The Builder Designs Blog

Home Builder Website News & Tips

Why It Pays to Have Support

Categories: BD News | Posted: November 19, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

Builder Designs is a web development and SEO company for home builders

There is a clear difference between paying $50 each month to host your website on GoDaddy and paying several hundred dollars each month to host your website with an independent service provider (like Builder Designs), and it’s not just in the cost. While basic hosting sites like GoDaddy offer a place to park your website for the foreseeable future, they do not offer the added value of a dedicated team that is looking out for your best interests. And when you’re investing thousands in a website that represents your business, this difference is everything.

Web support is like insurance for your website. More than likely, you paid around the same price for your website as many people pay for a car. Just like a car, your website is threatened by outside factors, and just like a car, your website needs some level of insurance. The Internet is full of human and robot hackers looking for an easy way into your site. In some cases, we have seen hackers replace the logos on home builder sites with porn imagery, replace the copy on the home page, or sprinkle links to nefarious websites throughout other pages on the site.

When this happens, you have two options: comb the site for other hacks and repair everything the hacker broke, or restore the site to its former glory from a backup. The latter option will not be available to you on a basic hosting site, which is one reason it pays to have the added security of an independent service provider.

Recently, we encountered a hack that occurred on a client’s old site sometime before we went live with their new site. One of the more sophisticated hacks we’ve seen, this hacker redirected our client’s home page to a website that proclaims to sell cheap sunglasses. As a result, a Google search for the company turned up this:

Hack Example

Without support from their former web developer while we were building their new site, this hack went unnoticed until our SEO team caught the indexing issue in the days following the launch of their new site. We combed the site code to find the hacker’s hidden insertion and got rid of the links. Unfortunately, the hack didn’t stop there.

This type of hack, in which all or part of a website is redirected to a spam website, also comes with other consequences that affect SEO. The link to our client’s site was shared across other spam sites, making it look as though our client had engaged in bad link building tactics. A significant factor in a site’s ability to rank lies within the quantity and quality of links pointing to the site. Many websites have been penalized by Google for being associated with spam sites. When this happens, the issue must be taken up directly with Google in the form of disavowing each link individually.

At Builder Designs, we take website insurance very seriously. In addition to backing up all of our sites each hour of the day, we monitor our sites for outages, performance, and resource usage. The second a website goes down for any reason, our support team is immediately notified. We update each site’s server ongoing with the latest security and performance fixes. This is what separates our level of service from a $50-per-month basic hosting site.

Not all hosting is created equal, and attempts to save money on website hosting can cost you in the long run, especially after hacks that damage or delete the content of your website. Hacks that go unnoticed for even 24 hours can damage your business’s reputation in lasting ways. Don’t forget that your website is both an asset and a marketing tool–value it as an investment by ensuring it is monitored and cared for 24/7.

Online Marketing for Home Builders: Using Traditional Techniques on Modern Channels

Categories: Internet Marketing for Home Builders | Posted: November 13, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

Computer with charts

Many builders are still relying on a Google search ranking to drive business to their website. However, now that Google is changing how they rank sites in the search results, it’s becoming harder to rank well in a competitive market, especially for a smaller local builder.

Inbound marketing is helping to bridge the gap between search traffic and leads by creating more visibility for your website and brand online. As your website grows in popularity, you may also be able to achieve a coveted spot on page 1 of Google. This is because Google is now using user behavior as a major factor in where a site ranks. While there are over 200 ranking signals that Google is using to create search results, it’s no question that popular websites tend to rank highly often despite other weak spots in SEO.

A Change in Attitude

At first, the news that in order to be successful in SEO, you’ll need to pay for online ads sounds like it creates more problems than it solves, but actually the opposite is true. Relying only on organic search traffic to drive customers to your business online is missing the bigger picture. In fact, as a new home builder, a homebuyer’s search is the latest point of discovery you want to be pursuing.

New homes and custom homes are aspirational. They’re something that home buyers dream about and plan for long before they commit to a Google search. Instead of hoping that when a homebuyer is ready to buy a new home they somehow discover you during that process, get in front of them while they’re still dreaming about owning a new home so that they start dreaming about owning one of your homes.

This is where online marketing presents an opportunity. Visual ads appear in front of your target audience where they spend time every day: on Facebook, on Pinterest, on other websites they visit in the form of banner ads. Every type of traditional marketing that happens offline can also happen online for a much lower cost and with the ability to track the results. By replacing some of your offline marketing with smart digital marketing, you can save money, extend your reach, and benefit your website’s SEO all at once.


