The Builder Designs Blog

Home Builder Website News & Tips

The Dark Social Phenomenon: Facebook Marketing is More Vital Than We Thought

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Social Media | Posted: February 26, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

Dark Social Header Image

If Facebook marketing isn’t working for you, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re posting every day and nobody is engaging with your content and your website social traffic hasn’t increased dramatically, the problem is likely that you’re:

a) Not posting the right content/message
b) Not investing in paid ads
c) a & b

The key to unlocking the infinite value of social media for your business relies heavily on two things: Good content and making sure people see your good content. For a homebuilder, this largely means photos of your houses.

If you give people something to share that’s worth sharing, they’re going to share it. If it’s not happening directly on Facebook, there’s another way you can check the success of your social media presence: measuring traffic coming from what’s known as “dark social.”


Alexis C. Madrigal, a senior editor at the Atlantic, originally coined the term Dark Social to explain social sharing that occurs outside of what Web analytics can measure.

Analytics can’t track referrals from secure sites (anything with https) or off-page links, so:

  • Email
  • Texting
  • Instant messaging

But we know these referrals are happening. We know because we do it ourselves and because Google Analytics does track these users–you just have to do a little bit of hacking to uncover them.

When we unpack all of the direct referral traffic to see which page the user entered the site on, we can tell how many came from dark social shares. Here’s how:

A first-time visitor to the site would not know the URL of any page but the homepage, so we know they didn’t just type it in their browser directly. They clicked on a link in an email or text or instant message that couldn’t be tracked, so analytics lumped these visits in with direct traffic even though they’re social shares.


Do we know which social sites contribute to each of these shares? No. But we can see a correlation between active social media marketing and the occurrence of dark social shares.

We ran a test with one of our biggest marketing clients to see the effect that social media advertising has had on their dark social referrals. We compared a 3-month period in 2014 when they were not marketing on Facebook to a 3-month period in 2015 when they have been running ads and posting twice a day. Here’s what we found:
* In 2014 Facebook traffic accounted for 1% of all site traffic. During this time, 28% of their direct traffic was coming from dark social.
* In 2015, Facebook traffic accounted for 13% of all site traffic. During this time, 48% of their direct traffic was coming from dark social.


Dark Social Stats


If you’re not investing in social marketing, you’re missing a huge audience–not just the traffic from Facebook, but the traffic that results from people finding you on Facebook and sharing your links with their friends. Facebook referrals can sometimes account for up to 20-25% of total site traffic. Ask your analytics account holder how much Facebook traffic you’re getting and decide if there’s room for more investment in social marketing.

See additional stats on the prevalence of Dark Social

Read Alexis C. Madrigal’s latest research on the connection between Dark Social and Facebook.

Just Launched: Nathan Carlisle Homes

Categories: Home Builder Spotlight, Website Design | Posted: February 25, 2015 | By: Jennifer Bradshaw

Nathan Carlisle Homes just launched its new website by Builder Designs! Specializing in beautiful, energy-efficient homes for active adults in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Nathan Carlisle’s website provides the essential information for interested buyers of their luxury senior homes.

Nathan Carlisle Homes on Builder Designs

Community pages on the new website feature special video and photo sections in order to effectively show off the amenities each community offers. On select communities, an “Area Info” tab appears, which reveals more detailed information about community amenities and nearby points of interest. Home buyers can learn all they need before even moving! Providing users interesting and pertinent information is one of the best ways to boost time-on-site and trigger the next sales call, which Nathan Carlisle knows well.

That’s also why they provide an exhaustive detail pages for every available home, that include features like a mortgage calculator, e-mailing the home to a family member, or a quick contact form that puts you right in touch with Nathan Carlisle about the specific home.

Along with their focus on luxury senior living, the new “Building Green” page features an interactive home to explain the ways a Nathan Carlisle home is exceptionally energy-efficient. The home on this page has numbered pins representing different energy-efficient pieces of the home. Clicking on the pin make a nifty pop-up to appear that explains what the piece is and how it works to keep Nathan Carlisle homes energy efficient.

