Once upon a time, the most important search engine optimization (SEO) factor was undeniably keyword usage. The more real estate SEO keywords you had in your blog posts, the more likely they were to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Keywords still matter when it comes to SEO for real estate, but there are many other factors that affect how pages rank in search. Metrics like click-through rate, time on page or site, social shares, and backlinks play a pivotal role in how your real estate content gets found online.
Improve your real estate SEO strategy by learning advanced SEO tips and tricks that will increase your findability online and ensure your real estate website gets seen by potential buyers and sellers.
Use popular, long-tail keywords — and variations of them.
Nowadays, it’s not enough to have a few long-tail keywords thrown into a blog post or landing page. Instead, several key terms need to be used to rank for even just a small portion of them. Competition for popular keywords is substantial in just about every real estate market — from the biggest metros to the smallest municipalities.
What this all means is you need to not only research primary, secondary, and long-tail keywords to find the right ones to use in your real estate marketing strategies, but also the other variations of those terms you should try to rank for. Additionally, the top keywords one week may change completely the next week, so researching keywords is an ongoing process.
Your best bet is to make spreadsheets featuring your core real estate SEO keywords and develop a list of similar terms and phrases to use in your content as well. For instance, if you work in the St. Louis area and find that “townhomes for sale in Lafayette Square St. Louis” is the best long-tail keyword to use in your real estate marketing, find similar terms that may also be highly searched. In this instance, phrases like “townhouses for sale in St. Louis” and “best townhomes in St. Louis” might be ideal candidates to add to your real estate SEO strategy.
This tactic enhances the potential for your blog posts and landing pages to thrive in SERPs and help bring actual interested buyers and sellers right to your digital doorstep.
Fix any broken links and images that exist on your website.
Links are clearly a major component to any agent’s SEO-for-real-estate strategy. One aspect of links to investigate every once in a while is whether the links on your site still work. Websites sometimes change the URL structure for some of their pages or eliminate those pages from their site altogether. That means pages you link to could no longer work for users — something Google and Bing grade down for.
Broken links are inevitable for just about every website. In fact, broken link checking service LinkTiger notes companies in the S&P 500 have an average of 2.4% broken links on their sites, so don’t be perturbed if your site ends up with some over time. Use broken link checkers like LinkTiger or DeepTrawl to identify pages on your real estate website where link issues exist. If a page you linked to is no longer there, either find a similar page to link to or take the link out entirely.
Images also tend to incur problems every so often. The aforementioned broken link checkers and the like should be able to identify any issues with images. Once you’ve pinpointed ones that need repair (like those that don’t appear as normal on your site), check the filename and file path to ensure they’re correct. Online education platform Treehouse offers some in-depth tips regarding how to identify and fix image issues.
Use a 301 redirect for “404 error” pages (or at least optimize them).
Larger-scale site issues, like broken pages, require different treatment than busted links and images. You’ve probably experienced visiting a page that reads “404 error.” That means the page in question couldn’t be located, which often happens because a page is deleted or moved or the URL has changed for a page.
Your first (and preferred) option from a real estate SEO perspective is to create a 301 redirect for the broken page. Go into your content management system (like WordPress) and identify how to add a 301 redirect by consulting your particular site host’s FAQ page. Google offers some additional info in this post and the video below as to why 301 redirects are ideal to implement for broken pages:
The best way to optimize these pages is to customize your content: Add internal links that direct your site visitors to your main pages, implement a search bar to help users navigate your site, and include your contact information so users can reach out to you (this is how you may even learn about the broken page in the first place).
Get backlinks from reputable websites — not just any site.
Google and Bing are savvy enough these days that they know a relevant link on a relevant industry expert’s website carries more weight than an irrelevant link on a site filled with random, spammy content.
Find influencers in your community and the real estate industry at-large — those you know are popular in their area of expertise and who have highly searched online presences (more on that in a moment) — who could potentially provide backlinks to your content on their websites.
Don’t simply email a person or publication with several links and say “Please?” Rather, develop a relationship with these sources. Give them samples of your blog posts and other content to prove you’re serious about your marketing. Then, ask if they’re willing to share a link to one or more of those pieces of content from their site.
