyhomesinPalm Desert.com that I have emphasized several sentences or phrases that I really want to stand out. We read by skimming through an article, and I want these phrases to stand out. If it is one big wall of words and there's no breaks, underlines, or bolded words it can be hard to read on the eyes. By bolding things that you really want to stand out I'm not doing this for SEO purposes but for my reader
Overuse of keywords is also called over optimization. If you're talking about cash offers you don't want to say the term "cash offers" 20 times in 300 words. For one thing, Google hates it and people can't stand it. It's too much and it throws readers off. If you write the way someone can read it in an easy and free-flowing manner, Google will notice that as well. Simply write about what you want to talk about and then title that blog post appropriately. That's all you need to do.
On a side note about the wall of words: make sure that your blog post or page is nicely broken up. You can check out this webpage from Westbrook REI where Peter Westbrook talks about comparing cash and financing offers when selling your home. It's nice and long, it has a lot of links to related content, it's broken up by quotes, breaks in the content, underlined phrases and sentences, headings, and images that help tell the story. This is a great blog post and it can be shared multiple times, not just once.
#6. Overused Keyword and Anchor Text Linking
About 10 years ago it was vitally important to link your anchor text multiple times. Now, that doesn't work at all and actually has an adverse effect. What I mean is this: let's say your major keyword is "Sunset Beach NC real estate". In every single blog post, I'm not only mentioning that phrase, but I'm linking to the home page with that key phrase every chance I get. This could mean multiple times in the same blog post.
The problem with this is twofold; Google will only count one link to the same location once in a blog post. Once I've linked to the home page from the post, Google will disregard any more links to that same page throughout the post. Secondly, Google will disregard the over usage of that key phrase and it simply doesn't like anchor text linking anymore.
As I've mentioned previously in this post, linking to internal pages, blog posts, related content is really the way to go. You can see that in this blog post talking about the "five best things to living on the Intracoastal waterway". This is the same website as the aforementioned keyword or key phrase but instead of linking to the same key phrase over and over, I'm linking to the page that talks about something someone may actually want to read. Yes, the main title of the home page is the Sunset Beach NC real estate, but by adding authority and links to all the internal pages as well, it boosts the authority of the site as a whole.
I've used a lot of examples in this piece to give you an idea of the way you should write and what to steer clear of. By being natural, realistic and authoritative, you can chuck these old SEO habits to the curb and just write great content with related topics that someone really wants to read.