Just Launched: Portico Homes’ new builder website

Categories: Latest Site Launches, Website Design
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Fresh. Affordable. Right. So goes the description of Portico Homes, a new home builder in Bloomington-Normal IL with over 15 years of experience and an eye for progressive colors, modern style, and innovative designs. It’s also a good description of their new website that we just launched.

The website of Portico Homes, new home builder in Bloomington-Normal IL

After partnering with us on O’Neal Builders, their custom home builder division in Peoria IL, Jim O’Neal and Builder Designs went to work on Portico. The new website makes it quick and easy for home buyers to find the perfect community, quick move-in home, or floor plan to start their building process from. Along with plenty of information about Portico Homes and why they are the builder of choice in Normal, their photo gallery invites you into their energy-efficient homes:

Exterior of a new Portico Homes home


Interior of a new Portico Home

The most affordable homes on the market today, Portico Homes is proud to offer prices that fit your budget and your needs. And with their Low-E windows, R-49 ceiling insulation, and Energy Star appliances, you’ll continue to reap those savings for years to come. It’s not just a great deal: Portico provides those extra touches like full-size bathroom mirrors, a landscaping package, and a full sheetrocked garage that is finished and painted.

“We know that creating and moving into your dream home is one of the most important investments you can make for your family,” Jim O’Neal says. “So when we build your home we take our responsibility to you very seriously.” That is why they manage every element of the construction. Your new home team will include a designer, job site supervisor, estimator, and customer care professional to ensure that you get the attention and care you deserve.

Ranked as one of the most exciting cities in Illinois, Bloomington-Normal is nestled in a lush farming community with a strong educational community and thriving economy. Portico Homes has over five communities in Bloomington and Normal, as well as new home developments in Central, Downs, Carlock, and Washington IL. They also offer a strong build on your lot program: From Bloomington – Normal all the way south to Clinton and west to Peoria – Dunlap, if you have the land Portico has the plan!

We are proud of the new website for Portico Homes and confident that the responsive design and robust internet marketing plan will create new leads and new sales for these Illinois home builders. To speak with Portico Homes stop by and contact them here. Or if you’re curious about their design and would like more responsive website ideas, browse the Builder Designs’ latest launches.

Apple Maps Connect: A New Tool for Local SEO

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Local SEO
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Since the last Pigeon algorithm update we’ve happily seen more and more home builders realizing the importance of a Local SEO campaign. Today there’s great news for Local SEO – and an end to a long-running frustration – you can now add or edit local business listings on Apple Maps.

For more than two years we didn’t have this capability and had to rely on Apple making the update themselves. Apple Maps Connect is their answer. Sign in with your Apple ID (or sign up for a free account) and add your new business listing. What’s really nice is that you get to place the pin for your location yourself, so you can make sure the map – and corresponding mobile directions – is exact.

How to use Apple Maps Connect for your home builder internet marketing

We highly recommend first searching for your company. If you have a listing already you’ll want to claim and edit that, versus creating a duplicate account. If for any reason there are already duplicate accounts, be sure to ask for the extras be taken down. This can occasionally happen if, for instance, your company goes under several names.

Like a strong Google My Business listing, you’ll want to choose the appropriate business category, confirm your hours, and add in your full details. Apple Maps Connect lets you link up several social media accounts, like Facebook and Twitter, which is especially nice for home builders with a strong social media presence.

Those business categories are very important, by the way – they’re the way buyers find you. Out of 671 pre-defined categories Apple will let you pick three: a main category, sub-category, and sub-sub-category. Frustratingly, there is not just a “home builder” option. The closest current match is Home Services, which also further breaks down into interior designers, apartments, real estate agents, and more. Read through a full list of Apple’s categories.

In order to verify that others aren’t editing your listing erroneously, you’ll get an immediate and automated verification call from Apple with a few numbers to fill in. From there the new account or update may take a few days or even weeks to show up. Apple reviews the information before it’s live, so you’ll want to check in later on the final version. (This is true for many citation directories.)