The key to winning at this advanced real estate SEO tactic is to identify and reach out to not one, but many influencers, experts, and publications who may find your content useful. You can determine the SEO value of their own sites (which will help dictate that of your own real estate website should you get linked) by using SEO analysis tools, which reveal how popular sites are in terms of traffic, click-through rate, and other key metrics. There are also helpful browser tools, like Rank Signals and MozBar, that can give you instant updates on a site’s page rank in seconds (not all of these extensions are available for every browser, though).
Even if you only get backlinks from a few resources out of several dozen you reach out to, you’re still helping your search optimization in a big way.
Guest blog only with websites that use white hat SEO tactics.
In case you’re unfamiliar, there are white hat SEO strategies (e.g. reaching out to others to see if they’d like to promote your content) and black hat SEO tactics (e.g. paying services to share your content in spammy ways and on spammy sites). Guest blogging on sites that have poor SEO value, thanks to poor search optimization practices, can significantly sting your real estate agent SEO. So, be careful where your content gets published.
Unlike backlinks, which can come from just about any website out there who wants to link to your site, you control a great deal when it comes to guest blogging. Yes, the person, publication, or company on whose site you guest post has a say in what content makes it, but once you and the other party agree on the final content that best serves both of you, you’re golden.
Some sites may decide to syndicate your content without asking. If you’re uncomfortable with the site hosting your content or believe having links to your original content on a site will hurt your SEO, there are some content syndication reporting options at your disposal, as KISSmetrics notes. Otherwise, you could find your own site slipping down the search rankings and into the SERP abyss (a.k.a. page 2 or worse).
Add images and video to every website page.
Getting your real estate website visitors to stay on your site for as long as possible and click through to several of your pages needs to be a significant priority to garner new leads. One of the best ways to keep them on a particular page or your site in general? Use lots of engaging photos and videos.
This is one of those indirect SEO tips and tricks that won’t automatically improve your site’s ranking in search, but improves the odds of your visitors sticking around longer to consume your content and, in turn, bettering your search rank.
Data from BrightEdge and Data Cube found content with images and videos secured a 13 percent higher click-through rate than pages without either. This means it’s best to optimize every single one of your pages with at least one multimedia type. Even embedding an infographic, SlideShare, or other type of visual content can help as well, so look for others’ content you’d like to curate and share.
Improve your page speed to avoid lost website visitors.
This is one of those indirect factors that affects your real estate website SEO, but it’s a vital one to focus on if loading times on your site have become problematic.
Think of it this way: When you go to a website and it takes 15 seconds to load completely, do you get impatient? Many internet users would find that speed appalling and, in numerous cases, these users would ditch the site altogether before it even fully loaded. That means sites with slow page load speeds are losing site visitors for something they can fix with a few modifications.
By using a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you can determine what specific website factors most affect your slow load times. Common site components that contribute to slow load times include:
Images that aren’t optimized: Without even realizing it, many real estate agents add images to their sites that are far too large and, in turn, cause slow page load times. Compress your images before publishing them and even test loading the pages on which they exist to ensure they load quickly and properly.
Too much HTML code: Adding in some nifty real estate website design via CSS can make your site look modern and sleek, but it can also lead to pretty high load times, so ditch any code/design you can live without.
Surplus of add-ons: WordPress certainly offers quite the array of plugins and widgets that can help enhance the user experience for your site. However, adding too many of them can diminish load times a great deal.
Keep up with Google search algorithm updates.
Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird: A few of the countless creatures in the animal kingdom, but also the names of Google’s search algorithms, each of which helps contribute SEO value to every indexed webpage on the internet and, in turn, dictate where those pages are found in SERPs.
Google makes changes to these search formulas whenever it feels those changes can greatly improve searches for internet users. Though historically it make major adjustments to the algorithms once annually, Google is consistently making minor alterations to the formulas year-round to better search results.
When these alterations are announced by the company, review what the changes actually are. Ask yourself: What can I fix or fine-tune in my real estate SEO strategy to better abide by Google’s preferred tactics? Even if Google only makes a minor refinement, it’s still worth keeping tabs on to learn if it’s the secret to better success with your search strategy.
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.