When you buy a house, you generally don’t get the car you saw in the garage with it.
Domain Name squatting is almost as old as the Internet itself. Recently, I generated no small backlash when I suggested that the sale of a domain name was probably not worth the $6000 price paid for it.
Keywords in a domain name are but one tiny factor in how Google ranks a website or webpage. Since the domain in question was related to real estate, that makes this topic all the more easy to illustrate. Let’s use the community, Fullerton California as an example. A typical real estate search that gets plenty of search volume and is targeted to buyers is, “Fullerton homes for sale.” results?
Both of these have the word Fullerton in the URL path, but the domain names have nothing inherently connected to real estate–only the business itself has been obviously optimized effectively through the aggregation of back-links, coupled with rich content related to real estate.
You can be sure that Google knows a lot about your domain.
If someone buys a domain and develops it using traditional white hat SEO methods and meaningful content on-site, and then sells it there is absolutely no harm- if you, the buyer get to keep the current content and back-links to the website. Usually that isn’t the case. You get the domain name, not the website itself- unless you’re buying out the website contents as well. Google, of course, will know that ownership has been transferred. If the new owner continues on topic and builds a following and aggregates back-links, that site may once again rank well in search engines- but it isn’t automatic or guaranteed. In fact, it probably isn’t any better than simply buying a fresh domain name and undertaking the same effort.
Paying a premium price for domain just because it has words that you think are important is a naïve approach and, in fact, if the domain has been parked for a long time, or worse yet–if it has a bad history, you are no better off than if you had purchased Fullerton–homes–by-Yourname.net.
Most of my clients new to SEO for real estate, however, become overly focused on the domain name, thinking that it makes a great difference in how well their site will rank. Some are willing to throw money after what looks like a perfect domain name. Domain squatters have a lot of them and there are always people who will pay for them- so the business of selling names continues- but it does the buyer little good.
Back to the Fullerton keyword- There are about 3100 websites with the words “Fullerton” and “homes” in the URL. There is even a domain, Fullerton–homes–for–sale.com. It ranks nowhere near the top pages of Google. website is fairly new, hosted on WordPress, has good content and may well position much better in the future. But for now, it’s a very small fish in a big lake. Higher ranking in search results will happen, not because of keywords in the URL, but because of rich content, plenty of back links with keyword anchor text and the growth of its domain authority over time.
Again, in most cases once ownership of the domain is transferred, page rank and domain authority will experience a reset by Google.
So, in summary, you are selling real estate in Gotham City, and the domain name GothamCityHomes.com is for sale for a premium price, be careful about spending much money on that idea. You can do just as well by purchasing Gothamcityhomes.us or even Gotham-city-RE.net. if you don’t think Google knows what RE means, try typing “Orange County RE” into Google and watch all the real estate results that appear.
How is expert SEO strategynot like pump-and-dump stocks? Well, first let’s clarify for those who don’t do the market thing: a pump-and-dump stock is a scheme whereby crooks dubious investors create a false buzz over some worthless stock (often pink sheets aka penny stocks) after buying a substantial quantity. The suckers victims of the ruse pile on in a buying frenzy believing some email or forum hype about a breakthrough event that will create an instant six-bagger (easy enough to believe with a penny stock- that it will go from 3 cents a share to 18 cents a share…). The flagrant liars dishonest “investors” sell at a strategically chosen price while there is enough momentum of unsuspecting new buyers to sustain original investor selloff- leaving everyone else holding a worthless pile of junk-stock that will never go anywhere but down, as one-by-one, the duped investors realize that they may as well give up.
Enter crappy black-hatSEO techniques and a similar pump-and-dump strategy, one where a straight keyword or phrase is repeated over and over- causing the target of the “campaign” to move up in SERPS until the Google algorithm cops arrive, breaking up the joint. Like a 1920s prohibition underground club, the boys in the know slip out (with your hard-earned money, of course) while unsuspecting patrons take the rap.
The black-hats get fast results, but if a website owner plans to be around for more than “15 minutes”, they’ll want to avoid this kind of tactic.
Anchor text should be diverse and keywords inserted into natural phrases with targets accumulated as a significant portion of keyword distribution, but not the sole keyword that will trigger Google’s patterning algorithms sooner or later, leaving the client at best, where they were before, or at worst, banned and de-indexed by Google.
Expert SEO techniques involve natural conversational posts, etc. involving a wide range of relevant, but diverse keywords.
How Many Gmail users are there and why should a business owner care? by Dave Keys, Orange County SEO
Most of you as business owners have heard of SEO. Some have had experience with the pitfalls of contracting with an SEO outfit only to find out that the SEO company had sold them a bill of goods, taken their money and provided no ROI. Others are waiting to see…
Here’s the thing about waiting to see what develops- it already has. Google has rolled out and improved on search results for anyone who has a Google account, (generally, everyone with a Gmail address) with a new technology called Personalized Search.
As seen in the video, Google’s results will point you toward what you’ve looked for, and clicked on previously. This means that if you liked the way that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art website looked when you searched for Art Museums (normally at #10), the site will start to appear in the #1 or #2 slot on subsequent searches, since Google “knows” you like to visit it.
