If you’re a real estate agent, realtor, or investor, you probably heard of real estate SEO and its massive opportunities on scaling your business organically. Of course, we all want quality customers, hot leads on autopilot, and the sales flowing like a river. But in reality, things can get pretty competitive in real estate.
Picture this for a moment: instead of spending hours upon hours of cold pitching, pointless meetings, and non-profitable leads, you take the time to invest in real estate SEO. So, you basically shift your focus from direct sales and paid ads to organic growth. How much could your real estate business benefit from that?
Did you know that in 2021 72% of buyers have searched for a home online, and 58% of millennial homebuyers have found their house via a mobile device? These numbers indicate that you should be rushing online, establishing a solid digital presence, and ensuring your SEO is strong.
We get it! Real estate SEO can be tricky with all the options available out there. That’s why we created this all-in-one guide for you packed up with everything you need to know to become a real estate SEO expert. So don’t forget to bookmark this for later!
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- What is real estate SEO
- Why is real estate SEO important for agents, realtors, and investors
- What are the different methods of applying real estate SEO marketing
- Your ultimate real estate SEO checklist to maximize your success
Let’s jump right in!
What Is Real Estate SEO?
Real estate SEO (Search Engine Optimization) boils down to users searching online to find a property and you showing up in their search results. It could be the reason why your real estate agency is the most in-demand in town (i.e., you have a strong search presence) or remains in oblivion (i.e., you haven’t invested enough in SEO).
For example, let’s say your customers decide on the location and budget of their prospective property. The next thing they’re going to do is search on Google with their criteria in mind to find the perfect fit.
Guess what? If you’re amongst those searches - usually the first 3 - you’ll get the traffic, the leads, and the sales.
Creating a website was once enough. Today, especially after the 2021 outburst with businesses jumping online, the competition has never been higher. Not only are you competing in the organic SERP results (Search Engine Results Page) but also against your competitors’ paid advertisements that push your rankings further down. So, if you want to become a real estate SEO expert (or hire the right ones), the challenge is huge!
Why Is Real Estate Seo Important For Agents, Realtors, And Investors
Real estate SEO shifts the dynamics from searching for customers to customers searching for your business. Isn’t it wonderful having clients coming to your website, leaving their personal information, and waiting for your contact and partnership?
Effective real estate SEO brings huge benefits to businesses that come down to:
Most buyers don’t scroll past the first Google search page, with 64.5% of them clicking only in the first 3 results. So, if you do all the right things to be amongst their top results, users will start noticing you. The more visibility, the greater the brand awareness, and your real estate firm will start getting discovered by new and recurring audiences. Real estate experts know the visibility that search brings in and devise ways to convert them into leads.
People are now aware that the first results in their search queries are paid ads. Over time, they’ve been trained to avoid ads and look for the next best organic pages that guarantee quality content since they made it in the rankings. Today, SEO organic results exceed paid ads in traffic by 25%. That’s why SEO is your best reliable option for generating more clicks. In addition, traffic leads to more valuable actions, such as users keeping in touch by following you on social media or sharing your content with friends.
If your landing page experience is excellent and users realize that there are things to learn from you, they will want to keep in touch. So maybe they’ll fill out a contact form with their personal information and wait for your call. Maybe they’ll subscribe to your newsletter and wait for valuable tips and insights. Or maybe they’ll find your phone on your website and give you a call themselves. Sweet, isn’t it?
Of course, it all boils down to conversions and sales at the end of the day. SEO is the single most affordable way to turn leads into customers. With users avoiding paid ads, organic SEO outperforms other marketing tactics and brings excellent conversion rates that work passively. This way, you’re able to sell more properties and represent more clients with real estate SEO marketing.
ROI counts for Return on investment and helps you measure the performance of your SEO campaigns. Without it, you can’t accurately estimate your generated revenue from your SEO efforts. Since real estate SEO focuses on organic traffic with customers actively searching for your services online, ROIs are usually high.
Last but not least, websites ranking in the first search results of Google are also perceived and trusted as market leaders and authorities. This means that you’ll have to create valuable content in the form of blog posts, product descriptions, or media that users will want to turn to and other websites will want to link to. Building the rankings and authority might take time and effort, but the results will make it up to you.
What Are The Different Methods Of Applying Real Estate SEO Marketing? A Four-Step Process.
So, we bet by now we answered your “is real estate SEO worth it” question. But what about actual methods of applying SEO to your real estate business?
