Real Estate Marketing Defined: Finding the Best SEO Keywords for Your Realtor Website
A generic, verbatim Google “real estate” search isn’t typically the primary way home buyers and sellers find local agents in their market. In fact, flipping through their town newspaper and blindly pointing at a random page is probably a better means for pinpointing a potential real estate professional to represent them.
Nope, the main method for these folks to find the best Realtor for their particular housing needs is to type in long-tail, highly specific keyword searches in Google, Bing, and other search engines. Knowing these specific phrases entered by your audience online and implementing them — and several other related searches — across your IDX website is how you’ll meet in the digital middle, so to speak, and get them on your site.
We probably don’t need to tell you about the many intricacies of modern search engine optimization, as what constitutes “good” SEO seemingly changes by the day. Having said that, you ought to learn the basics of the marketing approach if you want to have any chance of eventually getting your Realtor website found atop search engine results pages.
Enter our beloved Real Estate Marketing Defined series intended to assist agents like you and alleviate your concerns about continually improving your internet marketing. Keep reading, and you’ll discover how real estate SEO keyword research works today, how you can get going with the best research tools, and what to do when you identify proper long-tail terms for your website.
“I know a real estate SEO plan is probably important for my marketing, but I just don’t entirely get it. Sell me.”
If by “probably important” you mean “absolutely critical,” then yes 😉 .
You will undoubtedly find an agent here and there who will tell you “I get the bulk of my site traffic from [random web source here]. Don’t bother with that SEO business.” The truth, however, is this kind of thinking is dangerous — at least in the long-term view for your online marketing efforts.
Sure, if you spend the overwhelming majority of your time creating resourceful IDX website pages and promoting them incessantly on one or two digital channels each and every day, you’re bound to gain some level of marketing success. But, if you truly want to establish an online foundation that gets your site found for years to come — not just the next few months — an SEO-for-real-estate plan is the perfect path to take.
Establish a strong digital foundation with SEO in mind, and you’ll get found often online by your audience.
Think of SEO like this: You can invest your hard-earned money to buy stock in a major company like Apple or Nike (translation: put all of your energy into making the most of just email or just social media to get found online).
Or, if you want a much, much higher assurance of solid ROI on any investment you make, you can simply place some of your capital in a Roth IRA and let safe(r) stocks — albeit ones that take more time to see results from — do the work for you (translation: create a steady stream of search-optimized content that will gain you traction in search engine results pages over the long haul).
In short, SEO for Realtors isn’t just some generic approach to earning more traffic and becoming better known by those living or looking in your market. Rather, SEO is the best blueprint for online marketing success for years to come — and believe it or not, not terribly difficult to master within a matter of months (or even weeks, depending on your commitment to honing your search skills).
“Okay, you’ve perked up my ears. But when it comes to finding the ‘right’ keywords, what’s the ideal approach?”
We could drone on and on about the many facets of SEO for real estate agents — from the technical side of things (like alt tags and meta descriptions) to social media’s emergence as a search factor — but to keep things a bit more simple, we’ll just focus on on-page SEO here.
In essence, you want to find the terms and phrases your buyer persona(s) search most often in Google and similar search engines that relate as closely as possible to your niche services.
If you’re a buyer’s agent in Des Moines, for instance, you probably already know “Des Moines homes for sale” is a keyword to implement on your website. But what about the many synonym long-tail keywords similar to this, like:
- West Des Moines homes for sale
- Des Moines area homes for sale
- homes for sale in Des Moines Iowa
- Des Moines County homes for sale
- ranch homes for sale in Des Moines
We could go on and on with several dozen other popular SEO keywords searched by this specific group, but you get the picture.
The “too-long-didn’t-read” version of this is pretty straightforward: Bucket together all long-tail keywords in different keyword groups — each of which you can allocate to the most applicable pages on your real estate website — and track your organic search progress over time (that is, just how helpful those keywords were in helping your pages get found in search results).
