Whether you control the backend of the website you’re posting to (e.g. endzonerealty.com) or not (www.zillow.com), you have control of the content. And content is the most important factor in trying to show up in search results.
If you control your own website (i.e. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.), you can use “keywords” (a “meta tag”), but they’re not very influential to search engines (SEs) anymore. Meta tags are “behind the scenes” words that only SEs see – they’re not on the main display page.
SEs are smarter than they used to be and can now “crawl” pages for content to determine for themselves what search terms relate to a specific website (i.e. domain) or individual web pages (i.e. URL).
- include videos and photos (SEs recognize that people prefer videos to photos and prefer photos to non-photos)
- use keywords in your media’s filenames and metatags (SEs can’t “read” images – and neither can you)
- include common misspellings and acronyms (anytime you can match the exact search terms, the better)
- repeat your target keywords (quantity of appearance is a factor)
- don’t copy others’ content (SEs penalize duplicators)
- include links (SEs analyze which sites link to other sites to develop a network of connections)
- use heading tags and include your keywords in headings (SEs look at headers to interpret the topics and importance of words in your blog)
- spread out your listings into multiple blog posts – instead of one long blog post page (more quantity of posts and more posts over time tell SEs it’s not a one-time post topic)
Other SEO considerations
- domain name (www.iknowstuff.com won’t benefit you if the search term is “abc widgets” – so buy www.abcwidgetfactory.com if that’s your target)
- if your desired .com name is taken, you might want to try another TLD (top-level domain), like .net, .org, .biz, .me, .tv, or another
- URLs (aka “pretty permalinks” – /search-engine-optimization-tips instead of /?p=1399)
- reputable hosting (if you’re on shared hosting and others on your server are bad, you might be the baby that was thrown out with the bathwater)
- faster page load time (slower sites can be penalized by search engines – don’t auto-play audio or video)
- allow commenting and sharing and treasure every comment and commenter (SEs like to see interaction, plus, someone else sharing your post will result in more page views)
- disallow spam posts/comments (posting and linking to/from places SEs think are bad associate you with bad people)
- receive links (one-way links mostly benefit the linkee, not the linker – but don’t engage in purposeful “link swapping” with non-reputable sites)
- comment on posts and pages across the web (you’ll get traffic from other readers to your site – more traffic to your site means more SEO juice)
- comments on others’ sites are often designated “nofollow” (SEs don’t follow/reward content designated “nofollow” – so your own link from your own comment doesn’t directly benefit your site by itself – someone needs to visit the link)
- if you have ads, be aware of their content (ads may contain content you don’t want associated with your site, and SEs could pickup on it)
- don’t use popups, redirects, or other things that are annoying and may cause Grandma to be dooped or wonder what’s really going on during page loading (credit Google for the grandmother analogy)
- consider each webpage its own mini-website (optimize each page, since page 50 may rank high in the search results, but not page 1 — probably because that page has better content, was more shared, and/or receives higher traffic)
- “long tailed keywords” are all the rage
- Having “homes for sale” as a desired keyword means tough competition – is your website really going to out-SEO www.homes.com? Probably not in general, but maybe for a specific listing.
- “homes for sale in Tulsa, OK” is an example of a long-tail search term
- www.tulsaforsale.com might rank pretty high for that search
- but any domain can rank high for any long-tail search if it has the right content words on the page and in blog posts
- endzonerealty.com can rank very high for “homes for sale in Tulsa, OK” if that phrase is used often and strategically (notice, I used it twice just now – and even in quotes!)
- when writing listing and photo descriptions for your homes for sale in Tulsa, Oklahoma (see, a 3rd time, and now with “Oklahoma”, not just “OK”)…
- include keywords that you think interested buyers (who have the means to buy) would potentially search for
- find the balance between having a description that makes sense to humans but also doesn’t needlessly waste words
Finding popular search terms
Google has easy search tools, my favorites are Wonder wheel and the AdWords Keyword search tool.
Google Wonder wheel
- Go to http://www.google.com/
- Logout of your Google account, if logged in
- Do a search. For example: http://www.google.com/#q=move-in+ready+homes+in+tulsa%2C+oklahoma
- move-in ready homes in tulsa, oklahoma
- In the left-hand sidebar, click “Show search tools”
- Click “Wonder wheel”
You’ll start off with your search term in the middle, with at least 1 branch to another, related, popular search term. You might find variations of your expected wording, which may convince you to reword your blog post just a bit. Or maybe you can write a 2nd blog post on a new but related topic you didn’t think of without the help of Google Wonder wheel.
Google’s Search Based Keyword Tool (i.e. AdWords Keyword Search Tool)
- Visit http://www.adwords.google.com/keywordtool (signing in to Google may be of benefit if you have an AdWords account)
- Enter one or more keywords. For example:
- tulsa houses for sale
owasso houses for sale
- tulsa houses for sale
- Enter the CAPTCHA (so Google knows you’re human)
- Look at the search stats and click around to learn more about related search terms, search volume, search competition, and advanced search tools
- Visit http://www.google.com/trends (logged in or logged out, either way)
- Type in your search term. For example: http://www.google.com/trends?q=homes+for+sale%2C+homes+for+rent
- homes for sale, homes for rent
- NOTE: including a comma (like I did in the link above) separates multiple search terms so Google Trends can compare them for you
- Commas are ignored in regular Google searches (like Wonder wheel), but not in Google Trends
- Browse the related news stories and blog posts, filter the Trends data by location,
Google Insights for Search
- Visit http://www.google.com/insights/search (signing in will let you export your findings, if that’s desired)
- Determine if you want to search by search term, location, or date.
- Do a search. For example: http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=homes%20for%20sale&geo=US-OK&date=today%2012-m&cmpt=geo
- homes for sale
- searched from the Oklahoma, USA metro area
- web searches in the last 12 months
- Learn from the results and explore the other, related, suggested terms
Not too hard, just take your time and use your noggin
If you have your own website, make sure to install Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/) and/or WordPress.com Stats (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/jetpack/) to view your own website’s traffic sources and successful keywords.
P.S. Did you know there’s AdWords for video too? Powerful stuff! http://ads.youtube.com/
If you need a website, AdWords consulting, or any other tech services, visit http://tourkick.com/services/.