Blogging for Homebuilders: Your SEO Style Guide

Categories: SEO Basics
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

blogging, internet marketing for home builders, home builder SEO, Builder DesignsBlogging is absolutely integral to your SEO effort, but we frequently see it become overlooked on our homebuilder websites. It’s easy to understand why: you’re busy finding new home buyers and building new homes; with the added task of keeping the website up to date the blog on it might be seen as onerous and unnecessary work.

But we want to stress it is not unnecessary. Blogging offers fresh and relevant content to your potential buyers and to search engines. And for the latter, the more good content they get they more important they think you are, and the higher they think you should be ranked for your keywords. It’s an easy win for internet marketing.

But we know that blogging can be a lot of work. There’s the writing, the details to keep track of, confusion over what best practices entail. We do offer blogging as an additional service, but if you’re wanting to keep it in-house and make it easier to maintain every week we recommend setting up an SEO Style Guide.

This Style Guide provides your on-team bloggers a handy resource to identify what you want to be found for and how best to make that happen. That way you’re meeting your goals every week and don’t have to scramble to remember the details. A successful SEO Style Guide will include:

A list of your keywords. You don’t want to be writing artificially or stuffing them in, but it will be easy to work in new homes in Olathe when writing about your new homes, after all. These are natural phrases that advertise what you do and what you want to be found by searchers for. If you have questions about your keywords just contact us.

Wordcount. There’s no magical Google-provided number, but we do know that too little content isn’t helpful and too much content off-putting for readers. Somewhere around 300-500 is the most commonly cited range.

Formatting preferences. Links should open in a new tab, photos should be alt tagged, link back to the community you’re discussing, define authorship: this is your “blogging MLA”. No matter who is writing, the formatting will be kept uniform and easy to remember.

Blogging schedule. We recommend blogging at least semi-weekly, though once a week is much preferred. You might want to roll out posts on a certain day of week so your readers can anticipate properly. If you have a list of topics, this is even better. Maybe in December you’ll be discussing your brand new community, there’s a sale and a model home opening upcoming in January, and February will need some filler content. Stave off writer’s block and provide a clear sense of direction.

Putting aside twenty minutes to throw your blogging guide together will save a lot of time and effort in the future. Trust us, we did so ourselves!

How do I use best use images for SEO?

Categories: SEO Basics
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

internet marketing and SEO for homebuyersWe’re talking about alt tags this week for two reasons: images are very important to your homebuyers, and Google is blind. Proper title and alt tags are the way to make both happy, but we find they’re frequently ignored by our home builders. That’s a huge advantage to your SEO you’re missing on – although we know it’s easy to forget (one reason we have titles and alt tags for images built right into your content management system).

Home buyers love images. More and more research is being conducted online. Many buyers show up at your model home and Design Center not to look around, but to buy – they’ve already found the home or plan they want from your website. And while a lot of that is based on the available data (number of bedrooms, a downloaded brochure) we can’t ignore the immense value photos have in attracting and winning over buyers. Your photos could be the aspect that sells the home. That’s why we recommend professional photography, offer our photoshopping aid, and have pictures displayed prominently over your website.

Google is blind. But the thing is, while buyers can see images, Google can’t. Search engines can’t “read” an image or video, so they have no idea what content is on your page. If you had nothing but pictures on a photo gallery page, it might think there was no content there. Obviously that isn’t going to be good for your SEO.

And the solution: Titles and alt-tags. Those tell the search engine what it’s looking at, so it can:

  • Pull up those images in a search
  • Index the content on that page
  • Perceive your site as higher-ranking

The title is the filename, basically. Creating a relevant title  is useful to you and viewers: homebuilderSEO.jpg clearly identifies the photo while IMG22130.jpg could just as well be an apple as a polar bear. Google can work with that title in identifying the content, while in your CMS’s image library you’ll know what the photo name is for later use.

