The Ultimate Real Estate SEO Guide (with Strategies, Tips & Examples)
By Seth Price
Fewer cold calls, no more meetings with unqualified prospects, and of course, more revenue.
How do you make the dream a reality?
The answer: real estate SEO.
(i.e. showing up, and standing out, on Google when people search for the services you provide)
Today, 90% of home buyers use the internet. With so many people searching online for homes, the agent who masters SEO, wins.
The best part about real estate SEO? It never rests. It generates leads for you 24/7, without the need to call, buy ads, or pound the pavement.
Ready to step off the lead generation hamster wheel?
In this real estate SEO guide, we’ll take a closer look at:
- What is Real Estate SEO?
- Why is SEO Critical for Real Estate Agents?
- 20 Real Estate SEO Tips to Drive More Traffic, Leads and Sales
- 11 Real Estate SEO Tactics Agents Should Avoid
- 5 Handy SEO Tools for Real Estate Agents
- 3 Valuable SEO Resources for Real Estate Agents:
- Ready to take your Real Estate SEO Strategy to Another Level?
Follow this guide and you’ll not only have a clearer understanding of what it takes to rank in your local market, but a tactical roadmap to make it happen.
Let’s jump in.
What is Real Estate SEO?
While there’s a lot of jargon floating around online, real estate SEO really boils down to:
Showing up in the search engines when people are looking for someone to help them buy or sell a property.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes for a moment, and imagine you want to buy a new home. You’ve settled on where, and what kind of property — so, what are the first steps?
If you’re like 44% of home buyers, the first thing you do is head straight to Google, open a new tab and start typing:
You’ve got a shortlist of options to look at. And, there’s a 60% chance you’ll click on one of the top three results to start evaluating:
However, the layout of the SERP (search engine results page) has recently changed. Now ads, instant answers, local map packs have pushed down the once visible organic rankings making it even harder to get noticed online for important search terms:
Because so many businesses are competing for the little organic real estate (no pun intended) left on the SERP, SEO for brokers and agents has become brutally competitive space.
It’s no longer good enough to create a website and publish content. Today, if you want to rank for important keywords that drive qualified leads, you need a proper SEO strategy.
Why is SEO Critical for Real Estate Agents?
According to the National Association of Realtors, 44% of all buyers search online for property listings as the first stage of their journey.
That’s a massive change from 1981, when the most-used resource was newspaper ads (by 22% of buyers).
Almost half of buyers start their searches for properties directly. For this large chunk, it’s essential your property listings are optimized for the bordering neighbourhoods and other terms that indicate local relevance to Google.
Just check out how much traffic this Madison realtor gets from a few local keywords:
Hundreds of visits every month from searchers looking for homes in the local area — from just a small set of keywords.
Wherever you look, no matter the location, there’s going to be between hundreds and tens of thousands of prospects searching for real estate in that local area every month:
- san antonio homes for sale is searched 7900 times every month
- studio apartments chicago is searched 1700 times monthly
- houses for sale in florida with pool gets 600 searches monthly
Since ranking in the #1 spot in Google gets you around 36.4% of total clicks…
…Then ranking #1 for
- San Antonio homes for sale = 2875 targeted leads visiting your site every month
- Studio apartments Chicago = 618 targeted leads visiting your site every month
- Houses for sale in Florida = 218 targeted leads visiting your site every month
But, these keywords don’t represent the mindset of every buyer. Some aren’t ready to pick the property yet — they’re still stalled with legal or financial questions that slow the process down.
That’s why 13% of searchers are just looking for more information. They’re less sure about next steps than those who search things like “condos for sale madison wi”, but they’re still valuable leads to nurture.
By targeting these informational keywords, you can present searchers with helpful content to build brand awareness, and grow your lead list.
Check out this strategy in action by Redfin with their content on purchase and sales agreements:
It ranks for 250 different keywords and brings in around 1,100 organic visits a month.
The post includes a call to action that converts casual readers into leads:
In the past, users primarily depended on personal computers to conduct online searches.
But the emergence of mobile devices transformed how users search online. Data from the last five years shows a clear trend of mobile steadily taking over PCs in the search sphere:
The internet has eclipsed every other source of leads, information and sales that came before it.
Now, 93% of buyers 36 years and younger go online as part of the real estate search process — that’s the largest market segment, with 3% more share than baby boomers.
