Last week we took a look at internal link optimization as a way to boost the ranking of your real estate web site. This week, we will be looking at external links as a way to boost your site’s popularity.
When many people first start looking at marketing their real estate web site online, the first thing they hear about is the Google PageRank algorithm, which basically uses the number of incoming links, that is links on other web sites that point to your web site, to determine your ranking. It is assumed that the more people who link to your site, the more likely it is that your site is relevant for a given search term. Given the fact that real estate search terms are so competitive, many people probably assume it is a lost cause to try and build their inbound links enough to compete with the top ranked web sites, but there is a little secret that many overlook. First of all, things have changed a bit since Google first introduced their pagerank technology. It is no longer as simple as getting as many incoming links as possible. Just like your internal links, you should make sure that the proper keywords appear in any links to your web site, and that the links point to pages that are relevant to the link text that is used. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that not all web sites are considered equally when determining how much a given inbound link should help or hurt your rankings. For instance, a web site that is essentially just a big “link farm” with huge numbers of links that are poorly organized, is not going to be weighted as heavily as say, your local chamber of commerce web site which has strict membership requirements and probably includes a hefty fee. So when choosing your linking partners, you should seek out web sites that have a high page rank themselves, and are relevant to your content. You can get more benefit from 10 inbound links from highly authoritative sources than you can with 100 links from irrelevant or poorly ranked web sites. It can often be difficult to get links form authoritative sources. Such web sites often do not have a links page or do not engage in link exchanges. However, there are web sites that almost any business CAN get links on, and that are weighted heavily by search engines. I’ve already mentioned your local chamber of commerce. Other sites to consider are professional organizations that have membership fees or other stringent criterion for joining. When Google sees a link to your site from a professional organization that costs $600/year to join, they assume you must be serious enough about your business to pay the membership fee, so they give those inbound links more weight in determining your ranking. Links from paid directories such as Yahoo can also help more than links from unpaid directories for the same reasons. So join professional organizations that are highly visible online and that will result in you getting a link on their site and use the most visible paid directories to prove that your business is not just some fly-by-night enterprise. Whenever possible, use your best keyword phrase as the link text rather than your company name, unless your company name IS your best keyword phrase.
With just part 1 and part 2 of this series, you should be well on your way to improving your search rankings. Next week we will talk about other on-page optimizations you can employ to get an edge in marketing your real estate web site.