It’s bad enough when vendors offer real estate SEO services and/or advice that isn’t worth a dime … but what about when the national organization that’s supposed to support real estate agents starts spreading around misinformation to its members?
The National Association of REALTORS® offered up some SEO tips in its official magazine last month via an article titled “6 Weeks to Better Search Engine Results.”
I like the idea behind the article — simplifying some of the low-hanging SEO fruit into tasks that can be worked on one week at a time. Good idea. But some of the specific advice is … well … not so hot. Frankly, some of it just exacerbates the same problems that have plagued real estate agents for years — namely, that so much of what they call “real estate SEO” is over-the-top and spammy.
Here are the six one-week tasks listed in the article:
- Week 1: Write Better Page Titles
- Week 2: Broadcast Your Links
- Week 3: Use Keywords Generously
- Week 4: Reword Outgoing Links
- Week 5: Develop a Site Map
- Week 6: Tweet About It
On the surface, that list looks … okay. Not great, not what I’d list, but not terrible. It’s when you get into the specific suggestions that things get ugly and real estate agents get misled. Let’s look at a few tips:
Real Estate SEO: Linkbuilding?
Under Week 2: Broadcast Your Links is this advice:
Develop a campaign to get other Web sites linking to yours. Focus on social networks and trusted real estate Web sites, advises Cheryl Waller, a real estate technology expert in Port Saint Lucie, Fla. One way to do this is by making thoughtful comments on real estate blogs and leaving your link as part of your blog post. “You don’t need 14,000 links to your site. What you do need are relevant links to your business from reputable Web sites that are trusted by search engines,” Waller says. This helps search engines deem your site as trustworthy, too.
Reality: Commenting on blogs can help with exposure, but it’s not a “campaign” and isn’t likely to make a search engine think your site is trustworthy, either. Worse, it’s something that too many people overdo and get wrong. A lot of real estate agents dropping links on each other’s blogs only adds to the perception that the entire industry is one big spam-fest. Consider these two comments that came in overnight on the Richland Real Estate Blog:
Not very “thoughtful,” is it?
Real Estate SEO: Keyword Density?
Under Week 3: Use Keywords Generously is this advice:
While it might seem like overkill to repeat certain keywords heavily throughout your site, the strategy really does work, says real estate and technology blogger Matt Rains, a practitioner with Keller Williams Atlanta Partners in Loganville, Ga. He suggests incorporating the top phrases that you want associated with your site—”St. Louis Historic Homes,” for example. For strategic ideas, try the Keyword Tool on Google AdWords. Using the tool, you can type a phrase that’s relevant to your business and immediately find out how many people search for that term each month. Your main keywords should appear at least 10 to 13 times per 700 words on a page, says Mark Menzella, who runs RE/Advantage, a real estate Web design company in Fairfield, N.J.
Reality: Keyword density is a myth. There’s no perfect amount of times a keyword should appear on a page to rank, because there are countless other factors that determine a page’s relevance and importance. Hearing “real estate Web design” people pitch this advice only reinforces the idea that real estate SEO is a joke. Better advice is what I said here: There’s no magic formula or perfect “keyword density” — write for your users so the pages are readable, but be sure to include the right search terms as you write.
Real Estate SEO: Twitter?
Under Week 6: Tweet About It is this advice:
“Now that tweets are indexed in Google, Twitter has become an important part of SEO strategy,” says Misty Lackie of Go Smart Solutions, a technology consulting firm in Grover Beach, Calif. So get a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, and create useful tweets that happen to include your business keywords and links to your site.
Reality: I love Twitter, but the SEO benefits of using it are neglible … especially if your tweets are going to “include your business keywords and links to your site.” Look below; does anyone think this is how to use Twitter?
No human will click on the link in a tweet like that, and since the link is no-followed, there’s no SEO benefit from using Twitter this way, either. Twitter can be an amazing tool for local visibility, but it has nothing to do with Google indexing tweets (users are blind to real-time results). It has to do with being real and creative on Twitter, not spamming your keywords and links there.
If you’d like to see the whole article for yourself, it’s on Realtor.org. Sadly, it seems that nothing has changed in the two-plus years since I first wrote about real estate SEO being a disaster and a joke. Even more sad is that the bad advice is coming from the national organization that’s supposed to make life easier for real estate agents.