Hi Roselind ~
Funny thing about your site ... the domain name, weloveaustin.com,
would make me think your site is more about Austin than it is about
Austin real estate (homes for sale).
It's a good domain name, but you might want to be more specific from
the very start about the purpose of your site, which I'll address a
To address the issue of links to your site - while there is no denying
that links are good, pursuing links to get a better ranking with any
search engine, especially Google, is really not necessary. Your site
has some good information, and links to a great deal relevant
information, so you might want to rethink a lot of your link partners,
because some don't really make sense, and others I suspect were/are
there in order to increase the number of pages linking to site.
Let's start, though, with the link partners page.
I was really surprised to see this page and the type of awards, mostly
web page awards. With the amount of relevant information you have
available on your site, these lend a very amateurish look to what is
otherwise a professional site. My recommendation is that this
definitely doesn't help - and if it doesn't help, don't use it.
They may be nice for the ego, but they don't mean a thing to your
future clients or visitors to the site. They certainly don't count for
much, if anything, in your own ranking, and it really does look as if
they're there only to increase the amount of links. Something you
really don't need to do, at least not in this manner.
2. Real Estate Services
This link makes sense, although I expected real-estate related
services, such as mortgage companies, title companies, etc.
The links are logical, perhaps you might think of a more appropriate
title for that page of links.
3. Real Estate Directories
This set of links is far more 'iffy' and links to Linkalizer and Link
Partners only leads to the conclusion it's a "linking scheme" to get
more links. These aren't doing you any good and as a rule, the only
ones they're really helping is those links, not your own site. You can
really live without those links.
And standing alone as a page of links reinforces that idea.
If you want to link to other services, make sure there's a logical
reason for you to do so. There is no discernible logical reason in
4. Real Estate Links by State
There are legitimate reasons for one office to link to another. but
just breaking these down by state and then further with just a link of
names doesn't really make sense.
These can be people you know can help your visitors where they are,
perhaps have contributed information or articles you refer to -
whatever the reason. If there's a legitimate reason to link to them, a
few personal sentences about the link, and the link itself included
within the text, means far more to both search engines and your
visitors than the way they are listed now.
If they exist because of mutual links, do some research and decide
which you 'really' need or have been useful to you and dump the
others. Stop linking for the sake of building links and instead link
for relevant reasons. It makes a lot of sense for both your visitors
and search engines and will keep you out of trouble.
In addition, I found sites like the one below whose only purpose is to
exchange links, and this *definitely* doesn't help your site at all.
It is evident that you have a good head on your shoulders, so my
advice is to use your judgment and ask yourself if this link makes
sense, if it is relevant to your site - and more, does the page it is
going to be on reflect your own ideals and ethics? If it doesn't meet
your criteria, don't exchange links, you don't have to. The good sites
will link to you if your content is good enough.
In this case, you have lots of good content, you don't need to seek the others.
Design - Back To The Basics
While you didn't ask specifically about design, there are some things
I think you could and should do in order to get your visitors to do
what you want them to do.
Your site's purpose should be evident from the first screenful. While
you have a good domain name, it doesn't explain what your site is
really about, so it is incumbent on you to get that out there as
quickly as possible, and "above the fold". That is, the first
screenful. And you can't assume it is 'evident' to your visitor. Some
people are not capable of making that "transition" without your help.
You are a real estate agent - you help your customers buy and sell
homes. And you apparently do it well enough to be among the top 25
residential sellers in Austin, so take those 'features' and explain
from the beginning how that benefits your visitors.
I suspect that you've attended many seminars where you are reminded
that people do not buy features, they buy the benefits they perceive
those features will bring them. Besides making it apparent that you
site is about homes for sale in Austin, you should point out why your
site - and ultimately, you! - are the best answer to either selling or
buying a home in the Austin area.
While allowing some white to help set off your site's content, you
have too much wasted space (both in the blue at the top) and the white
on the left hand side. If your visitor has their monitors set to a
certain size, the top row of pictures is cut off. I suspect this is
not what you wanted.
Shari Thurow, one of the leading authorities in web design and search
engine optimization (and author of the book "Search Engine
Visibility"), made the following observation with regard to good HTML
"Clean HTML is absolutely imperative for search engine
indexing. Browsers are extremely forgiving when it comes
to displaying pages with "unclean" HTML (unclosed tags,
no quotation marks, etc.). Search engine spiders are
not so forgiving. Even something as simple as a missing
quotation mark on the <.a href="page.html"> can cause a
spider to not index text or a link." (See: Link Exchange
Digest, July 3, 2003, "Clean HTML")
She explained how errors in HTML can affect your ability to be
indexed, and ultimately, ranked.
