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Good SEO Guidelines – Don’t Make Search Engines Mad

Search engines have guidelines in place to prevent the unfair manipulation of search engine rankings. These guidelines, or algorithms, are modified on an ongoing basis by the search engines as new deceptive practices are discovered (and as they find better ways to rank websites for users). If undesirable tactics are used on a website, it can actually result in being dropped from the rankings of a search engine…or certainly lowered in rankings.

If your site is banned or dropped from the search engine rankings, it can certainly have a negative impact on your website traffic, online sales generation and site popularity.

Read this article if you would like tips in avoiding making the search engines unhappy with your website.

[Note: Most of these points are big time baddies…a couple reflect just good practice to avoid…unless there is a good reason to do otherwise.]

Factors That Influence Ranking Well On Search Engines

I know we all would like to be in the top 10 when it comes to ranking well in the search engines. It takes time, knowledge, tweaking and patience. It can actually be a full time job…and top SEO professionals can make a LOT of money helping you get there.

Tapping the services of a full time, experienced SEO firm would be ideal, but for many of us in small business, this may not be an affordable option. So, if you don’t have a lot of time to learn and devote to the search engine optimization (SEO) of your site…and you don’t want to spend a lot of money…what do you do?

Visit this article that reviews many of the  factors influencing how well you rank on the search engines. A nice simple article on the main things you can do to help your site do better.

You can also contact GraphicalData for affordable assistance in “staging your website” for the search engines. We provide proven optimization and submission for GraphicalData websites to the primary search engines.

Top 10 SEO Mistakes That Are Easy To Make

In my last post regarding ranking well in the search engines, I provided a link to an article about “Top 10 SEO Factors”. This post is a follow-up article in regards to what can provide barriers to search engine spiders or robots trying to crawl your website.

Visit this article to find a brief look at the top 10 mistakes made by website designers or those endeavoring to optimize a site for the search engines…and how to correct them.

Ranking Well In The Search Engines

There are many factors to consider in ranking well with the search engines. And, as luck would have it, each search engine has its own recipe (or algorithm) for the criteria that they apply to this end.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) “sets the stage” for the engines. Optimizing a website is sort of like staging a home for buyers, except in this case, you are staging for the search engine ‘bots. If you have good content (which is very important) it still needs to abide by other factors that search engines build into their formulas for ranking websites.

Visit this short article on some of the factors that can help put you in good standing with the search engines.

If you would like GraphicalData to assist you with SEO on your GraphicalData website, please feel free to contact us at seo@graphicaldata.com

Driving More Traffic to Your Website

Part 2 on driving off-line traffic to your website.

On my last post we reviewed what Direct Navigation was, and how it could be implemented and integrated into our marketing to increase the traffic to your website.

This post I would like to revisit the Direct Navigation concept and look at a few more zingers or slight variations on the previous examples. As you can see they are only limited by your imagination. You should review your strengths, what you are offering on your web site, and your marketplace…then promote with the appropriate “zingers” that would entice folks to visit your website.

  • Visit My NEW Website
  • View This Weekend’s Open Houses
  • Subscribe to Neighborhood Reports for Statistics and Trends (not available all areas)
  • Search All Area Homes for Sale Anytime
  • To Visit Every Listing, Visit YourDomainName.com
  • Request a FREE Relocation Package (if you provide one)
  • View My Online Real Estate Newsletter (if you provide one)
  • Request your FREE School Report [or] Free Neighborhood Report
  • View Properties utilizing Google’s Earth Mapping Technology

I have had agents tell me that upon mailing out postcards promoting their websites (spheres and farms), when reviewing their stats, they saw substantial increases in traffic.

Whether using postcards, magazines (ie Homes and Land) or whatever, you will have an impact on the traffic to your site. And like anything we do in real estate, it is numbers and timing. The more we send, the greater the return.

Don’t be afraid to promote your website. Do have good quality content when your visitors stop by.

Drive Traffic to Your Website

Did you know that “Direct Navigation” can often account for as much traffic to your website as do search engines…perhaps even more?