Don’t forget the alt attribute, which describes the content. Google recommends alt text for two reasons:

  • The description provides search engines with all the information it needs to determine subject matter. Google then uses that to provide the right image for a user’s query.
  • Alt tags are ADA compliant. People who can’t see the images and use a screen reader – or who just have low-bandwith connections – will be provided the photo’s information via the alt text.

And you do want this to be pretty specific. “123 Main Street” is better than “Home”. So the worst image for SEO results would be:

<img src=”IMG22130.jpg” alt=”/”>

And the best would be:

<img src=”HomebuilderSEOGuide.jpg” alt=”Infographic on Homebuilder SEO”>

But do avoid keyword stuffing like:

<img src=”123 Main Street” alt=”new home homes homebuilder custom homes buy homes”>

It’s unclear for the actual user, and may cause your site to be perceived as spam.

Don’t worry if all the HTML is a little confusing; our unique CMS takes care of it for you. We just want to think about those titles and alt tags before we start. More questions on optimizing images for your website? Give us a call.

Hummingbird for Homebuilders

Categories: online marketing, SEO News
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Google HummingbirdGoogle recently announced their newest search algorithm update called Hummingbird, and we’ve had several homebuilders ask if the changes are going to affect their SEO. It’s the most significant update since 2001, after all. (That’s twelve years, which in internet time is practically an eon.) Surely some things shifted around, yeah?

Well, no. When Google announced Hummingbird, they also mentioned that they’d already been using it – for a few months. So if you didn’t notice anything then you definitely won’t now. If you did happen notice anything different about your results please of course feel welcome to contact us for all our research and details, but for the most part Hummingbird hasn’t been a big shake up. If you’re already doing what you’re supposed to be doing, just keep doing that.

So what is special about Hummingbird? The most significant and publicly discussed aspect so far has been conversational search. Let’s say a buyer was searching for a custom home (and definitely not a resale) in Texas. With the old search functionality you’d have to type in “custom homebuilders + Austin – resale” which is a mouthful. It’s clunky, mathematical, complex. And we say mouthful on purpose. Because that’s even harder to type on a teeny mobile keyboard and ridiculous to say; a lot of searches are done by voice while out and about nowadays. (We’ll talk about mobile searching and what you need to know for your SEO soon.)

Google is now focusing more on your statement as a whole; letting you search easily with normal sentences like “custom homebuilders in Austin” and comparing one part of the sentence to another, so that you see custom builders in Austin and not custom builders plus some facts about Austin. This is especially great if you’re using the voice search on the phone. Cooking and your hands are messy? Just ask “compare olive oil and butter” and you’ll see something amazing. More intuitive searches, better results.

What does that all mean for your homebuilder website? Your site, for people’s on-the-go search results, absolutely needs to be mobile friendly – whether that’s with a mobile site or using responsive design (more on that soon too). You can also consider your content as searchable by standard strings. But that’s something – writing for your user, not for Google – that you should already be doing. It just makes it a lot easier. Rather than fretting about where you rank for a particular query, you’re free to consider how you best answer and respond to the questions your buyers have.

It’s our suspicion that Hummingbird also updated a lot of the algorithms while they were at it. Google’s been building their formulas for 15 years now, so there was probably some cruft; while clearly nothing now has massively changed the update, if it was to “clean house”, could mean some other changes coming soon. And if so? We’ll keep you updated.

Builder SEO is Back!

Categories: General News

This post was written by: Anna Chandler

It’s been awhile huh? We’ve been so busy building great SEO results for our clients we abandoned our own blog! But we all know how important fresh and relevant content is to a website, both for your users and for superior SEO results. So welcome back.

We’ll be posting regularly now about all kinds of new things in the SEO world like responsive design and Hummingbird, plus notes on how to continue your good efforts (content, content, content) or how to try out something new like an SEM adwords campaign.

Have any particular questions? Want us to weigh on on a topic? We’d love to hear from you.

