We get many of questions about providing SEO services. What we’ve found is this: the result that clients are actually looking for is being found when people search for either you or your target market.
Example 1. I meet you at an open house or I am referred to you by a friend. What’s the first thing I do? I Google ‘Your Name’ or ‘Your Name Realtor’ or ‘Your Name Real Estate’. I’m going to want to check you out online before I call you to get a read on your character and your competence.
Example 2. I don’t know you. I haven’t been referred by a friend to a local agent. I Google ‘My Favorite Neighborhood Real Estate’.
Two distinct problems—best served by moving beyond traditional SEO
Finding You is about making yourself findable by your name and occupation and can be addressed by making sure you have rich, complete social and local profiles. Discovering You based on your Target Market—keywords like ‘Edmonds real estate’—is more traditional SEO. However, it’s much easier to find success by focusing your effort on Local SEO results and reviews.
More on that in a bit. First, some context.
In the figure above, you’ll notice 3 distinct content areas in the search results:
- Paid Ads
Ads. Paid ads are complex to manage, expensive, and you are competing against large companies who have big budgets and sophisticated systems in place to out-bid you (automatically). Better to focus elsewhere.
Organic. This is traditional SEO. Popular keywords (known as ‘short-tail’ in SEO-speak) are generally dominated either by large companies with huge content creation budgets or by local competitors with a ton of local content. Note REALTOR.com and Zillow in the screenshot. You’ll also see local folks having great success who’ve been at it a while. EdmondsRealEstate.com is an example of a client of ours who has a great domain, lot’s of experience creating locally focused content and been building that SEO-equity for a very long time.
Our advice is that the best way to win traditional SEO right now is to actually focus instead on Local setup and content and reviews, and let the traditional take care of itself over time.
Local. This is where you can win right now against the big boys. Zillow, Trulia and REALTOR.com don’t have an office in Edmonds (nor does ZipRealty or Redfin). You do. And Google really wants to give the searcher what they are looking for. More often than not, that means the local business. Physical presence and local experience (reviews) is your competitive advantage here.
They key though, is the search result doesn’t happen automatically. You really need to be set up properly to be found. The good news is it’s a pretty straight-forward process.
Finding You—Social Profiles and Reviews
Getting back to our first example. What happens when someone searches for You. This is where social profiles and reviews can be extremely powerful.
In this example, I searched for Bob Wold, our client that works in Edmonds.
Yelp. Note the 5 stars in the example. That little icon is one of the most powerful things you can see in a search results. You need to both have a profile on Yelp and encourage your clients to review you there.
His site. This is good. If your own site doesn’t come up near the top when you search for yourself, something isn’t set up correctly. Beyond just making sure your contact info is prominent on the site, you want to take it one step further and embed the microdata that identifies this as your site and ties back to your profile on your Google Local page.
LinkedIn. If you have a profile here, make sure it’s complete and includes contact information that matches your site.
Company Profile Page. Same as above.
Trulia, Zillow, Active Rain. Complete your profiles on at least Zillow and Trulia. These are the two most trafficked real estate sites and having a complete profile with reviews is both good for business and sends even more positive signals to Google.
Target Marketing—Local SEO and Reviews (again)
Back to local. In the following example, we searched again, but this time pretend you don’t remember a specific agents name and instead search by company. Note how Bob shows up again:
This time Google recognizes the search as a local business and thus prominently includes it’s Local section. Again Bob’s Yelp page ranks high in the results with its review stars, but also notice the link to Google reviews under the office location. This is where you need a complete Google+ profile page and to encourage your clients to review you on Google+.
Those are the key elements to get beyond traditional SEO and make sure you can be found by name, company and your target market. Most of this is about one-time setup of your profiles and a tweak or two to your site.
Given the effort it takes to rank for organic keywords vs making sure people who already are looking for you and your target market find you, our strong advice is to first take care of the high-return: Local and Social profiles.