DOCTYPES are essential to the proper rendering and functioning of web
documents in compliant browsers. It is also essential for the search
engines to understand and follow the coding contained on your pages.
DOCTYPE is explained and discussed further in "A List Apart",
and in Web Design Group's article, "Choosing a DOCtype",
You do not have a DOCTYPE Declaration and you should add one to every
page on your site. Make this as easy as possible for your visitors to
see the material you want them to see.
Title and Alt Tags
Put those title and alt tags to work for you! Use key word rich words
in both. Instead of "Austin Texas Real Estate and Homes for Sale" help
emphasize the discrepancy between the domain name and the purpose of
the site by emphasizing the homes first, then Austin. Use a dozen or
so descriptive words (terms you would like to be found under) first in
your page titles.
You have no alt tags on the graphics.
Google recommends using a text only browser, which will give you a
very sobering look at your site (and what it looks like, to some
degree, to search engine crawlers):
"Use a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site,
because most search engine spiders see your site much as
keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser,
then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling
your site." [From Google's Technical Guidelines]
Adding descriptives to the alt tags will give the crawlers something
to 'index', since they cannot read graphics - it also makes your site
more 'user-friendly' and will help with accessibility issues.
This has the 'feel' of two sites pieced together. The bottom portion
of the site is in a grey typeface which is extremely small and hard to
read. You might want to consult with a knowledgeable web designer, but
your should certainly make your text in a size easy to read and
definitely NOT that gray. The object is to make it friendly for your
visitor - and if he can't read your content, he'll go somewhere else.
On other pages, this text, "Roselind Hejl's Austin Texas Real Estate
Guide" is so light it might be interpreted to be 'spam' - that is,
invisible content, which Google clearly frowns on and will penalize.
For the most part, there are standard measures of navigation visitors
expect to see ... and on every page. This is also recommended in
Google's guidelines (I'll provide the links below). You might want to
make navigating your site as easy as possible and make sure every page
is linked to each other (or at least to every other 'area' of your
You have some excellent information on your site, but it is difficult
to find. Ensure it's available EASILY to your visitors if you want to
turn visitors into your clients.
Some Google Links For Your Reference
I have taken the liberty of including important links from Google's
site. This information will help you understand Google's goals and
responsibility to the web searcher (and not the webmaster or site
Webmasters who follow the guidelines and avoid Google's "Thou shalt
nots" usually have no problem getting listed and showing up under the
search terms they desire.
* Google Today (absolutely the best information you
can read about the "how and why" of Google's results
* How Do I Get My Site Listed on Google?
* My Web Pages Are Not Currently Listed (a good 'primer'
on how and why Google works so well)
* PageRank Information (covers both Google's PageRank and
* Webmaster Guidelines (contains both the dos and don'ts)
* Google Facts & Fiction (can you buy your way to a
high ranking in Google?)
* Search Engine Optimizers (some good advice on what to look
for if you're going to hire a Search Engine Optimizer)
* Frequently Asked Questions (pretty much what it says, but
definitely worth wading through)
* Remove Content from Google's Index (just in case you feel
a burning need to start all over again)
Other Sources of Information
There is also good information from many of the top search engine
optimization experts, such as
* Jill Whalen, High Rankings
* Detlev Johnson, Search Engine Guide
* Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Watch
* Shari Thurow, Web Pro News (and quoted all over the Internet)
All the above have columns or newsletters to which you can subscribe
in order to keep abreast of the best way to use good content for
better positioning in search engine results. Their subject matter
includes links and other information you need to keep your site fresh,
and it then becomes a valuable marketing tool.
While you asked specifically about links, which are good and which can
be detrimental, merely tightening up your links isn't enough to help
achieve your goals.
Your site could use some rearranging of the information to provide
focus. All the traffic in the world isn't much good if they're not
staying and not achieving your goals of contacting you to buy or sell
their home. Therefore, it is your responsibility to design the site in
such a way that it becomes easy, and even necessary to do so.
Search terms used ~
Besides any specific search terms mentioned, I relied on bookmarked
resources used in my usual course of work to help provide the answer
to this question.
Best of luck to you,
Google Answers Researcher