The internet is a critical component of real estate, more so now than ever before. Gone are the days when most home buyers flip through the newspaper to search for properties. If you want to compete for quality leads and sell more real estate, you need to invest in a solid real estate SEO plan.
According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly 95% of all home buyers use online tools to search for real estate. For 41% of those buyers, the very first step they took was to look at properties online themselves, compared to 19% who contacted a real estate agent first. What this data tells us is that you need an online presence, and you need to be visible. Sitting around and waiting for leads to find you miraculously is not going to work.
Real estate is not passive work; it is a competitive field, especially now. Quite frankly, if you’re not using the Internet effectively, you’re losing business.
Let’s be real for a second, though: it isn’t easy to compete with the big real estate firms that already have a dominating online presence. Zillow and a small number of digital brokerages are hammering real estate agents and making it nearly impossible to compete. According to Statistica, Zillow dominates as the most popular real estate website in the US, with approximately 36 million unique monthly visitors.
Zillow is a household name, and while they are at the very top, they are not your only competition: Trulia, Yahoo! Homes, Realtor, and Redfin round out the top five most popular websites, and each brings in millions of page visits per month. If you want to see the extent of their influence yourself, search for homes for sale in any market in the US and see what the first results are.
So, what’s an independent agent or a small local agency supposed to do?
While these real estate giants may make it difficult to acquire organic lead generation, it’s not impossible. You can still do it. So, don’t completely abandon an organic strategy in favor of advertisements and syndicated platforms. If you’re relying solely on paid ads, you will be spending a lot of cash with little ROI.
There are opportunities where you can compete for organic traffic at a local level. To succeed, you simply need the right real estate SEO strategy.
What is Real Estate SEO?
When it comes to real estate, SEO plays a similar role as it would with any other content. You want a user-friendly real estate website with the content users are looking for, and you want them to find it easily.
Sounds simple, right?
If someone is looking to buy or sell property, you want your website to appear in the search results. And we all know users don’t really look at results beyond the first couple of pages. So, how can you compete with websites like Zillow that dominate the top ten? Don’t fret; there are opportunities to compete with a well-thought-out plan of attack.
Here are some things to consider:
- 49% of the digital market share in real estate is not owned by a single brand.
- 10% of all buyers looked online for information about the home-buying process before buying a home
- The most useful website feature to buyers is photos
- Word-of-mouth referrals are still the number one tactic for effective lead generation
This last point is especially important. With a local SEO strategy and omnichannel blitz, real estate companies can increase their lead count and boost their revenue significantly.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to focus on local content and opportunities that will make you stand out as an authority within your community. That’s really key because while Zillow stands as a real estate figurehead online, they don’t have the same impact at the local level.
How to Build an SEO Strategy for Real Estate Websites
SEO for real estate agents is an extremely competitive field. Working with real estate companies across multiple markets, we’ve developed proven tactics to help brokerages, property management groups, and small agents boost their organic presence and acquire new leads across multiple channels.
To prove it, we’ve developed this guide on real estate SEO to help you get started in taking back your local market. Keep reading to learn how to build an effective real estate SEO marketing strategy and help your local content rank better, resulting in more qualified leads.
Think you already know the basic fundamentals of real estate SEO? In addition to our comprehensive guide, you can test your knowledge with six mini quizzes.
1.) Establish a Local Presence
The first step in building an SEO strategy for your real estate website is to focus on local SEO. Remember: real estate is local. This stands true when it comes to real estate SEO, too. As already mentioned, honing in on your own local market will help you stand out from the industry giants.
If your real estate brokerage has a website (which it should–that’s not really a question anymore), you need to execute referral strategies that will lead home seekers and sellers to your website. The easiest way to start is by acquiring some low-hanging fruit:
- Create and claim your Google My Business profile listing
- Register your business for local directories and your agency for MLS listings
- Reclaim citations over the web that mention your business or brand
- Implement local Schema Markup on your website and embed Google Maps so that you can be indexed and discovered locally
- Ensure that all name, address, and phone number (NAP) information about your business is consistent across the web
The layout of the SERP differs depending on search queries/keywords used.
For real estate, however, Google Maps results are almost always at the top of the SERPs. Setting up your Google My Business profile won’t guarantee that you will show up at the top of the results, but not having a profile will guarantee you won’t.