A division of Winchester Carlisle Companies, Nathan Carlisle is a private builder that focuses on building active adult neighborhoods. Homes by Nathan Carlisle are Energy Star certified, saving residents money and allowing them to live more comfortably in an environmentally friendly home. Currently, Nathan Carlisle offers homes in Savannah and McKinney within the Isabella Village at Savannah and the Retreat at Craig Ranch communities.

Of note, we designed not only Nathan Carlisle but their sister site Dunhill Homes where they specialize in new homes in the Dallas and Fort Worth Texas area. To see more websites like Nathan Carlisle and Dunhill Homes, please stop by our portfolio or view all web design clients.

Just Launched: Tuskes Homes

Categories: Home Builder Spotlight, Website Design | Posted: February 23, 2015 | By: Jennifer Bradshaw

Tuskes Homes just launched its new website with Builder Designs! Family owned in the heart of the Lehigh Valley for more than 50 years, Tuskes Homes focuses on building quality homes that are perfect for everyday living as well as entertaining.

Tuskes Homes website on Builder Designs

With over 50 years of experience, Tuskes Homes believes that the word “home” encompasses more than just walls and doors—it’s your place of refuge and your retreat. Setting high standards for themselves, Tuskes Homes can help make your dream home a reality. And the new Tuskes website illustrates their capabilities and achievements. Right on the home page, watch the “We Live Here Too” video slideshow and in just seconds get a real feel of the lifestyle a Tuskes Homes can provide.

Are you looking for a quick move-in home? The detail pages for available homes provides a place to explore photos of the home and read a detailed features list and description of the home, or grab a quick snapshot of basic information. Right from the page, calculate your new mortgage and start estimating, e-mail the page to a friend or loved one, and download a complete PDF of all the house’s information.

Or are you interested in a custom home? Learn more about the custom building process by Tuskes Homes with a convenient step-by-step process. This builder is proud to offer custom homes for the Lehigh Valley market with a build on your lot program that lets buyers get the perfect Tuskes home wherever they are.

But Tuskes Homes isn’t just your home builder. They’re your neighbor. Communities and homes by Tuskes are designed to make your life easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable. The “Tuskes Touch” means that your wishes and desires are paid close attention to and their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction is easy to see inside any Tuskes Home. As one family wrote, “Tuskes Homes gave us the ability to customize our home just the way we wanted through a simple and easy process.”

We wanted to make their website as custom, beautiful, and easy-to-stay-in as their homes are. Builder Designs got to work recreating what worked on our previous website design for them while combining new technologies and a responsive design. Beyond mobile compatibility their unique video slideshow is the most visually significant change in the upgrade, but we were also able to apply some new SEO techniques that should improve website traffic and time on site. The ability to share direct links to individual homes, communities, or floor plans with any buyer on any advice was very important to Tuskes’ marketing team, and we made sure the new website is easily shared and explored. For SEO and user-friendliness, we also worked with Tuskes Homes to make buyer focus baked into the site. Custom buyers can learn more about the build on your lot program, while those looking for an immediate home can just the perfect house or community right away.

If you like the look of the Tuskes website and want to see more examples of a Builder Designs website, please check out our full portfolio or view individual client success stories to watch a total website design and internet marketing transformation.

Image Optimization Case Study: Evans Coghill Homes

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Home Builder Spotlight, Internet Marketing for Home Builders | Posted: February 19, 2015 | By: Anna Chandler

Evans Coghill is a new home builder in Charlotte North Carolina whose new website we designed in late 2013. Since then their website has been one of our most popular designs and both total site traffic and time on site have jumped way, way up. But Owner Alan Banks wasn’t content to stop there; he understands deeply the importance of online marketing in today’s home builder industry and wanted to make sure his website performed as best as possible. We are excited to tackle those challenges and experiments with him and recently have seen some incredible results from an image optimization campaign.

Evans Coghill home, The Churchill at Cheval

Images are very important on your website. We all know that – the right photo could be what sells a home, and it’s why you invest so much in proper photography and video. Image optimization is just as important. That’s for two reasons: ADA compliancy and search rankings.

