taking WordPress IDX to eleven
We recently added new SEO Settings to our IDX plugins that give you more control over your site’s meta tags and title tags.
If you’re not already familiar with meta tags or page titles, be sure to read part 1 of this series, where we define these terms and explain how they affect the way your site appears on Google and other search engines.
In today’s post (part 2), we explain how the dsIDXpress plugin uses these tags to help search engines read, categorize, and index IDX listings on your site, and how you can edit your account settings to optimize your IDX site.
Wait – – what new IDX SEO settings?
With both dsIDXpress and dsIDXpress Pro you can now control the following tags for every IDX listing page and IDX search results page on your WordPress site:
- meta description tag
- meta keywords tag
- title tag
Why optimize your IDX
As you probably know, our IDX plugin creates a page on your site for every IDX listing and “virtual pages” for every city, zip code, community, and tract in your MLS.
As soon as a listing hits the IDX data feed, we create a new page on your domain for that property. Each of these “listing details” pages includes the street address, price, beds, baths, and full details for a given property on a unique URL like this:
a details page for an IDX listing
In addition, every city, community, zip code, and tract in your IDX feed gets its own virtual page. Similar to an RSS feed, these pages display the latest listings in a given area on unique URLs that look like this:
a results page showing IDX listings in the city of Irvine
All the data on these pages is fully indexable by search engines to help drive traffic to your site, and by taking advantage of the settings below, you can focus your marketing efforts on neighborhoods, cities, or other less competitive hyperlocal terms for higher ranking.
Your website may not be number one in Google for a phrase like “chicago real estate” but you could be in the top five or ten for “green chicago homes” or for real estate in specific neighborhoods within Chicago. Our SEO Settings let you modify the meta tags and title tags of all the pages your IDX plugin generates, so you can focus efforts on the terms you’re targeting.
SEO Settings in the IDX menu
Editing your SEO Settings
All the new settings for our IDX plugin are located in your WordPress admin under IDX > SEO Settings.
Any changes you make to these settings can take up to two hours to appear on your site – so don’t expect all your site’s meta tags or page titles to update right away.
Details Page Settings
These settings control all the pages for individual IDX listings on your site. Every time a new listing comes in the IDX feed, we’ll generate a new page for that property on your site using the meta tag and title settings found here.
Description Meta Tag
By default, listing pages are generated without a description meta tag, so if you leave this field blank, Google will most likely just use a random sampling of the listing page as the snippet that appears in search results.
If you wanted to write up your own custom description for listing pages, enter it here. Every listing page, regardless of location, will be generated with that same description meta tag – so be sure to keep it generic enough like this:
South Orange County real estate photos, price, and details brought to you by Coldwell Banker Direct. View price history, see school info, or start a new South OC home search now!
Or you can get fancy. You can use any of our custom placeholders in your text to create more dynamic listing-specific description meta tag for each property.
Take for instance the previous example tag. Instead of using “South Orange County” over and over on every listing description, we could replace that part of text dynamically using a placeholder like this:
%city% real estate photos, price, and details brought to you by Coldwell Banker Direct. View price history, see school info, or start a new South OC home search now!
or we could go more advanced using several placeholders like this:
%county% real estate photos, price, and details brought to by the %city% experts at Coldwell Banker Direct. View price history, see school info, or start a new %city% home search now!
The placeholders are easy – just type a percentage sign “%” – then either the word “city”, “tract”, “zip”, “community” or “county” – then a second percentage sign. You’ll end up with something like this: %city% or %tract% that can used in your meta description tag.
You can use %city% or any of the other data placeholders in the Description Meta Tag field to display listing-specific data, and everytime a page is created by our IDX plugin, we’ll automatically replace any placeholder items with data from the listing when we generate the meta tag.
If you saved this:
Real estate in %city%, with price, photos, and other details. Find homes in %community% and %zip%.
…a listing page would end up with a description meta tag like this:
Real estate in Irvine, with price, photos, and other details. Find homes in Woodbridge and 92628.
Keyword Meta Tag
how Bing sees meta keywords
By default, IDX listing pages are generated without a keyword meta tag.
It’s probably best to leave this field blank – we only included this option for old schoolers who really really want keyword meta tags on their pages.
