How Quickly Will a New Domain Name Rank?

When it comes to search engine optimization, domain name age is certainly one of the factors that goes into how well a website ranks. If you have a domain that’s been around for a decade, it’ll be much easier to get that website ranking for your keyword than it would be with a domain name that was recently registered and has never had an actual website with content on it. We recently received a question from a client with one of our amazing predesigns mentioning the fact that they have been blogging actively for awhile, but their site is still no where near the first page of Google’s rankings. The domain name for this specific client was brand new as of about a month ago.

First of all, talking about “Google rankings” by itself is extremely vague and is useless for the most part, as ranking highly for “Seattle real estate” is a totally different scenario than ranking well for an obscure keyword such as “small teapot with flower cover made in Madison, WI”.

Unfortunately, as with most things in the SEO world, there is no simple answer as to how long it will take a domain name to rank highly. It depends on how competitive a keyword you are targeting, and how many links you end up building back to your domain. There are thousands upon thousands too many variables at play to give a blanket response that fits every scenario.

So, I think it’s clear there’s no magic pill to bypass the Google sandbox (damn, I know). Your best bet is to keep pumping out great content, and build a bunch of backlinks back to your domain (ideally with great anchor text). If you really want to speed up the process of ranking highly for your keyword, we recommend paying an expert to evaluate the difficulty, cost and to develop a strategic plan rather than just shooting in the dark and hoping a bunch of content takes you to the top of the search engines for your desired keywords.

I hope this helps a little bit at least…

Onsite SEO Work Driving Traffic and Leads

When it comes to search engine optimization, there are two primary components that lead a particular site to rank well for specific keywords: “onsite” SEO and “offsite” SEO. Both are important. Without solid onsite SEO (landing pages, internal linking, alt tags, depth of content, etc), any offsite SEO efforts you undertake are going to be minimized (best case) or completely wasted (worse case). But without offsite SEO efforts (aka link building), it’s not going to really matter how good your onsite SEO is — your site still won’t rank well without external links pointing back at your domain. Virtual Results helps our clients with both onsite and offsite SEO. Below are two charts from a client site showing the change in traffic and leads since we did some ONSITE SEO work (we haven’t done any off site work for them) a few months back.

Traffic is trending up and to the right.

Leads more than doubled. This chart doesn’t include phone calls either, just leads via the IDX.

Which direction are your traffic and leads trending? If they aren’t going up and to the right and you want world class real estate SEO help, let us know. We’re not hard to reach…

Trulia vs Zillow (A spirited Real Estate "SEO" discussion)

800px-steel_cage_match_-_angle_vs_cenaMy guess is that when Teresa Boardman posted this message to Twitter:

“O.K. if an agent could only use one, which should they use? Zillow or Trulia?”

She had very little idea (or did she?) what an inspired discussion would commence.

As it is with Twitter, both David Gibbons, Community Director of Zillow and Rudy Bachraty, Social Media Guru of Trulia were listening, and what transpired over the next hour or so was a spirited discussion on SOME of the merits of Zillow and Twitter.

Now, this discussion fell quite short of discussing the ENTIRE difference and benefits of the two (although consider this a formal offer for VR to host that discussion…  TokBox, maybe?) between the two sites and concentrated mostly on the Search benefits of both.

Having a passion for SEO, this is what caught my attention and this is what THIS post will concentrate on.  He

re is the transcript, best as I can assemble it…without any additional interjection..below I have included a video of the discussion as well…

Img_0230_normal123456_normal
davidgibbons: @TBoard LOL, do you really wanna see @trulia & me get into it or what? Ur listings should be on BOTH but Zillow offers more traffic, leads & SEO

davidgibbons: @trulia LOL, only if you let me lead … [you see @TBoard !!!]

And for those of you who are “Twitter Challenged, ” Jeff Turner put together this VERY cool video of the exchange…”

Zillow Vs. Trulia – David Vs. Rudy (The Movie)

Now, that you have read the tweetalogue, (just made that up) you probably understand why this is of interest to me…  SEO.

Within this spirited discussion, there where QUITE a few statements concerning the SEO of both sites.  I would like to first create a series of questions from these statements and hopefully provoke a discussion on the benefits of both.

1) Do temporary inbound links, help your website… (and why don’t BOTH companies just mark the property “SOLD” and let the link live, and grow old and VALUABLE.”