The “alt” content of a photo is used to explain the image’s content to vision-impaired users. Usage of the alt tag means that you’re meeting the needs of every user of your website’s needs and is so important that avoiding ADA suggestions registers as an error to most SEO tools. If your website has 400 untagged photos, that’s be 800 errors getting picked up by Google – which could easily overwhelm the otherwise good performance of a website and cause its perceived quality to slip. And that means it’ll be harder to rank well for the keywords you want.

Which is one way that image optimization ties into SEO. Another is that search engines cannot see images; without descriptive text your photo gallery is basically a blank page. With image titles and tags Google can “read” the page and better understand what is on your website. Think of it as a free content boost: you’ve already paid heavily for those photos, and now they can provide even more to your website for free.

Lastly, the titles and tags tell search engines how to display the image in a search result. And that worked very, very well for Evans Coghill Homes. With title and tags easily added through our content management system, Alan worked with our team to determine the best titles and tags and then went through optimizing the complete image library on his website.

Previously, his website (if you cracked open the hood and went scouring through the HTML) looked like this:

<img src=”IMG79946.jpg” alt=”/”> – A meaningless title and empty tag.

Which we were able to fix to:

<img src=”Morrison Upper Level with 2nd Master Suite” alt=”Two master suite home in Cheval community”> - A title that explained the image and a tag that explained why it was on the website and how it should show up in search results.

(Alan was also careful to avoid keyword stuffing, which is a big no-no for image optimization. You don’t want alt=new homes home builder of new homes seriously our new homes are awesome Evans Coghill Evans Coghill Evans Coghill. For more on the nitty gritty of image optimization check out Google’s very helpful guide with video.)

It was a big project – there are hundreds of (gorgeous) photos on the site. But immediately after finishing we could see three important things:

  1. The website was far more accessible for all users.
  2. Error reports dropped dramatically, from hundreds of “medium to serious” image problems to near nothing.
  3. Evans Coghill took over image search results for their locations.

This was the most visibly dramatic result and pretty exciting to see. Searching for “new homes in Plaza Midwood”, for example, brought up almost nothing but images from Evans Coghill:

Image Search result with Evans Coghill homes

Selecting an image brought up more information from Evans Coghill and a link to their website – you can see what a great sales lead that is from anyone browsing homes in the area!

Results of an image search with an Evans Coghill home

Image searching “Evans Coghill” brings up nothing but their photos, from the logo to interior and exterior shots of specific homes. You might assume that’d always be the case. But image searching “Bonterra Builders”, a competitor in the Charlotte NC area, will only show you five photos of theirs on the entire first page of image search results – and that’s by company name, one of the easiest search terms to dominate.

Now sure, you could point out that less buyers just image search versus selecting websites to browse – and that’s 100% true. But it isn’t just the image searches. It’s the better performing website that is free of errors and has a good grade from Google as a result. That’s going to help Evans Coghill outperform their competitors in search results, and that’s going to land more sales. And it was a completely free upgrade for Alan: the capabilities and image management were already built into his website from us.

“I want to thank Builder Designs and their SEO team,” Alan wrote in after we looked at the results together. “They not only know what they’re doing but are always available to review the website, answer questions, or come up with new ideas for better performance. I know we couldn’t be where we are without their help.”

We are also thankful for Alan and his tireless attention to Evans Coghill’s marketing plan. Our image optimization campaign was a great experiment and has concluded with quite the success story.

Responsive is Required

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Responsive Design | Posted: February 9, 2015 | By: Anna Chandler

Back in November, we announced Google’s brand-new “mobile friendly” tag and its impact on search results. That tag is a label that pops up only for sites that are easy to use on a mobile device, letting users know whether the result is worth exploring. That alone could be the make or break of a new visitor to a site; mobile traffic has become a huge percentage of overall site traffic. But it was also another sign that Google was tipping from “responsive website design is our top recommendation” to “responsive website design is required.

