50% of buyers between the age of 37 and 51 found their homes online, claims a trends report by the National Association of REALTORS® Research Department.
While you’re reading this, thousands of people from all walks of life either want to buy a new property or sell an existing one online.
How much of this potential client base will you attract today? Next month? By the end of the year?
How easy is your real estate website for these prospects to find?
Is your website easily navigable, enabling visitors to find what they’re looking for, sort through multiple results, compare listings, and finally buy from you?
How fast, secure, and mobile-friendly is your website?
Do you have a proven email funnel, and follow-up system in place to build a strong connection with prospects, while converting them into raving customers and referrals, who will continue to return?
There are five technical skills that every real estate marketer should be familiar with. SEO is arguably the most important, and assists with all the points mentioned above.
But wait! After 18 years in the ever-evolving and ultra-competitive digital marketing space, I can assure you that what you think you know about SEO (aka search engine optimization) it is not a magic wand, but a lifelong commitment requiring continuous effort because...
It is imperative that you adequately maintain your real estate website like the indispensable business asset it certainly is… not just a lead generator, or a convenient place for your property portfolio.
Prepare to launch your optimal search engine optimization strategy with this approach and vision in mind.
Real estate SEO challenges in 2020 and beyond: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When it comes to real estate SEO, you should know that Less than Half of Google Searches Currently Result in a Click. That means driving free passive traffic from the search engine visitors is becoming increasingly challenging, and you cannot afford to rank below the top 3 results on any given page anymore.
These days, Google featured snippets (position 0) is the ideal, and the most difficult to attain.
But that’s not all, you also need to ensure that your content is properly optimized, on Google’s own platforms, including YouTube, Maps, Images, AMP, and others.
Yes, competition is fierce, and your adversaries are desperate to divert increasing numbers of potential buyers from your website to their digital domain. This means that you either have to take SEO seriously, or you will continue your struggle to generate traffic, leads, and revenue.
Real estate sites such as REALTOR.com, Zillow, Trulia, and Homes.com are the current industry leaders, attracting enough search engine traffic to reduce even the most superior real estate SEO expert teams to a jealous heap.
Plus, just about every REALTOR in the country has a website, and each and every one of them are fighting over the same keywords in the SERPs (search engine page results).
Let’s fast forward 12 months. Imagine 10x your website traffic (and revenue) with the right SEO strategy - combined with a consistent content marketing AND social media marketing plan, having the best execution team at your fingertips.
If you can picture that, then you absolutely have to...
- Keep up to date with your ideal target audience, and pay close attention to their specific requirements, in order to provide them with a stellar, tailor-made service that supersedes the efforts of your opponents...
- Update your site with the best, most recent and insightful content, in your quest to position your real estate agency as the #1 trusted source of real estate content. This ensures that potential buyers and sellers become familiar with you, building a relationship of trust, prompting them to always recommend you as the leader in your field...
- Gain experience in the latest technology and digital marketing trends, and make optimal use of the platform they provide, in order to proactively out-smart and out-rank your competitors.
For example, Google My Business (GMB) is an overlooked local business listing service.
When comparing Google My Business insights from 2017 to 2018, a BrightLocal study found that direct searches grew by 38%, while discovery searches were 6% higher. In addition, businesses received 29% more website clicks from their GMB listings in 2018, and 22% more calls.
On average, a business appears in 1,009 searches per month. That’s roughly 33 times a day. So, there are 33 daily opportunities to create a positive impression in the minds of customers with your GMB listing.
With the right SEO strategy, you will be rewarded for your dedication and reap the benefits made possible by your continued efforts. Still, the challenges presented by the real estate SEO space continues to increase and requires five key elements to facilitate success:
(1) Trust & confidence, (2) patience, (3) self-discipline, (4) tracking & testing, (5) learning from mistakes & adapting to new contexts and marketing approaches.
Make this 5-step guide your Search Engine Optimization strategy, and take action.
Before you do anything else, I strongly advise that you bookmark this post, print the entire document, and start working on it TODAY.
You should preferably move forward with an SEO agency that you can trust, who fully understands your vision, and cares about helping you get consistent results, rank higher in Google for hundreds of relevant key terms and searches, while fixing any SEO issues, as quickly as possible, if and when they arise.
Don’t just skim through this content… Absorb it, and TAKE ACTION!
Here is a simple 5-step SEO action guide to make the journey easier and less confusing:
Table of Contents
Step #1: Local SEO for Real Estate Firms. How to Get Discovered Online.
When it comes to local search optimization, search engines, as well as your target prospects want to know whether your real estate business is legitimate with valid NAPs – or rather, “Name, Address & Phone” listings for easy contact.
