What realtors need to know about real estate SEO: 4 areas of search engine optimisation that can grow your real estate website and business
Imagine a homeowner in your area. She has been thinking about selling her house for a while. Now, she is ready to make her first move. She reaches for her phone and starts googling. Will your estate agency be among her search results?
In an increasingly digitalised world, many of your clients’ real estate journeys, whether they are looking to buy, sell, rent or let, will begin much like this example. For example, 86%of buyers stated online websites were the most useful information source in the buying process, according to a study by the National Association of Realtors. In the UK, a Zoopla report found that 26%of consumers bypassed both high-street offices and property portals and started their latest property search directly on Google. The numbers are clear: Search engines, and Google in particular, have the potential to make or break your real estate agency’s long-term success.
In this article, find out how you can use digital marketing to tailor your online presence to your target audience, and what SEO experts have to say on real estate SEO tips.
What is real estate SEO, and what are the benefits?
Simply put, search engine optimisation wants to make sure potential clients’ search queries lead to your website instead of your competitors’. Real estate SEO additionally takes the particular needs of the real estate industry into account.
An important distinction exists here between paid and organic traffic, i.e. visitors to your website. Dominik Jedro, a freelance SEO Consultant who has helped many clients in a variety of industries to improve their visibility and ranking, uses a simple image to explain the difference. “If you want apples, you have two options. You can go to the market and buy them. That’s inorganic traffic - you pay for it, for example through ppc (pay-per-click) or social media ads, and you see immediate results. But as soon as you stop buying, it dries up.”
“Your other option is to plant an apple tree in your backyard. It does take more time and patience, but has a significant advantage. It gives you access to potentially unlimited apples. While paid traffic has its place in SEO, the focus is to cultivate and harvest grown, organic search traffic that consistently and sustainably drives lead generation to grow your business.” In addition, while your smaller real estate business might be unable to out-budget Zillow-like real estate companies when it comes to paid traffic, you may well be able to organically push your business listing for your market niche through smart keyword research.
To that end, a well-balanced SEO strategy will employ a combination of on-page and off-page SEO efforts. On-page adjustments such as optimising loading times and providing quality content can directly lead to a more favourable appraisal by the Google search algorithm. Off-page measures, for example backlinks from other well-ranked sites or the purposeful use of social media, can redirect additional traffic your way.
What are basic SEO tools for real estate agents?
To give you an overview of the SEO tools at your disposal, this article will cover five basic areas for real estate marketers: Keyword research, local references, technical SEO and content marketing.
1) Keyword research
If your goal is to draw more visitors to your website, knowing what they are putting into the search engines is essential. Keyword research tools such as Semrush, Ahrefs or the free Chrome Plugin Keyword Surfer will help you identify
- what search terms in particular searchers are looking for,
- what keywords are most relevant for reaching your target group,
- what their search volume is,
- and let you carve out your niche by using this information to your advantage.
One very useful strategy is the use of long-tail keywords. These are longer combinations of search terms that indicate a more targeted search. They tend to appear when potential clients are further along in their customer journey and know specifically what they are looking for.
For example, home buyers might start out with a very general search term, such as “estate agents”, which has a high volume but is also highly competitive. The more specific search term and long-tail keyword “houses for sale coventry” has a much lower search volume. At the same time, it is a lot easier to break into and establish a niche for your target market due to its lower difficulty. For this search term, the first page of search results is very much an attainable goal.
2) Local SEO and References
Due to the location-based nature of the real estate business, one Google function will be especially important to ensure potential clients finding you: The local search. For any search terms that Google deems a local inquiry, a small but relevant portion of Google Maps will be shown, with local businesses listed below.
Local SEO focuses on making sure that your business ranks high in these listing. To achieve this goal, you will need to make good use of the free Google My Business account. Make sure basic information such as
- your business name,
- phone number and
- opening times
are complete. Then add further valuable content such as
- photos and
- current promotions.
Ideally, also react to any reviews your clients leave. Once your Google My Business profile is sorted, consider doing the same for Bing Places for Business.
Also don’t underestimate the value of a good reference on an established portal such as Yelp, Trustpilot or a smaller but independent and industry-specific website like Property Road. While you can not directly control what is written about you, you can react to feedback and encourage positive interactions. This provides the ever-important social proof for your agency’s services.
On thetechnical side, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure nothing trips up the algorithm’s favourable view of your website. Here are a few examples.
- Familiarise yourself with the different elements of SERPs and use them to your advantage.
- For example, use the correct format and most effective phrases in your page title tags.
- Write concise meta descriptions.
- Use markup to structure your data for an effective real estate listings schema through which Google can display your available properties directly as a search result.
- A study found that almost 70% of visitors to real estate websites in the UK used tablets or phones: Make sure your design for your web pages is responsive and displayed correctly on mobile devices.
- Optimise images for loading times and assign them an Alt description.
Google Search Console will help with these and many other technical measures. Wordpress plugins such as Yoast SEO can provide further guidance. If you want to be absolutely sure you aren’t overlooking anything, consider delegating technical issues to an SEO consultancy.
4) Website content
This is where your real estate SEO can come full circle. Based on your keyword research, you can organically grow your site through purposeful content that is rated well by the Google algorithm, benefits visitors and converts them into clients. It is also an important element of your digital marketing strategy - find more ideas on this in our blog article “Digital marketing for real estate agents – four steps to success”!
The content you create can include text, images and videos. Consider the different needs that home buyers, sellers, renters and landlords will have, and what issues your content can resolve for them. Tools like Answer the Public will help you find frequently asked questions you can provide answers to. Through building trust and inviting interaction, you will be able to initiate many new client relationships. For example, have a look at the PriceHubble Lead Generator to see how its instant estimate can draw visitors’ interest and allow you to follow up with potential sellers.
Such high-quality content is then ideally suited to creating a user experience that spans your entire website and even goes beyond it. Link different articles across each other to keep visitors interested. Promote them on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. Backlinks from other pages can then cast an even wider net to draw in more visitors and further improve your ranking.
The Bottom Line
A well-balanced SEO action plan is an essential part of any real estate marketing strategy. It allows for constant lead generation from digital channels, with an improved conversion rate. In this article, we have covered four basic areas:
- Keyword research, to get your bearings in your digital market niche;
- Local SEO, to make sure potential clients in your area find you;
- Technical SEO, to help search engines crawl and understand your website
- Content development, to draw in more visitors with topics they are interested in.
If it seems complicated at first, focus on one area at a time and set attainable goals for yourself. Most changes are easier than expected. More importantly, they can have great effects on your search engine ranking and the resulting client interactions. As SEO Expert Dominik Jedro likes to tell his clients: “The sooner you start, the better.”
Are you still unsure where to begin? Our article on how to build a real estate SEO strategy will help you get started.