On Page SEO For Real Estate Websites

Morgan Carey posted this - 3,906 Views

What is On page Optimization And why is it important? This article provides a basic guide to implementation of proper on page optimization. With a great foundation including proper SEO your website pages you can generate significant organic traffic which of course generates more leads and more closings! 

Start with headers 

Header & Support Information:

Page Title: Widely regarded as your most important onpage element. Your title should focus on two things - your main keyword phrases ("main" also meaning most competitive) and click through rate.

(Suggested implementation) - Your page title should "end" before the 60 character mark wherever possible (this is to avoid turning a condominium into a condom or an associate broker into an ass). It appears that Google has fixed this rather humorous SERP display bug by truncating to the previous space "before" the word over the character limit as opposed to cutting it off, however other search engines have not necessarily implemented the same fix. Having a short, succinct title that is also "compelling" should be your goal anyway, so the character limitations should not present a problem. 
*Note: As with all things discussed here, do NOT try to force as many keyword phrases as you can into an element - it makes you look unprofessional, and is not necessary.

Meta Description: The meta description may or may not be used in consideration for final SERP position in today's major search engines, however it is still very important as it is used in most cases as the page summary presented to the user in the search results. An effective and compelling meta description can increase how often a search engine user clicks on your search result, rather than clicking on a competitor displayed nearby in the search results. (This is CTR - "click through rate")

(Suggested implementation) - Your meta description should fit within 154 characters (including spaces) so that none of your writeup is truncated when presented in search results.

Meta Keywords: Not used by Google in recent years for calculating rankings. The benefits in other search engines of this tag are also debatable, however it doesn't take very long to fill in the field, so you can't do much harm by including these.

(Suggested implementation) - Provide a list of the 3-5 (max) keyword phrases that are most important to the page you are applying them to. These phrases should be separated by spaces and followed by a comma, e.g., "keyword phrase 1, keyword phrase 2, keyword phrase 3" - Note - no comma is required following the final keyword phrase.

Filename / Alias: The filename is the name of the page that will be requested in the address bar after your domain. For instance, yourdomain.com/file-name.php

(Suggested implementation) - Filenames should be descriptive of the page content. If planned correctly, this may also result in a keyword-rich filename. For instance, if you're planning to write a page about real estate in New York, your filename would logically be /new-york-real-estate.php (the .php extension is added for you in the REW system). 
*Note that I have not used capital letters in the filename. This is to allow for consistent file naming throughout, which will benefit your visitors. Also note that I have used "hyphens" (the dash to the right of the zero on a standard keyboard) to represent natural spaces in the phrase. This is the prescribed method for representing a space in a phrase to a search engine.

Anchor Text: This is the text that will be created for the link/button that links to your page. (It will show in the (top or side) navigation automatically, when you create a new page in the Real Estate Webmasters CMS.) Anchor text (or "the button name") is important as it gives the users information about what they should encounter once that button or link is clicked. When a user encounters a button that reads "MLS Search", they will intuitively expect to find an application on the destination page that allows them to search for MLS listings.

The page itself - start by getting really good at "area pages"

Full credit to our production manager for this awesome writeup on creating effective area pages

What's an "Area Page"?

This is a term we use loosely to refer to a page that describes a relevant, name-able real estate market that is worked by the agency that runs the website. Sometimes it describes a certain property type ("Phoenix condos"), and sometimes it has a broader scope ("Tempe real estate").

Such a page will need to have the following characteristics:

  • It must be optimized, to attract relevant traffic (people Googling "phoenix condos")
  • It must have relevant listings (or a visible link to them), to elicit registration
  • It must have as much quality text as possible, to build a user's confidence and to keep them on the site, and to house the optimized elements

Having Listings on the Page

For the page to have listings that are relevant to the content (Phoenix condos, or listings exclusive to a neighbourhood of Tempe, for example), usually requires a custom IDX solution. (Many agents' sites merely have an iframed search form, so the user has to fill out a search in order to see listings relevant to the page — and they may still fail to find them.)

At REW, we create "listings snippets" that show whatever category of properties is relevant to the page. If a prospective lead searches in Google for "Phoenix condos" and is brought to our Phoenix condos page, we want to show them Phoenix condos, right away!

If you have a custom IDX solution on your website, you should be able to request listings snippets (with REW IDX version 3, you can easily create these snippets yourself).

Note: If (god forbid!) you only have an iframed solution of some third-party search form, then you can still apply the principles described on this page. In place of the listings snippet, you would create a compelling, visually-separated call to action (see below) that links to your search form.

How to Organize the Page

You may have seen REW's standard area pages already. They have a heading at the top, followed by a small paragraph of text (which also contains a special link), then the listings, and finally a larger chunk of text below - and usually there are calls-to-action in one or two places on the page. To summarize: there is only a small amount of descriptive text at the top, followed by listings, and then the bulk of the text. I'm going to discuss the rationale for this organization, and will provide a bit of technical assistance so you can create your own area pages in the same way we do it.

The rationale goes like this:

  • The users who are "readers" need to be aware that there is textual information available on your page.
  • The users who are "shoppers" are more fickle; they want to see properties NOW and they will leave your page if they don't see them right away.