Right now the service is only for the US, but that should soon change.

You definitely want to get right on this. Apple Maps is already a huge product, and now that their local citations are stronger those listings are only going to get more important. They may even start rivaling Google’s importance. If you’re fighting back a drop in ranking from the Pigeon update, this is a big step in a citation building program that will help put you back on top.

As always, for more information or help setting up your Local SEO campaign and Apple Maps listing, just get in touch.

Real Estate Websites Plummet 63 Percent in Search Results

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Local SEO
Tags: , , ,

This post was written by: Abby Hill

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.46.40 PM

If you’ve seen your website drop several pages in Google results, we might have an idea why: Google’s Pigeon update.

Every now and then, Google rolls out a new algorithm to make its search bots smarter in delivering relevant web pages to your search query. The latest one is called Pigeon, and it’s supposed to benefit local SEO and mobile search.

Since its debut in late July 2014, there have been a few issues—namely, in the real estate market. Searchenginewatch.com reported that real estate websites fell 63 percent in Google Places results after the pigeon update.


 What might be happening

It’s still unclear why some real estate websites are seeing success despite the overall negative outlook following this update. Some speculate that Pigeon’s favoring of directory listings (a local SEO must-have these days) are unfairly inflating sites like Zillow, Trulia, and New Home Source simply because the algorithm values a directory as one of the most helpful/relevant results to deliver to a local search.

This seems to be most obvious when searching for larger metro areas rather than specific towns. Actually, this makes a lot of sense when you consider that the big real estate directories are likely funneling their advertising dollars into those bigger nets in order to capture more search queries.

It may be worth optimizing your website for your communities within the larger metro area to avoid competing with the large directory sites.


The silver lining

Local search is still a big deal, and it isn’t going anywhere. If you’ve seen your rankings drop and you haven’t updated your SEO in several years, the problems you’re seeing are likely due to your website not being optimized for local search at all.

The Builder Designs team has been studying the heck out of local SEO, and it’s something we’re stressing all of our new clients invest in for their site. We can certainly take a look at your website and get it up to speed on local SEO if you’re not happy with where you’re ending up in search results.

If you’re optimized for local, have at least 250 words of content on each site page, and you’re still having issues, you might try retargeting your focus to include long-tail keywords.


Long-tail keywords: the secret sauce

Long-tail keywords are sentences or phrases that have a lower search volume and refer to something very specific, like “luxury new home builders in Olathe KS” or “cheapest place to buy camera equipment in Phoenix.”

This is actually something that’s pretty under-utilized considering that most people search with conversational phrases instead of short “head” keywords, like “Olathe homes” or “realtors.”

Google’s latest algorithms have actually been designed to better serve these conversational searches. It makes sense when paired with the fact that searches are becoming more localized. We no longer get on the Internet just to research global information.

While it might seem attractive to go after keyword phrases with high search volumes, the downside is that you have tons of competition for those searches—namely, those big directory sites.

It’s best, in the current climate, to play to your specifics. The big sites aren’t going to bother optimizing for “new homes in Olathe school district 233,” but this search query may cover several of the communities you build homes in. And while there might not be a thousand people using that phrase every month, you’ll know that when someone does make that search, you’re likely to be the one that captures the lead.


Don’t sweat it.

You should certainly take measures to allow your website to make nice with Google’s new algorithm updates, but don’t worry if things are a little rocky for a few months. Pigeon is still pretty new, and the kinks still need to be worked out.

If you’re looking for some good news, read this article about how one company’s real estate clients have actually seen an improvement in their page rankings since Pigeon was released. If you’d like to continue to do your own research on local SEO and Pigeon, we recommend keeping Moz’s handy Local Search Terms Glossary open in another window to reference when jargon gets confusing.


As always, Builder Designs is here to help when you’re ready to upgrade to local SEO.

Just Launched: Kaden Homes

Categories: Latest Site Launches

This post was written by: Abby Hill

Kaden Homes website by Builder Designs

The brand new website for Kaden Homes, a new home builder in north Texas, is live as of today!