Merging Traditional & Digital

In marketing your business, you typically have four tactics to employ: direct marketing, advertising, sales promotion, and publicity. We’ll show you which online channels you can use to accomplish each of these.


1) Direct Marketing

Offline: snail mail
Online: email, hyper targeted ads, Facebook posts

This is one tactic you can easily go fully digital on. Whether you bought a mailing list or used an opt-in list from a Parade of Homes or open house, your direct mail audience is limited and the cost to reach them is extremely high. Plus, you only reach them once by sending them something in the mail and have no way of understanding the ROI or even the level of engagement from doing so.

With Facebook ads, you can deliver photos of your homes and links to your site directly to just about any audience you can think of. Facebook has partnered with several major data aggregators to allow advertisers the ability to target people in a local area of a certain income level, job industry, household size, and more. Recently, we’ve even been given the ability to target first-time homebuyers with ads.
This is actually a demographic we’ve seen a lot of success with on Facebook, so if you have product under $200K you should definitely be allocating budget for direct marketing on this channel.

We have a client that uses a landing page just for first-time homebuyers that has examples of their floor plans in a certain price range. We create ads on Facebook targeting first-time homebuyers and send them to this page, and sometimes we also post this link to the Facebook page as well to drive additional traffic from there.

They’ve never run this ad for more than $200 in a given month. For $200, you can buy postage to send about 465 pieces of direct mail. Obviously you still have to pay for the design of the mailer, the cost of printing 465 mailers, and envelopes if you’re using those. You’d never know how many people threw the mailers away without looking at them or how many contacted you as a result of seeing the mailer unless you asked everyone that called or emailed if they had seen your mailer.

For $200, a visual ad we ran on Facebook reached 24,771 people in the metro area where our client builds. 1500 of those people visited our client’s website, which was a huge popularity signal to Google. Several of the website visitors contacted the client within 30 days and set up an appointment.

No one in this room can say with any level of certainty how successful their direct mail campaign was. This is an easy area where you can reallocate budget to run successful ads online that can actually be tracked.


2) Advertising

Offline: radio, print, television, billboard
Online: Google Adwords, banner ads, Facebook ads, Zillow, Trulia, MLS, etc
In certain markets, many builders still have success advertising on billboards and print ads. However, no one can quantify that success other than to say there is a correlation between the increase in appointments and the advertising effort.

You can quantify the success of an online ad by using landing pages or by looking at referral traffic in Google Analytics to understand how many visitors came to your site through an ad. Unlike billboards and print ads, you can also determine whether the right people are seeing your ads based on how well they engage with your site or how many of them decide to contact you.

Online advertising also allows you to apply additional layers to your marketing to increase your success rate. With the use of retargeting ads, you can essentially release ads that follow a user around the Internet once they’ve visited your site, reminding them to return to the site and continue their home search. You can even tell the ads to only be delivered to people who did not fill out a contact form on their first visit to really hone in your targeting.


3) Sales Promotion

Offline: radio, print, television, direct mail in a shorter time period
Online: Facebook ads in tandem with landing pages

When you’re trying to move inventory, a sales promotion can generate a lot of buzz and help you meet your goals. Facebook ads are an asset in this case because you can reach thousands of people for a couple hundred dollars. Because of the time sensitivity with sales promotions, it’s a good idea to send visitors to a landing page on your site with a contact form so that they can act immediately while they’re still interested.

Landing pages are known for increasing conversions on ads. And, because you know that the only way users can get to the landing page is through the link you share, it helps in tracking the success of your ads.

If you regularly get several thousand monthly visitors, this is a good time to use Facebook’s custom audience tool to deliver ads directly to Facebook users who have visited your site in the last 30 days. Chances are many of them did not convert on their first visit and may be incentivized by your promotion.


4) Publicity

Offline: signage, flyers, vehicle wraps, swag at open houses
Online: social media

Social media is a great platform for doing publicity with multiple layers. Where signage, vehicle wraps, and pens with the company logo do a lot to build awareness of the company, they don’t do anything to communicate what the company is actually about and what it’s like to work with you.

Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular platforms for doing social media as a home builder, although Instagram is building momentum as well. Having a daily presence on social media allows you to connect with potential clients in ways you can’t in an offline strategy. For instance, if you’re doing community work or sponsoring a local event, you can broadcast this on social media and start conversations around it.

