Optimize your search intent to give yourself the best chance to rank for real estate SEO

Understanding search intent is imperative for you to ever rank for any keyword - particularly the remarkably competitive real estate industry.

Put another way, content that doesn’t match search intent will never rank. Optimizing content for 1:1 search intent match is ultimately the goal - more on that later.

To oversimplify, let’s quickly define the 4 types of search intent that essentially all content in Google falls within:


  • This searcher wants information - for example “things to do in Vancouver, BC” if that person was theoretically planning to visit.


  • This person wants to visit a specific website, such as “LinkedIn.”


  • This individual is looking to purchase something, like “Orange County real estate.”


  • This person also wants to purchase something, but doesn’t know which brand or location yet - say “Best real estate agents in my area.”

For a deep-dive on search intent, this article from Ahrefs is one of my favourites.

Next let’s look at an example - targeting a keyword like “beachfront house” if you’re trying to sell beach front homes, you’re almost there.

If you look at Google’s search results, you’ll find this:

Unfortunately, this search result primarily shows images of beachfront homes, beachfront rentals, and some beachfront properties for sale.

Here’s where 1:1 search intent match is important. Say for example you’re selling beachfront homes in Miami - you’re going to want to optimize your title and content you’re trying to rank for using those keywords in a thoughtful way.

Here’s what the search results look like if you’re optimizing for “beachfront homes for sale in Miami.”

You’ll notice that many of the top listings are “sponsored” posts, which means that someone is paying to have their listing at the top of those search results. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, we’re experts Google ads, as well.

Regardless, you can see that each of these pages are created specifically for those who are searching for real estate in Miami.

Another opportunity for optimizing search intent is re-using old content that’s not ranking for the keywords you want.

To address this, simply Google search the keywords you want to rank for, and analyze the top 3-5 non-sponsored posts that have the same intent as yours. What’s within those pages that your page simply doesn’t include?

Is your title, or url slug not aligning with the 1:1 search intent match that we spoke about above? If you’re trying to rank a blog page for interesting things to do in Boise, Idaho, perhaps the 3-5 posts are including information that your page is not.

A word of caution, don’t simply copy and paste what is ranking well in the top 3-5 pages for your given keyword. In short, Google knows, and your page will not rank. Use these pages as a guide, and combine the best content from each of these pages to create a page that’s subjectively “better.”

There are way more factors than just the content on your page that’ll determine whether you’ll rank for a keyword, or not. Ranking for keywords is a complicated process - but that’s part of a much larger conversation for a later time.

In short - understanding search intent is one of the first steps to ranking keywords on Google.

Please let me know your thoughts below.

I remember back in the day only hearing about three main types of search intent (info, navigation, transaction), but then started seeing commercial more often.

It seems like a kind of bridge between informational and transactional, but still sometimes the precise difference is lost on me.

What’s a potential use case where it’d pay to differentiate between commercial and transactional?

That’s a great question, @AidanC.

The way I look at the two from a copywriting standpoint is a difference in stage of the pipeline. Or put another way, understanding whether the reader is committed to a specific solution, or if they’re still shopping around.

So for a commercial use case, I might write a blog comparing the real estate of different counties in a major city. For transactional, that might be landing page for a specific service or product.

What are your thoughts on this though?

Also, just out of curiosity, how long ago was commercial search intent universally adopted?

I’m not sure on the last one. I just have an impression that when I first learned about search intent there were three, and then at some point there was four. Something happened in the middle :smile:

As for the examples…I think I understand the different better in terms of the sales funnel, but mapping onto actual search behaviours that don’t just fall into one of the other categories seems more difficult.

Maybe the issue is more specific to real estate since there’s not a clear analog to “I wish to purchase this specific make and model of car”.