Real Estate SEO: Learn How to Succeed
Without a proper SEO strategy in any business model, you’ll most likely never be found. Many people believe they can just post whatever they feel like and the search engine gods will grant them the highest rankings of their dreams and reward them with a seemingly endless amount of organic, inbound leads. This is not the case. If you want all of those organic, inbound leads, you’ll have to focus on your current Real Estate SEO strategy (if you have one), reevaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and follow these tips below. We examine not only the realtor-related SEO tactics which will help you succeed, but we also examine the technical SEO side of an excellent real estate SEO strategy.
1.) Generate Google My Business Reviews
First impressions are everything, especially in the world of real estate. When someone searches for “realtor near me”, they’ll often be presented with something similar to the image below.
When people see your average rating amongst people who have utilized your services as a realtor, they’ll often make up their mind, right then and there, on whether or not they’ll choose YOU as their realtor to represent them when selling their house or when they need someone to show them the best homes the city has to offer. Having a great representation within GoogleMyBusiness reviews, Facebook reviews, Yelp reviews, etc… will not only help you better resonate with potential customers and clients, it will also signal to search engines you’re doing a great job of being an active and helpful realtor. In turn, they’ll reward you for being great at what you do!
2.) Optimize Your Local Listings & Citations
When we say to optimize your local listings and citations, you’ll want to ensure all of your listings, whether they be a yellow pages listing, a yelp listing, a local realtor directory, or anything else which has your business name, hours of operation, address, etc… is accurate across the board. If it’s not accurate, it will not only cause confusion amongst users searching for your services, but it will cause search engines to become confused as well, seeing how they’re mainly going off of what’s provided across their indexed resources. If you have your hours of operation as “Monday-Friday – 9am-5pm” on Yelp, but on Yellow Pages you have your hours of operation as: “Monday-Friday – 8am-6pm”, it will cause great confusion. A great tool to see ALL of your local listings and citations is BrightLocal. It provides you the insight you need to best manage all of your local listings and citations without having to go one-by-one and manually fill out the correct hours, address, business name, etc… With BrightLocal, it’s all taken care of for you. This is an extremely valuable tool for a realtor!
3.) Utilize Social Media
Social media is a very powerful tool. There are a variety of platforms to choose from which can certainly highlight a realtor’s specialties, uniqueness, and creativity. Some favorites for realtors usually consist of Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat as they all allow an instant interaction in an industry built on fast-paced markets and transactions. Take note that while social media is great for building a following and brand awareness, don’t expect it to drive highly-qualified leads as most people on social media are there just for fun and aren’t seriously looking to purchase a home you have listed. The real inquiries arrive through your website.
4.) Have a Content Strategy
When producing content for your website, it’s important to determine who you want to target, where you want to target, and how you’re going to differentiate yourself from your competition. Choosing proper word choice, well-researched keywords, and developing engaging content with the user in mind at all times will help you stand apart from those who stick by the script and are afraid to write “out of the box”, or should we say “out of the home”. 😉
5.) Perform Local Keyword Research
Most realtors have a local niche in mind when they first start out and this can carry on for the duration of their career. There are most likely some realtors who have been involved in your local market for 25+ years and love to gloat about it. The thing is, they will eventually have to retire or pass on their legacy. You can prove you’re just as worthy of doing business in your locale with an excellent, local keyword strategy. By using Google keyword planner or Ahrefs, you can determine who is searching for which keywords in your locale, when they’re searching for them, and where they’re searching for them. When you incorporate these local keywords which happen to have high user-intent, the leads will be flowing in as your content moves up the ranks.
