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4 Of The Best Tactics

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4 Of The Best Tactics

The real estate market is more competitive than ever. And smart realtors need a way to stand out from the crowd.

But, the days of throwing up a billboard with a picture of your smiling face and waiting for the leads to come rolling in are over.

Like everything else, real estate has gone digital.

Did you know 97% of home buyers start the process with a Google search?

It’s true. Long before they’ve made the decision to contact a realtor, they’re browsing available houses in the area, checking prices, taking virtual tours – and checking out real estate agencies.

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That’s why it’s of utmost importance to have a strong web presence.

But that means more than just having a Facebook profile – you need a real estate website that will stand out from the background noise and land you new clients.

And that starts with getting your site ranked highly by search engines.

But how do you do that?

One of the best ways to improve your position on search engine results pages (SERPs) is by building quality inbound links.

These incoming links, which are also known as backlinks, signal to search engines how important and reliable the content on your site is.

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And the higher you’re rated in these categories, the higher you’ll be ranked in search engine results.

Right now, you’re probably saying, “But wait, I’m a real estate agent, not a search engine optimization specialist. I don’t know the first thing about building links!”

Relax, you’re in the right place.

In this piece, we’ll show you four proven ways you can earn quality backlinks.

Challenges The Real Estate Industry Faces With Backlinks

Before we get started on the ways you can create inbound links, we need to address some of the specific challenges of link building in this industry.

The Market Is Overcrowded

You don’t need to be told how stiff the competition in the industry is. But that just makes it even more important that you generate good backlinks.

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You’re competing with giant conglomerates – Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Berkshire Hathaway; the average local real estate agent is competing with massive nationwide firms to land clients.

Finding good linking sites is difficult.

When you’re soliciting inbound links, the quality of the linking site is important.

Researching these sites can be time-consuming and building a relationship to earn links can be frustrating.

Metrics Can Be Misleading

It’s a simple fact, not all backlinks are created equal.

As someone who’s not an SEO professional, you may assume any incoming link is a good one.

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Or, you may think that a link from an unrelated site with great traffic is superior to a less-trafficked, but related site. It’s not.

Local Search Is Crucial

General SEO is good, but most of your valuable leads are going to be searching for local search terms like [houses near me]. Your backlink strategy should address this.

Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s dive into the four tactics you can use to generate links, improve your website’s visibility, and hopefully, land more deals.

1. Network, Network, Network

The real estate game is all about relationships. It’s about who you know, as much as what you know, or even what’s on the market. Link building is the same.

The Goal: Leverage your local network to get good incoming links.

The entire industry is built on collaboration.

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From working with other agents to transfer property on a sale to meetings with groups like the local chamber, no one achieves real estate success on their own.

And since you’ve got the network, why not use it for backlinks?

Reach out to your local sources and build relationships with blogs and websites in the industry and in your area.

The websites and blogs of other real estate agents are a great source of links but don’t forget about business associations, social groups, and even churches in your neighborhood.

Getting them to link to your content may only take a polite, well-worded (and short) email.

By securing these valuable local links, you’ll improve your visibility in local searches.

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And just as importantly, you’ll be able to capitalize on these geo-targeted links at the expense of non-local competitors.

Target Audience: Homeowners and homebuyers.

Don’t think backlinks from your network are just for search engines.

On the contrary, when someone links to your content, they’re sending a very strong message that they believe and trust in what you’re doing – something that’s not lost on homeowners and homebuyers.

And the more they see links pointing to your website, the greater name recognition you’ll achieve. Both of those mean one important thing: more clients.

2. Create Geo-Targeted Content

Are you starting to grasp the importance of location-based targeting when it comes to building links and driving traffic to your website?

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The Goal: Boost your exposure.

In the last section, we talked about the importance of building your local network.

In this one, we’ll talk about the importance of creating the type of content that will get the eyes of people in your community on your website.

Geo-targeted content could be about a new listing, a new trend in real estate (e.g., the growing popularity of a revitalized neighborhood) or even social life in the area.

A blog post on the 10 best cocktail bars in your city is sure to garner attention, even from people who aren’t actively looking to buy or sell a home.

But when they are, guess who will be top of mind?

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This type of content serves as a resource for web searchers and will likely result in a link to your post on the websites and social media accounts of the places you mention.

Target Audience: Influencers who can bring you traffic.

The only limits to creating geo-targeted content are the limits of your imagination.

Create content that has value for people in your area, and it will be picked up, shared, and linked to.

3. Build Your Network With Testimonials And Reviews

Nothing convinces the general public about a company’s legitimacy like testimonials and reviews.

But in this case, you’re not soliciting them to build your own reputation – you’re giving them out.

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The Goal: Expand your network by engaging with other businesses.

A quick and powerful way to build links to your realty website is by offering testimonials to other businesses.