And, even the older demographics are turning to online search in the home buying process:
And if you’re thinking that you can just skip over implementing SEO strategy and focus 100% of your time on paid advertising, keep in mind that paid spend doesn’t convert as well as organic. The average conversion rate for Google ads across all industries is 3.75%, but real estate only converts at 2.47%. It appears real estate marketers are having a harder time converting leads into sales through paid advertising.
The market’s wide open and your competitors are leaving a lot of money on the table by ignoring SEO.
And, it’s time for you to capitalize.
20 Real Estate SEO Tips to Drive More Traffic, Leads and Sales
Read on to discover how you can use a real estate website and local SEO strategy to capture more traffic (and leads) for your business.
For quicker navigation, we have included jump links to each of the three pillars – local, on-site and off-site – of a successful real estate SEO strategy.
Tips #1-4: Local SEO for Real Estate Agents
#1: Optimize Your Local Google My Business Page
It is critical for local businesses to get listed in Google’s 3-pack.
When potential customers search for a local business or service provider (eg: realtor in san antonio), they’ll likely see a map pack featuring different Google My Business pages:
Taking up half the screen space, users pay more attention to search results that feature snapshots, ratings, reviews, and Google Maps directions.
Here’s how to set it up.
First, go to google.com/business. Once logged in, start filling out the information:
Make sure the profile is 100% complete and up-to-date:
- Exact location on map
- Opening hours
- Telephone number
- Primary and secondary categories (real estate, commercial real estate, etc)
Make sure your NAP+W (Name, address, phone number, and website) are complete and consistently formatted across the web.
Google ranks a maximum of three businesses for local searches like “real estate agent near me”, and it favors businesses with complete information. A formatted phone number that uses dashes and parentheses enables one-click calling from right inside the Google map results:
Finally, make sure to use schema markup to make Google aware of important information. Google recognizes certain schema elements, like phone and address, and uses that to check its own Google My Business information for accuracy.
An example of schema markup for an address, in raw HTML, looks like this:
And here is what it would look like for a local furniture store inside Google’s Structured Data Testing tool:
If this all looks like nonsense, it’s probably best to get a more technical team member to properly mark up your website’s structured data.
#2: Clean and Consistent Citations (NAP+W)
Citations are one of the core local search ranking factors:
Despite the importance of having up-to-date citations – Name, Address, Phone Number and Website (NAP) – across industry directories and local publications, ConstantContact found over 50% of local business have inaccurate contact information across those sites.
This is one of the first steps any local business should take to improving rankings in the map pack.
The local search ecosystem can look like a complicated web of sites, directories and social platforms:
You could go to each one and list your business individually, but let’s be real, few of us have the time for that.
Instead, use a tool like Yext to push your listing out to all major directories and big four aggregate sites – Factual, Acxiom, Localeze, and Expressupdate.
This will save you a TON of time, and do most of the heavy lifting for you.
Important: make sure the information you submit is 100% accurate and matches the NAP listed on your website. Google will use this information to validate its own data.
#3: Add Schema Markup
Schema markup is a way to structure your site’s code so that it indicates to Google what kind of format it takes. For example, you might have a table that describes a property, which has fields for the property’s price, bedrooms, etc.
Using schema markup, you could make that table ‘friendlier’ to Google, and more likely to be featured in Google’s eye-catching rich snippets or instant answers.
Studies show that pages that use schema markup get a 20-25% higher click-through rate in search.
So, how do you implement it? There are two main things to mark up as a realtor. The first is your business’ listing which includes opening hours, contact details, and more.
The Schema project even has an entry that exactly describes a real estate agency here:
Second, mark up the properties themselves.
Trulia uses the Product schema markup for listing its properties, including the following fields:
- Name (the property’s address)
- Offer price (329000)
- Offer currency (USD)
#4: Focus on Review Quality and Velocity
According to Search Engine Watch, 90% of consumers read reviews before visiting a business and 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review.
Online reviews not only help establish trust (critical for conversions), but are now a heavily weighted local ranking factor:
Reviews are a great way to improve your SEO and help yourself stand out in the sea of real estate agents marketing themselves online:
If you have a lot of happy customers, make sure you are actively asking for reviews on Google, Yelp, facebook and other important third party review sites.
On-Site SEO for Real Estate Agents (Tips #5-15):
On-site SEO refers to the optimizations you make to a website’s content to help Google understand its relevance to a specific search term or topic.
This includes things like titles, body copy, links, keywords — all of the things under your direct control on the website.