The Builder Designs team loved working on this project largely because of the stunning photos Kaden provided of the interiors of their open, airy homes. We’re talking serious eye candy.

We really like their choice of photos for the home page slideshow. You actually feel like you could step through the computer screen and into one of their homes. It really invites you to click around their site and see what other amazing work they’ve done.


Kaden Homes website by Builder Designs

When you’re doing unique and interesting home interiors and getting great photos of your finished homes, it’s important that your website is able to properly display those photos so that visitors will be “wowed” when they arrive at your site. This was definitely something Kaden’s old site lacked, and we’re happy we were able to give them a site that really made their photos pop.

Additionally, we built some new pages for Kaden that allow them to provide some great information for their homeowners—for instance, warranty information, mortgage information, emergency services, and their custom 75-page Homeowner Guidebook. Having all this on their website shows homebuyers that Kaden cares about them not only before and during their home-buying process, but after as well.

Talk about awesome customer service!


Kaden Homes Website by Builder Designs

Right now, Kaden is building new homes in several communities in Fort Worth, TX. Homebuyers interested in this area will love how many photos are available on the site of the communities and home interiors. We like how Kaden provided some photos of their staged homes so that visitors to the site can get a big-picture idea of what it would be like to live in a Kaden home.

The BD team is super proud of this awesome site, and we hope Kaden loves it too. Go check it out and let us know what you think of their seriously rad homes.

Demographic Tracking: A New Advantage in Your Internet Marketing

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Internet Marketing for Home Builders
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

We discussed the importance of demographic tracking last week. Big news this week: demographic analysis is now in your Google analytics account and a part of your monthly reporting! Your monthly SEO report from Builder Designs will now include information about the age range, gender, and interests of your incoming traffic.



Demographics analytic report on Builder Designs, internet marketing and website design for home builders

With demographic information we can answer questions like:

Am I targeting the right market?

We want to make sure your target market and your incoming market strongly overlap. If you build townhomes in a busy city, for instance, you’re probably looking for more 18-24 than 35-44 yea- olds. On the other hand, we don’t want to miss advertising to an interested group. If your 18-24 year-olds numbers are high, maybe it’s time to invest your print marketing budget into social media.

Am I converting leads into sales?

Does your website respond to your buyer’s needs? If the visiting women are technophiles you need a responsive website. If the men are interested in home decor, big splashy pictures of interior work are a must.

If 1,000 people are visiting the website but only 2 contacting you, we need to make a change. It could be a number of factors, from the economy to the ease of finding your contact form. But we absolutely want to consider market appeal and where the conversion tipping point lies.

What opportunities am I missing?

Demographics also gives us another way to advertise. Check out this sample interests breakdown, which is available in your analytics account:

Demographic analytics on Builder Designs, internet marketing and website design for home builders

Movie and TV interest is high, so video marketing – Traditional commercial? Hulu advertisement? Or just a new feature from YouTube on your website? Definitely virtual tours – may be a whole new way to pull in sales. On the other hand sports enthusiasm is fairly low, so it might not be worth the big bucks of a magazine ad.

Am I profiling valuable customers?

Demographic tracking is a superb way to get granular. You can break down key items by age and gender that provide a wealth of information, like:

  • Percent of new traffic. (Are you attracting the new customers you want?)
  • Average session duration. (Who spends longest on the website?)
  • Bounce rate. (Are some users more engaged than others?)
  • Pages. (What sections of the site attract whom?)


Never before has so much data been at our fingertips. Now we can have real numbers to back up our hunches: demographic analysis is a powerful new tool in your SEO arsenal. Learn more about demographics directly from Google (including how they get the data, and why it may not be a complete picture of your users). Or to learn more about this new aspect of your report and your internet marketing campaign in general, contact Builder Designs.

Marketing Tips for Home Builders: Does Your Website Have Curb Appeal?