To take advantage of the vast SEO possibilities that your competitors ignore, we gathered its top 3 facets along with tips and best practices to help you become the next real estate SEO expert.
Step 1: Real Estate Keyword Research
Tools for keyword research and competition analysis
Keyword research is the bread and jam of every real estate SEO expert. Keywords are words or phrases that users type in search engines depending on what they’re looking for. Therefore, a keyword list should be your priority to opt for high rankings.
You must identify what high-volume search terms your potential clients use to search for your business and target those terms with relevant content and pages. Only then you’ll have high-quality leads.
For property SEO, you can determine what keywords get the most searches and rankings by using a free tool like Google Keyword Planner.
By typing “buy villa in Greece,” we uncover more keyword opportunities along with trends worth investing in. For example, we can see that villas in Crete and Mykonos have a high search volume, meaning that people show genuine interest in properties in those specific areas. So, if a real estate firm shifted its focus on those properties, it would get high rankings and reassure high demand.
For more advanced results, you can opt for other real estate SEO tools such as Search Console (free), Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, or SEO Scout. Most of these tools offer free versions as well. You want to write all the keywords you identify on a spreadsheet or export them through the tools to keep everything in one place.
Paid tools offer even more in-depth insights into profitable keywords, along with their search volume and their SEO difficulty, which means how hard it is to rank for them in search results. It’s important to include keyword variations, such as “NY apartments for rent”, “NY apartments.”
SEO Scout, for instance, uses machine learning to provide keyword suggestions derived from a core topic. Here’s an example using the query “Brooklyn apartments”:
Of course, nothing beats competitive keyword analysis, which helps you uncover keywords your competitors are targeting.
As an example, say you’re a real estate platform based in New York and want to rank for keywords targeted by local competitors. In that case, searching for “new york websites to rent” leads to this Curbed article on the best apps and websites for finding an apartment in New York City. Using Ahrefs, we can snoop around and see what relevant queries the first on the list, Naked Apartments, is ranking for:
A goldmine of keywords. Beautiful, right?
Another essential factor to consider in your real estate SEO keyword research is search intent. Search intent usually comes down to 4 categories: informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional. With informational search intent, users search to be informed; with navigational, they search for specific websites; commercial stands for cold leads that compare products or services, and transactional counts for hot leads where users are ready to buy.
A user typing “buy a villa in California” has a different search intent, with a user in California typing “how to buy a villa.” That’s because in the first case, the search intent is transactional; the buyer is actively searching to buy a property in the area. In the second case, the search intent is informational; the user searches for information on buying a property. Through local SEO, you can then create localized content to rank for relevant queries in that area.
In our example, based on search intent, you want to define the types of content you’ll serve to your qualified prospects. If you aim to rank for the informational search intent, you’ll find out that “how to buy a villa” has high SEO difficulty, so you’ll be fighting in the pit with the giants.
So instead, keep this keyword for an extensive blog post that offers the information users are looking for. When, however, buyers are searching for buying a villa in California, you definitely want to serve the relevant landing pages of your website that’ll lead to transactions.
Types of keywords
Keywords tend to fall into different categories. One of them is the hyperlocal-generic-local scheme, where as we move from hyperlocal (very broad) to local (very specific location-based), the buying intent becomes stronger.
Hyperlocal keywords may include phrases such as “luxury”, “2 bed”, “pool”.
Generic keywords may include phrases such as “for sale”, “cheap”, “buy”, “sell home”, “find real estate agent”. And finally, local keywords are locations; cities, islands, regions.
Another keyword category is the pyramid scheme with primary-secondary-longtail keywords. Specifically, primary keywords are more generic and short such as “house in Berlin”. Secondary keywords are more specific, such as “cottage house in Alaska”. Finally, longtail keywords are the most detailed ones and actually bring 70% of global traffic, such as “best places in Alaska to buy a cottage house”.
Some real estate SEO expert tips for agents are grouping relevant keywords from all the above categories with keyword mapping. Your content and landing pages should be assigned to specific relevant keyword groups with the same search intent. This will help you organize your content more efficiently while creating clear rankings.
A best practice you can opt for is categorizing your keywords based on sale options (e.g., rentals, luxury, cheap, foreclosures), location options (e.g., beach, mountain, lake), and property type (e.g., cottage, bungalow, apartment, studio).
This will help you dive into your buyer persona’s needs further and answer those needs with the right content. In the following real estate page description example, there’s a combination of primary and longtail keywords that work well with capturing all the possible search terms a user might type for houses in Myrtle Beach. This is an excellent example of how the right combination of keywords can deliver relevant results to users’ queries.