Do you have a favorable opinion of your appraiser? Or a favorite dry cleaner? Maybe you love your email marketing program? Give them a positive review on Google, Yelp, and other platforms. And be sure to include a link to your own site in your profile.

And in addition to establishing your authority and providing a boost to your own business, they’ll also cultivate goodwill with the businesses you’re reviewing.

And once you’ve established that positive relationship, most companies will be only too happy to provide you with a backlink.

Target Audience: Other businesses in your community.

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Make a list of all the businesses you use, whether it’s online tools or local service providers.

Leave them testimonials on review sites. Then send them an email linking to the review and asking for a backlink. More often than not, they’ll agree.

4. Post On Forums

Buying or selling a home can be stressful and confusing for the people involved.

And, many of these buyers and sellers will turn to forums like Reddit, Quora, and local sites seeking answers to their questions. That’s where you come in.

The Goal: Establish yourself as a real estate authority.

It’s not enough to just promote your business on forum sites.

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In fact, if you do nothing but self-promote, it’s likely to have a negative impact on your reputation there, especially in communities like Reddit, where users vote on the quality of content.

Instead, you need to provide valuable information and be genuinely helpful.

Help people find solutions to their problems and establish your credentials before you start using these communities for link building.

Put links only where they feel natural and follow guidelines. Once you’ve created a reputation as an expert, your links will be more appreciated and more likely to get clicks.

Target Audience: Homebuyers and sellers.

Takeaways

Don’t be put off by the idea of building backlinks for your real estate business. It may sound daunting, but there are lots of ways to do it. And this article is just a start.

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In addition to the four tactics listed here, there are many other ways to solicit backlinks. For example, you could try:

  • Guest posting/guest blogging/appearing on podcasts. The host will give you real estate on their site or podcast to link back to your own site, allowing you to create links and expand your audience at the same time.
  • Making your content shareable on social media. Just adding quick share links to your post so it can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites can lead to new links without a lot of effort on your part.
  • Taking part (and posting about) community events like fundraisers. A good way to generate publicity, taking part in local events that are covered by the press can generate incoming links from reputable and trusted news outlets.
  • Creating whitepapers and infographics others will find valuable. The best content is the content with the most value. And because humans love to share their knowledge and finds, if you create whitepapers or infographics with relevant information, they’ll be shared organically. And that means inbound links.

Creating links is really all about showing initiative and having the right mindset.

If you use natural tactics to create backlinks, you’ll be able to win the SEO game in the long run. And that’s a win for your real estate business.

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Google On Hyphens In Domain Names

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What Google says about using hyphens in domain names

Google’s John Mueller answered a question on Reddit about why people don’t use hyphens with domains and if there was something to be concerned about that they were missing.

Domain Names With Hyphens For SEO

I’ve been working online for 25 years and I remember when using hyphens in domains was something that affiliates did for SEO when Google was still influenced by keywords in the domain, URL, and basically keywords anywhere on the webpage. It wasn’t something that everyone did, it was mainly something that was popular with some affiliate marketers.

Another reason for choosing domain names with keywords in them was that site visitors tended to convert at a higher rate because the keywords essentially prequalified the site visitor. I know from experience how useful two-keyword domains (and one word domain names) are for conversions, as long as they didn’t have hyphens in them.

A consideration that caused hyphenated domain names to fall out of favor is that they have an untrustworthy appearance and that can work against conversion rates because trustworthiness is an important factor for conversions.

Lastly, hyphenated domain names look tacky. Why go with tacky when a brandable domain is easier for building trust and conversions?

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Domain Name Question Asked On Reddit

This is the question asked on Reddit:

“Why don’t people use a lot of domains with hyphens? Is there something concerning about it? I understand when you tell it out loud people make miss hyphen in search.”

And this is Mueller’s response:

“It used to be that domain names with a lot of hyphens were considered (by users? or by SEOs assuming users would? it’s been a while) to be less serious – since they could imply that you weren’t able to get the domain name with fewer hyphens. Nowadays there are a lot of top-level-domains so it’s less of a thing.

My main recommendation is to pick something for the long run (assuming that’s what you’re aiming for), and not to be overly keyword focused (because life is too short to box yourself into a corner – make good things, course-correct over time, don’t let a domain-name limit what you do online). The web is full of awkward, keyword-focused short-lived low-effort takes made for SEO — make something truly awesome that people will ask for by name. If that takes a hyphen in the name – go for it.”

Pick A Domain Name That Can Grow

Mueller is right about picking a domain name that won’t lock your site into one topic. When a site grows in popularity the natural growth path is to expand the range of topics the site coves. But that’s hard to do when the domain is locked into one rigid keyword phrase. That’s one of the downsides of picking a “Best + keyword + reviews” domain, too. Those domains can’t grow bigger and look tacky, too.