Let’s look closer at some of the more fundamental on-page SEO elements…
#5: Perform Targeted Keyword Research
Keyword research may be the most overlooked aspect of SEO. It’s crucial to understanding consumer intent.
While most real estate marketers will happily spend countless hours on their social media strategy and content marketing, very few spend the time needed to learn how to actually do effective keyword research.
What’s crazy is that keywords largely determine which potential customers find you via search. Consider it potentially free traffic if done correctly.
In addition, the right keywords will insure that your content marketing efforts aren’t wasted attracting the wrong customer or, worse, no customer at all. Remember, including your location in your keywords is a great way to make sure you reach customers specifically interested in the market you serve.
Use these quick tips to get the ball rolling:
Use the Google search bar for long-tail keywords:
This will return a list of additional queries users are typing directly into the Google search bar.
Check your search queries in Google Ads:
Set up Google Ads to unlock it’s keyword search functionality. (Setting up Google Ads does not mean you need to spend any money.) This report will show you all the queries triggering ad impressions. This is a great place to look for valuable keyword opportunities.
Check the organic terms you rank for in Google Analytics:
Test out Ahrefs’ keyword explorer:
You can also use a tool like the Ahrefs Site Explorer to quickly identify which keywords are driving traffic to your top search competitors:
#6: Go Deeper with the Long Tail
Keywords can generally be divided into two categories:
- Head keywords
- Long tail keywords
Head keywords are usually short, broad and very competitive. Like the keyword realtor or real estate. If you’re hoping to rank on page 1 of Google for terms like this, you’ll need to beat a ton of established, high-authority sites. As a business only just getting into gear with SEO, that’s not very likely.
Traffic to head keywords accounts for around 18% of total searches, and is generally not very high-converting. What that means is people searching real estate don’t have a very high intent to buy — they could be looking for news, a definition, a Wikipedia article or any number of things.
They’re probably not looking for something specific, like a commercial realtor in Maine with a warehouse for sale.
…But some prospects are!
That’s where long tail keyword optimization comes in.
Around 70% of Google searches are for long tail keywords. These are keywords like buy 3 bed home in minnesota or lake house summer rental poconos.
Typically, the more long tail the keyword, the higher intent. And, high intent keywords convert better:
Here’s an example of this strategy in action — check out how a small local business is ranking ahead of Zillow because of smart long tail optimization:
The page ranks for over 700 different long-tail keywords! As you’d expect, each keyword has low monthly search volume, but considering that it totals 1,300 visits per month, it’s worth going after a diverse set of long tail keywords versus fighting in a competitive space.
#7: Optimize On-Page Elements
On-site SEO for local real estate requires some slightly different tactics than national SEO.
First, you want to make sure your business NAP (name, address, and phone number) is used throughout your website and that it’s the same NAP that you used for your local listing and citations (discussed above).
You want to use state, city, and town names in title tags, meta descriptions, and body copy.
Choose a website platform that makes use of Schema local markup — this acts as a homing beacon for the search engines, letting Google, Bing, and Yahoo indexing bots know what they are looking at.
And specifically for real estate, you want to make sure all of your listings are indexable and have an XML sitemap. Without it, you can’t take advantage of the incredible SEO value of real estate listings.
Bonus resource: If you want to learn how to optimize all the major on-site elements, check out this 19-step on-page SEO checklist.
#8: Create Localized Content
The real estate industry has a reputation of producing some fairly lame content which is why there aren’t a ton of examples of beautiful inspiring content marketing in our industry. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Creating awesome content that educates, informs, and engages consumers through the entire customer life cycle will be a requirement for any business looking to survive the decades to come. Consumers are in the driver’s seat and have grown to expect value-added experiences.
Here’s a resource of content ideas to get you inspired:
You should also consider looking at what some of your competitors are doing in the space. It can be a source of inspiration and give you insight into what types of content is resonating with similar audiences. One of my favorite free tools is BuzzSumo.
I chose Bill Gassett of MaxRealEstateExposure who creates fantastic content. He may be the first to tell you that his site could be prettier, but look at his content: people read it and share it.
This article ranks for home for sale by owner, an insanely competitive keyword, with helpful informational content. Here’s its traffic metrics in Ahrefs:
With this one piece of content, Bill ranks for over 1,300 keywords and brings in 2,500 organic visits a month — a traffic value of over $10,000.
Here are the results after running Bill’s site through Buzzsumo:
In the Content Research report we can see the articles that generated the most social engagement across each of the different networks.