2) Do links from profile pages help your website and how can you best MAXIMIZE this feature. (Proper Anchor Text, Multiple links, Deep Links, etc)

3) Do links that do NOT have favorable anchor text matter.  In other words, If the anchor text is an address, and not a keyword you are trying to rank for.

4) Is the address search, a valuable search.  I believe David when he states that he has a few million searches a month by address. But WHO AND WHY is someone searching by address and this really a home buyer?

5) How valuable is the long tail in Real Estate.  I see analytics all the time showing the QUANTITY of long tail page views, but is a searcher searching “Restaurants in Laguna Beach” or “Laguna Beach Architecture” really a valuable page view? (Bloggers get involved here…)

6) And a little “pet peeve” non-SEO question.  I have always taught that Realtors should create listing pages for their websites, because the MLS descriptions should be written to help OTHER REALTORS sell the house.  Realtors should be able to edit ANY outward facing listing page to appeal to the consumer.  I am under the impression, that neither Trulia or ZIllow allow this.  Am I correct, and how come?

I absolutely have my opinions on ALL these questions…  and will back them up with analytics.  Lets here your answers and opinions…  Please forward this post to anyone you think is interested in the SEO value of these two popular websites, and be sure to subscribe below to keep up to date on the conversation…

WordPress SEO for Real Estate Websites-Robots.txt

icon_bigIt seems almost eery that within the week I scheduled to write a post on WordPress SEO about the Robots.txt file,  I get two…not one, but TWO calls from Realtors who just can not figure out why their sites are not ranking as they should. After careful observation, BOTH of them turn out to be robots command issues… Now granted one was an on page robots (no index) issue, but the other was a robots.txt file issue…  Each carry the same message…  HEY GOOGLE, DONT INDEX THIS SITE (PAGE) K?

Probably not the message YOU want to send to Google, now is it…

So today, we will speak about the robots.txt file…  in a week or so, (probably not next week, as two robots posts in two weeks would even bury my eyelids…) we will talk about robots commands, another sure fire way to increase slightly, or DECREASE GREATLY your SEO.

So, What Is Robots.txt?

Robots.txt is a text (not html) file you add to you root directory that tells the  Search Engine Spiders which of your pages NOT to visit. Search Engines do not guarantee they will abide by this information, but typically they do.  Most spiders will not go where they are told not to go.  A robots.txt is a strong suggestion to a search engine not to index your page.  However, it is not a rule…  It is a bit like asking someone not to go in a room while you are not home…  the room is unlocked, but you trust they will not.

Just as you would not leave VALUABLES in that room, do not PROTECT sensitive information by adding it to your robots.txt file. There are way better ways to secure pages.

The location of robots.txt is very important. Search engines will not search your site for it. They simply scan the main directory and if they don’t find it, they assume that your site does not have a robots.txt file and they proceed to index everything they find.

So HOW do you write a Robots,txt file.

Well the simplest way, is to open NOTEPAD and create the file there.  robots.txt is exactly what it says, it is a text file named robots not an HTML file.  So, notepad is the logical choice.

The structure of a robots.txt is pretty simple, but frankly NOT very flexible– it is an endless list of user agents and disallowed files and directories. Basically, the syntax is as follows:

User-agent:

Disallow:

User-agent” are search engines’ crawlers such as Google Bot or Yahoo and disallow: is a lists of the pages or directories tyou wish NOT to be indexed. You may also see lines of text proceeded by #.  These are simple comments and intended for human eyes as opposed to the spiders.

For example, if I did not want the spiders to index my wp-admin page (something I do on all my sites to keep from leaking link-juice to meaningless pages) I would write it this way…

# All user agents are disallowed to see the /wp-admin page

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-admin/

The first line is for me, the second states “OK, this is for all spiders and bots” and the third line, “Pretty please, don’t index my logon page.”

