The Jenga of SEO

SEO it something that confuses, eludes and stumps most people. The easiest way to think of how SEO works and operates is to think of the game Jenga. You remember that game, right? The block tower game where you and your opponent remove one block at a time, hoping and praying the tower comes tumbling down on them and not you. At the same time, the tower is getting taller and the taller you hope it doesn’t tumble at all especially on you. Well SEO is a lot like that, you are trying to find a very strategic and innovative way to win against your competition for internet traffic and engagement on your site and social media accounts; allowing you to gain leads, clients and revenue.

 SEO is one of the greatest building blocks to help promote yourself on the internet, but also one that takes some serious strategy. I mean that wholeheartedly, in the aspect that it does take some digging and some research to promote one’s self online. You’ll need to investigate your potential growth areas and your competition. Then, you need to put all the pieces together to ensure you’re getting to the top of the Google results tower.

Let’s make the first move and remove the first Jenga block, shall we?

The first step in creating a great strategy is looking at with others are doing that’s working. Look at the keywords which show up on google results, incorporate those words into your own site, then test. Let’s do a test search together. Open a new tab and search Google for “SEO Tools”. You’ll notice that, of course, there are tons of articles and pages to help you find the best tools available. You’ll also notice that either some or all of my keywords are in the title and/or description of the results.

Additionally, the words I used to search are bold in the description. Also, look for segments of the words as well, like “SEO,” or even “Tools.” Since they are part of the main search they appear in the description, and at times they appear separate in searches. Here is where you get to have a little fun. At this point you might be wondering just how to know that this keyword is being used. Who cares about a keyword that nobody is using to perform searches, right? Google provides a great little tool for this called Google Trends (https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=US). Open Trends and enter “SEO Tools” and you’ll be able to see usage over time, location information, and even related queries! Another great tool for this (paid) is AHrefs.com (https://ahrefs.com/).

Ok lets remove another block, shall we?

This is one of the most well-known secrets out there – backlinks. It’s something we’ve all heard of and generally not something we tend to understand how to use. They help you rank your page and they allow you to let google know that your page is credible and getting traffic. The first thing you want to do is know what people want to link in your industry. Since we are talking about real estate, you would probably want to link people to pages about homes, home inspections, why moving to this area is beneficial, market stats and possibly loan information. All of those are what people are looking for when purchasing a home. Location, demographics, and of course loan info.

Before we take any action, we’ll need to get comfortable with the different type of links.

Here’s a quick rundown…

No-follow: When you link to a site you don’t consider reliable or that you don’t want to give a vote of confidence, you can add a no-follow tag to the end of the link code. You do this by adding the no-follow tag to the HTML code. This tells search engines that even though you’re linking to another website, you aren’t vouching for the content on that site.          

<a href=”signin.php” rel=”nofollow”>sign in</a>

Do-follow: When you create a backlink to a website, you’re telling search engines you vouch for the content and that you’ve given it a vote of confidence. There’s no special code for this one. Every link you create, unless you add the nofollow code, is considered a Do-Follow.

Low-quality links: You may be tempted to buy backlinks to increase your SEO, but it’s usually not a good idea. These low-quality links come from untrustworthy sources, like spam and automated sites. Stay away from these or your whole tower just might topple quickly.

Internal links: These are part of on-site SEO because they are found within your site, connecting the pages in your domain. Linking to other pages or blog posts on your site not only helps viewers find more of your content, it helps search engines index your articles and reduces visitor bounce rate.

It’s time to take some action. Start looking for websites that are closely related to what you’re doing and see if they’re open to link sharing. If you’re an agent and work with a team, that’s a great place to start. Ask one of your team members if they’re open to the idea. See if you can get your links on your corporate site somewhere. Even better, find out if your corporate site, your partners, or other industry related sites will allow you to post guest blogs on their site. This is a great way to get your content out there while creating valuable backlinks.

*Removes another block, tower shakes, phew we are still chugging along*



            The next block is based on whether you need to concentrate on Technical SEO or Local SEO, or a little of both. Now that Google knows where you’re located at any given time, it does its best to return local results. The best way to be part of those geo-located results is to create a Google My business page. This practice is especially important for brick-and-mortar businesses as it shows a rich result on local Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

 You should also consider adding your site to other general business directories (Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, etc.) and other local business sites that are relevant to your industry. Always include a link back to your website in your profile (more backlinks). Furthermore, create social media profiles for your business that include a link back to your website (even more backlinks).

Another good rule-of-thumb is to make sure your NAPs are correct. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone. NAPs for businesses are often included in business directories. Finally, for Local SEO make sure your address is in the footer of your website as this will help search engines connect your business with a specific geographic area to boost your local search rankings.

As for Technical SEO, there are a handful of things to consider, which will greatly increase your SEO cred. and get you ranking more highly…

SSL: Make sure to add an SSL certificate to your site.An SSL (Secured Socket Layer) certificate adds a layer of security to your site and Google has updated their search algorithm to rank secured sites higher. It changes your sites URL from “http” to “https.”

Site Speed: Google loves sites that load quickly. We hate sites that take forever to load, and Google gets it; so sites that load faster are ranked higher. Wait! I know what you’re about to do. You’re going to search for sites that will test your pages and tell you what needs to be fixed. Hey, it’s the first thing I did when I found out my ranking could increase if I could make my site faster. There are a ton of tools out there and they’re all pretty similar. If you want to know what Google thinks about your site speed you can use PageSpeed Insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/).

Before you use any of these tools, just keep in mind that you may need to take some of the results with a grain of salt. If there are any glaring problems, contact your site admin to see if anything can be done. However, many of these tools suggest things that are bleeding-edge and may not work in all browsers. So, don’t let your tower crumble into nothing by spending too much time trying to resolve every issue they find.

Mobile Responsiveness: Mobile responsive websites adapt to fit the screen size of the user’s phone or tablet. We live in a mobile world, so it’s paramount – more than ever – to have that working for you. If your site isn’t mobile responsive, it could be time to either switch to another provider or to get on your developer to make some serious changes. Please don’t spend a ton of money on this. Almost all WordPress themes are mobile responsive by default and just about every website provider has mobile responsive options out-of-the-box.

Robots.txt File: A robots.txt file tells search engines whether they can access and crawl parts of your site. It tells the bots what they are not supposed to crawl. You don’t want the Google bot to crawl pages that are not SEO worthy. Maybe you’re working on a page and you’re not done making it all it can be, be sure to include that page in your Robots file until you’re ready to launch it. Another good example is user-only content. If you have content that you only want a small segment of users to see (not meant for public consumption) then add those pages or directories to your Robots file.

There’s one last block to consider, Readability. People sometimes overlook or just overthink this aspect. You’ll want to use natural language in your copy. Along with technical factors and keyword optimization, readability impacts a page’s ability to show up in searches. So, use natural, well-written language. It’s best to write for an eighth grade or ninth grade reading level because it is easy to absorb and understand.

Another way to make copy easy to understand is by formatting the content so it’s clear and scannable. Use short paragraphs, include bullets, you know – things that make it easy to scan and look over.

Careful now, ever so gently… BOOM! Finally, the last block has been removed… The tower is still standing and it’s our competitions move now.
           

After reading what best practices you can do to increase SEO rankings; formulate a strategy, and research your competition to see what they’re doing that is making them successful. It would be best to watch videos to understand SEO and how it works, learn what it can do to help you.

Have fun in your SEO endeavors.

Erik Groeniger

Customer Support at Agent Marketing
Erik Groeniger

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