Apps that Boost Your Business

Categories: Marketing
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

With the improvements in technology in recent years, it’s no surprise that 90% of homebuyers begin their search online (and 52% of them end up buying a home they found online!). You probably have heard about apps like Trulia and Zillow, which let buyers search for homes in a specific geographic area, number of bedrooms, price range, and a number of other qualifiers. Besides applications that help buyers find a home, there are apps out there that can help you develop your business.

TurboViewer allows you to upload CAD files directly to your device and access them any time you like. No need to use bulky paper plans when you have this easy to use and lightning fast app! You can pan, zoom, and rotate through 3D and 2D CAD plans on your device, as well as email copies of everything to your clients and co-workers.

Home Builder Pro Calcs boasts calculator functions for pricing and construction processes like electrical engineering, flooring, framing, walls, roofing, ceilings, and heating and cooling. There’s even a map estimator tool that can help you determine fence length, yard size, and more. In total, this app has well over 200 different calculators, all of which are categorized simply. Along with pricing estimates, you can use this app to help estimate the number of hours it will take to complete portions of a building project. This app is indispensable for builders looking for a tool to help them construct homes more efficiently and with exactness. Over 230 customers have rated this app and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Keep your business running smoothly wit the Toodledo to-do list app. This application has been called “user friendly” by its reviewers and allows you to create, prioritize, and rearrange organized lists of items to fulfill. Due dates, a security passcode, timers, pop-up alarms, and additional details set this app apart from the rest. A simple user interface makes Toodledo a must-have for custom homebuilders looking to keep track of multiple projects and tasks in one place.

In addition to Toodledo, Pronto Forms can help you organize tasks that have forms associated with them. Identify sites where you’ll need to use a form by address, GPS location, and type of inspection. This app is top-notch for helping you track work order forms and keep much of the paperwork associated with building a home in order.

It’s easy to coordinate changes clients need with My Measures & Dimensions PRO. This app is perfect for those tweaks customers may want after each walk-through. Simply take a snapshot and add text, arrows, and other reminders to the photo for easy-to-remember fixes. Save paper and messy sketchbooks for another time, this app will help you look professional and organized.

There are so many apps out there that can help you grow your business, but we think these ones are some of the most useful. Leave us a comment with your favorite builder apps!

Country Classics: Foxbrook Community Coming Soon

Categories: Homebuilder
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Country Classics is excited to announce that their newest community, Country Classics at Foxbrook, will be coming soon.  This single family home neighborhood will be a grand and delightful addition to the Montgomery Township in New Jersey.  At the moment, Country Classics is building their VIP list; there will be limited opportunities to make this move as only 20 homesites will be available upon first opening.  Reservations are expected to take place in the Spring of 2013, so don’t hesitate to visit their site for information regarding this new development.

This “family of homebuilders” originally comes from the Hillsborough area, and they are extremely proud of their roots.  In their endeavor to build superior homes in the neighborhoods they love, the people at Country Classics have committed themselves to and been recognized for their excellence in customer service.  Since 1988, they have welcomed more than 1,000 families to exquisitely designed, multi-service communities in Hillsborough and Whitehouse Station, New Jersey as well as Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.  This year they have been honored with 7 awards at the Community Builders and Remodelers Association of New Jersey’s 2012 Awards of Excellence.  Country Hills at Hillsborough won, among others, Best Merchandised Model Home over $750,000, Community of the Year – Best Single Family Home Community 20 Homes or More, as well as the Grand Award of Best Community of the Year.

