Archive for the ‘Inbound Links’ Category
As a website owner, chances are you already know that backlinks from external sources are important to achieving high rankings in search engines. The following is a brief breakdown of the major link building tactics that you can utilize for generating inbound links for your real estate marketing strategy.
1. Internal Links
Internal links occur within your website, and offer you two great advantages: 1) The ability to develop silos of authority within the hierarchy of a website, and 2) The ability to assist search engine spiders find new content.
Benefits: Internal links are most substantial low hanging fruit of link building, but this tactic is frequently overlooked by website owners. Effective Internal Links are blended seamlessly into web page and blog post text, are not navigational, and aren’t clustered at the end of content.
2. SEO Directories
Essentially, web directories are the telephone book pages of the Internet. There is generally no relevance, ranking, or human input with the listings. They have in the past been an integral part of real estate SEO strategies, as it was believed that having inbound links from these directories was not only valuable for your website’s credibility in the eyes of the Search Engines, but it also validated your links so that Search Engines didn’t have to. However, now it’s important to hone in your focus on the big players in directories, and do your research as to which ones are relevant to you.
Benefits: With the exception of Yahoo, DMOZ, Google Places, and Yelp, many directories can potentially be a waste of time and resources. They’re basically a paid link that passes rank.
3. .Edu/.Gov Extensions
These websites are legitimate sites of authority, and getting your website placed on sites like these that are relevant to your business is great news for your real estate SEO campaign.
Benefits: Your URL placement on these websites will have a massive impact on your website’s keyword rankings. If you have “political connections”, these can go a long way, but a campaign dedicated only to obtaining these links may not be the best use of your time.
4. Social Media
Social media marketing has always been a great channel for spreading the word about your website through link sharing: the top dogs here are Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Just remember to not become a Twitter spam Robot by posting only links to your site over and over again!
Benefits: There are tremendous ancillary benefits to social media link building: one tweet can generate dozens of high-quality backlinks across the blogosphere.
5. Link Baiting
Link baiting is the process of creating incoming links through the generation of engaging content and tools. If you are considering link bait, follow one simple rule: make your content something an audience will want to share with others. There is also no risk level: Matt Cutts of Google has even encouraged link baiting. Famous examples of link baiting include Office Max’s “Elf Yourself.”
Benefits: Excellent. Link baiting is one of the most reliable long-term real estate SEO strategy for developing a high performance domain in search engines.
6. Press Release Links
Press Release links requires using a press release firm such as PR Web or PR Newswire to generate incoming links. This is a great strategy if the press release is both useful and relevant to your content. Tip: Check over your site content: determine the most relevant page to link to, and be sure to link deep, if possible.
Benefits: When appropriate to your business and website, releases can quickly drive quality backlinks from reputable news sources.
Link building is a constantly growing and changing process. One of the favorites of link building strategies is link baiting is because it’s creative, fun, and users want to share them with their friends. Take time to find something you enjoy creating and see if you can use it as a method to drive incoming links. Not only will this be something you enjoy participating in every day, but it will also encourage your link building to a part of your daily real estate SEO routine, and thus make your website an SEO success!
- Over 70% of online consumers start their search for products, services, and information by typing in what they need on a search engine. You probably can’t afford not introducing your company and yourself to this process (AND an enormous new audience!)
- Most internet users don’t bother clicking past the first couple search results pages (many don’t even bother reading past the first one!) so it’s clear why a good position on the first page is paramount to your success.
- Unlike paying for a banner advertisement or a sponsored listing on a search page, you can’t buy a good position in the search engines. What you can do is invest in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to target visitors, provide publicity, exposure and revenue.
- While you cannot actually buy the keywords that will optimize your website, it helps to imagine that you are in fact paying for them. This will help you narrow down your list until you have the ones that will most effectively drive traffic to your site and provide the most return on investment.– For example, “BC apartments” might have a TON of global searches that aren’t relevant to a Boston
broker because they could be searches for apartments in British Colombia rather that Boston College.
- When choosing a keyword, you must understand that the more popular the keyword is, the more competitive it will be to achieve a high ranking for it. Typically, very general keywords tend to be more competitive. For instance, “Apartments” is extremely hard to rank for, but “South End Apartments” is much easier to achieve a high ranking for. Take advantage of the free Google Keywords Tool to determine a keyword’s difficulty rating in Local and Global Search Volumes. If you are a local company, place your focus on ranking high in your Local Search Volume and don’t worry about how you rank globally.
- Don’t be afraid to use specific keywords. With the advent of Google Instant, online consumers are naturally becoming more intelligent searchers. The search results morph in real time for each letter typed into the Google search box, so often consumers end up typing in very specific search terms. Search results now will appear and change almost instantly as the keyword phrase in the search box is edited. This will start getting rid of the need to scroll through pages of results; rather consumers will just refine their search and focus on Long Tail Keywords.
