5 Essential SEO Techniques to Boost Your Search Ranking
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has come into its own as a digital marketing channel in recent years, evolving into a more sophisticated discipline as each year passes. However, SEO doesn't have to remain the exclusive domain of IT geeks.
In fact, with Google's ongoing updates to the way in which it ranks searches, there is a growing trend towards SEO techniques that allow less tech-savvy marketers to explore its potential. Here we focus on 5 SEO techniques we feel are essential to incorporate into your strategy that will enhance and improve your marketing ROI.
Before you do anything else - What are your SEO objectives?
It's important to establish an accurate picture of the demographic of visitors you want to attract to your site. As an estate agent, you'll know the answers to the following questions but have you ever used the information to formulate your SEO strategy?
- Is your community particularly attractive to families? Is it well-served with schools and if so, what age-ranges are best-catered for? Perhaps there's a university within close proximity and you list student accommodation for investment and rental?
- What commercial sectors make up your local economy? Is there a commutable business or industrial district? Is your community predominantly industrial or white-collar workers?
- What proportion of your area's housing is made up of local government or housing association homes and where are they located? Are there particularly good investment opportunities for BTL in these areas?
- Is your area set for property price growth? Perhaps in line with population growth and improving local affluence? Are you located in an area that could appeal to those seeking to move away from London to reduce their cost of living?
- What age demographic is best-catered for where your estate agency operates? Perhaps there's a vibrant nightlife or your area is better-known as a retirement location?
If you filter all this information, you can develop your target areas and then you set about boosting your SEO performance more effectively by creating content that appeals directly to the kind of people actively looking to buy or sell homes in your local area or an area that offers similar lifestyle choices.
Don't forget to consider how you're promoting your estate agency
It's one thing getting your name out there on the World Wide Web, but quite another making sure it's the name you want to get! Good SEO attracts maximum traffic to your website but better SEO attracts the kind of visitors more likely to do business with you – even if that means fewer, high quality visits! That's something that's entirely in your hands and if you employ the following five techniques after carefully considering your target audience, you'll be on your way to success!
1. Map Strategy to Audience & Competitive Insights
Over the years, SEO has become much more sophisticated. It's not a case of blitzing your content with as many pre-defined keywords and expressions you can squeeze in – in fact that is more likely to work against you. These days you need to have a really good understanding of keyword intent and customise your marketing strategy to match your intention.
Keyword data is no longer available in Google Analytics, marking the general progression of SEO as a discipline that is starting to merge more traditional marketing concepts into SEO, creating a new way of segmenting audiences. Now, it's important to merge quantitative data around your local property market and the topics driving search demand to give insights as to who you are and what kind of information is useful to them if they are buying or selling a home, remembering to keep your content specific to your target audience.
Additionally, you need to get a good understanding of what your competition is doing with their SEO efforts, particularly if they are attempting to draw from the same demand pool as your estate agency. This can help you in the following ways:
- To identify new ways to tackle adjacent markets.
- Discover new keywords to incorporate into your SEO.
- Understand what types of content perform the best.
- See where your competition is doing well and where there's room for you to do better. You can get some excellent – and free – tools to help you size up the competition from Moz or Open Site Explorer, among others.
2. Align your Content to you SEO Strategy
Getting traffic to your website is the easy part, getting that traffic to engage and take action takes a little more consideration. Your SEO efforts are only really as good as the experience you create for your target audience. That's the principal reason great SEO needs to work in tandem with great content. If you've taken the time to explore your objectives as outlined above, you have a good foundation for content and SEO alignment that's focused on the user.
Although a good approach to SEO is to start with strategic content and apply SEO best practices to help maximise its value and visibility online, Google algorithms like Panda suggest that user experience and quality are what you should be striving for. They want to engage with relevant and interesting content that gives them value and is more likely to drive new business your way; they want an easy to use property search facility that works quickly and is packed with listings so that ultimately, visitors to your site find out more about you!
3. Make Mobile SEO a Priority
When it comes to search engine optimisation, creating a mobile site should be at the core of any solid SEO strategy. However, it's important to get it right because according to research from BrightEdge published last year, mobile configuration errors resulted in a 68% loss in smartphone traffic on average. That's a big number considering the majority of people are accessing the internet from mobile devices.
Even though Google recommend a responsive design to your website – meaning that it scales to size according to which device it's being viewed with, a hybrid approach may be better for your marketing needs and investing in a mobile-specific website design could be worthwhile. Remember that whichever route you choose, Google wants sites to render content in less than one second meaning that slow sites could negatively impact your mobile rankings.
Following the well-publicised update to Google Search in April this year, the use of mobile- friendliness as a ranking signal is now the norm, with the change affecting mobile searches in all languages worldwide. That's why there is so much emphasis on creating a responsive website, ensuring the increasing majority of internet browsers on-the-go find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results optimised for their devices.
4. Find Reporting that Works for You
While the available research studies on the impact of organic search are important for gauging how effectively your SEO is working, it's still quite complex to measure results that accurately quantify your efforts. There are some great SEO tools available at no cost and here are some ideas of what's widely available:
- Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools providing you with insights as to how visitors interact with your site and engagement levels which is useful for content-rich sites, particularly estate agents'.
- Google Keyword Planner is the tool formerly known as Adwords Keyword Tool and lets you pull monthly Google search query volume estimates for dozens of keywords in seconds. You should never understate the importance of knowing what people search for.
- Bing Webmaster Tools (aka BWT) is great for keeping an eye on how Bing (which powers Yahoo) is treating your site and also enables you to have some control in the matter. The SEO tool also shows you clicks to your site from Bing by search query and it has a feature for looking up Bing search query volume. You also get other benefits beyond Bing such as insights into crawling, indexation, on-page keyword optimisation and other elements that can impact your performance in Google.
- The SEO Quake Toolbar shows data on traffic, links, social shares, on-page keyword optimisation and more. The SEO Quake website is loaded with lots of helpful tips on what to do with all this data.
5. Integrate SEO Data Across your Digital Marketing
Don't forget that the object of your SEO strategy is to make the very most of the results by ensuring the data captured is used efficiently and effectively. For example, SEO and PPC are two channels that have a symbiotic relationship where SEO data can inform PPC and vice versa. Reports from Google, Kenshoo and others show just how much organic and paid search can impact one another's success.
You can use SEO data to refine your content, always ensuring its relevance to visiting prospects, judging which blog pieces or news articles have successfully attracted the most interest and making sure you always refresh your content regularly.
SEO data is also useful to let your prospective sellers know what kind of reach they can expect to gain from listing their property on your website. If you can show evidence of considerable volumes of property searches being carried out on your website, your prospect will have more confidence in giving you their business.
Bear in mind SEO is a journey with many twists and turns….
Search engine optimisation should be a part of a website for its lifetime, continuously improving its ability to make your estate agency and the content you produce more visible, while creating a better experience for visitors to your website.
Results from SEO are not instant. Unlike PPC, which can boost your website traffic very quickly, it takes longer to realise the positive results that SEO can bring. But the results from SEO can be far longer lasting and do not require you to pay for the clicks you receive to your website.
SEO can't be mastered in a day as it is constantly evolving although you can make concerted efforts to make your site better and increase the impact of your digital marketing if you take on board these five steps to boost your search ranking.