Real Estate SEO Keywords

In the context of real estate SEO, "keywords" refer to specific words or phrases that are commonly used by users when searching for real estate-related information, properties, or services on search engines.

Search keywords can be single words or complex phrases and questions.

In the context of real estate, keywords tend to be location based. For example, keywords like "[location] homes for sale" or "realtors in [location]" are very popular and if you just search for "real estate" or "homes for sale" by themselves, Google will automatically show you results specific to your area.

This is also a clue to how Google uses and assess search keywords.

The Best Real Estate Keywords

When it comes to finding the best keywords for real estate, there are several factors to consider. First, there is a difference between "best" and "most popular".

The most popular keywords in real estate include terms like "home", "mls", and "homes for sale". However, popular keywords with a high search volume are also highly competitive, making it harder to rank well for them in search results. As such, the "best" keywords are those which balance volume with the chance of achieving successes that align with your business goals. 

As we discussed in a longer blog post on keyword research for real estate, there is no single set of "best" real estate keywords. The best keywords for your business will depend on location, target audience, competitor profile, and on what you're trying to achieve. 

In fact, how a specific keyword performs can even vary significantly depending on who is using it to perform a search. This has to do with how search engines rank websites for specific users

Keywords & Search Intent 

In the early days of Google's search algorithm, websites were shown to users based (partly) on a process of matching the user's search query with keywords present on the website. However, keywords are now used as a mechanism for assessing user intent.

In other words, Google uses a sophisticated system (involving machine learning, user profiles, and so on) to assess what a user means, intends, or wants through the keywords they use in their search queries.

By strategically incorporating specific keywords into various on-page elements, such as website content, meta tags, URLs, headings, and image alt tags, you can signal to search engines the meaning and intent of a page, improving its chances of being served to users using those keywords.

So it's important to remember: Keywords are a signal, and not a substitute for original, helpful, and authoritative content. 

However, as signals of meaning and intent, keywords are still a vital part of SEO work, and keyword research and analysis are a necessary part of any real estate SEO strategy. 

In sum, proper keyword research and optimization can significantly improve visibility in search results, drive targeted traffic and generate leads for real estate businesses.

Keyword Research & Analysis

Ultimately, the keywords you choose to use and target in your website content will be determined by your business and the goals of your online marketing strategy. For example, if you specialize in cheap waterfront properties in a specific area, then a high-value target keyword would be something like "cheap waterfront homes in [area]". 

More general terms like "[area] real estate" or simply "real estate" might have higher search volumes, but they will be harder to compete for in search result rankings and any traffic gained will be less likely to convert into a client. 

In general, here is what you should keep in mind when researching and choosing real estate keywords to target:

  • Search Volume: Refers to the number of times a keyword is searched for on search engines. Higher search volume indicates higher popularity and potential for driving traffic to your website. However, high volume keywords tend to be very competitive and reflect a wider range of user intentions. 
  • Competition: Refers to the level of competition among websites targeting the same keyword. High competition may make it challenging to rank well in search results, while low competition keywords may offer easier opportunities for visibility.
  • Relevance: Refers to how well a keyword aligns with the interests, needs, and search behavior of your target audience. Choose keywords that your audience is likely to use when searching for real estate-related information or services.
  • Conversion Potential: Refers to the likelihood of a keyword driving qualified leads or conversions. Consider keywords that have a higher likelihood of converting website visitors into actual customers or clients, rather than just driving general traffic.

Another key difference to understand is between long-tail and short-tail keywords:

  • Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases. They tend to be less competitive and represent more motivated user intent (with greater conversion potential), but they have lower search volume and may be harder to find. 
  • Short-tail keywords are shorter, more generic keywords or phrases. They are more competitive, but have higher potential for bringing in traffic. However, that traffic may have lower relevance and therefore be less likely to convert.

In real estate, generally, short-tail keywords tend to be dominated by a few real estate portals which populate the first page of search results (Zillow, Redfin etc.). As such, individual agents and smaller brokerages tend to have more success targeting niche long-tail keywords. 