This local tactic, combined with other SEO strategies, can put your real estate company’s name above the likes of Zillow and Realtor. When it comes to that 19% that contact an agent first, you want them to see your contact details right away.
2.) Find Keyword Opportunities
Keywords are some of the most important ranking factors for SEO. You need to find the right keywords for your target audience regarding your real estate website. To acquire leads on organic search channels, you’ll specifically need to target long-tail keywords with less competition than broad-tail phrases.
An example of a broad-tail phrase is “real estate.” That term has a monthly search volume of nearly 700,000. While the search volume is high, you probably won’t be able to rank for this keyword because of the high competition.
Instead, you will want to focus on more specific keywords that apply to your content. While they will have significantly lower search volume than, say, “real estate,” you have a much better chance of ranking for them.
For example, if you sell homes in Southern California, you will have a better chance of ranking for more specific keywords such as “los angeles realtor,” “luxury real estate los angeles,” and “culver city real estate,” if those terms apply to your business and content. You will want to use these terms as focus keywords in your website content.
Here are more examples of taking a broad keyword and turning it into a more specific phrase.
|Broad-Tail Keyword Examples||Long-Tail Keyword Examples|
|new york real estate||upper west side apartments for sale|
|real estate agents||best real estate agent oakland ca|
|buying a home||best time of year to buy a house|
|vacation rentals||pocono cabin rentals on lake|
You can find a lot of long-tail variants with opportunities to target with just a simple Internet search of houses for sale in any city/area you serve. Here are some examples using the city of Plano, Texas:
- things to do in plano (2k sv)
- what county is plano tx in (2.2k sv)
- parks in plano (1.1k sv)
- best restaurants in plano (2.3k sv)
The more specific you get with your keywords, the more qualified traffic you will get to your site.
If you broadly focus on “Plano, Texas,” for example, searchers could be looking for any kind of information, and your site may or may not be valuable. Someone looking for the history of Plano, Texas, for a school project will not turn into a real estate lead.
If you focus on “homes for sale in Plano, TX,” you are more likely to get traffic from individuals looking to purchase a home in Plano.
See the difference? When it comes to keywords, the intent is everything.
For real estate, we recommend targeting keywords for specific neighborhoods and school districts in your service area to compete for small unclaimed traffic.
For example, the keyword “homes for sale in willow bend plano tx” only has a keyword volume of 90. However, if you optimize a page for this keyword, you stand a greater chance of ranking high because the competition is low. People who want to buy a home in Willow Bend will use similar search terminology, and it doesn’t get more qualified than that.
When thinking about keywords, you don’t want to focus exclusively on the keywords with the most volume. Instead, you want to consider the keywords most relevant to your content and how people should find your website. When selling real estate in a specific location, you want to stick to those local keywords.
Use your website to become a local expert with a dynamic local content strategy and link-building plan for promotion and rank.
3.) Boost Rankings with Content
Content marketing is one of the most important moves you can make for virtually any SEO strategy – national or local. The keyword research you did will help drive your real estate SEO content. To develop ideas for topics, leverage the following resources:
- Competitor analysis: what is driving traffic to your competitor’s website?
- Keywords: what are home buyers and sellers searching for?
- Individual buyers and sellers: get it straight from the horse’s mouth.
You don’t have to develop content ideas out of thin air. In fact, you shouldn’t do that at all.
Instead, find out the type of content that already exists among competitors and what your audience is already looking for. Analyze the SERPs and the “people also ask” results to help you plan a content strategy.
You can also use a number of tools to assist in figuring out this information, including
- Google Ads – keyword generation
- SEMrush keyword gap – keyword generation and competitor analysis
- Ahrefs content gap – competitor analysis, including links
- Buzzsumo – trending topic generation
- AskthePublic – keyword generation
- Google search bars – keyword generation
When it comes to creating new content and optimizing existing content on your real estate website, remember to follow the best practices and experiment with different mediums, such as infographics and videos for more views and longer dwell times.
Video & Multimedia
Some keywords will rank better for articles, while others will rank better for videos. Again, you can research SERPs to get an idea of which content should be the focus of a video or infographic.
If you search a keyword and Google (or another search engine) prioritizes video or image results over most organic search results for written content, then you should make a video or infographic for that content.
