Is your real estate website not generating any organic traffic from Google?
If so, you likely need a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy in place, something that’s essential for any business in the modern age, regardless of industry.
For the real estate industry, consider that 97% of home buyers searched the internet for property in 2021.
That means realtors must have a robust online presence, including visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).
You need to tweak your website and overall marketing strategy to dominate the search engine rankings.
That includes conducting keyword research, improving your site’s loading speed, building backlinks, and regularly releasing quality content for your target audience.
Real estate SEO is also unique from traditional SEO in more than a few ways, including its reliance on local search.
As such, there’s a lot you need to know to get your real estate business ranking in the top spots on Google.
That can be a lot to take in, especially if you’re a newbie to SEO strategies in general.
After all, real estate agents often have packed schedules, so you probably only have a little time to study digital marketing techniques like local SEO and link-building.
That’s why we’ve put together this extensive yet concise guide to mastering real estate SEO.
After a short read, you’ll know how to create a winning real estate SEO strategy from scratch, so don’t wait to get started.
What Makes Real Estate SEO Different?
Most industries’ SEO processes are practically identical, which is why most general SEO techniques and guides work.
Yet, specific industries require some unique approaches, such as B2B companies, e-commerce websites, SaaS providers, and, you guessed it – real estate.
What makes it different?
Online searches for real estate are unique in how hyperlocal they are, usually focusing on a few neighborhoods or a single city.
Instead of searching across the entire internet for results, users are only interested in local listings of homes and properties. As such, real estate SEO and local SEO go hand-in-hand.
There are two types of search results that appear from real estate search terms. They are:
- Google My Business profile. For queries such as ‘realtors near me,’ your Google My Business (GMB) profile will display in the results (if you’ve optimized it properly). That’s why claiming your GMB profile is a big step in real estate SEO (more on this in a bit).
- Local listings. For keywords like ‘(city name) homes for sale,’ Google will display your web pages that contain local listings and directories.
These are the two types of queries that you want your website to show up for, which will take some optimization. For instance, you’ll need to create or claim a GMB listing if you haven’t already and create detailed listing pages containing targeted keywords.
So if you optimize your website content for the long-tail keyword ‘Memphis homes for sale,’ your local listings will display for anyone that searches for it (your ranking will depend on how well you optimized your content/outdid your competitors).
Why does SEO matter for real estate?
As stated before, more and more customers are using internet searches to find new homes and properties.
That’s especially true for the younger generations, as 99% of younger millennials and 98% of Gen Z’ers exclusively use the internet for their home searches.
Beyond that, real estate websites are the most popular marketing channel for new home buyers, with 90.7% of consumers using them. Blog content came in at a close second, with 89.2% of home buyers using articles as their marketing channel of choice.
Both your website and blog content are vital components of real estate SEO, so if you neglect them, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of your audience.
Also, SEO is a gift that keeps on giving.
While it takes an average of 6 – 12 months to start seeing a consistent ROI, once you’ve got everything set up and optimized, you can take your foot off the gas while still enjoying a steady flow of traffic, leads, and sales.
Superior audience targeting than other marketing channels
SEO is also crucial for real estate marketing because it will place your content in front of the right people – which is a great way to get the most out of your budget.
Focusing on specific keywords only interested home buyers search for increases the chances that most of your organic visitors will be prospects needing your exact services.
That will save you from wasting marketing dollars on ads that wind up targeting the wrong audience.
For instance, if you use billboards and signs, the chances that each person viewing them needs to buy a home is pretty low.
The same is true if you’re using paid Google ads or pop-ups without any keyword strategies in place. SEO is so valuable because it’s a form of inbound marketing that brings vetted prospects to you.
Even video ads on YouTube are less targeted than SEO and content marketing, as these ads are often seen as intrusive (and get skipped a majority of the time).
Compared to other forms of digital advertising, SEO can reduce the cost of customer acquisition by an average of 87.41%.
Not only that, but SEO can provide an ROI that’s up to 12.2x your marketing spend.
So if you want increased brand awareness, cost-effective lead generation, and a sky-high ROI – you need to embrace real estate SEO.
How Search Engines Rank Content in 2022 (Ranking Factors)
Now that you know SEO efforts are well worth your time, you need to learn more about how Google and other search engines crawl, index, and rank website content.
