The Builder Designs Blog

Home Builder Website News & Tips

Managing Social Media Feedback

Categories: Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Social Media | Posted: August 28, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

stock image of iphone

 

No brand is safe from getting negative comments and reviews on Facebook. While it’s tempting to delete customer rants on one of your posts or ads, doing so can create even more trouble for you when your reviewer notices their comment has been deleted and gets even angrier. Here are some best practices for dealing with comments when they arise:

Acknowledge everyone.

Whether someone leaves a nice comment, a negative comment, several sentences, or two words, you should acknowledge them in some way–either by “liking” their post or replying to it. Since these people are taking the time to share their thoughts with you, the expectation is that you’ll somehow let them know they’ve been seen and heard.

It’s okay to delete spam.

This applies to people who share links to other websites on your page or who use foul language that you don’t want to expose your other fans to.

In some cases, you may experience the kind of spam that requires a little bit of damage control. It’s perfectly acceptable and even recommended to acknowledge particularly damaging posts with a simple explanation and reassurance that the page is being monitored to keep fans from being exposed to offensive content.

It's important to address negative posts that happen on Facebook.

Be nice even when people are mean.

This may seem like preaching to the choir, but it can be very tempting to want to put someone in their place when they make a negative comment out of ignorance or say something to put you on the defensive.

When this happens, the best thing to do is to respond with the same kindness and concern that you would if they had been nicer in their approach. The last thing you’d want is for other homebuyers to read the heated exchange between you and one of your dissatisfied homeowners and have that turn them off to working with you.

View every negative comment and review as an opportunity.

Especially since reviews cannot be deleted on Facebook, it’s important to see opportunity in them when they occur. Every homebuyer worries about what can go wrong when they’re building a new home or choosing a builder, so being able to see your helpful replies on negative reviews will actually give homebuyers reassurance that if issues do arise, you will be willing to work to resolve them.

Always provide contact info on negative feedback.

Show that you’re willing to resolve issues by providing an easy way for reviewers/commenters to get in touch with you. Hopefully if they were willing to expend the effort to post their negative review, they’ll also be willing to go in and delete it or give positive feedback once the issue has been resolved.

In fact, don’t hesitate to encourage them to revisit their review once you’ve ensured their satisfaction.

How to Track ROI on Social Media

Categories: Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Social Media | Posted: August 20, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

stock image with phone

 

Determining your ROI for maintaining a social account can be difficult to wrap your arms around. While it’s possible to track dollar-value ROI through connecting sales back to social lead referrals, relying completely on this to understand what social is doing for you causes you to miss the bigger picture.

The truth is, you can’t clearly state an ROI for things like brand awareness, customer loyalty, and brand goodwill, but all of these things contribute in some way to your overall success, much like a goal in soccer is the result of every player who touched the ball prior to it going into the goal. Understanding that these things do have value even though you can’t assign a dollar value to them will help you view your social media efforts more holistically.

 

Brand Awareness:

  • When someone begins their new home search by searching for your company because they’ve been following you on social media and have been eyeing your home designs for a long time.
  • When someone does a new home search and your link ranks #5, but you get clicked on because the user recognizes your brand and not the others.
  • When lots of people are searching for your company, you’ll start ranking higher for ALL your keywords.

 

Customer Loyalty:

  • When someone who bought a house from you sees one of your ads and comments how much they loved working with you, and that review gets seen by thousands of people.
  • When someone has a complaint that you quickly address via social media and they become more likely to say nice things about you to other people.

 

Brand Goodwill:

  • When people associate your company with quality and customer care based on what they see from you on social media, they’re more likely to recommend you to friends & family.
  • When you use social media to talk about your community outreach and people learn good things about you they wouldn’t have spent time reading on your website.

Your website should have an inbound marketing strategy designed for lead generation

How To Track ROI

Yes, we said earlier it’s hard to determine an exact ROI for these social efforts, but you can get a good idea if you’re moving the needle in the right direction by checking these things in your Google Analytics:

Bounce Rate:
If your bounce rate on social traffic is less than 60%, it means you’re at least targeting the right people with your page and ads. The ongoing boost in good traffic will benefit you in the search results over time.

