Your website may provide everything a potential client needs to decide to list or buy with you, from elegant design and professional photography to useful homebuying or staging tips and articles. But are potential clients finding your site in the first place?
According to Search Engine Journal, 75% of searchers never click past the first page of search results. Unless you’re a top dog on search, odds are your beautiful site is collecting dust.
Instead of reading web pages like you or I do, Google, Yahoo & Bing break them up into component parts and look for keywords to determine your page’s theme. In order to successfully leverage your website, you need to create pages that are easy to read for both clients AND search engines.
In Part 1 of our Real Estate SEO series, we showed you how to find keywords that will give you an online advantage over your competitors.
Now, we’ll show you four page elements where you can use those keywords to get your web pages moving up the search results and your phone ringing.
1) Your Page Title – Small Element, HUGE Impact
Your title tag may or may not be visible in your page’s content (it’s written into your page’s HTML code between the <head> and </head> tags), but you can easily identify any page’s title tag by looking at the text in the top of the browser window or tab when it’s open.
Your page title, or title tag is a page element that clearly and concisely describes your page’s content. Think of it as the online version of the the file name you assign when you save a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. It’s also the most important on-page element in determining your page’s search engine rank. Here’s why:
These links serve as the Google Search equivalent the headline in an ad. Placing your most descriptive keyword in your title tag will not only tell the search engines what your page is about, but will also help your page’s listing stand out to users searching for your keyword.
Search engines also measure your page’s clickthrough rate (# of clicks on your search listing/# of times it has appeared to a searcher), or CTR, as a proxy for your page’s relevancy to a given keyword, and rewards higher relevancy with higher rankings.
Long-story-short, placing your keyword in your title tag will help you stand out to search engines, stand out to searchers, and boosts your CTR through higher visibility, helping you climb higher in the search engines.
2) Your Body Copy – Content Really Is King
After search engines read your page title, they move onto your page’s body copy searching for relevant keywords. Therefore, it’s crucial that you include the 2-3 keywords you’ve selected for your page throughout your body text.
Try to include your keywords in the page’s first paragraph, as well as in any subheads if possible. If you’ve chosen keywords that are good descriptors of your page’s content, this shouldn’t be difficult.
Sprinkle your keywords elsewhere throughout your page content where applicable. However, note that search engines appreciate natural, concise language. Don’t write extraneous or awkwardly worded sentences just to get an extra keyword or two into your post. Search engines can detect such “keyword spamming” and can penalize your page’s rank for attempting to game the system.
- Protip: If your page’s text is provided on images, or fancy-looking flash animations, the search engines aren’t likely to be able to read any of it. The vast majority of web pages are written in regular, old-fashioned text, so that’s what search engines read. If you’re not sure how your text is delivered, try highlighting the text in your browser. If you can highlight, copy or paste it, it’s text. If not, you or your web designer should consider rewriting your page in search engine-friendly text.
3) Your Images’ Alt Text – A Hidden SEO Asset
While search engines are unable to actually see the contents of any images you place on your page, they do assess the contents of images by looking to the image’s alternate text, a property attached to all images on the web used to describe the image. If you’ve ever hovered your mouse over an image and seen a caption pop up next to your mouse cursor, you’ve seeing alt text in action.
By including your keyword in the alt text of any images you place on a page, you’re telling the search engines what that image is about, and further bolstering your page’s relevance to that keyword.
If you’re not sure how to edit the alt text of your images, check with your web designer, or view the options you’re provided with when you upload an image to your site if you manage your own site.
4) Your Meta Description – It’s Like Free Advertising
The final on-page element you should optimize is your page’s meta description. Like the title tag, the meta description is an HTML element that helps describe your page’s content (specified by <meta name=”your description”> between the <head> tags). The contents of your meta description determine what search engines display on your results listing beneath the title tag:
If the title tag is analogous to a paid ad’s headline, the meta description is the ad’s body text. It functions as an extended description of your page’s content. Since you’ve got more space to work with here, make sure that you not only include your keywords, but also provide a compelling description that will encourage readers to click through. Try to your meta description is between 150 and 160 characters,as longer descriptions are cut off by most search engines.
While it’s technically inaccurate to say that search engines directly factor the contents of your meta description into your page’s rank, it does have a large impact on your page listing’s CTR. For instance, when your meta description contains a keyword from a searcher’s query, that keyword is bolded (see ‘Durham’ and ‘Real Estate’ in the example above), raising its profile on the results page and significantly increasing the likelihood of a click. And as stated above, a higher CTR ultimately means a higher rank.
Now that you know the key on-page elements search engines examine to determine your page rank, you’re well equipped to optimize your web pages for search. And while optimizing these elements are only part of a complete real estate SEO strategy, they’ll make your pages extremely easy for search engines to read, index, and help you get found.
In Part 3, we’ll talk about the off-page elements of SEO, and how they’ll affect your pages’ search engine rankings. Make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ so you don’t miss Part 3 when it’s published!