Now, it’s more important than ever to rank well ahead of your competitors and to get there before your competitors, because- we all have to compete just that much more, not only with our competitors, but also with the presumed “preferences” of all 193 million Gmail users. (Wikipedia)
In December, 2009, I took on an what many might consider an impossible task. That was just 11 months ago. My new client, real estate agent Jeff Lichtenstein went live with a brand new website (and domain name) in the most expensive zip code in the United States. (Forbes 2002 and other sources) Jeff’s goal was to rank in the top five on page one of Google in the most sought after 15 communities in Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, FL. There are thousands of agents, let alone giant chain offices and brokerages with huge budgets including SEO, all going after homes in communities with residents like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Celine Dion. My job was to help my new client with zero staff, a new domain name, no content and a limited budget to rise to page one in Google for valued keywords and phrases.
Often cited as “the most expensive zip code in the United States” is the Florida community of Jupiter Island. The upscale real estate in Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, Florida is often identified by the homes and communities that bear names familiar to anyone in the area; PGA National homes, Admirals Cove and Jupiter Island are a few. Communities compete by exclusivity rather than price or other factors common to most real estate sales in today’s market. Certainly prices have come down, but these are not the short sale, foreclosure ravaged homes and neighborhoods so often found in formerly unaffected upscale neighborhoods. Prices have come down from prices like $15 million to a cool $12 million. You get the picture. These are high value and high competition communities.
What Orange County SEO can do for you
Most would have laughed at the idea of successfully taking on local powerhouse agencies, but I saw holes in virtually all competitors’ strategies and proceeded to educate Jeff in proper “white hat SEO” strategies approved by Google’s TOS. I encouraged Jeff to stay the course over the following months. Within a short time our first target community gained a position on page one. We were on our way.
Our latest effort, a well planned and executed promotion of one of our blog posts, proved to be a tipping point as well. This was a coordinated effort because few succeed in search marketing by simply outsourcing some SEO and forgetting about it.
Now, 11 months after the brand new website’s inception, we enjoy a page one presence for eleven of fifteen target communities. These are based on high value keywords verified for competitive value in Google’s Adword keyword tool. These are organic results. They don’t include the page one video thumbnails we infiltrated page one results with, over eight months ago.
What are the value of these communities? Admirals Cove home prices top out at $15.5 million. PGA National? A mere $1.8 million tops the list of more “modest” homes in the upscale PGA golf resort community. Meanwhile, of the Jupiter Island homes for sale, the top home price is Greg Norman’s estate listed at a cool, if dubious $65 million. Closer to a realistic value may be Tiger Woods’ house, recently rebuilt on a 12 acre compound with its own three hole practice golf course.
Target Community in Position 4
It’s fair to say that competition in these communities is intense with marketing efforts on every imaginable front. SEO in this kind of an environment is only a part, but a critical part, of any real estate marketing strategy.
We’re providing the top players with head to head competition in the top profitable real estate areas.
While you can easily find Jeff’s website on the first page of Google searches for most of the top community names in Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter including the often dubbed, most expensive community in the United States, Jupiter Island, our work isn’t finished yet. We’re well on our way to the “top of the fold” in the top five positions for our key communities.
Contact Dave at 888-216-1231 to discuss SEO for your real estate business.
Some basic introduction to SEO in Orange County and Elsewhere.
Dominating on Google is easy for low importance keywords, but dominating for what counts in your business is usually soon shown to be a real challenge. Even those who have done well on Google for years are lately finding that the tide of competition is pushing them down, down in the search engines.
You may have some success already with SEO, but, if you’re not on WordPress on a fully hosted platform, you’re swimming upstream. A poorly optimized website can be successful if you have a zillion back-links. With enough back-links you can top the charts with virtually any website, even a website with zero text. Example: type Jim Carrey into Google and the first result is the official site of Jim Carrey, an all Flash website. The website has 6752 links to it from other websites, many or most of which don’t say “Jim Carrey” in the anchor text, but Google figured it out from the title meta-tag and all the back-links.
The Click Here phenomenon: Type click here into Google and you’ll see Adobe Reader at the top spot. Why? Millions of websites tell you to “Click Here” to get Adobe reader, with the link going to… The most popular “click here” site on earth. The website itself doesn’t have the words click here anywhere.
Here are some basic steps to take before you consider hiring any SEO. After all, you should be at the helm of your small business in Orange County.
Read Up on SEO tips from the pros. (not the sales drones who call you for SEO in the middle of lunch or managing your business) Here are some of the top names and websites: Aaron Wall (http://www.seobook.com), SEOMoz (a little more advanced, great free and paid SEO tools), Steve Wiideman (#1 in Google for SEO Expert) Be sure to get Steve’s free SEO in a Day E-book. There’s no obligation. Steve’s a stand-up guy who is very generous in teaching you what you need to know, especially in WordPress. If you want to know the real deal about what Google does and does not respect, promote, reward and allow, read it straight from the horse’s mouth, Matt Cutts is the head of the Google webspam team and he lays it out straight.
Study your keywords and figure out which ones are really being searched on in your market. Is it Jacksonville realtors, Jacksonville real estate or homes in Jacsksonville? The Google adword keyword tool is free and it will tell you what you need to know.
Approach SEO like you would approach any long term commitment. Go slow and steady, learn every day. Get to know the things that are most valuable for your business and what kind of leads will convert into clients. Keep building your back-links (don’t know how? Get Steve’s free Ebook)
Stay clear of anyone who charges exorbitant fees while leaving you in the dark about what is going on. Educate yourself well enough to understand your SEO needs before you outsource it. You’ll be a lot better off and you’ll keep your SEO providers on their toes if they know you understand the process.
Keep up with what’s happening in your SEO campaign. Stay in charge. Make informed decisions about everything your SEO expert recommends and what they don’t. It’s your business and you should know all you can to make the right call.