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Getting Started with SEO: 3 Questions to Ask

October 29 2013

seo magnetMeta tags, backlinks, keywords, friendly URLs. With terms like these, it's no wonder newcomers can be intimidated by Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Thankfully, making your website SEO friendly is a lot easier than it sounds.

Not sure where to begin? Ask yourself these three easy questions to start improving your search engine rankings.

1. What are consumers in my area searching for?

Before you can optimize your site for search engines, you have to know what real estate consumers are looking for. Studies show that the most frequent search terms are "[City name] homes for sale" and "[City name] real estate" and, on a listing level, the property address (123 Main St, for example).

This can vary, though. Maybe people in your area prefer to add a state abbreviation to their search--e.g., Boston MA real estate. By using the Google Keywords Tool, you can find out exactly what terms are being used. Just type "[City] real estate" in the Word or Phrase box and Google will show you how often that term and related ones are being searched for.

2. Have I told Google that I want to rank for these terms?

Now that you know what potential customers are searching for, you need to let Google know that you want to be found with those terms. You can do this by including those terms in your site's meta tags, page titles, and URLs. Within the body of each page, make sure those terms appear in headers, relevant links, and in the content itself.

But be aware--a page can only rank for two terms at a time. Attempting to optimize your pages beyond that will only diffuse your efforts. If you sell homes in multiple areas, simply create pages for each. Put links to all of your listings for, say, Brooklyn on one page and all your links for Queens listings on another. This keeps things simple for searchers and search engines!

Just as you don't want to lump multiple cities together on one page, be sure to give each of your listings their own page, too. Better yet, set up single property websites for each listing to maximize SEO benefits. (See our coverage of this topic to learn more.)

3. Have others told Google that I want to rank for these terms?

Call them skeptical, but just because you've told Google that you should rank high for your chosen keywords doesn't mean that the search engine will listen. To make Google a believer in your site's worthiness, other sites need to tell them that you're worthwhile.

They do this by linking to you. When you get quality, well-trafficked sites linking back to yours, Google takes notice. This is actually the most important step--if others don't link to you, steps 1 and 2 won't matter a bit!

The best strategy is to create good content. Make your site super easy to share with social media buttons and calls to action. Google loves when others talk about your site on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Encourage your seller to share their home's listing page or single property websites with their networks.