Some of the top real estate SEO keywords to help you with your rankings are:
- Pricing Your Home
- Best time to buy/sell a home
- Best [location] neighborhoods
- Real estate taxes
- Best places to buy in [location]
- House buying costs
- Top real estate agents in [location]
- Houses for sale
- Best real estate agent
- Best Realtor near [location]
- Real estate agencies
- Real estate broker
- Apartments [location]
- Luxury real estate
- Sell home fast
- Sell house in [location]
Step 2: Local SEO
It’s getting hot in here! Moving on to local SEO for real estate agents.
As many real estate agencies are doing business locally, local SEO is vital for improving local visibility. Specifically, since competition in rankings is high, local SEO allows you to focus on specific locations instead of trying to outrank the whole web.
Since 2016, according to Google itself, the search engine giant has seen a 92% increase in searches related to “best real estate agent” and a 61% increase to “homes for sale near me”.
Picture this: you’re searching for the nearest donut shop to your house, and you type on Google “donuts near me”. Google immediately asks for your exact GPS location - if it’s not already turned on - and adjusts its results to your search query accordingly.
Local SEO is more of the same. When searching with the terms “near me” or “for sale in (location)”, you show Google that you care about proximate locations; therefore, it delivers location-based results.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is an excellent free tool provided by Google that lets you list your business online with local directories and get found in Google Search and Google Maps.
If you’ve ever searched for a business on Google, you’ve probably seen a snippet of the name, location, contact, and images of that business in the form of a snippet on your screen. That’s a Google My Business profile.
Google My Business is the easiest way to attract local customers to your business. That’s why you should invest in it from day 1. Make sure to fully optimize your profile by adding your business name, logo and images, accurate contact info, hours of operation, website, services, and about page.
Your Google My Business reviews are the social currency of today’s transactions. That’s why those yellow 5 stars are vital for your growth. Ask customers to leave you a positive review and answer their feedback publicly.
Once your Google My Business account is set, you’ll want to renew listings and services, publish posts and events like in every other social media channel. You can even create a free website and review your business stats and insights. Your first step to local SEO is now solid!
There is no denying that word-of-mouth has been the best form of advertising throughout the centuries. Reviews create trust between your business and potential clients, with studies indicating that 84% of online consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
But what is the optimal platform for gathering all your client reviews in one place? In the US, Zillow is the most trusted platform for real estate reviews, with Google following in the #2. Other platforms include Facebook (yes, people leave reviews there), Trulia, Yelp, and Realtor.
Of course, this largely varies where you are. For instance, in Malta, none of these platforms exist, aside from Google My Business, which makes things significantly easier!
To gather customer reviews, make sure to set the expectation early; let customers know that you value reviews, and you’re going to be expecting one from them. Don’t be afraid to ask, and be persistent in getting a positive review. Think of it as the diamond in your mine.
You could also use reputation management tools to help you hunt for local real estate reviews, such as Testimonial Tree, RealPage, Birdeye, and Realsatisfied. These tools will help you manage reviews in more than one location.
Citations are online directories created from any website towards yours. It’s basically a listing of your business’ name, address, phone number, and website in local or domestic directories, where customers can find you. Google my Business is one form of citation, but there are more.
Citations help your business obtain more traffic sources, boost its SEO and overall lead generation. Other directory websites you might want to list your business for local real estate citations are:
- Google My Business
- Yellow Pages
- Neighborhood scout
- Better Business Bureau
Best Practices on Listings
SEO for real estate listings will require you to upload your logos and images in different directories. Make sure you maintain a consistent brand identity across all your listings so that customers can see and recognize you. In addition, don’t overdo it by listing your business in all the available local directories at once. Google might think that you’re trying to manipulate your rankings.
Ensure that your listings are only on high-authoritative websites that don’t look spammy, and utilize the directories we named above. This way, you’ll get free high-quality traffic. Don’t be all-inclusive about the websites you plan to list. Finally, you will soon start receiving reviews. Make sure you reply professionally and positively to earn your customers’ trust.
If you want to get the most out of your local SEO efforts, you should also use local SEO tools that help you centralize your listings management, track your rankings, monitor your efforts, and spy on your competitors. For instance, Moz Local goes through the most popular directories and provides suggestions on where you should include your listings:
Step 3: Content Optimization
So, you created your website, listed it in local directories, did your keyword research; now what? It’s time to fill it with the right content that will attract your ideal customers!