Bill’s article titled “Buying a Home at Auction” What You Need to Know” is a popular topic with 1,300 shares.
Similarly, the article on “How to Sell a House After a Relative Dies” is another topic you might consider adding to your content pipeline.
The great thing about this report is it surfaces topics that get a lot of social engagement, and also have the potential to drive good top funnel traffic.
Let’s look at another example.
Zillow crushes it with SEO. According to Ahrefs, the site ranks for 11 million different keywords and hauls in almost 44 million organic visitors a month:
While a lot of the traffic comes from high ranking listing and category pages, their blog also brings in a healthy stream of traffic:
Check out this piece of content on the homes that feature in Breaking Bad:
Zillow has the homes listed, connecting the top-funnel content to several listings and area searches. (This is a consistent strategy across the Zillow blog, with other roundups of weird and remarkable properties like this.)
Remember: You never have to reinvent the wheel — especially when other businesses have already drawn up the blueprints. Just check the top content for any competing publication or agency blog, and you’ll instantly see what resonates:
If you want to see content examples that we created to engage agents and brokers, take a look at this Real Estate Marketing Ideas Slideshare that we created in advance of the last Inman Conference in San Francisco.
<iframe src=”//www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/jiW4ZHfKSuPyFq” width=”595″ height=”485″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;” allowfullscreen> </iframe> <div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”//www.slideshare.net/Placester/real-estate-marketing-secrets-from-the-pros” title=”Real Estate Marketing Secrets From The Pros” target=”_blank”>Real Estate Marketing Secrets From The Pros</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”https://www.slideshare.net/Placester” target=”_blank”>Placester</a></strong> </div>
There were four core elements that made this piece a success:
- Timing: We shared it right before the conference.
- Collaboration: We interviewed a bunch of super smart real estate marketers that helped spread the word and share the piece.
- Design: We worked really hard to make everyone look as good as they could.
- Built-in social sharing: We added a ‘Click to Tweet’ feature on almost every slide to make it easy for folks to share.
EMBED THE BELOW
#9: Use Compelling Headlines to Win the Click
There’s nothing worse than uninspired copy. We’ve all experienced it: the email title that doesn’t deserve a click, the book covers that don’t catch our eye, or the pickup lines that make you want to cringe. For marketers, it’s even more dire.
You spend countless hours creating awesome content and add a title as an afterthought. This is killing your click (and conversion rates) because even if 8 out of 10 people read your headline, only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of your post. Talk about a waste of effort. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Here’s a helpful headline formula from our friends at CopyBlogger.
Start with something like “Selling Your Home in a Day” and apply the formula from above. You end up with “How to Effortlessly Sell Your Home in Less Than 24 Hours.”
You could also try some other simple formulas:
- Who Else Wants [blank]
- The Secret of [blank]
- Little Known Ways to [blank]
- What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]
Need to test a few ideas, or get coaching on your headlines? Check out this headline checklist, or go straight to a tool like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer:
#10: Incorporate Video into the Media Mix
If you’re not using video to market your agency and properties, you’re losing out to someone who is:
Aberdeen Group research reports that video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year, and a 54% boost in brand awareness compared to those that don’t use video.
In the real estate space, the figures are even more stunning.
According to BoldContent, real estate listings with video recieve 403% more inquiries than those without. Despite this, only 2-9% of realtors leverage video marketing.
Cisco predicts that by 2020 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video content.
Ready to level up your real estate video game? Check out this list of the best real estate videos.
#11: Ensure Images are Optimized for Search
According to a study, 78% of websites’ on-page issues stem from one source: images.
Adding listing, neighborhood photos and stock images to your site may seem like a simple task, but there’s actually a lot that goes into optimizing them appropriately.
<iframe allowtransparency=”true” title=”Wistia video player” allowFullscreen frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” class=”wistia_embed” name=”wistia_embed” src=”https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/j7k5b7dxb7″ width=”400″ height=”225″></iframe>
When you create a new webpage or blog post, chances are you add images to them, right? Then you’ve likely noticed there are fields that need to be filled out when publishing these images: alt text, caption, title, and description. Each one needs to include content that explains exactly what the picture or graphic entails — preferably by using one or more keywords intended for the page or post in question.
For instance, if you publish a blog article on a film festival taking place in your market and decide to add an image of the local theater where it will take place, it’s best to include relevant terms and phrases associated with the event in the metadata for that image.
