By Matt Edstrom, Chief Marketing Officer at GoodLife Home Loans
SEO is one of digital marketing’s most intricate and nuanced elements. It can be complicated and difficult to understand, but it’s also a powerful tool that can be used to drive traffic and increase search rankings. Research has shown that 75% of Internet users only view the first page of search results. This means that if your website isn’t ranking on the first page of a search engine, it probably isn’t receiving much traffic. Driving high levels of website traffic is a great opportunity to convert traffic into new leads. As all brokers know, leads equal sales. Luckily for commercial brokers, you’ll only need to have a basic understanding of SEO to use it to your advantage.
So, what is SEO? SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. Search engines like Google or Bing use an algorithm to determine how websites rank when users search for certain keywords. Keyword search is one of the most important aspects of SEO for commercial brokers to understand. Content creation, social media, and mobile optimization are other SEO aspects that we’ll be breaking down to help you understand SEO and use it to drive traffic to your website.
The exact algorithm that search engines use to determine how to rank websites for user searches is confidential information. This is to prevent website owners and marketers from manipulating the algorithm to yield higher rankings. Despite the limited information provided about search engine algorithms, keyword search is known to have a significant impact on driving website traffic.
The first step to optimizing keyword search in your favor is determining what keywords you want your website to rank for. The more general keyword searches you choose, the harder it will be to rank for those terms. This is because the broader the keyword search, the more websites will be ranking for those keywords. This means the best way to get to the top page of Google or other search engines like Yahoo and Bing is to try and rank for niche keywords.
For example, the search phrase “commercial brokers in California” yields 27,200,000 results, “commercial brokers in San Diego” returns 18,200,000 results and “commercial brokers in Chula Vista” has 926,000 results. As you pick more and more specific keywords, the amount of competition you’ll be trying to rank against decreases, which increases your chances of getting to the front page.
Check out Google’s keyword tool to help you generate keyword terms that will work in your favor. Once you’ve picked some keyword phrases that you’d like your website to rank for, it’s time to create content for your website.
Creating content isn’t an easy task, but it’s a necessary element of driving traffic to your website. For commercial brokers, content is going to focus primarily on blog posts. Even if you’re not interested in SEO or understanding it, you’ll need to create content for your website. But by understanding SEO you’ll be able to optimize the content you create to work in your favor. Either way, creating content is unavoidable if you want to be a successful broker.
The internet is indescribably oversaturated with content, which means leaving your mark is really challenging. Even if you can’t create amazing content, it’s important to still make a point of creating good content. In addition to optimized keyword terms, quality content can help drive traffic to your site.
Your website’s content is where keyword terms are going to live, so it’s important to place these keyword phrases in the first paragraph of your post. Additionally, try to avoid placing too many keywords into each piece of content–something that’s known as ‘keyword stuffing.’ If there are additional searches that you want to rank for, you can save these keywords for other posts.
It’s also important to consider the length of your posts. Google tends to favor longer articles over shorter ones, but take into consideration that posts that are too long will turn readers away. The last element to consider when creating content for your website is inbound and external linking. Inbound linking helps your site visitors find other relevant information offered on your site and can also help search engines pick up on other keywords within your website.
External linking also helps search engines identify key terms on your site. Additionally, it is a good opportunity to get other sites sharing your content. If a website notices that you’ve linked back to them or shared their content on your site, they may end up promoting your content on their website or social channels.
Once you’ve created content for your website, it’s time to start sharing. Social media is a great platform to share the great content that you’ve created. The more people that are reading and sharing your content, the more traffic you’ll be driving to your website. Link building is another great way to get your content circulated.
Google has set new website ranking standards regarding mobile optimization. Mobile-first indexing means that if your site isn’t optimized for mobile use, it’s going to rank behind sites that are. Not only is your site going to rank behind mobile-optimized sites, but it’s also going to prevent users from spending extending periods of time your site if they are using a mobile device.
Internet users appreciate and spend time on sites that are easy to navigate. Users are going to look for a different site to find information if your website is difficult to navigate. Time spent on a site is another factor that Google considers when determining search rankings. This means if people are visiting your site but navigating away because of poor user experience, it’s going to be hard to earn high rankings, even if you’re optimizing keyword search and creating great content. Website load speed, user experience, and mobile optimization are all elements of a website that can influence search ranking. You can test your websites load speed with Google’s Test My Site tool. You can also check your website’s mobile optimization by visiting your page on a smartphone or by using Chrome’s Dev Tool. To use Chrome’s Dev Tool on a PC, simply click F12 in your Chrome browser.
Understanding how SEO works may seem daunting and time-consuming at first. SEO is not going to produce overnight success. It is a long-term solution to driving traffic that will take time. The benefit of this is that once a website has SEO working in its favor, it continues to yield results. Using SEO to your advantage will require an initial investment but the long-term results will be well worth the time spent.
About the author: Matt Edstrom is the Chief Marketing Officer of GoodLife Home Loans. Matt completed his undergrad at MIT and his MBA at Northwestern University and has experience in real estate, marketing, and finance.