Editors Note: The following blog is by Keith Brown and is courtesy of RealPage, the official social media sponsor of AIM 2013: The Art of Creativity.

SEO has changed a lot since its inception in the late 90’s. From stuffing your keywords all over a page, to building complex networks of links, our industry has tried everything over the years to boost traffic and attain that all important “#1 ranking” with Google.

Still, the more things change the more they stay the same. Google’s early mission was to make the whole world’s information more attainable, and their algorithm was developed around this mission. Like any smart business, Google recognized that users of their search engine would prefer the highest quality search results.

That’s why in 2013 we’re right back to where we started, with quality. From quality writing to quality videos, the internet is inundated with what barely passes as “content.” Google continues to reward people who generate amazing content with more traffic and greater visibility online.

Why? Because they know that when you and I produce great content, people who use Google will keep coming back for more great results. The more people use Google, the more money they make and the larger the yachts get for Google’s leading executives.

SEO Rule 1: Well-Written Text

Even though text might seem a little bit old fashioned, text-based content is still the foundation of the internet (and SEO). Unfortunately, it’s also the most spammed by those seeking to add traffic and revenue to their website’s bottom line.

Today in 2013, text articles are cranked out by the thousands per week. Just ask companies like Demand Media who perfectly executed this strategy growing websites like eHow into powerhouses on the Web. The barrier to entry for text is low, which means by creating exceptional quality you will stand out above the rest.

When writing for SEO in 2013, less is more! Now I’ll be the first to admit that I often shoot from the hip, but even for this article I took the time to first research each talking point. This forces the article you are writing to be focused, instead of vague and ambiguous.

The other important piece of text-based content is linking to credible sources within your article. If you were writing a post about the greatest basketball players of all time, you’d be hard pressed not to mention and link to something about Michael Jordan.

Just think of Google as your high school English teacher. You wouldn’t turn in an English paper without a “works cited” page would you?

SEO Rule 2: Beautiful High Resolution Photography

When it comes to content in 2013, it’s clear that people want more pictures. Facebook recently purchased the photography app Instagram, and then followed that up by changing their newsfeed algorithm so that more pictures were shown instead of just plain text.

The same goes for content SEO. Adding great images to your content will result in higher rankings and more traffic. Your articles will also much more likely be shared through social media if you add above-average pictures to them. In the apartment marketing space, think about the difference in quality images vs. blurry photos. Airbnb data shows that listings with high-quality photos are contacted eight times more often than listings without them.

The internet is quickly becoming a place where pictures get seen and text gets passed by. The old cliché that a photo is worth 1,000 words couldn’t be truer for SEO and content optimization in 2013.

SEO Rule 3: Engaging and Professional Videos

Let’s talk billion-dollar acquisitions for a moment—mainly  Google’s purchase of YouTube in 2006. Why did Google pay $1.65 billion for a company that was only two years old? Because they knew what the rest of us didn’t—that  video is the future.

It’s all about engagement. This boils down to keeping someone’s attention on the internet. And why are attention spans on the web at an all-time low? It might be due to that same company I mentioned previously. Users expect instant gratification and quick fixes. Nothing accomplishes this better than a well-produced video streamed instantly to their desktop, tablet or mobile device.

In the SEO industry, one of the most well-known videos of 2012 was this popular mash up of Matt Cutts (Google’s head of webspam) giving advice on how to rank #1 in Google. It was hilarious, original, and well done all around.

Make a Splash on the Web

In the end it all comes back to quality and engagement. There is more technology and data at our fingertips than ever before, but at the end of the day it all comes back to keeping people’s attention. If you keep your visitors attention with well-written articles and keep Google’s attention with photos and videos, you’ll find yourself swimming in the SEOcean of great content. Now it’s time to dive in!

–        Keith Brown, SEO Director for RealPage, Inc.

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