Categories: Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Responsive Design, Website Design
Tags: , , , , , ,

This post was written by: Abby Hill


marketing tips for home builders


Having an outdated website design is like hosting an open house without bothering to do any staging or upgrades–prospective buyers will enter your website, see the lack of helpful technology, and immediately leave.

It’s not enough anymore to simply “be” online. That’s because everyone is already online, and we mean both your competitors and your prospective clients.

You might still be getting business face-to-face and directing clients to your website as a way to promote further contact and interest. That’s fine, but if your website is outdated, you’re going to miss untold numbers of potential buyers who first found out about you online through your website and then decided that it’s not worth their time to go check you out in person.

Consider this as well: if you’re building new homes with all the latest features, how can you possibly communicate that to prospective buyers with an old website design? It’s like trying to sell someone an old house with a gorgeously renovated interior and a completely neglected exterior.


I just redid my website a couple years ago, so I should be good, right?

Not necessarily.

Web changes unbelievably fast, and while your website design might still be relevant, chances are your site isn’t optimized anymore.

An optimized website is one that has all the latest things in the code that help Google make your website show up when someone searches for home builders on the Internet.

Sometimes, these updates just come with new ways to make website code even more helpful to the search engine. Other times, the updates will basically discontinue certain practices that used to be helpful in getting your website found. In those cases, if the discontinued practices remain in your code, Google essentially blacklists your website because it’s so unhelpful, and then you stop coming up as a search result for prospective home buyers. Yikes.

Optimization can also refer to whether your website displays correctly on a cell phone or tablet. Open your website on either of these devices and see if it’s easy to view and navigate the information. If you’re still not sure, contact the person who built your website and ask them if they made it “responsive.”

Think of your website like a million-dollar home. You wouldn’t invest in a million-dollar home only to fill it with ugly furniture and neglect to maintain it. Keep your website updated with beautiful, high-resolution images and the latest SEO.

Why should home builders invest in a website


Keeping Your Website Up to Date

Unless you happen to be a web marketing and SEO guru in addition to being a home builder, you’re going to need to outsource (and yes, pay for) continual website updates. This isn’t a bad thing. Even if your site needs a complete redesign overhaul, you have the opportunity to revamp your online image and attract new customers–which, in the industry of new and custom homes, translates to a lot of dollars.

A good rule of thumb is to have your website audited once or twice per year. This means having a website genius look through your site and find broken links that need fixing, things that could be made better for prospective buyers, SEO-related changes and updates, and any other issues with overall functionality and appearance. Doing this will ensure that your website will always be working for your business, helping put cash in your pocket.



  1. Put as much effort into your online image as you do your homes. Buyers will make assumptions about your company based on your website the same way they make assumptions about the inside of a home by looking at it from the outside.
  2. Go ahead and flip your outdated website. Just like with a fixer-upper home, investing $20K could quickly translate to $60K in new revenue.
  3. The relevance of online technology today means that more people will find you online before they find you in person.
  4. Your website, like a million-dollar home, is an investment. Maintain it and take pride in it.

The Five Most Important Metrics

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Internet Marketing for Home Builders
Tags: , , , ,

This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Internet marketing for home builders stock image on builderdesigns.comI love spreadsheets. Sincerely: hand me big swaths of data and I’ll happily analyze for hours to bring you trends, pressure points, new advantages, all kinds of internet marketing ideas for your home builder website. But not everyone wants to crawl through 10 pages of analytics data month by month – and, honestly, not all of it is important to your internet marketing campaign. Traditional google analytics is based around short-sell marketing, not the long-tail sales and other special trends unique to our industry. It’s good to know the breakdown of mobile versus desktop traffic (especially if you’re considering a responsive website), but you probably don’t need the breakdown of OS and Android device usage.

So, what is important about your analytics report? What do you need to know about your website traffic and internet marketing? Here are the Top Five Metrics to Check:


The bounce rate is how often people immediately click away from your site. Obviously we want that to be low; if people aren’t staying that means the site isn’t selling, or they’re confused about what you offer. The ideal percentage for home builder websites is going to be south of 30%. (Other websites, like Wikipedia, are going to have a very high bounce rate without that being a problem – a person found the answer they needed and left.)

