You're listening to the “REI Marketing Nerds” podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of AdWords Nerds, a high-tech digital agency, focusing exclusively on helping real estate investors like you get more leads and deals online, outsmart your competition, and live a freer, more awesome life. And, now, your host, Dan Barrett.
Dan: All right, hello everybody, and welcome to this week's episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. As always, this is Daniel Barrett here from AdWordsNerds.com. Look, if you need help with your online marketing to find motivated sellers, you know where to go. It's AdWordsNerds.com. [00:57.8]
This week, let's talk brass tacks. This week is going to be fairly tactical, and I'm going to give you something you can literally go and do, and set up and use to improve the search-engine optimization performance of your website. I'm going to give you an overarching framework. This is exactly what I use and, in fact, I came up with the idea for this week's episode because I'm working on the search-engine optimization of AdWordsNerds.com, as I always do.
I want to show up when people are typing in PPC for real estate investors or online marketing for real estate investors, and I want that to happen and I want to show up and I want people to like it, but Hey, I’ve got competitors just like you have competitors in your local market, other investors, iBuyers, hedge funds, whatever. It's a busy, busy world there on the web, so how do you get your website to show up?
I'm going to give you a simple framework that you can use. Now, the tool that we're going to use for this is absolutely free, but you do have to go out and sign up for it and get it on your website, and that is Google Search Console. Google Search Console, which is C-O-N-S-O-L-E. [02:14.4]
What is Google Search Console? It used to be called Google Webmaster Tools back in the yonder years of a couple of years ago, so you may have heard of it under that name, and you can think of it this way. Most people know Google Analytics, which is Google's free analytics tool, and you can think of analytics as saying here is what people do when they land on your website. After they’ve got to your website, this is what happens. This is how many people there were. This is what they did, the pages they looked at, how much time they spent, yada-yada-yada.
Google Search Console is all about what people see in Google itself. It doesn't tell you about your website, really, although there are actually some tools in Google Search Console that will tell you, for example, if Google can't read your website effectively, which is really, really important. [03:09.2]
But, generally, what Google Search Console is going to tell you is here's how many people saw your website listed in the Google Search results and obviously that's really, really important. It's really, really important to understand, because, look, SEO, especially SEO for real estate investors, is complicated and there are a lot of people out there that just, quite frankly, don't know what they're talking about and aren't honest about what they do and what is going to work for the average investor.
Partially, this is just because, look, SEO is this sort of weird industry where the metrics you're trying to move, right, the dial you're trying to move is kind of a mystery even to people who do SEO full time, because Google, of course, doesn't publish exactly how its algorithm works and what they are looking for. [04:08.6]
Not only that, even if you do really, really understand how the Google algorithm works and exactly how to rank a website, it's always changing and, in fact, as I record this right now, there are people talking about, oh, did Google just have an algorithm update or are they testing some new search-results features? And, hey, that's driving traffic up or down. It's constantly changing and it's very mysterious.
The fact of the matter is nobody really, down to the decimal point, really, really understands how SEO works. The best we have is best practice based on results we have in our experience. That's the best that anybody has and anybody that says otherwise is just full of it, okay?
But that's not to say that you don't know anything because, of course, if you say, Hey, I did XYZ and I’ve got these results from it, those results are repeatable and I've done this in different markets, that's all well and good and it's a really good sign that maybe those are best practices you should follow. [05:10.5]
Now, I just laid that out for you because SEO is such a field where everything is kind of mysterious and nobody really knows exactly what to do, it's really critically important that your own performance metrics, that how your website is performing, because, of course, if you make changes, you need to know if those changes affect a positive outcome or not.
I'll give you an example from my own business. I recently started working with a content writer who is writing close to 40,000 words a month for me. This is a full-time writer and I am very curious about the impact that this content that we're putting out is going to have on the website. Is my strategy right? Do I need to be a little bit more focused? Do I need to be less focused? I don't know. The way I'm going to answer that question is by looking at the numbers, using the exact framework I'm going to give you in this episode. [06:17.0]
Now, there are a lot of numbers you can look at for SEO. There's any number of things that people will trot out and say, Hey, this is the end all be all, page speed, for example. Page speed right now is very hot among real estate investors as a metric that they care about, but what I will always say is ultimately nobody cares about your page speed. I don't care. You don't care. Literally nobody cares. What we care about is the number of deals being produced by a website, and ultimately the thing that is going to produce deals is traffic and conversions, so the metrics that you need to look at our traffic and conversion metrics. [07:00.0]
Site speed is a good example of that as something you might dig into if you think your website performance is suffering and you are looking for a cause, but having a high site speed is not predictive of good performance. It's kind of like looking at the car and saying, I know that a car, to perform correctly, needs four wheels. I'm going outside and I'm looking at my car. Yep, my car has four wheels. Therefore, my car is going to win the Indy 500.