A photo album showing your team building a home on a show like Extreme Makeover Home Edition along with your personal story about the experience does a lot more for your company’s image than sending a printed newsletter with the same information. The difference is that sharing this information on social media invites people to engage with you by sharing comments or asking questions which you can in turn respond to by “liking” or commenting back.

The same goes for simple updates that you would traditionally send in a newsletter, e-blast, or print article. If you are working on plans for a new development or floor plan, create hype around it by posting on social media asking people to help you come up with a name. Every time someone comments on the post, their friends will see that activity in the newsfeed, which extends your organic reach even further for no cost.



Choosing the right social media channel for your marketing is important. Don’t waste your advertising dollars or time on a channel where you’re not reaching and engaging your target audience. Many people mistakenly promote the idea that it’s best to be on everything, but this isn’t true.

Twitter, for instance, is a channel many homebuilders use with no real idea of what it’s doing for them. As a channel mainly devoted to rapid-fire ideas and conversations around pop culture and news stories, it’s not a channel suited for marketing new homes. In order to be relevant on Twitter, users must post multiple times throughout the day and participate in hashtag topic conversations. We rarely see Twitter bring even ten users to a home builder website in a given month, even for clients who are posting daily.

Instagram is becoming a channel to watch for builders, especially now that it supports promoted posts. However, you will not be able to link to your website in your posts, so this channel may not generate much web traffic. Also consider that the majority of Instagram users are the millennial generation, so unless your clientele includes first-time homebuyers, you might not want to use this channel. Since Instagram is completely photo-driven, users expect to be impressed by the quality of photos you post, so we recommend only sharing professional quality images on this channel.

Facebook seems to be the channel that every home builder can find success on, since it supports photos, reviews, comments, sharing, and lengthier posts than Twitter. Facebook’s advertising platform is also second-to-none when it comes to targeting, and it’s easy to promote your page’s posts to reach more people. Plus, people of all income levels and generations are using Facebook, so you’re sure to reach your target demographic.

Is Link Building Still Relevant For Home Builders?

Categories: Home Builder SEO | Posted: November 4, 2015 | By: Abby Hill

should home builders be driving traffic to their site via link building?

Link building. One of those SEO strategies that has been around since the 1990s and is still being mentioned today. But is it still relevant? And, more importantly, is it still relevant for home builders? To answer these questions, it’s necessary to make a distinction between early link building and modern link building.

In the late 90s, link building consisted of visiting different blogs or forums and posting a comment with a link to a website. It didn’t matter what type of website it was. I could have pasted a link to a builder website on a Coca Cola forum or on a fashion blog and the outcome would have been about the same. At some point, Google would pick up on a volume of links to the builder site and that site would climb to the top of the search results. It took minimal effort for maximum return. It was a service any SEO could offer for a very low cost. Eventually, everyone caught on and started building links this way.

Hopefully you can see why this couldn’t last. Google had to start ignoring links passed between two completely unrelated websites. Then it had to start devaluing links in forum or blog posts period since it’s way too easy for people to just start spamming websites with links to the site they’re trying to promote. Today, you can actually get penalized and even blacklisted for the very same link building techniques that used to work in the 90s.

Today, link building looks much different. It requires real effort, real connections, and lots of time. However, it is possible and it can still benefit a site’s SEO. The SEO Moz blog has a great video about what it takes today to earn links with real value.

Essentially, earning links today begins with creating some sort of content, like an article or video that is hosted on your site and provides significant value to a certain demographic. It could be something as complex as answering the fifty most common questions asked about home mortgages or something as simple as why your city is the best place to build a new home. The content then has to be delivered to the websites that you would like to receive a link from. This requires a personalized email to each site inviting the webmasters to view and share your content because their audience would also find it interesting.

As this type of SEO service requires much more than simply pasting links in comment boxes, expect to pay top dollar to have an SEO expert work on link building for you. With smaller, hyper local builders, this tactic no longer makes sense to pursue, as tens or even hundreds of links are needed to make any kind of impact, and likely still won’t help in the competition against a larger, national builder and sites like Zillow or Trulia. A small builder’s best bet is to invest in online marketing instead of organic SEO, since the money it would take to gain an organic ranking in one market would be much better spent on promotional ads via Facebook and Google Adwords.

