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All You Ever Needed To Know About Blogging SEO, But Were Afraid To Say So.

I know what you are thinking…”not another SEO article, please…”

SEO focused companies have secrets.
They want you to think that you need them to get you to the top of the search engines.
They want you to think that you need to learn the complex details or you will fail.
They want you to think that there is so much that goes into it, that you'd be a fool to not put your faith in them.
They want you to think that your success depends on their knowledge and tools.
They want you to think that their advice will make "all the difference".

SEO-Advice-Take-It-Or-Leave-ItWell folks, the truth is, when it comes to blogging, SEO consulting is a lot like cold medicineWhen you catch a cold, if you don't take medicine you are going to be sick for seven days.  However, if you do take cold medicine it is going to only be a week before you're healthy.

The fallacy of SEO advice is that Correlation does not always imply Causation.  Just because you took your cold medicine, and then got better in a week, it does not imply that it improved your health.  It just made you feel like you were doing something positive.

When it comes to blogging, many of those that are currently holding the top spots in the search engines have done it without much concern for SEO.  In fact, it may have never even crossed their minds.

Well Then, How Did They Do It?

They blogged, they blogged and then they blogged some more.
They blogged on topic.  They blogged on the topic for which they were looking to be found.

So, if you want to be found in the Search Engines for terms that you expect will generate an audience that will develop into leads, then you need to blog those topics. 

Is it really that simple, Jim?  Yes it is.

But what about all those advertisements and remedies we hear about that are designed to help us be found in the search engines?  Should I not be taking those as prescribed?
You can.  And they may make you feel better about everything.  But an active blog, on target and on topic is a healthy blog. 

So what's the SEO equivalent to "stay home, get some rest, and drink lots of fluids"?  Surely you can't completely ignore some advice.

Not-Much-Concern-For-SEOThere are some basic guidelines, but once you read them, you'll realize that they mostly common sense, and not some packaged remedy.

1. Blog on topic.

If you want to be found for something, blog about it.  If it's Sacramento Real Estate, or St. Paul Real Estate, or Chico Home Searching, or even Blogging Advice then make sure you are blogging about those topics.

2. Use keywords in the titles of your blog articles.

Search Engines, like your readers, put a lot of weight on what it says in the title of your post.  Put your topics in there and you will see success.

3. Make sure your site was set up properly by your web designer.

Go over these two subjects:
1. Meta elements (titles, tags, keywords, etc.)
Is all of it relevant to your needs and meet the general guidelines?
2. Pinging and Crawling - Are you notifying the 'powers that be' when you hit publish on your blog?  Are they listening?

4. Be social.

Get people to notice you by getting out an commenting.  This leads to all sorts of beneficial consequences that we've already written about here and here.

5. Blog, blog and blog some more.

The more content, and instances of it, the better you will do naturally.

I have intentionally left out dozens of other suggestions that you can spin in the comments

We recognize that in order for blogging to be something which trail-blazing real estate agents are going to embrace, then we need to keep the routine realistic and comprehensive.

Keep it simple.  It works. 
(I can hear the shouting already...)

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Related Must Reads:
Stop Acting Like Blogging Is Rocket Science
Three Letters I Don't Think About When Writing A Post For My Real Estate Blog
Why Worrying About SEO Is Detrimental to Your Real Estate Blog

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Comments

Thanks Jim. I do think I spend too much time worrying about the search engines and not enough thinking about content. Thank you.

#3 is an area were SEOs can be a lot of help. Fortunately for bloggers, there tend to be less SEO challenges to the architecture of blog CMS systems that most real estate publishing platforms.

Link building is another area where SEOs can be helpful. Links are a measure of authority, so seeking out links from relevant sites will help the blog rank higher faster.

Of course, none of that matters if there isn't something worth reading on the blog itself.

Jim,
Informative article and entertaining read. I try to read as many articles and opinions as possible on SEO. Sounds to me as if content and consistency is the key, it may be analogous to the car you drive. Either a Honda or Mercedes will get you from point "A" to "B", it just depends on the style and comfort you desire for the ride.

Jim,

Could not agree more. I have gone into my sitemeter and google analytics to look at keywords that lead people to my site. Many of these I would of never thought up myself. Stay true to providing useful and updated content and you will be found and trusted. The goal is not to get 1000 readers but to get 10 great readers. Just like an open house...who cares if 30 people came by and no one writes an offer. We would all prefer just 1 good buyer coming by and then writing up an offer...that is a much more successful open house.

Absolutely correct - you've got to have good content!

A decent SEO firm will monitor your movement in search listings for a short period before starting work. This gives an idea of natural movements (background noise, if you will) and makes it all the more easy to distinguish their achievements from those created by good blogging.

Of course, if the blogger and the SEO firm are both trying to push things upward at the same time, there's no way of telling who's had the same effect; you can't accurately analyse the output of a black box if multiple inputs are moving.

Jim:

I gotta' tell you, the amount of seemingly conflicting blogging advice out there can make a rookie's head spin: Don't worry about SEO; SEO is the ground we worship on. Write short, people have tiny attention spans; write long, search engines love it. Stuff your blog sandwich with relevant key words; the search engines will penalize you if you get caught. I've heard you say, Jim, that 98% - correct me if I'm wrong - of real estate bloggers will fail. I wonder if one of the reasons they jump ship is that trying to sort all this out makes them feel rudderless and too uncertain of their course.