Content optimization boils down to pages, blogging, and content leadership. Let’s review them!
Pages could be property listings, real estate about pages, and reviews. A safe way to content optimization is using relevant, well-researched keywords in all those pages to rank. For example, Dexter’s landing page on “flats to rent in Shoreditch” takes the lead in the rankings as it heavily uses the keywords “flat” and “Shoreditch” throughout the page.
SEO is categorized into on-page SEO (all the actions we perform on our own website to optimize it for search engines) and off-page SEO (actions we perform outside of our website and in collaboration with other page owners). Some SEO tips for real estate pages are:
Using the right keywords
If you followed our instructors and best practices on keyword research, you now have in hand a spreadsheet with all the relevant keywords for your real estate business. Now it’s time to place them strategically in your landing pages without stuffing them or looking spammy. Again, flow is important because we first write for users and then for search engines.
Using compelling headers that attract clicks
No one wants to read lame headers or even click on them. To create compelling headers, use the scheme “number or trigger word + adjective + keyword + promise”. So instead of going for the “Sell your house”, you end up with “How to effortlessly sell your house in less than 24 hours”.
Using internal links
Have you listed a property, and it looks like users have more questions? Try linking internally a relevant blog post that answers their questions. Internal linking could also be applied for up-sells or cross-sells. It basically focuses on grouping relevant content. Investing in a proper internal linking strategy keeps users hooked on your pages and makes them return for more.
Optimizing your website’s speed & mobile usability
There is nothing worse than having the perfect website with the perfect content if users can’t enjoy it via their mobile or tablet devices. As we discussed before, 58% of Millennials have purchased a house via their mobile phones! This is the ultimate indicator that user experience comes first when discussing technical SEO. Along with mobile usability comes speed. According to Google, 53% of users quit a website before it’s fully loaded if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Therefore, speed could make or break your SEO efforts.
Optimizing your images and meta tags
Last but not least, meta tags and images are also an essential aspect of website optimization since they use keyword-optimized text. So, for example, when choosing images for your website, there are specific fields you need to fill out, such as alt text, titles, captions, and descriptions. Similarly, meta tags are based on content that explains exactly what a page is all about, preferably using one or more focus keywords.
Let’s take a look at some stellar examples of real estate agents killing it with their landing pages:
Property listing categories
You can create programmatic listing category pages that target high-volume queries such as “new York 2 bedroom apartments for rent,” such as the ones created by Zillow below and sprinkle that query throughout to gain an upper hand at the SERPs. Of course, for your listing category to contain properties, make sure that the individual property listings have this specific keyword on their pages, as well.
Property listing pages
Of course, your property listings must be easily found by the people looking for them on the platform, and must be indexed by the category pages that you want to rank on Google. To make this easier, create a copy template with a series of fields that must be completed to make the content findable and ready to be indexed.
Landing page as a lead magnet tool
Redfin’s home estimator is a landing page featuring a tool that works as a lead magnet to generate contacts. What it does is that it gives users instant estimations of their house value, and in exchange, it asks for their contact information. It then uses their information to send them personalized offers.
This strong conversion strategy works wonders as it instantly solves users' problems and adds value to their lives. "How much is my home worth" is one of the most popular all-time classic search queries, and this tool is the answer to all questions.
Property search landing page
On property search landing pages, users can search for their prospective property by filtering down all the available options based on their criteria. So, for example, for a Brooklyn apartment query, customers can find relevant results in a landing page like William Fastow's and set custom alerts to be notified about their properties of interest. In exchange, you get their contact information, and your listings get awareness and traffic.
Sell or rent homepages
Sell or rent homepages like Zillow hook your audience with a simple request, like filling out their current selling address, and then require more contact information for personalized offers. Zillow's landing page uses a bold, eye-catching layout and a clear message without distractions.
Free digital assets landing pages
Real Estate Investar offers a free ebook on its landing page that users can download by filling their contact information. A stellar method of delivering high-quality content that users value while also keeping in touch with quality leads that could turn into customers.
