Real Estate Website Ranking Guide
SEO is a crucial part of any real estate website’s success as even small changes in search ranking can have large effects on traffic and leads.
So the million dollar question that people ask themselves everyday is: what will improve the search ranking of my website?
And the truth is, you could spend every one of those million dollars (and more!) doing all the things that could increase your search ranking, but what would be the point?
At the end of the day, you want to get more from your website than what you put in. Anything else is a waste of time.
Above: High average search position brings consistently high impressions (in purple) and traffic (in blue).
Spend Your SEO Time Wisely
Unfortunately, the input-output ratio for SEO is often unclear. Sometimes it’s sold as a process of long and patient investment for uncertain rewards, and other times as a way to get leads basically for free.
And, in a way, it can be both!
But, no matter what your SEO strategy is, efficiency is paramount.
So if there's low-hanging fruit, take it. And if you’re investing time, make sure to monitor your KPIs to see if it’s actually paying off.
Just don’t forget to include a healthy dose of patience, since SEO success can take time to develop and show itself.
Before You Start: Estimating Expected Impact
Building up your search position is usually a long and slow process, but big changes and quick impacts are possible. It's all about putting your effort where it counts.
Many broad and generic keywords in real estate are extremely difficult to rank for. Anything like [area] + “homes for sale” or “real estate” probably has the first page of results locked down, and any SEO effort to rank highly for those keywords will be a lot of work for probably no reward.
That’s why long-tail and niche searches can be highly effective in the real estate industry. For example, targeting keywords like "luxury waterfront homes for sale" or "pet-friendly apartments in downtown" can attract more qualified leads and yield better conversion rates than targeting generic terms like "real estate" or "homes for sale".
If you have an established website with good authority, you can start to consider targeting bigger volume keywords that have more competition, or you can effectively leverage your website's authority to dominate the search results for smaller, more niche keywords. Estimating your authority is an important part of figuring out where you can make the most impact.
“Authority” is an abstract concept made up of your website’s backlink profile, domain age, E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) signals.
As you can see from the graph below, strong domain authority translates into consistent first-position impressions and a high click-through-rate, effectively shutting out the competition.
Above: A consistently high position in search results secures a strong click through rate and a lot of traffic.
While targeting niche keywords can be an effective strategy to rank for less competitive terms and attract more qualified traffic, it's important to keep in mind that the ultimate goal of SEO is to drive traffic that converts into customers or achieves the desired business goals.
Strive to find the optimal balance - a keyword that is not overly competitive, yet still relevant enough to drive valuable traffic to your website. But as you know, in the real estate industry, a single click from a motivated buyer can make all the difference and result in a significant payoff.
How to Understand Your Website Rankings
Here "ranking" refers to the position of a webpage in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for a specific query or keyword. Your site’s ranking is just one way to gauge its performance, but an important one because it often has a direct effect on impressions, click through rate, and traffic.
There are many potential factors that affect search ranking, but first there are some important things to understand about it…
Rank isn’t just one thing
"Ranking" is a complex concept in the world of search engine optimization as it's not just about getting to the top of the standard search results. In fact, there are multiple places where your website or content can rank (and we don’t just mean Bing search).
From Google’s knowledge panel and local map results to the "People Also Ask" section and image search, each of these areas requires a slightly different approach and strategy for success.
But that's not all.
Did you know that Google can show different search results to different people, even if they're searching for the exact same thing? This is due to various factors such as your precise location or your user profile, which includes your search history, preferences, and more.
So, while ranking can be an important goal, it's important to keep in mind the diverse ways in which it can be achieved, and the unique factors that influence search results for each individual user. You should also remember that your business goals should guide your SEO. There's no point in ranking highly for something that has no relevance to your business.
How To Check Your Website Rank
One of the simplest ways to check how your site ranks is just to do a search and check if you rank for it. However, given what we’ve mentioned above, this method isn’t entirely accurate, but it is quick and easy. It’s also useful in some other ways (which we’ll touch on below).
Another way to check your ranking is to use Google Search Console. You can start by checking your overall average ranking. Just click the "Average Position" box on the right above the performance graph, after you have navigated to the Performance-Search Results page. The Average Position graph usually appears in orange.
As your site grows and you begin to generate more search impressions for a wider variety of keywords, you may notice this average ranking start to decrease .
Don't worry! This is actually a good sign of your website's growth and reach. You can also see this effect for individual pages as well.
In general, to get a more accurate understanding of your website's performance, it's important to dig deeper into specific page or keyword rankings. This also lets you check performance where it matters, as your overall ranking might be affected by potentially hundreds of keywords that have no relevance to your business.
As you can see below, a small upward trend in average search position can correlate with an even larger increase in traffic...
Above: Small but consistent ranking improvements can bring large increases in impressions and traffic over time.
Increase Your Website's Rank
People often fuss over the ranking factors or details that will get them one or two positions up the Google leaderboard. But really, 80% of ranking comes down to two simple ideas:
- Have a website that people can use
- Have a website that people want to use
Get those two solved, and you're most of the way there.
The first you can do by getting a great off-the-shelf website that's ready to go, one that’s built for your particular business needs. For example, a good real estate website should be fast, secure, accessible, functional, and mobile-friendly right out of the box. Don’t expect anything less.
Over time, you can optimize your site by keeping load times down (the biggest culprit here are poorly optimized images), practicing consistent and rational internal linking, and developing quality content.
On-page content is one of the most important factors for ranking. There are some general ideas about how to do that, including making content that is clear, direct, and helpful.
How To Write Helpful Content
Developing helpful, original, relevant content takes research. What are people searching for? Which search queries can you help answer? What is the intent behind the search and more importantly, how does Google interpret the intent behind a search?
For example, if someone searches for “cars”, is it because they’re looking to buy a car (commercial intent) or because they want to know something about the Pixar movie "Cars" (informational intent).
One of the easiest places to do intent and keyword research is Google itself. Here’s how:
- Use Google search auto-complete. When you start to type your target keyword, what does Google fill in for the rest of the search? This is a clue to what people are actually looking for.
- Check the top ranking sites. Why are they ranking as high as they do? Can you cater to the intent of a target keyword better than they do?
- Look at the "People also ask" questions. Can you answer most or all of the relevant questions in your own content?
- Check "Related searches" at the bottom of the page. These can give you more ideas about the kind of intent or search journey surrounding your target keyword.
Of course there’s a lot more to say on how to research, write and optimize content for rankings, but ultimately your goal should be to help the people who you want to become clients. That’s the kind of win-win that makes SEO work.
Above: "People also ask" questions for the search term "search ranking".
To sum up, here's a quick list of points to remember if you want your real estate website to rank well in search results.
Ranking basics for real estate:
- Have a fast functional site that provides useful listings, search, and information for your area
- Site content should target long-tail keywords related to your business niche, your expertise and experience
- Provide information that ties your site to specific people and places, including contact information, bios, author bylines, social media etc.
- Make sure your Google Business Profile is set up and running, with all the relevant information filled in and high-quality photos added
Want more information and advice? Join the conversation over on our real estate SEO forum.