Biggest SEO and SEM Takeaways from SMX East

Last month, our Digital Strategist Stacey and PPC Manager Bev attended SMX East in New York, to learn about all of the latest in Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing and see how we can apply these tactics for our clients. Read on for their recaps of the biggest SEM and SEO takeaways.


Stacey’s SEO Takeaways


1. Mobile First

Google has announced that in the coming months it’s going to be rolling out a mobile-first index. What this means is that Google will create and rate it’s search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for listings displayed for desktop users.

Since more and more web traffic and searches are being done now on mobile, Google wants its index and results to represent the majority of it’s users, who are searching on mobile.

This new mobile-first index is going to be Google’s primary search engine index. A search engine index is a collection of pages/documents that the search engine has discovered (via crawling) and stored. The index is what provides results when a user types a query into Google’s search bar.

Google used to crawl and index its search results based on the desktop browser point of view, but now with the switch to the mobile-first index, Google will be crawling the web based on a mobile browser point of view.

What does this mean for your builder website?

Well, if your website is responsive and your content and links remain the same no matter what screen size your site is viewed on then you’re a step ahead of the game and should embrace the new mobile-first index! Customers searching for new homes on their phones will still be able to see your website listing in Google’s search results and peruse your mobile website.

If your website is not responsive and you have a limited mobile site, Google has said that it will still crawl and rank the desktop version of sites. However, it’s likely that even though your desktop site has been crawled and indexed it won’t rank very well in search results.

Worried about your website after the mobile-first index? We can help make sure that your builder website still ranks in Google’s search results and that your customers have a favorable mobile experience.


2.) Bluetooth Beacons

What are bluetooth beacons?

“Bluetooth beacons are devices that broadcast signals that can be heard by smart devices nearby. Paired with an app, Apple Wallet Pass, or Physical Web browsers, businesses are able to deliver contextually relevant content and information to users at very specific locations.” –

In other words, by utilizing the technologies of bluetooth beacons you can send notifications to smartphones within range letting consumers know that your model home is open and only a few miles away! The push notifications can also link to your website, sending consumers directly to your community detail page!

Bluetooth beacons can be used countless ways to boost your online and offline marketing efforts. Contact us today to learn more!


3.) SEO

There are 200+ factors that determine how a website will rank in search results. The two most important factors are: content and links.

Search engines have gotten smarter about what they’re looking for when crawling a website. The days of stuffing your website full of “new home” keywords are long gone. Search engines are “thinking” more like consumers and rewarding websites that have original and relevant content by increasing that website’s rankings.

Consider longer more detailed content for your community detail pages, like what’s nearby the community: interstates, airports, metro stations, cities, military bases, etc.

In addition to original and relevant content, search engines also reward relevant links going to and from your website. Search engines view relevant links like endorsements to your website’s credibility and in turn increases rankings.

The most successful SEO strategies encompass both original content creation and relevant link building. Not only will utilizing these strategies help your website’s search engine rankings but it will also be beneficial to your potential customers as well!

Overwhelmed at the idea of creating original content for your builder website? We can help!


Bev’s SEM Takeaways

The digital marketing disciples at SMX East had quite a bit to chat about given the big shake ups in recent months regarding paid search advertising.There was a lot of excitement, speculation and discussion centered around how two significant Google updates will affect SEM strategy moving forward and shape the conversations we have with clients regarding the importance of paid search initiatives.

Goodbye, Right Rail Ads

After months of persistent rumors and quiet beta testing, Google pulled the trigger and stopped serving ads on the right-hand side of the search engine results page (SERP). Booming mobile search trends and the intention to deliver consistent user experiences across all devices prompted the elimination of sidebar ads in February.

Hello, Expanded Text Ads

In July we saw the roll out of expanded text ads (ETAs) on the Google network which dominated the SEM sessions and conversation among search marketers in New York.

The introduction of the ETA was a welcome announcement at this year’s Google Summit and the first significant change Google has made to their ad format in 15 years. As its name implies, the expanded text ad doubles the character limit and allows SEM wordsmiths more room to write killer ad copy.

So you may ask, “What do these changes mean to MY business? We don’t see the value in allocating more (or any) budget towards paid search advertising.”

A lot, actually. Especially if you’re relying heavily on organic placement for brand recognition and qualified leads. If that’s the case, it’s time to reconsider the importance of paid search and begin earmarking more marketing dollars towards Google and Bing advertising.

Here’s why: let’s pretend I’m interested in buying a new home in Seattle. So, I Google it.

Take a look at the search results for “new homes for sale in Seattle WA”.  What dominates the entire results page on desktop?

Paid search ads.  In this example the organic results are not even visible unless you scroll halfway down the page.

The sidebar ads have been replaced with three to four expanded text ads and depending upon the number of advertisers competing for top page position, organic search results are pushed further down the page and out of view.

If your business shows up “below the fold,” the likelihood of someone clicking through to your site drops significantly.  Think of the example above and the builder who operates in Seattle but doesn’t leverage paid search and misses out on a tremendous opportunity to reach new homebuyers.

That is why it’s imperative to have a strong SEO and SEM strategy in place.  To ensure your company stays in a visible SERP position. Remember, if you aren’t on top,the competition will be and enjoying the brand recognition, web traffic and qualified leads a well-planned paid search campaign delivers.


Jenna Schwartz

Jenna Schwartz

Digital Producer

Juggling an ever-changing portfolio of digital projects, Jenna's job is to find out what our clients want and the best way to make it happen. Delivering a new lead-generating website or an updated feature that's even better than expected: mission accomplished.