- After you determine how competitive a keyword is, you have to figure out how much traffic it will drive to your site. Luckily, there is no need to hire a psychic to predict the success of each keyword.There are two ways to predict the traffic from a keyword:
- Use industry standard keyword research tools such as Overture or WordTracker. These won’t be 100% accurate, but they offer a basic estimation of traffic flow.
- Set up a Google Adwords (pay-per-click) campaign that ties into web analytics. While Pay-Per-Click advertising is not the same as SEO because it is paid for, you can use Adwords to see the exact keywords that were typed in the search engine by a visitor. To start out, make sure to check the setting “broad match” so that you allow a variety of keywords to prompt your advertisement. While you have to pay for this service (you can rank for the first paid advertisement slot within 24 hours) it will help you learn about the keywords that will benefit your website.
- After you pick your keywords, it is important to make sure you aren’t just shoving keywords into your site without good content. Even if your site is easily found by search engine robots, you must have unique, correct, specific, and appealing content in order to entice online consumers to actually stay on your site. Updating your content often is also important; if you regularly update your website, you are giving consumers more reason to return. One of the best ways to ensure new content is to blog. We recommend blogging at least twice a week to keep a constant stream of content flowing. Search engine robots will also visit your site more often as it is updated, leading to a quicker index in the future.
- One of the hardest parts of SEO is acquiring incoming links. The only way you can make sure that other people link your website is to have good content. This is something that is sort of out of your hands, but by networking and blogging, you can often acquire incoming links. It is important to create social media accounts on popular websites and add links to your website on your profiles. Good websites to make accounts on are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It is also helpful to add your website to directories like Yelp, Google Places, Yp.com and industry-specific directories like Angieslist.com. You should also register your website’s blog on blog directories like Blogcatalogue.com.
- Do not try to fool the search engines. While it may seem appealing and easy just to stuff your website full of keywords to up your traffic, it is the easiest way to get your website penalized or even banned from search engines completely. Search engines need their results to reflect accurately on content, not on link farms, alt text spamming, cloaking or keyword stuffing.
I’ve recently learned some new things about YELP and I figure our loyal readers would want to know them too.
Some of you, I’m sure, haven’t heard of Yelp. You should check it out. Here’s a link to our profile on Yelp. Yelp is a site where you can write a review for any business with a physical location. People put up reviews, good and bad, of the businesses that they interact with. I recently reviewed a coffee shop that I like a lot. I mentioned that people like it too much and there’s a long line almost every time I go, but it’s worth it. This is the kind of real world reviews you’ll see on Yelp.
BTW, we’d love it if you wrote a nice review about Boston Logic on Yelp. Click here to review Boston Logic. Thanks.
Here are some interesting and important facts about Yelp:
First, the reviews that show up highest, by default, are the ones written by users who have written a lot of reviews. It’s not just the most recent review. You’ll notice above the reviews and below the profile of a company, there are sort options. The default is “Yelp Sort.” If you want to see the most recent just click on “Rating.” Notice also that there are lots of other ways to sort reviews. I don’t know how much this gets used, but while you’re on there, you may as well play around. If you like a review, then you can click “useful” the nice thing about this is that you can sort reviews by how useful other folks have found them.
Business owners, if you get a bad review, it’s not the end of the world. First of all, I’ve noticed that truly mean and bad reviews are usually short and often put up by people with fake accounts or accounts with little personal information and fake names. My account is linked to my Facebook account. So, I’m standing behind anything I say. Also, you can flag a review. This won’t make it go away completely, but it can put the review off your page and mostly out of reach of people. The casual user would need to dig in order to find it.
Next, Yelp does sell paid ads. Or, really, they offer a ways to make your profile on Yelp more prominent and more engaging. For example:
- You can pay to have your listing appear at the top of search results. This is like using Adwords to have your link come up on the first page of Google’s search results.
- You can also pay to enhance your profile. So, if someone does find your biz on Yelp, then they’ll be more likely to stick on that page and maybe pick up the phone and call you.
- Also, it should be noted that Yelp has tile ads on their home page and tower ads on other pages.
Also, Yelp is more than just a site to post reviews. They’re a social network too. You can upload photos of yourself, give more details about your life, “friend” other members, become a fan, send a compliment, follow someone, and send a message all within Yelp. I’m not too sure how much this stuff gets used by the average user, but I’m sure the power users are making good use of it.
Like all Social Media sites, Yelp’s value increases as more people use it. If all anyone did was write a review, it would just be opinions stacking up. But Yelp has taken the time to make the more relevant content come up first. In some ways, this makes them a go-to search engine when looking for something great. I’ve often complained that Google is great for finding information, but horrible for rating that information’s quality, trustworthiness, and value. Sure you can find pizza using Google, but there could be a great pizza place around the corner from you that has no website! This means it’ll never come up on Google at all!
Yelp is showing you the reviews by people who do the most reviewing and by the nature of the site and its use base, they’re probably showing you a more comprehensive results set. If you’re looking for a service provider, I highly recommend Yelp.
