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Australian Real Estate SEO – Part 4

16 minute read

Improving the SEO on the Current Pages on Your Website

Search-Engine-MarketingThis article is about how Australian Real Estate Agents can apply basic SEO principals to the existing pages on their website by changing body text, page title, page description and alt text.

There are so many different Content Management Systems used by agents to manage their websites so its impossible for me to give you specific instructions on how to implement every thing in this article but with some commonsense, logic and a sprinkling of using the help files and program support you should be able to figure everything out fairly easily.

This article is the fourth in a 6 part series to assist agents in improving the SEO of their own websites.

The first article covered getting ready to apply changes to your website.  The second article covered link and referrer building, The third article covered keyword research.

I suggest that if you have not read the first three articles that you do that first. This article will cover optimising the current pages on your website to keywords you identified in article three.

With real estate agent websites there are two different types of pages, the  property pages which are generated automatically by the system to show off your your property listings and then there is the content pages. Most systems will allow you to edit and create new content pages yourself and this article is about you editing  your current pages to inject a bit more search engine friendliness into them.  In the next article we will discuss new pages or sections you can add to your site.

The content pages are the most likely to appear in the search engine and to generate you traffic. The property pages are generally filled automatically into a template and you will probably have very little control over them and they change regularly.

Improving your property pages is certainly an option but you will normally need to update  the template and that will generally be above the skill level of most agents and their staff. If you identify that your property pages could be improved as well you should speak with your website provider to update your templates.  Any changes to the template would automatically roll out to all property pages in one hit.

You should work through each of the existing pages on your website and refresh and  improve them one by one.

First Things First!

The first step you need to do is identify the keywords for each page.  From the keywords you identified in Article 3 select between 1 and 3 keywords that each of your existing content pages are about. On a very large site you might have individual pages targeting just one keyword but for now applying 2 or sometimes three related keywords on one page should give you the widest coverage with what you have as most agents have very few content pages on their website.

Make sure the keywords are related and best explain what the page is about. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough content pages to match up with all your keywords as in Article 4 we will discuss creating new pages for your website.

For a suburb profile  on the suburb of Nerang I might select the keywords “Nerang Real Estate” and “Nerang Property”.

Key Areas to Improve on Each Page

To improve the SEO on a particular page there are a few key areas we need to look at:-

  • Page Title
  • Meta Description
  • Meta Keywords
  • Body Content
  • Images
Page Title

seoThe single most important factor that will influence your SEO is the page title. By default some CMS systems that agents use will apply the same page title for every page.  This is a huge problem and something you need to sort out asap. The quickest way to check out all of your page titles at the moment is to use Google Search.

If you search using the site: operator you will see all the pages in Google’s index for that domain. So searching site:rwm.com.au shows us that every page is unique for the Richardson and Wrench Mosman site. As a side note if anybody had any doubts that Robert had 2000 pages on his site this search confirms that Google has a touch under 1900 of those pages indexed.

If all yours page titles are the same and if you find that you cannot change the page title you really need to consider moving or upgrading your web provider.

The page title is so powerful that no matter what you search, chances are that the majority of the pages returned on the first page will have the term you searched for in the page title. Your page title should then naturally feature the keyword or keywords you are targeting for that specific page.

The other things page title’s do is attract the persons attention on the search results page. A good page title will help get you higher on the page but a great page title will  better convey that you have what the searcher is looking for and provide a call to action and get them to click on your page over the others.

The biggest problem most people make is trying to target too many subjects on one page. This just saturates the page as far as the search engines are concerned and your theme on the page does not stand out amongst all the clutter. Keep each page focussed on just one subject. Obviously on the home page you should be targeting the name of your agency above all else with references to each suburb in your primary trade.

