Guide: Real Estate SEO 101
Maybe you have a website, but hate how it underperforms. Or, maybe this is your first venture into building a website. In either case, we're going to give you enough real estate SEO knowledge to run with.
It's such a simple concept: You want Google to love you, and tell everyone else about you. But, literally, everyone else is vying for the same thing. So how do you stand above the rest?
You win by doing the right things. And that's with real, proven real estate tactics, not tricks or shortcuts.
Today, we're going to explore the tactics you need to embrace, and the shortcuts you need to avoid.
You might want to print this off.
1. Avoid Freebee Website Builders or Hosting
You may be drawn in by the lure of a bargain. Especially if you're just starting out and don't have much of a budget. But what this may save you in money you will give up in real estate SEO clout. And that's not a trade worth making. Ever.
These website builders may look great. You can absolutely put together a professional looking and visually appealing website that nobody would ever guess was free.
However, having a beautiful website that nobody can find is the kiss of death. And these cheap-or-free website builders are not super real estate SEO-friendly. They often come with bulky and unnecessary coding that hurts your ranking.
Also, if you're thinking about getting a free Wix account and posting a free site with a wee tiny little “Built By Wix Logo” at the bottom. Don't. To be blunt, that makes you look unprofessional and borderline bush league.
Avoid Free Hosting
Also, avoid the temptation to go with free or cheap hosting. This is another area that should be off limits when it comes to cost-cutting.
You very much get what you pay for. Cheap hosting may hurt your real estate SEO with:
- Your website being offline
- Your email being offline
- Slow or lagging website load speeds
First of all, you don't want any downtime for your site or email. If you're offline for any length of time, anyone unable to reach you will go straight to your competition. So you're gift-wrapping qualified leads to the other guys.
Second of all, you don't want a slow website. This kills your SEO and your user experience.
Google has stated that your site's speed would be a factor in their rankings and slow sites would be penalized.
How slow is too slow? Keep in mind that half of the people out there won't wait 3 seconds for a site to load. After that, off to the competition's site.
2. The War for Real Estate SEO Is Fought Locally
This is a hyper-competitive and hyper-local space. You're not competing on a national level- only with local Realtors. So how do we win the local real estate SEO war?
You can do one thing instantly that sets you apart from about half of the other businesses on the internet: Make sure you Google My Business information is up to date.
You would be amazed. This is such an easy thing to do. It takes 10 seconds to update and it's free! But half of the businesses out there take themselves out of the SEO game right away by failing to do this. And that's a huge win for those who do.
So make sure Google has your current and complete:
- Business name
- Business address, or addresses if you have more than one location
- Business hours
- Customer reviews
You should also know that just because a bigger or more established realtor currently owns the real estate SEO space right now, doesn't mean they always will.
Real estate SEO is maintained, not achieved. The war is never over. If you do the right things, you can easily knock someone off the top of the mountain, even if you don't have a big budget.
Conversely, you can easily be usurped by someone if you ignore your SEO.
3. Use Social Media Wisely
This is a bit tricky. Let's be clear about one thing: Social media success does not have a direct connection with real estate SEO success. One does not guarantee the other. This is a very popular misconception.
Google has stated that social media does not impact SEO rankings.
However, social media can be a great way to send traffic to your site, which will help your real estate SEO ranking.
But keep this concept in mind: The traffic should only move one way there: from social media to your site. Never the other way around.
Too many companies will put social logos on their homepage and around their site asking people to Like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter… why? You have them on your site, why are you sending them away?
That's like spending thousands on a nice billboard ad on the highway. Then, when someone comes into your office to ask about listings, you send them out to look at the billboard.
If someone is on your site, don't send them away. Convert them. Everything on your site should be funneling these leads to fill out a form to contact you, or to view your listing, and then contact you.
Do More Than Sell
Of course, you're going to want to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post pictures and virtual tours of your properties. You would be silly not to.
But when you're having a conversation away from your own timeline or profile, don't try to sell anything. People hate a hard sell and are often put off by it, unless they're posting directly to your page.
Go out and have real conversations with real people. Go out into local forums and groups to find the chance to answer people's questions about buying or selling a home. Your expertise is your most valuable asset. So use it.
But leave the sales pitch behind. If you legitimately help someone, you have a better chance of turning that person into a customer.
