SEO — Right Stuff Back To Basics

With much of the SEO sphere focus­ing on link-build­ing and (to a less­er extent) social media met­rics, it can become easy to place all efforts on off-site SEO while neglect­ing on-page fac­tors. How­ev­er, even the most impres­sive link pro­file or social media pres­ence does not tell search engines enough about what the linked-to site is about or how it trans­lates into a good user expe­ri­ence. As such, it becomes imper­a­tive to put time and ener­gy into what could eas­i­ly be an over­looked yet easy-to-con­trol aspect: on-site SEO.

Meta Data

A page’s title and descrip­tion are absolute­ly crit­i­cal in telling search engines and (equal­ly impor­tant) users the top­ic of a page. As search engine results pages (SERPs) become clut­tered with search results inter­min­gled with local results, it becomes more impor­tant to have descrip­tive, well-writ­ten titles and descrip­tions with an ade­quate use of key­words and com­mand mod­i­fiers. Use key­words as appro­pri­ate to con­vey the top­ic, but do not go over­board. Being spam­my will not only be frowned upon by the Googles of the world, but it will also trans­late into a low­er click-through rate by users. The gen­er­al con­sen­sus is that using more than 70 char­ac­ters for titles and 160 for descrip­tions is overkill, and it’s OK to use less. Always write with the user in mind.

SEO - Right Stuff Back To Basics

Note in the pho­to above of a SERP for ‘Atlanta Real Estate’, which is one of the most com­pet­i­tive real estate mar­kets in the U.S., that each entry uses dif­fer­ent key­words in their descrip­tions and titles. For exam­ple, includes infor­ma­tion about schools and neigh­bor­hoods, which will appeal to a dif­fer­ent kind of buy­er than that of the entries above it, which put more empha­sis on ‘lux­u­ry’.

Site/URL Structure

Ide­al­ly, every page on a typ­i­cal web­site should be with­in three clicks of the home page. Clear­ly this is not applic­a­ble for large sites such as Wikipedia, Ama­zon, etc., but for the aver­age local real estate site this should be a clear-cut objec­tive. As such, keep it in mind when struc­tur­ing your site into fold­ers; the goal is to have a log­i­cal, well-thought-out and eas­i­ly under­stood struc­ture.

For exam­ple: domain/city/property type/landing page could be fea­si­ble for most agents, depend­ing on their tar­get audi­ence and niche. Of course, there could be vari­a­tions such as domain/property type/city/landing page, but the objec­tive is the same: Have a clear, easy-to-under­stand struc­ture from both a user’s and search engine’s per­spec­tive.

Remem­ber, struc­ture is (and will con­tin­ue to be) impor­tant, as it helps users under­stand rel­e­van­cy and helps search engines in plac­ing rel­a­tive impor­tance of any giv­en page.


Often­times under­used, how pages are inter­linked from one to anoth­er can cre­ate a bet­ter user expe­ri­ence and keep authority/trust flow­ing freely through­out the site. Just as in link-build­ing, use dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of key­words to link to a page, which is clear­ly much eas­i­er to con­trol on-page than off-page.

For exam­ple, link­ing to a Boston con­dos page can be linked to with vary­ing anchor texts such as “Boston con­dos for sale,” “Con­dos for sale in Boston,” “Bean­town con­dos,” etc., and can effec­tive­ly increase rank­ings on long-tail search­es.

SEO - Right Stuff Back To Basics

The exam­ple above, tak­en from, illus­trates inter­link­ing well-done. It has con­tex­tu­al links to sim­i­lar pages that a user may find inter­est­ing, links on the main nav­i­ga­tion to key pages through­out the site for quick brows­ing, and anchored links with­in the same page for easy nav­i­ga­tion – use­ful for par­tic­u­lar­ly long pages, where a user may not be able to locate the infor­ma­tion they are look­ing for based on the sheer con­tent quan­ti­ty.

Use HTML-based text to write links, as links in Java, Flash or oth­er plug-ins have a good chance of not being reached by the search engines’ spi­ders. Fur­ther­more, avoid unnec­es­sary link­ing; after all, hav­ing too many links not only dilutes the “juice” passed on to each link but in many cas­es crawl spi­ders will not fol­low all links on a page to its des­ti­na­tion.

Although arti­cles about link-build­ing and social media strate­gies con­tin­ue to dom­i­nate the SEO land­scape, it is imper­a­tive to put time on an aspect over which a web­site mas­ter has imme­di­ate and direct con­trol: on-site SEO!

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