Today, we are featuring a guest post from Brad Shorr, Director of Content Strategy at Straight North!
Maintaining a blog is quite an undertaking. For a real estate blog to be effective, fresh content has to be posted regularly, high-quality interior and exterior property photos need to be taken, and a variety of marketing efforts must be made to build blog subscribers and generate leads.
If you plan to go through all of this, you should also do everything you can to maximize your blog’s SEO. A well-optimized blog helps get your blog content in front of people when they are in the market for commercial or residential property — and using Google to locate properties or find an agent.
When it comes to SEO, and local SEO in particular, there are 1,001 tactics and techniques that can be used to improve a blog’s organic search engine rankings. Since few realtors have a five-figure SEO budget to do it all, prioritizing SEO efforts is job number one. Here are the most important things you can do to turn your real estate blog into a strong SEO performer.
- Do keyword research. It could be worth investing a few hundred dollars in professional keyword research — you must have keywords that people commonly use when searching for what you sell. In addition, your targeted keywords have to be ones for which you can rank; some keywords are just too competitive and a waste of time to go after. A professional SEO knows all the factors that go into the decisions.
For realtors, using a blog for long-tail keywords is a very promising strategy. Big companies are likely to utterly dominate rankings for general real estate keywords — however, if you focus on more specialized keywords, such as “how can I get a mortgage with no down payment”, you stand a better chance of getting a decent ranking.
- Create blog posts dedicated to one to three target keywords. Trying to incorporate too many keywords will probably confuse the bots that Google sends to your blog to figure out what your post is about. And, of course, at the other end of the spectrum, failing to incorporate any keywords wastes an opportunity.
- Optimize the blog post’s title tag. A title tag is meta data seen by Googlebots, but not necessarily human readers. The title tag is VERY important and should include the main keyword for the post, preferably at the beginning of the title.
- Install an SEO plugin. To optimize title tags and execute other types of SEO work (such as adding a meta description to a post), you may need to install an SEO plugin on your CMS. Here is an informative resource for researching WordPress SEO plugins. Most other CMS packages have good options.
- Get other websites to link to your blog. So far, the items we’ve looked at are all on-site SEO issues. Off-site SEO issues are also important, and THE biggest one is getting high-quality, relevant links back to your website. Google places a lot of emphasis on backlinks in its ranking algorithm — if your blog has more and better backlinks than competitor blogs, you’ll gain a big advantage. Chambers of commerce and other local business organization websites are great candidates. Also, you may be able to write a guest article on a local business site that includes a link back to your blog.
- Optimize your images. People looking for real estate are likely to search using Google Images — take advantage of this opportunity by optimizing your photos with relevant keywords. Here’s how to do it.
- Make your blog mobile-friendly. Most CMS platforms have responsive templates that adjust automatically for optimum viewing on mobile devices and desktops. Google places enormous emphasis on this, and many of your visitors may be accessing your blog on a mobile phone — you can’t afford to disappoint them (or Google!).
- Use local SEO best practices for your blog page templates. Of prime importance is making sure your company name, physical business address and local phone number are on every page of your blog. (This seems obvious, but a lot of bloggers miss it.) If you’d like to learn more about this and other local SEO ranking factors, read this article.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC and web design for small and midsize firms.