How to Research Keywords for SEO

Many people understand the importance of SEO – it’s how you get more eyes on your website without spending money on paid search. However, simply writing content won’t get the job done. You’ll need to learn how to research keywords for SEO.

Keyword research is the foundation of every successful SEO campaign. Keyword research is how you keep a pulse on how your customers are searching for your products and/or services.

And since customer behavior is constantly changing, keyword research is not simply an upfront one-time activity. The best SEO marketers approach keyword research as an ongoing activity and update their campaigns appropriately according to new findings.

While keyword research can be tedious and complex, it is absolutely necessary if you want to drive SEO results.

How to do Keyword Research

What is a Keyword?

Before diving into the process of keyword research, let’s clarify what we mean by “keyword.”

If a user types “SEO” into Google, “SEO” would be a keyword. Similarly, if a user types “SEO Agencies Near Me,” into Google, “SEO Agencies Near Me” would be a keyword.

A keyword is simply the contents of a user’s search query. Don’t get thrown off by the non-plural verbiage of the phase, “keyword.” A keyword can include one or multiple words.

Why is Keyword Research Important?

As mentioned previously, keyword research is the foundation of any successful SEO campaign. This is because it gives you insight into which keywords your customers are searching for, and ultimately, which keywords you should optimize your website for.

This doesn’t only apply to SEO, paid search marketing also performs best when informed by the latest keyword trends.

Let’s say you own a cell phone company, and you’re wanting to sell more phones through your website. You may be tempted to describe your products as “Cell Phones.” However, after conducting keyword research, you may find that “Smartphone,” and “Mobile Devices” are more fruitful keywords to target. As a result of this insight, using better keywords in your website’s copy will yield stronger SEO results and enhance your company’s visibility when people search for “Smartphone” and “Mobile Device.”

But how exactly would we go about determining that “Smartphone,” and “Mobile Devices” are better keywords to optimize your website for over “Cell Phones?”

Keyword Research Process: Best Practices

When conducting keyword research, there are quantitative and qualitative factors to take into consideration. The factors based in more objective/quantitative analysis are typically easier for the purposes of keyword evaluation.

When you start evaluating qualitative metrics however, you can go down a bottomless rabbit hole. Let’s begin with more objective metrics.

Keyword Search Volume

Keyword search volume is the number of searches (on average) a specific keyword receives each month. You’re not doing your keyword research properly if you’re not optimizing for keywords that are actually being searched. The entire point of researching keywords is to find what your customers are looking for and the terminology they’re using so you can create content aligned to that terminology.

There are several tools available which gives insight into keyword search volume, such as SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner, Moz, Ahrefs, and more.

Using SEMRush to examine the search volume for the keyword, ”keyword research”, our findings are as follows:

 

As you can see, the term keyword research has 5,400 searches per month and there are 200 million results that show up when the term “keyword research” is searched. You can also check out “phrase match,” or closely related keywords to the term, “keyword research.” Here are some examples:

 

This feature is useful in finding alternative keywords or long tail keywords for blog posts, and is usually offered by other keyword research tools outside of SEMRush. You’ll also notice there’s a new statistic that’s shown here called “KD” – we’ll go over that a little more later.

There’s also a “relevant keywords” feature in SEMRush, allowing you to find more closely-related alternatives to the term “keyword research.”

 

As you can see, the relevant keyword section looks very similar to the phrase match section. In the very left column, you can see the related percentage. That’s how relevant that keyword is to what you’re researching. This will help you find other keyword options and phrasing/verbiage you can use in your page copy.

The results we have been analyzing thus far are applicable for nationwide searches, that being the number of average searches per month from the United States in general.

But what if we wanted to view search volume for a specific geographic location? Another keyword research tool, Google Keyword Planner, offers functionality to assess search volume by city.

 

Why does city based keyword research matter? It takes into account dialect and regional terms. For instance, people in Wisconsin called water fountains “bubblers.” That would mean you’d find a higher search volume for “water fountains” in Chicago but a higher search volume for “bubblers” in Milwaukee.

Geographically-focused keyword search volume trends are also very important if you have a local business. Iif a term isn’t often searched in your region, you may want to consider rewriting/rewording the copy. If no one near you is looking for the phrasing you use to describe your products/services, you’re only going to get irrelevant traffic.