Some factors can artificially inflate that number, like an Adwords (pay-per-click) campaign, or heavy referral traffic from a large source like Realtor.com. Since you’re paying for lots of people to come to your website, the interest level won’t be quite the same as those who find you by organic search. Still, we want that number to be in the 30%-40% range. Anything 50% or above points to a problem with that paid advertising, whether a link somewhere is bad or it’s not the right choice for your company.

The take away: A bounce rate is going to naturally fluctuate over time, but as long as it’s below the danger threshold you’re good to go. If it starts to progressively rise or suddenly shoot up, you definitely want to talk to your SEO consultant – who’s likely already at work on it.


There are three main sources of traffic: organic (see #3), referral (see #4) and direct. (Other common sources of traffic include retargeting banners and Adword campaigns, email marketing, or paid social media.) Ideally we want a strong mix of all three. That way, if something starts to slip, we’re still going strong and driving traffic. An “unbalanced” pie chart can indicate a problem somewhere in your internet marketing, like the need for better brand awareness or the lack of a link building campaign.

Direct traffic is people going directly to your website, whether by typing in your URL or from a bookmark. A low percentage of direct traffic means buyers aren’t aware of your name or your website. That’s when we focus on some more traditional marketing. If the link is the issue, make sure it’s pasted everywhere – your social media accounts, business cards, flyers, email footers.

Organic traffic is people searching relevant keywords, like “new homes in Oklahoma City“, and finding your website. Organic traffic is a major focus of your SEO’s efforts. The numbers of total traffic and new traffic is going to fluctuate as does the market, but it should always be high and should always be leading towards lead generation.

Referral traffic is people jumping to your website from another link, whether that’s Facebook, a blog share, or directory traffic like BDX. Low referral traffic calls for a link building campaign. That said, it’s likely going to be smaller in proportion to organic and direct traffic, and that’s okay.

The take away: Make sure you have a strong mix of incoming website traffic. That is going to “future proof” your internet marketing.


When looking at your organic traffic, pay attention to what keywords people are using to find your website. They should be a mix of name awareness, like “Royal Oaks Homes” or “Royal Oaks Building Group in NC”, and research focus, like “new homes in Raleigh” or “Fayetteville home builders”.

If you have a strong keyword that’s bringing in a lot of traffic, keep that focus. It’s telling you that you’re hot for that market, and this is the time to blog, talk, and grab leads.

If you have a missing keyword that should be bringing you buyers – like you’re missing the adult living market – that could be for two reasons. One is that a keyword you want to be found for isn’t actually relevant. Since we work in the home builder industry we have a lot of jargon on hand, but buyers don’t. They may not realize “55 and up residents” is a useful search term, and instead ask a question, like “where’s a good community of new homes in Wilmington for an active lifestyle for older adults?”.

But assuming it is a good keyword, like “new homes in Norman OK”, then we want to focus content. Whether that’s tweaking on-page copy, writing some new blogs, or mucking around with the meta tags, a missing keyword calls for action.

The take away: See how buyers are searching for you. That will tell you how to sell.


Referral traffic is all about strong social media and strong link building. If you have social media accounts they absolutely should be sending you a lot of traffic, and the more active you are the higher the percentage. If you’re posting on Facebook weekly but only getting two visitors a month, that’s a problem. On the other hand, stronger traffic from Pinterest over Facebook tells us how we can focus in our marketing and capture new leads.

Link building is crucial for referral traffic and domain authority. Our Builder Cloud websites, for example, are often a very high percentage of referral traffic for our builders. Both Top Ten Builders.com and Custom Builders.com provide interested leads, sometimes 10% or more of total website traffic. That’s true for our small local-only high-custom builders and our Top 100 production builders, which shows you the power of a good link building campaign.

The take away: If there aren’t incoming links to your website, build them. That’s how you rank high.


