15 Real Estate SEO Ideas to Help You Dominate Search Results
By Matthew Bushery
A concrete real estate SEO strategy isn’t something that has a start and end date. It begins by learning the SEO basics that will advance your digital presence and overall real estate marketing plan, then advancing those search optimization tactics over time to ensure once you get to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), you stay there — and get even more content to join your existing high-ranking articles and pages.
The truth about SEO for real estate is this, though: No one — not even a marketing agency that specializes in search engine optimization — can create the best possible content for your website that features the perfect real estate SEO keywords. Only you, who knows the intricacies of your market and local buyer and seller needs, can craft valuable, natural-sounding, search-optimized content so you can rank better in SERPs, and the best way to start this strategy is to implement the ideas below.
1) Keep up with all of the changes Google announces for its search algorithms.
One common misconception about Google is the search-engine-turned-media-conglomerate only makes big updates to its search algorithms once a year and everything else with these formulas stays the same throughout the year. The truth of the matter, though, is the company spends a significant amount of time tinkering with these algorithms (sometimes making very minute changes) throughout each year. It’s because these modifications aren’t highly publicized that many professionals with search strategies think they only need to check to see if Google’s made any alterations once annually.
As you can clearly see on this handy page from Search Engine Land, not only are adjustments made (albeit most often modest ones) that affect which content appears in search results, but there are refinements made to multiple algorithms, not just a single one. Each of these algorithms has a different role to play in terms of getting the best possible content to appear atop SERPs for relevant keywords.
While it’s not worth delving into what each of these uniquely named formulas does specifically, it’s worth keeping up-to-date on even slight revisions to them by reading articles like the ones in the link above (or this cheat sheet from KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg Co-founder Neil Patel) so you can determine if any revisions need to be made to your website, social media posts, and other real estate marketing collateral.
2) Make sure all of your real estate website images are completely optimized for search.
Ideally, you should audit your website routinely to make sure it’s helping, not hurting, your SEO real estate efforts, but as new data from marketing software firm Raven shows, 78% of websites’ on-page issues stem from one source: images. Adding listing and neighborhood photos and stock images to your site may seem like a simple task, but there’s actually a lot of effort needed to optimize them appropriately.
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 isn’t downgraded by Google, don’t you think it’s worth spending a few minutes to do so when publishing content?
3) Continue to produce stellar content featuring keywords that already help you rank high in SERPs.
It’s no small feat to rank number-one overall in search results for one or more long-tail real estate keywords pertaining to your local market. This movement to the top of SERPs likely took you a substantial amount of time — maybe even a year. Just because your content populates at the very top of search results, however, doesn’t mean it’s destined to stay there forever. So, to ensure you remain the premier organic result, develop more content focused around those keywords that, when searched as exact match, shows your page first.
This may seem counterintuitive, since you’d potentially knock down your existing top-ranked piece of content. But think about it: If you’ve already proven to Google your high-ranking page was worth positioning on top of page one, they already know you’re knowledgeable about that keyword/subject matter, so — in theory — if you produce even more content that explains the ins and outs of the keyword in question, you bolster your chances of getting multiple results on page one.
In a post for Search Engine Journal, marketer Chris Ainsworth notes data exists that shows Google may be trying to curb the practice of “domain crowding” — getting multiple results from the same domain listed on the first page or two of SERPs — but as he notes, there are still countless instances of this working for brands worldwide, so it’s definitely a strategy that’s worth your time.
4) Create more content on the same subjects to bolster your position as a thought leader.
In a similar fashion to creating more real estate content around keywords that already help your pages and posts get found by your niche audience (technically by the world at-large, but, in earnest, essentially by your niche audience), create more articles and landing pages that hit on an array of subjects and keywords you don’t already rank for.