These listings, called citations, need to be consistent across the web since search engines use them to determine where your business operates from, and how visitors can best reach you.
You want your business to stand the test of time and last for decades, while distinguishing yourself from your competitors. Therefore, you need to carve out a niche for yourself; think local, focus on the city you operate from, and transform your real estate business into a consumer-oriented agency.
Think of SEO as the car, and content as the gas, and how you can grab the attention of your target market.
If you want to generate a continuous stream of clients from an organic search, then start off by creating your Google My Business listing profile; is free, quick and easy. Once it’s done, you can begin the Google My Business (GMB) optimization process to improve your local search presence.
Ensure that you properly complete your profile and provide Google with everything it requires to accurately list your business in the right places at the right times (in local pack and Google Maps). Providing the correct data, as well as compelling information helps you grab the attention of potential customers, prompting them to visit your site or call your number in a bid to do business with you.
An article on Spyserp states that Google considers three factors with regard to local rankings: relevance, distance, and prominence.
If you already have a digital presence, and your GMB listing is complete and fully optimized, then it is recommended that you perform an SEO audit for your website. However, you should do this only after you’ve read this entire guide.
Your listing will enable you to gather pertinent information about your visibility score across search engines, local directories, review sites, as well as social sites, while identifying how well you are positioned across all these channels to enhance the performance of your business in the local ecosystem.
Step #2: Keyword Research Best Practices for the Real Estate Industry
The keyword research process employed by some real estate agencies is too superficial, and touches on competitive key-phrases such as *your city* real estate or *your city* homes for sale. In many instances, these are not the keywords you should be targeting.
Experienced real estate SEO firms, on the other hand, will look for the best keywords to convert, taking into account user intent, while using latent semantic keywords and relevant synonyms.
Most often, they particularly target longtail key terms and additional key phrases to ensure that your website pages have a higher chance to rank on the first page of Google search results.
You will be able to out-rank even the big guys by properly targeting long tail keywords with your website content, instead of the medium to higher competitive key terms.
Longtails consist of a group of 3-5 words, which are ultra relevant, while targeting a specific market and customer need or search intent. Examples:
- Home for sale in [city]
- Real estate agent in [city]
- Apartment for sale near me
- Real estate SEO in [city]
Examples of potential keyword variables you can use to help generate free passive traffic from the search engines on a continual basis:
- homes for sale in *your city*
- *your city* real estate
- *your city* real estate for sale
- *your city + state abr* for sale
- real estate for sale *your city*
- all of the above with the state abbreviation
- similar search phrases with subdivisions or counties.
A professional keyword discovery tool such as the one offered by Semrush for e.g., simplifies the process of gathering close to 400 keyword suggestions starting with one main keyword: “houses for rent in los angeles”.
Basic on-page SEO requires for a targeted keyword to be supplied in six areas of a web page or blog post, not just inside the web page content or article itself.
Let’s say you’re targeting “Los Angeles House for rent.” The relevant elements would look as follows, and inserting the appropriate information is easily achievable using the All In One SEO plugin (Yoast alternative) supplied via WordPress.
SEO-Proof URL Structure Example: https://www.yourrealestatewebsite.com/los-angeles-house-for-rent
Relevant Page Title: Los Angeles House for Rent | Westside Rentals
Eye-catching Description: this meta description should be compelling enough to prompt Google visitors to click on your link and go to your destinate website page without main keyword overuse. Insert synonyms, and LSI key terms as well.
Targeted Keyword examples: Los Angeles House for rent, houses for rent in los angeles by owner, houses for rent in los angeles county
Prefered Image Title: you’ll have to save your image as Los-Angeles-House-for-rent.jpg or something very similar.
Image Alt Tag: you’ll have to insert an alternative text for the image: Los Angeles House for rent, in case images are unable to load on your server, or visitors did not enable images on their browsers.
Linking is probably the most important part of the SEO process in real estate because that’s how you get the attention of other competing, as well as non-competing sites in your industry, and increase your rankings over time.
However, internal linking is more often than not performed incorrectly or not frequently enough.
One thing to avoid is to link back to your homepage more often than you should, or multiple times from the same page, or using the same anchor text.
Instead, link to other relevant pages on your site using different key terms and keywords (anchor text).
Also, share link love to 3-party sources. There’s no set rule here.
This approach also provides your visitors with an easy way to find more information about related topics regarding your expertise. Also, it provides both search engines and readers with the opportunity to find other insightful content to scrutinize.
Use keywords sparingly, and always steer clear of keyword stuffing since you want to avoid risking any Google penalties or ranking decrease.