If filling in these descriptions is all it takes to ensure your site gets 37% more clicks from Google Images, don’t you think it’s worth spending a few minutes to do before publishing content?
#12: Optimize your website for mobile discovery
According to NAR, “89% of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine at the onset and throughout their research”.
For almost half of these shoppers, mobile search is the first step:
Google have signaled the shift toward mobile-first indexing – they are going to start using the mobile view to determine both mobile and desktop rankings:
> “Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for. […] we continue to encourage webmasters to make their content mobile-friendly”
As usual, you’re playing Google’s game here. The good news is that they don’t hide the rules.
Run your site through the Mobile-Friendly Test tools. You want to see this message:
But, if you run into any issues forward them to the technical resource on your team:
#13: Focus on page load speed (and avoid losing website visitors)
Google does not like slow sites.
Think about it: if you’re curating a list of the best resources, would you be inclined to include one that took forever to load?
Google measures page speed as a ranking factor, but it also looks at how users interact with your site. According to Google, any page that takes over 3 seconds to load loses 53% of visitors who leave before the page is fully loaded.
With mobile becoming more prominent — and 48% of real estate search being initiated from a mobile device — it’s no secret that Google will strongly favor fast-loading sites when delivering mobile results.
Outside of rankings, SOASTA found that a one second delay in page speed can reduce conversions by up to 27%:
You can tune up your site’s speed using recommendations from Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse tools:
The tool is free, and provide actionable recommendations on how to increase your site load speed.
#14: Configure Google Analytics to Track Organic Search Performance
In the famous words of Peter Drucker:
This same applies to marketing: If you don’t measure the performance of your online marketing, you can’t improve it.
If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account set up to monitor digital marketing campaigns, make it a top priority.
Once Google Analytics is running, create a recurring calendar event to check up on the website’s stats — the key metrics that can tell you whether your marketing efforts are doing well or whether they need some fine-tuning (or even complete overhaul or elimination).
Some important KPIs to track in your Google Analytics dashboard include:
- Organic visitors
- Direct traffic
- Organic goal conversions
Before you can start measuring conversions, you first need to set up a goal:
With the goal set, you can track organic keyword conversions by setting up a custom report.
Bonus resource: For a comprehensive resource on how to set up Google Analytics, check out this guide.
#15: Strategic internal linking
In the sketch above, Moz demonstrates the ideal internal linking structure: each page links to multiple relevant pages, and no two pages are more than three ‘hops’ apart.
This helps you group your site’s resources together and provide a clear, logical path for the user. By doing that, you make it more likely they’ll stay on your site and go down the rabbit hole.
Think how Wikipedia uses its internal links so reliably that you can always find your way through a whole topic, from the category portals to its notable events.
Internal linking isn’t just good for user experience, it’s good for SEO. By linking to your newly published blog posts from older posts that already rank, you pass the ranked page’s authority to the new page and make it more immediately discoverable by Google:
Make sure neighborhood pages are pointing to each other with relevant links when you talk about surrounding areas:
Check that you’re referring back to old content in your blog and pointing readers to other useful resources:
Also – make a habit of updating old posts when you publish a new relevant one, to keep your old pages fresh and your new content more easily indexable.
#16: Check for broken links
If you’ve messed around with your site’s URL structure in the past, chances are you’ve broken some internal links — this can hurt the user experience and have a negative impact on SEO.
You can use the free version of Screaming Frog SEO Spider to check for broken links on a site:
Download the tool, and enter your site’s URL into the crawl box and hit “Run”. Watch as your site’s links are crawled and check the 4xx errors filter; these pages are unreachable for users.
#17: Create a Sitemap and submit to Search Console
Sitemaps are files where you provide information about pages, posts, videos and other content on your site. Google and other search engines use sitemaps to identify the most important content and more efficiently crawl your website.
Once your sitemap has been generated, submit it to Google Search Console:
Off-Site SEO for Real Estate Agents (Tips #18-20):
There’s a limit to how much you can optimize a site’s keywords, internal link structure, and technical SEO. Off-site SEO is the second pillar you need to optimize.
For real estate, that means working to build local citations, backlinks, and reviews on popular platforms.
You don’t need thousands of backlinks to move the needle:
All of these pages rank for keywords that relate to lake properties in Minnesota — they each get hundreds of organic visits a month.
