When you’re the first investor sellers find on Google, they’re much more likely to do business with you instead of your competitors. So if you want to get free motivated seller leads online, you need to be on top of the Google search results.
But it’s hard to get there. Many investors fight for the top places on relevant keywords. And most never use a secret weapon that can catapult your site upwards upwards: Backlinks.
If you know how to use backlinks to boost your ranking, you’ll have a much easier time getting that first spot. Want to get to the top instead of staying on page 3? Listen now!
Show highlights include:
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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 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, what is up everybody? This is Daniel Barrett here from AdWords Nerds. How are you, wonderful people? Hope you are doing well. Hope you are having fun. Hope you are enjoying the summer. Hope you are staying safe, happy and healthy, as always. [01:00.6]
Now, first things first, we've got really interesting topic today, but before I get into it, I want to remind you, look, if you ever want to catch up on this podcast, you want to learn more about me and what I do, you want to learn more about our team, you want to talk to someone about improving your online marketing for real estate investing, whether that is your pay-per-click and Facebook ads and Google ads or it's search engine optimization and SEO and all that fun stuff, you can go to REIMarketingNerds.com to find past episodes of this podcast, and all sorts of free information and blog posts, cool stuff, so go and do that.
All right, this week we are digging into some SEO basics. Okay? We're digging into some SEO basics, not because it's basic, not because it's easy, not because this is something that only newbies, only newbs need to know. Right? Right. We're talking about backlinks today and what it is—what is a backlink? What are backlinks and how do you get them? How are they different and what do they mean? [02:11.4]
We're digging into this because, look, still to this day, right now at AdWords Nerds, I'm doing a lot of SEO work for our clients. I've been kind of running the SEO division for a little while, really digging into our service and what we do for clients, and customer service and all this stuff, and so I am deep in the SEO world now.
Here's the thing that it just continues to surprise me—because I've been doing SEO, paid SEO, for about 12 years now in multiple industries, but obviously longest in real estate investing—the thing that constantly surprises me, the thing that constantly sort of makes my jaw drop and the thing that constantly makes the difference for my own website, for my client's websites is backlinks. [03:04.7]
Backlinks over and over and over again are the difference maker, are the thing that really differentiates our clients or, or anybody that's doing really well in the market from everybody else. I'm not saying because people are going to protest, I'm not saying that backlinks are all you need and all. I'm not saying that. I'm not even saying that backlinks are the biggest, most important thing. Maybe that's not true either.
What I am saying is that in a market like real estate investing, okay, and this is something really important to understand, real estate investing is largely a homogenous SEO market. What do I mean by that? I mean that when you get into any area, any geographical area, any market, where there's a significant amount of competition, most of that competition has done the basics. [04:02.1]
They've gotten a decent website. They've got decent onsite SEO. They've got decent content. They've got a decent number of pages. Those pages are linked together in the right way. Yada-yada-yada, okay? And that's largely thanks to companies like Investor Carrot. We're an Investor Carrot partner at AdWords Nerds. I don't make any money for referring people to them at all. I don't get a kickback or anything like that, but I just like their product, because out of the box they solve a lot of SEO issues. It’s actually the same with REI BlackBook. If you build your website with REI BlackBook, they solve a lot of your SEO problems for you.
Investors, in general, do not tend to see the investment into building their own website, and it building it on WordPress or whatever and starting from scratch, they don't tend to see that investment as being worth it, so most investors you compete with are using an out-of-the-box solution, which means that most of the investors you compete with have done the basics. [05:07.8]
Largely, when I say that REI or real estate investing is a homogenous SEO market, that's what I mean. I mean that people have done the basics. So, when you have done the basics, what makes the difference is the stuff that you can do that's difficult that your other competitors aren't doing, and for investors, that's largely link-building.
Now, I’ve talked about this kind of idea in other episodes and other podcasts. I've talked about the red queen effect. I've talked about all advantages being one sided almost by definition. I've talked about this in my Facebook lives and in my Facebook group. If you go to Facebook and you search for REI Marketing Nerds, you'll find it. I've talked about all that stuff, so I'm not going to talk about that anymore here. I want to talk about what backlinks actually are. What are backlinks? Because there is some confusion when I say that, okay, links are so important. There is some confusion about what we actually meet, so let's talk about that. [06:06.0]
Okay, at the actual basic level, what is a backlink? A backlink is when a website, some other website, they sort of have a piece of text that says, let's say, Dan Barrett is amazing, and they make that little piece of text clickable, and when you click on that piece of text, you go to, let's say, AdWordsNerds.com or REIMarketingNerds.com. Okay? It's a piece of text that, when you click, it sends you to that website.