We need to accommodate both kinds of users. The listings snippet must be visible to the shoppers without their having to "scroll" down the page. Fortunately, the readers will usually be satisfied with a small bit of text, as long as it directs them to a larger bit. The small paragraph "directs" them to the larger amount of text via a "Read More" link, which is just a link that scrolls down the page for them (a "same-page" link — see below).

Creating the "Read More" Link

This requires a little bit of work with the page's HTML (click on the "html" button in your REW CMS's page editor), but it should be easy to follow these directions:

Let's say you wanted this layout:

Phoenix Condos

Having a condo in Phoenix is the ultimate in sunny urban living. People appreciate the ability to live within minutes of every basic amenity, while retaining the ability to hop on the monorail and access the desert within 15 minutes. Read more about Phoenix condos.

(THEN
A
BUNCH
OF
PROPERTY
LISTINGS
)

More About Phoenix Condos 

There is so much to know about buying a condo in Phoenix, that it's hard to put all the information on this single page. But if we can focus first on the ....

 

Here's the HTML that would produce the example above. I've made the pieces of the "same-page" link bold:

 

Phoenix Condos

 

Having a condo in Phoenix is the ultimate in sunny urban living. People appreciate the ability to live within minutes of every basic amenity, while retaining the ability to hop on the monorail and access the desert within 15 minutes. Read more about Phoenix condos.

 

#listings-snippet#

 

More About Phoenix Condos

 

There is so much to know about buying a condo in Phoenix, that it's hard to put all the information on this single page. But if we can focus first of all on the ....

 

As you can see, the paragraph we're linking to is signified by the "id" attribute. We've named it "read-more". With that done, we can easily link to this exact spot from anywhere. Since we're linking to it from the same page, we only need to put the following into our link: Just a "#" (means "this page") and the id we gave it ("read-more").

So our link to "#read-more" means "link to the spot named 'read-more' on this page".

Note that you can put an ID on any HTML tag, allowing you to link to that exact spot:

  • Headings: 
  • Images:
  • Bulleted lists:
    1. Divs:
       

    If you ever want to link to an ID from another page, you just link to the page with the ID as per normal, but you append "#id-name" to the end of the link. For example, you would link to "http://www.yourdomain.com/phoenix-condos.php#read-more

    Ok so now you have instructions, but what about a little more on the SEO side of things? Any tips on setting these up for SEO?

    Here is a sample template (feel free to use it but remember this is just to get your pages setup faster; you need unique content and should be replacing "area real estate", etc., with whatever keywords your research has shown to produce the largest volume.):

    Title: Area real estate: Area State homes for sale & MLS Listings

    Meta Description: View all Area, State homes for sale and read about Area schools, amenities and other important information to consider when purchasing Area real estate.

    Filename: either area-real-estate or area (note here I do not capitalize as I prefer to not force my users to try to remember what pages were caps, and which weren't) - caps in a single word of a filename also look very strange to a user.

    Anchor text: Area real estate (for looks, you could add caps to all, but at least ensure you have done it for Area.

    Use writeup above for page text setup.

    Page structure - how to use category / sub category navigation:

    In the REW content management system you have the ability to create category / sub category navigation elements. Basically this is in place to allow you to organize your content in a logical manner (avoiding very long main navigation) but also has an SEO benefit: it allows you to channel pagerank / authority through your site and to ensure the most important / competitive pages get larger shares of pagerank while the less competitive pages (which require less pagerank to rank) end up taking away only what they need.

    An example of this can be seen at http://www.jimolenbush.com. As you will see in the sidebar navigation, there are several cities listed as "main pages" (which means they show in the main navigation) and then if you click on one (e.g., Lake Travis http://www.jimolenbush.com/laketravis.htm) you will be presented with "sub pages" (those that belong in the sub categories). I will click on Costa Bella for example: http://www.jimolenbush.com/costa-bella.htm

    Why is Lake Travis more competitive than Costa Bella? - Lake Travis is a city and Costa Bella is a sub region of that city - it is natural that with fewer properties, a smaller population and a smaller search volume, that Costa Bella is less competitive.

    What if a subdivision is actually more popular OR it is so important for me to rank that I want to give it top level juice without disrupting the flow of my main navigation? There are lots of ways to do this - typically we will have elements such as "featured areas callouts" and "web 2.0 footers", which allow for homepage or sitewide distribution of links that are important but don't fit into your logical structures. Check the footer at http://www.jimsparrow.com/ - for example, "Elbow Valley Estates".


    Comments

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    Gary Ashton

    Whats the optimal # of listings that should be displayed..6,9,12 etc or does it really matter?

    G :)

    Morgan Carey

    From an SEO perspective, it does not matter.

    Rew Ayaka

    I like 6 (personal preference) as it encourages a greater CTR.

    Gary Ashton

    what about time on site? 9,12 would hopefully keep em engaged a little longer :)

    Rich Neste

    if your domain has real estate in it, should your city page names also have real estate in it as well?

    Morgan Carey

    Gary while we want to encourage time on site, we want to make sure it's for the right reasons - sometimes your site provides a better user experience and can help a user get what they want "faster" which would mean the overall time on site would be less, but a happier repeat user. Keep an eye on it, (it is a valuable metric) but can't stand alone as a measure of quality.

    Morgan Carey

    Rich, if you mean /area-real-estate.php - I prefer not to. I think it's cleaner without it /area.php
    I'm not a fan of "stuffing" keywords anywhere and everywhere. Filenames should be descriptive and consistent.

    Share your thoughts…