4. Blog Often. Blog Better
Yes, you need to blog. And you have to be pretty darn good at it. Remember, websites that have a blog have 434% more indexed pages than non-blog sites.
And let's address one thing right now. “Check Out This Great 3-Bedroom on the South Side” is not a blog. That's a listing. Too many Realtors don't know what to blog about, so they will stick listings on their blog.
You're better than that. People actually hate that. That's not what the blog is for. You need quality content for real estate SEO wins.
You're going to use the blog to answer people's common questions and address the pain points that keep them up at night.
Take all of the most common questions and concerns that your clients tell you all of the time and use them as blog titles.
Try to use the exact same words that your clients use. Because those are the words that your would-be customers will be Googling. And you want to be the site that they find when they do Google them.
These phrases and questions are called longtail search keywords. They're becoming more important as more people are expecting to ask Google or Siri a complete question and get a complete answer.
Your site can be that answer.Your website's blog and FAQs section are the best places to attack these longtail keywords.
5. PPC Is Not SEO
This is another massive misconception. People think that if they buy pay-per-click (PPC) ads that this will help their organic search rating. Not true.
PPC ads are great and can be another amazing way to send traffic to your site. But, PPC success does not lead to real estate SEO success. These are separate things that you need to keep separate in your mind and in your strategy.
Try to think about it this way. SEO is organic traffic that you earn by optimizing keywords. PPC is paid traffic that you earn by bidding on keywords.
Know these are different things and treat them as separate things. And track/ measure them as separate things.
6. Shoot Amazing Videos
How important are videos to your real estate SEO strategy?
Very!here are some statistics to prove that.
- 85% of buyers deem photos “very useful” to their decision-making process
- 73% of homeowners say they're more likely to list with a realtor who offers to create a video for them. and yet…
- Only 4% of real estate agents take the time to put their listings on YouTube?
- 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide say that video content has the best ROI
- Shoppers who get to see videos are almost twice as likely to purchase, compared to non-viewers.
- Using the word “video” in your email subject line can increase open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%
That should sell you on the fact that you need professional videos to be a part of your real estate SEO strategy. The key part there being the word “professional”.
Either get the equipment and know-how to shoot your own amazing videos and virtual tours, or hire someone to do it for you.
An unprofessional video will do more harm than no video at all. If someone doesn't like your video, they will X-close it immediately and look elsewhere. And that elsewhere could be a competitor's website or YouTube channel.
YouTube is actually the second biggest search engine in the world, not Yahoo! or Bing. So give it the attention it deserves.
7. Be Careful With Your Backlinks
Shortcut alert: Don't buy links from “link farms” or spammy sites.
This type of tactic may have worked a few years ago, but The Google Penguin update has cracked down on this shady way of building real estate SEO clout.
Now, Google wants good, organic links back to your site that you earn. Not the spammy variety that you buy.
What Is a spammy link?
Basically, it's an exact match keyword, using exact match anchor text, on a completely unrelated website.
This means you would have a link out there with “best realtor Springfield” as anchor text, on a site that has nothing to do with real estate or homes. If you have any of these links out there now, you're getting punished for them by Google as we speak.
As soon as this update was added to the core search algorithm a lot of businesses using link farms took a hit in the rankings. Meanwhile, companies that were doing things the organic way saw almost overnight improvements.
The good news is that if you have these links taken down (or at least “nofollow” them), you will be rewarded almost immediately, as the algorithm works in real-time.
What Is a good link?
Organic links are built through creating relationships and good-old-fashioned PR. Thee organic links could include reviews on other sites, “shout-outs” in other people's blogs, local media coverage, or guest posts.
Make Sure You're Mobile
Today, you need an amazing mobile site, that is well-optimized. Google recently announced they will look at your mobile site before they look at your desktop site.
Mobile-first indexing means that your mobile site now needs to be even better than your desktop site.
It's also incredibly important for your user experience and conversation rate optimization.
Over 60 percent of would-be customers will leave a mobile site if they encounter any problems or delays. And 40 percent of those people said they will immediately go to the competitors' site.
So make sure you have a mobile site. And make sure it's amazing.
Keep Up-to-Date on Real Estate SEO
This world of real estate SEO is literally changing every day, so it's important to stay on top of it. We take pride in providing the very best in SEO advice, geared directly towards realtors.
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