That day has dawned. Just last month, Google’s Webmaster Tools (one of the most important systems we use to keep tabs on the performance of your website) started sending us a flurry of error reports. They were flagging websites with bad mobile performance, telling us that without improvement the website’s SEO was going to suffer. Every website that had no mobile version got this report, but even some home builders with a mobile website had Google flag problems. While the mobile website was top-of-the-line when built back in 2011, it was no longer enough.

But our responsive sites? Just fine:

Mobile-friendly Test for Ideal Homes website


You can use that tool to check out a website yourself! Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test just asks you to plug in a URL, so you can check your home page or any interior page. That’s good to do, because some mobile issues are limited to a particular section. For instance, Ideal Homes – one of the first responsive websites we built – got 100% on all the pages but the blog.  The text of all the categories and tags were deemed to hard to read so got to work ASAP.

That problem might seem small – and it is, a small section of one post on one page in one device view – but it shows how closely Google is examining your website. If they managed to find one tiny error on a cutting-edge responsive website, you can imagine the angry red numbers we see on mobile-incompatible websites.

No mobile site and you’re sunk. But now a mobile version just isn’t enough. Responsive is required, and if you’re at all invested in how your website performs it’s time for a redesign. If you’re concerned about your website, give us a call: we’re happy to do a free review of your website and demo what ours can do.

Builder Designs Takes #IBSVegas 2015!

Categories: BD News, Home Builder Industry | Posted: January 29, 2015 | By: Abby Hill


Builder Designs booth at IBS

The BD Team had a great time partnering with Lasso at IBS this week to bring our Internet solutions straight to prospective clients. The show was massive this year, and even we didn’t get to see the whole thing. It was very cool to see people there all the way from China, Norway, and Canada—it truly was an international show!

We had a lot of people stop by our booth to chat with us and ask questions. Here are some highlights of what we learned about the homebuilding industry from talking to current and prospective clients:


  • Many vendors are very interested in having their own websites now that they’ve seen that so many of their clients have an excellent online presence. Some expressed the desire to allow homebuilders to shop for and order materials directly from the website. This was a new industry concept and certainly something that got us thinking!
  • Several builders were incredulous as they told us stories about other builders they know who don’t have a website yet. We used to find ourselves explaining the benefit of having a website to begin with, and this year everyone seemed to really understand the importance of being online. We were able to focus our message on how our solution stands out from the rest.
  • Some builders we talked to had built a lower-end website through GoDaddy or WordPress and expressed their frustration over their lack of control when it came to getting quick updates to inventory and pricing. These builders are currently unable to add new communities and floorplans as they become available or update inventory when it sells. Thankfully, our custom admin allows them to do all of those things instantly, and we hope to hear from them soon on starting a new website to fit their needs.
  • Everyone we talked to is expecting 2015 to be a great year for sales. This may be due to interest rates on home loans being at a historical low. We love hearing that our clients are confident about business growth, especially compared to what was going on in 2008! Now is a great time for homebuilders to try more aggressively marketing their website to get more online leads. We just began offering new online marketing services, so it was fun to show builders how we can help them get more leads in 2015.
  • Norway seems to think our designs are pretty cool! We had several Norwegians stop by our booth and snag a few fliers for inspiration.


All in all, it was a great week in Vegas. Our favorite part was by far our Builder Tech party where we got to hang out and chat with clients. It was nice to finally be face-to-face with people we’ve come to know so well over the phone and Internet.

It’s All About the Details

Categories: Home Builder Industry | Posted: January 29, 2015 | By: Jennifer Bradshaw

iStock_000013846060XSmall-300x225“Go big or go home” might not be the most appropriate motto if you’re trying to attract millennial homebuyers, according to a recent NAHB press release.

In the press release, the NAHB reported that millennials are searching for single-family homes that are smaller, more affordable, and have the specific details they are looking for–and they won’t settle for less.

What are those details? For starters, a separate laundry room. The NAHB also reported that millennials look for Energy Star certifications, plenty of storage space, and ways to combine technology and their living space.

Less expensive, low-maintenance homes are key to attracting millennials, according to the report, because this generation generally doesn’t have as much free time or disposable income as older homeowners.