Now, it needs to be stated that, as sort of mentioned already, SEO is the long marketing play for real estate professionals. You’re not going to publish an immaculately crafted website page and then — BAM! — it’s the very first listing on page one of Google for one or more of the keywords included on said page. What you are going to see, though — as long as your keyword research was thoroughly completed — is a slow but steady rise up search results pages for at least some of your site pages.
The great news is you don’t need every single page on your IDX website to rank well in Google, Bing, and the like. What you do need is for at least some of your pages to gradually climb the search ladder in order for you to make your real estate search engine optimization efforts worth your time and resources.
Chances are, if you dedicate yourself to understanding how keyword research has evolved (and how SEO is predicted to evolve) over time, you’ll do well with building an enviable SEO plan for your real estate business.
“Alright, so find highly searched terms by my audience, add ’em to my site pages — what are the next steps?”
To keep your real estate SEO plan moving in the right direction, you need to follow this two-step plan of attack, plain and simple:
1) Constantly repeat the research and implementation process.
It’s not enough to go through one “round” of page and post creation in which you optimize each with the keywords you already have. You need to consistently find other long-tail terms your audience enters online and group those keywords as well.
Then, once you’ve completed each subsequent research period, you can apply those keyword groups to brand new pages on your site, like community pages for each micro area of your market and blog posts of different varieties.
2) Modify your existing keyword groups and, later, your site pages.
The funny thing about monthly keyword search volumes, as shown in the likes of Google Keyword Planner and Moz Keyword Explorer, is that they change.
No, you might not see much of a difference month to month — or even over the course of several months — but eventually, many of your keywords’ popularity levels will increase or decrease over time. It’s the nature of the beast.
Having said that, changing out keywords in your current batch of groups and replacing phrases across your site doesn’t have to be a pain-staking process … as long as you pay attention to each keyword group.
“I’m starting to get it. Any other beginner real estate keyword research tips or resources to know about”
Let’s start with some savvy tips and tricks for making the most of keyword research — of which there are countless ones (we’ll condense it to a few though). Since you’re just getting going with identifying worthwhile keywords for your website, we recommend:
- Start with a few keyword groups to begin with: You may be tempted to go gung ho right off the bat with your SEO scheme, but your best bet is the patient plan of attack. Think of the three most popular long-tail terms your buyer persona searches for often in their agent, market, and/or listing search, then create groups for each of those keywords featuring analgous phrases you can also put into action on your website pages.
- Own your very own real estate brand keywords!: Don’t let competing agents in your market leverage keywords that include your name or that of your agency in their website content before you do. It may sound shady (that’s because it is), but don’t put it past other industry pros from implementing keywords featuring your business name in their landing pages and blog posts and, in turn, getting found up high in search results for pages featuring those terms.
- Don’t neglect other traffic and lead gen sources: Your search strategy is a paramount one to eventually nail down … but it’s far from the only internet marketing game in town for successful real estate agents like you. Don’t forget about the power of social media (from both organic and paid perspectives), public relations (like getting your site featured in local online publications and blogs), and other popular digital marketing avenues.
As for other resources to teach you the ways of 21st-century SEO, there’s-a-plenty you can choose from. Having said that, if you’re going to learn about search optimization for (what is likely) the first time, you might as well learn from the most informed brands and professionals around. Here’s a modest sampling of guides to use:
- The Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Keyword Research — Moz
- Keyword Research for SEO: The Definitive Guide — Backlinko
- The Agent’s Real Estate SEO Guide for Using Keywords — Placester
- SEO Keywords: How Better Keyword Research Gets You Better Results — WordStream
- How to Do Keyword Research the Smart Way: Targeting Interest and Intent — KISSmetrics
Of course, search “real estate SEO best practices” and you’ll find innumerable other sources that can help your SEO (see the irony there?), but these are prime resources for beginners like you.
Watch our “Generate More Leads with SEO: A Step-by-Step Guide for Agents” webinar to improve your Realtor SEO efforts.
How do you ensure your IDX website gets found atop search results (and more clicks)? Share your SEO secrets below!
Published on April 26, 2017
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.