Time on Site:
The more time someone spends on your site, the more usable it looks to Google. If you’re able to consistently drive a high volume of social traffic that spends upwards of 3-4 minutes on the site, you may also see your ranking position improve.

Page Views:
If your social referral traffic is only looking at one or two pages when they come to your site, it means they’re likely not that interested in your content unless you’re purposely driving them to a specific landing page and asking them to convert.

Looking at these three performance indicators will help you understand if you’re targeting the right people on social media. Simply getting thousands of visits to the site from people who would never be interested in buying from you defeats the whole purpose, and at that point you can pretty much guarantee you’re not getting any kind of return on your investment. If that’s where you are, don’t scrap your social budget–hire the right social media expert to assist you with your ads or in crafting your overall presence. As Facebook rises to compete with Google for the best online marketing platform, you definitely won’t be sorry you stuck it out with a social strategy.

Google Rolls Out New Search Updates

Categories: Internet Marketing for Home Builders | Posted: August 12, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

 

Google has made some major updates this week. Last Friday evening, the map results on local searches changed from this:

Builder Designs discusses strategies for getting your map listing to rank higher.

To this:

New Google SERPs

 

Now Google prompts users to view “more home builders” beneath the map results, which makes Google seem even more intuitive about the results in the map listings. Upon clicking through to see more builders, the user is taken to a map that shows the location of home builders in the area as well as a list with links on the left.

Google results

 

This is arguably more user friendly than the limited amount of blue links that show up on page 1. Our guess is that over time, homebuyers will adapt to using the map list of results instead of the organic search rankings because it allows them to see more results they can quickly and seamlessly scroll through.

We’ve been saying for awhile now that SEO is so much more than ranking #1 on Google’s home page, and these updates prove that Google is moving toward a more user-focused system that will make it impossible to rank based on technical keyword tweaks. More than ever, it’s important to have an SEO strategy that focuses on helping homebuyers find what they’re looking for rather than simply pleasing Google.

Something else worth noting is that on mobile searches, Google is filling the description beneath your link with content from your website that most closely matches the user’s search term. This means that your on-page copy is more important than ever.

Full disclosure, we optimize the image title of our logo at the bottom of every site we complete (as most web companies do). Google is now so determined to prove a page is optimized for a user’s search phrase on mobile that it’s even looking at image title tags for keywords. Clients, take note. We have said for a long time that your home page copy should, at minimum, include who you are, what you do, and where you do it. If you are optimized for “new homes in city” on your home page and have not put that you are a “home builder” in your page copy, something like this is going to happen:

Home Builder SEO

 

Home Builder SEO 2

*This is the same website, showing Google’s changes to the page description depending on the user’s search term. 

The good news is this is a VERY simple fix. Just update your home page copy to read “we’re proud to be a home builder in [city]” or “we’re a [city] home builder that values ____ .” As always, if you need additional advice about your SEO or inbound marketing, give us a shout!

Content Strategy for Homebuilders

Categories: Home Builder SEO | Posted: August 7, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

Computer on desk

There are so many things you can do for content strategy on the Internet–videos, infographics, blog posts, e-books, the list goes on and on. We can’t possibly do it all. In order to be successful, we need a strategy for what kind of content we’re going to create and where we’re going to share it online. Instead of creating content for ranking, we need to think of content in terms of what’s going to have the most impact for our customers and for our bottom line.

This is a very different approach than early content strategy, which basically told us that we need to create content for the purpose of ranking well. As with every other SEO trend, as content started to flood the Internet, Google had to take a step back from content and focus more on the quality, usability, and intent of the content instead of just the fact that it exists. Now, you won’t see your website climbing in the rankings just because you’re posting text on your blog every week.

Because it won’t benefit your bottom line as a homebuilder to promote your blog, we recommend taking a different approach to content strategy in 2015. Since your bottom line is getting someone to buy or build a home with you, your content should be designed for people who are looking to buy or build a home. As this is a very specific type of content, it doesn’t do well to design an ongoing blog around it, so don’t. Instead, you can create content that lives on your website and is always easy to access and share.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you work on the strategy and creation of quality, usable content.

