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The homebuying journey typically starts with search. Today, free traffic from search engines such as Google is harder and harder to come by, especially with all the competition from listing aggregators and local real estate agents. However, if done right, home builders can capture search engine traffic by ranking local community content within their sites.
To begin, you’ll need an existing website for your residential development business. It will become the main hub for local area sections—sometimes referred to as microsites—within the main site as you complete the rest of the steps to expand your digital footprint. These tips assume such a site is already in place, so you can implement the following strategies.
If you want to capture local traffic you need to think like the people who live, or want to live, in the area. What words and phrases do they use when searching for homes located in the communities where you build?
By local area, we don’t mean your community, because you might have multiple communities within one contiguous geographic area, but the community name people would use in a search. For example, it could be a city name if the city is small enough, but in a larger city, there would be different names for sections of the city. For example, use Queens or Brooklyn versus New York City, or in a sprawling metropolitan area like Phoenix, even within the city of Phoenix you would have defined neighborhoods such as Arcadia, Ahwatukee or Laveen. Think keyword phrase here: new homes in [local area name]. Ideally, you’ll build a set of eight or more related local area pages—each focused on an area which can be tied to a single keyword.
Just creating a single local page isn’t enough. What’s needed is an entire site of pages and each page in the set needs to include valuable, substantive, relevant content. Here’s what that means:
For each of these pages you will want to carefully plan the content to include keywords as they would naturally occur in text. No keyword stuffing, please.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean you can’t use your keywords more than once. It simply means to write engaging content meant to be read and understood by people. With advances in technology, especially with speech to text, search algorithms can understand conversational long-tail keyword searches and actually listen for them. Mindless repetition of a specific word or phrase alone, however, won’t get your page noticed—at least not in a good way. The more machines learn to think like humans, the more content writers need to cater to human eyeballs instead of trying to out-maneuver artificial intelligence.
Engaging content is essential, but so is how you present it on the page and in the code. By following a few more technical tips you’ll help search engines identify what is most important allowing them to accurately serve the traffic you most want and need.
Here are a few guidelines:
Structured data: Use structured data, JSON-LD and Schema.org, to provide markup for the location and entities you are including in the content.
Now that you have created your local pages, it’s time to put them to work using link sculpting to integrate them into your main site. These pages shouldn’t necessarily be included in your main site navigation, but you do need a link strategy to integrate them correctly into your site for maximum ranking potential.
Outbound links are good karma. Link out from your content to tightly relevant sources. For example, if you have a page for schools in the area, list and link to each school and maybe even the school district. If you have a page for community organizations, link to related charities. Sponsor youth sports teams in the area and link out to those organizations as well.
If you don’t already have website analytics installed, now is a great time to do so. Gauge current traffic patterns and levels so you have something to compare against once you launch your set of local pages. As new patterns and traffic levels emerge, investigate what’s working and what’s not, and make any adjustments needed. Bear in mind, this isn’t a one-and-done exercise. Keep track of outbound links to make sure you keep them up to date. Seasonal links, especially those for youth sports or other recreational groups or charities which are not active throughout the entire year, might need to be adjusted quarterly.
Not sure where to start? You’re not alone. LAVIDGE can help. That’s why we have a dedicated web team and an analytics team to uncover traffic trends and to help home builders optimize their websites for top results.
To learn more, give us a call at 480.998.2600 or send email to [email protected].
Carl Chapman, SEO Strategist, contributed to this report.
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