What is SEO? Strategies for the Commercial Real Estate Industry

Have you heard the term “SEO” lately? It’s likely you have, it’s being thrown around by pretty much anyone with minimal technological familiarity. However, do you understand what it means or why it’s relevant? In this short article we’ll define SEO and discuss how it effects the way we do business.

Let’s start by defining SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the process that affects the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid “organic” search results.

Now that we have a general idea of what SEO is, let’s review the importance:

Most Commercial Real Estate Professionals have an extensive knowledge of offline growth (brochures, flyers, Physical Meetings, Phone Calls, etc.). I’m a huge advocate of these “offline” methods, however this marketing platform can become highly time-consuming and expensive.

As you know, the internet has given us an enormous opportunity to grow our business online. Developing an online presence gives us the ability to connect with clients and prospects all around the world 24/7/365. With all of this being said, the growing capability of the internet has made it a very popular place to spend time; studies have shown that every minute 571 websites are created.

So the question arises, with the overwhelming popularity of the internet, how do we stand out amongst the crowd to win more business? The answer is getting to the top of search engine inquiries with a strong SEO. Now that we know the importance of SEO, how do we make it work for us? Let’s take a closer look at the factors that make up SEO.

Key Strategies for Creating Your Brand

The factors effecting the SEO ranking can be broken down into two major categories [1] On Page (Items you have direct control over) and [2] Off Page SEO (Items effected by readers, visitors & other publishers).

The three components making up on page SEO are Site Content, HTML and Architecture. For the majority of Commercial Real Estate Professionals the key aspect of these three components is the site’s Content. Good content can be described as having well written text, incorporating the appropriate key words that you feel the target audience will be searching for, engaging media that will extend the time frame visitors spend on the page and an overall thorough explanation of the services you provide.

The four components that make up off page SEO are Links, Trust, Social and Personal. As previously mentioned, off page SEO is completely controlled by outside parties (Readers, Visitors & Other Publishers). However, even though the success of your off page SEO is in the hands of the third parties, you have the ability to create great content. Engaging and well written content will be shared throughout the web increasing the quality, authority and reputation of your online presence.

So I think we’ve established a basic understanding of what SEO is and the factors that go into search engine popularity. Q&A?

Question:

“If I develop great content and don’t involve myself in the Technical mumbo jumbo am I SEO safe?”

Answer:

Unfortunately, if you’re not incorporating the best practices for SEO and implementing a solid commercial real estate marketing plan it’s likely your web presence will suffer. It’s also likely that a less sophisticated Commercial Real Estate firm with a higher SEO rating will win more business over the internet because they’re at the top of the Google Search. I know this might seem unfair considering your reputation but Search Engines are Robots, they’re not human and don’t participate at your local Country Club’s happy hour. SEO is improving but still has several limitations, it functions through algorithms that are designed to crawl the web and make assumptions dependent upon the on and off page SEO components discussed above.

Keywords and why they matter

The real goal of SEO is to be helpful, not a hassle or hoop to jump through. Search Engines are completely indifferent to who you are as a person, what your net revenues were last year or how many employees your company has. Search Engines goal is to direct users to what they’re looking for. They do this by mirroring the keywords typed into the search bar with the content of websites around the world.

Let’s have an example.

Steven is a Commercial Real Estate Investment Sales Broker in Los Angeles. On his website he wrote a blog posting about how Green Initiatives are effecting power consumption in the State of California. Even though Steve might have written an excellent article that has all of the key components of great SEO, he’s more likely to have an environmental activist read his post than a Seller of Commercial Real Estate Property. If Steve is looking to pick up Investment Sale Listings, it would have been more beneficial for him to write on Office Occupancy and the effect on Cap Rates or International Investors buying up value add opportunities in San Francisco. The point of this example is to show the benefit of keeping the end user in mind – write to the prospect and include keywords that you expect to be searched, i.e. Commercial Real Estate Investment Sales Los Angeles.

As I just mentioned, content developed for the end user incorporating key words you expect to be searched for is a good thing. One thing to avoid is stuffing, stuffing is writing for the search engines and developing articles that sound unnatural because of the over usage of keywords. This does not work and could potentially be classified as black hat methods. Black hat methods can produce quick results in a short period of time but will eventually fade and lose the ability to regain good SEO standing. The alternative is white hat SEO, white hat can be defined as developing quality organic content that links to sites of authority.

Writing for Humans and Robots, things to consider when developing content

  1. Use an Attractive Title that immediate catches the reader’s attention.
  2. Deliver content as promised in the title.
  3. Link to sites of authority to show off topics relevance.
  4. Write unique content and make it specific to the audience you are writing.
  5. Produce evergreen content, do not use information that will date the article.

Other Factors of On-Page SEO

Title Tags

The Title Tag is your visitors first impression.

Meta Tags

Headings

Sitemaps

Structure of URL

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