 

1. You are an authority on buying and building a home.

Working with a variety of homebuyers in a variety of situations, you’re a qualified expert on the homebuying process. You know the kinds of questions homebuyers will ask before they ask them. Don’t just think in terms of a list that describes the overall process. Really dig into parts of the process that homebuyers will be researching, like how mortgages work, how inspections work, and common troubleshooting they might experience in selling their home.

This type of content will show up in a search result for a person who is in the market for a new home, which puts you at a better advantage to receive qualified leads on your website.

2. Quality matters more than quantity.

It’s better to have one or two outstanding pieces of content than many pieces of boring, half-baked content. Whatever you decide to create, make it thorough, organized, visually appealing, and above all useful.

3. Be a resource for people who are looking to buy a home in your area.

Choose topics that relate directly to people looking for a new home in your area. Think of what homebuyers are searching for–the best school districts, low crime areas, etc. Your content doesn’t have to be written–it can be an interactive map that plots schools, their districts, and their ratings. Or a neighborhood mapper that ranks areas on scenery, location, schools, tax rate, and crime.

When your content becomes the #1 place homebuyers go to answer a certain question, you gain even more qualified site traffic and brand goodwill, which can go a long way toward building a solid reputation on the local level.

4. Create content that benefits you to advertise.

As a homebuilder, it doesn’t benefit you to pay to drive traffic to a blog post on back-to-school shopping or home decorating tips. Even if you had a great blog post on either of these topics and it brought a ton of visitors to your site, they probably wouldn’t be the kind of visitors who would buy from you.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that the only person you really need to visit your site is someone who’s looking for a home.
As you go about revising your content strategy, consider what you can contribute to the overall process and what you need someone else to contribute. If you don’t have time or budget to devote to a good content strategy, wait until you do instead of slapping something together with the limited resources you have. Quality is always better than quantity when it comes to your website and search rankings.

Writing Good Blog Content in 2015

Categories: Home Builder SEO | Posted: July 31, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

Simply writing content for the sake of having blog posts is not a good strategy in 2015

If you’ve been writing a blog because more blog posts = better SEO, you should stop now or implement a strategy.

These days, your content needs to be designed for the user experience, not for Google. Google now cares about quality and what people think of your blog in the same way that homebuyers care more about how well your homes are built than how many homes you’re building each year.

Here are some quick tips for building a better blog strategy in 2015:

 

Try to meet a need your audience has.

Instead of posting all the time about your homes, floor plans, and communities, try writing some blog posts about frequently asked questions homebuyers have, or something they might be interested in knowing, like home gardening tips or ideas for renovating your outdoor living space.

 

Make your content easy for people to find.

Do a little research into topics people are searching for. Make it easy for your blog post to show up in a search result by titling it the way people search. Instead of calling your blog post “The Beauty of Outdoor Patios” try something more search-friendly, like “Outdoor Patio Ideas” or “Cost to Build an Outdoor Patio.”

Tip: Stay away from titling your blog post “How To…” We’ve heard this title is so overused, Google tries to steer users away from them.

When you write a blog post, share it on Facebook and pay $5-$10 to boost it so more people will see it.

 

Design your post for user experience.

Nobody wants to read a long block of text with no pictures. To keep people on your blog post longer, try breaking up the text into small paragraphs with pictures in between.

 

Understand the actual benefits of blogging and why you’re doing it.

If you’re wanting to rank better in Google search results, there are many other things you could be doing that will have a bigger impact on your ranking than maintaining a blog. Understand that blogging can be good for driving traffic to your site (if it’s easy to find, increasing brand awareness, and building links to your site (when people want to share your blog posts elsewhere).

However, a blog is not a revenue-generator. Someone who is looking for outdoor patio ideas isn’t going to read your blog and then decide to buy a house from you. Similarly, when you write about a floor plan or piece of inventory, know that when a homebuyer is searching for new homes, you would rather have your actual inventory page or floor plans page show up than a blog post. If your SEO is done well, your company blog will not be ranking better than a page of your website.

We recommend you weigh the actual benefits of maintaining a blog and your expectations for the results. If you want links, brand awareness, and traffic, and you have the resources to devote time or money into implementing a blogging strategy, then a blog sounds like the right effort for you. If you’re blogging with the hopes of ranking better on Google and no one is actually viewing your blog posts, you might want to focus your efforts and resources into another avenue that will help you achieve a better ranking.