On the other hand, link building could still be a viable strategy for a national builder who is trying to rank well in multiple competitive markets. Investing in high-level SEO strategies pays off when increasing your overall ranking potential is earning you more visibility in several major metro areas instead of just one. Keep in mind that simply asking webmasters to link to your home page because it exists is not going to cut it, even if you hire a savvy, persuasive SEO to write these emails. Your strategy will likely require some content generation and possibly even integration with your marketing and outreach in order to truly be successful.

If you’re a national builder that builds near a military base or has product for first-time homebuyers, consider creating website content and promotions around these specific demographics. Whether you offer special financing for military families or donate homes to wounded veterans, you have an opportunity for natural link building just by getting the word out in your community. Some of the most successful marketing and SEO stories have originated as an act of goodwill gone viral. So whatever you’re offering homebuyers, make sure you blog about it, post about it on Facebook, and get the word out however you can. Links will happen more frequently and naturally when you have something of value to promote.

Social Media: A Smarter Channel for Traditional Marketing

Categories: Internet Marketing for Home Builders | Posted: October 23, 2015 | By: Abby Hill

light bulb


A lot of people assume that “social media marketing” is a marketing strategy in and of itself, but this simply isn’t true. We should be talking about social media as a smarter, more efficient channel for doing traditional marketing strategies, like direct marketing, remarketing, publicity, advertising, sales promotions, and market research. All of these strategies can be implemented via social media for a much lower cost than print, television, or radio, and the results can be tracked unlike any of these other channels.

Many home builders are on social media today, but a smaller portion of them are actually using a real marketing strategy. Without setting goals, crafting campaigns, and defining target demographics, managing a social media page is largely a wasted effort. This is why we generally don’t recommend managing your own Facebook page unless you have a marketing person on staff. The posts published to your business page should also have a strategy behind them in addition to your actual ads.

A business page is a much more precious marketing tool than most people realize. If you’ve correctly targeted your page promotion ads, the majority of your page fans should be people who at least live in or around the areas where you sell homes. By “liking” your page, they have basically opted in to receiving communication from you via the posts in their newsfeed and have also indicated that they like your product.

Step back and think for a minute where else you might be able to find this type of audience and keep track of them for future marketing efforts. One really old school way might be to include a sign-up sheet at your model homes or at open house events that would prompt people to write down their name, address, phone number, and email as a way to opt-in to receive updates from you. Another method might be to include the same opt-in form somewhere on your website. Perhaps some of you have even tried one or both of these methods in the past.

Were you able to generate an email or mailing list of several thousand people? If so, how much time did it take, and what was the associated cost? The beauty of Facebook is that it allows you to collect this type of audience relatively quickly, easily, and for a low cost.

But what are you doing with this audience? With a traditional mailing list, you probably handed it off to a local agency to design direct mail or email campaigns. Even though you have access to printers, envelopes, and email, you probably didn’t do the work yourself, and it probably wasn’t just because you don’t have the time.

Why, then, is a Facebook business page any different? Every post to the page is a form of direct advertising to your opt-in audience. The tricky part is that people expect you to be posting on social media every day, but they don’t want to be advertised to every day. Just as getting an email or flyer from you daily would drive anyone nuts, so does seeing a self-promoting post from you every single day.

Using social media as a platform for doing traditional marketing strategies along with customer service and PR requires a finesse that takes even professional digital marketers a long time to acquire. Hiring a marketing strategist to manage your business page is one of the smartest things you can do from a marketing standpoint. Your strategist will be able to determine the appropriate content cycle in addition to which products work best with your audience, the right messaging strategy, how to utilize the audience you have to grow awareness and visibility even further, and more.

As we said, social media marketing is not a strategy unto itself, but rather a modern channel by which to implement traditional marketing strategies. If you’re not versed in the best practices in direct marketing, publicity, or product promotion, by thinking of Facebook as a DIY activity you’re inhibiting your business page’s ability to provide any sort of value in marketing your business.

What You Need to Know About Angular JS

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Website Design | Posted: October 16, 2015 | By: Builder Designs

Typing code on laptop


We’re building all of our new sites using Angular JavaScript, Google’s own framework for writing website code. While there are many technical benefits to writing a website in Angular, we’ve noticed a few major benefits that improve your site’s SEO and make things easier on both Google and the user. Additionally, Angular has presented some obstacles when it comes to social sharing and third-party apps. Here’s what you need to know.