What about keyword density? A quick Google search inquiry this morning rendered this result:
You may want to read the full article on this topic, and run your own tests. SEO is about practice, not theory.
***How to Dominate Real Estate SEO With Premium-Content Pages
These are going to be your ‘bread-and-butter’ content pages, and you’ll want to link to these from all your new blog posts and social media mentions. Consider these your best, most insightful, and lengthiest content. Make use of all formats and sizes: text, graphics, audio, and video.
The purpose of these pages is to establish you as the go-to real estate expert in your city, with your content (along with its metrics such as comments, shares, etc.) acting as legit proof of this assertion.
Step #4: Leverage Mobile Traffic Like a Pro
Mobile traffic accounts for approximately half of the web traffic worldwide. During the second quarter of 2019, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 48.91% of the global website traffic, consistently hovering around the 50% mark since the beginning of 2017.
That’s why mobile search traffic is vital for real estate companies and real estate website owners looking to properly optimize their pages, and digital properties for smartphones.
- Loads resources across all devices
- Doesn’t hide content on the mobile versions of your site
- Loads quickly as expected by mobile users
- Has working internal links and redirects
- Boasts a UX that’s optimized for any device that your visitors might use
If all these elements are working as they should, then it means your real estate website has a mobile-friendly, responsive design.
Here are 3 other key areas to consider with regard to mobile use:
- Site navigation
- Site search
How Can You Optimize the Readability and Aesthetic Quality of Your Mobile Content?
- Use at least a 14px font size, and a maximum 3 font colors (black is one of them)
- Use short paragraphs (1, 2, maximum 3 lines per paragraph - if you have to)
- Reduce image sizes, and link to videos outside your host servers through mini graphics
- Stick to a line length of between 50-60 characters
- Ensure that there’s a significant contrast between the text and the background (people use phones outside, which can make low-contrast text harder to read)
Implement AMP pages and speed up your real estate website. Once that’s enabled, the next time your prospects visit your website, they will access your page information instantly, without delay.
It is a proven fact that quicker load times lead to happy visitors, referrals and customers, and is not just there to make Google happy and increase your chance of getting higher rankings.
Step #5: Expand and Scale Your SEO Strategy for 10x Traffic Growth.
What follows next is a 3-part combo you can strategically implement to further increase your search visibility, traffic, and online authority.
A. Make use of the FAQ schema.
I’ve found an interesting SEO hack here. Neil claims that it works regardless of how long your site has been in existence, and it doesn’t require back-links from 3rd party sites. Plus, you can literally see results in less than 30 minutes.
Here’s how this works:
You will need to create a section on your site or page and offer ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ type of content.
This will allow your website to be eligible for a collapsible menu under your SERP with the question, and when clicked on, reveals the answer.
There are two ways to implement it… either through JSON-LD or Microdata. Yes, I know, it sounds like complete gibberish, but if you read the article and do what it recommends, you can set this up this SEO strategy once and for all, which enables you to rank and might even provide benefits in terms of a voice search.
Implement it if you care to increase the visibility of your real estate brand, and improve the authority of your website.
B. Guest post on relevant industry publications to harness more brand visibility, and back-linking opportunities
One proven way to grow your credibility and rise in the search engine rankings is by contributing regular content to reputable, non-competitive, high-authority websites, while linking back to your premium web pages in return.
You should do this throughout your content and/or the author bio. Each site has their own guest posting linking rules and restrictions.
C. Build an Automated Email Nurturing Sequence
The recipe for Crafting a High-Converting Nurture Sequence
- Create your lead generator based on your target audience’s most burning wants, needs, challenges, and pain points.
- Decide on your sending cadence. How long do you plan to email to your leads? How often, and at which frequency?
- Set realistic expectations
Your welcome email can make or break your email nurturing campaign.
It’s the most important message that will generate the highest open-rates and responses, so spend enough time on crafting it.
You may also want to convert or expand your email sequence into a regular newsletter to further build your relationship with non-customers in a bid to later transform them into referrals and paying clients.
Bonus Tip: Diversify Your Traffic Sources.
As Rand Fishkin recommends, you should invest in growing the loyal, engaged community of your real estate brand vs. purely investing in keyword rankings and back-linking efforts.
Social media marketing is that special element you can add to your SEO game plan and online marketing mix.
Here’s a simple guide to help you Beat Your Competitor’s Social Media Strategy.
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Codrut Turcanu is an expert digital marketing and advertising content writer. Codrut partners with busy and ambitious marketing teams to help them generate 10x their traffic, leads, and clients. Learn more about Codrut and his work here.