Blogging and Content Leadership
Blogging is a clever shortcut to gaining your customers’ trust and increasing your rankings. If you invest in an authoritative blog full of real estate tips, case studies, tutorials, and examples, clients will look up to your content, and search engines will push you up in the search results. There are thousands of real estate firms out there, that’s for sure! But only very few of them invest in a content leadership strategy that will acquire them quality leads and ultimately more sales. Examples of blog topics and their target readers include:
- A guide to buying a house in _______. → House buyers
- Renting in ____: Do’s and Don'ts. → Renters
- Should you rent furnished or unfurnished in ____? → Renters
- The different types of rental taxes in ____ to be aware of. → Renters (and maybe landlords)
- Living in _____: The insider’s guide → People living in a certain area
- Postgraduate accommodation in _____. → Students
A great example of Cityrealty’s blog, which offers extensive informative resources on real estate in the US capital. Its blog focuses on anything related to fees, expectations, insights, tips, and red flags when renting or buying a New York City property. For example, their latest article on How to Rent an Apartment in New York City is a master guide on setting you up for rental success.
Blog posts aim to educate, inform and entertain users; therefore, they should be packed with step-by-step actionable guides on real estate. No one likes the fluff or the high-level strategies that can’t be implemented. Users nowadays expect professionals to take them by the hand and guide them to the nearest solution to their problems. And that’s where you come into the frame. A real estate SEO expert should be keenly aware of these things.
Step 4: Backlinks
SEO-wise, what makes blog posts special are keywords, internal and external links. Apart from stellar content that customers will love to read, there are some basic SEO techniques that, once implemented, will keep your customers hooked. First, we touched on keywords and internal linking; now, it’s time to discuss external links.
External links have two subcategories: backlinks - links from different domains directing to your website, and outbound links - links from your website directing to other domains. External links are part of off-site SEO and aim to create an interconnected network of similar industry-based websites that link to each other.
We measure backlinks based on quality, search volume, and relevance. So, if another grand real estate firm is linking back to you, it brings its authority along with its quality traffic instead of, let’s say, an accounting office sending you backlinks. In the same way, if you’re linking to another real estate-related website, you might be scared that users will quit your website to jump on another competitor’s, but that’s not the case. You get more out of creating a web of relevance, thus helping search engines put you in the frame than losing one or two users who clicked on an outbound link and left.
You might be asking: how am I supposed to do backlinks building for real estate? You want to start with a competitor backlinks analysis, where you’ll find out what types of content earn the most backlinks and where your competitors earn their links. You can do that by using a tool like Ahrefs.
Then you want to start reaching out to relevant authority real estate businesses to create mutual linking relationships that will soon develop into your network. For example, you might offer guest blogging for another website in exchange for backlinks. Or, you might use a tool like Ahrefs broken link checker to find dead links on another website and ask the page owners to replace it with one of yours.
And don’t underestimate the power of social media on generating external links; they might not bring you the same value for your backlinks, but they are free sources of external traffic to your website.
You see? When it comes to real estate SEO, this part can be very complex and time-consuming, which is why outsourcing this (and other parts) of your SEO process may make economic sense.!
Your Ultimate Real Estate SEO Checklist To Maximize Your Success
SEO is your ticket to building a more sustainable and growing business. So how do you make the dream come true? Here is your ultimate real estate SEO checklist for the real estate SEO expert to maximize your profits and success:
Do your keyword research and write down your focus keywords on a spreadsheet
- Analyze your SEO competitors
- Pick their keywords
- Group relevant keywords based on relevance & search intent and assign them to different pages & content
- Pick your tools
- Create a list of relevant local directors
- Join Google My Business
- Focus on generating positive reviews from your customers and use reputation management software for managing reviews on different platforms
- Generate local citations
- Have the tools to manage your listings
Create quality content that your audience will love, and the search engines will want to promote
- Create landing pages targeting commercial queries
- Create informational articles to help potential customers
- Optimize your images and meta tags
- Optimize your categories
- Optimize your property listings
- Remove duplicate content
- Internally link blog posts and property listings
- Invest in external linking
- Build your backlinks strategy
- Get links from real estate websites
- Optimize your website’s speed
- Fix responsiveness to different devices
- Make sure all the property listings are fully functioning
Ready To Act On Your Real Estate Seo Strategy?
You made it till the end. Congrats!
By now, you’ll have a 360 view of real estate SEO services and the expert guide to implement them in your business. There is no room for neglected websites and mediocre content in the competitive, fast-paced online era. If you want to stand out, you need to act!
It’s time to shift your focus from hours wasted on cold calls and non-interested clients to creating the assets that will drive users to your business. Unfortunately, over 90% of websites are lost in Google search results due to lack of knowledge around SEO and keyword research.
SEO can be hard work. But, over time, once you establish quality content and a valuable network, it will pay off a thousand times. Just remember, algorithms and rankings change; valuable content and relationships don’t.