Not only is it easier to rank for keywords like "waterfront condos in New Westminster under 400K", but anyone using that search query is more likely to be a motivated buyer, given that they already know what they want. 

A graphic showing a graph between search volume and conversion potential for long tail keywords

How To Research Keywords For Real Estate

Classic Brainstorm

We always recommend starting with a classic brainstorm. What do you think buyers and sellers in your area are searching for? What would you Google if you were a client? This is always a great place to start your brainstorm. Examples from your brainstorm could include:

  • Vancouver real estate
  • North Vancouver homes for sale
  • Vancouver real estate agents
  • Vancouver condos for sale
  • Vancouver home buyers guide
  • Sell Vancouver property

...And so forth. Try to also consider keywords people in the buyer or seller journey might be interested in that aren’t directly related to property searches, but are still relevant to the real estate industry. For example, “mortgage rates” and “home buying process”.

Write down absolutely everything you can think of, including semantic variations (eg: Vancouver condos, Vancouver condos for sale, condos in Vancouver, etc.) We’ll prioritize these keywords in a few steps…

Keyword Tricks In Google

Once you have a few solid keywords in your back pocket, you can move on to some additional resources for keyword research. The first is Google itself! While we aren’t going to tell you to Google “real estate keywords”, it’s not the worst idea. But instead, this step is about building on the keywords you already have.

Auto-Complete Keywords

Type your keywords into the search bar and then pay attention to the auto-complete suggestions. These are keywords that Google thinks you might be searching for, and many users will click the option that best matches their actual search. If you see new keywords in this auto-complete, add them to your list.

Related Searches

Towards the bottom of the page, you’ll see a related searches section that lets you know what other people are searching. A lot of these are very specific, or even random, but write down anything that relates to your business specifically.

Verifying Keyword Viability

The very last step in your keyword research should be verifying your keywords’ viability. By this, we simply mean that you want to make sure the keyword can bring visitors to the site. It doesn’t matter if you rank #1 for “the most awesome real estate agent in California” if nobody is actually searching for that term—because you still won’t get any traffic to the page.

If you have one of the paid tools we recommended, you should use their keyword analysis tools to determine how much traffic a keyword can bring in, and how competitive it is. If you don’t have paid tools, use their free versions until you max them out, and then switch to Google’s Keyword Planner.

PRO TIP: Keep in mind that the more competitive a keyword is, the harder it will be to rank for. When getting started, it’s often advantageous to target long tail keywords, and work your way up to the short tail keywords when you start seeing SEO progress.

Google Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner has been developed for AdWords, and is geared specifically for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) users. But it can be used in a pinch to gather information about SEO keywords too—just know that you aren’t getting a 100% accurate picture.

Under Keyword Planner, go to Find new keywords and get search volume data > Get search volume data and trends.

Here, enter all the keywords you thought of throughout your keyword brainstorm, research, and gathering. Google will then provide data on average monthly searches and competition. Just keep in mind that this is PPC competition, not SEO competition, and therefore isn’t always a reliable metric for decision-making. Use your instincts.

Planning Content Around Keywords

Once you know what keywords you want to target, based on search volume and your keywords of interest, you can start planning some basic content. Take a look at the keywords that are important to you, prioritize by volume and competition levels, and use them to determine what pages you’ll need on your site.

Similar keywords relating to one community, niche, or topic can typically be grouped together on a single page. These are semantic keywords, and search engines like Google actually use them interchangeably. That means you can create a single page that targets both “Victoria real estate” and “Victoria homes for sale”. We don’t recommend creating a fresh page for every single keyword variation, as it looks unnatural to search engines and negatively impacts user experience.

And finally, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Choose 4 or 5 priority pages to start, then revisit your keywords once that foundation has been created. SEO should be an ongoing effort, with new pages added on an ongoing basis over time.

Want to learn more? Read our comprehensive blog post on keyword analysis and research for real estate.

Next Section: What Content Should I Create?

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