“Real estate-related searches on Google.com have grown 253% over the past four years. There is simply too much lead generation opportunity to keep ignoring.”
– Rob Wachter, Inman.com
If you’re reading our blog, odds are you’re already familiar with the increasing role the web plays in today’s home buying and selling process, a trend we’ve covered extensively in 2013.
This week, in the spirit of answering Rob Wachter’s call to “embrace the digital mind shift,” we bring you the third and final post in our Real Estate SEO Essentials series to help you learn about the off-page elements that contribute to your website’s search engine rankings and give you link building tips to help you boost your rank and reach new clients online.
In parts 1 and 2 of our Real Estate SEO series, we explained the importance of keywords and showed you how to use them to optimize your website’s on-page content, but there’s more to search engine optimization than just a sound keyword strategy.
The Inbound Link – A Vote of Confidence
Search engines need a way to tell quality content from unqualified or keyword-spammy content in order to adequately serve their users. To ensure the most informative, helpful, and authoritative information ranks highest, search engines look to links to a webpage as votes of confidence in its content.
While we can’t tell you precisely how important inbound links are to your overall search ranking (Google won’t reveal the recipe for it’s secret sauce), Moz.com’s 2013 survey of SEO experts revealed that “links are still believed to be the most important part of the algorithm (approximately 40%).”
Although link building can certainly be the most time consuming part of effective SEO, when almost half of your page’s search rank is determined by its inbound links, you can be sure it’s well worth the effort. Before we dive into proven ways for you to build your site’s link profile however, you should know that all links are not created equal.
Measuring the Value of a Link
To make the most of your link building efforts, you’ll need a basic understanding of the types of links that will give your page the biggest boost. Keep these factors in mind when planning your link building campaign.
- (Con)Text is Key – The text of the hyperlink itself (called anchor text) is a main factor used by search engines to determine which keywords are relevant to the target page. For example, the hyperlink tips pointing to your ‘5 simple staging tips’ blog post would be more valuable than a link with the simpler anchor text tips. Try to ensure that the anchor text of your inbound links are keyword optimized.
- Check the Expiration Date – for search engines, links get stale over time. For example, if you’re active on social media and you earn new links to your site every time you post to Facebook, your site will appear more timely to search engines than that other agent’s site that hasn’t been updated in a year, rewarding you with higher search rankings.
- Reputation Counts – Established websites with lots of inbound links of their own like Inman.com or .edu domains transfer more authority when they link to your site than a personal blog does. In other words, a few inbound links from highly authoritative sites will help your rank more than a slew of links from random relatively unknown sites.
5 Proven Link Building Strategies
Now that you know how links help you rank higher on search engines, it’s time to put your knowledge to use and start building links to your content. Here are 5 proven ways that you can create great, linkable content and start your climb up the search results.
- Build a Blog – If you use just one of these strategies, make sure this is the one. Blogging allows you to create fresh content that’s relevant to your clients and your service areas that while positioning you as a thought leader in real estate. Best of all, it doesn’t cost you a dime!
- Be Newsworthy – Writing about market trends and industry news helps keep your content fresh and allows you to offer expert analysis to both clients and colleagues. In today’s connected world, timely coverage is always in high demand.
- Be a Guest Star – Submit guest contributions to colleagues’ blogs, or industry sites like Inman.com or ActiveRain.com. Since you’re in control of your content, you can ensure their quality reputation transfers to your site with keyword optimized links while raising your profile among industry insiders.
- Produce Videos – we’ve covered the benefits of video marketing for real estate in the past, but with the plethora of social video platforms available online, taking a video viral is easier than ever and a surefire way to drum up interest in your site and your services.
- Stay active on Google+ – another real estate marketing strategy we’ve recommended before, maintaining and active presence on Google+ helps associate your name and brand with the type of users and content you engage with most. This pays off in both valuable interactions on Google+, and in search when your content is promoted as more relevant to new potential clients who match your engagement profile.
Have a successful link building strategy of your own? Want to get siphon off some of our own ‘Google Juice’? Tell the community (and share your content!) in the comments below.