In recent years, the Internet has increasingly become the go-to source for house hunters—in 2014, 53% of potential buyers started the process by searching online, according to “The Digital House Hunt”. Once they do the groundwork online, they take the step of contacting an agent.
The most important rules for optimizing a real estate site are no different than the rules for any other category:
- Create a beautiful, usable, unique site that Google can easily crawl
- Understand the keywords that drive your business
- Design a site map that provides a unique page for each keyphrase
- Include text on every page, write well and use great photos
- Pursue authoritative links from respected sources
The importance of the list above can’t be overestimated. A beautiful, useful site will help build your brand. Aside from the obvious benefits a strong brand gives you when selling, the evidence is growing that a strong brand also improves your ranking across the board. Quality content reflects well on your company and, at least as important, Google knows if site visits are spending time on your site or bouncing off. A high bounce rate will hurt your rankings.
Dive into your analytics to understand how people are searching and finding you. While Google masks the majority of keyword data now, you can get an idea about keywords you are ranking for by looking at your top landing pages for organic search. What pages beyond your homepage are garnering organic search? Tools like SEM Rush can also be very helpful in the process. Filter out brand keywords to find your most important non-brand search terms.
Also important: Make sure your site and analytics are set up to measure leads and attribute them to the source.
Finally, pursue links with authoritative sources. Start with your local chamber and business publications, who often create lists of top companies by industry categories. Use Open Site Explorer to find authoritative links that your competitors have and that you are missing.
With these crucial basics in mind, we’ve compiled a list of real estate SEO tips that are specific to your business.
According to Bruce Clay Inc., an Internet marketing company, 69% of potential buyers begin their research with a local keyphrase, like “Central TX realtors.” What makes local targeting tricky is that many realtors work in multiple cities and regions. To combat this, focus on the main city or county that business is conducted in. Here are some examples of ways to target locally:
– [City/County] real estate
– [City/County] realtor
– [City/County] real estate agent
– [City/County] homes for sale
As site traffic increases, more broad search terms—like “Austin real estate”—can be worked into your optimization efforts.
NAP stands for name, address and phone—and how you present the information is important in local search. By being consistent with NAP across the web, you’re helping search engines correlate your entire SEO footprint. Always list all of this information in exactly the same way on your website and social media pages, and in all your directory listings. And be consistent offline too, including business cards and signage. That way when people search for you they are more likely to reinforce your consistent NAP presence.
Optimize For Mobile
Millennials—25- to 34-year-olds—make up the largest percentage of home buyers at 32%, followed by 35- to 49-year-olds at 27%1. This generational shift in buyers means that more often than not, they are searching the market via mobile devices (94% of millennials search online). For this reason, it’s imperative that real estate sites are optimized for smartphones and tablets. The advantages are two-fold: optimizing provides a better user experience, and Google rewards mobile-optimized websites with higher search rankings.
Blog About It
Blogs are essential when it comes to SEO for businesses—blog posts help build engagement and can help you be seen as an industry authority, plus increase site traffic and build your brand and reputation. Search engines also look for up-to-date, relevant content when crawling sites, and the more fresh content you provide via a blog, the better your chances of ranking higher. From a real estate standpoint, posts can even be written about specific homes on the market. By doing this, you can target a specific address, which prospective buyers may be searching by.
Target every blog post to a unique phrase with real search volume. Make sure you target “longtail” phrases that are not targeted by other pages on your site.
Make Your Name Known
Buyers are likely to search realtors and agents by name, so it’s important to optimize for your nomenclature. Have a bio on a broker’s website? Optimize it. Include your first and last name in the title tag and meta description.
Spread the Word with Social Media
While you can’t easily optimize social media pages, being active on these sites can only raise your profile. Join location-based groups on Google+ and utilize photo-heavy sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Make sure to use hashtags that combine location terms with real estate. Use these platforms to get your name out there—and build trust with buyers.
Let’s Move Some Listings
The real estate SEO primer above is basic, but could also be overwhelming. Let’s face it, if you’re a real estate pro, SEO is outside of your expertise and it might not make sense for you to spend the time learning the discipline. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact Mark D’Amico at email@example.com or 609.466.9187 ext. 132.