Is Your Keyword the Best Option?

Sometimes, you may be using a term for your products that isn’t as highly searched as another term. Here’s an example: let’s say you work for a chairlift company that helps elderly homeowners go upstairs. You did your keyword research for “chairlifts” and found it has a great search volume:

 

However, you also know that your competitors are getting way more organic traffic and conversions than you. When you go to their website, you notice they’re using the term “stair lift” over “chairlift”. At first, you may not think much about it, but one small change could make a major difference; “stair lift” has a significantly higher search volume than “chairlift”:

 

Part of doing your keyword research is making sure that you’re using the right keywords. While in the case of stair lift vs chairlift, you’ll probably want to use both throughout your website – both are really strong keywords and ranking for them will drive traffic to your website. In other cases, you could be choosing between 1,000 searches per month vs 10 searches per month. If you choose the wrong keyword in that case, you could find yourself losing out on a lot of potential clients.

Keyword Difficulty

In a perfect world, you would target keywords with the highest search volume. In most cases though, more strategic thinking is required.

For instance, let’s say you own a small video game store. You may think that you ranking on Google’s first page for the term “video games” should be your goal:

 

Over 200,000 monthly searches – sounds great, right? However, it’s unrealistic to think that a small company’s website is going to rank for the term “video games” (not saying it isn’t possible, but you’re up against huge websites and brands like GameStop, IGN and GameSpot).

SEMRush offers an organic keyword difficulty (KD) feature. Essentially, this is a measurement of how difficult it would be to organically rank for a given keyword. If several highly authoritative websites rank on Google’s first page for a given keyword, you can expect the KD of that keyword to be high. Several lower-authority websites populating Google’s page – one results can indicate a low KD.

 

The chart above shows that the term “video games” has a KD of 93.95 out of 100. That’s pretty tough and will take a lot of content and links to rank for that keyword. Over a long period time and website growth it’s possible to rank for this very difficult keyword, but there are more attainable keywords to shoot for if you’re a small company.

The term “video game stores” might be an easier term to try and rank for. It has a KD of 73.96, making it significantly easier to rank on Google’s top page.

 

Which KD scores are best to target for your website? It really depends on the stage of your company and website.

If you have strong organic traffic, lots of high quality links and engaging content, you could shoot for keywords that are a bit more difficult (KD of 80+). However, you shouldn’t only focus on those keywords – mix it up with easier to rank for keywords as well.

Smaller or growing companies should look at keywords with a difficulty of 65-75. Even if a keyword has a low KD doesn’t mean the volume is low. For instance, “video game stores” has a volume of 40,500 searches per month.

As you create more content and earn more links, you’ll find yourself ranking for other keywords that are more difficult based on the authority of your website.

While SEMRush is not the only keyword research tool offering KD functionality, not every tool allows users to analyze KD metrics. Those that do may operate on different numerical scales. For example, a low KD score on Moz’s keyword research tool may be closer to the 20 – 30 range whereas a low KD score from SEMRush may be closer to the 60 – 70 range. As you analyze KD from different tools, keep in mind that every tool’s measurements are different.

Keyword Relevance and Intent

The most underrated tactic within keyword research seems to be relevance and intent. This is a qualitative factor when research keywords that can lead you down a rabbit hole.

One task you should always perform when researching the viability of a keyword is actually Googling the keyword you are interested in targeting. Going back to our video game store example, let’s say our store owner wanted to target “Video Games.” Let’s analyze the types of results that populate Google’s first page when this query is searched:

Google Keyword Search Results
 

While some big box retailers (Walmart, Amazon, Gamestop) appear in the organic results and local pack, we also see the following types of content ranking high:

  • Video game news articles
  • Video game reviews
  • Video game blogs
  • Wikipedia

 

Since Google’s first page for the keyword, “Video Games,” does not primarily consist of stores and retailers, we must question the search intent behind this keyword. Based on the results of this search, it looks like most users are intending to find blog and news article content when searching for this keyword. These types of content would not be appearing in Google’s first page otherwise.

Keep in mind that Google is a business at the end of the day, and their search engine algorithm is their product. If their algorithm delivers results that users are not interested in, people are less likely use Google’s search engine relative to competing search engines. Since Google’s ultimate goal is for their search engine results to mirror their customer’s search intent, Google inadvertently reveals this search intent behind a given keyword – it’s reflected in their results!

