Back in 1996, Bill Gates first coined the term, “content is king.” Ever since, online marketers have debated the role of content in attracting website traffic. In recent times, however, changes to Google’s all-important ranking algorithms, along with the growing importance of mobile devices, have triggered renewed emphasis on the role of website content. And why not? Aren’t words the primary way humans communicate with one another? As a global agent, what steps can you take to make sure your site’s content is connecting with visitors?
Focus Your Home (Index) and About Pages
You probably do more than just global real estate, so your website will need to reflect all of your service offerings. However, to capture the global market, that aspect of your services should appear on your home page. Select no more than your top three service offerings to highlight on the first page your visitors will see, making sure your global niche is one of them. You will not gain more traffic by splintering your focus. Trying to appeal to everyone will only make you look like a generalist. Don’t wax poetic about all your offerings on the home page—you can use secondary pages to address those. Designations you hold that are NOT related to your primary area(s) of focus belong on your About page, where you can show your breadth of knowledge. Remember, target marketing doesn’t eliminate potential clients; it focuses on attracting those client types you prefer. Your index page is precious. Treat it as such and dedicate it to the types of clients you are most anxious to attract.
On your About page—often the most-visited page after the Home page—be sure to highlight your global credentials, including your CIPS designation, your membership in globally-focused organizations, and testimonials from past international clients. Doing this will demonstrate prior experience serving global customers and help build credibility with visitors.
Crafting Content for Clients
Periodically, Google changes its formulas for ranking content in search results. The latest algorithms—called Penguin and Panda—were instituted earlier this year and make it extremely important to ensure that you have original, quality content (a Panda requirement) and that any incoming links aren’t webspam or low-quality, suspect links (a Penguin “gottcha”). On the human side of the equation, you need to ensure your content is delivering what visitors want in an easyto-digest format:
- Employ short sentences and use text links to escort your visitors to pages with more in-depth information about any important topic they may want to explore.
- Use proper grammar! Not only is poor grammar annoying to natives, it also makes comprehension more difficult for those who struggle with English as a second language, and it confuses machine translation software. (There’s some evidence that even Google prefers good grammar!)
- Watch word selection and sentence structures to ensure global clients don’t have to wrestle with your text to understand the information.
- Use bullets to convey information for easy scanning and quick absorption of information. This will also make it easier for visitors on mobile devices to digest your content.
- Keep your pages short to avoid too much scrolling, especially on small screens.
Text Links Done Right
Text links make it easy for visitors to gain more information and dig deeper into your site, learning more about what interests them most. So make sure you take advantage of text links wherever logical. Don’t forget to link images too. Text and image links are especially important for mobile browsing, since it’s easier to touch a link than to type in search queries or scroll around a page looking for additional information. Effective use of text links will permit visitors to quickly skim over the words they don’t want to learn more about, and learn more about topics that do interest them with a single touch. The more information you provide on the topics they seek, the more likely they’ll call you to help with their global real estate needs. Properly crafted links will provide all the information they want, while keeping your site clean, uncluttered and easy to navigate.
What About Tools and Widgets?
One of your CIPS benefits is the CIPS Widget, which offers language translation, international holidays, and conversion tools for currency, area/measurement, and time. Visit the CIPS Personal Marketing Materials page (for CIPS designees only!) on realtor.org/global to obtain the code to embed on your site.
Blogging – Just Do It!
Blogs are a great way to niche your global real estate services, keep your content fresh, improve your online marketing efforts, and reach clients who might otherwise never find you. The world is a big place; carving out your niche in this market is essential. Blogging is the best way to do that.
Note: If blogging intimidates you, never fear! We will cover blogging for the global marketplace, the importance of original content, ways to develop content that will drive traffic to your site, and how to tap into social networking with your blog in the next issue of Global Perspectives!
Make Your Site Sticky
How do you keep potential clients on your site? In addition to text links, make it easy for them to discover more about topics that interest them while showcasing your depth of knowledge. You can do this by adding related posts at the bottom of each blog page that feature other blog entries and pages from your site with similar content. When people find your site via a search, they will be more likely to stay and read more (and will see more of your expertise) when related content is only a click away.
Helping people find your site also involves knowing what words and phrases they are most likely to employ while searching. You can investigate possible keywords by using a free online keyword research tool (Google’s is most popular, at googlekeywordtool.com). Also examine your site’s analytics to determine which keywords are currently generating traffic to your site.
Pulling It All Together
Good content for websites doesn’t happen easily. Your written content must be strong, but to communicate effectively in our wired world many other considerations are also at play, including keywords, text links and more. To better understand how to pull all these considerations together, review the case example on page four. By employing a similar approach throughout your site, you’ll score higher points with visitors and search engines alike.