It doesn't work that way. Everybody needs four wheels in order to even compete. It's not like the four wheels are going to predict great performance. Now, if you take your car out on the road and it's absolutely terrible and performing, and you can barely turn and there are rocks lined up and everything, you might want to get out and check how many tires you’ve got, and if you’ve got a flat that might indicate, hey, that's where I need to spend my time. I hope, as a metaphor, that makes sense. [07:57.6]
In any case, what are the metrics we actually look at? Now, look, I’ve done SEO for almost a decade now. I did SEO actually before I even worked with real estate investors. That's kind of where I came from in the online marketing space. There are so many metrics you can look at for SEO. It's really overwhelming. That's one of the things that's fun about it if you want to specialize in it.
But even for me, even though this is something that I really enjoy and something I do professionally, for my own business, I don't really have time to dig into most of the really deep nitty-gritty metrics. Most of the time, I need a high-level overview of what's happening and a way to spot potential problems, right? That's what I'm looking for.
The numbers that I look at are three things. These are three things I'm going to look at and this is the framework I want you to think about. By the way, two of these you're going to get in Google Search Console. The third you're going to get in Google Analytics and I’ll talk about this. [08:57.5]
Just to reiterate, if you don't have Google Search Console, go out, sign up for it and register your site with it. There's a process where you’ve got to set it up or whatever. You’ve got to prove that you own the website in question. It'll be fine. You can set it up and it'll walk you through it.
Same thing, if you don't have Google Analytics or something similar, it doesn't have to be Google Analytics. There's a whole bunch of different analytics websites and so on, and if you've got something like REI BlackBook or Investor Carrot, a lot of times they will have insight analytics, their own analytics that will tell you the stuff that you need to know. But make sure you have Google Search Console and make sure you have some kind of analytics tracking in place. [09:40.0]
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All right, here are the three metrics. The very first metric you need to look at is Google Search results impressions. Okay, Google Search result page impressions.
Now, an impression is simply a fancy word for your website being visible on the screen. Okay, it's the same thing in Google PPC, Google Ads. They will say an impression is when your ad is on the screen. Now, if you go to Google and you type in “sell my house fast”, you get the ads at the top and then you're going to have all the organic listings below that, right, all the websites that Google displays. It's got the blue links and the titles and the descriptions and all that.
If you, our website is on screen, visible on screen, that counts as an impression, which means, look, if you're on page four and the person never gets to page four, you don't get an impression. You've got to be visible on the screen. [11:06.4]
Now, Google Search impression to me is where the rubber meets the road for SEO. No matter what is happening, no matter how many keywords I’m ranking for, no matter how many pieces of content I’m publishing, no matter how much work is being done, if the Google Search result page impressions is not going up, then we are not making progress. This is a simple fact, because think about what it means. An impression means someone saw me in Google. If more people are not seeing me in Google over time, why am I doing SEO? Why am I doing SEO? It just isn't having an effect. People have to see the website. That's the beginning of the process, right? [11:56.5]
Now, there are a bunch of reasons why that might not be happening. For example, you might be targeting keywords that no one searches for, right, or you may be in sort of a weird market. There are a lot of reasons. It doesn't mean your SEO is bad. But what it does mean is, if you're not getting more impressions over time, and that is the key phrase there, over time, then something is up with the strategy, okay, or the implementation. That is the very first thing.
You can see this in Google Search Console. There's a section called Performance. You can go there. You can see your impressions over time and you can see, by the way, what people are searching for, where they saw you, so they could say, This person has searched for my brand name or this person has searched for “sell my house” or whatever. You can see the number of people that saw you, the average position you were in. But really all that matters is, are my search impressions going up?
All right, that is Part 1 of this framework, that metric, search impressions, they’ve got to be going up. The second metric is click-through rate. Click-through rates, often abbreviated as CTR. [13:00.4]
The click-through rate is the percentage of people that clicked the website after they saw it. You register an impression. Your website is visible on the screen, and then some percentage of those people clicked it. If you have 100 impressions, 100 people saw the website. You had 10 people click. Then you add a 10 percent click-through rate. All right?
Now, click-through rate is really important because, of course, while having people see me in Google is really important, ultimately, I don't care if nobody clicks, right? They've got to click. I've got to get them into the page in order to get a lead in order to get a deal, so I need to get that click.
Now, many things influence the click-through rate. For example, the rank of the website at the time that the impression is registered heavily influences the click-through rate. What does that mean? If your website is listed at the top, you are much more likely to get a click than if you are at the bottom of the page, right? This is just common sense. Most of us are going to click the first one, two or three things that are in Google. [14:07.4]
Because Google' is pretty good at giving us a solution to our problem, we're just kind of trained to click that top three. Sometimes if you really got to dig, you end up on Page 2, but that is fairly rare and, in fact, there's a marketer who I remember always had a funny saying. He said the best place to hide a dead body is on Page 2 of Google, so I always think of that. You’ve got to at least be on the first page. You’ve got to get as far up on that page as possible in order to drive your click-through rate up.
