Real Estate SEO Tips To Help You Dominate The Search Engines
Looking to take your real estate SEO to the next level? The good news is that if you're willing to put in the time, there are some field-tested practices that will help you outperform the competition. This guide provides some actionable SEO tips that should be at the top of your list.
But let's get this out of the way first: when it comes to search engine optimization in 2017, there's no magical formula that guarantees your site will shoot to the front page of the search results. Quality content development takes practice, patience, and hard work.
Ready to roll up your sleeves? Then read on.
The increased prominence of voice-based mobile searches from Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, and Google Now means that keywords are more frequently being framed as questions:
"Siri, who is the best real estate agent in my area?"
"Ok Google, how do I apply for a USDA direct mortgage?"
"Cortana, what homes are for sale in Departure Bay?"
Sites that respond directly to these conversational, question-based keywords—especially those that begin with why, where, and how—have a significant advantage in this new paradigm.
If there's an opportunity to play the role of thought-leader in your immediate market—or simply to be a friendly yet knowledgeable local—take it!
FAQs, blog posts that address client questions, and guides to the particularly sticky subjects related to your area of service are a great way to do this. Ultimately, your site will attract more attention from search engines if it serves as a resource for potential clients—and not just as an extended sales pitch. Just be sure to include the original question-based keyword as part of your content.
There's a significant bonus to answering questions too. Quality answers will also increase your chances of capturing one of Google's coveted "featured snippets." These are special search results that place your answer in an attention-grabbing box near the top of the page, like in the screenshot below.
In the world of SEO, we call this spot "Position Zero," and it's spectacular.
If I type "best restaurant near me" into the search bar, I'm going to be upset if Google recommends a Michelin-starred bistro in the South of France, no matter how astonishing their bouillabaisse.
Naturally, I expect something within a few miles of my current location.
Similarly, the searcher in Austin, Texas, who asks Siri, "who's the best real estate agent in my area?" isn't looking for an agent in Dallas, New Haven, or Anchorage.
"My area" or "near me" are relative terms. And Google and other search providers know this. That's why, more and more, search engine results pages are being tailored to the location of the user. This is why it's important to make sure that your content development strategy includes keywords related to your specific area of service.
It's tempting to try to label yourself a "one-stop shop for real estate" or to promise that your services are a great fit for "everyone." But it's far more effective to promote yourself as a specialist instead of a generalist. Not only will you face less competition in the search rankings, you'll further underline the fact that you're a trusted, local expert.
Keep in mind, though, that if a significant percentage of your desired clients are coming from elsewhere—snowbirds from the great white north, for instance—you'll want to create content that's separately optimized to address them too. You know your clients best, so, if you find a lot of people coming from a specific place, try creating content that's just for them.
Google My Business
One local SEO tool you shouldn't miss is Google My Business, a listing service that enables you to appear in local search results specific to your services.
Google My Business is free, and it allows you to enter information about what kind of business you run, where you're located, what times you're available, and how to contact you. It also allows former clients to post reviews of your service, letting users know what they can expect when they work with you.
Focus On Leads
Telling an agent to focus on leads is a little like telling a squirrel to gather nuts.
It seems obvious, right?
But when it comes to putting together a website—and all the technicalities that come along with it—many people seem to forget that one important reason their site exists in the first place is to capture leads.
In most cases, the number of leads your site captures from organic traffic should be considered more important than other metrics like the overall amount of users or your ranking in the search results. A site can attract thousands of users each week, after all, but if those users don't find what they're looking for almost immediately, they'll bounce without ever having left an e-mail address or phone number.
How do you keep users engaged? Well, to start, consider the searcher's intent. Why did this person come to your site in the first place? If the keyword that brings potential clients to you is "Anchorage homes for sale," make sure the page they land upon provides them with listings—preferably without scrolling down the page. If they asked a question about USDA mortgages, be sure that content is actually present, correct, and of the highest quality.
Compelling calls to action don't hurt either, as long as they're not intrusive. Try to provide incentives for users to register or reach out to you—for instance, downloadable relocation guides, subscriptions to newsletters about the latest market trends, or access to the site's advanced search features are all good ways to incentivize registration.
Exploit Social Media
This isn't a post about engaging users by building an effective social media strategy—we'll save that topic for the future—but a strong social media presence also helps your business appear more frequently in search results.
Along with maintaining accounts with Google My Business, Zillow, and Yelp, it's smart to open accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.
To put it simply, social media sites more frequently appear near the top of the search results than other types of sites. Even if you're not posting to your Facebook page as often as you should, having a strong social media presence can help you appear more frequently too.
Don't just create an account and walk away though. Optimize your social media accounts with the same primary keywords you've developed for your website. You'll want to create a clear path from your social media channels to your website and listings by putting clear links to your site wherever you can.
Study the Data
If you're not an amateur statistician or computer scientist, then you might find Google Analytics to be a little intimidating a first. It's a robust tool that can provide many insights that will accelerate your real estate SEO, but it also has the potential to overwhelm you with numbers.
For the Analytics beginner, however, there are only a few key concepts that you need to understand to begin tracking your site's performance:
A session is the period of time that a user spends actively engaged on your site. Sessions end after 30 minutes of inactivity or if the user leaves the site for more than 30 minutes. Since a single user can initiate multiple sessions in a given time period, comparing sessions to users can show you how many potential clients are coming back again and again.
Pageviews measure the number of times users view a page on your site. Because a pageview is recorded each time a user visits a page, including when a page is refreshed or returned to via the back button, you may also wish to consider unique pageviews, which count every visit to a particular page during one session as a single view.
A bounce is what happens when a user visits just one page of your site. The bounce rate expresses, as a percentage, how many users bounce, regardless of how much time they've spent on your site. The lower the bounce rate, the better. If your site is consistently experiencing rates higher than 60%, chances are that users aren't as engaged as they could be.
If you're running an aggressive search engine marketing campaign, chances are that users are coming from multiple sources. These sources can include links from other sites, social media, pay-per-click campaigns, organic search results, email drip campaigns, URLs entered directly into the browser by the user, and more. Knowing this lets you know where to focus your efforts.
In the context of Google Analytics, a landing page is simply the page by which the user enters your site—or "lands." In many cases, the homepage will be the most common landing page, but other types of pages might serve as frequent landing pages too. Are users arriving via your blog posts? Are you doing well for a very particular keyword? Landing pages can be strong signals about where your site is seeing success, and where it might need to be improved.
Google Analytics has a lot more functionality to explore, but this is a great starting point. Taken together, this information provides you with many clues about how and where to enrich your site's existing content. For instance, a landing page that sees lots of traffic from organic sources but also has an extremely high bounce rate might need to be tweaked to better match the user's search intent. Or perhaps it needs stronger calls-to-action? Looking at the page and the data, you can often figure out the smartest approach to improve your site.
Remember, though, that real estate SEO is a long-term endeavor, and there are enough external factors that might affect your traffic. For this reason, we recommend focusing on time frames of three months or greater. You can use the drop-down menu in the top right corner to select a period of time or even compare multiple time frames.
The toughest thing about real estate SEO is that it's constantly evolving. As Google and other providers modify their algorithms to more effectively serve their customers, they also often alter the metrics by which they measure the quality of a site.
In short, the tricks that boost your site today may not work tomorrow, and articles full of helpful advice—like this one!—are only helpful for so long. When you're reading about SEO tactics, be sure to check the date of publication.
By visiting frequently updated blogs run by SEO professionals—like this one!—or industry-leading news sources like Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, or The Moz Blog, you can make sure that your optimization practices aren't falling behind the times.