Yesterday I was talking to a couple of agents about SEO services and as I was looking at a few websites, I noticed some things that a lot of people here could benefit from. So today’s post I wanted to post some SEO “rules” that are known in the industry. I say rules lightly as no one really knows exactly the right answer, but they are well known in the industry and documented by the leading professionals in my field. So here we go:
Rule #1 – Don’t Over Do It
SEO has changed a lot over the last few years, and even more so over the last 7 months with the introduction of Panda. SEO isn’t about how many keywords or bold keywords you can pump into a post. In fact, the more keywords you use, the more likely you’re going to get slapped by an over optimization filter and lose your rankings. So how far should you go? The only right answer is to keep it natural.
When writing a post, does it make sense to put your keyword two times in every paragraph? Does it make your post seem like a monkey wrote it? Does it have natural flow? If not, and you feel like you’re forcing keywords where they don’t really belong, you’re over doing it. My general guidelines for optimizing a web page or blog post is this:
- Keyword once in title for blogs or once in the title tag for a web-page.
- Keyword once in the first paragraph.
- Keyword once per every 500 words in the body.
- Keyword once in the last paragraph if it feels natural.
- Use keyword or related keyword once in an internal or external link.
- That’s it! Done.
If this was a 500 word post, the keyword would be on the page 4 times. Which is just under 1% density. 1% is just about right in my books. If you need to use your keyword more than that, great, no problem at all, just make sure it’s for natural reasons, not because you forced it in there to please a search engine.
Here is a quote from probably one of the most notable SEO’s in the world in regards to keyword density: “KW Density sometimes makes a useful test for the webmaster, just to check whether the keywords were overlooked or repeated much too often. However I don’t think Google (or any modern search engine) uses keyword density as a metric – at least not directly. The algo’s calculations for relevance are much more sophisticated than that.
You can see pages at #1 with very low density and extremely high density. You can see pages rank at #1 for a phrase with only one of the words in the phrase on the page. As a metric, KWD comes from the last century’s approach to Information Retrieval. It’s an “ancient god” that should no longer be worshiped.” Tedster from Webmaster World Forums
Recommended reading for rule #1:
- Google Panda Iterations From Webmaster World
- Official Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide (PDF)
Rule #2 – Don’t Confuse Search Engines With Too Many Similar Posts
Google Panda dropped in late February and with it came a major upheaval in the SEO community. It used to be good practice to write as many similar posts on a subject as possible to increase your chance of rankings for that subject matter. Things have changed. Google now recommends to be concise on a subject and write only on the same subject again when it’s necessary. Google had some major problems with content farms who would write similar posts with different wording/titles just to attract search engine visitors. Panda killed that philosophy dead in the water.
It’s now good practice to combine all of your similar posts into one very high quality post related to the subject. Put it all in one place and make sure it’s concise, to the point, and extremely useful for a user. It makes sense really. How many pages from the same site will rank in the top 10 in Google? Not 100, that’s for sure.
So, you want to keep your topics concise and focused, and don’t write over redundant articles just to rank for a different variation of a keyword. Here are some quality guidelines you need to ask yourself about every page on your website. If the answer is yes, you need to re-work your content:
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Read all the quality guidelines by Google post panda.
When building your website, make sure that each page has a single purpose. For real estate this is easy. Create your city pages, neighborhood pages, community pages, buyer page, sellers page, and subdivision pages. That’s all you really need, and then focus on your off-page. If something new happens in those communities/cities, write an update on your blog or update the page itself. Fresh content is great, but if it’s already been written on your site once, you don’t need to do it again in a different way.
Rule #3 – Linking Is Important So Do It Right
Links are what makes Google go around. They have many ranking triggers they use to rank sites, but external and internal links are still #1. But don’t be stupid with your linking. The ones who don’t do it right are the ones who face damages. Here are some linking rules when building links on your own website (internal links):
- Pick a single anchor text for a page and stick to it. Example: If you’re trying to rank a page for the primary keyword City Real Estate, most of your internal links should use that anchor text. (At least 90%)
- Don’t include misleading keywords in your links. Keep them short and precise. In our example above, you could instead link using just “City” for a more precise link.
- Link for users first, SEO second. If it makes sense for a user, link, if not don’t.
- Using related links at the bottom of a post is good SEO and decreases bounce rate while increasing page views.
- Always use ALT text when linking with images.
- Use your best links first as they are more important than links in a footer or at the end of the document.
For external links, the game is different. These are the links that come from other websites to your website. When building external links, be aware that anything that looks to fishy can make your site worse off than it was before. If you get too carried away, you can be penalized and your site could get de-indexed all together. Don’t worry too much about that though unless you are doing some crazy blackhat stuff, which most here don’t have to worry about. Here are some general rules when building external links:
- Mix up your anchor text. It is my opinion (based on some research and others) that you should only have about 20-30% of your external links exact match anchors to your main keyword. Example: If your keyword is City Real Estate, out of 100 links you build, only about 20 to 30 of them should be with that exact anchor. The rest should be mixed up with the URL of the page,” click here” type anchor text,” visit website”, “more information”, etc. Also, you can re-arrange the wording such as “real estate city” and “real estate for sale in city” etc.
- All links are not created equal. A link from your own AR blog to your website will not pass as much juice as a link from your local newspaper. If you have control over the link, it’s really not that great of a link. Try to get links from sources that you don’t have control over; this includes newspapers, industry related blogs, guest blogs, and creating link worthy content.
- Paid links work, but are they worth it? That’s a question you need to answer yourself based on your understanding of the consequences. Do I recommend it? Only if you can get away with it which you most likely can’t.
- Many links from the same domain lose value. If you have 20,000 links to your website, but they are mostly from the same website, then you can easily be beaten by your competition if they have just 100′s of links from different domains.
- Mimic the top 10′s link profiles. If you want to rank for a keyword, follow the path of those already doing it. Target their links as they already blazed the trail.
This is basic linking tactics that are not set in stone, yet they are considered standard. Just be aware that Google keeps tabs on everything you do with your website. In fact, they have so much server power to keep this data, that if they unleashed just there robots that crawl pages at full capacity, they could bring down the entire Internet.
Reading on the subject of links:
- Confirmed SEO Facts By Matt Cutts
- Effective Techniques For Building Links (Video)
- What Is Google Page Rank
- The End Of Google Page Rank?
Digesting this post is going to take a lot of coffee, especially if you’re new to SEO. To be honest, these are just some tips if you’re stuck and want to learn more about increasing your rankings. It’s all pretty much irrelevant if you create a good website and work hard on it everyday. The best way to get rankings is to create a unique website with great content and some simple promotion.
Google isn’t dumb. If you have a great site, it will get recognized, so don’t freak out about not knowing every little thing there is to know about SEO. Write for your users and the rest will fall into place. I recommend you start here if you want to know how to build a successful website:
How to build a successful site in 12 months - The Classic Website Building Tutorial