FloorPop  - Marketing Best Practices for Homebuilders, March 7, 2007
Vol. 7, Issue 12: Copyright (C) 2006 Blair Kuhnen.  All rights reserved.

FloorPop FloorPop (Flôr-pop) n. 1. The home buyer who visits a homebuilder's community and writes a contract for sale the same day. 2. The sound made by a salesperson clicking their heels high in the air and returning to the floor after a prospect signs a contract to buy a new home the day they first meet.

SEO Secrets for Homebuilders

Homebuilders are always looking for ways to drive traffic to their websites, preferably without added expense. While everyone seems to know that search engine optimization is important for homebuilders, most ad agencies and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firms shroud search engine optimization under a veil of secrecy. Let's make SEO a little more transparent.

I believe SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) should be part of every builders marketing mix. Here's the big SEO secret for homebuilders: You can do it yourself and even get a strong ranking. However, you may find it both easier and more cost effective to implement your SEO strategy using a third party.

I am not a SEO guru, so I took a crash course and got some excellent one-on-one coaching from Directory One's, CEO, Phillip O'Hara. O'Hara has been doing this for years and operates one of the largest SEO/SEM agencies in the Southwest.

Keep in mind that search engines like sites that are coded in basic HTML. Not really a secret, but many builders make basic SEO mistakes such as using flash introductions that can kill your chances for a good search ranking. Make sure search engines can see your site the way you want them to. You want your pages to be search engine friendly. You can check them using the Lynx Viewer. Go to http://www.delorie.com/web/lynxview.html to check your site. Also, make your site easy for the search engine bots to crawl. A site map page is a good idea for making it easy to crawl.

Assuming the search engines can see your whole site correctly, it's time to go to work and think about your SEO strategy. How are you going to end up at the top of the search result pages? You can if you stay targeted. Your chances of being #1 for "Real Estate in Los Angeles" is pretty close to zero, but you might be able to be #1 for "New Homes in Temecula." Assuming I build in Temecula, I know which search result click is more important to me. Okay, so how do you do it?

First off, you want to optimize for Google™. Why? As O'Hara put it, "The real traffic is on Google." In fact, 55% of all Internet searches are through Google. Compare this to 23% for Yahoo! and 8% through MSN. This makes the task much easier. While the algorithm Google™ uses to rank sites is a secret, some guidelines are clear.

Top 5 SEO Secrets for Homebuilders

I asked O'Hara to share with me his thoughts along the lines of: "If I had limited time, what would be the 4 or 5 things I would be certain to do to get a good ranking in Google?" Here's O'Hara's top 5 recommendations:

  1. Your title tag. The title tag is the html tag that determines what is displayed in the "blue" title bar on your browser. Google™ relies heavily on this element. The key phrase you want to be found by should be there (e.g., "Preston Builders - New Homes in Temecula").
  2. Place the exact string you want to be found by (e.g., "New Homes in Temecula") in an H1 tag in the first paragraph of your page and make that string BOLD. Use your CSS file to define the font style and size you actually want.
  3. Add the exact string you want to found by to the "ALT" tag associated with the first relevant image on the page.
  4. Let your URL say it if you can. A keyword rich URL such as: http://www.floorpop.com/SEO_Secrets_for_Homebuilders.html will probably rank higher than http://www.floorpop.com/FloorPop030607.html. Both these pages will be posted at http://www.floorpop.com. Come back in a month and see which is on top in Google™.
  5. Continue to use your keyword strings in at least one or two other paragraphs including your final one. In the final paragraph italisize the key word string. You should have these words showing up regularly for a high ranking. http://www.keyworddensity.com can help you check your keyword density.

More SEO Secrets for Homebuilders

Can you do more? You can and should. When you hire a firm to do this for you, they do a lot more. My key SEO secrets for homebuilders recommendation is to focus on these five items as table stakes for getting a good ranking.

Keep in mind the goals of all search engines. According to O'Hara, "They want to give you the most current and relevant search results. They want living, breathing web sites to be ranked higher." Show them you are alive by updating your content regularly. Your tenure (how many years have you been in Google) as a destination is also important.

SEO secrets for homebuilders are not really different than for other sites. These top 5 are those that will yield quick results. If you have the time or a third party helping, you should consider doing the following:

  • Actively encourage other relevant sites to link to you. Page rank is hugely important. Your importance as a source of builder or new home information is inferred from the people who link to you. As more relevant sites link to you, your page rank and your chances of ending up on the first page of any search increases. This takes time and effort, but is crucial for the more competitive key phrases.
  • Place your keyword combinations in your keyword and description metatags. While metatags are not used by many search engines, older style search engines still consider them. It's easy and you only have to do it one time.
  • Focus on the right keywords to get qualified traffic into your site. For most builders, these are "Builders", "New Homes", "Homes", "Community Names", "Builder Names" and "Place Names". Other words might include: "Real Estate", New Construction", "Communities", "Townhomes", and "Condominiums."
  • Avoid doing stupid things that will ruin your search engine optimization efforts including: hidden text, doorway pages, automated submissions, link farms, key word stuffing or repeating content.

SEO Secrets for Homebuilders are not hard to implement, but it does take some time. Thankfully, it can be quite economical to outsource it.

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Blair Kuhnen is the publisher of FloorPop. He can be reached at 817-658-7698 or via email at kuhnen@earthlink.net.

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Contributors to FloorPop this Month

Phillip O'Hara, CEO of Directory One, can be reached at 713-269-3094 or via email.
His website address is http://www.directoryone.com/.

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