In an earlier life, I headed up the SEO department of a major online marketing company. With that background, you'll believe me when I say that I understand how important search engine ranking is to any business.In my time in online marketing I worked with a number of real estate related sites; I've learned through experience that real estate is one of the most difficult and competitive industries to perform SEO for. My view is supported by the fact that a Google AdWords campaign (paying to appear on the front page) can cost up to $9 per click for the industry. But I'm sure I don't need to tell you how competitive your industry is.With all that said, you don’t need to be particularly SEO savvy to take an active role in improving your website’s search engine rankings.
Once upon a time, Google used a search ranking algorithm that placed significant value on one way links from industry related websites to your website. Every inbound link represented another 'vote' for a site. Each such vote told Google you were a valuable contributor to the online conversation surrounding particular topics (meaning keywords).Unfortunately, this method was open to abuse. Less-than-above-board SEO practitioners found various ways to fake inbound links. This led to an epic tug of war between the “Black Hat” SEO providers and Google. Every time Google made a change to stop people abusing their system, the Black Hats would work at finding a way around it.Then along came social media.All of a sudden, consumers were gathering en masse and providing incredibly powerful data on who they thought were the most reputable, valuable businesses online. Google’s aim is to deliver the best possible results for consumers; the aggregated opinion of consumers on social media is worth its weight in gold.
What's the punchline?
Since the shift to social began, Google has been gradually adjusting the way it ranks websites. It has dramatically increased the weight it gives to the social conversations and content generation activity occurring off a business' website. Google has moved to consider the online presence of a business, that encompasses all of its activity.From your website, to your Facebook page; from your Twitter feed, to your blog posts, the way the online community interacts with you is now a significant contributing factor to your search engine positioning.You can contribute to this very simply by offering your online community something to interact with. Blog regularly, engage with your followers on social media, share stories and information, contribute to the industry with helpful information and be a participant in real estate conversations online.Blogging in particular is a great way to add value by putting your thoughts down on "paper". This can help you organise and think through topics important to your workplace and to the real estate industry as a whole.Google asks what it asks of you because it wants to be user friendly and helpful, so it’s in your best interest to give it exactly what it wants. Not just for the sake of your rankings, but for your own reputation and the extra business that better search rankings are likely to bring you.Today's internet is first and foremost about connection. Because of that, Google is favouring businesses that communicate useful information and engage actively with their clients. Don't waste the opportunity to engage in real, meaningful conversations with your community. In my experience, the rewards will follow.