Link building for real estate

3 popular tools for boosting SEO efforts

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The Web was built on links.

As Julie Joyce, director of operations for Link Fish Media, points out in "Why Links Matter," hyperlinks "were the main method of building the Internet and connecting sites through HTML, allowing people and bots to move around and find what they needed. They were like any other citations, methods of getting additional information by going somewhere else."

Joyce goes on to discuss the concept of PageRank, which was developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin and is the foundation of Google’s algorithm.

Joyce writes, "Not all links are of equal importance. A link from the home page of a powerful site like the BBC will be of a higher quality than a link from the links page of your high school’s blog."

Google and other search engines analyze links to determine the authority of a website. The more authority your website has, the better it will be ranked and the more traffic it will ultimately receive.

In its simplest form, link building is the process of acquiring quality links (from other websites) to your website to improve your search engine ranking.

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Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. According to SEOmoz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO, "Building links is an art. It’s almost certainly the most challenging part of an SEO’s job, and, for many sites, the one most critical to achieving long-term success."

I recently attended Link Love 2012 in Boston. Link Love is an SEO (search engine optimization) conference hosted by Distilled and SEOmoz, focusing on advanced link building.

The event featured many notable industry experts such as Rand Fishkin, CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz, and Adam Audette, who spearheaded Zappos’ SEO efforts from 2004 to 2011.

The workshop covered a variety of topics including best practices for developing content marketing, social media and recent updates from Google. However, the theme of this workshop was certainly link-building strategies.

Link building for real estate

Search is critical to any real estate professional’s business. Especially if you are competing against companies such as Redfin, Trulia and Zillow who have powerful technology infrastructure and tremendous resources. Competing against these brands for keywords and search phrases is difficult at best.

However, real estate professionals have a tremendous opportunity to improve their link popularity and ranking. With any strategy, research and due diligence is imperative, and link building is no exception. Here are two comprehensive guides to understanding link building:

1. The Only Link-building Guide You’ll EVER Need by Alex Cortez (InmanNext)

2. Link Building Strategies – The Complete List by Jon Cooper (Point Blank SEO)

Once you understand the value of quality links and how effective a link-building strategy can be to your SEO efforts, there are some great tools available to help you facilitate your approach. The speakers at Link Love 2012 shared some fantastic tools (both free and paid) to help you track, analyze and manage your campaigns.

Here are a three popular tools to help optimize your campaigns:

Open Site Explorer

Powered by SEOmoz, Open Site Explorer is a free tool that allows you to see who is linking to your website and perform comparative analysis.

BuzzStream

Starting at $29 a month, BuzzStream claims to eliminate "the time-sucking parts of link building so you can focus on what matters: building quality relationships with link partners."

Raven

Raven is a robust SEO platform that is widely utilized in the SEO industry. This application, which costs $99 a month, is for agencies and seasoned professionals. Raven offers SEO, advertising and social media tools the company claims will "help you work faster and smarter."

Having quality links back to your website is key for improving the popularity and ranking of your website.

As Ido Zucker, partner at Active Website, likes to say, "Links are the new business card. Realtors are so used to shaking hands and exchanging business cards. Offline marketing is so ingrained in their day-to-day life. I suggest that it become the norm for Realtors to exchange links as they do with business cards — making online marketing a reality."

Tom Flanagan is the director of information technology at Residential Properties Ltd. in Providence, R.I. You can contact him at tflanagan@residentialproperties.com or @tflan on Twitter.

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