How Web Design Impacts SEO

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Responsive Design, Website Design | Posted: July 24, 2015 | By: Abby Hill

Find out the latest in SEO from Builder Designs

For those of you who don’t know, we went to the Moz SEO conference last week. Or rather, I went to the Moz SEO conference last week, but what I learned there impacts our entire team here at Builder Designs, so I say we all went to this conference in a way.

Here’s what I took away above all else: your website design has a direct effect on your SEO. Not many people are talking about this, because it’s not even something that Google is promoting, but Google is noticing how people interact with your site.

When you think about Google’s mission, it makes a lot of sense. Google is all about the user. If the user cannot find what he or she wants on Google, then Google has done a bad job. Google will not deliver a website in a search result that hardly anyone goes to and no one seems to like using.

In fact, Google so desperately relies on websites to satisfy users’ search queries that it will even deliver small websites with weak SEO if they turn out to be the one site that users are seeking out to answer their search query.

In the homebuilding industry, we know there’s not necessarily one site that users will flock to in order to find their new home. Homebuilder sites are a weird hybrid of e-commerce and information. You can’t actually buy a home on a homebuilder’s website, but you visit a homebuilder’s website because you want to buy a home. This actually makes implementing an SEO strategy incredibly difficult. It’s why so many builders find it hard to succeed online when a generic SEO company is in charge of their SEO.

So are homebuilder websites outside of this design-SEO relationship? Definitely not. The relation between design and SEO is predicated on some simple stats in your analytics: Do users get to your site and immediately click back to the search results? Or are they spending time on the site, viewing multiple pages, maybe even filling out a form?

Google does pay attention to this. If Google sees that hardly anyone ever comes to your site and those that do don’t seem too interested in what’s on the site, Google is going to look at your keywords and make a note to not have you show up in those search results.

In a way, it’s a lot like selling a home. You get ready for an open house, you’ve landscaped the yard, put some signage up around town, and put a fresh coat of paint on the outside of the house. It’s looking stunning. People are interested. They’re lining up outside the door.

But the inside? Complete ruin. The carpet is stained, the blinds are broken, there’s mold on the ceiling, and the kitchen cabinets are hanging off the hinges. The second these excited homebuyers walk through the door, they turn around and leave. Not too surprising. SEO and design work the same way.

You can spend a lot of money on great SEO–citation building, link building, keyword research, analysis–but if your website isn’t enticing to the user and isn’t intuitive to the way they search for a home, then none of it really matters. It used to be that keywords were the one key to your success, but those days have been gone since Google introduced quality scores. Today, you need good SEO to bring people to your site and good design to keep them there, sending quality scores to Google that feed back into your SEO.

In talking to other SEO professionals at the conference, I learned something incredibly valuable: not many SEO strategists have much to do with web designers. They’re either at a huge company that’s maintaining the websites of one or two major corporations, or they’re at two separate companies. Imagine that. Imagine how hard it would be if your SEO strategist could see that parts of your website were bringing down the SEO, and they couldn’t affect change because they’re not involved with your web developer.

It made us at Builder Designs see the potential for a successful future we can offer our clients. We have the unique ability to analyze the design and functionality of our sites in addition to their on-site and off-site SEO. Needless to say, we’re inspired, and we’re excited to be working on new ways that we can merge our design and SEO efforts to deliver a better product than we ever have. If we built your website and you’d like to be considered for future design testing, drop me a line at abby@builderdesigns.com.

Why Builders Need Facebook Marketing

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing for Home Builders | Posted: July 10, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

Facebook is growing as an advertising platform for the real estate industry. Recently, Facebook even added first time homebuyers as a targeted demographic. No other social network has been able to utilize extreme amounts of personal data like Facebook has, which makes it the most valuable online advertising platform apart from Google itself.

Because the advertising platform is accessible to any Facebook user that manages a page, it’s easy to view Facebook advertising as something to DIY, but unless you have an online marketing background and have studied heavily the ins and outs of Facebook targeting and ad design, it’s likely you won’t see the kind of return you could be getting. If you’ve tried Facebook marketing in the past and despaired over the results, it’s likely you just need to hire the right advertiser to help you set up the ads.

