If you’re unfamiliar with the details of a successful local SEO strategy, it may feel somewhat 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 search engine optimization can be tricky, there are a few basic guidelines to follow to consistently rank higher in local results. And as a real estate professional with an IDX website that sees a lot of traffic, you’ll need to ensure it’s fully optimized to attract the right leads.
If you’ve never searched for your agency’s name on Google, take the time to do that to see how it’s displaying to prospects searching in your community for Realtors. How your business appears on search engines is a huge part of local SEO that you don’t want to overlook. Start by searching using terms your leads are likely using.
This is what appears in the results after conducting a simple search like “Boston real estate agent”
Now that you’ve performed the search, did you notice the amount of your competitors who ranked before your own agency? Before you start to worry, we have good news: By completing a few easily executable steps, you can beat your competition at their own game.
Whether you’re eager to include more keywords in your real estate content or you want a rundown of SEO best practices to implement on your website, read on to learn what’s needed to successfully rank your business in search engines. When you apply these details to your website, you’ll come out ahead every time.
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 consistently rank lower than you’d like on Google, which means new prospects will have a difficult time finding your name on the web. 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 asserts: “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 to want to stay one step ahead of the trends, as well as 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 These 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 no traffic to your site, and receiving the best qualified leads.
First things first, 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. You can learn more about it and how to set it up by going here.
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
Remaining educated and staying one step ahead of the trends are vital aspects to seeing success with local SEO on your site. Implementing the following tips will not only help you in optimizing the content on your website, but they will give you the advantage over other local agents as well.
For various reasons, some agents aren’t too keen on writing regularly to bolster their business. Let’s say you love blogging and so you’re already ahead of the game, but for those who don’t, you need to figure out a way to motivate yourself to produce more content. And in the case of local SEO, it not only needs to have the necessary details like appropriate tags and local keywords, it also needs to be about your community in some way. That’s right: the quality of your content matters too!
If you’re working hard to conquer search results, blogging consistently about noteworthy topics will, over time, place your agency’s name at the top of the search page.
Why Social Signals and Backlinks Matter, Too
Along with top-notch content, exceptional backlinks are the ultimate in local SEO rankings. 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 being shared and is useful for particular purposes, which helps it determine your website quality and how you’ll rank.
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 fits with exactly what people 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 or niche 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.
And speaking of keywords, don’t neglect them! It’s important to target your content to the most popular keywords so your website appears when people are searching for, “condos Back Bay Boston” or a similar search 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.
Leverage Social Proof from Your Reviews
There’s really no getting around the fact that people trust companies who have positive reviews on their sites and social media accounts. Aside from that, it’s a great way to improve your SEO and put yourself ahead of other agents.
For example, if a prospect Google’s your name 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
Citations are highly important components of local SEO. You might be wondering what they are exactly and where you obtain them. You can receive citations from local blogs and search engines, as well as industry and locally-focused directories. In the simplest terms, they’re all of the mentions of your business name on other pages. Basically, a referral from one site to another.
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, if not all, 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. It’s great news, yes, but it doesn’t mean you can afford to neglect any technical issues that exist on your site.
Make a point to check all of the links and page load times on your site, and fix any broken code as well. While maintaining the look and functionality of your website is just a good habit to get into, if your IDX site is mobile-friendly and provides for a smooth user experience for your prospects while others they view aren’t, you’ll be at the top of the list of agents thanks to basic upkeep.
Ready to dive into Realtor SEO and improve your on-page strategy? Tune into Placester’s webinar for even more tips and tricks!
What are the best ways you’ve found to beat your competitors at the SEO game? Share with us in the comments below!