Real Estate SEO Success: How Long Does It Take?
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
Success with a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign doesn’t happen overnight. There is no magic bullet that instantly boosts your search engine rankings or gets thousands of visitors to your website. Rather, real estate SEO success requires the long-term approach: gradually optimizing your online presence, creating lots of interesting content, sharing that content across social media and email, and conducting an array of other activities.
Continue reading to learn how long it takes to set up each aspect of your real estate SEO strategy, when you can expect to see the fruits of your labor, and how to maintain and enhance your standing on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Essential Real Estate SEO Tasks
From blogging and advertising to social media and email marketing, your real estate SEO tactics are all interconnected. Done right, each of these activities can help your website get found in SERPs, guide the right people to your website, and, eventually, fill your contacts database chock-full of leads. But each of these areas takes a different amount of time and requires a different approach.
Here’s the optimal order in which to take care of the marketing tasks necessary for real estate SEO success.
1) Get a responsive website.
This is the one real estate website SEO task that’s simply a one-time deal. Securing a responsive real estate website is paramount before conducting any other SEO maneuvers. Check out website providers to determine which site is best for your online marketing needs. Look for specific functionality in sites, like a practical navigation setup and the ability to add lead capture forms. Above all, make sure it looks and functions perfectly on mobile devices.
This is important not only because Google greatly prefers to see mobile functionality for websites (so much so it created a how-to guide to maximizing sites for mobile), but also because more and more real estate searches today take place on smartphones and tablets, as evidenced in Google’s graphic below:
Switch to a responsive website if you don’t have one, then take on the content creation, optimization, and promotion activities below. You’ll thank yourself in the long run, as mobile becomes even more vital to a successful real estate SEO scheme.
2) Conduct keyword research.
Next up on the SEO priority list is conducting thorough keyword research. This is one of the core SEO activities that takes a considerable amount of time to perform and is never complete. Long-tail keywords that are popular or weak today may be the opposite next week, meaning you have to dedicate time once every few weeks to ensure you implement popular terms and phrases in your content that will help your site get found by local buyers and sellers.
Given the nature of keyword research, there is no point in time where you can say, “Well, I’ve done enough to succeed with my SEO.” It’s a necessary evil in the world of real estate search engine optimization, but one that will pay dividends over the long haul.
3) Begin blogging regularly.
Next up, optimize your real estate blogging strategy. Generate lots of interesting real estate blog ideas and produce posts that appeal to your target audience. For example, compile local market data for your audience, tell buyers what to look for in properties in your area, advise sellers on how to price their homes — anything that makes you stand out as the ideal agent in your community is perfect, just be sure to use your keywords in your blog posts.
Come up with a list of 10 or so terms that are highly searched by local buyers and sellers. Use one or two focus keywords for each article. Do this many times over with your content (while continuing to research new, better keywords) and you’ll begin to improve in SERPs.
4) Construct landing pages.
Whereas long-tail terms are optimal for blog content, landing pages on your site should focus on primary keywords — ones that are consistently searched by your audience. For instance, a long-tail term for your market may be “two-floor brownstones in Bushwick Brooklyn,” but “Brooklyn homes for sale” is likely to generate more traffic due to its more general nature.
There is no right number of landing pages to create for your website. It’s better to try several options to find those that produce the best results. Identify ones you think buyers and sellers would find most useful. For example, a lifestyle page that exhibits all of the great restaurants, theaters, nightlife spots, parks, and other amenities could help drive a considerable amount of the right traffic to your site.
5) Delve into the world of advertising.
Many of the same keywords you utilize in your on-page real estate SEO can also be used in your real estate advertising. Become familiar with Google AdWords and the process of researching keywords for ads — which differs in some ways from keyword research for your site. Primarily, finding the right keywords for ads is based on cost per click: The more popular and competitive a keyword is, the higher it costs to bid on it and get your ads shown above others.
Mastering real estate advertising takes dedication in terms of time and effort. Regularly find and bid on new keywords for your ads — along with creating compelling copy — and you’ll be well on your way to becoming better acquainted and proficient with AdWords. Expect this process of familiarizing yourself to take a few months.
6) Build your social media presence.
Regarding ease of set up, one SEO task that you won’t expend much energy completing is creating your real estate social media accounts. The usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the prime places to start, since sharing your content on those sites typically yields the best results. Don’t neglect other social platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram, though — the former of which can generate lots of real estate leads, and the latter of which can bolster your brand awareness (when used correctly).