The concept and structure of robots.txt is a decade old, and there are plenty of resources, such as http://www.robotstxt.org/ or you can go straight to the Standard for Robot Exclusion

Robots.txt files can get lengthy and the exact syntax, punctuation and SPELLING (most of the errors I see are mis-spelling of user agents, directories or missing colons, slashes, etc.) is of great importance. So be careful…

Here is an example of Virtual Results robots.txt file.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin
Disallow: /wp-admin
Disallow: /wp-includes
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins
Disallow: /wp-content/cache
Disallow: /wp-content/themes
Disallow: /trackback
Disallow: /comments
Disallow: */trackback
Disallow: */comments
Disallow: /*?*
Disallow: /*?
Allow: /wp-content/uploads

Dont be totally discouraged if you dont get all of this, as you will have another chance.  In coming weeks, look for my WordPress SEO for Real Estate Websites post on wordpress DUPLICATION,  a pretty large SEO issue with WordPress out of the box.  WIthin this post, we will give tips and tools to use wordpress plugins to create robots.txt to reduce content duplication…

Next time?  Creating Great WordPress titles for SEO

WordPress SEO for Real Estate Websites-Permalinks

icon_bigIn WordPress, what some call a URL, we call Permalinks…

Permalinks are literally permanent links to your blog posts, yeah, the ones that live in your address bar because they contain the address to your blog post (or page).

WordPress sets them by default to look something like this…

http://virtualresults.net/?p=123

Now, having important keywords in your URL (permalinks) is pretty darn important to the major search engines, (arguably, one of the top 5 most important things in the Google algorithm) So, unless your post HAPPENS to be about the number 123, we should really change this.. In addition, it gives your readers a better idea what your post is about…

Change to what? and how? Well here again, there are two schools of thought…
1) www.yourdomain.com/the-title-of-your-post/
2) www.yourdomain.com/category/the-title-of-your-post/

Both make a ton of sense in the proper situation… I tend to favor number two when I can build keyword rich, important categories and write proper descriptions for those categories…

How to change to “pretty Permalinks”
In WP 2.7, simply locate the link that says “permalinks” near the bottom of your left hand tool bar, under “settings”…

next choose the radio button next to “custom settings” and finally enter the permalink structure youhave decided on…

For 1) www.yourdomain.com/the-title-of-your-post enter /%postname%/
For 2) www.yourdomain.com/category/the-title-of-your-post enter /%category%/%postname%/.

Thats it your done?

*Note that if your .htaccess file is not set to be writeable, WordPress will produce a set of codes which you’ll need to copy and paste to your .htaccess file!

Now, I know this is really simple stuff for a lot of you, but please hang with me and SUBCRIBE, because it is going to get a lot more interesting….

Next Post? When is the last time you invested some time in your robots.txt file?

WordPress SEO for Real Estate Websites-Validation

icon_bigOkay, I am a TAD fed-up, just  TAD… At almost every Real Estate Internet Marketing event I attend, someone…some Internet-marketing-SEO-real-estate-social-media-twittering-facebook-connected-expert, says something to the effect of “The great thing about WordPress, is that is has UNBELIEVABLE on page SEO, straight out of the box.

Now while WordPress is not BAD, and in fact is significantly better than MOST flash intensive, java-laden REAL ESTATE Websites, it is really not (in the immortal words of Dr. Evil) “Two clicks and a bag of chips.”  In fact,l it has drevilsome pretty significant issues, “straight out of the box….”

The Good News?  Almost nothing that can’t be fixed, with a few (8-10) plugins, a smidgen of PHP, a smattering of existing code changes, and maybe a rub of your lucky rabbits foot…  (although that wasn’t really lucky for the rabbit, was it…)

This started as one REALLY long post… but I think it may end up as a bakers dozen or so…  A series of bite-size pieced nuggets to clean up your WP install and make the lean, mean, ranking machine you hoped for when you launched it…  Lets start with the Obvious and SLOWLY journey to the esoteric.. well not so fast, lets start with the esoteric..kind of.. go directly to the basics, and slowly get more advanced..

Theme Validation

There is, and always has been an ongoing argument about the necessity of Theme Validation.  Validating Code simply ensures that your page (or theme) conforms to a agreed upon technical  specification, which usually include a machine-readable formal grammar (and vocabulary.)

The reason is simple: search engine spiders need to interpret your source code. And while the Internet Explorert and Firefox are very forgiving of your coding errors, search engine spiders, such as Googlebot aren’t quite as kind.  Most browsers are very forgiving of bad code. If the browser can interpret the intent or meaning of the site then it will likely display an agreeable page. But search engine spiders are often not as forgiving and something as simple as an overlooked “tag  close” can cause the spider to read the code structure  differen tthen how the page is displayed in the browser.