The Benefits of Using Angular

It’s no secret that Angular is the future of the web. Eventually all websites will be built in Angular. By using Angular today, we’re creating websites on the cutting edge of technology, which is always a good thing.

Angular greatly reduces the amount of code that needs to be written for the site, making it easier for Google to crawl (hence, why Google created it!). Instead of loading each page separately by making individual calls to the server, Angular allows all the content of your website to be called out at once and stored in a cache. Basically, this just means your pages load much faster. Google has announced that page load speed is a factor in where it ranks your website, so this benefits your SEO.

Duplicate content is another rampant issue in the home building industry that Angular is solving. On non-Angular sites, when a user sorts communities, plans, or home inventory, the page URL is appended to account for the sort. All the content on the page is the same, including the title tag and meta description, but Google sees this as a new URL and therefore a new page on the site with–you guessed it–duplicate content.

Angular solves this issue by allowing the items on the page to be rearranged without updating the URL. As a result, Angular sites have less errors, which is also great news for your SEO.


The Pitfalls of Using Angular

When new technology is introduced, there’s always a period of time where old technology must adapt and catch up. Such is the case with any third-party app that crawls your website as Google does.

Social media is a great example and probably something most home builders are using at this point. Facebook is unable to read Angular or any other type of javascript code, so the Facebook crawlers can’t see the content on an Angular page. This is why many users are having difficulty getting a photo to pull in on a link preview–because Facebook can’t find the photos on your Angular web page. Thankfully there are a couple of workarounds while Facebook updates its crawlers: Facebook has provided code for an Open Graph Image that allows you to designate the image you want to display in the link preview. Additionally, the Buffer app allows you to upload your own photo when you post to your page through Buffer.

You may also run into issues if you use any sort of third-party auditing tool for your website. Since these tools are unable to crawl Angular data, you may start seeing inaccurate reports or error messages that only a few of your pages are crawlable. Google Webmaster Tools will show the true inexability of your website in addition to how Google sees each page, just to prove that Google’s crawlers are able to find all your content even though your site is in Angular. As for the third-party apps, we may just have to wait for technology to catch up before we can resume using these types of tools.

Despite some frustrations with social media and apps being incompatible with Angular sites, you shouldn’t turn down the opportunities Angular provides just because third-party technology is lagging behind Google. As we all know, Google is still King, and we have to play by Google’s rules if we want to succeed on the Web.

SEO Challenges With Site Structure

Categories: Home Builder SEO | Posted: October 9, 2015 | By: Builder Designs


Now, more than ever, SEOs are facing challenges with site navigation and structure. As Google continues to get smarter in its ability to understand page content, authority, and trust, more pages of your site have the opportunity to rank for different keywords. However, without the proper link juice being passed to these “rank pages,” the chances of ranking become slimmer.

Without influence in the design phase, there is little SEOs can do to correct a weak site structure outside of completely overhauling your website (a task that would likely also require cooperation from your web developer). However, a site built around an SEO strategy can greatly improve your chances of ranking for multiple keywords in multiple markets.

Home builders certainly face this challenge when building in multiple communities throughout a major metro area. On the one hand, it’s tempting to compete for the traffic coming from metro-related keywords. On the other hand, the sum of traffic from every smaller city could be just as beneficial. But typically, we only see the home page ranking, and we can only optimize a home page for a couple of keywords.

site structure without hierarchy

Without a hierarchical site structure, all the link juice and page authority of the home page gets divided into every page of the site. With a home builder site that contains multiple communities, floor plans, photo galleries, and inventory pages, the page authority passed down from the home page is whittled down to almost nothing.

A better SEO strategy for a builder website would involve determining pages that could be designed, built, and optimized for specific keyword phrases. Instead of linking to every page of the site from the home page, link only to this second tier of pages–the ranking pages–in order to preserve more of the page authority and link juice coming from the home page. A simplified illustration of that concept would look something like this:site structure with hierarchy

Keep in mind that the optimization and structure of a site won’t necessarily be enough to earn you a spot on Google’s page 1. You will likely also need to employ a content amplification strategy through link building, inbound marketing, and possibly blogging. Building a site around an SEO strategy will, however, put you in a much better position for being successful in the search rankings.

