If you have a WordPress site, there are plug-ins that allow you to optimize the content for search engine ranking. The most popular one is called Yoast SEO, which is produced by a company in the Netherlands. It has over 5 million installations with a rating of 5/5 from 26,000+ reviews on WordPress.org, which is an excellent referral rate. Yoast works on a freemium model so you can choose to upgrade but almost everyone uses the free version. The premium version features 24/7 personalized email support and tools that are helpful for SEO pros.
The set-up process is simple for beginners and there is enough under the hood for pros to customize individual pages. It has an automated start-up wizard and powerful features like an XML sitemap, title and description templates, duplicate content checker and more. The best feature is the red/yellow/green traffic light icon that shows how well the page is optimized. Not sure how to make the light go green? Look in the dialogue box on each page for a comprehensive list of tasks that will increase the score so all the pages and posts on your site can be indexed. The goal is to have a green light on all the pages.
It’s easy to write content using the built-in analysis tools and the Insight Tool keeps the content on track with your chosen keyphrase so everything is tightly focused. There is a readability checker to help with vocabulary although this feature seems to aim a little low for real estate. The snippet preview shows what the page will look like after it’s indexed by Google and the premium version has a social media preview for posts that is interesting. It’s easy to bulk edit pages and posts so you can go back and tweak things as necessary.
Check out the Yoast channel on Youtube for some tutorials and free advice on optimizing your site. One video by Jono Alderson, called “Asimov’s 3 Laws of SEO”, is particularly good. He illustrates why it’s necessary to have quality content, regular updates, and to stay away from buying traffic through questionable sources. He says that site owners should focus on incremental improvement rather than trying to reverse engineer the process of ranking higher. There is no hack or quick fix: the work still needs to be done to attract the interest of visitors. He suggests channeling your passion into the medium, which is difficult for some agents because the technology still seems out of reach. However, it is easy to post articles to WordPress with a little training, which suits his advice perfectly.
There are two factors to be aware of when evaluating the present SEO of your site. The first is that you’re probably in a search or filter bubble. Search engines like Google track their users to the extent that almost all search results are tailored to your specific profile. If you continuously search for “real estate in Anytown”, Google will adjust the results to show you what it thinks you should see or what it thinks you want to see. Ironically, it’s not intelligent enough to show your website in the top 10 which is the one you really want to see there. Maybe your website ranks high on your competition’s computer but they can’t see their own. Escape the madness by using a search engine that doesn’t track your surfing, like duckduckgo.com, and see which sites are truly optimized and independent of your search bubble. The second factor is that the search algorithms change all the time and the best strategy is quality content.
To discover what others are doing, there are SEO comparison tools like spyfu.com that will show you which keyphrases are most likely to match clients with your site. The choice largely depends on the competition: general, more specific, and very specific. You can see how other sites rank in this tool, as well. The phrase “Anytown homes” probably has a lot of competition and you would have a better chance at ranking high with something more specific. “Anytown lakefront condos” might be better to attract buyers in your market. “Lakefront senior condos with housekeeping and meals” would be an excellent keyphrase for crowded markets because it’s very focused. Use the Yoast content checker to optimize around the keyphrase for each page.
Optimizing images with the use of the ALT tag is easy in WordPress. ALT tells the search engine what the picture is and you can make up any description you like. It’s also helpful for those with low vision who use a screen reader because they can get a more complete idea of the site’s content. Be sure to size photos properly (density and physical size) so the page loads quickly and avoids demerits for being a slow-poke.
If you have a new site, the best way to start the process of indexing is to have other sites link to yours and the most obvious place to start is with your Realtor.ca profile. The local board probably has a website with your contact information so be sure to give them your new URL. Office sites always have an agent directory where you can add your social media, personal website, and cell phone. Trading links with your network is a good idea, too.