Country Classics seeks to create lasting relationships with home buyers throughout their lives by offering communities featuring single-family homes, condominiums, townhomes, and others specifically designed for active adults.    Country Classics at Belle Mead in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey, features single-family homes from the high $700,000s.  You’ll find single-family homes from the low $600,000s at the award winning Country Classics at Hillsborough.  Also in New Jersey, Country Classics Legacy at Readington (in Readington Township) is waiting for those 54 years of age or older, offering maintenance-free living in their condos priced from the low $200,000s.  Another active adult community for those 46 and up is Country Classics at Morgan Hill in Williams Township, in picturesque Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.  These townhomes range in price, starting in the lower $300,000s.  Last, but not least, the very popular Country Classics at Morgan Hill community has it all: condos, townhomes, and single-family homes from the low $200,000s.

This stellar homebuilder belongs to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the New Jersey Builders Association, the Pennsylvania Builders Association, and the Community Builders & Remodelers Association of New Jersey.  Country Classics also proudly works with such reputable home construction, renovation, and associated appliance companies as Sherwin-Williams, Honeywell, Maytag, Lennox, Whirlpool and more.

It’s absolutely no wonder how Country Classics has redefined the standards in homebuilding.  They have you, the home buyer, in mind.  Give them a call to schedule a tour of their beautiful model homes – you’ll be glad you did!

Kansas City’s Briarcliff Communities

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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Kansas City’s Briarcliff residential living communities have been rated “Number One!”  Stunning Kansas City skylines are in view from everywhere within the neighborhood, so you can be assured of a quick and easy commute into town for work or a well-deserved night out.  If you want something even closer by, visit any one of the local shops and restaurants at Briarcliff Village within mere minutes of your front door.  Briarcliff West invites you into its picturesque neighborhood directly connected to your community amenities.  Briarcliff Hills boasts its beautiful single family homes with added perks, such as no city property taxes (since it’s technically just beyond the Platte County line), no Missouri E-tax, and excellent Park Hill Schools all the while maintaining its convenience to the Village and downtown Kansas City.

Their neighborhoods are top-notch, but that’s not all the Briarcliff Development Company does!  Briarcliff was established by Charles Garney back in 1994 with the aim to create, build, and sustain high-quality residences, beautiful office space, and boutique retail” in Kansas City.  In addition to its excellent single-family home community services (such as paved walking and biking trails throughout, lovely landscaping and more), Briarcliff invites you to consider their condos, apartment complexes, and stunning villas.  Small business owners might consider leasing a space from which to work in the Briarcliff retail or office spaces.

All in all, Briarcliff seeks to provide nothing but the best in customer service to its tenants and homebuyers and quality living experiences for those who call Briarcliff communities home.  They invite you to contact them anytime for additional information or to inquire about their properties.

An American Legend: The Arbors at Willow Bay

Categories: Homebuilder
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

The Arbors at Willow Bay is the newest of American Legend Homes’ front-entry luxury home communities.  Located in Frisco, Texas (the “Best Family Friendly Town,” according to Dallas Child Magazine), this community boasts its involvement in the Exemplary-rated Frisco school district, specifically Ashley Elementary (Grades K-5), Maus Middle School (Grades 6-8) and Heritage High School.  Every family member has plenty of local recreational activities from which to choose, including a community swimming pool, Major League soccer, Minor League baseball, hiking and biking trails, plenty of performing and fine art opportunities and more.  The Arbors neighborhood is also conveniently close by the Dallas North Tollway and I-75, which provides easy access to get to and around the city within minutes for business commutes, shopping trips and errand running, or a pleasurable night out on the town.  It’s affordable, perfect for families, and definitely worth a look.

10865 Cardiff Lane is a brand new home ready for you this November.  This breathtaking two story home spans nearly 4,000 square feet with 5 bedrooms, 4 and a half bathrooms, another 5 rooms for living and dining and a 3 car garage to top it all off!  This home comes equipped with stainless steel appliances, nail down hardwood finished floors, granite in the kitchen and master suite, vaulted ceilings, a spacious foyer, and the second of two bedrooms on the main floor is perfect for guests due to its private bathroom.  This home is easily accessible from Highway 121 should you want to stop by to see it in person.  Just take the Independence Parkway Exit and continue northbound for 3.5 miles.  You’ll take a left turn onto Sumac and a right on Morro Bay Lane.  The model home will be on the left hand side.