Facebook ads provide cost-effective advertising for builders

When you take some time to do a cost-benefit analysis of advertising on Facebook, you’ll see that it’s really a no-brainer to funnel some of your advertising dollars into this channel. Depending on if you’re working with an agency or doing this solo, as a builder you can get excellent results just by spending around $2,400 to $5,000 over the course of a year.

The benefits you get are threefold: awareness, traffic, and leads. Those benefits also lead to other wins in SEO: reviews on your Facebook page, Facebook fans, and link building opportunities through content sharing. All of these things can contribute in a positive way to your Google ranking. And considering what you might pay for one print ad that runs for a limited time and reaches a limited audience, a year’s worth of targeted, trackable awareness marketing alone justifies the cost.

Leads from Facebook should be looked at as icing on the cake. If you’re running Facebook ads for the sole purpose of lead generation, you’re probably better off investing in Google Adwords. When you consider the value of the awareness, traffic, and leads you’re getting for less than $5,000 a year, when you do happen to get a lead that turns into a sale, you’re already profiting from the advertising.

To illustrate how Facebook can play a role in your lead generation, here is a story of an interested homebuyer who came to our client’s site several times before converting. Let’s call her Amy.

Amy first came to the site on June 4th, 2015 after discovering our client’s site via a Google search. She stayed for about 7 minutes and then left. About an hour later, she went back to the site via direct entry and browsed for another 7 minutes. She came back the next day for less than a minute, and then didn’t visit the site again until June 26th.

Builder Cloud provides home builders with more information about their leads

On June 26th, she saw our client’s Facebook post directing first-time homebuyers to a landing page on their site with their starter home plans and a form to fill out for more information. No pages on their site address this demographic specifically, so we created a hidden landing page on the site to use with Facebook ads in order to provide more targeted content (which hopefully would increase conversions). Amy clicked this link and went to the first time homebuyers landing page, where she filled out the lead form. Our client contacted her and set up a meeting for the next week.

Ideal Homes builds new homes in Oklahoma City

Since her meeting, Amy has been back to the site twice, both times through Facebook. Amy initially discovered our client through Google search and showed genuine interest based on her visit, but it was actually Facebook that brought her back to the site after a 3-week absence and ultimately helped drive her to convert.

Builder Cloud can show you which leads came from Facebook

Home builders can’t rely on Google search alone to bring leads to their website. Sometimes even the best referrals from Google drop off the map until they stumble upon you through a remarketing ad or some other channel like Facebook. It’s important to extend your reach online however you can through inbound marketing. We especially recommend Facebook since it gives back multiplying returns for a minimal cost.

Have questions about this post or want to learn more about inbound marketing for SEO? Email your questions to abby@builderdesigns.com or give us a call at 913-393-3367.

Getting On Google Page 1 in 2015

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Local SEO | Posted: July 2, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

 

Tips for how to rank on Google in 2015

Real talk here. We need to have a chat about “I want to rank #1 for all my keywords.” Truth be told, in 2015 this is an impossible goal. That should help you weed out any SEO company that solicits your business by promising you a #1 ranking for all your keywords. It can’t be done.

You might be thinking, “But you’re supposed to be the experts! It’s your job to make my website rank #1 on Google. If you can’t do that, why are you even here?!”

Sorry if we just put words in your mouth. You totally might not have been thinking that at all. But if it was the job of an SEO expert to make anyone’s website rank #1 on Google, we would all be out of a job.

Google cares about the user. People will use Google to find something on the Internet as long as Google continues to be the best at showing them the results they are looking for. The more people use Google, the more websites want to advertise with Google, which means Google makes more money. However, if a website isn’t playing by Google’s rules and proving that it really deserves to be the top answer to a search, Google won’t risk the success of its empire in promoting that website. Google now caters to the user, changing its results constantly depending on each individual’s location, search query, website history, and even search patterns.

Google focuses on users in 2015

Happy Google users = more people use Google = more advertisers use Google = Google makes more money

 

Because of this, you can’t consistently achieve a #1 ranking on Google. The amount of things that Google considers when planning its search results in order to cater to the user is astounding. Having good search queries in your website’s SEO is only your ticket into the game. Now more than ever, you have to also be actively competing for a spot on Google’s page 1.