6.) Research High User-Intent Keywords
As mentioned above, having high user-intent keywords is crucial to your keyword strategies. A user-intent keyword can be defined as a keyword which has a higher likelihood of being a conversion; a lead in this case. An example of this would be something along the lines of: “best real estate agent for luxury homes austin” instead of “realtor austin”. There’s a stronger intent as the user knows what they want. They want luxury, they want a qualified real estate agent, and they want to find one in Austin, Texas. Everything from “affordable homes” to “luxury rentals” can be utilized to better optimize your search presence. All of this conveys to search engines they have a defined niche which needs to be fulfilled. When you incorporate a high user-intent keyword such as this, you’ll find your leads to be much more catered to your offerings.
7.) Incorporate LSI Keywords
LSI keywords, otherwise known as latent semantic indexing keywords, are basically synonyms. When you incorporate synonyms into your content, search engines will appreciate it as the process allows them to learn and it diversifies your keywords. Instead of having the same keywords such as “large” to describe a bedroom, pool, or closet, use “massive”, “huge”, “extravagant”, “ginormous”, etc… and you’ll find you’ll begin to rank for long-tail searches which are the majority (around 78%) of searches on search engines.
8.) Install an SSL to Make Your Site Secure With HTTPS
An SSL is the little, green lock symbol you’ll see in an address bar when you’re browsing websites online. This provides a secure environment when people are entering passwords for a client portal, processing transactions, or just choosing to browse your site for a more secure experience trusting you don’t have any malicious malware or harmful code embedded within your site. Additionally, in November of 2017, Google has mentioned it will begin alerting users if your site does not have an SSL as a “potentially insecure” website with a red “X” next to your SERPs (search engine result pages). This is easily avoidable with installing an SSL onto your domain.
9.) Have a Consistent Hierarchy
A consistent hierarchy within your website means having proper structuring of your content. When you’re missing headers, such as having an H3 tag, but no H1 tag and H2 tag, search engines may have trouble determining what the page is about due to the fact they use headers to signify the importance of a keyword within a page. Your hierarchy should follow the “Wikipedia Effect” of H1, H2, H3, etc… for the most optimal structuring. This will also help your rankings as well due to the fact search engines will have an easier time crawling your site and determining the importance of keywords within your headers.
10.) Implement a Backlink Acquisition Strategy
All websites need backlinks to rank properly for desirable keywords. If you’re in a highly competitive market, you’ll require backlinks even more so than less competitive markets. A backlink acquisition strategy can be completed through content creation, outreach, organic backlink acquisition, etc… If you’d prefer to learn more about what we can do for your overall backlink acquisition campaign, check out our link-building service page.
11.) Implement a National Publication Backlink Acquisition Strategy
When you’re in real estate, you’ll typically develop relationships amongst some quite random groups of people considering the fact everyone needs a place to call home. With this in mind, you may know a friend of a friend who can put you in touch with someone at a national publication who happens to have a website. If you can reach out to this individual and ask for a guest post or a featured listing, especially if you’re involved in luxury listings, you could find yourself with a high-quality link which will help boost your rankings and drive valuable referral traffic.
12.) Implement a Local Backlink Acquisition Strategy
While a national publication link is awesome, it’s also important to think of your neighbors. Local backlinks are great signals to search engines as they’ll recognize the fact you’re a member of your community and should be seen by your peers. The more local backlinks you possess, the greater the chances you’ll show up for “realtor in [city]” related searches. This is hugely important as that is one of the most sought after search phrases in realtor SEO campaigns.
13.) Optimize Your Site Speed
Site speed is a crucial ranking factor for all sites. If your site is slow, not only is it a poor user experience, it’s also difficult for search engine bots to scan your site. When you make it difficult for the search engine bots to do their job properly, they’ll punish your site by not ranking it as high. When you make the search engine bots’ job easier, they’ll reward your site with higher rankings. Search engine bots and users love a fast-loading website.