That’s why it is crucial to ensure your content’s keyword focus aligns to the proper search intent for that keyword!

Even if you are targeting a keyword with the lowest possible KD, you will not appear in the organic search results if your content’s keyword focus does not align to the search intent behind that keyword.

When writing copy for a product or service page, make sure you are targeting a keyword whose page-one search results are dominated by other product/service pages. When writing copy for an educational article, make sure you are targeting a keyword whose page-one search results are dominated by other educational articles.

Don’t Use the Same Keyword for Multiple Pages

When learning how to research keywords for SEO, many people forget the importance of making sure you don’t continuously use the same keywords for each page.

By using a different keyword focus for each page of your website, each individual page stands to offer unique value to users. When you use the same keyword focus for multiple pages, your website’s pages may compete with each other for keyword rankings, thus diluting the SEO value of your website and its content. No matter the quality of links or content on your website, you won’t be able to rank for competitive keywords on the first page.

When doing your keyword research, it’s important to document and track of all your individual web pages and their keyword focus. When creating new pages or blog posts, be sure to check which keywords you’ve already used so you don’t recycle keywords.

These Tips Will Take Your Keyword Research to the Next Level

Keyword research is an important part of getting your site to rank organically. If you don’t know how to research keywords for SEO, you’re going to have a hard time getting traffic without paying for it.

While these tips seem simple, they can be the difference between success and failure. Always make sure that your keyword focus for each individual web page is unique, has decent search volume, isn’t too difficult for your site to rank for and aligns to the proper search intent.

If you do need help, you should consider hiring an SEO specialist – someone who knows exactly what they’re looking for and works with keywords on a day-to-day basis. SoMe Connect can help your website bring in more traffic by improving your organic keyword rankings. You can learn more here.

Finding SEO Content Opportunities Through Competitor Analysis

Even though Google relies on AI to determine organic rankings for a search query, Google has made (and continues to make) updates to their AI such that they increasingly think more like humans. Websites that deliver value to people tend to outrank websites that prioritize optimization for Google’s AI, and this trend will only increase in the future.

We have reached a point where optimizing a website for human experiences is the same as optimizing for Google’s AI. The more people that engage and interact with your website and its content, the stronger your SEO performance will be.

Prioritizing the human experience should always be your goal if you want your website to rank well in organic search!

Competitor Analysis in SEO

The Importance of Content in SEO

While elements such as website loading speed, HTTPS, and mobile-friendliness all influence how well your website is optimized for user experience (and Google’s AI factors these elements into organic search rankings), your website’s content is what makes users want to visit and engage with your website.

We’ve said it before, but it can’t be overstated: Google themselves have confirmed that your website’s content is among the top three most important ranking factors. If your website does not offer content that people want to interact with, you will never perform well in organic search.

That said, it can be challenging to find content relevant to your website’s niche that people want to interact with. This is where competitor analysis comes into play.

How use Competitor Analysis to Inform Your Website Content

Since Google’s AI already ranks valuable content & websites high in organic search, simply performing a Google search for a relevant query will generate several examples of content that people like. Google essentially tells you what your audience wants!

For example, let’s say you run a marketing agency and want to bring more organic traffic to your website. Knowing that publishing content which people want to engage with is crucial to achieving this, so we may search for queries such as,

  • “Marketing Trends”
  • “Challenges in the Marketing Industry”
  • “Future of Marketing”

 

Analyzing the topics and types of content ranking on Google’s first page for these queries will show you the types of content you should create. If you want to outperform any of those other websites in organic search, the content you create must be better than what is currently ranking on page 1. By including all of the information your competitors high-ranking pages offer in one place on your website, and then adding more to it that none of competitors’ high-ranking pages offer (think of Brian Dean’s “Skyscraper Content” strategy), you will have an excellent chance of outperforming the competition.

These keyword examples are more related to insight/thought leadership content – what if we want to rank high for something with stronger commercial intent? We can use this same approach to assess the content organically ranking on Google’s first page for queries such as:

  • “Marketing Strategy Services”
  • “Marketing Consulting Services”
  • “Influencer Marketing Services”

 

The content you find on web pages that organically rank well for these queries can inform what you should include in your web page tailored to queries like these.

