SEO for real estate: a guide to optimizing your pages
We’ve all heard the old adage, “Content is King.” But how your content is structured on each page is just as important as the content itself. Internet users are a fickle breed, so you want to make sure you present the most important, interesting and valuable content prominently, at the top of the page.
In terms of a page that is highly optimized for search engines, there are specific places you should make sure you feature your main targeted keywords. This is, of course, an important step in ensuring that search engine crawlers understand the intent of your page, but it also helps orient human users as well.
The meta information is the content that will be displayed at the top of your web page browser window and in the search results themselves. The page title is among the most important places to prominently feature your main targeted keyword.
The title tag is the main title that appears as a blue link in search results and its total character count is extremely important. Google has some pretty specific guidelines for the number of characters they will display in their search results. The title tag should be no longer than 55 characters.
The meta description is the short description of your web page that appears just under the page title and page URL. The meta description should be a maximum of 320 characters. The meta description doesn’t provide any SEO value in and of itself, but it’s often your first chance to persuade users to click through to your page.
- The title tag is among the most important ranking signals
- Title tag should prominently feature your top 2 or 3 keywords
- The meta description carries no inherent SEO value
- Meta description acts as first & best chance to convince users to click through
- Both meta descriptions & title tags should be written primarily for human users & easily understandable
As I’ve said before, web users are notoriously fickle. It’s essential that all content be concise, to the point and written at a level that can be easily understood. It also helps to organize content into digestible chunks, under headings that accurately reflect the subject matter of the paragraph that follows. Shorter paragraphs also translate better for those accessing your content through phones or tablets.
Headings are also a great place to feature some of the primary keywords you’re targeting on the page. Again, you want to keep the user in mind and ensure the headings are related to the content that follows, and not just stuffed with unnecessary keywords.
Page relevance is something to think about too. By including terms that are closely related to the subject of the page and terms you’re trying to rank for, you help search engine crawlers understand your page’s intent. For example, if your main targeted keyword is “Nanaimo real estate”, it helps to have several terms closely related to the sale of real estate, such as “home buyer”, “neighborhood”, “community”, “sell”, etc.
- Keep your listings snippets near the top of your community pages, so they're visible as the page loads.
- Keep the text above the listings snippet brief, and try to cover your most important points.
- You can include more content, but create a CTA with a jump link to more content below the snippet.
- Listings set to thumbnail view tend to convert better than list view, as more properties are visible at a glance.
A Few Words About Keywords
There was a time when ranking in search engine results was all about keywords. The meta keywords field is a now-defunct section that once could be used by content creators to highlight the main keywords featured on a page. Naturally, this section was abused and stuffed with every conceivable iteration of the terms webmasters wanted to rank for, so this section now holds no value whatsoever as a ranking signal
Now, keywords are still important, but Google’s Penguin algorithm has made it essential to use them naturally and sparingly throughout your content. Again, the mantra of creating content first for users and then search engines second should be at the forefront of your thought process. “Keyword stuffing” is when the keywords featured disrupt the readability of your content. Aside from looking quite “spammy” and unprofessional, it can also result in a penalty from Google, lowering the rank of that page in search results.
The title tag and main headings are essential places to feature keywords naturally, as is the content itself. But don’t overdo it. One mention of a complete keyword phrase is plenty per paragraph, e.g. “Nanaimo Real Estate.” You can also feature keyword fragments (your main keywords broken up) throughout the text, in order to reinforce and support the intention of the page.
Anchor Text Best Practices:
Anchor text is the clickable text that is displayed as part of a link. This text can be an important place to feature important keywords, but it’s a best practice to create anchor text content that is as descriptive as possible.
Non-Descriptive Anchor Text:
- "click here" or "read more", anchor text that doesn't describe what's being linked to
- Targeted keywords alone, i.e. "Nanaimo Real Estate or "Downtown Nanaimo Condos"
Descriptive Anchor Text:
- Try to incorporate keywords into a longer, more descriptive phrase
- A phrase should be readable independently of surrounding text, and provide a good indication of the content behind the link.
- i.e. "learn more about what makes Downtown Nanaimo condos so convenient"
Summing it all up
Your web page content is your primary tool for converting users into viable leads, and providing valuable information to them about buying or selling real estate. It’s also your best chance to set yourself apart from the competition and position yourself as a leader and expert in your field.
Creating great content should always be the primary goal, but structuring it well can help search engine crawlers better categorize your content, helping you reach a larger audience.