Now, why is this important? You’ve got to remember that Google's fundamental insight, the reason that we have the Google that we have today, the reason that Google dominates search engines is that very early on Google realize that, rather than having people organize search engines by hand, which is what Yahoo used to be—they used to have people literally organizing it, almost like a table of contents—Google said, okay, we can kind of look at links as votes in a popularity contest. [07:05.4]
The more popular a website is, the more likely other websites are to link to it. Therefore, links are sort of this proxy metric for website popularity, which is itself a proxy metric for website quality, so Google's insight was essentially saying the best websites are likely to have the most links.
Hey, this picture is much more complicated, because as my dear friend, Patti Dalessio, who ran the SEO division here at AdWords Nerds for many years, has always said, “Marketers ruin everything. Marketers ruin everything.” The moment that marketers understood that you could make money on Google, and they understood that the more links you’ve got, the higher up you ranked in Google, marketers immediately said about ruining everything by just gaming the system and building all these crappy links and whatever were totally artificial, and broke that relationship. [08:05.0]
The relationship of the best websites that have the most links, they’ve destroyed that relationship by just saying, No, the websites that have the most links are just the ones that have the scammiest as marketers behind them. Now this picture is much, much more complicated, but that core insight remains in it, and it is a deep part of Google's DNA and will always be the case. Probably not. Are links much more complicated today? Yes. Is everything much more contextual? Yes. But that core relationship is still a big part of how Google works. Links are good, okay?
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Links are not all created, all right? Not all links are created equal. I could, for example, go on your blog and just comment a hundred times, Dan Barrett, Dan Barrett, Dan Barrett, Dan Barrett, AdWords Nerds, AdWords Nerds, AdWords Nerds, AdWords Nerds, and link to my own website. Now that's a link and, in fact, that's actually many links, right?
Google has had to evolve to understand that certain links are very gameable. They're very fakeable, right? Blog posts, comments, yeah, very easy to fake this, right? Posting on a sort of free article website and linking to yourself, very easy to fake it, right? Posting on a forum and linking to yourself, very easy to fake it, right? [10:00.7]
So, there are different types of links that people can use, partially so that search engines can understand these kinds of different relationships between easily fakeable things and not-fakeable things, partially so that websites, for example, let's say, I'm writing an article about, I don't know, a politician that I really dislike and I want to link to something on their website, but I don't actually want to benefit them in the process. Let’s say, I'm writing about someone who does hate speech or is incredibly misogynistic. I might want to link to that, so that people can see it, but I don't want to benefit them. And so, there are different types of links to kind of help us sort through these situations.
The core type of link that we talk about when we talk about backlinks, you think about getting links to your site, the core type of link is called a “follow link,” and essentially all that does is say, Yes, Google, when you see this link, I want you to follow that link to the website that it's pointing to, and scan that website and give it some kind of benefit, a “dofollow link” or a follow link. [11:14.0]
This is the kind of link that we want, the kind of link that's really great for SEO, the kind of link that passes a benefit, and by default, when you make a link on the web, if you link from your website to mine, by default, it is a dofollow link.
Okay, now, there is another type of link that is called a “nofollow link.” Okay, a nofollow link and it is basically the opposite of the dofollow link. When Google hits a nofollow link, what is supposed to happen is Google stops there. It does not actually follow the link over to the website that it points to and it isn't supposed to send a benefit to that website in terms of its SEO. [12:00.0]
A nofollow link might be, for example, if you link to yourself from a forum, a forum post, that forum may have set it up so that when you put a link there, all links by default are nofollow links, and that's to discourage people from just sitting there and spamming their SEO link all over the forum.
There are a variety of places, for example, the Zillow links, let's say, you sort of go onto a Zillow listing and try to link out to somewhere or even Zillow's blog links out to you, most of the time that is a nofollow link. Why? Because they just don't want to pass the SEO benefits to anybody.
I kind of understand that because, again, you've got to remember marketers ruin everything. If you incentivize people to spam your website with links, that's what they'll do, so by putting a nofollow link out there, they discourage that behavior.
Now, are nofollow links worthless for SEO? No, they're not. Okay? They are not worth as much as dofollow links. They're not worth as much as regular links and I don't go out of my way to build nofollow links at all. [13:09.1]
However, there is a lot of evidence that Google does weigh nofollow links as a ranking factor, just a significantly weaker one. So, it's one of these situations where if the only link I can get in a situation is a nofollow link and it's a legitimate link that I'm building through content or through a relationship or whatever, yeah, I'll take it right. If it's the only thing I can get, I'll take it, but I'm going to much prefer dofollow links. All right?
