Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the foundation of a successful marketing strategy. The good and bad news about SEO is: algorithms continue to change and to keep up so does our SEO strategy. Long story short, constant changes mean we can always improve in this area. 

SEO drives organic website traffic, is tailored to your business, and needs ongoing attention. Without a well-built SEO strategy your other marketing tactics such as digital advertising, might not be as effective. Whether you’re just getting started or want to refresh your current website, we can all benefit from making our SEO tactics a little more intentional. 

The Nine Basics of SEO

  1. Website Navigation and Links: When designing and building your website, avoid graphics to display your navigation; website navigation and links should be text-only.
  2. Simple URL Structure: Be precise and concise. Including keywords in the URL, like the location name and page name, helps with optimization.
  3. Page Speed: Google has recently said it is a “teeny-tiny” factor. While the impact on ranking is changing, page speed still matters to the searcher. Google is soon replacing this ranking factor with “user experience” which is really what the speed score was trying to do in the first place. If a renter is frustrated by a slow-loading website, they’ll leave. It’s important to find a balance between page speed and design. For example, on G5-built websites, if someone is searching from a desktop the site will display larger images. But, if a renter is viewing the same page on their mobile device a smaller-sized image is used.
  4. Sitemap and Robots.txt File: Including a sitemap file and a robots.txt file increases the speed of crawling and indexing the content on your website.
  5. Alternative Text: When Google and Bing scan your website they aren’t looking at the graphics, text, and design elements you’ve worked hard to create. Search engines see code. So, when you are building your website it’s important to use alternative text, or alt text, on pictures, videos, and graphics. This ensures all aspects of your website are readable to search engines. An added benefit? This text also helps your accessibility since it can be read by a screen reader. 
  6. Content: Content is everything on your website: blogs, videos, pictures, graphics, and reviews. Search engines are scanning all of it to determine if your website is what a searcher is looking for and how to rank the site. Keywords are critical to your ranking and an essential component of good content, but content length is critical. We know comprehensive content ranks better. Maybe this is because searchers are more satisfied, maybe it’s because searchers spend more time on your page which increases search engine rankings. Either way, what we do know is: in-depth coverage of a topic leads to better rankings. 
  7. Multimedia: Video content is king, it keeps users on the page longer and signals that the content is useful and engaging. This is a great way to show off virtual tour videos, youtube videos answering FAQs, and location-specific videos to share about the surrounding area. 
  8. Google My Business (GMB): GMB is key to local SEO. For ranking localized results google relies on relevance, distance, and prominence. Leverage this space to connect with potential customers and build an online reputation. 
  9. Links: This is one of the more challenging SEO tactics, but with thoughtful coordinated effort this can create great content partnerships. 
    • External Links: Verify the topic and page content to Google. It shows that the information on your website is credible, and backed up by experts. The quality of the pages you link to impacts search results. External links are a rising tide that raises all ships. Start building authority by linking from your website to neighborhood organizations and review sites. From there, build relationships and ask for feature articles or shout outs with partners. Creating excellent content encourages other businesses to link to your blog and the resources you’re creating. 
    • Internal Links: Help Google understand the structure and contextual relationships between website content. Internal links also help users access pre-existing content you worked hard to create. We know you spent a few hours creating your most recent video or blog. Don’t let it go unnoticed, link from related higher-ranking pages to pages needing a visibility boost.
    • Dead Links or Broken Redirects: Website errors prevent search engines from indexing your content, potentially leading to lower search ranking.

Take the Next Steps for Better Results

There are a lot of factors that go into how your website ranks in search engines and each SEO signal has a role in communicating with search algorithms. Improving the technical aspects of SEO should be an ongoing process. Set up quarterly reviews of your website to ensure content isn’t duplicative, create processes and standards for image uploads (no, you don’t need a 4000-pixel photo on your homepage), and set guidelines for the naming of webpages to keep URLs concise and precise.

Here’s a bonus: optimizing your website for search engines increases accessibility. 20% of users rely on added technology, such as a screen reader, to navigate websites. This means by up-leveling your SEO, you’ll be reaching more potential customers. 

We know you’re focused on increasing occupancy. Organic traffic should account for a majority of your website visits because high quality, low-cost organic traffic helps your businesses win in local markets. A good marketing partner continuously monitors the search engines and manages ongoing optimizations based on changes in the search landscape that impact your business. All too often a local agency or a company not well versed in your business will focus on national search strategies. But you should have competitive local strategies designed to help your business gain visibility in search results for each of your properties. 

Learn more about the G5 approach to SEO.