Search Engine Optimization

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of creating a website that receives a high ranking (appearing in the top 10 search results) in one or more search engines for the purposes of attracting more traffic. Achieving a good ranking can be extremely lucrative as it will dramatically increase the number of visitors to your website and consequently the number of leads your website generates.

Optimizing your website is an iterative process that will take effort, expertise, and time. ClickSold does not provide support for SEO efforts and we recommend that if you have SEO questions that are not answered here you contact an SEO professional.

So, if you've decided to optimize your website yourself, let's begin.

Step 1: Understand how search engines find your website

All search engines including Google.com use "bots" to crawl through websites and add them to their "indexes." In order for a specific website to be added to an index it must be crawled at least once by a search engines "bot."

A "bot" is a piece of software that essentially loads a website, reads the content ("crawls" the website), determines what the website is all about, stores information about the website in an "index" and then clicks on all links on that website which will take it to other websites where it does the same thing.

Generally your website will show up automatically in Search Engines. However, if you'd like to submit your URL manually to the top 3 search engines, you can do so at:
Google http://www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl
Yahoo http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/submit
Bing http://www.bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx

Step 2: Choose the right keywords

This is the most critical step in SEO, but is also the most often neglected. Ranking well for keywords that no one ever uses is a waste of time; conversely, ranking well for keywords that are not specific to your industry will also achieve nothing.

Another consideration is the popularity of the keywords you choose; attempting to rank for the most popular keywords might not be realistic. For example, the keyword phrase, "Chicago Real Estate," is likely targeted by tens of thousands of competitors with vastly larger budgets and technical resources than you. It would be much wiser to target, "Chicago Loop Condos," or, "Chicago Downtown Condos." Though these terms are searched far less frequently, you will be able to target them much more effectively and get a much larger piece of the pie.

Selecting which keywords to target requires that you perform some research on the popularity of certain keyword phrases. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for a Google account, go to their, "Adwords," area and use their, "Keyword Tool," under the, "Tools," menu. when you've done this, simply choose some keyword phrases that you'd like to appear for. Here are some sample results:

Search Term Monthly Searches
"Chicago Real Estate" 450,000
"Chicago Realtor" 49,500
"Chicago Loop Condos" 1,900


For the purposes of this example, we'll target, "Chicago Loop Condos." As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't use keywords that have fewer than 1,000 or greater than 50,000 monthly searches.

For a more detailed step-by-step look into Google Adwords, please perform a Google Search for it. You will find an abundance of websites that can detail how to use it.

Step 3: Have the right content

Writing content that is both readable and flush with the keyword phrases you're targeting is vital to the success of your SEO campaign.

Be sure to emphasize keyword phrases in your content as paragraph headers as this tells search engines that they are particularly important. You can use tools like www.KeywordDensity.com to tell you what the most popular keywords on your site are and how you need to modify your content to ensure higher density of the keywords you're targeting.

Here are some rules you should follow when writing content for your website:

  • Content should be subject specific, focused around desired keywords (ie. Chicago Loop Condos)
  • Content should not be contrived to contain numerous instances of targeted keywords and should be written in a Human-readable fashion (yes, search engines can tell)
  • Content should contain numerous links out to other sections of the website. For example, blog entries related to listed or sold listings contain a link to the listing details, if applicable.
  • Content should contain numerous links to other sites. For example, if the website has a page entitled, "The City of Chicago," a link to the City of Chicago website should be included somewhere in the text of the page.
  • Content should not be blatantly copied

It's also important that the content on your website be up-to-date and constantly changing. For this reason, you should try to include informative and relevant blog posts on your website and do so on a frequent basis. ClickSold helps you with this by automatically posting listing announcements to your blog when they get listed or sold.

Step 4: Have the correct Meta Tags

Meta Tags are part of the code of a website that are designed to give the browser some information about the website. To see what the Meta Tags look like, go to a website, select 'View->Source'. Another window should appear with something looking like:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
: : :Chicago Loop Real Estate - My Name : : : The code above reflect the 3 most common types of meta tags, namely the '''Title''', '''Keywords''', and '''Description''' tags. Notice that the '''Title''' meta tag is formatted a little differently than the '''Keywords''' and '''Description''' tags. This is actually a significant difference as modern search engines typically ignore the '''Keywords''' and '''Description''' tags and only take notice of the '''Title''' tag. The table below explains the relevance of the different tags.
{| border="1" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" width="80%" ! Tag Name !! Description |- valign=top | Title || The '''Title''' tag is an extremely SEO instrument and is the single most important piece of content on a website page. When you visit a website you will notice that the '''Title''' tag appears at the top left of the browser just next to the browser logo. Search engines use this tag to determine the purpose of the website and as such it is important that it be consistent with the rest of the content on the page. |- valign=top | Keywords || The '''Keywords''' tag contains a list of keywords that are relevant to the page in question. It's likely that this tag is no longer used by most major search engines to determine search engine ranking. |- valign=top | Description || The '''Description''' tag is used by search engines to provide a description of the site in the search engine results. If no '''Description''' tag is provided then the search engine will grab the first few lines of content from the site as the description. It's important to configure this tag to contain an accurate description of the page. |}

==Step 5: Make sure other sites link to yours== This step is extremely important. Having other websites link to your website will improve your website's [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank PageRank]. The main principle behind PageRank is that the more popular the website linking to your website is, the more PageRank your website will be assigned. Understanding PageRank is important as it often makes or breaks a SEO campaign.

You can get links to your website from internet directories such as [http://dir.yahoo.com/ Yahoo Directories] or [http://www.DMOZ.org DMOZ]. You can also participate in online forums where you can post articles, or comment on existing posts, and include a link to your website in your comment. Here are some other places you should consider placing "backlinks":
*[http://www.techvibes.com/company-directory Tech Vibes Directory] (free) *[http://www.escapeartist.com/Live_In_Canada/Real_Estate/ Escape Artist] ($5.00 one-time) *[http://www.real-estate-blogs.com/blogs/addlisting.php Real Estate Agent Blogs] (need a reciprocal link) A final excellent technique to generate inbound links is to post interesting articles on your blog and "syndicate" those articles to other websites using tools like [http://www.contentcrooner.com/ Content Crooner].

==Step 6: Make sure your website has "deep-links"== A "deep-link" refers to a link from the front page of a website to another page on the same website. This ensures that your website will be adequately crawled by search engine, "bots."

==Step 7: And repeat...== Optimizing your website is an ongoing process that will take time. Make sure to track your progress every few days (you can find out when your website was last crawled by Google by clicking on the "cached" link in the Google results) and make changes when necessary. Your website will rank well, but you must be diligent and patient.

==Helpful links for more information== *[http://www.webconfs.com/15-minute-seo.php http://www.webconfs.com/15-minute-seo.php]