Side note: You may find that pages organically ranking well for these service-based queries include very little content. This can indicate that the website offers value in other places/pages. For example, a marketing company with an active blog and several high-value resources (research articles, whitepapers, etc…) can actually boost the organic ranks of other pages on the site more tailored to services. Ranking on page 1 for “Marketing Trends,” “Challenges in the Marketing Industry,” and “Future of Marketing,” can enhance your service pages’ ranks for queries like “Marketing Strategy Services.”

How to find Content Topic Opportunities Through Competitor Analysis

If you run into a hurdle where you’re having trouble brainstorming queries and content topics to search for, you can use tools to analyze what industry competitors and blogs are ranking for.

For example, one tool that offers such functionality is SEM Rush. Using this tool, we can see that the popular marketing blog, Marketing Profs, ranks organically for a total of over 60,000 keywords.

Among these 60,000 keywords, we can see that some of these queries include:

  • “What is Media Reach”
  • “How to Retain Customers Online”
  • “Direct Mail vs Email Marketing”

 

There are thousands of keywords we can find with this tactic to inform content topics we can create to gain more visibility in organic search.

We also don’t need to limit ourselves to these insight/thought leadership type of keywords – if several of your marketing company’s competitors rank for a query such as “Inbound Lead Gen Services,” and your website doesn’t have a page speaking to this service line (assuming it’s something your company offers), you can use this keyword to inform your research on what content to include in a service page on “Inbound Lead Gen.”

SEM Rush isn’t the only tool offering this type of functionality: Moz, Keyword Spy, SpyFu, and others can generate similar insights. Leveraging the keyword findings with tools like these can uncover content topic opportunities that may have never crossed your mind.

The Importance of Competitor Analysis in SEO

When it comes to SEO, competitor analysis isn’t only useful for informing your website’s content. Everything from color schemes and imagery to interactive functionalities and navigational structure can (and should be) taken into consideration when performing a competitor analysis.

Your website can perform reasonably well in organic search by simply taking all the good components your competition offers and adding value to it. This is what makes competitor analysis so important in SEO.

What is Image Alt Text?

Definition

Image Alt Text (also known as Alternate Text) is an HTML attribute that can be added to an image, typically via your website’s content management system. This is not the same thing as the image title, which can also be edited in a website’s CMS.

Image alt text is typically best used when it briefly describes an image. The more relevant the alt text is to an image, the better your image’s chances are of appearing in a Google image search (for a relevant query, of course).

Image Alt Text and SEO

Google’s algorithm favors pages with high-quality imagery, even though search engine bots can not read text embedded in an image like they can with typical text appearing on a web page.

Image alt text, and image titles, can be keyword-optimized to enhance your website’s SEO performance. However, if you upload a generic stock photo and blindly throw your keyword in the image’s alt text and title, you are unlikely to see much of an SEO improvement from your image.

By adding unique, high-quality images to your web pages that are relevant to your keywords, while also naturally inserting keywords into the image’s title and alt text, you can expect to see an improvement in your keyword rankings.

 

SEO for Real Estate

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of enhancing your website’s organic rankings in search engines such as Google and Bing. When it comes to engaging with real estate prospects, SEO is becoming more important than ever.

Real Estate SEO

According to a 2017 study by the National Association of Realtors, 51% of buyers found their home online. While another report shows that 95% of home buyers use real estate websites to gather information, a 2012 study showed that buyers will use a search engine 11 times on average before taking any action on a real estate website.

Over 90% of real estate firms have websites. If your website is not optimized for search engines, you risk not being seen during any of those crucial 11 searches.

On the other hand, with a solid SEO strategy, your website could be at the top of Google’s results for all of those 11 searches.

Real estate is a crowded field. Make sure you don’t get left behind with these tips:

Website Content

Google has confirmed that website content is one of the top three factors used to rank your website in organic search. In order to stay competitive with the large number of realtor websites on the internet, your website needs to offer valuable content.

When landing on any of your website’s pages, your copy should fully inform users what each respective page is trying to convey. For example, your home page’s text should inform users that you are a real estate vendor. Similarly, if you have a property listings page, your page copy should inform visitors that they can find your property listings on this page.

Real Estate Website Content

If someone visits your website and is confused, they are likely to leave your website and never return.