To be fair, I wanted to point out a few Yelp-like sites. Maybe I’ll write a comparison post soon?!?
- Send me more and I’ll grow this list.
YELP PR PEOPLE – I’m sure you’ll find this article. Would love some feedback, thoughts, etc? Tell us how Realtors are using Yelp?
It’s amazing what some people will tell you.
We’ve been working on signing a new client for our SEO practice. They really are nice folks. They own a real estate office, surprise surprise, and I’ve spent my time in touch with a couple of the members of their marketing department. After telling them what we offer, sending a document on what to expect from our SEO services, I then sent along a service agreement. Pretty much, this is our standard sales process when someone signs up with us for SEO work.
This client wrote back asking us to write into the agreement that we would create 150 “backlinks” each month during the SEO campaign. This set off an alarm right away. First of all, it was obvious that some SEO provider had told the client that this was an SEO best practice. Well, it’s not. So, we took the time to explain to them that when it comes to inbound linking, you want quality links, not just a high quantity of links.
When you’re trying to increase your inbound link count, you need to increase the number of quality links. This is just one of the elements of good SEO. Here’s how you judge whether it’s a good link.
- Google assigns every page with a PageRank. They don’t make these page rankings public, but you can see a version of your PageRank by downloading and installing the Google toolbar. If your links are from pages with PR (PageRank) 1, then they’re pretty much worthless. If you can get inbound links from pages with PRs of 5, 6, 7, and higher, then you’ll really be doing more for your SEO.
- Links to your site should be from pages with similar content. So, if your website is about Boston Real Estate and you’re trying to increase your ranking for the term “Boston Real Estate” then the inbound links to your site should be from other pages about Boston Real Estate. Also, ideally, the sites that those pages are a part of are sites about Boston Real Estate. The search engines look at this like the site is an authority on the subject. So, another example would be: a link from this website to a site about Real Estate SEO would be of high value to that other site; whereas a link from this website to a site about plumbing would be of far less value to that site.
- Link farms are bad. If the link to your website is from a page or website with many other outbound links on it, then this is not going to help your placement all that much. Google and Yahoo! can tell when a site is a link farm. All they have to do is count the number of outbound links on a page and on the site. So, if you’re just one of 100 outbound links on a page, then that link isn’t going to be looked upon very favorably and this will not help your SEO.
OK, now that we understand what makes for a good link and that many links aren’t worth much at all, let’s remember the following: Good SEO links are about quality and not quantity. If you can remember this mantra, then your SEO campaign will have a much better chance of performing well.
OK, that’s about it for now. If you have any questions about this topic, drop us a note and well get back to you. Thanks.
One of our clients asked whether paid links are worth the investment. In my reply to him, and to you – there has been a lot of debate regarding this recently – most SEOs believe that “paid links” are not a good practice.
Here’s why – when you consider linking opportunities you must do your homework first. Like most things you have examine your options from all angles. The short answer is “no” paid links are not worth the time or finances because they go against most search engine policies/guidelines. While some websites may get away with this activity for a while or the practice was useful at one time, I would never recommend paying for links. Sooner or later those who have a quick-fix desire and try to take shortcuts in business do get penalized, such is life. See Google’s quality guidelines for more information.
That said, there are a few exceptions to the rule, Yahoo’s! paid directory being one of them. And so, when our client asked about Yahoo! I said the following: “The directory submission has a fee of $299 and followed by a yearly recurring fee of the same amount. Now the thing with the Yahoo! Directory, while Google does value its addition, Yahoo! does not guarantee that your paid entry will actually get listed, they will guarantee a review for your fee and maybe get you listed.”
The choice whether to make that submission is yours, at worst you’ll be out $299, at best it could help with your traffic, branding and increase the number of inbound links which helps your Google Page Rank.
As with all linking opportunities, I recommend that you keep your eyes and ears open. Here are some strategic tips for your Real Estate link building:
- Consider your networks as a place to go to for links, you already have the connection now all you need to do is ask, nicely. Present them with the opportunity and how it will benefit their visitors by having access to additional relevant information.
- Make noteworthy mentions of top brokers and websites, homes etc on your blog. People will like the gesture and most likely add a link without being asked.
- Sign up for Google Alerts, use your business and like terms to gather potential link leads. The same can be done through a number of social media networks.
- Take a look at similar businesses and your competitors to see who is linking to them and what directories they are using.
- Definitely sign up with big local directories and sites, but only those with a well known reputation, like Boston.com, business.com, botw.org …
- Review the site’s age and PR (google page rank). If either of these is low then browse along.
- Beware of spamy looking directories, follow your gut – if it looks unprofessional then don’t add your site, even it is one more possible inbound link and even if it is free, it’s not worth it.
While we certainly do recommend link building as part of your Real Estate SEO campaign, try to keep these tips in mind, remember to do your homework first. Your site’s reputation is on the line and you don’t want to risk a penalty. If you have any questions about linking or your Real Estate marketing feel free to contact us for advice.