Using the same Nerang Suburb Profile example from above I would suggest something like :

Nerang Real Estate –  View Information on all Nerang Property

Notice how I did not use the name of the agency on that page title. That is optional and in most cases I would suggest you don’t do that on the majority of your pages. Even though the search engines will look at longer titles they will only show the first 70 characters on the search engines results page. Google also seem to only include the first 12 words of the title in the intitle: site operator. This means that you should use these two figures as your limit when crafting your page titles and if you want to put your company/agency name in the title then put it at the end.’

Nerang Real Estate –  View Information on all Nerang Property – First National Real Estate Nerang

Meta Description

The meta description is also very important but not as much as it use to be. Search engines use to rely very heavily on the meta description to work out what the page was about but webmasters worked out how to abuse this so its importance has been reduced in recent years. But one thing has remained unchanged and that is the meta description is generally, but not always, selected by search engines to display on the search engine results page as a snapshot of the content on the site.

This means that on top of having SEO value crafting a good meta description is important to entice visitors to click on your website.

Different search engines will display different number of characters but since Google is the smallest and is the major player then you should be guided by their 160 character limit.

The meta description should follow these rules

  • Contain your keywords
  • Inform the user what they will find on the page
  • Be unique

For our example a good description depending upon what you actually have on your suburb profile might be :

The Nerang suburb profile includes info on Nerang real estate including suburb details, demographics, property types and recent Nerang property prices achieved

Meta Keywords

Google-SEOMeta keywords use to be very important but they have lost most of their power.  Google in fact have openly declared they do not use them at any stage anymore but  since other search engines still potentially use them and it is very easy and quick to do with no downside at all it’s important to add them to each page.

This is really a simple matter of adding the keywords you have identified for that page plus I would also add in the reverse if they are valid so for our example this would be”

nerang real estate, nerang property, real estate nerang, property nerang

Body Content

The body content is just the content on what is on the page and that is really up to you but there should be a few rules you should follow.

  • Use your keywords naturally in the content. The days of stuffing keywords throughout the page is really gone. It may still effect some of the smaller search engines but the ones you want to target are not fooled by this anymore and if they consider you are spamming the page with your keywords you will probably get penalised for it.
  • Your page sections should be marked with Headings or a H tags.   Header tags come in different levels. If you look at this article the page title is a H1 heading tag, the section headings are H2 tags and the sub section headings are h3 tags.  Include your keywords as much as possible in the headings tags
  • Many search engines are believed to look at the readability of the content. I think it is more about the maths involved than if the actual words make sense.  Good easy to read content seems to follow a similar formula.  There are a few ways they do including looking at the number of paragraphs, the number of sentences per paragraph, the number of words per sentence. They also look at the complexity of the words you use.  When the search engines do this paragraphs containing masses of keywords are quickly identified as spam.  This means its important to  use good grammar and structure to your content and refrain from using complex words. Don’t make sentences or paragraphs too big or even too small. Make it easier to read for a visitor and that will make it easier to read for a search engine. You should really be able to tell just by looking at it but to test the readability of your pages you can use one of the many online tools like http://www.read-able.com/
  • You should bold keywords and other import information on the page at least once or twice when they appear in your page’s body content.  Bold works with the search engines just like it does to a reader and highlights important words as being particularly relevant. Don’t bold every instance you use your keywords or go overboard in anyway. It needs to look natural
Images

Images are something often overlooked by real estate agents. In general each page should contain at least one image. Pages with longer content should include even more.  Pages with images generally make it much easier for a visitor to read by breaking up all that text but additionally for a search engine they also add further context to the page’s content.

Rename the photos to the keywords for that page and upload them to the website and insert them on the page. You then need to set the alt text for each image on the page. The alt text describes the image and again you insert your keywords. Search engines use the name of the image files and the alt text when analysing just what your page content is about.

Other Factors You Need to Consider.

There are a range of other factors you need to consider when looking to optimise your pages. These include :

  • Bounce  and Satisfaction Rates
  • Page Load Time
  • Internal and External Links
Bounce and Satisfaction Rates

Google has recently advised that in order to gain more relevance on their results it will be placing more emphasis on bounce and/or satisfaction rates for each page.

