If you want to leverage search engine optimization (SEO) in real estate, you’re in the right place. This guide will help you learn how to drive a steady stream of traffic and leads to your website.
We’ll cover the SEO basics, how you can get started today, and how to leverage this guide to create a long-term competitive advantage in Google search.
Let’s dive in!
What is real estate SEO?
Real estate search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site’s keyword rankings in order to drive relevant traffic (e.g. home buyers) to your website.
Many factors determine keyword rankings (e.g. content quality, links, and meta tags) and the factors are different for each and every keyword.
It’s pretty simple: ranking for keywords can help drive a steady stream of traffic to your website. After you’ve put in the work, that traffic keeps flowing to your site, and it’s all free.
But there are a number of strategies you can use to generate real estate leads, such as social media, pay-per-click, and more. SEO could be the only channel you use, or it could be one of many. Perhaps it’s not even the best strategy for you.
If you’re serious about SEO (and you want to hire it out), we recommend spending somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 per month.
Spending $500/month, while tempting, likely won’t generate results. Such services and companies typically lack the analytical skills, integrity, and elbow grease required to deliver results.
Get on Google My Business
If you haven’t already, set up your Google My Business profile so you can display in local search results.
Google My Business results often show up high on Google’s search engine results page (SERP).
Sign up, verify your business, and fill out all the relevant information on your profile.
Do keyword research
Keyword research is the process of finding the best searches and topics to target. This process is the foundation for SEO.
To kick off your keyword research, first brainstorm about 8 to 10 general topics that relate to your business. In real estate, those buckets might include real estate, find a realtor, homes for sale, selling a home, foreclosure, etc.
After finding good keyword topics, drill down to more specific keywords. You can blog about your keywords or target them with content you already have on your website.
In general, you should be looking for keywords that are frequently searched but have weak competition.
If you rank for keywords with high search volume, you’ll get more clicks. But it’s easy to overlook keyword competition. Targeting overly competitive keywords is one of the primary reasons an SEO strategy or blog endeavour will fail.
Aside from 1) search volume and 2) weak competition, a good keyword should, 3) be relevant to your business model.
Without SEO experience, it’s easy to fall into the trap of targeting high volume, popular keywords. The problem, however, is that these keywords are usually VERY competitive, expensive, and too difficult to rank for.
- Neighborhoods in [your city]
- Real estate agent [nearby town]
- Moving to [your city]
Here are a few tools that we use for analyzing search volume and keyword difficulty:
- Mangools KWFinder: excellent tool for finding new keywords, estimated search volumes, and estimating keyword difficulty.
- MozBar (free): measures Domain Authority, the holy grail for keyword competition. It also shows up in the search engine results page, making it easy to understand a keyword’s real difficulty.
- KeywordTool.io (free) and SearchVolume.io (free): simple tools to find keywords and estimate search volume.
After you’ve done the hard work of finding good keywords, it’s time to start creating content.
Let’s use our target keyword “Chicago neighborhood guide” as an example.
Brainstorming & research
When you’re gearing up to write a blog, the first question you should ask yourself is, “what are people looking for?”
Let’s brainstorm. And we’ll start with the obvious:
- Neighborhoods. They want to know what neighborhoods are in Chicago and which ones suit their needs. A list of neighborhoods would be helpful for this content.
- Images. Don’t just write about these neighborhoods. Show them the neighborhoods. A picture speaks a thousand words, right?
If you want to go the extra mile (we’d recommend it), here are a few more items to consider including:
- Local attractions
- Average home prices
- WordPress: This is a drag-and-drop, customizable content management system (CMS) that provides plenty of tools and templates to help you create your blog platform.
- Semrush: Do your keyword research, keyword ranking, traffic analysis and more with Semrush.
- Quora: Get your ideas going with this crowdsourcing website. Pan the Q&As for blog ideas based on frequently asked questions.
- Asana: Stay organized by using this workplace management tool. The highly customizable app will keep you on schedule, allow you to share content, and help you collaborate with others on your team.
- Grammarly: Improve your writing and catch errors with the help of this online editing tool. Not only will Grammarly correct mistakes, it offers writing suggestions with other tools—like Google Docs—and social media platforms you are likely already using.
- Google Search Console—Determine how SEO-friendly your blog really is! This tool can show you issues or strengths of your blog and how to improve it.
- Check My Links—This free Google tool helps ensure that any links you use within your blog are working and not broken.