American Legend Homes builds lasting relationships as well as beautiful, energy efficient and customizable homes for the Dallas area, including Frisco, McKinney, Lantana, Fairview, and Lewisville.  This award-winning, family-owned company has proudly served their homebuyers for over 60 years, and look forward to helping you build your dream home.  Don’t wait another moment to call (972) 410-5701 to get started!

New Townhomes at Walden Commons

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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Walden Commons is Schaeffer Family Homes’ premier Townhome community located in Hammonton, South New Jersey.  The community feeds into the Hammonton Public School District (Warren E. Sooy Elementary, and Hammonton Middle and High Schools) as well as St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic School District.  These townhomes are ideally located for quick and efficient commutes (including public transportation connections) to Atlantic City, Philadelphia and other destinations.  With up to five different floor plan designs to choose from, there’s plenty of variety in finding the perfect home for you and your lifestyle’s needs.

14 Judy’s Court is completing construction and getting ready for you to move in!  This townhome is 2,300 square feet with 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths for only $261,460.  Features and amenities include a garden master bathroom, den with fireplace, a one car garage but concrete two-car driveway.  The basement is concrete-poured and finished, the first floor has 9-foot ceilings, and the townhome comes with a builder 10-year warranty.  Landscaping and sodding are already taken care of for you, and there are still plenty more opportunities to personally customize the interior to make this place your own — perfectly fitting your lifestyle.

Schaeffer Family Homes is excited to offer you an incredible incentive to consider one of their townhomes!  Buy a new construction home by September 30th, 2012 and you’ll receive a FREE Gourmet Kitchen valued up to $8,200.  Luxury amenities in this special deal include 42-inch cabinets with crown molding, granite countertops, GE stainless steel range stove, dishwasher, and microwave among several other features.  This coupon must be presented at time of purchase and can be found on the Schaeffer Family Homes website.

From Atlantic City, just take the expressway to Exit 28.  Continue to follow the signs for Route 54 North/Hammonton. Take a right onto Washington Street, which will be just beyond WaWa.  Once you reach the dead end, make a right-hand turn onto 11th Street.  Walden Commons will be to your left from Judy’s Court.  Model home hours are by appointment only, so please call (855) 298-7420 to arrange your personal visit.

Oklahoma City’s Ideal Homes: Red Canyon Ranch Community

Categories: Homebuilder
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This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Ideal Homes is the leading homebuilder for the Oklahoma City area and surrounding communities, including Moore, Stillwater, Norman, Yukon, Midwest City, Mustang, and Edmond.  They have found homes for over 7,000 families, and they’re ready to help you, too!

Red Canyon Ranch is located on Carolyn Ridge Road in Norman, Oklahoma.  This community is known for its picturesque hills, walking trail, and local playground for its residents and their families.  This area feeds into Eisenhower, Longfellow, Norman North and Norman area schools.  Conveniently located along Tecumseh Road with easy access to I-35 highway, the University of Oklahoma, Tinker Air Force Base, and plenty of options for dining and shopping along the way.  It’s also approximately a half hour away from Oklahoma City, so commutes for work and play are easily manageable.

Amongst its “Move-in Ready Homes” is 3813 Kings Canyon Road.  This home has 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, full fencing and landscaping.  Its kitchen amenities include maple cabinets, stainless steel appliances, a tile backsplash, and Quartz countertops.  In addition to the hardwood floors and living room corner fireplace, the formal dining room can effortlessly be adapted into a personal study or play area, depending on your needs.  This lovely home is priced at an affordable $210,706.

Feel free to visit anytime (or set up an appointment for this or other Red Canyon Ranch properties at 405-314-1930) throughout the week from 1-6pm, Saturdays from 10am-6pm, or Sundays from 1-6pm.

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