How to Dominate Local Search: Real Estate SEO Tips and Tricks from Bellator Agent Jeff Nelson
In the span of a year, Alabama real estate agent Jeff Nelson went from zero website traffic to 1,800 visitors and 5,000 page views per month.
The reason for this rapid climb in traffic? A well-planned search engine optimization strategy for getting found on page one of Google.
Best practices for real estate SEO continue to evolve. As they do, Nelson has made sure to stay ahead of the curve.
Want to drive more leads to your website like Nelson has? Check out his real estate SEO tips and tricks below.
Changing markets proved to be a real estate SEO roadblock for Nelson … but just a temporary one.
When Nelson surveyed the Alabama housing market, he found that a duo of agents owned the local search landscape.
- “I know a fair amount about SEO. I’ve been a REALTOR® since I moved down here about four years ago. Once I got here, I found out pretty quickly there were two guys in particular that had already learned and did what I want to do and had been doing for more than 10 years. Both of them are doing very well as far as [real estate] SEO goes.”
Nelson could have let this discovery stop him from building a real estate SEO strategy. He could have decided to focus his energy on other marketing activities like Facebook ads or direct mail to boost his brand.
That’s not the path he chose.
Instead, Nelson decided to focus on keywords that the other two agents weren’t targeting. Here’s his strategy:
- “I’m trying to create a lot of long-tail searches and think of pages that maybe those guys haven’t thought of. That can get me in front of more people because they’re not trying to use or rank for those keywords.”
Researching the search ‘gaps’ — keywords the other local agents have yet to produce content around — has helped Nelson immensely.
“I’m still getting on the first page of Google for a lot of searches,” says Nelson. “That’s why I’ve created so many pages with Placester.”
By dominating select terms and phrases through content marketing, Nelson’s elevated his brand awareness and earned lots of business in the process.
Blogging has been the primary tactic that has helped Nelson achieve his real estate SEO success.
There are many ways to make your website attractive to Google, Bing and Yahoo. Nelson found that building his marketing strategy around blogging really boosted his search engine rankings.
The key to his success? Diversifying his content to appeal to different audiences.
“I’ve got a good mix of posts I create: some that are just a few paragraphs, and then some [others] that I’ve created that are 2,000, 3,000, even 4,000 words.”
Creating the right mix of evergreen and time-sensitive content can be tricky, Nelson shares. But he’s found a good balance thus far.
“I’m trying to create posts that are evergreen — they’ll never go away and still be relevant 10 years from now — as well as posts that are relevant at the time,” he says.
Pages that explain his local neighborhoods, burgeoning developments, and community at-large have also been beneficial.
“I’ve created a community page for nearly every neighborhood and condo complex in the county,” adds Nelson. “The ones that tend to do really well are the ones for which I embellish the community and make a big page just for that area. Because of that rich content, I tend to get good results when it comes to search results and traffic.”
If you want to “win” with your search strategy, Nelson has simple advice: Just get started.
Launching your real estate SEO strategy is really the hardest part, according to Nelson.
Once you do get going, he says you can truly start building toward your long-term REALTOR marketing goals.
Assuming you’ve set everything up correctly, the rewards can be considerable.
“The big trouble is just getting started,” says Nelson. “Learning SEO can be a long process — and it’s a never-ending process. It’s constantly changing, so if you really want to understand modern SEO, it’s a lifetime mastery kind of thing.”
However, there are little things he says beginners can do to ensure their website content is optimized for search engines:
“Learning SEO can be a long process — and it’s a never-ending process.”
“Put keywords into titles and headers and use those keywords in the body of the text,” he says. “At the same time, though, remember: You don’t want to overkill it.”
He elaborates, “For instance, if I’m writing something about Gulf Shores condos and say it’s a 2,000-word post, I don’t want to have ‘Gulf Shores condos’ representing about 10% of those 2,000 words.”
The rule of thumb with SEO is not to let the quantity of keywords affect the quality of the content. As Nelson explains, “You don’t want it to look and read like you’re trying too hard to rank for those terms. You want them to come up very naturally [in your content].”
The same process of ‘just getting started’ can also be applied to creating content.
Nelson confides, “I’m not a great writer. It takes me a long time to write an article, but I know I have to do it. Some of the bigger posts takes me a few days to write. But the biggest advice I can give is just get going, and add keywords everywhere in your content.”
While he recognizes the benefits of paid promotion, Nelson earns all of his traffic organically.
While paid advertising is a driver of traffic for many real estate agencies, Nelson says that he’s gotten top-tier leads solely through search engine optimization.
“I’m not paying for anything at this point,” he explains. “I’m totally basing [my real estate marketing strategy] on people organically finding me through Google and Bing, capturing them, and staying in touch with them. Then, at that point, I make sure to send emails to them to stay top of mind.”
Continually adjusting his search optimization approach has allowed Nelson to distinguish his firm online from local agents.
“There’s a million real estate websites out there,” says Nelson. “I want to make sure they remember the name of my site.”
“People can be very fickle,” he adds. “I think the more we can stay on top of the people who do register via my site, who do ask a question about a specific property, the better we can be at becoming their friend right away and the better the chances are they’ll only want to talk to us and not to another agent.”
“I want to make sure they remember the name of my site.”
Many home buyers and sellers search for buying and selling tips online before they look for a real estate agent. Therefore, it’s important that agents supply buyers and sellers with the housing information that they’re searching for before trying to sell them on services. As Nelson puts it:
“They don’t care that my name’s Jeff Nelson, a REALTOR with Bellator. They just want to see what’s going on in this neighborhood, what’s selling. Once we are able to talk to them, then hopefully they do end up caring about us and they’ll stick with us.”
Without Google Analytics, Nelson knows he wouldn’t be able to improve his real estate SEO.
Mastering the basics of search engine optimization is only step one.
If he wasn’t able to measure his SEO performance on his Placester website, Nelson says he wouldn’t know if all the time he put into blogging was worth it.
“Once you have a website, you can tie it into Google Analytics and Google Search Console,” explains Nelson. “It’s become a habitual thing that I do: Every morning, that’s the first thing I’ll check. Before I even look at my email, I’ll go look at my website stats.”
Why does he put such an emphasis on performance data? “You’ll see what pages are doing better or not doing as good as other pages,” Nelson shares. “Then, you can go to those pages and analyze them and say, ‘Okay, what am I missing here? Why is this page ranking on page one of Google and this page that you thought was almost exactly the same is on the 10th page of Google?'”
Patience is a virtue — something Nelson learned at the onset of his SEO training.
That’s why he routinely monitors the performance of his website pages. He knows they will help him increase market share and attract more clients through search.
“I believe in the long-term,” concludes Nelson. “As long as you’re doing it right, once you get into real estate SEO and learn the basics — I mean, there are a million-plus articles on SEO best practices, so read up regularly — and you build your site right from the beginning, it’ll help you because you’re doing it correctly.”
Get even more expert real estate SEO tips and tricks for your website in this Placester webinar:
Published on September 11, 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.