We’re back with the second installment of SEO Hack of the Week! This week, we’re diving into another helpful SEO hack that will help you and your business stand out from the rest of the online crowd.
This Week’s Hack: Start (and Maintain) a Blog
We know, we know: Every agent is pressed for time, and starting yet another new content venture might seem overwhelming. The simple act of starting a blog comes with its fair share of benefits, though: From boosting your ranking on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) to giving you more content to reshare across your social media networks, blogging is an easy, low-lift way to revitalize your online presence.
If you have a website already, you can get started by adding a “Blog” page to your website. If you’re tied to your broker’s website or don’t have the option to add a “Blog” page to your own website, consider creating a free account on one of the internet’s many blogging platforms. The domain won’t be tied to you, but you can still build a substantial following and link to your blog from your existing page.
Before you take off blogging to your heart’s content, take a look at our five tips for starting (and maintaining) a killer blog.
1. Research keywords
If you’ve spent any time researching digital marketing and content, you’ve likely seen just how important keywords are to boosting your SEO. If keywords are so important, though, how do you start the process of finding the “right” keywords for your blog content?
Two words: Keyword research.
Using a free tool like Keywords Everywhere, you can begin selecting keywords to incorporate into your content. With this browser plug in, you can see search volume and overall competition for any word or phrase you plug into Google.
Start with broad search terms — think “homes for sale near me” or “real estate in Minneapolis”— and whittle your way down from there. Put yourself in the shoes of someone searching about real estate or looking for an agent. As long as you can come up with a relevant blog topic, nearly any keyword that meets the following three criteria is a great place to start the process of writing your first piece of blog content:
High volume – More than 1,000 searches/month is ideal, but the more monthly searches for a given keyword, the more visible content centered around that keyword will be.
Low CPC – CPC (cost per click) is a metric reserved for paid search ads, but in general, a higher CPC means that advertisers find that keyword especially useful.
Low competition – Another metric usually reserved for paid ads, SEO-savvy agents can use competition to focus their keyword search. The closer to “1” your keyword is, the more competition there is for that keyword among advertisers. As a general rule, the best keywords for your blog content will have high volume and low competition.
2. Write useful content for human beings
For many agents-turned-content-writers, the logical way to optimize content for SEO is to stuff a blog posts with as many keywords as possible, relevance be damned.
Not so fast.
Google doesn’t take kindly to “keyword stuffing” (the process of over-optimizing a piece of content for a particular keywords), and your SERP ranking will be negatively impacted once your content has been crawled.
To alleviate this problem all together, focus on writing blog content that’s relevant and useful to your audience. If you’re primarily a buyer’s agent, consider writing an article about what to look for during an open house. If you’re a seller’s agent, you’d likely be better off writing an article about which home renovations can have the greatest impact on your home’s resale value.
These topics are expressly relevant to your audience, and Google will reward you for creating novel content that just so happens to be optimized around a keyword (or keyphrase).
3. Be sure your posts are long enough
Full disclosure — there’s no “perfect” length for your blog content. In general, though, Google rewards content that’s long enough to provide value to a reader. This is, in essence, a way to dissuade marketers from writing 200-word, keyword-stuffed posts that don’t provide any value to readers.
As a general rule, you should shoot to create content that’s close to 1,000 words long. That may sound like a lot of content to generate, but if you start writing with a clear topic and single keyword or phrase in mind, you’ll have an easy time keeping yourself on track.
If you miss your target by a few hundred words, that’s fine too — just make sure your shorter content is on par with the quality of any longer pieces of content you’ve written.
4. Use photos
In addition to breaking up any long blocks of text in your blog post, adding photos to your content is actually a great way to boost your content’s SEO rankings even further.
After you’ve selected the perfect imagery for your content (and ensured that you’re including the image source in the caption), it’s time to change the name of your image file. This may seem like a small tweak, but Google does actually index your file names when crawling your website, and on-topic file names will give you a tiny extra SEO boost with every image.
Once you’ve renamed your file and uploaded it to WordPress (or your blogging platform of choice), you have to add “alt text” to your image. For those who aren’t familiar, alt text is the text that’s presented in the event your imagery doesn’t load correctly. It’s also the way visually impaired users will experience the visual part of your content.
Make sure that your alt text clearly establishes what’s going on in your chosen imagery, and use your chosen keyword in your alt text (if appropriate) for another slight SEO boost.
5. Stick to a consistent posting schedule
Congratulations — you’re on the way to running a useful, SEO-boosting blog! You can’t just craft one perfect post, though: Google rewards blogs that provide fresh, regular updates, and you have to create a posting schedule if you want to continue using your blog as an SEO building powerhouse.
Consistent doesn’t have to mean daily: You may choose to write and post a blog once every 5, 7, or 10 days — just be sure you stick to your schedule!