The real estate market is always more complex than it seems. Fortunately, of all businesses, realtors can probably understand the fickle, yet critical nature of SEO and online marketing. If you’re not yet familiar with search engine optimization and its role in real estate, this guide will help you learn everything that you need to know.
For starters, how are realtors and real estate companies using content to increase their rankings? What even is real estate SEO, and what does it mean for your business?
We’ll dig into the details, provide actionable tips for SEO improvement, and help you understand the value of hiring an expert for the job.
If you’re not embracing all that search engine optimization has to offer and implementing the best strategies, you’re not putting your brand in the best position for success.
Whether you’re an independent real estate agent, a brokerage firm, a corporate franchise, or any other type of operation, you need to understand and incorporate search engine optimization.
Let’s start by looking at the basics of SEO for real estate, and then we’ll dig further into just why this process is so integral to your success.
What is real estate SEO?
Real estate SEO is simply the process of optimizing your content for search engines. It’s not terribly difficult to understand as a process, but it’s one that takes a commitment and attention to detail, along with a thorough understanding of the best practices and guidelines of search engine optimization.
You also have to understand specifically how real estate SEO works, as well as why it matters.
While you could just hire someone to do the work for you and call it a day, it’s not going to be in your best interest.
In fact, we find that our real estate clients (and all of our clients, for that matter) fare better with the SEO process when they have a better understanding of what it is and why it matters so much.
For example, let’s take a quick look at indexing versus ranking.
Did you know there is a difference between the two? When it comes to real estate SEO, you aren’t only optimizing things to get better rankings– you also need to make sure that your site can be properly and effectively indexed. Search engines index the page first and then rank it accordingly. If your pages can’t be indexed, they can’t be ranked.
“Indexing” simply refers to the process of making sure that your pages can be discovered by search engines. A properly indexable page will have:
- Optimized titles, tags, and headers
- Optimized URLs
- A simple, user-friendly site navigation
- Properly incorporated, relevant keywords
- A thorough, easy-to-follow sitemap
- Optimized content
If your website and off-page content can’t be found in the first place, you’re never going to be able to succeed with SEO as a process to improve your rankings. Start here, and you’ll be on the way up in no time at all.
Real estate SEO involves using the right relevant keywords, which you can find by performing keyword research, to optimize all off-page and on-page content for your real estate business or brand.
Off-page content refers to anything BUT your website where your business presence exists. This could be social media, a professional real estate network or forum, or even just a directory listing on a site like Yelp or Google.
Why do real estate businesses need SEO?
Real estate businesses need SEO for the same reason that every other business needs SEO: it’s how people find you. That’s really all there is to it. The Internet has a way and that “way” is defined by consumer search and shopping trends.
Because users are demanding relevant, authoritative professional services, that’s what search engines are looking for. If your website isn’t optimized, you’re not going to be on that list.
You can no longer exist in the real estate industry without embracing SEO and all the other aspects of online marketing.
There’s just too much competition, and with the changes that we have seen in the world recently, more homeowners are performing the majority of their new home search online.
That all starts with finding the best realtor. Even if you are the best, they won’t know that unless they can find you.
Quick Fact: 70% of users prefer articles to get to know a company, as opposed to traditional advertising.
Ad campaigns are great. They’re not the solution anymore, though. They’re a small tool in your marketing arsenal, which also includes your SEO strategy. People want information and solutions from brands that they can trust. They want a relationship with their professional services, and especially when it comes to real estate.
If you’re optimizing your content, and providing value-added content in the first place, you’ll earn more qualified leads than through traditional advertising alone.
In summary, real estate businesses need to optimize because:
- This is a highly competitive industry, both online and off. You need to gain the competitive advantage where you can.
- Consumers are relying on search rankings to find realtors. If you’re not in the rankings, you aren’t getting the business.
- SEO increases brand authority and visibility and gives your business a solid online reputation.
- Local SEO can help you corner the local market and stay ahead of the competition for increased leads and higher close rates.
Next up, we’ll look at some of the top tips to get started on making your improvements.
7 expert tips for improving your real estate SEO
Even if you’re not sure that you will be doing your own SEO, we’ve already discussed the value of understanding the process. Part of that comes in knowing the best ways to approach search engine optimization and which methods are most effective.
