How Google and other search engines determine Web rankings is a mystery. Nevertheless, there are specific steps you can take to help you obtain better search-engine placement.

In a recent article, I suggested that it was smart for agents to obtain URLs for their Web site such as WilshireHighriseCondos90024.com or AustinTexas78757LakesideHomes.com.

One of our readers commented that this couldn’t possibly be a good idea since no one could remember those addresses. The point in using this approach is to capitalize on how people actually conduct searches using what is known as the "long tail" of search.

How Google and other search engines determine Web rankings is a mystery. Nevertheless, there are specific steps you can take to help you obtain better search-engine placement.

In a recent article, I suggested that it was smart for agents to obtain URLs for their Web site such as WilshireHighriseCondos90024.com or AustinTexas78757LakesideHomes.com.

One of our readers commented that this couldn’t possibly be a good idea since no one could remember those addresses. The point in using this approach is to capitalize on how people actually conduct searches using what is known as the "long tail" of search.

1. Avoid this big mistake
If you want better search-engine placement, avoid branding your Web site using your name. The primary reason is that people have trouble remembering names. Furthermore, using "Bernice Ross Real Estate" is pretty much useless as far as the search engines are concerned. The reason is that people seldom use the agent’s name to search on the Web. In addition, there is no way for those who live outside your area to know your name. Consequently, a URL (Web address) using your name almost never shows up on most searches.

2. "Long tail" strategies match how people conduct actual searches
Your Web site strategy will work best if you have multiple URLs that redirect to your main site. For example, my main Web site might be LiveinLakeTahoe.com or OwnLakeTahoeRealEstate.com. Since a competitor probably already owns LakeTahoeRealEstate.com, I could still have a "Lake Tahoe" URL by adding the words "live in" or "own." When Google does a search, it will bring up your competitor’s site at "LakeTahoeRealEstate.com." Nevertheless, it will also recognize "LakeTahoeRealEstate" as part of your "long tail" Web address at "OwnLakeTahoeRealEstate.com" site. This approach greatly increases the probability that your site will appear on the first page of any "Lake Tahoe real estate" searches.

3. Purchase additional URLs that redirect back to your main Web site
In addition to your main site, "OwnLakeTahoeRealEstate.com," you could also have additional sites such as "OwnLakeTahoeCondominiums.com" or "LiveInLakeTahoe96150.com." Since people often search using ZIP codes, it’s smart to have one or two URLs for your area that include a ZIP code. Again, each one of these separate URLs redirects to a page on your main site. It’s important that when you create the pages that match these URLs they look like a home page for that site. The "OwnLakeTahoeCondominiums.com" site would be devoted exclusively to Lake Tahoe condominiums.

You could have another part of your site that redirects to properties adjacent to the ski lifts. In each case, select pictures and content that fit the specific URL you are using.

4. Go granular
"Granular" refers to serving a very narrow niche and providing as much detail as possible about that niche. The more details and information that you can provide about specific market niches, the better your Web visitors and the search engines will like your site. …CONTINUED

5. Video rules
Google’s algorithm (the mathematical formula that determines Web ranking) seems to assign higher rankings to sites that have video. Consequently, use video to improve your ranking. Please note that virtual tours that scan still photos do not rank as highly as actual video. Furthermore, Google recently started using software that allows it to convert the voice track of a video into searchable text.

This means that if you are using music on your videos, it’s smart to dump the music and replace it with a voice track. The music does nothing to improve your search-engine ranking, while the voice track does. Also, don’t forget to add plenty of still pictures, as this helps your ranking as well.

6. Use key search terms often
Have you ever analyzed what the top sites on Google have in common? One obvious commonality is that these sites will repeat the same key search terms repeatedly on their home page. Using the Lake Tahoe example, it would be important to repeat "Lake Tahoe real estate," "Lake Tahoe homes" and "Lake Tahoe condominiums" repeatedly throughout the site.

Instead of using "homes for sale" on your site, a better approach would be to use "Lake Tahoe homes for sale." Instead of "community information," use "Lake Tahoe Community information." Use these keywords often to obtain higher ranking.

7. Pack additional information "below the fold"
Virtually all highly ranked sites provide a wealth of information below the "fold." This refers to the content that does not show on the search unless the Web visitor scrolls down toward the bottom of the page to look at it.

To get an idea about how this works, search your market area on Google to see who comes up at the top of the search. Then look at how they have used the terms on their site. Also look for what they have "below the fold." Please keep in mind that most users may not read that far. The search engines, however, do.

With a little effort and some minor tweaks, chances are you can raise your search-engine position. Remember that you need interesting, relevant, and engaging content to get your Web visitors to stay on your site and to eventually do business with you.

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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