In general, the content with the most (quality) backlinks has the highest rankings and traffic:
Over 90% of pages that exist on the internet get zero organic traffic. So, when it comes to ranking for high-traffic keywords, backlinks need to be factored into the off-site pillar of your real estate SEO strategy:
You might be asking: How can I build links back to my real estate content?
There are a lot of ways to build backlinks to your website, but one of the fastest ways to get started is to see how your top ranking competitors are building links to their content.
Enter a competitor’s domain or URL into the Ahrefs Site Explorer and you’ll be able to see all the site linking to the different pages on their website:
Are your competitor’s getting lots of directory links? Any links from other local businesses or news sites? How are they getting the links – sponsoring events, donations, press coverage, blog content?
Find out what content types and strategies are earning the most links for top ranking competitors, and replicate it. This is the fastest way to kickstart a successful link building campaign.
Note: Link building does require a lot of resources to execute properly. In general, we recommend getting the help of an experienced SEO agency to help with this effort.
If you’d prefer to tackle it on your own, check out this comprehensive guide on competitor backlink analysis.
#19: Land more Yelp reviews
Did you know 91% of people read reviews online, and 84% trust them as much as they do their friends?
The stats about Yelp directly help back this up:
Yelp not only helps seal the conversion, but it can also be used as a vehicle to get on page 1 of Google for local keywords.
The site already has a ton of authority with Google, that’s why it ranks for a lot of local intent keywords like “real estate agents rapid city sd”.
And check out what happens then if you can get just a couple of Yelp reviews in your local area:
How do you get Yelp reviews? The same way you get most things: just ask.
83% of consumers are willing to refer you after having a positive experience, but only 29% of businesses ask for the referral.
#20: Optimize Your Facebook Page
You do have a Facebook page for your business, right?
Even a casual search for real estate businesses in your local area will reveal that Facebook pages show up highly, and come with eye-catching display features like star ratings:
This encourages users to trust you because of the social proof that surrounds your brand: people leave reviews, like your page, and comment on your content.
To get your Facebook page ranked, and use its selling power to generate leads, make sure to optimize it to include your website, contact information, and keywords you want to rank for:
11 Real Estate SEO Tactics Agents Should Avoid
If you’re targeting a group of keywords on a page or blog post, you may feel like you need to load up every sentence or paragraph with those words and phrases. After all, more keywords is better, right?.
Not necessarily. Today’s search engines are very smart, so their algorithms understand synonyms and semantic relationships between words.
With that in mind, there are some common keyword stuffing practices you should avoid:
- Adding irrelevant keywords: You may know a lot about housing market trends in Alabama, but if you’re writing a blog post focused on staging properties, don’t try to shove the topic in where it doesn’t belong. Most likely, you’ll only succeed in confusing both readers and search engines.
- trong>Too many keywords: You should include keyword phrases where it makes sense, but you don’t need to pack those phrases in multiple times. To see why this is a bad idea, try reading this sentence without getting lost:“Learn more about real estate trends in Massachusetts, eastern Massachusetts, and the Greater Boston area from the real estate trends experts in Boston, the North Shore, and Cape Cod.” Instead, focus on readability and maintain a natural keyword spread: “Learn more about Massachusetts’ real estate trends from the experts in the Greater Boston area.”
- trong>Keyword cloaking or invisible text: Some black hat SEO practitioners fill a page with relevant keywords, then show users content that’s entirely different—either by adjusting their CSS, or by making the text the same color as the page background. Users may not be able to see these gimmicks, but search engines can, and it won’t work.
Instead of trying to game the system, all you need to do is include keywords within the appropriate context in a thoughtful way.
Link lists or directories
It may seem really like a good idea to just create a page with a long list of keywords you’re targeting, then link each item on that list to a page on your site. But, once again, that’s not how humans explore web content. Instead, it’s much better to incorporate internal links throughout the site with thoughtful anchor text that points to a relevant blog post or page on your website.
Unlike the ‘good old days’, when it was easy to get authority and relevance by getting listed on in a link farm. Those are so old that any screenshots of them show Windows XP:
Using link directories (farms) and scoring dodgy backlinks is a tactic that was big until Google decided to penalize participating sites by dropping rankings and de-indexing pages. Don’t let it happen to you!
You’ve probably experienced this before: you visit a website that has a bunch of links on it about restaurants in Minneapolis. You click on one about the best Italian restaurants in the city, then find yourself on another page that’s also a list of links.