Ken,

That's exactly it... a confused mind never blogs.
I stated that 96% would fail - but the point is that almost all will... and you are right on.
You see, being a blogger and making it work for you is actually not all that hard (just time and message). What happens is that there is so much to learn in order to feel that one is truly in command of their message and the tools they use. Throwing the wrench of new tools and committing to being a writer for business into an already demanding profession is commonly a recipe for failure.
Our consistent goal here is to be not only encouraging and enlightening, but to also help our audience stay focused on what matters when it comes to putting the blog at the center of their marketing efforts.
The answer is to blog, read, blog, read and then blog. And when I say read, I mean read the articles that your are drawn to by bloggers you enjoy. You'll pick up more from them than anyone else pitching advice.
Does SEO matter? Of course. Learn the basics and stick to them. Getting caught up in the spin-doctoring is just a bad idea.

Jim:

And by the way, you guys are doing a great job...I WOULD feel rudderless without you!

Great advice. I've only been blogging since November, but I started noticing that I continued to get hits for months on a microwave recall I wrote about after hearing about it on CNN. It was obvious to me that if I just wrote targeted posts that the people would find me.

In the last few weeks I've written several articles on appreciation rates and how to analyze home pricing. This week my search terms are showing a number of people are finding me for variations of 'St. Louis real estate' and 'homes for sale in St. Louis'. Given my busy schedule, I just don't have the time to work on the SEO to get my static website to rank well on those search terms. But, blogging combined with the blog being built into my website through Point 2 is definitly working.

I also think that an overlooked reason on why most bloggers fail is time management. I'm a busy working agent, often working 14+ hour days. If I wasn't committed to my blog, it would be easy to let it slide when I got busy. I think most agents wouldn't see it as critical to their business as I do, and would sacrifice it rather spending the time to write after working really long hours during peak times.

AMEN, JIM!

If you build it, they will come - build meaning here, continuous on topic blogging.

I agree about content, lots of it regularly. And a little quality backlinking thrown in for good measure.

Jim, Well said and couldn't agree more. Chris

Success will come with constant blogs about the areas where you work. I just wish photos would count more. People like them however.

Jim, this final comment on your post says it all:

Keep it simple. It works.
(I can hear the shouting already...)

Most real estate bloggers "fail" because they don't post regularly. They'll set up a blog, post for a few days while it's still new, and then forget about it for a few months. Even failing to post for a week will make a significant difference in blog traffic - can you imagine what happens when your last post was dated 3 months ago?

Posting about local issues with local keywords is important as well, if you're posting a blog to attract real estate clients in your area. Even if you're posting about something that has a more national impact, like FHA limits, be sure to include something about how this affects your area as well so it is brought home to your readers, and so you have some sort of local reference in your post.

Simple formula: Post often, and post local (or at least with some consistency).

Right on Linda!

Thanks Jim for the shared link...yes we need to write often and write to our readers. Always important to know what the readers want to hear.

I certainly agree that sticking to the fundamentals is essential. For the majority of real estate professionals out there, just focusing on quality content (whether it be website or blog) will help them soar to the top 10. Sadly most people quit after a week or two, or maybe even a month or two and they just haven't written enough to see an impact.

Even the Google guidelines are pretty clear that relevancy is based on quality content. Happy writing to all :)

I think a more accurate tip for bloggin successfully would be 'Everything in moderation' rather than 'keep it simple'.

Too little quality content and SERPs will penalise you but the readers will wonder why they bothered coming to your blog to read.
Too much content and the bots will have a field time but your readers will get bored midway through your post.

Design is a similar issue... You could make the most graphically intense site ever and your users may be completely blown away by it but the bots will have very little to be interested in.
On the other hand you may focus on a clean and simple layout that the bots love but your users will take one look and close the window.

'Keep it simple' by all means but don't go overboard if you want to do well with blogging!

Nice post. Good content is essential, yes. Without good content you are going nowhere, agreed. But when it comes to getting people to your blog, search engines are essential. Essential because they are the way that most people out there search for what you might have written. Social networking making online friends is great, dont get me wron. However, it should be done in a way that allows linkbuilding with the ultimate goal to rank high in certain keywords. Keywords that will, in the end bring more traffic to your blog through search engines, that every other social networking site.

The blogging approach should be a balanced one.

yup, very nice articles about seo tips...

thank you very much

regards

Thanks for the great blog, I am forwarding it on to several people in my office who want to target niche areas of real estate here in St. Louis. I think they will find this very helpful.

Are links important?

Inbound links are important. But stressing over acquiring them is probably not wort it. If you can get some HIGH QUALITY inbound links then you will see a significant impact. If you are just getting links from peers that have little value, then you won't see any real impact.

Well, I am very new to blogging, but I think it is likely what is helping my ranking. I have very suddenly gained quite a bit in rank on certain search terms like burnaby real estate. I was in the hundreds, then after a couple simple pages, and a few links to my site, i am closer to 50. This took only days.

The content is the issue. Not being an English major, coming up with something worthy of an A is a challenge, but I think that even keeping it short and to the point works, as well. With time, it should come more naturally, and the continued added content will help with search engines finding it in various searches.

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