Technology, of course, also plays a role. Incorporating ways to control heat, air-conditioning, security, and lighting from phones or tablets will go a long way with millennials who don’t want to waste time worrying about whether or not they left the lights on.

And don’t think that this generation will skimp on their desired details. While the NAHB reported that millennials would compromise on longer driving distances to work and amenities or sacrificing some extra finished space, they won’t accept less expensive materials in the building of their home. Quality and details appear to reign supreme with this generation.

Some believe that millennials are “allergic” to buying homes, citing high student loan debt and a desire to rent vs. own as reasons why the generation hasn’t made a huge splash in the housing market. According to Businessweek, this is largely a myth.

While there is some truth–millennials are feeling the pressure of loan debt coupled with entering into a weak job market right out of the gate–Businessweek reported that the desire to own is still there. In a Demand Institute survey of more than one thousand Americans aged 18-29, 60% said they would eventually own a home while 24% said they already do.

If you’re looking to corner the millennial market, just remember: focus on the details, and be sure to give the buyers what they are looking for.

Do You Speak SEO? A Helpful Guide to SEO Jargon

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Internet Marketing for Home Builders | Posted: January 16, 2015 | By: Abby Hill

Local SEO

There’s been a Panda, a Penguin, a Pigeon, and maybe even a Hummingbird? As Google continues to roll out animal-themed algorithm updates, it can be difficult to keep it all straight. One day your SEO might be putting you at the top of Google’s front page, and then the next rollout is released and suddenly you’ll find yourself at the bottom of page 3. We’ve broken down all you need to know about SEO as of January 2015 so you can stay on top of the game.

It started with a Panda

Google’s Panda update in 2011 was designed to combat sites with poor-quality content. Sites that didn’t have enough content plummeted in the rankings, while sites with good content soared to the front page. These days, if a page on your site doesn’t have at least 250 words, Google isn’t going to display it in the top search results unless someone is searching for you specifically.

This update was the beginning of Google getting smarter. Quality content doesn’t just refer to amount–Google will be able to tell if visitors don’t find your content helpful by the bounce rate of your page. The bounce rate is how many times people come to your site and quickly hit the “back” button because it wasn’t what they were looking for.

Something else worth mentioning on the subject of content is keyword stuffing. This is when your content is heavily loaded with the keywords you want to be found for. For instance, if you’re a new home builder in Kansas City, you’re probably using the keyword phrase “new homes in Kansas City.”

Before Panda, you’d be able to write something like the example below and suddenly find yourself at the top of search results:

Looking for new homes in Kansas City? We build new homes in Kansas City. You’ll love the design of our new homes in the Kansas City area. Feel free to browse our available new homes located in Kansas City. And don’t forget, we’re your Kansas City new home builder.

If your content looks like this now, you’re in trouble. Google recognizes this as keyword stuffing and hates it. Seriously, your site will be punished.

Then there was Penguin

Penguin targeted sites with unnatural and paid backlinks. These are links to websites that are sprinkled all over the Internet in weird places, like comments on a blog post that’s not relevant to the content of the site, paid links (different from a Google Ad), and links on websites that have nothing to do with your industry.

This is basically an attack on spam. If you’re, say, going to a popular cooking blog or YouTube channel and pasting links to your website in the comments section, you probably want to stop doing that. Okay, you definitely want to stop doing that.

Then came Hummingbird, and keywords became irrelevant.

Yes, you read that right. Keywords are irrelevant. Hummingbird was designed to better understand the meaning behind search queries so that people don’t get frustrated when the top result returned on Google has nothing to do with the information they were looking for.

It used to be that Google would pull the specific words people used in a search query and return sites that had those specific words in their keywords data or text. For instance, a few years ago if you searched “Where’s the closest place to get a cheeseburger?” Google might have shown you a blog post in which the writer went on vacation and wrote that the closest place to get a cheeseburger was 20 miles away. Not helpful.