There are also some little tips that can go a long way. Below, we’ll get into the best of the best when it comes to real estate SEO tips that will get you closer to that page one ranking that you deserve.
Perform a Full Audit First
You can’t improve your SEO if you don’t know where it currently stands. The very first thing that is involved in any strategy is a full audit of your website and off-page presence. You’ll need to look at your current rankings, keyword use, and other elements of search engine optimization. Once you see where you stand, you can start to make a plan to move up with your real estate SEO improvements.
Google My Business and Local Listings
The very first thing that you need to do is to complete your Google My Business listing. Check your NAP (name, address, phone number) listing for accuracy. Make sure that you use the exact same format in all listings.
Not only does it look better, but it makes your business easier to find. Search engines also consider inconsistent NAP listings to be negative, which could impact your ranking.
From directory listings to social media and everywhere in between, your business needs a consistent, accurate business profile and contact information.
Offer Online Tools
Mortgage calculators and other estimators are a home shopper’s best friend. If your website doesn’t have these tools, they will have to find them elsewhere.
This means that they might also find other services elsewhere. Give them everything that they need to rely on you for all of their home buying needs.
The top searched calculators include mortgage calculators, FHA mortgage calculators, and investment property calculators. Each has its place and there are plenty of free tools that you can integrate.
Optimize for Mobile First
Today, it’s not about optimizing for mobile also. You have to go mobile-first in your optimization. That’s where the consumers are, after all. Almost ¾ of all Google searches are performed from mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized, it’s not going to be ranked well.
Plus, even if people do find it, they’re not going to stick around long if it lacks the optimization to be easy to navigate. Mobile optimization is so critical that it’s actually considered its own part of the SEO process.
Capitalize on Reviews
Sure, you can’t control what keywords people use or how they write reviews, but Google isn’t checking for that. They’re looking for positive reviews on your website and other directory listings. These lend a huge amount of credibility to your site, which can drastically improve your search rankings. If you find bad reviews, make sure that you address them promptly.
Perform Proper Keyword Research
You can’t just assume that using certain words will work for your optimization efforts. A keyword like “Toledo homes for sale” might very well be a good one to use. However, you want to make sure that you do the research to get the numbers first.
Then, you’ll be able to pick out the most useful keywords and figure out how to build your strategy around them. Some people are surprised at just what kind of keywords actually come up in top results– don’t be that person. Do your homework.
Optimize All On-Page Elements
It’s easy to go in and optimize titles and page content. That’s the obvious part of SEO that most people have no trouble with. What often gets overlooked by those outside of the industry, however, are the rest of the elements on the page that could be helpful to increase rankings:
- Title Tags
- Meta Tags and Descriptions
- Navigational Elements
- XML Sitemap
- Image Tags
These are critical to the success of your search engine optimization, but they are so often overlooked by the average person that we wanted to point them out.
The good news is that if you’re working with professionals, they’ll make sure that every last detail is in place, including all of these elements.
How to improve your real estate SEO
We just covered a bunch of useful tips that will guarantee an improvement in your real estate SEO strategy if you incorporate them properly. However, there’s more to the process than just doing a few things here and there.
For starters, you have to realize that this is, indeed, a process. It’s not a “one and done” thing or a task that you can cross off your list. Even once you’ve taken care of the initial optimization, you’ll have ongoing efforts and monitoring to manage.
Read as much as you can. This is a great way to improve your own SEO, as well as your understanding of the process of optimization for real estate businesses.
Find out what your competition is doing, and not just what they’re doing well. Generally, you can learn more from their mistakes than their successes.
To do this, put yourself in the consumers’ shoes and try to search like you’re the one buying a home. Think about how you would search, what information and tools you would want to find, and how the competition is doing at providing those things.
When you see what others are doing, you’ll be able to get a better idea of what you need to do and what you should avoid.
Go Local or Get Outranked
Especially in a hyperlocal industry like real estate, local search optimization is a must. Local SEO is more than just throwing your city and state into keywords– although this is an effective practice when done sparingly.
However, you’ll also want to make sure that you perform the same keyword research that you did for general keywords. That way, you know what your local market is looking for and you can deliver, helping you increase your rankings significantly.
In real estate, local is about more than helping people find you based on local searches. It’s about providing real local information that they can use. Your potential buyers will want to know what the community is like, what is in the area, and more.