That’s why I’ve always recommended brandable domains that are memorable and encourage trust in some way.

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Read the post on Reddit:

Are domains with hyphens bad?

Read Mueller’s response here.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Benny Marty

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Reddit Post Ranks On Google In 5 Minutes

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Google apparently ranks Reddit posts within minutes

Google’s Danny Sullivan disputed the assertions made in a Reddit discussion that Google is showing a preference for Reddit in the search results. But a Redditor’s example proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten of the search results within minutes and to actually improve rankings to position #2 a week later.

Discussion About Google Showing Preference To Reddit

A Redditor (gronetwork) complained that Google is sending so many visitors to Reddit that the server is struggling with the load and shared an example that proved that it can only take minutes for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten.

That post was part of a 79 post Reddit thread where many in the r/SEO subreddit were complaining about Google allegedly giving too much preference to Reddit over legit sites.

The person who did the test (gronetwork) wrote:

“…The website is already cracking (server down, double posts, comments not showing) because there are too many visitors.

…It only takes few minutes (you can test it) for a post on Reddit to appear in the top ten results of Google with keywords related to the post’s title… (while I have to wait months for an article on my site to be referenced). Do the math, the whole world is going to spam here. The loop is completed.”

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Reddit Post Ranked Within Minutes

Another Redditor asked if they had tested if it takes “a few minutes” to rank in the top ten and gronetwork answered that they had tested it with a post titled, Google SGE Review.

gronetwork posted:

“Yes, I have created for example a post named “Google SGE Review” previously. After less than 5 minutes it was ranked 8th for Google SGE Review (no quotes). Just after Washingtonpost.com, 6 authoritative SEO websites and Google.com’s overview page for SGE (Search Generative Experience). It is ranked third for SGE Review.”

It’s true, not only does that specific post (Google SGE Review) rank in the top 10, the post started out in position 8 and it actually improved ranking, currently listed beneath the number one result for the search query “SGE Review”.

Screenshot Of Reddit Post That Ranked Within Minutes

Anecdotes Versus Anecdotes

Okay, the above is just one anecdote. But it’s a heck of an anecdote because it proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank within minutes and get stuck in the top of the search results over other possibly more authoritative websites.

hankschrader79 shared that Reddit posts outrank Toyota Tacoma forums for a phrase related to mods for that truck.

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Google’s Danny Sullivan responded to that post and the entire discussion to dispute that Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums.

Danny wrote:

“Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums. [super vhs to mac adapter] I did this week, it goes Apple Support Community, MacRumors Forum and further down, there’s Reddit. I also did [kumo cloud not working setup 5ghz] recently (it’s a nightmare) and it was the Netgear community, the SmartThings Community, GreenBuildingAdvisor before Reddit. Related to that was [disable 5g airport] which has Apple Support Community above Reddit. [how to open an 8 track tape] — really, it was the YouTube videos that helped me most, but it’s the Tapeheads community that comes before Reddit.

In your example for [toyota tacoma], I don’t even get Reddit in the top results. I get Toyota, Car & Driver, Wikipedia, Toyota again, three YouTube videos from different creators (not Toyota), Edmunds, a Top Stories unit. No Reddit, which doesn’t really support the notion of always wanting to drive traffic just to Reddit.

If I guess at the more specific query you might have done, maybe [overland mods for toyota tacoma], I get a YouTube video first, then Reddit, then Tacoma World at third — not near the bottom. So yes, Reddit is higher for that query — but it’s not first. It’s also not always first. And sometimes, it’s not even showing at all.”

hankschrader79 conceded that they were generalizing when they wrote that Google always prioritized Reddit. But they also insisted that that didn’t diminish what they said is a fact that Google’s “prioritization” forum content has benefitted Reddit more than actual forums.

Why Is The Reddit Post Ranked So High?

It’s possible that Google “tested” that Reddit post in position 8 within minutes and that user interaction signals indicated to Google’s algorithms that users prefer to see that Reddit post. If that’s the case then it’s not a matter of Google showing preference to Reddit post but rather it’s users that are showing the preference and the algorithm is responding to those preferences.

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Nevertheless, an argument can be made that user preferences for Reddit can be a manifestation of Familiarity Bias. Familiarity Bias is when people show a preference for things that are familiar to them. If a person is familiar with a brand because of all the advertising they were exposed to then they may show a bias for the brand products over unfamiliar brands.

Users who are familiar with Reddit may choose Reddit because they don’t know the other sites in the search results or because they have a bias that Google ranks spammy and optimized websites and feel safer reading Reddit.

Google may be picking up on those user interaction signals that indicate a preference and satisfaction with the Reddit results but those results may simply be biases and not an indication that Reddit is trustworthy and authoritative.

Is Reddit Benefiting From A Self-Reinforcing Feedback Loop?