- Canva—This is a one-stop design shop! Canva is a user-friendly online design tool that easily helps you search photos, create graphics, develop gifs, and plenty more.
- Blog about your area. Cater your blogs to a more localized, focused community.
- Know your audience. What do they like, dislike, and what are they looking for?
- Follow a schedule. Provide your content regularly so people know when to look for it.
- Determine your content strategy. Know your speciality or niche and what you want to cover.
- Promote your blog. Share it on social, through email, and potentially through paid digital ads.
Links help Google find and evaluate content. Link building is the process of attracting hyperlinks that point to your site.
Getting links is essential for SEO. According to Search Engine Land, “Links are one of the top two criteria considered in Google’s page ranking algorithm.”
Quality content is essential, but links are an important element in helping Google understand what content is quality and what is not.
A link is basically a referral from one website to another that Google interprets as a recommendation.
So, how do you build links?
Convincing people who control websites to add a link to yours is a bit of a tricky process. Why should they link to your site? What do they have to gain?
First off, your website should be of high quality—webmasters will be less inclined to link to a poor website. Second, your pitch needs to be compelling enough to make them 1) want to do you a favor, and 2) put in the time and effort required to actually add the link to their site.
These requirements have led SEOs to get creative with a variety of link building tactics. Here are a few we recommend (although this list is NOT exhaustive):
- Guest posting: Create unique and relevant content to share on another site that links back to your site.
- Broken link building: When you discover a broken link on another site’s blog, suggest linking to quality content on your own site as a replacement.
- Using resources from trusted sites: Write a blog that incorporates credible resources, then share your blog with the people or businesses whose information you used.
- Creating infographics: Infographics take complicated information and break it down into helpful, easy to digest facts—and they are super easy to share.
- Sharing on social media: Post your link on your company’s social media platforms and encourage your followers and connections to share it.
These are just some of the tactics you can use to give your link a longer life and broader audience.
Update your title tags
Every web page has a title tag. The title tag is the title of your web page that shows up in the browser title bar and the search engine results page.
This is the first thing that a search engine “sees” in regards to your web page, so it needs to be clear! A strong title tag will improve your SEO, while a weak title tag can negatively affect it.
For a blog, the title tag is typically the title of the blog. If your blog is titled “5 of Chicago’s hottest neighborhoods for new homeowners,” then that also will be your title tag.
For properties and listings, you determine the title tag that will show up. If your listings page includes all the homes for sale in Hyde Park, Chicago, then the title tag and name of the page should match, for example, “Homes for sale in Hyde Park, Chicago, IL.”
So how do you write strong title tags? Here are some points to consider:
- Include keywords first: Once you’ve determined your keywords, prioritize them in your title tag
- Organize info logically: On a listing page for example, include your business name, keywords, then location.
- Keep it concise: Aim for brevity, staying under 60 total characters.
- Make it clear: Create a title that tells readers what the page is about without overusing keywords.
While some website builders make it very easy to adjust and improve title tags, others make it an arduous task. For blogs, updating the title tag is usually as simple as opening your blog post editor. However, many listing pages are generated with filters and databases. You might need to reach out to the web developer to improve the title tag on a listing page.
It can be difficult to optimize listing pages to rank. For a company like ZIllow, it’s easier to dominate the search results page because they can optimize their content in bulk across all locations. For a smaller business with niche work, it can be more difficult to optimize.
If you’ve done everything up to this point, you’ve put in a lot of work. How do you know if any of it is working?
There are many ways to measure the effectiveness of your content and blogs, however, these two are the best.
- Google Analytics – measures website performance (across many channels)
- Google Search Console – measures search engine performance specifically
Google Search Console
If you simply want to measure your performance in Google Search, get signed up for Google Search Console.
Search Console will report traffic to your site, what issues you need to fix, how your keywords are ranking, and provide ways to optimize your content for better results.
If you want to analyze the effectiveness of your SEO efforts compared to social media or pay per click, get set up in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics allows you to track your website’s performance across all channels. Beyond that, Analytics provides information about your audience’s demographics, location, interests, and more.
Turning strategy into results
SEO is a long-term strategy. You won’t rank in the first month or likely even six. It’s an ongoing process that typically takes over a year to ramp up.
So if you’re serious about pursuing SEO as a strategy for your business, be in it for the long haul. The good news is, the return on your investment is worth it.
If that means dedicating time on a weekly or daily basis to SEO, do it. If that means hiring it out, do it. Just make sure whomever you hire is analytical, honest, and transparent!