You will also want to write your page copy to be aligned with keywords. If you sell townhomes in Chicago for example, the keyword phrase “Townhomes in Chicago” should appear in your page copy naturally – if you place keywords in your page copy too many times/in an unnatural way, you could get penalized from Google.

Write your web page copy such that people enjoy reading it while also utilizing your keywords.

Real Estate Content Marketing

More likely than not, there are keywords your competitors’ websites rank for that you don’t, but should! After all, you both operate in the same industry.

By analyzing your competition and researching the keywords they rank for, you can launch new content on your website aligned to those keywords and start earning those ranks.

Updating your website with new content regularly is an effective tactic in gaining search engine exposure and more keyword rankings. Blogs, case studies, research articles, even infographics and video will enhance your website’s SEO authority.

Real Estate Content Marketing

That said, you need to make sure you are producing quality content. Google tends to ignore low-value content such as recycled stock photos, short 250 word blogs, and videos that receive no engagement.

Use currently high-ranking content as a benchmark for what you need to beat. If you want your website to rank for “Chicago Real Estate Trends” and see that the top three organic results for this keyword phrase in Google are 1000+ word articles with unique images, your content must include all of the information found in these articles, in addition to relevant topics not included in those top-ranking results.

It is likely that you will end up with a very long piece of content by following this strategy, but offering users more value than your competitors’ content is how you win at SEO.

Internal Links

An internal link is a link from one of your website’s pages to another. For example, if you have a property listing page with links to individual property pages, those would be ‘internal links.’ Internal links can be used to enhance your web pages’ keyword association.

On Page SEO for Real Estate

Let’s say you have a page on your website featuring condo listings in New York City – “Condos in New York City” would be a good keyword to associate with this page.

Now let’s say you write a blog for your website and the text “Condos in New York City” appears in the body of the blog. You can use that text to link to your condo listings page and strengthen the association between the keyword and that page.

Web page text that has a link embedded in it is known as ‘anchor text.’ For example, when I link to our home page with a keyword-focused anchor text, Digital Marketing Agency, I just placed an internal link from this post to our home page using “Digital Marketing Agency” as anchor text, thus enhancing the keyword association between the keyword phrase, “Digital Marketing Agency” and SoMe Connect’s home page.

Strategically using internal links and keyword-focused anchor text can be an effective way to enhance your organic keyword rankings.

Title Tags

A title tag is the text which appears at the top of your page listing in Google’s organic results:

Title Tag & Meta Description Example

SoMe Connect’s title tag is the purple text above the green URL.

Since the Google bots use title tags as an organic ranking factor, you will want to make sure your target keyword is included in your page title tags.

Google cuts off title tags that go beyond 600 pixels (usually around 70 characters), so keep your title tags within this range.

Also avoid using the same title tag on multiple web pages. Unique web pages need a unique title tag/keyword focus. Recycling title tags can limit the number of keywords your pages rank for – you don’t want to miss any opportunities to enhance your pages’ keyword rankings!

Meta Descriptions

A meta description is the text which appears beneath your title tags in Google’s organic results:

Title Tag & Meta Description Example

SoMe Connect’s meta description can be seen beneath the purple title tag and green URL.

While the Google bots do not use meta descriptions as a ranking factor, writing compelling calls to action in your meta descriptions can impact on your click through rate.

Much like title tags, Google will cut off meta descriptions that are too long. This threshold was recently increased from 160 characters to 320 characters, so make sure you don’t exceed that limit.

Also similar to title tags, unique web pages need a unique meta description. Using duplicate meta descriptions can limit the opportunity you have to entice people who find your pages through organic search to click through to your website.

Images

Imagery is (and should be) heavily used on real estate websites – how else will people get an idea on whether or not they would like to visit your property?

Even though Google bots can’t read images and/or text embedded in images the same way they can read page copy, the bots can read the image file name.

Image SEO Tips for Real Estate

Instead of uploading an image file titled “367573037-img.jpg,” renaming it to “chicago-condo.jpg” or “new-york-real-estate.jpg” can strengthen your page’s keyword association.

Additionally, Google bots can read image ‘alternate text.’ Alternate text, or alt text, is an HTML attribute that helps search engine bots understand the contents of an image. When you a focus keyword in your image alt text, not only do you strengthen your web page’s keyword association, you also increase the chances of your image ranking in Google images.

URL

The URL your pages use can also influence your keyword rankings.