If your content is meant to educate and inform people, any links on your site should take them directly to that thoughtful, well-written content. Don’t make people go on a wild goose chase to find information that’s important to them to earn SEO links.
While content that overpromises might get a lot of clicks, your time-on-site, pages-per-session, and bounce rate will be awful. Your analytics will show that users clicked, rolled their eyes, then closed the tab.
Google measures your users’ engagement with your content, and takes that kind of behaviour to mean that your content is irrelevant, and not worth ranking.
SEMRush’ research proves the correlation between user engagement and search engine ranking.
Yes, that’s right, clickbait is more likely harm your Google rankings than help them.
We’ve covered this extensively in a previous post, so we can keep it short: never pay for links to your content, and never accept payments for links to other people’s content. Google can spot link buying behavior, and your site will be penalized accordingly.
“Black-hat SEO tricks that still work!”
A quick Google search for this phrase turns up just over 300,000 results, the authors of which are perfectly willing to tell you how you can still get away with some of these shortcuts.
No matter these so-called “experts” say, the shortcuts just aren’t worth the risk. Search engine algorithms know what they are, and penalize people who try to cheat the system.
Yeah, this tactic is old. And not in a ‘tried-and-tested’ kind of way.
If you’re wondering what you can do to improve your SEO without taking shortcuts, there is one tactic that won’t steer you wrong: create interesting, informative, helpful content on your site to help educate and entice potential customers. This will not only build a solid foundation for strategic link building, but also help make your brand a trustworthy source for real estate expertise.
Another no-no for your real estate SEO is publishing the same content on multiple pages of your site.
While short, commonly-used phrases are more than okay to leverage across your site (i.e. your primary, secondary, and long-tail keywords), you want to be careful not to take large chunks of content and post them on separate pages.
In the words of Google:
> “when large portions of the website are copied across both of these sites then we assume that actually the whole website is kind of a copy of another and we try to help you by just picking one”
What that means is that you can only rank once for a piece of content — you can’t duplicate it, re-optimize it, and hope to get another round of value from that same piece.
Google is smarter than … well … just about everyone (including and especially these would-be deceivers) and, at the end of the day, always identifies which brands implement this “strategy.”
There are some instances in which duplicate content isn’t bad (or as bad) for your site, but it’s best to just steer clear of adding identical content on your site altogether to eliminate the risk potential.
Outsourcing localized content
While it can be worth your dime and time to employ a contractor to aid in the execution of a broader SEO strategy, it’s likely not in your best interest to have them create content for you.
The reason is simple: You know your real estate market like the back of your hand and can write about it in-depth. Outsourced writers can only research your local area, market and industry, and offer basic knowledge.
If you already rank well in search and just want to get more evergreen, how-to content on the buying and selling process for your audience, then by all means, hire a content marketing agency to assist.
But if you, like many agents out there, still need help getting on page one of the search results for hyper-local topics, produce your own content or assign a team member to contribute.
Not checking all the boxes during a web design
We’ll handle this.
During a real estate website redesign, you should take the potential SEO ramifications of such a move into account. Making wholesale or even partial changes to your site can impact all of the search optimization work you’ve done to date, so this process needs to be handled with great care and attention to detail.
One of the core maintenance tasks to focus on first and foremost when altering your site or getting an entirely new one in place is to create a new sitemap — that is, which navigational links lead to which pages.
Once you know how you’ll transfer over your old content into your new or redesigned site, set up 301 redirects. These will ensure anyone who clicks on the old link/URL for your existing content from the previous site will be taken to the new page.
301 redirects will help you preserve all the SEO value you’ve obtained for your web presence and prevent any issues with pages that currently rank well in SERPs. When done poorly, it can send users to broken pages and hurt rankings.
Publishing walls of texts (and no multi-media)
More than one-third of full-time marketers cite visuals as the most important element of their content marketing efforts.
That should tell you just how important it is to not just publish copy that explains various buying and selling concepts and offers unique, local-market insights, but also to post images, graphics, videos, and other visual collateral.
Infographics can be a powerful, engaging strategy that allow you to create content that’s relatable and informative:
You can also embed video presentations and property tours:
By doing so, you not only make it easy for your website visitors to consume your content, but you also enhance the odds visitors will stick around on pages longer and click through to more content.
Neglecting the overall real estate marketing plan and waiting to rank
At the end of the day, SEO is just one important component of a marketing strategy.
Frustratingly for many, it can take time for content to rank. The average #1 ranked page for a keyword is 3 years old, and only around a fifth of content on page one is a year old:
Think of this another way: once you hit #1, you’re going to generate leads for years to come.