A bounce rate is the percentage of all users who view only that page and then leave without viewing anything else on your site. The satisfaction rate approaches the issue from the opposite end of the spectrum but in a slightly different way. The satisfaction rate is the percentage of people who find the information they were actually searching for on the page they visited.  This means that satisfaction rate will indicate how many people clicked on your link and were satisfied with the results without having to return to return to Google and perform any further searches.

In essence what Google is saying is that the higher the bounce rate for a page, the less important it must be for that term and the higher the satisfaction rate the more relevant it is for that particular keyword.

This places a high importance on making sure your visitors arriving from search engines, or at least Google, do not return to the search engine and instead they look further into your site. Increasing your site’s “stickyness” in keeping visitors on the site longer and looking at more pages will be more important than ever. Make sure in the first paragraph of your text is inviting and explains exactly what the page is about. With Google at least everyone that leaves your site unsatisfied is a potential black mark and those that continue to browse and read through your site is a tick.

Page Load Time

Google has indicated recently that page load times will play a role in determining your ranking. Selecting a high quality web host and minimising your page load time will soon play a role in just where you rank in the search engine.  In re-designing the pages the biggest way you can minimise page load times is to make sure the images you use on each page are small and optimised for the web.

There are a lot of tools out there that can check your page load time but here is one http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/

Internal and External Links

You need to include links into your page body content that link to other pages on your site and to other external sites. Google uses these in there ranking plus they will make visitors burrow further increasing your satisfaction rates.  External links can be made to open in a new browser window meaning the visitor will not actually browse away from your site should they click on an external link. Using our example of  the Nerang suburb profile you might include a paragraph like this:

Nerang is very centrally located on the Gold Coast and is a popular choice for working couples and young families. Nerang real estate prices start from $220,000 for a 2 bedroom unit and $350,000 for a 3 bedroom house but quickly rise to well over $1 million for prestige executive residences and acreage properties outside of the residential area. Recognised as one of the most affordable suburbs on the Gold Coast but still within 15 minutes drive to the beaches, Nerang property is also very popular with First Home Buyers and local and out of town investors.

This content uses our keywords in the context of the page but we can also provide a range of internal and external links to the reader throughout the content such as

Nerang is very centrally located on the Gold Coast and is a popular choice for working couples and young families. Nerang real estate prices start from $220,000 for a 2 bedroom unit and $350,000 for a 3 bedroom house but quickly rise to well over $1 million for prestige executive residences and acreage properties outside of the residential area. Recognised as one of the most affordable suburbs on the Gold Coast but still within 15 minutes drive to the beaches, Nerang property is also very popular with First Home Buyers and local and out of town investors.

Peppering links to other pages on your own site and occasionally other external sites will improve your seo and will keep visitors on your site longer and enable them to engage better with your site. If you are worried about external links allowing visitors to leave your site then you easily have them open a new browser window so they dont actually navigate away from your site.

Overview

So as you work through updating your current content pages create yourself a checklist to make sure you look at every one of these factors

  • Page Title
  • Meta Description
  • Meta Keywords
  • Body Content
    • Keywords in Content
    • Header Tags
    • Readability
    • Bolding Keywords
  • Images
  • Bounce  and Satisfaction Rates
  • Page Load Time
  • Internal and External Links

If you ensure you look at and improve each of these factors on all your content pages then you are well on your way to improve your seo and getting more traffic.  If you have a quite a few pages to get through spread them out and dont try and do them all at once. Remember you only have to do that once and the benefit lasts for a very long time. Thats why SEO is one of the best investments you can do for your website.

Additional Reading

SEO Explained For Small Business Owners

SEO at Wikipedia

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

And lastly something that I have only just found myself and if you are just learning about SEO is the most important thing you will read on the subject because it is written by Google themselves

Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

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9 Comments

  • Nick
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 12:24 pm 0Likes

    I’d dispute the META tags.

