Editor’s note: Meet Bernice Ross at the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 5-7, 2009. She will be available to meet with conference attendees from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6, in the Palace Hotel’s Ralston Room. Click here to send Bernice a message.
Have you ever wondered how your Web site stacks up against those of your competitors? More importantly, have you ever wondered what additional steps you can take to improve your Web site standing?
No matter how good your Web site is, there’s always room for improvement. Last week’s column looked at how to improve the layout and the content of your site. The next step is to determine how to make your Web site stand out from those of competitors.
If you’re active on Twitter, there’s a site called TwitterGrader.com. It’s from a company called Hubspot.com. Twitter Grader gives you your percentile ranking in terms of the number of people who are following you as well as the “quality” of the types of followers you are generating. For example, a percentile ranking of 98 means two percent of the people on Twitter have higher rankings than you and 98 percent have lower rankings.
Hubspot also has two other products: one that evaluates your blog ranking and one that evaluates your Web site. Like Twitter Grader, the blog ranking tool gives you the percentile rank of your blog. The Website Grader, however, gives you much more. In addition to your percentile rank, which is based on an algorithm of over 50 different variables, it also makes specific recommendations about how to improve your ranking.
Based upon a Hubspot report on my own site and blog, here are some suggestions that can help you with your Web site:
1. Metadata. Put simply, metadata refers to creating titles for your Web pages, just as you would if you were writing a blog post or an article. These titles are separate from the core content of your site. In addition to your title, you should also include a brief description of the page contents as well. If metadata is an issue on your site, speak to your Web designer about how to add titles and brief descriptions to key pages on your site. (Click here for a detailed explanation in layman’s terms.)
2. Images. Search engines cannot “read” images. Thus, if you have a lot of images on your site, be sure to include text that the search engines can read. Furthermore, having large images slows down load time. If you’re using pictures, it’s best to use thumbnails that can be linked to a larger photo. This keeps load time faster.
3. Readability. “Readability” is a measure of how easy or difficult your site is to read. The number is expressed in terms of grade level. Ideally, junior high level is best. If your site comes back at college level, shorten your sentences and use more one-syllable words, headings, and bullet points. …CONTINUED
4. Register your domain for a long period of time. Google ranks stable sites higher. The longer you have been registered, the better. If your site is still fairly new, register it for at least five years. This helps the search engines distinguish between legitimate and temporary spam sites.
5. Make sure your incoming links are linked properly. Much to my surprise, Website Grader says that Google thinks that www.RealEstateCoach.com and RealEstateCoach.com are two separate Web sites. If this happens when you grade your site, have your Web host do a “301 redirect.” Simply put, it sends all of your links to the same place.
6. Page indexing. As a rule of thumb, the more pages the search engines index, the better. You can add more pages by providing plenty of content about your area, photos of fun things to do, and videos showing your local lifestyle.
7. Submit your site to important directories. Two important directories are ZoomInfo.com and DMOZ. Both of these sites have profiles for millions of business professionals and are free. Hubspot also recommends the Yahoo Directory. The fee is $299 per year, but there’s no guarantee that you will be included.
8. Is your blog related to your Web site? Blogging helps you to relate more personally to your customers. Website Grader checks if your blog is set up correctly to help your SEO, it evaluates whether your RSS feed is set up properly, and it also gives you your overall ranking on Technorati. Technorati rankings are important because you cannot directly submit blog posts to Google and other search engines. Instead, Technorati does this for you.
9. Social media. Website Grader doesn’t track your rankings on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but it does address how often your site is bookmarked on social book marking sites Del.icio.us and Digg. The more people who bookmark your site, the higher your popularity.
If you’re ready to get more business from the Web, making these changes will help you to attract more Web visitors as well as to convert more of them into signed business. The most important step you can take, however, is to monitor results. That’s the only way to know for sure how well your Web site is generating and converting leads.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.
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