“Direct Navigation” can happen when someone types in your domain name, or URL directly into the address bar of their browser. This also  can include links from emails and bookmarks.

What might some of these marketing solutions be? Business cards, direct mail, magazine ads, newspapers, signage, etc.

For example, in Homes and Land…or newspaper advertising, you could continue to show 2 or 3 listings or whatever, but would devote the thrust of your message as to why they should visit your website with 2 or 3 zingers…maybe even only one if it is a biggie.

And another idea…send out those postcards. You could display an image of your website on the card, and then list a zinger or two as to why the recipient should visit your website. Agents that have done this  say they could see the increased traffic to their websites via their stats.

You can probably reduce the size of your advertisement one notch!

Here is a list of zingers that you can place in your advertising.

  • NEW! Search homes by neighborhood!
  • See Photos of your favorite listings!
  • View all MLS listings from all real estate companies.
  • See what homes sold for in your neighborhood.
  • Estimate what your home is worth.
  • Save your favorite listings for future viewing.
  • Save your search for future viewing
  • Find information on schools, and neighborhoods.
  • Receive the latest email notification of new listings matching your search criteria.
  • Send listings of interest to family and friends by email.
  • View Buyer and Sellers tips.
  • Calculate how much home you can afford.
  • Calculate your mortgage payments.

Integrate your marketing strategies…offline marketing and online marketing…then watch your traffic grow!

Offline Website Promotion

If you would like more traffic to your website, it takes more than just launching a website, “and they will come”…

It actually takes a bit of work. I would like to share some of the ways you can drive more traffic to your site. A few may seem obvious and easy, while others are less obvious and may take a moment of your time. But, all will benefit you in the promotion of your website.

a). Make sure that your domain name has been added to the online office agent roster;

b). Include your domain name (and email) on your business cards, brochures, flyers and any other promotional materials that you might produce;

c). Ensure you have incorporated these same items into your email signature and any email-driven newsletters that you might send out;

d). Do you advertise in Homes and Land, the local newspaper, or other types of printed medium…then be sure and include your website domain name here as well;

e). Whenever there is a newsworthy event, submit it to the local newspapers for inclusion. Often it will get printed…especially if it is community-worthy. Don’t forget to include your domain name!

f). Write articles for online newsletters and the like. Show yourself as an authority. Be sure and include your domain name. You can submit to various online entities such as ezinearticles.com and isnare.com;

The ways to promote your site are limited only by your imagination. Just remember, by driving folks to your website will give them most of the information they need. All listings…schools…communities…area links…even what nearby homes have sold for and differing types of featured listings that you might have on your site. And a way to contact you!

Include that domain name on everything!

Meta Tags Can Help Achieve Better Rankings on Search Engines

A few years back, many search engines devalued the use of certain meta-tags in determining rankings, so not all search engines place as much emphasis on all the tags in your <HEAD> section as they once did. Rather, they will just pull from the first text they find on your site page, and display them in their results. This may give less than an ideal description of what your sites are all about. You have probably seen a few weird descriptions in the search engine results page (SERP) and wondered why…well that’s why.

For search engines that do give attention to the tags, these tags should be optimized as best you can for your nitche and marketplace. The <Title> tag still is very important. It should not be overly long and should incorporate the most important keyword phrase that represents your business. Most search engines will use this title tag for ranking your site and it is also the title that is displayed on the search engine results page. Use 4 to 12 keywords here (Seattle Real Estate – homes – condominiums – relocation).

Let’s spend a moment looking at your <Meta Description> tag. Usually, most search engines use the Description tag to describe what your site is about when the results are shown on the search engine results page. The length they pull from your meta tags can vary anywhere from 15 words to 30 words or so. Some engines use only the first 15ish words, so you should build a really good 12-15 word phrase that will keep them happy. Other engines can use up to 30ish words in their site description. I would add an additional 10-15 words that expands and enhances the first 15 words. Then, depending on which engine visits your site, the 15 word description makes sense, as does the 25-30 word description.