Improve Your Google Ranking With Page Speed

Categories: Home Builder SEO | Posted: October 2, 2015 | By: Abby Hill

Page Speed Insights tool

We’ve been running some tests recently to understand what affects Google ranking today. Page speed is one of the things we have found to have a direct impact on where your site ranks. You can actually check the speed of any page on any website using Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool. Keep in mind that not even Google has a perfect score when it comes to page speed, nor do top-ranking sites like Amazon and Facebook. If your site isn’t in the green when it comes to page speed, it doesn’t mean that your website is dysfunctional–it just means there’s room for improvement!

It’s possible that improving page speed can improve your ranking by at least one or two positions, which can be a big deal when that position moves you from page 2 to page 1. Our test client saw a ranking improvement just a few days after we made some updates to the home page that allowed it to load faster. By removing a mortgage calculator and an interactive Google map from the home page, we were able to significantly improve how fast the home page loaded. Now, a mortgage calculator and an interactive map are two very common and useful things to have on a home builder website–this doesn’t mean you can’t use them. Just don’t use items like this on pages you want to rank, like the home page and inventory pages.

When you run PageSpeed Insights, you’ll see some suggestions for improving the HTML and CSS. A lot of this can actually be accomplished by using Google’s own Angular Javascript on the site. Angular is basically a way to consolidate lengthy HTML and CSS scripts. It also allows your entire website to download all at once and be stored in a cache instead of being downloaded page by page. This makes the entire browsing experience much faster for the user.

If you’re interested in learning more about improving site speed or would like us to run an audit on your site, contact our support team at

Holistic SEO

Categories: Home Builder SEO | Posted: September 24, 2015 | By: Abby Hill

Businesswoman reaching for growth


We’re taking a more holistic approach to SEO these days, meaning we’re using SEO as a lens through which to view things like your website content, online marketing, and overall brand messaging. While there are still things like keyword research, meta data, and link building that can be defined as SEO, all of the aforementioned efforts can also have a big impact on where your site ranks. That’s why we have SEO teaming up with design, programming, and marketing in every step of the process.

Let’s unpack this holistic approach a little. The reason why it doesn’t work so well anymore to be doing SEO in a technical silo is that ranking signals have multiplied and morphed in huge ways this year. The biggest shift we’re seeing is much more weight being put on user behavior. So things like how long someone spent on your site, how many people filled out a form on your site, pages people keep visiting and linking to vs. pages that get hardly any views, how many people immediately hit the “back” button to the search results after they click your site link, etc.

Sometimes, if the search volume is significant enough, you might see a really basic-looking site ranking above much newer, fancier sites. Why? Because if a site, despite being basic, is the one that users are clicking on and staying on time after time after time, Google is going to give the people what they want. Because that’s going to help Google continue to be everyone’s favorite search engine.

Now, when it comes to a home search, basic/old sites aren’t going to cut it unless the home builder is really well-known and revered in the area. Unlike searching for the answer to a question, a user won’t be satisfied with a poorly designed website in their search for a new home. Here’s where holistic SEO thinking comes in. Instead of just thinking about how to get more link clicks to rank better, holistic SEO says we need to think about these clicks as people. Do clicks or even rankings really matter if a person gets to your website and doesn’t find what they’re looking for? No. Those people already clicked over to your competitor’s site and filled out their lead form because the photos sold them.

A holistic SEO approach is concerned with leads, sales, and brand perception more so than clicks and rankings. Why? Because the efforts that convert leads will eventually result in more clicks and better rankings. Holistic SEO puts people first instead of Google. If Google’s already doing that, why shouldn’t we?

You might be wondering how you can call web design and online marketing aspects of SEO, or vis versa. Have you ever been to a website that looked really cool, but you couldn’t figure out how to get to certain pages of information? Did the website leave you feeling confused and frustrated? Did you seek out a different site to help solve your problem? That’s an example of good aesthetic design with a bad user experience. SEO cares about user experience because clicking back to the search results after spending very little time on the site is a negative ranking signal. Google can tell when people are dissatisfied/frustrated and will rank your site accordingly.

In online marketing, have you ever paid for ads that brought tons of traffic to your site, but didn’t result in any new leads? Holistic marketing from an SEO perspective doesn’t just focus on clicks vs. ad spend; instead, that traffic is analyzed for quality control. When ads target the right people, they’ll come to the site and behave a certain way. Leads will come. When ads are set up and left to run without analyzing the user behavior, you might just be paying for tons of 10-second clicks to your site.

If you’re currently spending money on online advertising, check on your efforts with these simple tips for understanding what to look at in Google Analytics.