We've covered a couple of different things. We've covered what links are. We’ve covered why Google has to sort of differentiate between different types of links, and we've covered the two biggest different types of links, which are dofollow and nofollow. We've talked about their different impact on SEO. There's one other thing you want to think about when you're building links to your website and that is your anchor text. [14:01.9]
Your anchor text. Okay, so let's go back to our initial sort of example. We were talking about what is a backlink. Is it okay if you have a link? I have some text that says, Dan Barrett is amazing, and I make it so that when you click the words, “Dan Barrett is amazing,” it sends you to AdWordsNerds.com. Okay?
Now, in that example, AdWordsNerds.com is the URL that we're sending people to, but the text “Dan Barrett is amazing” is the anchor text. Now, when Google looks at your links, when it looks at all of the different places that link to you across the web, it looks at, yes, what the website is that links to you.
It also looks at the anchor text because Google also understood that, okay, cool, if I'm linking to, let's say, “Dan Barrett is amazing” and I linked to AdWordsNerds.com, you click “Dan Barrett is amazing,” it sends you to AdWordsNerds.com, they are probably saying something about AdWordsNerds.com. Probably AdWordsNerds.com is related in some way to the concept or the phrase, “Dan Barrett is amazing,” and that's the power of anchor text. [15:16.6]
If I link to your website and I say, Great place to sell your house fast, and the words “sell your house fast” are the anchor text and they link to your website, what does Google now understand about your website? This person seems to be indicating that people that want to sell their house fast should go to this website. Okay, so anchor text is very powerful.
However, remember the golden rule, the golden rule of marketing, which is that marketers ruin everything. So, if Google is looking at the anchor text of the links and trying to determine what your website is about and what you should rank for, what are marketers immediately going to do? They are going to ruin that system by just shoving SEO keywords into every possible link they can get, and Google doesn't like that because, again, it's evidence that you're trying to game the system. [16:09.9]
Generally, we do not want to constantly try to fit keywords into our anchor texts. This is something that people think that they should do and that they try to make it so that every link says, Sell your house fast, or whatever, but Google can see that and Google knows that that is artificial.
The ideal here is that we have a, quote-unquote, “natural” set of anchor texts. What I mean by that is just we don't want to constantly shove our keywords into everything. Google knows that this is not natural. They know we're trying to game the system. Instead, what we want to do is build links naturally, then having sort of natural differentiation in the different types of anchor texts that people use.
The most common anchor text that points to AdWordsNerds.com is the AdWords Nerds, because that's the name of the business, right? But there's also going to be links that say, SEO for real estate investors. There are also going to be links that say, PPC for real estate, or something like that. [17:10.6]
So, you want to build a variety of different anchor texts into your links, where you have control over. Likely what's going to happen is most of them are just going to be your company name. There's nothing wrong with that, but if we can build links with keywords, we want to do that. We just don't want to do it all the time. We don't want to try to shove our keywords into everything because Google understands that that is artificial.
Okay, let's backtrack real quickly and let's talk about what we've covered. We've covered what a backlink is, right? A backlink is a piece of text that sends you to somebody's website. Why is it important? Google understood very early on that links are a proxy metric for popularity and popularity is a proxy metric for quality.
Now, remember that marketers ruin everything. Marketers immediately ruined that, and so the picture is much more complicated. We have two types of links now, dofollow links, which are the best for SEO, and nofollow links, which still really help our SEO, but they aren't terrible and I'll take them if I can get them, but I'd prefer to get dofollow links. [18:15.2]
Then we also discussed anchor text, which is the actual words that you click on to go to somebody's website. Google reads that. We want to make sure that they include keywords, but we don't want to do it too much because Google knows that that's artificial. We want to act natural.
Okay, that is pretty much everything you need to know about backlinks, and let me tell you, backlinks are still critically important for real estate investing SEO. If you have any questions about this at all, go to REIMarketingNerds.com, click around. Check out the blog. We have a ton of blogs of SEO. We've got in-depth guides on SEO for real estate investors, or just check out all the back episodes of this podcast. I've done a ton of episodes about SEO and we will continue to do so.
Whoo, that was a good one. I hope this was valuable to you. Let me know. Leave me a comment. Leave me a review. Leave me a like, whatever. Subscribe. Whatever you’ve got to do, I appreciate you being here. This is Daniel Barrett from AdWords Nerds signing off and I will see you next week. [19:13.1]
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