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Judi's avatar

What do you get when you pay someone for search engine optimization?

Asked by Judi (37693 points ) September 11th, 2013 from iPhone

Is it just the correct key words or is there more to it than that? We are creating web pages (finally) for our apartments and I would like to get them on the first page of a google search. I noticed that the management companies other properties do NOT show up on the first page when you google “apartments (my town)”
Should I just pay google?
I’m not real smart with the geeky side of the Internet so explain in idiot proof terms if you can.

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7 Answers

syz's avatar

It’s not difficult to learn, if you have the time. As I understand it (from a completely non-computer-literate basis), the more key elements and cross-referencing that you have, the more likely your site is to show up in the search engine crawl. Photos, videos, multiple social sites, claiming your page on Yelp, FourSquare, YP.com, etc, all add to your value.

I will say, however, that the class I’m taking now teaches that SEO is being phased out by Google, that directories are what’s getting pages found. You need to make sure that you’re showing up on Google maps, have lots of photos out there, and reviews, reviews, reviews. Mobile platforms (for smartphones) use Google maps and reviews.

gorillapaws's avatar

Also be careful who you go with. Some companies will use tactics that are against Google’s rules and when you get caught it will get your site blacklisted from Google.

Judi's avatar

Any suggestions?

funkdaddy's avatar

“Apartments <city>” is going to be really competitive because of the high finders fees people can get when someone rents an apartment through them. The first page when I search in my city is mostly companies that locate apartments online exclusively. For reference, craigslist is 9th and there’s not a single complex listed until 18th.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think you’d want to put in the kind of money it would take to bump into the top 10 for that search in a metropolitan area. Maybe you’re in a small town and it would make sense, what are you seeing on that front page? Other similar sites?

The smarter money might be in going more specific, something like ”<neighborhood> apartments”, <street> apartment”, ”<college> apartment”, or ”<employer> apartment”. The thinking is you don’t get the volume of traffic from terms like those, but it is the right traffic for your purpose and maybe even folks who are looking for a way around the locators on the front page.

Have a strategy figured out when you’re building content for the site if you can. You don’t have to make it sound corny and robotic, but it helps fill in some blanks and make decisions in other areas as well.

My quick and dirty SEO speech for clients usually says there’s one part that you can do when you build the site by including the strategic words you’re going for in prominent areas (don’t forget the URL) and making sure the site is easy to index.

The other part is more of a commitment and ongoing. You have to build fresh content, find ways to get links to your site, and keep it moving just like you would any other kind of marketing.

There’s no magic way to the top unfortunately, just applied strategy and time.

Judi's avatar

@funkdaddy, our competitors have the first page.

ETpro's avatar

@Judi Look at what they are doing. If you have to hire someone who is highly Web literate to do that, it’s money well spent. As mentioned above, there are some who try black-hat SEO that gets you penalized. A cut above that are the many check cashing services. You send them $1,500 a month to improve your search rank, and they cash the check. But at least they do no harm beyond draining money from you while doing no apparent good. There are a tiny handful that really know what they are doing and work effectively for you. They do not work cheap.

My impression is that you will have a far better success rate keeping the work inhouse, as you know your offerings intimately and you are far more attuned to the things that drive your potential customers to choose you,

funkdaddy's avatar

@Judi – then it’s likely and possible you can too, that’s great and sorry for the pessimism

I agree with everything @ETpro said, if you can find a competent web developer with good intentions then SEO comes down to making a strategy and sticking with it. Your competitors have given you a map, you just have to do one better to jump over them.

I started writing more about SEO, but honestly we could write pages and not get you everything you need. My favorite resource to get started yourself or learn the basics is The Beginners Guide to SEO. That site has tons of other resources as well.

Three other things that might help

1) You’ll hear the term Search Engine Marketing a lot as well. People argue about the difference, but usually this includes things like paying for links and using social media and other websites to your advantage. All good ways to get traffic.
2) Set a budget if you can, both up front and monthly. That answers so may questions for someone trying to build a strategy. It also lets you know if it’s worth it to learn and do in house rather than hire the work out to someone.
3) Some projects I’ve worked on have hired the big experienced firm to consult on and develop a strategy and then taken that and executed it in house or with less expensive folks. It’s another option if you have some people you trust, but this isn’t necessarily their thing.

Good look with it.

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