A well-rounded collection of content that can inform and entertain a wide variety of home buyers and sellers in your market will pay dividends in the long term with your SEO scheme — even if that content doesn’t get you to the top of SERPs right away, you can still link to this content within your content that is ranked high in search results. Doing so will make it more likely you’ll get searchers who click on your popular content to click through to these other pages. A lower bounce rate and higher real estate lead conversion rate are sure to follow, so long as you’re patient and persistent with this content creation.
According to Moz’s Rand Fishkin — who’s certainly an expert in the art of getting noticed online — the best way to make waves in the world of search engine optimization is to become a thought leader. As he notes:
- “If no one else has risen up to claim the mantle of thought leadership, it’s an even greater opportunity. The early adopters in thought leadership and content marketing often receive a disproportionate quantity of attention from links, social media, press, etc. ROI may take elbow grease, time, and patience, but if you find a way to earn the attention of the web, you have a chance to build a truly amazing brand.”
Building a real estate SEO strategy that generates the right leads takes time, but if you notice no one else is writing about the topics that matter to your audience or incorporates the right, relevant keywords to accompany content geared toward them, you’ll be well on your way to evolving your brand and bottom line.
5) Find out what long-tail real estate SEO keywords agents in your local housing market rank for.
When you think of “espionage,” the first thing that likely comes to mind is James Bond … but there’s actually an ethical, perfectly good use case for espionage with your search marketing — that is, getting a glimpse of the SEO keyword research other real estate agents in your market have performed to get their content ranking well in SERPs. The means to do this is pretty simple: Take advantage of one of the innumerable keyword research and SEO intel tools that exist.
Spying on the competition is an age-old practice in just about every industry. While there are certainly lines that shouldn’t be crossed, spying on competing agents’ search engine marketing strategies is most definitely fair game. The best way to go about obtaining this data is to:
- 1) Enter in several long-tail keywords that you want to rank for in Google and determine if there are any patterns in terms of the same agents coming up on the first few pages of SERPs for those terms and phrases.
- 2) Enter in the website for the agents who come up in search results pages in one of the aforementioned tools that can help you analyze their site activity and figure out which specific keywords work best for them.
- 3) Use your judgment to group the keywords you come across by topic/relation to one another and implement them on multiple pages and posts for your own real estate website.
The longest part of this process will undoubtedly be to track how much benefit you gain in search results for these keywords over time (like several months). Having said that, this shouldn’t be a one-time process either, so keep researching terms you want to rank for and, eventually, you’ll find the keywords that work wonders for your SEO aspirations.
6) Develop landing pages devoted to each niche audience in and topic related to your market.
Though you may only conduct business with one or two types of niche buyers and/or sellers in your market (e.g. helping Baby Boomers downsize, selling high-end homes, specializing in urban apartment sales, etc.), that doesn’t mean the occasional client won’t come from one of the other niches that exist in your market. Because of this potential for new business from those you may never have expected to represent, make sure your website provides plenty of information on each type of home, neighborhood, development, and noteworthy feature in your area so you can enhance your odds of generating and nurturing new types of leads and clients.
Similarly, knowing what factors are important to them regarding their prospective home sale or purchase can also lead to new ideas for pages on your site. For instance, you may find many people who move to your market tend to do so to find work in a certain field (for this example, let’s say there are lots of tech startups in your market). Putting together an area page on your real estate website that lists all of the startups in your area, including what sectors they operate in, how long they’ve been around, and any news regarding hiring opportunities and new offices or initiatives, could help your ranking in SERPs based mostly on those brands’ name popularity. In turn, this could get job-seekers who are thinking about moving to your market to check out your site as the go-to resource for all things startup-related.
7) Dedicate one day every month to dissect your Google Analytics metrics.
The math on this one is simple: If you don’t have a means to measure the performance of your online marketing, you can’t improve upon it. If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account set up to help you monitor and modify your digital marketing activities, that should be your next top priority with your marketing strategy.