After all, you will only be able to crack the SEO code if you know how search engine algorithms work.
In particular, Google has over 200 ranking factors that it uses when crawling and indexing web pages.
That means simply placing a few keywords into your content and calling it a day won’t cut it. Instead, a winning SEO strategy aims to optimize every aspect of your online presence (not just your website, as off-page SEO is also a thing – like your social media presence) to rank as high as possible.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the most crucial SEO ranking factors.
First and foremost, producing high-quality content that educates and solves common user problems is arguably the most important ranking factor.
For real estate, this means creating content that’s relevant to home buyers in your area.
How do you do that?
This is where keyword research and knowing your target audience comes into play. You can use our keyword research tool from the HOTH to find common queries California condo owners search for online (more on keyword research tips in a bit).
You can also take to Facebook groups, Reddit, and Quora to discover what your audience is talking about and the problems they’re dealing with the most.
Let’s say that you sell condos in coastal California. Some examples of helpful content topic ideas for your audience would be:
- How to get approved for a new California condo
- The best California neighborhoods to buy a condo
- An overview of California condo association regulations
- How to repair water damage in your condo
From there, you could determine which format each piece should take. You could turn a few into blog articles while saving other, more complicated topics for videos. If a topic is easy to visualize, you could create an infographic instead of a blog post.
Lastly, if you have the resources to start a podcast, you could also cover the topics in an audio format.
If you’re regularly producing stellar content, Google will take notice and rank you higher.
First announced in 2017, Google’s mobile-first indexing initiative finished rolling out in March 2021.
It means that Google now indexes mobile sites first over desktop sites.
So if you have a separate mobile site (which was the way most sites handled mobile browsing in the past), it will take precedence over the desktop version.
That means your mobile site is now the most important version of your website, which can pose problems for some companies still using two separate websites.
Opt for a responsive design for your website – which means your site will dynamically change shape depending on the device the searcher is using. If they’re using a desktop, it will display the desktop format. If they’re on a mobile device, it will snap to the smaller dimensions.
Google even recommends that you adopt this format, as it’s the easiest one to implement and maintain. Also, it’s easier for Google’s crawlers to index your page without having to check if there’s both a mobile and a desktop version.
With a responsive website, your URL and HTML stay the same, regardless of what type of device searchers are using. That saves you the trouble of optimizing two websites (desktop and mobile).
Another crucial ranking factor is your page experience, which refers to the strength of your user experience and user interface.
There’s a difference between the two, so let’s elaborate.
Your user interface (UI) refers to the navigational layout of your website. In other words, how easy is it to find your product pages, services, and other information? Are all your web pages included in your main navigation bar?
A poor user interface will hurt your SEO, as users won’t hang around if they can’t find what they need.
In today’s age, the attention span of the average internet user is very short, so you need to make navigating your site as easy as possible.
On the other hand, user experience (UX) is a bit more subjective. It refers to how customers feel when interacting with your site. If you provide a logical user interface with high-quality content and fast loading speeds, your user experience is likely very positive.
Not only does Google pay attention to your UI and UX when ranking your site, but improving both will have positive effects on your bottom line.
So when formulating your real estate SEO strategy, pay attention to your UI and UX. Do your best to ensure that your site has effortless navigation, stellar content, stand-out CTA buttons, and seamless loading times.
Google’s Core Web Vitals test
Google has a special test it runs on every website to check page speed, interactivity, and visual stability known as Core Web Vitals.
Why does it run this test?
Google only wants to show its users the highest quality, most relevant results to ensure their satisfaction. Otherwise, they could lose their spot as the #1 search engine online.
Since internet users can’t stand slow loading speeds, the Core Web Vitals test serves to weed out websites that are poorly optimized on the technical side of things.
Even if your content is high-quality, contains authoritative backlinks, and has the right keywords, you won’t appear in the SERPs if you have terrible page speed and stability.
That’s why you need to run a technical audit on your site to test how fast your pages load. Beyond that, you should check how long it takes to interact with your site, as well as how visually stable it is upon loading.
For instance, some sites may load in a split second, but you can’t interact with them until after a few seconds, which can be frustrating for users. You’ve experienced this if you’ve ever loaded a page and tried to click on a form only for it to lag a few seconds before loading your cursor.
Check out this official page from Google to learn how to measure your Core Web Vitals.
