There are three ways to drive traffic to your lead generation website – paying for ads, social (Facebook, Instagram, sharing, etc), and search engines.
With Facebook, Google, or Bing ads, your traffic stops as soon as you stop spending. Also, you have to be able to generate enough revenue to make the ads worth it.
To get social shares, you need to create something with a ‘viral’ effect that people want to share. This works really well for some people in some niches. This might work if you’re a realtor, but it’s going to be hard to get a lot of shares on your page for ‘how to stop foreclosure.’
The last way is through search engines. Getting to the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs) is very difficult, but if you get there, it will generate traffic for years to come with very little effort.
You might have noticed my recent experiment where I took a crappy page with a terrible layout and was able to rank it #1 for competitive search terms in just 11 days.
The art of building websites and pages that rank well on Google is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Why Do Real Estate Investors Need to Optimize for Search Engines?
When people are faced with tough life and financial situations, the first thing they do is search it online. They will weigh some options, then they will make decisions. Having pages that help answer these questions will get people to your website and maybe they will contact you and use your services.
Think about it another way – a person who is a month or two behind on their mortgage might start searching for things like: “How to stop foreclosure,” or “how to avoid mortgage late fees,” or other things related to it. A person looking to find a Realtor might search: “how much is my house worth,” or “how much does it cost to move?”
If you can position your website to be the #1, 2 or 3 result for a lot of different search terms, then you stand a good chance of being the person they contact when they are ready to squeeze the trigger.
According to Search Engine Watch, the #1 search result gets 33% of all internet traffic for that term. The #2 position gets 18% and the 3rd position gets 11%. So, the combined total of the top 3 search results gathers 62% of all traffic for that search.
THAT is why you want to be in the top 3.
Note: This article may contain Affiliate links. If you sign up for something I link to on this page, I may get a small fee at absolutely no cost to you.
Getting Started With SEO for Investors
The first thing you need to do is buy a domain and set up your investor website. If you haven’t already done that, here is your step-by-step guide to setting up your investor website. If you aren’t tech savvy, it can seem overwhelming, but trust me, this guide is so good, it will have you up and running in 30 minutes or less.
I like to use WP Engine for hosting authoritative sites like this one where you will have a lot of information about a lot of topics. If you are focusing on a super niche site like for wholesaling or flipping, then I like to use OnCarrot.
To understand SEO, you need to understand Google a bit.
A History of SEO
When the internet was getting started, it was mostly geared toward universities, government, etc. As the information on the web began to grow, there was a need to compile lists of the information out there. Also, it was important to RANK that information based on its quality and relevance.
So, search engines were born. They figured the best way to determine the best resource was to track how many links it had pointed at it. The idea was that if someone had a resource, others would share that and link to it. The more links to it the better the resource.
And so it worked for a while until people realized that you could point thousands of spammy websites toward your site and game the system.
Then the search engines got better and started to look at the content on the pages and the amount of links. You might remember this period in the web when websites would repetitively write the keywords in a hidden text color at the bottom of the page hundreds of times. Again, learning to game the system.
And so history has repeated itself over and over again – as search engines adapt, people find new ways to game the system.
What Search Engines Look For Now
Google and others have come a long way since the wild west days of the web. In fact, Google uses over 200 different factors to rank pages. It’s almost impossible to trick Google (for very long) anymore, so people have begrudgingly begun to do things the way the internet was originally intended to be – to create high quality and resourceful information that people can search for and find.
Links are still important, and the content on the page is VERY important. But, other important factors are related to user experience. Metrics such as bounce rate, time on page, click through rate, and more now can trump links. In fact, I have a number of pages on this website with only one or two links pointed at them, but I outrank behemoth websites such as Forbes or even Wikipedia.
It’s because I try to create high-quality articles with a TON of content.
Building a Page With SEO in Mind
It’s best to do your research first, then write your articles. Just trust me on this, it saves you a lot of time.
Start by using services like Moz.com or Ahrefs.com which specialize in keyword research. With Moz, you can type in keywords and it will pump out lists of related search terms along with their monthly search traffic and difficulty to rank on the first page.
Ahrefs can do all that as well, but it lets you look at your competitors and see what they rank for. You can then borrow those keywords and write better content than them in an attempt to outrank them. Sneaky, huh?