Once that’s all set, you can create a calendar in which you check up on your website and social media traction — chiefly, 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). In terms of your SEO strategy, the numbers related to your organic website traffic can inform you on how well your posts and pages perform in search, as well as provide details on what the searchers who click on that content do after: leave your site altogether, head to another page, fill out a form, or conduct a number of other actions.
After you take a deep dive into this data, you can improve your content with better (in other words, more popular and pertinent) keywords and repeat the process of checking your GA account again the next month, and the month after that, and so on.
8) Craft more rich media content (see: YouTube) to broaden the content that appears in SERPs.
In the past couple of years, video has seen a marked rise in its prevalence on the first few pages of search results for a considerable number of keywords — and it’s no wonder this is the case, given more and more searchers note they find video-based content, including and especially through YouTube, informative when it comes to finding answers to their search queries. Therefore, your best bet to maximize your odds of getting content in the upper echelon of SERPs is to grab your camera and editing software to produce a variety of high-quality clips that answer your audience’s questions and educate them on topics of interest.
Videos appear in roughly one-sixth of all search results pages, according to Searchmetrics research, and with the potential for video ads to appear in these pages for both Google and Bing down the line, it’s more important than ever to master real estate video marketing — particularly short-form recordings (15–30 seconds for ad videos and 30–120 seconds for quick-tip clips) that succinctly but efficiently relay your value proposition.
9) Reach out to legitimate publications and blogs to get backlinks to your real estate website.
Note the use of the word “legitimate” above, as that’s a crucial component to any successful backlink strategy. In short, Google favors websites that earn a sizable number of backlinks from high-quality sources — that is, other sites that regularly publish valuable content for their audiences. Conversely, Google frowns upon backlinks earned from not-so-reputable sources, meaning any sites that enact black hat SEO strategies and spam others with random and/or poor content that doesn’t provide value.
When considering whom you can and should reach out to for links leading back to specific pages on your site, think carefully about who’s not just popular and beloved online, but also those who have stellar reputations in fields of relevance to the content you want them to share. Use content curation tools and email newsletters to routinely receive new content from any brands or personalities you think you could use in your backlink strategy and then list the ones you want to request links from based on their pertinence to your brand and how much traffic they seem to get (e.g. you could prioritize well-known lenders in your area with oft-visited blogs featuring mortgage tips and tricks) so you can increase your chances of developing a relationship with the right people who can benefit your real estate SEO strategy.
10) Use tools that can give you insight into your website’s domain authority.
Moz’s most recent Local Ranking Factors survey reveals domain authority remains one of the premier factors for pages’ ability to rank highly in search results. Basically, domain authority refers to a website’s age, popularity, and size, as Codeboxr notes: In a nutshell, the more popular you are, the longer your site’s been around and active, and the bigger it gets in terms of pages created, the better your domain authority will be.
To find out your domain authority, there are several tools that can give you insights into the root causes behind your site’s success and detail which specific components help it rank well. For instance, using Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool, you can determine your site’s domain authority, including how each page is likely viewed by Google and other search engines and a spam analysis of each page, which indicates which pages have links leading to spammy sites.
11) Increase your social media activity tenfold to get your tweets and other social updates atop SERPs.
One of the most recent updates Google has made regarding new content to appear in SERPs is adding Google+ posts on the upper-right side of results pages (along with other Google account info, like Google+ reviews and company info) and showing tweets from accounts related to branded search terms. It’s unknown yet whether this adjustment to search results will be around for the long haul, but assuming it is, it’s yet another opportunity to get more traffic to your website.
Using social media automation tools, you can schedule tweets throughout the day and, assuming your digital foundation has been set, the odds of Google recognizing your Twitter account whenever your name or your company name is searched online increase dramatically. The key is adding your social media account links to all of your online marketing outlets, including your site, and regularly including links to a broad array of pages on your site so that they appear as de facto links right at the top of SERPs. This is an instant SEO win that can aid your quest for search engine domination while you wait for the longer-term SEO plays — your blog posts and educational pages — to appear naturally in these results pages.