If you are trying to sell multiple properties in multiple locations, make sure your URLs are tailored to those keyword variations. For example, yourdomain.com/chicago-townhomes would be a great URL for townhome listings in Chicago.

You want to make sure your URLs are also as short as they can be. Yourdomain.com/chicago/chicago-townhomes-for-sale is unnecessarily long and redundant since “Chicago” appears twice in the URL.

Also be sure to use hyphens instead of underscores in your URLs. When it comes to URLs, search engine bots read hyphens as spaces. The URL yourdomain.com/chicago-townhomes is read as “Chicago Townhomes” by a Google bot. However, yourdomain.com/chicago_townhomes is read as “Chicagotownhomes” by a Google bot.

Off-Page SEO for Real Estate

As you can see from above, there are several SEO tactics you can deploy on your website, whether it be content, internal links, title tags, etc…

Link Building Tips for Real Estate

There are also several tactics you can leverage on other websites. I previously mentioned that Google has confirmed website content is among the top three most important organic ranking factors – the number and quality of links coming to your website is also among the top three organic ranking factors.

Local Listings

Since real estate is so specific to geographic locations, building business profiles on local directories can help Google more closely associate your website with the cities your properties are listed in.

Building out these profiles as thoroughly as possible is key to getting the most value out of them – avoid the temptation to simply place a link in your business profile and offer no further information.

Also avoid recycling company descriptions for the bio/summary of your business profile. Writing unique company descriptions, with your target keywords, for each listing will go a long way in enhancing your organic search presence.

A simple search for local business directories and real estate directories will generate several opportunities for local business profiles. Avoid building profiles on every business directory you can find – keep it focused on your location and industry.

Also avoid purchasing business listings – Google has been cracking down on those who buy links for their website, and you don’t want to be the victim of a dreaded Google penalty which can take months to recover from! If you decide to pay for a directory listing, be sure that it is on a directory highly relevant to your niche, and don’t do it too often.

SEO Tips for Realtors

Some directory websites offer reciprocal link exchanges as payment for a profile/link. Essentially, a reciprocal link exchange would be a directory linking to your website in exchange for you linking to theirs. Exercise caution here, you don’t want the Google bots thinking your website is just a collection of links to other websites.

Guest Posting

Several websites offer the opportunity for guest posting. Essentially, you would write an article and let another website publish it in exchange for linking back to your website through an author bio.

Guest posting is an effective tactic to build more links from higher quality websites. While building links on local directories is an important tactic and should be utilized in a real estate digital marketing campaign, links earned through guest posting tend to come from higher authority websites. The stronger the link, the more SEO results you can expect.

Much like local listing websites, the more tailored to your niche the guest posting website is, the better. Find a blog or online publication that frequently posts about topics in real estate and offer to contribute to it. You may need to brainstorm a left field topic isn’t covered often in the real estate industry, but this approach will increase your chances of securing a guest post.

Google My Business

Google My Business profiles can improve local rankings. By filling these out with as much information as possible and ensuring your business categories are accurate, you can send a stronger signal to Google to show your website when someone searches for “Real Estate in (insert your location here).”

Google My Business Tips for Realtors

More importantly though, the number of positive reviews you receive on your Google My Business profile can really make a difference when it comes to your website’s visibility and traffic.

Reaching out to your clients and partners to leave positive reviews on your Google My Business profile can make the difference between whether or not you show up on Google’s first or second page.

Website Functionality

These on-page and off-page SEO tactics can drive excellent results and help you reach qualified leads through your website. However, if your website doesn’t function properly, no matter how masterfully you execute these strategies, it will all be for nothing.

You can publish thousands of pages worth of high value content and build thousands of quality links. If your website takes too long to load, crashes often, is written with sloppy code, etc… you’ll never see significant SEO improvements.

Mobile Responsiveness

Recently, Google started introducing mobile-first indexing to reward websites that are optimized well for mobile users with stronger keyword ranking positions. What’s more, studies have shown that 58% of buyers find their homes on a mobile device.

Real Estate Website Tips

Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is not only important for search engine purposes, but also for consumer engagement. Mobile-friendliness has been increasing in importance for digital marketing, and we’re likely to see this trend accelerate over time.

