A key component of any website’s design—and especially a site that aims to attract real estate clients from across the globe— is its ranking in search engines. What are the most essential things to know to help international clients find you?
Search engine optimization (SEO) naturally boosts your marketing results by pairing great content with good coding practices (e.g., using alt-tags on all images, title tags on headers and meta-tags on internal and external links). It includes a well-designed site with smoothly functioning programming on the backend, appropriate use of keywords, internal and external links, and seamless incorporation of social media links.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is sometimes used interchangeably with SEO, but is more focused on purchasing a place in the search engines through pay-per-click (PPC) ads (including Google Adwords), purchased index and directory inclusions, and web backlinks. SEM may be a great way to give a new site a temporary boost while SEO takes effect, but it’s an expensive way to maintain a site that can’t stand on its own merits (through excellent content, beautiful design, social media integration and clean programming). Many people and organizations call themselves SEO/SEM experts, but finding the best providers means understanding the basics and asking the right questions. Unfortunately, some Internet marketing firms employ techniques that can cause more harm than good.
Three Warning Signs
- A firm promises “page one” Most excellent website teams can get you into the top three pages, and the best ones have a good ratio of clients who are on page one for their preferred search terms. But be cautious about anyone who promises a page one placement. You do not want your website jumping to page one, only to be banned from Google for unscrupulous tactics. Be sure your provider knows their Internet marketing ropes and subscribes to legal “white hat” methods.
- You’re told not to worry about it If an Internet marketing firm says they can help you, ask HOW, exactly. If they aren’t willing to educate you on their basic approaches, or they tell you some version of “don’t worry about it,” be worried. If they say it’s too complex to understand, assume their methods are suspect. Any good Internet marketing professional will be willing to educate you—their client—on what they do and why. The best ones will teach you enough that you can continue adding content that helps your website become an SEO powerhouse!
- Reluctance to offer references You should not only ask for references, you should talk to a company’s current and past clients. If their work includes complete website development (not exclusively online promotion) visit the sites they’ve designed. If they look too much alike, if their content looks similar, if their clients don’t want to (or can’t) discuss what the marketing firm did for them—find another provider.
A good marketing professional WANTS you to worry about your website ranking. They want to help you do things that will improve your reach and will warn you of approaches that will hurt your results. An excellent online marketing professional is your business-building partner who takes as much pride in your success as their own. Part marketing guru and part cheerleader, they help you move your website from barely there to marketing machine!