Google Friendly Websites

Is your website a Google friendly website?
One of the most important things to consider when looking at your website is to determine how “Google friendly” it is.
If you want to rank better on Google, you need to make sure that you are “playing their game” and giving them the information they are looking for, so that they favour your website over your competitors.

Take a look through the simple tips below, and use this blog post as a checklist of tips for creating a Google-friendly site.

Make sure your site is easily accessible:

Build your site with a logical and usable menu structure. Every page should be reachable from every other page, by at least one static text link. This is normally done via the Navigation menu, but can also be achieved by adding internal links into your page content. Make sure to keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number

Also offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map has an extremely large number of links, you may want to break the site map into multiple pages. One great idea is to use a text browser, such as Lynx, to examine your site. This will show you how the search engine spiders see your site. If features such as JavaScript, frames or Flash keep you from seeing your entire site in a text browser, then spiders may have trouble crawling it & indexing it.

Give visitors the information they’re looking for:

This is probably the single most important thing to do. Make sure you provide quality content on your pages, especially your homepage.
If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract visitors and entice others to link them, thus creating a helpful, information-rich site.
You should aim to write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site, but within a natural flow of information.

Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the “ALT” attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.

Make sure that other sites link to yours :

Links help search engine spiders find your site and can increase the ranking in search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”
Keep in mind that Google can distinguish natural links from unnatural links. (Only natural links are useful for the indexing and ranking of your site.)
Natural links to your site develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and link to it.
Unnatural links are those placed there specifically to make your site look more popular to search engines. Some of these types of links can be found via Link Exchange programs or on pages set-up specifically to attracts search engines (called ‘Doorway Pages’)

Things to avoid
Don’t fill your page with lists of keywords or attempt put up pages just to attract the spiders.

If your site contains pages, links, or text that you don’t intend visitors to see, Google considers those links and pages deceptive and may ignore your site.
And do not stuff words onto pages in the hopes of attracting search engines, such as has been done under the footer, on this site :  Red Pepper Realty

Don’t feel obligated to use companies that claim to “guarantee” high ranking for your site in Google’s search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site’s flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful, because if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from Goggle’s index.

Don’t create multiple copies of a page under different web addresses. Many sites offer text-only or printer-friendly versions of pages that contain the same content as the corresponding graphic-rich pages. To ensure that your preferred page is included in our search results, you’ll need to block duplicates from our spiders using a robots.txt file.

Places for Real Estate

If you don’t already know what Google Places is all about, it is basically Google’s attempt to provide relevant local search results to searchers based on their geographic location.

So when you search for something like “Real Estate Agent Capalaba”, Google assumes (and rightly so) that you are looking for Real Estate Agents in Capalaba.

If you do not already have your office set-up with a Google “Places” page, now is the time to do so.
Why? Well, here are three simple reasons :
•    It is free.
•    It will help people find you more easily.
•    It makes Google happy.

Why get a Google Places listing now?

Recently, Google has rolled out changes which emphasise how serious they are about the Places search and helping  users quickly finding local business results.

Places is now a search type of its own, found in the left-hand column on Google, along with other common search categories.

The current order is:

•    Everything
•    Images
•    Videos
•    Places.

What’s different about Google Pages listings?

Places Listings have far more prominence than they used to, dominating the results page.  They also provide more information than before, including an image if images were provided with the listing.
To understand the impact of this change, consider your search engine optimization efforts.  If you used to be on page one of Google for a search term that is local in nature, your business might be relegated to page two with this change.
As well, the map works differently now too.
It has been moved over to the  right-hand column above the AdWords ads and it will now scroll down the page as you do. Places is so important to Google, that the map will actually cover up those AdWords ads which are also so valuable to Google.
This says a lot about how important local business listings are to Google.

Google Places: Tips to Optimize Your Local Business Listing

  • Create a Places listing for each physical office you have.
  • Complete as much information as you can in your Places listing.
  • Make sure your business name, address and phone number is the same as you have it listed on other local listing sites.  (Google is looking for consistency)
  • Ensure you’ve listed your business in as many categories as are applicable.
  • Add links back to your main office website.
  • Add photos and videos (as appropriate)

Tips on using Twitter for Real Estate

Have you taken the plunge & joined Twitter? Perhaps you have and you are not getting the results promised to you? Well, don’t worry – what you are experiencing is completely normal. Getting social media (including Twitter) to work for you is not an easy thing to do, so we have put together a few tips to help you.

1.    Twitter is not a competition

Do not try to get the most followers possibly in the hope that they will all be hanging off your every tweet, chomping at the bit to list or sell with you. You need to be conversational & let your follower count grow organically.

2.    Twitter is not a marketing medium.

At least not in the way you may expect it to be. It is a social medium, which means it works best when approached as a conversation.
Marketing is generally a one way conversation, where you share information about your services. Twitter needs both sharing AND listening.
Give updates and talk up your services. But also take time to respond to questions, or to join in a friendly conversation.

3.    It is not just all about your business.

When you tweet, you may be representing a brand, but you are a PERSON who is placing the tweets online. So act like a PERSON. Take the time to discuss things that are not just about your office or even industry. Share interesting stories, links or pics. They do not always need to be realestate related.

4.    Keep your re-tweets interesting & useful.

If you have found the Retweet button, then keepthe things you are repeating interesting. You could retweet local news, realestate stories or even cricket scores! Make your RT’s useful information-packed tweets for your followers. If you do, your followers will retweet them too, which helps attract new followers.

5.    Stay consistent.

If you are going to start, keep your twitter activity consistent. Don’t go crazy for a day or two, then share nothing for weeks on end.
Try to space tweets out throughout the day  or week, to reach the widest possible audience and so that your followers recall who you are.

