How to Find Real Estate SEO Keywords
If you've done even a little reading about search engine optimization, chances are that you've heard about how important it is to use relevant keywords throughout your website to help generate traffic from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
But where do you begin when it comes to finding real estate SEO keywords?
Start with Google
Your starting point should always be the same place a prospective client will begin—with the search box itself.
Ultimately, it's all about a searcher's intent. Try to put yourself in the mind of someone who might want to make a real estate transaction in your area. If you were in their shoes, what words would you type into Google? I recommend generating a long list of potential keywords before you begin producing optimized content for the site.
Luckily, even if you lack imagination, Google provides some clues to help you come up with real estate SEO keywords.
You've probably noticed that whenever you begin to enter a search query into Google, it will automatically provide you with a few suggestions. This is Google's Autocomplete feature at work. Autocomplete is an algorithm that generates suggestions based on a number of factors, but especially how often other users search for the term. For example:
This is great material for starting to build a list of keywords. Looking at these results, I can see that many people looking for condos for sale in Nanaimo are specifically searching for homes on the waterfront or near the campus of Vancouver Island University (VIU). Immediately, I have two keywords that I might decide to target on my site.
In addition to Autocomplete, Google provides related searches at the bottom of each search results pages, including relevant terms that don't appear in Autocomplete. Sometimes these can also be a source of potential keywords, as in the example below:
As you conduct initial research with Google, you'll want to keep in mind that results will differ depending both on your location and your search history. Use your browser's private window function and location-based tools like I Search From to sculpt your search results pages accordingly.
Long Tail versus Short Tail Keywords
Imagine you're writing a page that will promote your listings in a particular community. A few of the words or phrases that might occur to you would be:
- Real estate
- Homes for sale
While these terms may be very much relevant to your business, they're not always a good choice for building an optimized real estate website. These are what we call short tail keywords, and ranking well in search results for these terms is typically quite difficult. Depending on your budget and the time you have to invest in content development, you might be able to compete over a long enough timeframe, but be prepared to face stiff competition.
Each month, for example, an average of 50,000 users search for "condos for sale" in Google, while no more than a dozen people will search for "nanaimo condos for sale." Looking at these numbers, it may be tempting to create a page targeting "condos for sale." But just imagine how many existing sites have already been optimized for this phrase, and how much money the major players in your industry might be spending on SEO to make sure they rank.
Instead, it may be better to focus your SEO efforts on long tail keywords. As the name suggests, long tail keywords are usually longer, more specific, more localized search queries. They're less frequently searched and thus attract less competition, making it easier for you to have a presence in the search results.
Spending ten hours to create five area pages or blog posts dedicated to multiple long tail keywords will likely generate more organic traffic than dedicating a hundred hours to targeting a very short tail keyword.
And there's more...
Longer tail keywords have the added benefit of bringing targeted users to your site, the kind of visitors who'll actually turn into leads. A person searching for "three-bedroom nanaimo waterfront condos for sale" is far more likely to convert, after all, than somebody just searching for "homes."
Use Advanced Search Tools
Once you have a list of longer tail keywords, it's worth doing a little research to get a better grasp on how they're actually performing and what competition you'll be facing. There are many tools available to help you discover the best keywords for your purposes, some of which are free to use while others come at a premium. At REW, some of our favorites are:
Google Adwords Keyword Planner
Google's Keyword Planner is designed for pay-per-click advertising, but it can be used quite effectively for discovering keywords for your SEO efforts as well. To use it, you'll need to setup a free Adwords account, and then select "Keyword Planner" from the "Tools" menu. Afterward, select "Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category." Once the menu appears, do the following:
- Enter an existing keyword or two under "Your product or service."
- Set your location to the area that you want to target.
- From the pop-up menu called "Keyword filters," click the check boxes for "Medium" and "Low" Competition.
When it's ready, it should look like the example to the right. Now just click "Get Ideas," and Google will supply you with a list of related keywords along with other useful information like search volume and competition level. You can sort this data in a variety of ways and even export it as an Excel spreadsheet.
Moz Keyword Explorer
If you're not a tech-savvy person, you'll be glad to know that the Moz Keyword Explorer may be one of the simplest tools out there when it comes to investigating keywords and discovering new ones. Moz's tool will provide you with a long list of related suggestions, data about the volume of searches, and data related to existing search results that can help you size up the competition. The downside is that, unless you pay for a subscription, you'll be limited to just 2 searches a day. Still, depending on your pace, this might be enough to get you started.
Another great long tail research tool with a strong visual interface, KWFinder shows you extra dimensions related to keywords, including backlinks, social shares, and the origin of different forms of traffic. Like Moz, KWFinder will limit you to a few searches a day, but basic access to this tool is far more affordable. If you're looking for a robust, easy-to-use research tool to supplement Google's Keyword Planner, KWFinder is a great choice.
Think beyond Keywords
Once upon a time, keywords were the most important factor in how Google determined the value of a particular page or website. As a result, SEO writers got in the habit of stuffing as many keywords as they could onto the page.
Today, the practice of "keyword stuffing" is strongly discouraged. The best case scenario is that it'll make your website an unreadable slog, driving users away. At worst, Google will penalize your site for attempting to manipulate it. Remember that it's in Google's best interest to serve up rich, quality content for users—to give searchers exactly what they want—so its algorithms have gotten very good at weeding out spammy sites.
At REW, we recommend you never sacrifice quality of your content in favor of stuffing in more real estate SEO keywords. There are, though, a few places we recommend you consistently include them. These include your title tag, your meta description, your headings and subheadings, and a few times in the body of your the page content. The alt text associated with images represent another good opportunity to include a keyword, and using a keyword in your file names may give you a small boost as well. Be sure, though, that you setup a redirect if you rename any existing pages.
Write for Users, Not for Search Engines
When it comes to the question of using keywords, though, it's best to focus on user intent by serving up content that matches your prospective client's search intentions. You can do this by asking yourself two simple questions: What are they looking for? And how can you give it to them?
As Google's search algorithms have become more sophisticated, they've become better at matching a site's content to a user's particular needs rather than just by the presence of certain relevant keywords. Instead of matching directly for keywords, then, you can bring organic traffic to your site by creating content that fulfills those needs. Above all, when you do use keywords, make sure you use them in a relevant, readable way that doesn't detract from the overall quality of your site or user experience.