What am I saying…to clarify, I have a 25-30 word description that if cut at the 15 word mark makes sense to the visitors, as does a full 25-30 description. If you don’t plan it this way, you can have a description on the SERP page that seems to be cut off in mid-sentence and not make much sense. Google searchers may also see the first 15 words (or less…and not always).

The <Meta Keyword> tag has really fallen on hard times mostly due to people cramming keywords in that were considered spam, so most engines give very little attention to this tag.

GraphicalData web site users can tweak all three of these tags on any of their web site pages from the appropriate editing sections provided. And what is cool is that the title and the description is then automatically pulled and inserted into the site map that is generated and linked into your site. So, double important to tweak your tags.

[Note: When modifying your tags, you need to give ample time between modifications for the search engines to re-crawl your site and re-rank your position for any given search term. And hear this…pretty much anything you do here, if the content on your page is not of high quality, original content, then all this is very nearly in vain…Get your “House” in order first]

Statistics & Analytics For Your Website

Looking for analytics to track data on your website?

All that a GraphicalData website user needs to do is create an account in Google,  sign up for Google Analytics and paste a snippet of code into an appropriate field in your admin center.

This is very easy to do…just go to http://www.google.com/analytics/ and if you already have a Google account for some reason, just use it. If not just follow the steps for creating an account and you are on your way.

Once you have created an account, you can then sign up for Google Analytics. Just a few more steps…and you will be done!

Once signed up a small snippet of code wil be displayed. You will need to copy the account number within this script of code and insert it into the appropriate place in your admin center…which will activate it.

[NOTE: GraphicalData has provided a manual to walk you through this whole process. Go into your admin center>website>website statistics>Google Analytics. Also take note of the field where you will paste in your Google Analytics account number. Then click the “Update Analytics” button and you are good to go.]

After this process is completed, you will be able to log into your Google Analytics account from any Web browser and see up-to-the-minute real time statistics on everything you could ever want to know about your site visitors and their behavior. All kinds of charts and graphs and information.

This powerful Web-based statistics package was once a stand alone product and cost $100’s/month before Google bought it awhile back, and now makes it available to anyone for free.

Website statistics are highly useful if you have the ability to a) understand what they are saying about your site’s ability or lack of ability to convert visitors to clients, and b) they can be used to help create a strategic plan of action.

Website Optimization 101

This post contains tips for optimizing the content on your pages for the search engines.

The search engines (Google especially) like enough content to sink their teeth into so that when they receive a search query from from a visitor, they feel “confident” in serving up their results. If you have not provided good, quality content, then they will feel less “confident” and you will not be ranked near the top of the results. So, first criteria…good content on your page.

REMEMBER THIS…if you have the right content on your page…telling your visitors what your site is all about and what they are going to find within your website, then most everything will take care of itself. What too many site owners try to do is use popular keywords or keyword phrases lots of times, create content that is redundant and not in proper context and expect their site to show well. Just be honest…provide good content…use keywords wisely throughout your site, and you’ll be surprised at how well your site will rise to the top…albeit slowly. WHY? The search engines want to serve up honest content…good content…relevant content. So, why not give it to them and benefit from it???

I like to make a larger, bold header at the top of the page which should contain the most important keyword phrase (and what the site is really all about), preferably in an H1 tag format.

I then like to follow up with a secondary, slightly less sized sub header emphasizing the rest of your website’s objective. For example “Bremerton Real Estate” in large text, followed up with “Also Focusing on Port Orchard, Silverdale and neighboring communities in Kitsap County”.

The rest of my content, including a photo or the like would then continue down the body of the page.

Now, tweaking that content a bit. Search engines perceive that top of the page “real estate” is more important than the bottom. They perceive “large sizes” of text as more important than small. They give more credit to emphasized text (bold for example) than not emphasized. So, it would benefit a website in rankings if one endeavors to meet these criteria.

My next post will include insight on working with “behind the page” criteria.