So, give it another go, but just remember that Social media is not just a short term thing. If you want this medium to help enhance your business and create profits for you, treat it like any other business tool. Stick with it and pay attention to how you use it.

Your website is hurting you.

When is the last time you looked at your website?

I mean, really looked at it.

Not just opened a page with one of your listings, so you can get the link to send through to a potential buyer.

I speak with companies who have not touched their website since it was set up in 2004 or 2005!

It’s pretty much a given that most real estate companies, have had a website for the past few years or longer.

As you focus on the day to day activity of selling and listing, it can be easy to just take the attitude of “Oh, we have a website up and it is working, so I will leave it be.” The problem is, after a while a website, like many things in life, starts to look a bit outdated.

More importantly, your website can be hurting your business without you knowing!

You could be losing potential vendors to other local agents, simply because your website is not as nice as theirs, or because theirs has more information on it. Buyers may also not contact you, as they cannot find the listings that strike their fancy.

This is how your website can be hurting your business RIGHT NOW!

It is recommended that clients revise their websites about every three years (if not sooner).

I bet you are thinking that this sounds like a ridiculous and costly exercise.
But I can promise you that you will reap the benefits of a site revision.
To make things really clear & easy to follow, here is a list of straight forward reasons why you should look at revising or redesigning your company website.

  • A redesign can help to improve your website’s search engine optimisation
  • Believe it or not, a revamp of your online tools can actually SAVE YOU MONEY.
  • Google likes sites with new &/or regularly updated content. It ranks them higher.
  • Users expect to see location maps of properties these days. You can lose sales based on the lack of the ability to see where a property is located. This is especially important for out-of-area investors.
  • Google also prefers sites with maps in them, as the information is deemed are more usable and relevant.
  • Technology is changing so rapidly that you want to be sure your site meets the newer standards of web design and interactivity
  • Your website should be representative of your company in every way. If your website looks tired and outdated, what will prospects and vendors think about your entire organization?

Many offices tell me that they feel their website is not as important anymore, because most views of their listings occur via Property Portals sites, such as realestate.com.au, domain.com.au, etc.

Whilst it is true that the portals get exposure for your listings, your website is now more import than ever.

Your website is what potential vendors use to judge who to list with.

Your website is where buyers end up when they have done enough general looking on the portals and are at the purchasing stage.

Your website is what potential sales people judge your business on, when deciding if your organisation is the one they want to work with.

Don’t take your website lightly. Take a good long look at it today.
Scroll through all the pages.

  • Is it fresh? Is the content valid?
  • When was the last time you added something new about the company? A new photo? A press release?
  • Do your listings have multiple photos and maps?
  • Are there listing categories that you no longer sell in, still showing on the site?
  • Can users get automatic alerts about new listings?

In a tight market like the one that a lot of real estate agents are experiencing today, your website is the key to your company – as much as your sales and customer service staff are.
Treat it well and it will deliver the world to you.

Speak to a Brightfox website consultant today, and stop your site from hurting your business.


How Google’s New Algorithm will affect your real estate website

Very recently, Google made significant changes to its search engine algorithm.
This algorithm is basically the formula that Google uses, when determining which sites should appear at the top of search results, and which ones should not.

Very few people, except for hardcore search and tech literati understand precisely how these changes were set up or exactly how they work, but the changes are pretty evident already.
The long and the short of it, is that you will need to take a good look at your website to determine if it is still “search engine friendly”.

Here are some items that now need to be understood in regards to this new Google algorithm:

  • Faster Indexing
    Google has a new thing called “Google Caffeine”. This means there is no more “sandbox” or long waiting times, before your website can be indexed by Google. The indexing time is now down to around 15 minutes (if you have a dynamic site map submitted to Google Webmaster Tools).
    This means that unique, steady content such as news updates, blogs, etc, will take even more precedence in search engine rankings.
  • Google Analytics Data
    In a fairly controversial move, Google has suggested that they may use the analytics data of sites in their algorithm, since it provides a huge amount of information about user interaction of a web site. This makes a lot of sense, but there will be many that do not like this idea.
    This one is a pretty easy fix though, as Google Analytics is free and does not take much to add into a website.
  • Paid Links
    Buying links to push ranks up in a short period of time is a technique used by some marketers. Many of these are added for short periods of time due to the cost of purchasing them.
    Google now says that the age of links matter, so these short term link arrangements will no longer help you. They prefer stable links that have been there for a while, so work on building naturally occurring links that matter to your business.
  • Page Load Time is now important
    Very simply, the time it takes a web page to appear in your internet browser will directly affect how it ranks in Google.
    Make sure that your images and all page elements are optimized and that your sites load fast. Don’t lose rank due to slow loading images or other web elements.
  • Flash animation and Flash websites
    Flash websites and animations created in Flash, can take forever to load up. Based on the information above, this is bad news for your site ranking.  Avoid full flash websites, large animation files & splash pages. Use HTML5 where you can.
  •  

There are other changes still to come from Google. They like to rearrange things periodically just to keep the SEO experts, tech guys and online marketers on their toes.

Trying to play the game and work out how Algorithms work, can be a real waste of time. These Google Algorithm Changes, don’t really change the core message and approach of a good website though – it still is all about CONTENT.
The best thing to do is ensure the basics are covered and that you have good, solid content on your website.
This means:

  • clear information on your site, that is relevant to what your website visitors are looking for (Such as search-able listings, interactive location maps for listings, locality information, clear contact information & staff profiles for example)
  • the consistent addition of unique content (latest news, etc)
  • site promotion through syndication, aimed at generating quality back links through to your site

Brightfox is aware of these changes, and we regularly advise our clients on the best way to manage their online presence, to be the most search-engine friendly that it can be.

If  you are seeking to improve your website rankings, traffic and sales, then feel free to contact us here at Brightfox.