But rank is not the only thing that influences the click-through rate. For example, depending on what I searched for, that page that you are trying to rank your website, does it look like it's going to solve my problem? If I’m looking for “sell my house fast” and you say “real estate specialist”, maybe I think that's going to solve my problem. Maybe I don't. Right? How closely does it match what I’m expecting to find? [15:03.0]
Then you've also got copywriting. What shows up in Google in the search result page is what's called the meta title and the meta description. Meta title is basically what you call the website, the page there, right, and the description is a couple of lines of basic, some copy that you can put in there, and those are primarily important. The title influences where your website ranks, for sure. Generally, you want to have the keyword in there and yada-yada-yada, but title and description very heavily influence click-through rate.
You want to think about, if you have a title that says, I guarantee to buy your house, and then you have a title that says real estate consultant, one is generally going to be much more compelling to a home seller than the other, and so you can think of click-through rate as something that, yes, it's heavily influenced by where your website ranks as the overall SEO process, of course, but it's also heavily influenced by copywriting, by your understanding of what the searcher is going to need for that specific keyword, and the relevance of what you are putting on the site to that searcher. [16:14.2]
Okay, so we have this two-step process so far. We've got, look, my impressions, my Google Search results page impressions need to be going up. More people need to be seeing me. Likewise, I need my click-through rate to be strong or improved. I need those people to click or I need to be like, hey, it's low right now, but I need to see it coming up. That is important as well.
Now we're going to move out of Google. Oh, by the way, in click-through rate, you can see in Google Search Console, it'll tell you for every individual keyword that shows you, so it will say, “sell my house fast”, your click-through rate was X. “Sell my house in Connecticut” or whatever, your click-through rate is Y. Right? It'll show you that now.
Now—now, now, now—we are getting out of Google Search Console, right? We're two steps into this framework. There are only three steps, so you've got Google Search results page impressions and we've got the click-through rate. Now we're going to move to your analytics. [17:05.4]
I prefer Google analytics just because it's what I know, but there are a lot of different analytics programs. Like I said, you might have in-house analytics and the software that you're using for your website or whatever, but you need some way of tracking the final metric, which is conversions and conversion rate.
I’m going to just bundle those together. The conversion rate is really what I care about. What percentage of the people that land on my website end up becoming a lead, whether that's by calling me, whether that's by texting me, whether that's by filling out my email form, filling out my contact form, what percentage of my website visitors am I turning into leads? This is really, really important to know.
Now, most people, when they think about their conversion rate, they think about their website, but I want you to back up because this is as true in Google Ads as in Microsoft ads, Facebook ads, any kind of ads you're ever going to run and SEO. It's true of anything. [18:07.3]
Conversion rate has two elements. Two core factors you’ve got to think about. There is page quality. How good is your page at converting those people? This is what most people think about. I'm going to change the color of the button to orange. That's going to get me a 0.5 percent conversion rate increase, right, whatever it is. Mess around with the page. Important, for sure.
But the other element that most people forget about is traffic quality. You can have the absolute best page in the universe, but if you send the wrong people to it, they're not going to convert. I will tell you that even having a mediocre to poor website, that is still going to convert really well if you send the right people there. [19:03.3]
You've got to think of this in two ways, not just “How is my page doing?” but “How good is my targeting for this traffic?” That's going to send you back to, Where am I getting impressions in Google? Are these keywords that are appropriate for me? Are these keywords that show motivation? Are these keywords that people are really looking at for a real estate investor? You've got to think about that.
But you’ve also got to think about the page. Where is my form? Is it above the fold? Do I have a clear phone number? Is the form too long? Can I make it shorter? Is the copy speaking to the needs of the searcher? Am I convincing them? Do I have social proof? Do I have testimonials? Do I have logos that show that I’m a member of the local community, that I’ve been featured in the news? Do I have a video? A million and one different things. You can look that up. I'm sure I’ve written stuff and done podcasts on conversion rate optimization before.
But to take a step back and think about this framework again, search results page impressions to click-through rate to conversions, this is the framework. This is something that cannot be finessed or faked. These numbers are either improving or they are not. [20:14.0]
Now, the click-through rate, conversion rate, look, there's going to be a point where it's very, very hard to eke out more, right? If you're getting an 80 percent conversion rate or whatever, you're probably leaving money on the table by being too specific. Look, it’s not like those things are always going to improve, but impressions should be going up or you should be hitting a point where you're saying, I’m kind of maxing out my market. If you're not, that means there's room to improve.
How do you improve? Look, there's a ton that goes into SEO, a ton that goes into online marketing strategy, obviously, and of course, if you want help, you want us to point out what we would do, it’s AdWordsNerds.com. You can go there and request a time with my team.
But if you have this basic framework, search page impressions, click-through rate, and conversion rate, you have the levers you need to permanently improve any of the online marketing you're doing, massively increase the performance of your website, and make things as simple and easy on yourself as humanly possible. [21:15.8]
I hope that makes sense. Look, as always, I would love to have you in the REI Marketing Nerds Facebook group. I’m in there every single day, posting content, going live, doing all sorts of stuff. You can get there by going to AdWordsNerds.com/group. I'd love to have you.
Thank you as always for listening to the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. It means the world to me. I hope this was valuable. I will see you next week. This is Daniel Barrett from AdWordsNerds.com signing off. Cheers.
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