Your website may be beautiful, but if it’s not generating and capturing leads, it’s not functional. You may be downright invisible to prospects. It may be time to hire an SEO, a Search Engine Optimizer, who can boost your website’s visibility.
We’re living in a digital world. With so much online content, the internet is the first place we go if we want to research, find an answer to a question, or make a purchase.
68% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
Take real estate, for example.
While new homebuyer isn’t about to do the entire purchasing transaction online, they are likely to start searching the web for listings in their area and price range. By the time they connect with a real estate agent, they’ve already considered what they can afford, what they’d like to purchase and what homes they want to look at.
But that isn’t all. They also know which real estate agents they’d like to work with – before even making a phone call or talking to you in person. They’re using the information they’ve gathered online to make a decision.
If you’re not accessible or visible online, you’ll have a harder time being part of the running.
Understanding Search Engine Optimization
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a digital marketing tactic that allows you to improve your search engine ranking.
By working with the algorithm that determines where each page falls on the search engine results list, you can boost your website, so it reaches the first page of the results. The higher your ranking, the more likely you are to get selected by a searcher.
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. Your goal is to appear on page one when a user types in a query that matches your products or services.
SEO strategies work by looking at a search engine algorithm and working backward to fit the algorithm’s needs. To create an SEO strategy, consider the various things a search engine is looking for when it decides how to rank relevant pages.
Before You Hire an SEO, Have Realistic Expectations of What an SEO Can Do
Hiring an SEO isn’t enough to bring your website to the front page of a search. Getting to the top means, you need to have a strong online presence all around. This includes content creation, website design, and even social media.
Hold a Two-Way Interview
When hiring an SEO to work on your website, you’re not hiring an employee – you’re hiring a professional service provider. This means that the ball is not entirely in your court. You and the SEO need to agree you’re a good fit for one another.
By holding a two-way interview, you and the SEO can better understand how you’d work together. Both parties should be prepared to ask and answer questions, including the basics about budget, timeframe, and goals.
You’ll also want to get into more in-depth questions and ask for references, examples of past work, and what benefit they can bring to your business. Ask what experience they have working with real estate websites specifically.
Prepare with answers of your own. Know what you hope to accomplish with an SEO strategy, what your expectations for the partnership are, and what direction you’re hoping to go in. Have an idea of your budget, what work you’d like to do, and what kind of returns you hope to see. Be prepared to sell yourself to the SEO just as much as they need to sell their services to you.
Bid for a Website Audit
If an SEO candidate has made it through the two-way interview, you’re ready to move on to the audit portion. Because an audit of your website requires extensive time and research, be prepared to pay a fee for an SEO to complete this step. However, the information will be crucial for moving forward in your SEO strategy creation.
By looking through your Google Analytics and search factors, an SEO can determine the main issues with your website and what areas can be improved. They can then use this information to make suggestions on what they would do if you were to hire them for the project.
Be sure that their audit report includes issues, suggested improvements, the cost for the service, how solving this issue will improve your business, and what they will do if the first plan of attack doesn’t work. By getting a complete guide from your SEO, you can ensure they’re prepared and fully understand what they’re doing.
Request an Accurate Timeline
Results from an SEO will not be immediate, but that doesn’t mean they’re not working. Organic SEO results take time to manifest. Depending on the work you’ve already done, your level of competition, and where your site was originally ranking, it could take up to a year to see results from your SEO strategy.
However, many websites see an improvement in just a few months.
Don’t set yourself and your SEO up for failure by asking for immediate results. Rushing, implementing practices meant to “trick” the algorithm, or creating unrealistic goals for your strategy will only waste your time and money.
When talking with an SEO you’re considering hiring, ask them to provide you with a realistic timeline for the work they will be doing. This timeline should also consider the time it will take to create content, update the website’s design, and add keywords and descriptions to past pages and posts.
Seek out Articles and Videos to Support Suggestions
The thought of potentially waiting a year to see results from your SEO strategy is intimidating for many, but laying a solid foundation means you’ll need to make fewer changes. But it also means you may not know for months if something is off or a keyword isn’t as strong as you thought.
To help ensure you’re moving in the right direction, seek out articles, guides, or other materials that explain basic search engine strategies. Educate yourself on what’s standard practice in SEO. The goal is not necessarily to learn the intricate details but to be wise enough to gauge your expectations.
Avoid Professionals Who Make Guarantees
We like to guarantee that we’ll get what we want when we purchase. But just like you can’t guarantee you’ll find a client’s dream home within their budget in the perfect location, an SEO can’t guarantee you the prime real estate of the number-one ranking on Google. This can be a major red flag if an SEO guarantees you a top slot.
Because an algorithm controls search engine results pages, there is no way to determine which page will make it to the top. While SEOs are experts in nudging the algorithm to get it to place pages in higher slots, even the best SEO available can’t guarantee it will get your link to the top.
Discuss the Communication Process
Few things are more annoying than hiring someone to do a job and then never being able to get in contact with them. Before you pay an SEO any money, talk to them about your expectations for communication and project approval. Make sure you know their expectations as well.
Don’t be afraid to get picky about how you communicate with your SEO. As a busy person always on the go, you need someone who can fit within your lifestyle. If you want someone you can text between meetings with questions or someone who isn’t afraid to call your cell phone, be sure your SEO knows this.
Also, be sure to talk about an update schedule. Because most of what your SEO is doing day-to-day won’t intertwine with what you’re doing, you may go weeks without speaking to your SEO. Be sure to set up an update schedule, so you and your SEO know when to get in touch to talk about progress.
Get Payment Details and Create a Contract
The final step of the hiring process is payment. Once you’ve selected the SEO you believe can help your website and decided on the appropriate measures to take, take some time to discuss the SEO’s payment terms, fees, and invoice schedules.
While you probably got an idea of costs with the audit your SEO performed early in your relationship, now is the time to hammer out the contract. Outline if you’re paying by project, the hour, or a monthly retainer.
Include invoice due dates, details related to late payments, and what either party should do if the other end is not holding up their end of the contract.
If your SEO is creating and sending you the contract, read the details thoroughly. You want to know exactly what you’re agreeing to as a legally binding document. Don’t hesitate to ask them what it means if anything stands out as incorrect or something you hadn’t discussed.
Search engine optimization is a complicated subject, especially for those not in the marketing world. For real estate agents looking to improve their online ranking and get their website found, using a professional SEO to help you create the right strategy can be career-changing – but you want to be sure you’re using an SEO that understands what they’re doing.
Getting the right SEO strategy is an investment that will pay you back many times over. Follow these eight steps in finding and hiring the right SEO for your real estate website.