My opinion? Most validation errors will not affect your SEO at all…  but the really bad ones, absolutely will.

The only thing you really need to be sure of is that there are no problems in the code structure that would prevent the search engine spider from parsing the code correctly. Proper validation does this.

While a page may still get ranked for keywords, improperly developed code may actually keep  the page from performing as well as it otherwise could.

The solution here is to ensure the site you are building, buying or developing is  W3C XHTML and CSS Validated .  If you are purchasing a site, ask.  If you are starting with a theme, make sure the theme is documented as compliant. Solid programmers and theme writers validate their code…

With that said, in most cases, if a page doesn’t validate it  probably still will work for adaptive technologies and search engines, however depending on the errors within the code, it’s not a guarantee.  Due to this, it’s best to try and take one extra precaution and  begin your project with valid code.

Next post in this series?  Something simple.. or is it?  Permalinks

PS: If you’re interested in amazing world class SEO, let us know.

What is the Return in ROI…

Over the next few posts I will endevour to bring you some ideas on the VALUE of tracking website analytics that rise well above simply receiving leads…  Now, Receiving leads, or convincing visitors to self identify is first and foremost.  But how about just getting better…

How did you get better at your listing presentation…  Feedback.  Each time you gave a listing presentation your prospect showed you comments and body language that properly read coached you to add or omit parts of the presentation…  and you got better!

Analytics is the Body Language of the web… 

Analytics works for your website just as prospect feedback is used for presentation..  As you watch the trends of  your visitors and see what they are doing, where they are going, and what they like and dont like…  you change your web to match their likes…  their body language..  and your site gets better…

The changes you make in your listing presentation AND your website create the same results…  better conversion…

So, how do you improve your website without the feedback or BL of the web (analytics)… you simply don’t.

Deliver…or else.

The Web 2.0 consumer has a short attention span. This we know. But how short? How many times can we expect azerobutton searcher to click on a link or page BEFORE he or she gets exactly what they came for… WHAT THEY WERE SEARCHING FOR… three, two, one… I think not… Let’s try zero.

One of the great (unplanned) features of the BLOG is the long tail.. Yeah, Yeah, I know. SEO… But this is not about SEO. It is about the most efficient content delivery imaginable… zero click content delivery.

What do you search for and what do you expect to find when get the results. Let’s pretend a search for Large Pink Horse shoes… Okay, go to Google and type it in… What are the results? Let’s see…

Chances are you will get a site that has “large pink horseshoes” in the description… but when you go to the site? all you see is Large Pink Horses…. Wait is there a link to horse shoes? There is a link to the pair of horseshoes that are on the horse in the picture…. But I want all pink horseshoes…..

I am out…

However if I land on a blog post with content about Large Pink Horseshoes, how many clicks away am I now…. Here is the post…. Zero clicks.

Now, here is your challenge… How do you make your Real Estate Website, a zero click website. What are your searchers looking for, and how quickly can you provide it…

Build it and they will come.

I couldn't of said it better myself…

Sometimes a post comes along that I just couldn’t agree more. Every paragraph, sentence and syllable. Jim Cronin of the Tomato posted this article entitled “is you website working against your Real Estate career. It is on spot and brilliant. My client/readers will feel this is an “echo.”

A couple of other “expireds” are:

  • Any type of personal BRANDING… Real Estate searchers are looking for …..Real Estate, not Realtors. They don’t care about you. Give them what they came for and hope they appreciate it enough to self-identify.
  • Driving people to your site via other (expensive) marketing. You just invested 12 and half zillion dollars to buy the front page in “Dream Homes on the Cliff with a pool in Belair” Magazine and once you have the readers attention, you drive them to your website? How about a separate and effective call to action, like “pick up the phone and lets go for a car ride!

How about a couple of extra”wireds”

  • Pertinent, timely, unique and CURRENT information about your market. Average Sales Prices, Inventory Levels, Trends, and your well thought out opinion on the market… You are an authority, right? Prove it.
  • Fun or Interesting. Searcher will check out cool info, trivia, and interesting facts… as long as it is fresh… How about “Top 5 most expensive, Top 5 least expensive, Coolest Architecture in town…etc.” But if it is not you and not CURRENT… don’t do it. “

Jim’s article is a breath of fresh air. He gets it.. Do you?