Estate Agent SEO - Communicating in a language that computers understand
29 January, 2010 | Web design
Troy Stanley, CTO of Resource Techniques reporting from Inman Estate Connect Conference in New York:
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO has been a buzzword for web design since the mid to late nineties. In fact SEO has become much more than a buzzword. It is continually scrutinised, theorised and reported on throughout the internet with all eyes on a few infamous competitors. It affects everyone because of the increasing need to have an established web presence. The Estate Agent industry is no exception.
SEO is gradually evolving (hopefully towards a better internet experience) but the main reasons have not changed. People use search engines as a directory to find information that is relevant to their needs, and being at the top of this directory will significantly increase the chance that people will visit your website. The more visits your website has, the greater chance potential customers will contact you for a viewing or to market their house.
The problem is that computers can only communicate in those 1's and 0's, whereas humans have the whole range of language at their disposal (even though we don't use it all!). It is then the job of the website designer to turn the vast amount of information into a structure that the major search engines can understand. Again this is not new information and is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
The main SEO theme at the Inman Estate Connect Conference is the creation of valuable content. Search engines do not just love content, they're obsessed with it. This is because the better content they show in their results page, the more people will use their search feature.
How do Estate Agents create this desirable content? This is done by showing that they are an expert in their field with local knowledge that is second to none. Tools such as news features, blogs and social networking can underpin this strategy and propel Estate Agents into the forefront of their targeted search term.
My personal advice is to develop a strategy. It sounds tricky but this is the easy bit, just get some good advice before you start, make sure you've got it straight, know where you're going to comment, blog, Facebook, twitter etc. Then, and to coin a phrase I've heard often at Inman NYC, 'farm your local neighbourhood'. This again sounds tricky but all Estate Agents have to do is write about stuff you almost certainly already know.
What I'm really talking about is 'content' and I'm sure you've heard SEO specialists talk about this before. Content is Google's mantra and is what will without doubt ensure that you and your website achieves high ranking within search engines; the written word! Relevant, up to date content and lots of it, and that's all there is too it.
So now you know, the cat is out of the bag, the beans have been split... you write about stuff that's happening in your town, become an authority, provide free local information about the area you work, focus on the community, do NOT overtly promote your own services, become the 'Local expert', on all that is going down in 'your patch'. This is definitely what's referred to as 'the long game' strategy, but 'expert status 'can only be achieved by gaining 'Trust', which is difficult but in my humble opinion it's the only way to do it.
Is it worth the effort? There is of course lots of anecdotal evidence for and against but for me, yes it is. At Resource Techniques we embarked on an e-marketing strategy almost a year ago, and a year down the line we have seen our site traffic double month on month. This ultimately results in increased levels of business and yes, even some cash in the bank.
Some SEO facts from the Inman Connect Conference:
- 24% of people search using 1 word
- 23% search with 2 words
- 21% search using 3 words
- 14% search with 4 words
- 8% search 5 with words
- 10% search using more than 5 words