I'm sure every appraiser would love to own the first website that comes up in search engines when someone looks for an appraiser. But, there are over 8.6 million results in GoogleTM for the word "appraiser" (and almost 40 million for "appraisal"). Don't despair. There are ways you can boost your search engine ranking, make your site stand out above its competition, and increase the likelihood that the people most likely to really need your services will find you. It's called search engine optimization (SEO). I know, that may sound like some mysterious, esoteric knowledge that only tech-savvy "insiders" have been imparted, but it's really not. Sure, there are some complex issues surrounding advanced SEO, but there are things that are quite simple that practically anyone can do - and it's these that are most important. Here are three straightforward, results-producing steps... and they won't cost you a cent.
1. Key in on keywords
Relevant keywords will greatly improve your ranking. Many website owners wrongly assume that the more keywords they squeeze into the page, the better. This is called "keyword stuffing" and can backfire, leaving your site penalized by the search engines. Keywords should reflect your site's actual content. They shouldn't be artificially crammed into your site. When you write for your web pages, be sure to use plenty of the words your target market uses when they're talking about or looking for your services; the most likely "search terms" they'll put into Google.
2. Don't be content with template content
Appraiser XSites come equipped with many pre-written pages of great content. But these are intended to just be a starting point to get your creative juices flowing; not the end product. No one knows your business better than you do, and these pages are missing one very important ingredient: your personalized touch. Search engines love unique content, so edit the provided pages to apply to you specifically, add custom local content, and write about your specializations. Set yourself apart by doing this (and doing it often). Frequent updates also go a long way with search engines.
3. Hype up your site with hyperlinks
The next step is to get other sites to link to yours. A search engine is going to pay a lot more attention to you if other websites, especially ones in your geographical area, link to you. Examples would be your chamber of commerce, REALTORs®, mortgage brokers, or anyone local that has a site. Getting someone to link to you can be as simple as contacting them over the phone and simply asking. (They'll probably want you to return the favor.) The point is that referrals on the web are like referrals in the physical world - often your best source of new business. Set a goal to get a new inbound link every two weeks.
In summary, everyone wants to improve their ranking, but make sure to go about it the right way. This is just an intro to SEO, and much more is to come in later issues or you can visit the search engine section of AppraisalPress here.