Another trick is to search for a phrase in Google, then scroll to the bottom and find the related searches. Here’s an example:
Next, you should choose a slug that matches the search term exactly. For example, if you choose the first option “sell my house quick” you would make the web address the following: – Yoursite.com/sell-my-house-quick. This sends a strong signal to Google about the content on your page.
It’s really important to pick a title for the article that matches exactly or is very similar. You can add a geographic location if you are targeting a specific city as well.
For example: How do I sell my house quickly in Austin?
It doesn’t have to match perfectly. Google is very good at understanding that quick and quickly are the same word. Also, it will know when you use synonyms as well such as “sell my house fast” or “sell my house asap.” Those searches will pull up very similar search results as “sell my house quick.”
Now, make a list of all the other similar search terms, and make sure they are subheaders (h2 or h3) or included in the paragraphs in your article. Following along with this example, the list of similar searches are:
- Sell my house now
- Sell my house fast for cash
- Need to sell my house asap
- Sell my house fast online quote
- Sell my house fast for market value
Now that you’ve done all this, it’s time to create the outline of your article.
Creating a Search Engine Optimized Outline
Take the list I made above, and flesh it out a bit. You can take each one of those search terms and stick it back into Google and generate another list of related search terms. You can also stick it in Moz and start pulling top related search terms.
When you’re done, you should expect to have a list 10-20 phrases long. Now, decide which of those will make great topics or sub topics, and start making your outline. The rest of the phrases will be used in the body of your article.
It might look something like this:
- Sell my house quickly in Austin
- Reasons why you might need to sell really fast
- Natural disaster
- Job change
- How to sell really fast in Austin/San Antonio area
- List it very low on MLS (and pay fees)
- What if the condition is poor?
- Sell it to an investor
- List it very low on MLS (and pay fees)
- How to get fair market value
- Do all repairs/upgrades up front
- List and pay fees
- Getting an online quote
- Contact us!
- Reasons why you might need to sell really fast
As you can see, I was able to turn a super spammy topic (“sell my house fast” has hundreds of results that are all pretty terrible) and create an outline that approaches something that can be a linkable resource. I’ve also included a number of related search terms in the headers to help signal to Google what the article is about.
Now it’s time to write!
SEO Content for Real Estate Investors
Content is the most important piece of this entire exercise. Content is how you connect with the reader and it’s how Google knows what you are talking about.
A long time ago, you needed to use your keyword phrase in the content a ton of times in order to rank. Now, this is simply not true. Of course, it should appear in your content, but it should be naturally worded and appear a natural amount of times.
So, focus on building quality and insightful content first, then focus on optimization second.
Here are the five most important things that will help you supercharge your SEO content:
The vast majority of ranking search engine results continue a minimum of one picture in the content.
Think about it – do you want to look at a wall of text or would you prefer your content broken up with images? Right…
Also, you only get 7-10 seconds to capture someones attention before the hit the back button. Awesome images can help draw a person in and convince them to read your article.
The best images are something that people will want to link to or share. Infographics are great for this. People almost always read the infographic and are exponentially more likely to stay and read the article.
Featured images with catchy headlines also help to draw peoples attention.
2. Variations of Your Keyword
Remember the list I had you create? All those variations should be included in your content. Examples could be:
- Sell your house fast
- Sell your home fast
- I need to quickly sell my home
- I have a home I need to sell fast
You get the point.
But, I can’t stress enough, DON’T be repetitive. If your content is long enough and detailed enough, you can naturally include a dozen variations or more.
3. Outbound Links
A lot of people are very stingy with their outbound links. I get it, you don’t want someone leaving your site and going somewhere else.
But, Google prefers your articles when they are considered a “resource.” Resources often cite their content and recommend useful sites to fill the content gap. In this article I’ve so far linked to no less than 2 other website that have great content about the topics I was referencing. The point is for you to be able to go deepen your understanding of the topic if you wish…
…and Google will rank this page higher because I did it.
4. Internal Links
Think of the term “website.” The two words are “web” and “site.” If you don’t link your pages together, then it is just a “site.”
Beyond that, there are at least 3 reasons why you should have plenty of internal links:
Every time someone links to your site, it passes “link juice” to you. Basically, you had a quality article so someone thought it was worthy enough to link to. When you link to other pages on your site, it passes that juice to those other pages. This is how you can pass authority from your quality articles over to your landing pages (let’s be real, no one will ever link to your email list building page).
Google will begin to understand the structure of your website. If you have an article on selling your house fast and another article on preventing foreclosure, they just sit out there on their own. if you link them together, Google will understand that Foreclosure and Selling Fast are related topics.