Demographic reports illustrate the breakdown in both age and gender for incoming traffic. (Note: this is based on user behavior by Google, and is not necessarily perfect.) Why does that matter?

One: Correct market targeting. Women are far and above the leading buyer of new homes. Are you capturing that market? And age demographic: what is your focus – new homes for starter families, or custom homes in the million+ range? If you see that most interested home buyers visiting your website are women in their 30-40’s, or men in their 20’s, that’s good to know. That should affect your marketing approach to capture and transforms those leads into sales.

Two: Missed market targeting. If your primary market is adult living communities but very few buyers in the 50+ age range are visiting the website, that’s a problem. Is it hard to use? Is your online marketing only on Twitter, with your Yellow Pages phone number way out of date? Or, if you haven’t captured the 20-30 crowd: is your website non-mobile friendly? Social media accounts stale and untouched for the past year?

The take away: We want to make sure your incoming traffic matches your desired traffic.

And that’s true for everything we do. Our home builder SEO efforts aren’t just in getting buyers to the website, although that’s obviously important, or giving buyers an incredible website to browse, though that’s something we spend hours and hours on too. Our ultimate focus is getting those buyers to pick up the phone and call you. We want to be your lead generation machine. That requires a lot of charts and graphs on our end. For you, it’s these five metric checks that will guarantee we’re all on the right path together.

ALL NEW: My Home’s Story App

Categories: What's new?
Tags: , , ,

This post was written by: Builder Designs

homes story logo (1)Content marketing is hot! Marketers around the globe publish billions of articles, videos and photos intended to attract consumer attention. Consumers are sharing 27,000,000 pieces of content on social media each day. How can we as builders capitalize on this trend?

Luckily, we have a distinct advantage. As homebuilders we have access to great content that our buyers would love to share with their friends and family… photos and updates of their new homes.

Think about it. Other industries work hard to get their buyers posting and sharing about their shoe purchases, DIY ideas and restaurant reviews. None of those things is as important to a buyer as the brand new home they are building. We should be making it fun and easy for buyers to share photos and updates of their new home. More importantly, we should be hosting that content on our own websites to drive traffic and sales.

My Home’s Story partnered with Builder Designs to allow your sales agents to create and update personal buyer webpages instantly from their mobile devices. Here’s how it works:

Simply input buyer information into the My Home’s Story app from a phone or tablet. You’ve instantly created a new personal page on your website for that buyer.

iPhone with Screen Shot 2

Post photo and text updates of each buyer’s home under construction. With just the touch of a button, you can capture every important moment from foundation to finish while allowing your buyers to easily share their experience with friends and family.

iPhone with Screen Shot 1

With each update, your buyers receive an email of their new photos, a link to their webpage, and social media buttons that make it easy to instantly share their photos with friends and family. Your buyers become brand advocates, spreading the word and driving traffic to your website.

iPad Mini with Email

In our two-year case study, the My Home’s Story program was responsible for 7% of all website traffic and even better, resulted in a 400% increase in referral sales. Since then, dozens of other builders across the country have implemented the My Home’s Story program with similar results.

Interested in trying out the My Home’s Story app for yourself? We are offering a Free 30 Day Trial for all web clients of Builder Designs. Submit your information here, and we will contact you within one business day to get started.


Builder Designs Releases New Lead Generation Tool for Consumers and all Residential Home Builders

Categories: Press Releases, What's new?
Tags: , , ,

This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Builder Designs, a full service internet marketing agency devoted specifically to serving the real estate and residential construction industry, announces Builder Cloud™: a new interactive lead generation tool consumers can use to find builders, communities and new homes. To head this initiative, Builder Designs is bringing on industry expert Erik Cofield to lead the Builder Cloud team and product launch. “Erik’s 20+ years of technology and residential construction experience will be a huge benefit as we roll out these products to the home builder market,” says Chip Johnson, President of Builder Designs, Inc.