Now, with the Hummingbird algorithm, Google understands that words like “closest” and “place” mean that you’re looking for a physical location. It will look at “cheeseburger” and find businesses with physical addresses that say they sell cheeseburgers. That’s more like it.

While you still have the ability to enter keywords in your website meta data–the admin portion that visitors don’t see–it’s really not worth your time anymore. Google isn’t even looking at it. A better use of your time would be to take the necessary measures to help Google understand the meaning behind your business, that you are local to specific areas, and to have high quality content (that, yes, can and should contain some level of keywords and keyword phrases relevant to you!).

Along came Pigeon.

The latest major update from Google–we’re talking as of July 2014–is called Pigeon (thanks to MOZ), and it’s all about Local SEO.

Without diving into technical details, this update basically supports what Internet users have been doing for a while now, which is using their phones to look up business locations when they’re out and about.

Now, if a website represents a business with a physical address, and that website is optimized for Local SEO, when someone searches for that business’ keywords, the website has a bigger chance of popping up on page 1 of Google, especially in the new maps results section.

What this means for homebuilders

If you’re wondering if Google’s latest algorithm updates affect homebuilder websites, the answer is a resounding yes, a thousand times yes.

Gone are the days when homebuyers only consulted your website after they first heard of you through word of mouth. Today, the majority of homebuyers are beginning their home search on Google’s homepage. When someone searches “new homes in Kansas City” and your website doesn’t have local SEO, you’re not going to show up.

Want to test how real this is? Do a search right now on Google for new homes in your area and see where you rank among your competitors. Next, do a search for your business on Google maps to find out if Google understands yet that you’re a local business. Whether you show up or not, you’ll want to make sure that you create or claim a Google My Business page–this is a great place to start building some Local SEO for your website.

As always, Builder Designs is here to help you with SEO so that you can get more leads out of your website!

Social Media Marketing Case Study: Ideal Homes

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Home Builder Spotlight, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Social Media | Posted: January 8, 2015 | By: Abby Hill

Builder Designs has just launched a new Inbound Marketing program designed to support your SEO efforts and increase lead generation. Unlike many other traditional marketing companies, we know exactly what works and what doesn’t in the homebuilding industry, because that’s always been our sole focus. We know that with home sales, a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work. That’s why we’re letting you price your own Inbound Marketing plan based on your budget and needs.

Of course, we do have something we consider the “sweet spot,” and that’s Facebook ads paired with customized landing pages. Why just Facebook? Aside from the fact that about 74% of all adults (a.k.a. homebuyers) are already using Facebook, we like that Facebook is totally trackable. Using insights data and unique tracking codes, we can tell you everything you’d ever want to know about what you got out of each ad we run–how many people saw the ad, how many clicked on it, and how many leads you got as a result.

No other social networking site can give you that kind of information, yet many companies continue to sell social media management services for LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz, and even Instagram accounts. Managing more of your profiles means more money for them, but not necessarily you. We prefer to spend more of our time perfecting your ad techniques so we can both get somewhere.

The other half of our favorite strategy is using custom landing pages to send people to after they click on your ad. Landing pages allow you to display ad-specific information along with a strong call to action, two things that are known to boost conversion rates through the roof. Many advertising companies use third-party landing page sites with pre-made templates because they’re fast, cheap, and easy to use.

Here’s why we don’t like fast, cheap, and easy: it looks spammy. In the homebuilding industry, that just doesn’t cut it. That’s why our web team creates customized landing pages using your website design and URL.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.31.59 PM

Our client Ideal Homes recently had success using a landing page with an ad campaign on Facebook. With a $120 budget, we ran an ad for three weeks advertising Ideal Homes’ inventory for first-time homebuyers. Thanks to recent articles on Zillow’s blog, we’ve seen that many believe 2015 to be the year for first-time homebuyers because rental costs are starting to exceed the monthly cost of a home mortgage by a lot, and interest rates are at a low.