12) Modernize by mobilizing: Optimize your real estate website for smartphones and tablets today!
Another alteration Google has made recently in SERPs is showing tiny tabs next to the URLs for search results that indicates whether or not they’re mobile-friendly websites. Searchers increasingly use their smartphones and tablets to research products, services, and — yes — homes for sale, and if they can’t clearly read and see a site on these mobile devices, they won’t stick around on them for long or return again in the future. That makes adopting responsive design a must.
Again, this is another super-simple way to enhance your real estate SEO marketing and ensure all of your visitors can easily get all of the information they need from your site in practically no time and without any formatting or functionality issues.
13) Implement the “skyscraper technique” for some of your blog posts and landing pages.
This widely acclaimed content creation method has been around for a few years now, but it’s still surprising that so few brands and professionals have implemented it in their digital campaigns — including real estate agents, who could take a single day each month to write lengthy, instructive, and eye-opening posts that feature tons of beneficial links to other valuable content and that is scannable.
We understand it’s easy to say “Hey, all you have to do is write the occasional 3,500-word blog post and you’re all set!” when in actuality producing blog posts of this length takes a significant amount of effort and time. However, this doesn’t need to be done for every single article you write for your blog. Rather, simply write one of these longer posts for each of your core keyword groups (e.g. “buying a single-family home in [market name here],” “[market name here] school system,” etc.) so you cover all of your bases for niche audiences and interests. Once this is done, it’s on to promotion via email and social, waiting for the clicks to come in, and watching the content slowly but surely elevate in SERPs.
14) Freshen up stale content in old posts and webpages with more current and correct info.
Just because older content fell flat initially when it comes to making an impact in search results doesn’t mean a few alterations to a post or page here and there can’t undo that poor SEO ranking and get it all the way to page one. As SEO Site Checkup states, Google is a big fan of brands and professionals who regularly update older content, as it shows they’re working hard to get their content performing well in SERPs (yes, Google actually can tell who’s putting in the effort to “win” at SEO and who’s not).
So, identify all of your existing content on your site that hasn’t really lived up to your marketing expectations and create a plan of attack as to how you can change them accordingly so they start to resonate better with searchers and, over time, end up as one of the top search results for the keywords included. This could mean changing the titles for certain pages, adding an extra 1,000 words to a post, replacing existing information in an article with more up-to-date details, or swapping out keywords that aren’t as highly searched as they once were with fresher, more competitive terms.
15) When you get a new website or update your existing one, be careful what you change.
Making a change with your real estate agent website because it’s not looking or operating the way you want is perfectly fine … as long as you know how to make the switch to a new site or updating your existing one without disrupting all of the SEO points, so to speak, you’ve earned from Google and other search engines. The same goes for updating minor portions of your site, like a single page.
For instance, if you decide to create an entirely new community page dedicated to the downtown area of your town/city and the businesses located there with an entirely new URL slug, be sure to keep the old page up and add a 301 redirect from that page to the new one. This will prevent you from losing any SEO juice you obtained with the older page since the day it went up and ensure you don’t have a blank or outdated page that could lead to website visitors fleeing faster than you can say “Wait, here’s the correct link!”
Marketer Jay Taylor explains in this Search Engine Watch post that focusing on the intricate elements of your site that you may not pay attention to often, like your HTML and XML sitemaps and URL structure, can help ensure you don’t waste years of SEO optimization efforts and leave you starting back at square one with your search marketing.
Still fuzzy on how Google decides which content ranks high up in search results? Not to worry: We broke down what Google takes into account when organizing content in its SERPs — and how to get your real estate SEO content to meet these standards.
Want more advice on SEO for real estate agents? Share which aspect(s) of search engine optimization you want to know more about, and we may cover the topic(s) in a future Placester Academy post, so share what real estate SEO tips you want to learn below!
Published on October 22, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
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.