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City Sales specialises in Auckland Apartments - Auckland Apartment Sale, Auction and Rental. They are New Zealand’s largest Apartment real estate company.

class=right]img=Auckland Apartments - City Sales]downloads/articles/auckland-apartments-city-sales.jpg/img]/class]When Telecom decided to have some fun with emails, the Telecom hosted mailing script stopped working, and given the legacy CMS, they decided it was time for an urgent change. Enter the PHP based JoJoCMS and the SEO and development expertise of SearchMasters with http://www.gokiwi.net/.

Within days, we had the website operational and data copied. But it is surprising the time that additional functionality, SEO and tweaks can take. Open homes sorted per day, Obfuscated email addresses, press of the button xml feed to take the data from their Realnz internal system, text messaging to agents, magazine style layout of images, …

Search Engine Optimisation

What pages to SEO

The SEO has been interesting. While I have SEO’ed many of the individual pages, generally it is the index page that is showing up for Auckland Apartment search phrases. So I have added a few of the related phrases onto the main index page. Never easy to get the mix of readability and SEO working right.

The question I have been asking - is it worth the bother to SEO the internal pages for specific terms, when its the index page that is ranking for so many phrases? The index page has ranked even for phrases that are not specifically mentioned on there. So I have decided to SEO the internal pages, even if its just to make sure that the website looks “quality”. I don’t want the search engines to decide that the pages are too similar, therefore not “quality” and therefore have a negative mark against pages (ie supplemental results). It also gives the possibility for indented results for some of the search phrases. Over time, some of the internal pages may rank instead of the index page.

With the pagination, I have added a page number to the title, and not included an opening paragraph - ie http://www.citysales.co.nz/apartments/p2/. It is an interesting one. On many websites, I the pagination, and include the items on a specific sitemap. We don’t yet have a sitemap for the Apartments, and so the pagination is effectively a sitemap. We are not really SEO’ing the properties. They may show up for some really specific phrases like street addresses, or the building’s name, but apart from that, they have not been specifically SEO’ed.

On the property pages, we have three links to each property - one on the picture, text link heading and more link. We initially used the following logic, deciding to the image and ‘more’ links - given that:

  • text links are best value - but they are sales orientated
  • we would rather have more Google juice to the pagination and menu links, so best to not have three live links per property.
  • hmmm. It is interesting what you think up when you stop to write up an analysis. I now have the idea that it might be best to the text links (since they are rather random sales text), and have alt text on the images as the property address, and follow those images - so that’s what I have now done.

What phrases to SEO for

Its a pain, the /search-phrase-suggestion/ has been down for several days, but I have been using the https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal to find relevant phrases. They provide a very broad brush 6 band search volume scale, but at least it is something.

I have also referred to the Google Analytics stats for the website. It has given me the phrases that the website has been found for. It lets me know what I should tweak to get higher.

The site is ranking rather low for:

  • Auckland Apartments - Auckland Apartments = 50th on Google.co.nz.
  • Apartments Auckland = Apartments Auckland = 74th However, this is to be expected for a competitive search phrase that has only just been specifically targeted. I have purposely not added links into the website until now so that I can see where the website ranks “naturally”. Then I know that links are required, along with time to get the index page ranking properly.

Following the Search Phrase analysis, I have added some more specific phrases on the index page. Having specific phrases on the page certainly helps with ranking for the phrases.

For search phrases with the word “city” in them, the website ranks top 5 - given the power of the phrase being in the domain name and mention in the page title.

I have a nice big list of other targeted phrases, but lets not let all the cats out of the bag.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the Auckland Apartment phrases to get to the top ten - it is semi competitive but only PR3-4 pages for that phrase, and a number of results that are not that well optimised for the phrase.

Update 22 November 2007

City Sales has plummeted in the search rankings for “Auckland Apartments” - from top ten, to 139th!!!

Why!!!

We are not getting many inbound links for the site, so we have not overdone that aspect.

I therefore searched for the intro paragraph in quotes on Google. As a normal search, only City Sales showed. However, when I added &filter=0 at the end of the Google url, two more sites showed up.

Interesting, the CityInsider cached page shows the content, but the live page is already showing something different. That moment Google spidered, City Sales was on CityInsider, and combined with PR9 it was enough to boot City Sales from the top ten.

The CityInsider listing did not link back to City Sales, but the PR9 page did. So which caused City Sales’s drop in Google? Both, or did the link back from PR9 mean that listing was not a problem???

Even though the unfiltered results showed only City Sales, the fact that the other two existed was enough to drop City Sales from it rankings for Auckland Apartments.

Very Scarey!!!

So what can we do about it???

I have changed the opening paragraph of the home page, and added some alt text on the first image - its now “Auckland Apartments”. Hopefully Google will use that alt text in its ranking formula, and hopefully scraper websites will not use the alt text - therefore making the text Google uses to rank the website different.

Another alternative would be to have a rotating introduction paragraph. So when Google cached the clients page, and cached the scraper page, hopefully both would be different. But the effort required to do this for every page on all sites…

Update 29 May 08

The site continues to go up and down based on websites copying content and the meta description, and us making it unique again on the website.

The latest initiatives is being to add paid Finda listings for clients - Auckland Apartments. A paid listing gives a live link to the website as compared to the free listing that has a link on it. At the moment, the link text is the domain name of the website, I am working with Finda to get them to add the option of using a specific search phrase instead.

Along with the Finda listing an associated Wises listing for “Auckland Apartments” has been created.