If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of search engine optimization (SEO), it may feel like learning a foreign language. There’s abbreviations to master, algorithms to be aware of, and there’s always someone else who seems to pick it up easily while you struggle.
While it’s true that SEO can be tricky, there are a few basic guidelines to follow that will help you consistently rank higher in local search results (which means more opportunities to attract leads to your website!).
Determine Where you Currently Stand
If you’ve never searched for your agency’s name on Google, take the time to do that right now. This will help you see how it’s displaying to prospects searching for realtors in your community. How your business appears on search engines is a huge part of local SEO, so start your search by using terms your leads are likely using.
This is what appears in Google results after conducting a simple search like “Boston real estate agent.”
If you don’t see your business near the top of these search results, the solution may be as simple as including more keywords in your website’s content — or following these SEO best practiceson your website.
The Importance of Ranking in Local Search Results
It’s no secret that your agency is one of many, many others serving your community. The reality is, if you don’t follow the necessary guidelines to properly optimize your site and its content, you’ll rank lower than you’d like on Google.
A lower ranking means new prospects will have a difficult time finding your name on the internet. Google’s algorithms change frequently, and those updates can feel like a maze to navigate your way through. But as Neil Patel of the Quick Sprout blog states, it’s worth the effort to try: “SEO might be more powerful than ever, and for one simple reason: most sites are neglecting their SEO. If you pay attention to your SEO, you’ll see real results.”
If you’re the type who wants to stay one step ahead of the trends (and other real estate agents in your community), that knowledge should be pretty motivating.
Local Updates That Will Affect How Your Business Is Displayed
Ever since Google’s Possum update in late 2016, search results have been filtered and displayed differently. A total of 46 search ranking factors were added, some significantly improving where businesses fell in results, while others ended up having a negative impact on how local businesses were ranked.
A few things came to light with these changes:
Local results are now filtered by address and affiliation. That means only the results that most closely match the search are displayed, while the rest are hidden. For example, performing a search for agents in Boston’s North End neighborhood returns these results.
The physical location of the searcher is more important than it used to be, and the farther away from someone’s location a business is, the less likely it is to rank at the top of search results. The update also widely affected Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), effectively changing how businesses are displayed in search results.
Slight keyword variations will pull in much different search results. This should be a reminder to try and put yourself in your site visitors’ shoes when you’re building your list of keyword groups so your content will rank for various search phrases.
What Google’s Algorithm Changes Mean for Your Realtor SEO Strategy
Knowing how to leverage local SEO better than other realtors in your community can mean the difference between very low traffic to your site, and receiving a steady number of qualified leads.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to claim your Google My Business page to increase the chances of getting found in local search results.
How close your business’s location is to the searcher
How well your business fits into the search terms people are using
How well-known your business is in relation to others in your community
Taking action on the following tips will help you maximize the content on your website:
Focus on Creating Valuable, Localized Content
If you don’t regularly update your website’s blog, you need to figure out a way to motivate yourself to produce more content — or hire a freelance writer.
Blogging consistently about noteworthy topics that affect your community and inform your potential clients will, over time, place your agency’s name at the top of the search page.
Why Social Signals and Backlinks Matter
Once you commit to creating content your audience finds valuable, they’ll start sharing it across the web. This will give your page(s) what are called social signals and backlinks — a notification to search engines that your content is high-quality, and therefore should be featured more prominently when someone searches for real estate agent information.
If you feel as though you’ve spent a lot of time chasing backlinks from other reputable sites, here are some ways you can gain backlinks to further improve your local SEO:
Continue to create and share valuable content that’s relevant to your audience. The search engines love long-form, meaty content that teaches people exactly what they are hoping to learn.
Try your hand at writing a guest blog post on a website that represents the niche you specialize in. This isn’t a technique that’s recommended to be done just for the sake of obtaining a backlink, but it definitely has its benefits.
Reach out to key players in your industry and build relationships with them. This could lead to lots of mutual support and sharing of content.
Spy on Your Competition’s SEO Activity
Have you ever been curious about which keywords other real estate agents use? Or their on-page SEO strategy in general? It sounds like a questionable activity, but there are tools to help you track keywords used on others’ sites. This tactic is nearly guaranteed to put you ahead of other agents in your local market.
It’s important to target your content to keywords of particular listings for a specific neighborhood or region. Track your keyword usage over time and discover which ones are most searched for so you can stay on top.
Share Your Glowing Reviews
People trust companies who have positive reviews on their sites and social media accounts. Those reviews are a great way to improve your SEO and put yourself ahead of other agents.
For example, if a prospect searches for your name on Google and the initial information that appears in the search results are praise-filled reviews from your previous clients, the social proof inherent in that type of feedback is very valuable. If you have a vast amount of enthusiastic support from people you’ve helped settle into homes they love, that’s bound to put you miles ahead of other agents working in your market who don’t possess the same amount or quality of reviews.
Get the Most Out of Citations and Business Directories
Like the social proof garnered from your reviews, citations help bolster your local SEO because there’s a trail generated for your agency name from every share and link. It’s also important that you keep directories updated with the latest information about your company in as many places as you can where leads will be searching.
Fix Broken Links and Errors in Code
Most SEO tactics are free, so agents don’t have to worry about creating a budget solely for staying on top of local search results for their business. However, that doesn’t mean you can afford to neglect any technical issues that exist on your site.
Make it a point to routinely check the links and page load times on your site to maintain its look and functionality. If your IDX site is mobile-friendly and provides a smooth user experience for your prospects while others they view don’t, you’ll be at the top of everyone’s list of agents to call just thanks to basic upkeep.
Take your local marketing strategy to the next level! Watch this webinar to learn the secrets behind top agents’ local SEO success.