Google doesn’t tell anyone specifically how or what it is calculating about your online presence to determine where you rank in any given search, but we do know that part of the process goes a little something like this:

Google: Okay, this person is looking for home builders in Kansas City, and here are all these websites that are using the keyword “home builders in Kansas City.” Which do I show them? I see tons of people are going to this site, but most of them are leaving without clicking around. That must mean it’s not very user-friendly, let’s not show that one. Here’s one that people really seem to like. Whenever someone comes here, they view a lot of pages and spend a few minutes on the site. I also see they have lots of fans on Facebook, and other good websites I trust are linking to them. They even have directory listings and all of their information matches, so it looks like they are who they say they are. Definitely want to show them in this search.

Despite that being our dramatization of what Google sounds like, Google really has become that smart and will only continue to get smarter. Because it’s likely that whoever does rank #1 for a search query is not ranking #1 every day and to every user who conducts that search, the #1 ranking position has become too nebulous to build your goals around. Instead, we need to focus on overall visibility, both on Google’s page 1 and elsewhere on the Internet.

When we install basic SEO on your site, we’re entering you into the ranking game. From there, we expect you’ll be implementing different strategies to actually play the game. Strategies like being active and sharing your content on social media, having citations on the right directory sites that all match up with the business information on your website, earning links from other high-quality sites related to the homebuilding industry or where you’re located, and claiming your Google map pin.

As the experts, our goal is no longer to get you a #1 ranking, but to help your website get enough credit from Google that you’ll show up somewhere on page 1 for your most important keywords. That, for now, is still achievable through a very hands-on, qualitative approach to SEO. If you’re in need of advice or assistance in furthering your SEO beyond keyword installation, we’re always happy to help! Give us a call at 913-393-3367 or email abby@builderdesigns.com with your questions.

Ranking Google Map Pins

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Local SEO | Posted: June 26, 2015 | By: Abby Hill

Now that Google is displaying map results in a more permanent position in the search rankings, it’s important to focus on your Google Plus listing as a major piece of your SEO strategy.

These days, it seems with every localized search for new homes and home builders, Google will display the map listings at or near the top of the search results. This is allowing websites that don’t normally rank high in an organic result to show up in a prominent position on Google’s coveted page 1.

So the important question becomes how can we affect the position of our map pin within the map listings?

It turns out the answer to this is very similar to implementing best practices for your website’s SEO. In his blog, content specialist Marcus Maraih provides a list of things you can do to get your map pin ranking higher:

1. Complete and optimize your Google My Business Page
2. Make sure your online citations all use the same name, address, and phone number
3. Get good reviews on your Google My Business Page
4. Use local keywords in your website’s SEO and content
5. Get high-value local websites linking to yours

 

Where do you begin conquering this list? I’ve been digging into this over the past week or so, and have come across some puzzling results. I’ve seen pins that haven’t been claimed and optimized ranking higher than pins that have been optimized and have reviews. For example, the results when I googled “home builders in Richmond VA” went against everything I thought I knew about map rankings:

It's possible to affect the ranking of your Google map listing.
All the listings marked with an X have yet to be verified, proving that it’s possible to rank high in the map pack without even verifying your pin. But how? Why? To understand what was happening, I looked at Google’s rationality behind all of their algorithm updates: relevancy and trust.
It seems like if it really came down to it, Google would prefer to show you a website that you could trust that’s maybe not quite relevant over one that appears to be relevant but is actually untrustworthy. This makes sense when you think about how easy it is to fake anything on the Internet.

How does Google establish trust? Through citations. These are directory listings on major websites that at least tell people the name, address, and phone number (NAP) for your business. Google is looking at two things:

1. The number of complete listings you have on major directory sites
2. The consistency of your listings across all the sites

I did some research into the websites in the map results and discovered exactly what I expected to: citations are affecting the rankings.

Vertical Builders had the most complete citations out of all the results, but also some pretty big inconsistencies, which I’m guessing is what knocked them down a few pegs. Bradford Custom Homes had issues with both incomplete and inconsistent listings, which is probably why they ended up at the bottom despite their verified listing and reviews.

