It is common knowledge that renters are looking for apartments online in rapidly increasing number. That's why rental websites have become such a powerful marketing tool. They give you the ability to market and sell your product 24/7.
All landlords know that they need to have an online presence, but many are often left frustrated once the website is launched. They often feel as though their website is just not performing the way they expected it to. It's not ranking with the search engines and not up to par with the performance they had planned for. I'd like to look at why this is happening and provide some tips on how to fix the problem.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines via changes within the website that are natural and un-paid. Over time it is the cheapest form of traffic generation and if done properly it can pay for itself in no time.
Consider SEO Before Designing The Website
It's not enough to go out and design a nice looking website. Pretty websites without SEO do not needlessly rank in the search engines. You need a website that is functional and one that can generate traffic. That's why you should always consider SEO before building or re-designing any website.
Make Sure You Hire A Qualified Designer
When searching for a website designer always apply due diligence. It's not enough that they can make a fancy website; you need to make sure they know how to incorporate SEO. Remember to ask for references and be sure to talk to other clients to see how their websites have performed. Are they satisfied with the final product and the results (traffic) that it generates? Does the website measure up to their expectations?
Most companies that sit high in the search engine rankings have been playing the SEO game for years. They're constantly working on adding content and they consider SEO with every new page they put up. Do not be swayed by unfounded promises. It takes time to climb in the rankings.
What If You Already Already Designed A Website?
If you've already spent money on a re-design, all is not lost and it's certainly not too late. There are still a number of strategies that can be implemented to improve your website's SEO. I'd suggest searching for a qualified designer or consultant that specializes in SEO. If you need a few referrals, I'd be happy to point you in the right direction.
Understanding SEO Terms and Jargon
Search engine optimization sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. Let me be the first to say that it is easy once you know and understand what you're doing. It's all about giving the engines what they want.
Let me explain some of the terms and jargon you'll encounter when discussing search engine optimization with an expert or a web designer.
"Google bots" are what crawl (scan) your website and read the text. Yahoo uses them, Bing's got them, so on and so forth. "Bots" follow every link and read every word on your website. They track how your content flows and they see what keywords are used on your website. They also follow every link that leaves your website to see what content you're directing people to. Basically, they work to figure out what your website is all about.
It's important to know that they are not only reading what a reader sees, but they also read the code that's behind the text and images on your website. They're looking for specific things like meta tags and alt tags to determine what you've created this site for.
Meta tags are coding tags that appear before the body text of a website. They are the description tag and keyword tag. They are the first thing the "Google bots" encounter when reading the page. This means that they are important because they tell the "bots' what the page is about and what keywords to pay attention to.
Keywords are simply a word that you're trying to be ranked on or recognized for in the search engines. Google will search the text of your site to see how often certain words appear. Take for example the sentences, "Apartments for rent in London." You'll love renting these apartments. " The words that appear most often are "apartments" and "rent". Google would read those and determine what your keywords or content is about "apartments" and "rent".
These are a series of keywords that your website displays. For example, "We have an apartment for rent in London, Ontario. So if you're looking for a luxury apartment for rent, look no further." The keyword phrase "apartment for rent" appears in several sentences. The "google bots" will read those strings of words and index the site as having an "apartment for rent".
Keyword links are also important with SEO. They are hyperlinks that contain your keywords. The "bots" read these links and follow them to additional pages. They place value on the text of the link. So when placing links try to place them on important keywords as opposed to the classic "click here".
Warning About Flash Based Websites
Flash-based websites are always neat to look at but they do not rank well with search engines. It's because the "bots" can not crawl the flash content of the site. My suggestion is to use flash sparingly on your website and use it only for visual stimulation.
Well, I believe I've covered the basics of search engine optimization. Let me be the first to say that it's not something to be feared, it's something to be embraced. The more I've learned about SEO over the years, the more I've come to love it. It's a race to the top and it's a journey that lasts a lifetime.