14.) Optimize Your Images
Realtors should have beautiful, detailed images throughout their site. It provides a greater sense of what the homes they’re selling consist of, both from an interior perspective and an exterior perspective. However, large, detailed photos can be quite bloated from a file size perspective. The dimensions of the photo have little to do with the load time and the potential to bog down your site. The actual file size is what determines the loading time of the photo itself. Most photos can be reduced by 30-50% in megabytes and this reduction in file size is unnoticeable to the human eye. It will be noticeable to search engines though. They will appreciate your efforts and potentially reward you with higher rankings for optimizing your images.
15.) Leverage Browser Caching
Leveraging your browser caching can improve site speed tremendously. When you have a repeat visitor, instead of reloading the site from scratch, a cached version will appear which was previously loaded from their previous visit. This saves time when transferring files from your servers to the site and back which allows your site speed to be optimal. A great plugin, if you have a WordPress site, is WPFC.
16.) Build Your Site On a Fully Customizable CMS
Speaking of WordPress, we fully recommend building your site on either a WordPress-friendly theme or have a developer build a WordPress site from scratch with all of the design elements you prefer. To to learn more about our web design and development offerings, click here.
17.) Ensure Your Content is Authoritative
When we say “authoritative”, we mean have your content command a presence. This can be completed through having your content be at least 800 words (search engines prefer longer content), well-researched with a suitable amount of OBLs (outbound links), and possessing a great user experience (incorporate multimedia: pictures, videos, GIFs, etc…).
18.) Create Content Centered Around Your Locale
When you create content which is catered to your surrounding area, you’ll find the inbound leads will naturally increase over time. This is due to the fact of local SEO being much more feasible to dominate than national or international. If some of your competition is producing well-researched, weekly blog posts and you see them showing up in the top 3 SERPs for competitive search phrases, you may want to start daily blogging. Read about some of the positive effects of daily blogging. If the thought of daily blogging seems too overwhelming, feel free to check out our content creation services to learn more about how we can help!
19.) Produce YouTube videos With In-Depth content
Having videos throughout your site will provide greater engagement, greater chances of someone sharing your content, and provide a better user experience as most people prefer to watch a video with a piece of content. Having YouTube videos of the homes you’re selling will only enhance the potential buyer’s experience and help you stand out from the competition who strictly relies on photos.
20.) Create How-To Guides On How To Best Sell a House
A how-to guide can help you stand apart from your competition as well. Yes, it may take some time, but it will be more than worth it. You’re an expert in your field, so let the world know! If you include the guide as part of an email acquisition plan, you can have it be a downloadable asset for your users. Just have your users submit their name, email address, and phone number to download your guide and you’ll slowly but surely build up an email subscriber list. Easy enough, right?
21.) Provide Overall Value to the User (don’t just focus on yourself)
The number one thing you should do for your site is simply provide value to your users. When you provide a valuable user experience, the user is more likely to share your site with their friends and family, bloggers are more likely to link your site within their site, and everyone who comes across your site will be happy they did. This in turn will better your overall SEO efforts and make your job much easier.
22.) Target Surrounding Cities Within Your Content
If you’re located in a metropolis area and you want to rank for search queries but are having a difficult time doing so, you may want to go after the “low-hanging fruit”. The low-hanging fruit is anything which does not require a lot of backlinks to rank for. This can be achieved by targeting cities 25-50 miles outside of your major city as it’s likely the realtors in this region won’t have as much of a marketing budget so therefore their SEO will not be as strong. An example of this would be if you’re in the Kansas City area. You’ll have a more difficult time ranking for “kansas city realtor” than “overland park realtor”. What you can do for this situation is create a dedicated landing page for Overland Park, KS and have it be authoritative, well-researched, and provide a valuable experience for your users. This will allow you to begin ranking for the search query: “overland park realtor” much easier than “kansas city realtor”.