Our ad spoke to this trend by including monthly price estimates on the landing page. We used advanced targeting to hone in on Facebook users in Oklahoma who are currently renting and are likely to move soon. In three weeks, 20 new leads came in through the landing page, which was only accessible via our Facebook ad. Of those 20 leads, 3 have already made appointments with the sales team.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.31.22 PM

Since we’ve been running ads and promoting posts for Ideal Homes over the course of just a few months, we’ve seen social media traffic to their site increase dramatically. Between November 2013 — January 2014, there were about 121 visits to the site coming from social media, accounting for less than 1% of all their site traffic. Now that we’ve been advertising on Facebook, social traffic accounts for more than 8% of all their website traffic. In the past two months, over 1,500 visits to the site have come from Facebook alone, compared to last year’s 96.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.25.49 PM

As you can see, we like hard numbers. Our Inbound Marketing services start at $300/month, and our goal in designing your unique marketing campaign is to be able to show you a return on investment within the year. If you’d like to learn more about what we can do for your online marketing, email

Home Builder Case Study: Content Improving SEO

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Home Builder Spotlight, Internet Marketing for Home Builders | Posted: December 30, 2014 | By: Anna Chandler

Royal Oaks Homes redesigned their website with us in 2014 for a new responsive layout. It’s a gorgeous website and perfect for mobile use – but it didn’t do exactly what we wanted for their SEO. So we dug in to see what we could improve for these Raleigh home builders, and ended up with some great results and an important lesson.

Our first thought and primary focus was content. Content is very very important. And while the website was gorgeous and easy navigated, it didn’t have a lot of text. We thought that adding unique information to a majority of their pages would help in several ways:

  • It helps home buyers research the cities they’re moving to.
  • It introduces individual communities to home buyers.
  • It proves to home buyers why Royal Oaks Homes is the builder of choice in those areas.
  • And it improves the website from an SEO-perspective.


Along with a few small tweaks to the home page, we concentrated on the Find Your Home and Available Home pages. Starting with the main landing pages of “all communities” and “all available homes”, we drilled down to the areas of Raleigh and Fayetteville and then the individual cities, including Apex, Angier, Cary, Knightdale, Clayton, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, and Cameron North Carolina.

It was a lot of work! With a minimal goal of 250 words, we added around 400 to every page that discussed the area, the communities in the area, and the homes that Royal Oaks Homes build. Our copy writing team worked closely with Matt Riley researching the location and its special benefits. For example, now interested buyers know that Raleigh is “rated as America’s Best Places to Live: #1 in 2011, The Ten Best Cities for Newlyweds: #2 in 2012, and Best Cities for Raising a Family: #5 in 2012, we chose Raleigh and its surrounding cities for our new homes because of the incredible quality of life it offers” and Fayetteville is “rated as #2 “Highest Per Capita Income Growth in North Carolina”, #3 “Most Affordable Housing Market in the Nation”, and a three-time Winner of the National Civics League “All-American City” award, we chose Fayetteville and its surrounding cities for our new homes because of the powerful economy and unique culture it offers”.

Our final list included improving or creating 23 new pages.

You can see the difference on page with a before and after shot:


City page for Royal Oaks Homes on their website

And with information:

City page for Royal Oaks Homes website with content

We also saw the difference in results. Royal Oaks Homes shot up in page rank for all of their major search terms; previously on page 3 or 4, they moved up to page 1 0r 2 in just a few weeks.

  • “New homes in Angier NC” : page 1
  • “New homes in Holly Springs NC” : page 1
  • “New homes in Cameron NC” : page 1
  • “New homes in Apex NC” : page 2
  • “New homes in Clayton NC” : page 2
  • “New homes in Knightdale NC” : page 2
  • “Raleigh new homes” : page 2
  • “New Homes in Fayetteville NC” : page 2


And we’ve been improving since then.

Website traffic improved dramatically. Within one month total visits to the website were up 16%, new user traffic increasing 13.83%, and page views up 12.96%. From September to October right after these changes, Royal Oaks Homes’ website had over 85,000 views.

We’re all very happy with the improvement to their website and thank Matt for letting us try something new. We’ve taken this lesson to our other websites; it’s nice to crack some of Google’s code and improve a website for both our builders and buyers.


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