The best approach is to embed the video or multimedia element into the article. If you have an existing article, record a video summarizing the content. If your real estate company doesn’t already have a YouTube channel, create one.
When creating SEO-friendly content for your real estate website, focus on a content cluster strategy. This will help optimize your site’s structure and internal linking by organizing related content topics.
With this strategy, you will have pillar pages and cluster content joined together by hyperlinks.
Your pillar pages will target general local keywords that you want to rank for. For example, “homes for sale in Plano.”
Underneath that pillar will be more specific supporting content that is related to that page. An example of a supporting page would be “best neighborhoods to buy a home in Plano.”
For cluster content, you can create individual pieces of content focusing on those neighborhoods that will be linked from your pillar page.
A great local SEO strategy for real estate agents is to create content around individual listings and neighborhoods.
If you have a real estate blog, creating content around featured listings will allow you to promote a specific property and display your local authority. Be sure to leverage visuals and technology, such as video or AR, to make a sale.
Share Content Effectively
Simply producing content is not enough. You need to share it on the appropriate channels.
Consider the following strategies to share your content:
- Paid promotion through Facebook or Instagram
- Organic sharing on those same platforms
- Content syndication on guest blogs and real estate platforms
To boost your rankings and get some much-needed traffic to your website, you need to commit to link building.
4.) Acquire Links from Prominent Websites in Your Area
Backlinks remain one of Google and Bing’s primary ranking factors, even for local searches. Creating a backlink catalog will be important for crafting a real estate SEO campaign.
Acquiring backlinks from prominent bloggers and publications in your area provides a source of referral traffic and added brand visibility. When other reputable sites (with good SEO) link back to your content, it tells search engines that your content is relevant and of good quality.
This is why we guest post on local blogs for our clients, and we conduct manual reach-out to prominent bloggers and influencers in the area to score some much-needed visibility. The key is getting links from websites that are relevant to your pillar content, as this type of backlinking will be more valuable.
Think of this strategy as relationship building. By contributing content or even sponsoring someone else in your area, you are not only generating organic visibility and moving the needle on keywords, but you are also increasing your word-of-mouth referrals.
And remember: word-of-mouth referrals remain the best tactic for effective lead generation in the real estate world.
5.) Refine Your Internal Linking Structure
Now, all of this information is useless without implementing a proper internal linking structure on your website. Internal links are a core essential of written website content.
This is also the number one mistake we see real estate companies make.
Real estate website page structures can be especially confusing because your neighborhoods page, listings, and even some blog content will leverage similar keywords. Fleshing this out from a top-down approach, and implementing redirects if you decide to cut or rearrange some pages, is the first step to fixing a website that is suffering in rankings.
You want to think about your internal link structure as similar to your pillar content strategy but on a larger scale.
Use internal links in your content to deep-link to other web pages, such as neighborhood pages and other blog posts, to spread authority amongst your site and provide CTAs for visitors to engage further. When you go through the content on your website, make sure you do not have duplicate content posted.
Use keyword-rich anchor text to communicate with search engines and users about the topic of that page. This can inadvertently help with rankings if done appropriately.
6.) Execute an Omnichannel Marketing Blitz
One advantage that local businesses have over all others is the ability to communicate with users face-to-face.
To reinforce many of the strategies we’ve stated before, you should commit to multiple real estate SEO marketing tactics for the most success.
Here are some marketing approaches you should try:
- Advertising on Facebook for leads
- Nurturing leads with content
- Nurturing leads with emails, face-to-face meetings, or calls
- Remarketing to leads with email offers and personalized content
- Moving a listing for a specific neighborhood above the established brands in your market is not too opportune
Focus on increasing your organic visibility in your local area with content to familiarize people with your brand and remarket to them over advertising channels and email.
Real Estate SEO Services from LSEO
At LSEO, we offer real estate SEO services that get results and earn our customers leads.
While the real estate field can be intimidating, forgoing organic lead generation is not an option.
If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of creating an SEO strategy for your real estate website, you don’t have to do it alone. Let the real estate SEO experts at LSEO help you grow your business through cost-effective strategies that are designed to improve your brand’s visibility and earn you quality leads.
Let’s put our SEO expertise to work for you. If you need digital marketing help for your real estate website, contact LSEO today!