After developing your social media presence, use social scheduling and monitoring tools to automate tweets, updates, and other posts and make it simple to track the success of your online presence. The ways in which social media affects SEO are numerous: Primarily, you can build links through social and drive traffic to your site.
7) Create some videos for your site.
Home walk-throughs, updates about local market conditions, testimonials, interviews — these are just a sample of the real estate video marketing content you can create for your site and YouTube account and, gradually, better your SEO. Whether you use a mobile app or a professional camera, videos have proven to lead to significant improvements in SERPs for pros and brands of all kinds, so start recording today.
There are several great video apps for smartphones and tablets, each of which has simple filming and editing features anyone can figure out, so don’t think you need to master some fancy video camera to get professional-looking results.
8) Get lots of links on other websites.
The whole point of these promotional tasks is not only to drive traffic to your site, but also to build links leading back to your site. Yes, your email recipients and social media followers may share your content on their sites, but you don’t want just anyone linking to your content. Try to get big fish — those with sites that rank highly in SERPs and have a positive online reputation in the eyes of Google and Bing — to link to and mention your content.
Develop a list of notable real estate industry members, publications, blogs, and other outlets you think would be interested in your content. Then, reach out to them to let them know you’ve created some great content. Don’t just ask them to share it, though. Rather, explain the content’s value. Asking for links only comes across as desperate and rarely leads to actual external linking, so try to build relationships with these folks to raise the chances that they will share your content.
When to Expect Real Estate SEO Results
The great news is that time invested in mastering SEO for real estate pays dividends — as long as you remain committed.
Many agents initially have roadblocks to success with real estate SEO. For instance, a study by Ascend2 found more than 40 percent of professionals working with SEO cited lack of search optimization budget and know-how as the top impediments to success with their SEO campaigns. Having said that, half of these pros stated SEO effectiveness grew for their businesses year-over-year, meaning their efforts paid off the longer they stuck with their SEO strategies.
Numerous SEO experts acknowledge it takes time to see solid success with a search campaign. Though these are just rough estimates of how long it takes an SEO plan to increase your site traffic, they’re all similar in sentiment:
- Integrity Marketing and Consulting Founder and Digital Marketing Director Brian Hughes: “Before giving up on an SEO strategy, give it at least three or four months to take root. If you’re actually committed to long-term SEO success, you may have to wait as long as a year to see really outstanding progress.”
- G/O Digital Content Manager Danielle Legler: “With a good consistent strategy and no other major site issues, it is reasonable to expect a three-to-six-month window to move up into the top 10 results.”
- Tenfold Traffic Founder David Melamed: “It can take months for your SEO efforts to start showing significant improvements, and can certainly take that long to start showing a real ROI. Many links don’t get their full value for three months. After all, Google wants to see that the links are here to stay.”
- First Page Sage SEO Evan Bailyn: “A well-run SEO campaign should be able to show results within four to six months. I am defining results as ‘new, targeted, organic traffic that produces leads.’”
The main takeaway from these professionals? You won’t get on page one of search results after just a few weeks of work. It takes time to establish your real estate SEO strategy and for search engines to recognize that hard work. Google and Bing don’t make SEO easy for a reason: They want the best of the best to stream to the top of SERPs so searchers see the most pertinent, informative, and useful content.
Aside from these predictions regarding how long it takes for SEO strategies to take shape and yield results, other optimization experts have very specific SEO recommendations that can help you succeed in the world of search:
- Nifty Marketing President Mike Ramsey on creating great content: “Things are changing so fast that you would quickly find yourself falling behind when the next updates come around. The best method is to focus on getting in front of your audience with great content all across the web and in turn finding ways to get feedback. It’s hard to work like Google doesn’t matter but the companies that will fare the best over the coming years will do just that.”
- The Vetters Agency Founder and CEO Kristine Schachinger on testing your site: “Though we haven’t been given these [SEO] rules by the search engines, we can test against the algorithm and do things we know work because a + b = c. Math is predictable, testable, and somewhat verifiable.”
- Advice Interactive Group CEO Bernadette Coleman on keyword placement: “A good keyword in the title that reflects the literal theme of the article or asset will ultimately determine whether it ranks in search and social.”
- Online Marketing Coach Founder Mike Murray on multi-purpose keyword use: “It’s not just about ranking so high that you can stop paying for a keyword phrase. Depending on the conversions and ROI goals, maybe you will keep a keyword phrase with both paid and natural search.”
Discover more advanced real estate SEO tips and tricks and expert advice that can help you master local SEO for real estate on our Academy.
What else do you want to know to better your real estate SEO strategy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Published on February 5, 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.