It may very well be that Google’s decision to prioritize user generated content may have started a self-reinforcing pattern that draws users in to Reddit through the search results and because the answers seem plausible those users start to prefer Reddit results. When they’re exposed to more Reddit posts their familiarity bias kicks in and they start to show a preference for Reddit. So what could be happening is that the users and Google’s algorithm are creating a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

Is it possible that Google’s decision to show more user generated content has kicked off a cycle where more users are exposed to Reddit which then feeds back into Google’s algorithm which in turn increases Reddit visibility, regardless of lack of expertise and authoritativeness?

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Kues

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WordPress Releases A Performance Plugin For “Near-Instant Load Times”

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WordPress speculative loading plugin

WordPress released an official plugin that adds support for a cutting edge technology called speculative loading that can help boost site performance and improve the user experience for site visitors.

Speculative Loading

Rendering means constructing the entire webpage so that it instantly displays (rendering). When your browser downloads the HTML, images, and other resources and puts it together into a webpage, that’s rendering. Prerendering is putting that webpage together (rendering it) in the background.

What this plugin does is to enable the browser to prerender the entire webpage that a user might navigate to next. The plugin does that by anticipating which webpage the user might navigate to based on where they are hovering.

Chrome lists a preference for only prerendering when there is an at least 80% probability of a user navigating to another webpage. The official Chrome support page for prerendering explains:

“Pages should only be prerendered when there is a high probability the page will be loaded by the user. This is why the Chrome address bar prerendering options only happen when there is such a high probability (greater than 80% of the time).

There is also a caveat in that same developer page that prerendering may not happen based on user settings, memory usage and other scenarios (more details below about how analytics handles prerendering).

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The Speculative Loading API solves a problem that previous solutions could not because in the past they were simply prefetching resources like JavaScript and CSS but not actually prerendering the entire webpage.

The official WordPress announcement explains it like this:

Introducing the Speculation Rules API
The Speculation Rules API is a new web API that solves the above problems. It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation. This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them.”

The official WordPress page about this new functionality describes it:

“The Speculation Rules API is a new web API… It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation.

This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them. Also, with the Speculation Rules API, “prerender” actually means to prerender the entire page, including running JavaScript. This can lead to near-instant load times once the user clicks on the link as the page would have most likely already been loaded in its entirety. However that is only one of the possible configurations.”

The new WordPress plugin adds support for the Speculation Rules API. The Mozilla developer pages, a great resource for HTML technical understanding describes it like this:

“The Speculation Rules API is designed to improve performance for future navigations. It targets document URLs rather than specific resource files, and so makes sense for multi-page applications (MPAs) rather than single-page applications (SPAs).

The Speculation Rules API provides an alternative to the widely-available <link rel=”prefetch”> feature and is designed to supersede the Chrome-only deprecated <link rel=”prerender”> feature. It provides many improvements over these technologies, along with a more expressive, configurable syntax for specifying which documents should be prefetched or prerendered.”

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See also: Are Websites Getting Faster? New Data Reveals Mixed Results

Performance Lab Plugin

The new plugin was developed by the official WordPress performance team which occasionally rolls out new plugins for users to test ahead of possible inclusion into the actual WordPress core. So it’s a good opportunity to be first to try out new performance technologies.

The new WordPress plugin is by default set to prerender “WordPress frontend URLs” which are pages, posts, and archive pages. How it works can be fine-tuned under the settings:

Settings > Reading > Speculative Loading

Browser Compatibility

The Speculative API is supported by Chrome 108 however the specific rules used by the new plugin require Chrome 121 or higher. Chrome 121 was released in early 2024.

Browsers that do not support will simply ignore the plugin and will have no effect on the user experience.

Check out the new Speculative Loading WordPress plugin developed by the official core WordPress performance team.

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How Analytics Handles Prerendering

A WordPress developer commented with a question asking how Analytics would handle prerendering and someone else answered that it’s up to the Analytics provider to detect a prerender and not count it as a page load or site visit.

Fortunately both Google Analytics and Google Publisher Tags (GPT) both are able to handle prerenders. The Chrome developers support page has a note about how analytics handles prerendering:

“Google Analytics handles prerender by delaying until activation by default as of September 2023, and Google Publisher Tag (GPT) made a similar change to delay triggering advertisements until activation as of November 2023.”

Possible Conflict With Ad Blocker Extensions

There are a couple things to be aware of about this plugin, aside from the fact that it’s an experimental feature that requires Chrome 121 or higher.

A comment by a WordPress plugin developer that this feature may not work with browsers that are using the uBlock Origin ad blocking browser extension.

Download the plugin:
Speculative Loading Plugin by the WordPress Performance Team

Read the announcement at WordPress
Speculative Loading in WordPress

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See also: WordPress, Wix & Squarespace Show Best CWV Rate Of Improvement

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