As it crawls your site it will get a deeper understanding of the structure and adjust the rankings if necessary.
This also works well with the first item – Link Juice. Basically, if you properly layer your content, you can move the link juice from several pages toward the pages you truly want to rank.
Click Through Rate
Probably the most important reason to include links is click through rate. Basically, if one person clicks on one of your articles from a search, then clicks through to another page on your site, your click-through rate increases. If they click back to the search engine result page instead of clicking through to another article, then your bounce rate increases.
Including internal links inherently increases click-through rate, thus showing Google that your article is good.
You don’t need video but I highly recommend including it anywhere you can find a place to put it.
Most pages have a very low time on page. If you can get 45 seconds or a minute, that’s pretty good.
Including a 3-minute video can seriously boost your average time on page and time on site. Think about it…
If even half of the people watch just half of the video, then you’ve increased your average time on page by at least 20-30 seconds. So, your time on page goes from 1-minute to 1.5 minutes which is a significant bump. Google will start moving your page up in the results page.
SEO Plugins for WordPress
If you are using OnCarrot, then you don’t need to (and can’t) install plugins to help with SEO as it’s already integrated into their system. This is great because it keeps things simple for you. But, if you are using your own WordPress site on WpEngine, then you will want to install a plugin to help you with the basics.
I like Yoast the most because it has the most features for free. Feel free to try others if you prefer though.
It’s very simple to install Yoast. First, navigate to the plugin section of your WordPress page.
Then go to “Add New” in the top.
Then search for Yoast and click install. You can see that I already have it installed which is why it only gives me the option to update instead of install.
Using Yoast to Optimize Your Content
Now that you’ve installed Yoast, it’s time to use it! You’ll see it positioned at the bottom of your “post” pages when you are creating or editing posts.
It has two primary functions – to make sure your “readability” is good and your article is focused on a keyword and optimized for it.
These images are from an article I wrote recently trying to answer the question – What is a Good Cap Rate. You can check it out if you want to as a reference for this.
It gives you a ranking like a stoplight – green means your article is very readable, orange means it needs some work, and red means you probably shouldn’t publish it like it is. It will also give you a list of problems that should be fixed and improvements that can be made.
The great part is that you don’t need to make everything perfect to get a green light. Think back to the 200 ranking signals I mentioned – it’s simply impossible to be perfect in every category so you just need to have most things in the green to get the overall good mark.
You can see I have two orange improvements in this article, but overall it’s still green.
The key to getting a good score and making your content readable is to write short, simple sentences and have paragraphs with one or two sentences in them. This is a “blog” style of writing and works exceptionally well on the internet, even if you wouldn’t use it in other areas of your life.
Your Focus Keyword
We made a list of keywords and created your article slug and title based on it. Now take that #1 keyword and put into the box to make it your focus keyword.
Yoast is not perfect when it comes to this and it can’t always understand what you’re trying to do. So, you might have to simplify things.
In this article I was actually targeting the long-tail keyword “what is a good cap rate” but Yoast will search your content for that exact phrase and rank your content based on that. Since I’m not going to write an article and repeat that exact phrase over and over again, I shortened it to “good cap rate.” I wanted it to help me get an idea how I’m doing but still working within the limitations of the software.
I often ignore the keyword density metric and the reason is simple:
Keyword density is not that important to Google anymore. Instead, focus on having a wide variety of similar keywords in the article. Unfortunately, Yoast isn’t advanced enough to see this.
For example, “What is a good cap rate” has similar phrases such as:
- A good capitalization rate
- Are high cap rates good
- Low cap rates mean what
I also ignore the requirement of having the word show up in the first paragraph because I believe the content needs to be engaging up top and not focused on SEO. In that article I opened with the line:
Recently, I’ve been hearing people toss out some strange phrases like:
“I don’t buy anything unless it’s 12 cap or higher.”
The reason is that I think a lot of people have heard something similar to that and it will capture their attention and make them stay and read a bit longer. To me, keeping a person on page outweighs having the keyword up front.
So, I do it if it fits in naturally, but most of the time I don’t follow that rule.
Don’t Try Too Hard To Optimize Your Content
The last thing I’ll say on the topic is that you should not try too hard. It’s better to publish something that has amazing information that is not fully optimized than to not publish it at all.
…and, you can always go back and edit it later (I do this all the time)!