Every “builder” understands the importance of a strong foundation. When most people think of builders, they likely think of home builders — so let’s run with that a bit. For those that know what they are doing (ie home builders), the process of building a house is fairly straight forward — excavate your hole for the foundation, pour your foundation, frame the walls, put the roof on, install windows, put your siding on, do your electrical and plumbing work, hang your drywall, and finally finish it all up by installing your flooring and finish work. Granted, there are a few steps I left out, but that’s just details we don’t need to worry about right now.

Now, imagine you built that house on quicksand without realizing it (assuming it was possible to NOT know about quicksand).

Before you know it, one corner will start to slowly sink, which in turn will cause cracks in the drywall, a crooked corner and sloping roof, a jammed door, and maybe even a broken pipe or two. In other words – you have a not-so-perfect house that won’t stand the test of time and certainly won’t hold up to a hurricane or earthquake.

We all know the importance of strong foundations are not specific to houses. A car needs a 4 (fully inflated) wheels to run smoothly. A chair that’s built with flimsy legs will likely shatter when a 250 pound human sits down. A romantic relationship built strictly upon physical attraction will break down at the first sign of hardship. A company built without a few strong executive players to anchor the team for the long run will crumble at the first sign of adversity or fierce competition. I think you get the point.

Where am I going with this you might ask? I read Chris Brogan’s The Builder’s Story post the other day and realized the builder analogy could just as easily be applied to a website SEO foundation. I consistently get asked all kinds of SEO questions from agents and brokers. And for most agents, I struggle to understand why they are spending their time worrying about advanced SEO strategies and tactics when they often times don’t even have the basics mastered.

When it comes to search engine optimization, there are a couple rules of thumb you need to understand:

  • Without solid-good onsite SEO, your site will NEVER rank for competitive terms
  • Strong onsite SEO by itself does NOT mean your site will instantaneously rank well for your desired keywords

What does a strong onsite SEO foundation include in the real estate vertical?

  • A content management (CMS) platform that is crawl-able with great page structure (like WordPress)
  • No client side rending of code/data
  • Landing pages for each of your desired keywords
  • Title tags that align with your targeted keywords – for example, if your home page is targeted “Carmel Valley homes for sale” and your title tag is “Home” — I guarantee your site will never rank highly

Make sure your foundation is solid, then spend the rest of your time producing content and building links. At least for the first year or so — spending your time trying to become a SEO expert is a waste of time; that’s not what’s going to determine success or failure of your blog.

Build a strong SEO foundation, and you have a chance a ranking. Neglect your SEO foundation, and you can spend years and years building links and likely still not rank.