23.) Research Where People are Moving From and Use That to Your Advantage
People are always moving in this day and age and as a realtor, you’ll want to know how many people are moving to your city and how you can best work with those people. Let’s take for example the city of Austin, Texas (where DASH-SEO is headquartered). Austin has a large number of people moving from the states of California, Tennessee, Washington, and Oregon. If you’re a realtor in Austin, Texas, you’ll want to create landing pages within your site dedicated to those select cities with keyword-optimized titles such as: “Moving to Austin from San Diego” or “Benefits of Living in Austin” and provide a great list of all the luxuries the city has to offer and incorporate your CTA (call-to-action) button throughout your content. “Contact Me if You Want to See the Best Homes (City) Has to Offer!” is a great CTA and will surely inspire people to give you a call or fill out a contact form.
24.) Avoid Duplicate Content
One of the biggest problems we see on realtor’s websites is duplicate content. Duplicate content is typically provided by so-called “digital marketing experts” in the form of a content library which is reused by hundreds, if not thousands, of relators across the country. This poses a big problem as search engines hate duplicate content and will penalize you for not creating unique content of your own. Ensure your content across your site is 100% unique and you’ll be doing great!
25.) Collaborate with Local Bloggers
Searching for “bloggers + [city]” can help you discover some fantastic local bloggers in your city. You can reach out to these local bloggers and determine if you could both help each other out in the form of guest blogging, backlinks, appearing on a list of their recommended sites, etc… You never know who is in your own backyard.
26.) Focus On Local Competition
“Most guides are aimed at ‘Homes For Sale’ and while that’s good advice, you should dig a bit deeper into your niche. It’s unlikely you will beat Zillow for a metro city but you have a legitimate shot at beating the big guys in your neighborhood.” – Joshua Jarvis
27.) PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising
Any excellent SEO strategy can be enhanced with PPC as it allows both SEO and PPC to build upon each other. This strategy produces everything from increased ASD (average session duration) to higher CTRs (click-through-rates) on other portions of your site to organic backlink acquisition from someone who happened to click on your blog from an ad they saw. Although organic leads are what we recommend, as they tend to be the easiest to convert, every PPC dollar spent could possibly produce an additional lead as well. It all depends on how quickly you need leads, as PPC will allow overnight traffic to your site whereas organic traffic built from an SEO strategy can take a few months to strongly develop. Please note, once you stop paying for a PPC campaign, the traffic stops immediately. With an SEO strategy, you can expect traffic for a much longer period of time after you stop the SEO campaign.
28.) Heat Mapping
Heat mapping is the process of tracking where users idle the longest when visiting a page on your website. Ideally, you would want to see your users idle their cursor near CTAs (call-to-actions) throughout your site. If they’re not, you can easily identify where their cursor is hovering for the longest periods of time. From this data, you’ll be able to identify where you should either highlight commonly skipped-over areas or implement a more prominent CTA. One of our favorite heat-mapping softwares is HotJar.
29.) Gain a Link From Your Local Chamber of Commerce
A link from your local chamber of commerce will not only help you move up in the rankings, it will also help generate referral traffic from visitors of the chamber of commerce’s website. Additionally, it will provide further credibility to your business. Several older buyers will typically use the chamber of commerce to research local businesses in their area. This could potentially help you acquire some new buyers in the form of “snowbirds” searching for a local relator to help them find their dream, winter vacation home.
30.) Sponsor a Local Charity, Sports Team, or Organization
Most charitable organizations, sports teams, and other official organizations usually have a directory of donors for their cause. This can provide a valuable backlink to your site for just a simple donation. This will additionally create positive publicity for your realty business as many people will appreciate you supporting your local community.
31.) Hold Your Own Event
When you hold your own, local event, you have the opportunity to meet and mingle with folks from all walks of life throughout your neighborhood. This can create opportunities to develop relationships with several local businesses and possibly be featured on your local press’ website which will further help your SEO efforts.
32.) Collaborate with a Local Moving Company
When you develop a partnership with a local moving company, they’ll typically feature you on their website in the form of a guest blog, “recommended realtors”, or a contact list. You’ll in turn want to feature them as well on your site to say “thanks!”. This can provide a valuable backlink and great referral traffic, especially if they’re a popular moving company in your local area.