Having consistent and complete citations seems to be the ultimate tiebreaker for ranking in Google maps, but you shouldn’t stop there. SEO of the website also comes into play, along with popularity on social media and how many trustworthy websites you have linking to your website. Here’s my checklist for what you should be doing to get your map pin ranking higher on the results page:

1. Start with a website that has good content and local SEO.
2. Create and verify your Google My Business page. Use the same NAP as on your website.
3. Create consistent listings on the following sites: Facebook, Foursquare, Superpages, Infogroup, Localeze, Factual, Best of the Web, Axicom, Yelp, Yellowpages, Citysearch, Bing, Yahoo, and Hotfrog.
4. Earn links from relevant, trustworthy websites: local and industry-related.
5. Ask your customers to review you on Google and Facebook
6. Post on Facebook daily. Use content that people want to like, share, or comment on.

 

If you’d like help working through this list and finding other strategies to improve your search rankings, email me at abby@builderdesigns.com and ask about how you can become part of our Advanced SEO program.

Why We No Longer Care About Google Rankings

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Local SEO | Posted: June 16, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

Okay, we admit it, we care about ranking a little, but not nearly as much as we used to. This is due to the ever-changing game of SEO, and in 2015 it’s an entirely different species than it was 2 years ago. Here are some things that make your search ranking less important (a.k.a what we care about now):

 

1) Because local rankings depend on user location.

Because Google now delivers search results based on the user’s proximity to the thing they’re searching for, you may rank #1 when someone searches at work because you’re right around the corner. When they go home and do the same search, you may be down at #5.

The only time proximity won’t be a factor in your ranking is if the searcher is well outside your area.

 

2) Because Google’s Page 1 design is different.

The design of Google’s page 1 has changed dramatically to include several specialty links above its organic search results. For home sales, this is usually Google Adwords and map pins.

The desire for a #1 ranking on Google came about when Google’s page 1 consisted of ten links–just the organic search results. Nothing else. Now that page 1 usually consists of 2 or 3 adwords ads, then a map with 3 or 4 listings, and THEN organic search results, it’s more beneficial to be the top Adwords ad or one of those map listings than it is to be the #1 search result.

Google's new SERP design makes organic rankings less important

 
3) Because Google algorithms.

There’s no clearer way to say it, Google algorithms make it hard to do any one thing to help achieve a #1 organic search ranking.

It’s impossible in 2015 to rank #1 for a bunch of different keywords. There was once a time where this was very possible, but now the techniques that allowed for you to do that are techniques that could get your site cut from search results altogether. It’s best to focus on a high-volume keyword phrase that is likely going to bring you business. For this reason, let go of keywords like “energy efficiency” and “homeowner tips” and focus more on “new homes in (your city).”

Also, Google made it harder to force a #1 ranking by taking a bunch of other things into consideration besides keywords. Site volume and popularity are two things that pushed directory sites to the top of the list, meaning if you want to rank #1 for a keyword involving “homes for sale,” you’d best buy some adwords or rethink your strategy, because you’ll never rank higher than Zillow or Trulia.

 

4) Because SEO is only part of the bigger picture

There was once a time when SEO was the beginning and the end, but that ship has long sailed. Here’s the truth: SEO is now a component of the much larger picture that is inbound marketing–a.k.a. doing everything in your power to get people to go to your website.

Having looked at analytics data for thousands of leads on hundreds of home builder websites, we can tell you this: a user rarely becomes a lead on their first visit to your site. What, if anything, are you doing to get them to come back? That’s inbound marketing.

 

Here’s the new “#1 Ranking”

You don’t have to divorce yourself from the juicy goal of being #1, just revise your statement to “I want to be #1 at showing up online” or “I want to be #1 at marketing my website.” Being the top search result is still something to strive for too, just not as big of an accomplishment as it once was.

Ideally, your website will show up in one of the top Adwords slots, the map pack, and an organic search result. Additionally, you should be discoverable on social media and retargeting banners in the Google Display Network. We’ve found that reminding homebuyers of your website through a Facebook ad can be successful in getting them to return to your website for more exploration until they’re ready to contact you about a home.

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