If you provide all of these resources on your website, you’ll again increase your authority and reputation among both your audience and the search engines.
Consider linking people to local pages like the Chamber of Commerce, City Hall, schools, utilities, and other relevant services and websites.
Local SEO should be a branch of its own off of your main SEO strategy, and it should be among the most important branches in your SEO network when you’re in real estate.
People aren’t looking for a home to buy just anywhere. They’re shopping in a specific market and you have to make sure that you’re showing up in the searches for your market.
Don’t Forget Off-Page Content
Anywhere you have an online presence, you need to optimize the content and business information. Whether it’s a directory listing, social media page, or a blog where you guest post, it is going to continue to build your brand reputation and authority. Even when you are link sharing, you should always include optimized links with keyword-rich titles so that your business links have the best chances of being found online.
We’ve talked a little bit about keyword research and how keywords factor into search engine optimization, even though they aren’t the primary focus anymore. Next up, we’ll discuss some of the must-have keywords for real estate SEO to help you get started.
5 vital keywords to focus on in real estate
Every real estate agency is going to have its own interests in online marketing. You may specialize in estate sales, for example, and therefore need to focus on related keywords in that market.
However, there are also some general keywords that every real estate website needs to have to rank at all, let alone to rank well.
Remember, also, that keywords might be single words, but they might also be long-tail phrases. Either way, they’re usually things that people would type into a search engine because that’s how SEO works.
Of course, there are also a couple of ways to go about the search for real estate agents and homes for sale. It’s best for you to optimize your content for both topics.
Here are five big-ticket keywords for all real estate agents and businesses to use in their SEO strategies:
- Real Estate Agent
- Realtor Near Me
- Real Estate Agents Near Me
- [City] Realtor/Real Estate Agent
Home Sale Searches
- Homes for Sale
- Houses for Sale
- Property for Sale
- [City] Real Estate for Sale
It’s interesting that even from a consumer angle, the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is actually one of the most popular search terms.
Also, you should note that you can add your city and state or other location-based keywords to any of the ones listed above to add to your local SEO and improve the accuracy of the leads coming your way.
After all, while you want to rank for a keyword like “homes for sale”, you don’t want to be in the top rankings for Tampa when your real estate office is in Houston. That’s where local SEO combines with standard SEO to create the perfect search results and rankings for your audience.
Performing Keyword Research
Bear in mind that these are not the only keywords you’re going to use. They are some of the most popular ones, but you should still perform the necessary research, as we mentioned above, to find out what people are searching for and optimize your keyword list accordingly.
Consider targeted keywords for various pages on your site, such as “commercial real estate” for your commercial page, if you have one.
Use Google and other sources to read up on which keywords are popular in real estate optimization.
Get a list of the best-performing keywords, which will tell you how many searches are performed on each keyword or phrase per week or month. This can help you create an effective strategy and triage to add keywords as they fit into the various pages of your website and other off-page content.
Get a real estate SEO expert
Ultimately, the answer to the SEO process in real estate is to work with a qualified, experienced SEO partner that understands the unique market that you are in. While all of this information can give you a better understanding of what SEO is and how it works, it’s still best to leave the actual work to the professionals.
Real estate is so competitive, and SEO is just as cutthroat thanks to Google’s rules and the sheer market saturation of businesses online utilizing the process. It’s not that you can’t do it yourself, but that the experts can do it better.
Think about it from your perspective– you know that your clients can buy and sell their own homes if they want to do the work. However, you get their business because you take the stress and hassle out of the process.
While you’re handling the process, they’re enjoying home shopping. The same goes for SEO– while we’re doing all the hard work of optimizing your content and managing your campaigns, you can enjoy focusing on your clients.
That’s why you’re in the business in the first place, after all, and that’s where your skills are best put to use.
At Ranq, we take pride in offering boutique SEO services that will help your real estate business stay at the top of the search results.
We know what it takes to get the job done, and we can provide ongoing monitoring with our custom solutions to give you everything that you need in a full-service SEO partner.
Now that you understand more about real estate SEO, it might be even more apparent that it’s best left to the experts. Either way, give us a call to discuss your needs and we’ll have you on the right track with your optimization efforts in no time at all.