HTTPS

Whether or not “HTTP” or “HTTPS” precedes your website domain may seem like the difference of just one letter, but it really dictates whether or not your website is secured. If you don’t have an HTTPS website, users browsers will notify them that they don’t have a secured connection to the website they’re visiting.

Beyond the user experience component of secured websites, we typically see that HTTPS websites tend to outrank HTTP websites.

Page Speed

Much like HTTPS and Mobile Responsiveness, your website’s loading speed plays into both user experience and Google’s algorithm. Studies have shown that 40% of users will leave your website if it does not load in 3 seconds or less.

Furthermore, website loading speed is an organic ranking factor. It is common to see websites that load quickly outranking websites that load slowly.

Unique, Static URLs

When you type “www.yourdomain.com” and “yourdomain.com” into your browser, do these two URLs exist on their own, or does one automatically redirect to the other? How about “yourdomain.com/properties” and “yourdomain.com/properties/” (note the trailing slash at the end of the second example).

If more than one version of your web pages’ URLs exists, you could get hit with a Google penalty. The Google bots can read www.yourdomain.com and yourdomain.com as two unique URLs with the same page content. Ensuring you have one unique static URL for each of your web pages is crucial to avoiding duplicate content penalties.

Structured Data

Structured data, or schema markup, is code you can place on your website to help search engine bots find information about your business, such as your company name, address, phone number, etc…

We typically see websites with structured data in place outranking websites without it.

XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is essentially a table of contents for search engine bots. It helps them read and index your website’s content.

XML Sitemap Example

You can check to see if you have an XML sitemap in place by typing yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml or yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml into your browser. Either you will be able to view your website’s XML sitemap, or you will be brought to a 404 error. Having an XML sitemap in place is a highly recommended SEO best practice.

Robots.txt

Similar to an XML sitemap, a robots.txt file helps search engine bots index your website. More specifically, you can tell search engine bots that you don’t want specific pages crawled. Be careful though, you don’t want important pages being blocked in your robots.txt file.

For example, if your property listings page’s URL is yourdomain.com/listings and you see “Disallow: /listings” in your robots.txt file, search engine bots wont crawl your property listings page and it will never rank for any keywords.

Robots.txt File Example

You can check your robots.txt file by typing yourdomain.com/robots.txt into your browser. If your recieve a 404 error, it is likely that you don’t have a robots.txt file created. Along with an XML sitemap, having a robots.txt file in place is a highly recommended SEO best practice.

Real Estate SEO

By leveraging these SEO tactics and ensuring your website is properly built, you can reach a larger audience and sell more properties. However, executing these tactics properly is best done by industry professionals. Discover how SoMe Connect’s SEO services can generate more leads for you. Contact us today!

What is a 404 Error?

Definition

A 404 error is the message that displays when trying to access a web page that does not exist. There are a few different ways to receive a 404 error, including:

  • Clicking on a dead/broken link
  • Incorrectly typing in a web address
  • Trying to access a web page that once existed by has since been deleted or moved

If a website has recently been re-designed and/or updated, it is likely that old URLs could have changed and are no longer accessible, which would result in 404 errors whenever anyone attempts to visit those old URLs.

404 Errors and Digital Marketing

404 errors and SEO don’t mix well. If your web pages are experiencing 404 errors, search engine bots can’t access them and give them keyword rankings. So, changing the URL of a page that ranks well in Google will result in your website losing the SEO authority of that page unless you properly redirect it. In a similar fashion, if Google’s bots follow several backlinks pointing to a non-existent URL on your website, they could penalize the keyword rankings for your pages that work fine.

How to Deal with 404 Errors

Sometimes, you will run into a scenario in which changing your URL is an SEO best practice – whether it is to enhance your page’s keyword focus or make your website navigation more user friendly.

To avoid the SEO penalties that come with changing your URLs, setting up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one is the best practice. Let’s say for example that you have the following URL:

http://mywebsite.com/seo_guide/

As you can see, this URL is not secured and uses underscores instead of hyphens, which means Google’s bots read this as “seoguide” instead of “seo guide.” You may want to change this URL to this instead:

https://mywebsite.com/resources/seo-guide/

This URL is much more optimized for search engines. In this instance, we would set up a 301 redirect such that anytime someone clicked on a link pointing to the old URL, or even typed in the old URL manually, users (and search engine bots) would be brought to the new URL automatically. This is the easiest way to maintain your old page’s SEO value.