What to Look for in Google Analytics

Categories: Home Builder SEO | Posted: September 18, 2015 | By: Abby Hill

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool for understanding how your website is performing and checking up on the traffic coming into the site. With so much information at your fingertips, it can be paralyzing trying to figure out where to start. We’ve come up with three simple things you can check each time you log into Google Analytics that should give you the level of insight you need to check up on your website and marketing efforts.


1. Audience Overview

how to analyze homebulder websites

The Audience Overview is the default view when you log into analytics. Here you can get a snapshot view of the overall performance of everyone who has visited the site. You’ll want to look at the bounce rate, time on site, and page views to understand if you’re getting quality traffic and your website is appealing to the user. Additionally, take a look at your new vs. returning visitors section. Since most users won’t fill out your lead form on the first visit, it’s important to get people coming back to the site through online marketing efforts. Some users need to come back to the site at least three times before they’re ready to make an appointment with you.


2. Acquisition Overview

acquisition overview google analytics

On the left hand side of the screen, you should be able to navigate down to Acquisition > Overview where you can get a snapshot of what Audience Overview told you, just broken out by traffic source. This will be helpful to diagnose which sources are quality and which are not. Likely you will want to look at Referral and Social if you’re doing any sort of online marketing. Each of these list items contains a link to unpack the sources in that category, including bounce rate, time on site, and pages viewed. If Bounce Rate is 100% and time on site is 00:00, you know for sure that’s spam traffic. Keep in mind that metrics for advertisements should be looked at differently than overall site metrics. A bounce rate between 40-60% is decent for ad traffic, and traffic from ads tend to have lower page views and lower time on site.


3. Search Queries

queries in google analytics

Under the Acquisition header, navigate to Search Engine Optimization > Queries to find which keywords are bringing people to your site. To protect our client’s privacy, we’ve left out the keyword column, which exists to the left of “Impressions.”

Impressions tells you how many times your site showed up as a search result for a given keyword during the timeframe you’ve selected (the default is the past 30 days). The clicks column tells you how many people clicked your link, but keep in mind that 0 clicks on a high ranking keyword could just be an indicator that people are clicking adwords results more than organic search results. Don’t pay too much attention to the Average Position column–because search results fluctuate and depend on many different factors (your mobile search ranking can vary by up to 6 positions depending on how good someone’s Internet connection is), this isn’t always a good reflection of how you’re faring in the SERPs. The best way to check up on your ranking (besides your custom ranking report from Builder Designs) is to open up an “incognito window” in Google Chrome and do a search for the keyword you want to check on.


If you’d like to go deeper into your analytics, a call with an SEO consultant is probably best. A lot of data is subject to interpretation, and there are lots of secondary dimensions that may provide even more insight into a particular thread of data. Our SEO team is always happy to help diagnose issues with your website, SEO, or marketing and can be reached by email at or


How Traffic and Engagement Affects Your Google Ranking

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

seo - search engine optimization


We’ve been saying for a while now that the SEO game has changed. Keywords still allow you to rank, but they no longer determine where you rank. With over 1 billion websites on the Internet for Google to crawl and analyze for relevant keywords, it’s no wonder they’re starting to move away from a keyword-based ranking model.

Today, evidence shows that Google is using more of a user-based approach to ranking websites. This means that a site or even a page that has low traffic and low user engagement will eventually stop being considered in the rankings and will move its way down into the Internet landfill.

The SEO experts at Moz recently undertook a ranking correlation study to illustrate the effect that traffic and engagement metrics have on your Google ranking. The results show that instead of using static features like title tags, copy, and meta description to determine where a site ranks, Google instead analyzes the way users interact with individual websites. “Put simply, the more traffic a site received, the higher it tended to rank” (

Based on this correlation, it’s clear that your best chance for success is to have an engaging, user-friendly website with a strong inbound marketing strategy designed to drive consistent, high-quality traffic. At first glance, it may seem like organic traffic is now costing you money, but that’s not quite the case. In reality, every business should be marketing themselves online–it’s cheaper than traditional advertising, completely trackable, and amplifies leads and sales.

The fact that online advertising could now indirectly boost your search rankings by driving more traffic to your site is icing on the cake. Amplifying your online presence is now an essential part of succeeding online–the last thing you want is to invest in a quality website only to have it sink into the website landfill because competition is just too dense.

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