33.) Coin a Phrase
When you coin a phrase in your industry, you can typically find yourself with more backlinks than you know what to do with, as people will often credit you on their website as the founder of said phrase. Make sure to create a timestamped blog post indicating you were the first person to use the phrase and you’ll protect yourself from people attempting to steal it and make it their own. You can also start a unique hashtag and find your site being referenced on social media quite often.
34.) Create an Infographic
Creating an infographic with valuable data is one of the easiest ways to generate brand awareness through potentially going viral. There are several instances where well-crafted infographics go viral and garner up tons of search traffic and backlinks. Make sure it can relate to your users and is well designed. If you follow those two steps, you’ll find yourself with a great SEO strategy in the form of illustration.
35.) Create a Poll
When you create a poll on your website, you can gather valuable data of what people want out of your site and business. Ensure your poll is in real-time as people love to see how their votes affect the overall count. This polling can potentially lead to some great traffic as well if it’s picked up by a local or national publication citing your poll as a source.
36.) Use a CDN, Such as Cloudflare
When you use a CDN such as Cloudflare, you’ll find your site will load much faster and it will also store a version of your site which is accessible to users, even if your site is down for whatever reason. This is an extremely valuable asset for those reasons and many more. Learn more, here!
37.) Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing may have worked in the past, but nowadays your site may be penalized if you decide to incorporate the same phrase over and over again with the idea of tricking search engines. Go back to tip #7 and read up on LSI keywords to help you rank for several long-tail search queries. It will help your content flow more naturally when being read by your users and will ultimately help you rank for many more searches.
38.) Use Alt Text
With all of the images being placed on your site, it’s important to remember to use alt text to describe what your image is about for both search engines and blind individuals. This will help your images rank in image searches within search engines and help visually impaired individuals hear an audio description of what the image is about. It’s a win-win which helps everybody out.
39.) Incorporate Photos, Video, and GIFs On Your Pages
Having multimedia across your site will help further engage your users and it will also signal to search engines you care about the user experience with your content. The photos, videos, GIFs, etc… do not have to be all created by you either. It’s important to use other people’s content as well. When you embed a useful YouTube video into your content, this is technically an OBL (outbound link) and Google will use this as a determining factor when ranking your page. It’s basically a reference/source. Use them to your advantage.
40.) Reach Out to Past Clients for a Link
This tip is especially helpful if you’re involved in commercial real estate, as many business owners will be happy to recommend you in the form of a backlink if you’ve helped them grow their business through your excellent realty skills. Don’t be afraid to ask, you never know what may come of your request.
41.) Implement Local Schema
Implementing local schema across your sites is crucial to ensuring your site’s location(s) is optimized for search engine crawlers to determine information about your business such as: name, address, phone number, operating hours, etc… This can be done very easily by going into Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and highlighting your information and then placing the code across your site.
42.) List All of Your Services
You may offer some standard services for your clients and you may also offer some very unique services for your clients. Regardless, it’s important to list ALL of your available services so as to not limit yourself to one area of realty when you may specialize in multiple areas. Having dedicated “services” pages will help tremendously with your SEO efforts.
43.) Target Surrounding Areas With Your Content
As mentioned before, you can create landing pages for specific, surrounding cities in your area, but you can also develop your content to reflect those cities by mentioning keywords occasionally in your authoritative content. This can help reduce cannibalization of pages and keywords as your don’t want your own pages competing for the same search phrase or keyword.
44.) Contact Us! 🙂
The final step you can take to greatly help your SEO and digital marketing efforts is to contact us! While these tips are great for helping you succeed, this is really just scratching the surface of real estate SEO. Feel free to check out all of our services and you can check your website’s SEO by filling out the form below and we’ll have a full-scale, complimentary SEO audit sent back to you within 24 hours. We look forward to hearing from you soon! Don’t be afraid to say “hello!”.