If you decide you gotta have a keyword meta tag, just type in a set of comma separated keywords you are targeting, such as:
Irvine real estate, Irvine foreclosures, Irvine new home buyers, Orange County home search
Alternatively, you can use the city, zip, community, county or tract placeholders to create dynamic keyword tags, just like you can with our description meta tag. Here’s that same keyword meta tag using placeholders for the locations:
%city% real estate, %city% foreclosures, %city% new home buyers, %county% home search
If you decide to use the keyword meta tag option for your pages, avoid using too many keywords or you could be hit with a keyword stuffing penalty.
Title for Property
The default page title for a property page is the listing’s full street address followed by its MLS number, like this:
1234 Main St, Irvine, CA 92628 (MLS # S57384)
In addition, many WordPress themes add your blog name as a prefix to all page titles, so your default listing page titles probably look more like this:
Joe’s Real Estate Blog – 1234 Main St, Irvine, CA 92628 (MLS # S57384)
1234 Main St, Irvine, CA 92628 (MLS # S57384) – Joe’s Real Estate Blog
Use the the Title for Property field to customize these titles. If you leave this field blank, we’ll just use the street address and MLS number – if you type anything in this field, we’ll replace the street address and MLS number with your own custom content.
page titles should attract readers and give a clear idea of what they can expect inside
Here, too, you can use our placeholders to create dynamic page titles, like this:
%city% home for sale in the community of %community% by Green Homes Realty
…will end up like this on a listing page:
Irvine homes for sale in the community of Woodbridge by Green Homes Realty
Results Page Settings
Our IDX plugin creates virtual pages for every city, community, tract, and zip code in your MLS. Every time someone performs a search that includes specific city, community, tracy, or zip code, dsIDXpress simply loads the virtual page for that area and filters the matching results.
Description Meta Tag
By default, results pages are generated without a description meta tag. Leave this field blank and Google will try its best to come up with a snippet for each results page.
If you enter a customized description tag for your results pages, you’ll definitely want to use our %location% placeholder. Simply use %location% anywhere in your description and we’ll automatically replace it with the right location name when we generate a search results page.
If you saved this:
The latest %location% real estate listings updated hourly. %location% homes and rentals in Orange County area.
…a results page of homes in the city of Irvine would have a meta description like this:
The latest City of Irvine real estate listings updated hourly. City of Irvine homes and rentals in Orange County area.
…or a results page of homes in the tract of Woodbridge would have a meta description like this:
The latest Woodbridge tract real estate listings updated hourly. Woodbridge tract homes and rentals in Orange County area.
they’ll still know
Keyword Meta Tag
As above, by default we do not generate a keyword meta tag for your results pages, and it’s probably best if you leave it that way.
If you did want to add a keyword meta tag, you can type in a static list of keywords, including use of the %location% placeholder as shown in the above examples.
Title for Results Pages
The default page title generated for results pages is pretty basic.
Here’s the default title for the results page for a search in the city of Irvine:
“Real Estate in the City of Irvine”
…or for a search in the zip code of 90210:
“Real Estate in the 90190 zip code”
You can customize your results page titles using the same %location% placeholder outlined above.
Be aware your WordPress theme may also add extra verbiage to your page titles, so your results page titles may end up looking more like this:
“Search homes in the City of Irvine – Joe’s Real Estate Blog”
Also remember that some search engines will display only the first 60 characters of your title tag, so keep the most vital info within those first 60 characters or it may be chopped off.
SEO Settings Recap
Here are your takeaways:
- Details Page Settings
These settings control the title and meta tags for individual listing pages. By default, we do not generate any meta tags for listing pages. The default title for listing pages is simply the full street address and the MLS number.
Using live data
Any combination of these can be used in your custom meta tags or titles to integrate dynamic data:
- Results Page Settings
These settings control the virtual pages we generate for each city, community, tract, and zip code. By default, we do not generate any meta tags for these pages. The default title is “Real Estate in [city/community/tract/zip name]” (ie: “Real Estate in the City of Irvine” or “Real Estate in the 92688 zip code”).
Using live data
The placeholder below can be used in your custom meta tags or titles to display the area name dynamically:
…and remember that your IDX pages on your site are cached for up to two hours, so any changes you make may take a while to show up.
Alrighty, that should cover it. Ready, set, optimize!