Because generating leads through SEO is a “long term play”, it shouldn’t be your only focus. Luckily, there are numerous other tactics worth your attention.
Consistently posting a variety of your search-friendly blog posts and landing pages to social media, sharing the same links in your drip email marketing campaigns, and syndicating your content on other blogs and publications are just a few other distinct marketing tactics to employ on top of your real estate SEO efforts that can expand your brand awareness and help you get traffic.
5 Handy SEO Tools for Real Estate Agents
Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress, with over 8,000,000 downloads.
It helps you optimize key on-page elements, check content readability, create custom site hierarchies, and manage technical SEO.
Google Search Console provides insight into your search performance, identifies technical SEO issues, gathers link data and checks exactly how Google sees your content:
It has a few reports worth checking regularly, including your organic search performance, 404s, crawl errors, and warnings.
Would you ignore a warning about your site that came directly from Google? Usually, it’s a good idea to follow their best practices, because you’re playing their game.
Lighthouse is the next generation of Google tools that builds on PageSpeed Insights and the Mobile-Friendly Test. It’s a full suite of testing tools built into Google Chrome that gives you insight into both the technical SEO elements of your site on mobile, and the usability (loading time, content-blocking scripts, etc.).
The easiest way to use Lighthouse is to install its Chrome extension.
Ubersuggest is an SEO tool from Neil Patel that helps you find keyword ideas and evaluate the level of competition.
If you don’t want to take the plunge and invest in a fully-featured tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush, take Ubersuggest’ free online version for a test drive.
Yext identifies where your business appears on the web (Facebook page, local directories, etc), where it doesn’t, and how you can optimize existing listing information (NAP).
Remember: You want the business name, phone number and address displayed consistently across the web.
Yext gives you all this information:
Yext has a direct integration with the largest data aggregators. So, you can upload the correct business information and it will push this information out to all the missing directories, and update the existing ones.
This saves you from having to go out and manually create logins and update information across hundreds of different business listings.
Similar to Yext, BrightLocal has connections with thousands of local directories like Yelp, Google Maps, and Facebook.
A valuable use case for the tool is layering on top of Yext. i.e. you can find additional niche and local directories to submit business information to that were not listed in Yext.
It’s a great way to build out a larger citation footprint.
3 Valuable SEO Resources for Real Estate Agents:
The Ahrefs blog is the original source for many of the industry’s insights, facts, and studies.
With the internet’s richest database of SEO information (apart from maybe Google itself), Ahrefs is uniquely situated to provide thorough, eye-opening original research. Check out these awesome studies to get started:
- 91% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. And How to Be in the Other 9% (New Research by Ahrefs)
- How many keywords can you rank for with one page? (Ahrefs’ study of 3M searches)
- How long does it take to rank in Google? (A study by Ahrefs)
Moz has one of the most authoritative SEO blogs online, and is filled with practical tutorials and case studies covering a range of topics – technical, on-page and off-site.
Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday weekly video series is a must-watch. Here are some examples:
- What Does It Mean to “Write for SEO” in 2018?
- Should SEOs Care About Internal Links
- 5 Tactics to Earn Links Without Having to Directly Ask
Note: If you’re completely new to the topic of SEO, check out the Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
Search Engine Land
Search Engine Land is a leading industry publication that provides information on the latest algorithm updates, studies and trends in search marketing.
Bonus resource: Hungry to learn more? Ahrefs put together a list of the top SEO resources (as voted by industry peers).
Ready to take your Real Estate SEO Strategy to Another Level?
There you have it – arguably the most in-depth SEO guide for real estate agents you’ll find anywhere online.
We’ve taken a deep dive into the reasons why agents need to be thinking about SEO, looked at specific SEO tactics, identified mistakes you need to avoid, and looked at several tools and resources to help you get faster results.
Now it’s time to act 🙂
What strategies and/or tools are you going to incorporate in your business?
Let us know in the comments below.
Published on December 17, 2018
Written by Seth Price
Seth is a brand and marketing strategist with 20 years of digital marketing experience. He’s a founding team member and VP @Placester, author of the bestselling small business marketing book, The Road to Recognition and host of The Craft of Marketing and Marketing Genius podcasts. As a speaker, writer, and marketing workshop leader, Seth brings levity, mentorship, and a dose of reality to the businesses and entrepreneurs he coaches.