Yes, I’ll admit it. I have a vested interest in this topic since I'm an SEO writer. But what I've always said, seems more prevalent than ever...content is King and content matters.
Google's new set of algorithms was created to give searchers better quality results. It's known as Panda. And sadly, for some website owners, what was perceived as a huggable, cuddly bear is now synonymous with a fanged beast that’ll rip your heart out.
Essentially, Panda was created to eliminate low-quality sites, like content farms, which is all well and good. The bad news is that established, high-quality sites are becoming a casualty of friendly fire. So how do you avoid being ‘Panda slapped’? First, no one knows yet (so let’s get that out of the way up front). Second, I think there are content and linking rules that would still apply in light of recent changes.
It's true many experts in the field continued to say things like, "Let's wait for the dust to settle before offering advice." I personally can't help but feel these factors, which were important before, will continue to be important today, and in the future (particularly when you look at WHY Panda was created).
There are five things that come to mind automatically those real estate agents, and other site owners, should be doing (if they can). They include:
I often tell my clients that SEO is a marriage between web design (which includes link building) and content writing. Like Sinatra once sang, 'You can't have one without the other'. So, while it is important to have a design that makes you look credible and an authority, you also need content that gets those search engines interested in you (so people will arrive and SEE that 'pretty site').
Too often people spend thousands on a website and then maybe want to put $100 into content. It’s a bit like buying a Corvette and then putting on bicycle tires. No one in their right mind would EVER do that, but they do it when it comes to promoting their ‘bread and butter’ business on the web.
SEO is also something that’s on-going. You can’t place 10 pages on a site and expect to be on top (or stay on top forever if you’re lucky enough to get there with so little content). You need active content, just as much as you need upgrades to your web design. Have you ever noticed when you look for something like golf clubs you don’t end up on a site from 1997? Google also pays attention to how often you update a site. So while you might have a feed that shows new listings, it’s important to also produce ‘flesh and blood’ pages now and then.
But back to my point of Panda… since I'm a writer I'll focus on the first thing I listed: Quality Original Content. As for the other areas like design or links, other experts are happy to sound off with their thoughts. Anyway…
Quality original content means...
1. No texted that's a 'copy and paste' from another place (That's actually theft).
2. No text that's over-stuffed with keywords (Anything more than 3% density and it can do more harm than good).
3. A small single page that’s loaded with too many keywords (You only need one or two keywords per page of approx. 250 words).
4. Pages that are too LONG (Putting 20 keywords into a 1000 word page is… pointless. Break it up into smaller pages and see tip #3 above).
5. No 'free text' from web designers or server host (Often web designers or server hosts give 'free text’ to put on a page, but it's the same text that matches a thousand+ sites they’ve sold. Be sure you change that text – or dump it altogether – and make your copy original so you’re not blamed for duplicate content).
6. No boiler plate 'calls to action' (This can be considered duplicate content too. If you have the same, word for word, closing paragraph on a majority of pages you might be getting beat up by Google without even knowing it. You need to 'mix it up' a little and make your close look different somehow).
It’s a start, but these are just six things you can do on your own. Of course, if you'd rather make money by selling houses, that's where agents are better off calling someone like me to take over. But for those DIY's out there, keep this in mind as you put together your site. If not, you might get a bear paw upside the head and nobody wants that. Trust me. :)