Website design By BotEap.comThe world of real estate is undergoing a dramatic change and I am not referring to the current market disruptions caused by the shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.

Website design By BotEap.comRegardless of the price level, there will always be home buying and selling. But the way people search and find homes is in the midst of dramatic change. The Internet is the great equalizer but also the great differentiator.

Website design By BotEap.comPeople searching online are not aware of your achievements, we are all the same at first. If your website doesn’t offer the design and services that people appreciate, they won’t stick around long enough to find out. This is where you can differentiate yourself.

Website design By BotEap.comBut design and functionality are a secondary issue to the problem of how to be found in the first place. Use the analogy that websites are online business cards. New business cards are not deposited at the top of the stack, but at the bottom. Customers are picking up business cards from the top of the pile. Search engine optimization or SEO deals with efforts to move business cards higher up the stack so that customers can find your site through popular search engines.

Website design By BotEap.comThen you have a new website. You basically just printed your business cards, but nobody knows how to find them. Or even more dramatic, you don’t even know if someone is picking up your business cards and you don’t know if your business cards are in the big pile yet.

Website design By BotEap.comI would define SEO as efforts to deliberately move a website to rank higher on the results page in response to a search query on a variety of search engines.

Website design By BotEap.comBut there are thousands of search engines. True. But all but 3 are irrelevant to your optimization efforts. Google, Yahoo and MSN control about 98% of all searches made on the Internet. Focus on the big three search engines and the rest will take care of itself.

Website design By BotEap.comWhat needs to be optimized? The goal is for people looking for what you offer on your website to find you. When people search, they do so verbatim by looking at a search term or phrase. To optimize your site, you must first understand what keywords or key phrases you want to be searched for. Since I’m practicing real estate in Aspen, Colorado, the appropriate search term might be “Aspen Real Estate.”

Website design By BotEap.comMake sure to repeat your keywords and phrases on your home page. Make the most important key phrase a title and write it in bold.

Website design By BotEap.comIt is important to understand that search engines are automated computer systems programmed by humans to evaluate web content without human interference. This means that the search results are based on what is called a computer algorithm. It is basically a set of instructions for the computer on how to evaluate certain criteria and translate the results into a sequence of importance. Most important website first, least important last.

Website design By BotEap.comThe art and science of search engine optimization is trying to understand what search engines are looking for in a good site and then giving the search engine just that. Google’s search engine algorithm probably looks at hundreds of different criteria. It’s so complex that even Google engineers don’t know the whole picture. Well, arguably, how should no Google employee know what to do?

Website design By BotEap.comBasically, the most important fundamentals of what makes a good website are known. Google, for example, uses a proprietary mathematical concept they called “Page Rank” at the root of their systems. Links are considered votes. The more links point to a website, the more important that website needs to be. The most important thing about the web is that you vote for another web the more weight you vote for cavities.

Website design By BotEap.comSo, try to get people to link to your website. It is important to know that website links that have the same theme as your website appear to be more important than website links that do not conform to the theme. Links from other real estate related websites are more important to my website than links from websites promoting toys.

Website design By BotEap.comSearch engines like content-rich websites. The more pages that have useful content, the better. Blogs are a great way to accumulate great content on a topic over a period of time. This is the most important as search engines, like websites, have new content on a regular basis.

Website design By BotEap.comDMOZ.org is a human compiled directory of websites. Please read your instructions carefully and submit your website to a relevant category. Yahoo and Google use this directory and it helps to get listed.

Website design By BotEap.comGenerate a sitemap and put the xml file on your web server. A sitemap is basically a long list that contains all of your web pages in a format that is readable by the computer programs used by search engines to navigate the web. These programs are called “bots” or “spiders.” This will help search engines find all the pages on your website. Remember, the more web pages the search engine knows about, the better for you.

Website design By BotEap.comSearch engines cannot read certain content. Graphic content is one of those things. If your site consists mainly of images, the search engine will not understand what your site is about and therefore will not serve it as a result of a search. Make sure your site is rich in text.

Website design By BotEap.comThe real estate website may have pages for the different subdivisions in the area served. Write a blog about the property of the week. Add a “Frequently Asked Questions” section. Write about yourself and give people a biography about you. Explain the buying and selling process. Offer sales statistics. The list goes on.

Website design By BotEap.comGet a program like “Advanced Web Ranking” to search the search engines for search results that contain your keywords. Optimization is fun when you start to see results. But manually searching your website in search results requires a lot of manpower and good work for an automated program.

Website design By BotEap.comRead web forums and a couple of books on SEO once you’ve gotten past the basics. The field is constantly evolving and we have much more to learn.

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