    Not a single major search engine use them in their ranking algorithm *at all*.
    Dont put too much effort in to them because they will have no impact.

    Meta Descriptions are used only in one very specific instance: When the search engine cannot pick out a relevant snippet from your site.
    On pages with a few paragraphs of text, that should very rarely happen.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm 0Likes

    You certainly have a point with the Meta Keywords.. but Meta Descriptions are still important.

    Most SEO experts concur that Meta Keywords have very little importance anymore. It is still best practice to put them in for search engines that still use them, probably because it is so easy. All SEO plugins for the common CMS systems all provide for Meta Keywords.

    The only search engine that I know of that has publicly said that they do not use them is Google but if you know anything to support your “at all” comment please share. There is so much out there I could easily have missed it.

    Meta description still has some influence but as the article states, it is not as important as it use to be.

    To put in in perspective SEOMoz’s article on Ranking Factors which surveys SEO industry experts rates meta keywords at 5 out of 100 and meta descriptions at 19 out of 100. The highest keyword ranking factor was the title page still at only 66 out of 100.

    See. http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors#ranking-factors

    Meta Keywords and Meta Descriptions may not be as important as the title tag but they still have a part to play, albeit a very small one in the case of meta keywords and they are both reducing in importance every year.

    Thankfully the meta keywords are very easy to fill out. If it was difficult then I would not recommend people bother about it.. but to type in the one or two keywords into the box would take all of 30 seconds even for a two finger typist.

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 1:22 pm 0Likes

    Great post Glenn. SEO is one of the best marketing investments any agency can make in their business.

    I hope your article goes a long way to helping real estate agents get to work on their SEO & begin understanding what an important role SEO plays in their ongoing lead generation marketing.

    I can’t stress enough how important it is that customers find an agents’ website ( via SEO ).

    ‘If a customer can’t find you, they won’t do business with you.’

  • Rachael Lord
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 3:15 pm 0Likes

    Thank you so much Glenn!

    You are fantastic at putting IT tech stuff into plain-easy (enough) to understand language.

    Although I am not the website developer for Beach & Bay Realty I am always trying to keep abreast of the latest in SEO so I can monitor our online presence.

    From your previous articles I have been tracking out google keywords and ranking on pages every month and we have consistently risen.

    I have used your suggestions for hubspot and we have increased our ranking from 64 to 89 in a few months.

    Another great article!

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 3:51 pm 0Likes

    Great content Glenn, I always enjoy reading and refreshing my mind with such important information.

    Thanks

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 4:53 pm 0Likes

    Thanks guys.. The next article is going to be the fun one because we are going to try to get those agents who are following along to be proactive not reactive about SEO.

    I have just come across a fantastic SEO guide I never knew existed and it is actually brought out by Google themselves… so you can count on it having the right info. I will update the article in the Additional reading section a little later.. but here is the direct link http://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 4:54 pm 0Likes

    Congratulations Rachael..

    I am glad you are getting some great results as a score of 89 is fantastic. Most agencies I have seen struggle to get over 50 without applying some seo strategy so your score increase and your improved rankings prove you are doing something right.

    I guess the proof is in the pudding.. Hopefully your improvements over the rest of the series continue and your success inspires others to give a few things a go.

  • sue
    Posted December 3, 2009 at 2:24 pm 0Likes

    Thanks for the very helpful information about SEO. I enjoyed reading your article and I found it very interesting. Staying tuned for more.

  • Anne
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 6:57 pm 0Likes

    Nice info Glen …well done!
    I’m just a little concerned with this method
    ” Peppering links to other pages on your own site and occasionally other external sites will improve your seo”

    Personally I’ve had a mass of pages drop due to this.
    Just a note that people need to be carefull who you select to add in your links.
    If the wrong links are added it can do more damage then good.
    This is when ” nofollow” can be handy at times.

    Great info Glen

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