• Make sure your site is compliant with updated search engine requirements.
  • A/B test every bit of content you place online to make sure you are always investing in the most effective campaign.

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Driving traffic to any website takes dedication and maintenance.

To be successful, you need to maximize your site’s SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing). Both are important.

How to get started with SEO

Let’s start with SEO. Site structure and original content are the building blocks for SEO.

The first step is to make sure your site is compliant with updated search engine requirements. If you really want to geek out on this, you can learn more about Google’s search engine requirements.

If your site is being hosted by a website provider, make sure that the provider is regularly optimizing the site structure for the maximum SEO advantage.

For example, Google will soon require that your site be encrypted for security and that every URL has an “https://” structure. You might as well build it that way from the get-go!

Once you lay the right foundation with the site structure, it’s time to add the bells and whistles that make search engines stop and take notice.

Original content

Search engines are suckers for original content. Original content comes in the form of writing, images and video. Adding original content to your site on a regular basis is key to increasing your SEO.

Embedding widgets can give you a leg up on maintaining a constant stream of original content. It is important that the structure of the widget favors your site, and not the host site, for SEO.

Other opportunities to building a base of original content include blogging.

You don’t have to do all the work yourself. Creating and maintaining a dynamic blog is a full-time job for many people.

Invite guest bloggers to provide content for your site. For example, you might ask your stager to share some staging success stories, or your favorite mortgage broker to share a market update.

There are many other tips and tricks you can utilize to increase your site’s SEO, including adding meta-tags, optimizing link URL structure and more. (If you really love to nerd out on this stuff, please read the Google guide referenced above.)

How to get started with SEM

SEM requires some financial investment. You can start small, play around with what is working and then increase your ad spend when you see the results you desire.

With SEM, you place links to your site in ads and emails with content designed to encourage people to click through to your site.

I highly advise A/B testing every bit of content you place online, to make sure you are always investing in the most effective campaign.

There are endless opportunities to spend money on SEM. In my experience, the most effective are email marketing, Facebook ads and Google ads.

Make sure you are tracking the results. Use an email platform such as MailChimp or Sendgrid that automates A/B testing and provides reporting on open rates, click-through rates and unsubscribe rates.

With email marketing, it is imperative that you keep your contact list clean. CRMs (customer relationship managers) like Contactually can help you with this effort.

Facebook ads provide a great opportunity to reach your sphere and beyond and bring people to your site. Many companies (including Relola) have tools to help you manage your content and ads on Facebook.

First, create target audiences and boost your content or insights to those audiences.

For example, if an agent specializes in second home sales in Tahoe, they would be wise to boost their content about homes for sale in Tahoe to a target audience of homeowners in San Francisco — because these are the people most likely to buy a second home in Tahoe.

Add alluring calls to action to your ads, such as, “Après-ski, anyone? This turn-key cottage is ideally located near the slopes and blocks to the lake. It would make an ideal vacation rental and weekend getaway.”

The result is that now newcomers will click through the ad and end up on your site!

Google ads will drive traffic to your site if they are designed effectively.

You may be a great graphic designer on the side. If you are, go for it! Make sure to A/B test ads, and constantly try to out-perform your best performer.

If setting up and managing a Google ad campaign isn’t in your wheelhouse, don’t worry. Some companies (Adwerx is one) have already done the heavy lifting.

There is a trick you can do that will increase traffic to your site free of charge — make sure there are links back to your site in as many places as possible.

For example, you can write a guest blog post for your stager and mortgage broker and reference your own site.

Setting up your SEO and SEM strategies from the get-go will have a huge impact on ensuring your site has visitors.

Make sure that your site is beautiful and engaging so that once people get there, they linger, look around and reach out to you! That is the goal, right?

It is really important that the look and feel of your site communicates the message you want to convey clearly and quickly. Make sure it is easy to connect with you once on your site, and you should be set up for success!

Heather Sittig Jackson is the CEO & co-founder of Relola. You can follow her on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Email Heather Sittig Jackson.