Chip Johnson continued, “Historically, Builder Designs has focused our efforts on cutting edge website design and search engine optimization for home builders in North America.  We have recently been investing in highly visible asset sites including homebuilders.com, custombuilders.com, toptenbuilders.com, and builderpr.com in an effort to drive organic search to our builder clients. Builder Cloud is an integrated network of consumer facing websites that will enable home builders to provide pertinent content for consumers as they begin their search for new homes. We are extremely excited to have Erik on board to manage this initiative.”

Builder Cloud has been in beta testing with a few hundred builders but will now be offered throughout the USA initially, then internationally.

“Joining Builder Designs allows me to not only expand my career of elevating the bar for professionalism, education and content not only with builders, but now to educate and empower consumers in helping them pick a builder that most closely matches their budget, need and dream,” says Erik Cofield.

Press Release Downloads


About Builder Designs

Builder Designs is a full service internet marketing agency devoted specifically to serving the real estate community. Our business model is simple: we create superior home builder and community websites complete with content management. Combining award winning web design with cutting edge technology, we change the way consumers connect with Home Builders and Real Estate professionals. More information at: www.builderdesigns.com

Why Citations Matter

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Local SEO
Tags: , ,

This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Citation building is an important part of your Local SEO campaign, citations being both a key factor in ranking algorithms and another way for buyers to learn about you before they get to your website. But it’s also a little complicated – and definitely time consuming. Read here for our what, why, and how complete guide to citation building for home builders.

What citation building is. Simply put, citations are mentions of your business name and address on other websites. There’s a wide variety in the type of citation sources: the obvious, like the Yellow Pages, to the relatively unknown, like Fixr.com (for contractors). Some are ones you have to create yourself, like Zillow, while many are automatically (if incorrectly) generated for you. And some just include a name and address while others let you post a company bio, photos, even video. Arguably the most important citations are the really big ones, like Super Pages, and the very local, like your Chamber of Commerce or local Better Business Bureau website. Check out this long list of citation sources for examples.

Why citation building matters. Correct citations improve Google’s confidence about who, what, and where you are. The more sites that agree with your data the better you’ll do. In fact, Moz found that “other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.” It’s also the case that buyers might find you on a citation source; searching through Yellow Pages, for example, or on your LinkedIn page.

With the long list of features most citation directories let you post, they really should be seen as mini-websites: virtual storefronts or online model homes that sell your brand before buyers get to your full website. Obviously if someone is searching for you we want to make sure they’re getting the correct information. And the more we can offer them (like photos or links to your Facebook page), the better.

How to build citations. It’s a very detail-oriented task. You’ll need to go site by site, and there are literally hundreds. Start by selecting the most important, or Googling your company name or phone number and see what comes up.

On each site, first search for your company name (and variations); if there are multiple accounts for you delete all but one. If none exist yet you’ll need to create it, but that’s a rare case. More often you’ll find a company profile and claim it. Usually that only requires creating a profile, but sometimes you’ll also need to verify that you are the appropriate business with a phone call or postcard.

Once you’ve claimed the profile, it’s time to flesh it out. First triple check that your most basic information (NAP – name, address, and phone number) is correct. Then you can go about adding hours of operation, a description, and more. It is very important that this information is consistent. A little variation like “Ave” or “Avenue” won’t matter, but accidentally typing (817) instead of (816) is going to hurt you.

That’s why we recommend keeping a directory spreadsheet. Write out all of the information you could possibly include, like business categories and a generic sales email, and just copy and paste. In this document you’ll also want to keep track of each citation website, the login credentials created for it, and a link to your profile. That way you can easily log in and check on it later. It often takes a few days for a citation to actually change after making edits, so you’ll need to work backwards and forward. In fact, go back and check your previous work on a routine basis – sometimes weird things happen.

While working, you’re not going to see an immediate effect. All of those third-party sites have to be re-indexed before the search engines notice the change, and then those all have to percolate together. Just like an organic SEO change, it will take 3-6 months at minimum to start seeing a difference. But if done correctly, you will see your Local SERP’s rise – and with it, the possibility for new lead generation.

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