Google prefers HTTPS for security
One of the most crucial ranking factors for Google search is if your website uses HTTPS or not. In 2017, they even started flagging sites as unsafe that weren’t HTTPS on their Chrome browser, which accounts for 65% of the web browser market.
What is HTTPS?
It stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, an extension of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) – and it allows for secure communication and data sharing between a website and a user’s computer.
Everything gets encrypted during transactions and interactions with HTTPS websites using Transport Layer Security. This prevents anyone from eavesdropping on communications or stealing user data during e-commerce transactions.
That’s why Google favors HTTPS when it ranks sites, as the company wants to provide searchers with the safest results to prevent cyber attacks.
80.5% of all websites use SSL/HTTPS, and they account for a majority of the top SERP rankings, so it’s definitely worth making the transition if you haven’t already.
The only issue is that it can be very tricky to transition to HTTPS, as it can cause canonical issues with your website. So if you aren’t experienced with website building, we recommend you work with a professional to make the change.
Check out this in-depth guide to learn more about obtaining an SSL certificate for your website.
Internal linking structure
You’ll want to have a flawless internal linking structure to make things easy on Google’s crawlers.
If all your pages connect to each other in a way that makes sense (i.e., grouping related articles together), it’s easier for Google’s algorithm to find and index all your pages.
Not only that, but it also helps users find what they need, and internal links in the right spot can improve your bounce rates and dwell time.
You should also consider your sales funnel when constructing your internal links.
In terms of real estate, you’ll want to guide users toward buying a home or consulting with you in person. As such, your blogs need to contain calls to action (CTAs) at the end to let users know what they should do next.
Internal links in action
Here’s an example of how internal links can lead to better conversion rates:
- A web user searches for condos in California on Google, and they find one of your blogs entitled ‘The Best Neighborhoods for Condos in California.’
- After reading to the end, they notice a CTA encouraging them to ‘click here to see our condo listings.’ They click through to your real estate listings page to find a condo in their preferred neighborhood from your article.
- They browse the listings for a while until they come across a condo that catches their eye. Since you’ve provided high-resolution images and descriptions for it, they decide they want to learn more. Luckily, you included another internal link that says, ‘click here to book a consultation with me,‘ and they click on it.
- That takes them to your contact form, where they schedule a call to visit the property in person, which eventually leads to a sale.
If you didn’t have all these internal links in strategic locations, you would have missed out on the sale, as they could have lost interest and looked elsewhere.
Your internal looks are a great way to guide readers down your funnel, so don’t forget to use them!
Besides internal links, search engines also place a lot of clout on the backlinks a site has – both in number and in quality.
That’s why link-building is a core aspect of SEO, as entire companies are dedicated to acquiring backlinks for websites.
What’s a backlink?
It’s a link on an external website that ‘points back’ to your website, hence the name.
Search engines like Google use backlinks to determine the quality and trustworthiness of websites. If a website has a ton of high-quality backlinks, Google will rank it higher than the ones that do not.
It’s crucial to mention that not all backlinks are created equal.
To Google, the backlinks that hold the most clout are from websites that have high domain authority. Oftentimes, these are websites that end in .org, .gov, and .edu (although .coms can also have high authority).
There are many ways to build backlinks, such as:
- Guest blog posts
- Replacing broken links online
- Outdoing competitor content and poaching their links
To learn more about ways to acquire backlinks, check out our extensive guide on the subject.
Creating an SEO Strategy (Real Estate SEO Tips)
Now it’s time to learn how to construct a robust SEO strategy for your real estate agency. Since you know which ranking factors Google values the most, you can optimize your content in accordance with them.
Step #1: Start with an SEO audit
The beginning point for any SEO strategy is a thorough audit of your existing website. Your content will likely require a lot of optimization, such as making technical tweaks and adding keywords to your blog articles.
Instead of spending hours auditing your site by hand, you can use our free SEO audit tool from The HOTH. It will:
- Let you know how well each page ranks for a given keyword
- Notifying you if the keyword appears in optimal spots (header, body, meta description, etc.)
- Total number of backlinks
- Domain authority score
- Technical issue diagnosis
This tool is a real lifesaver for realtors that want to conduct a self-audit but don’t have a ton of time. It breaks everything down in a way that’s easy to digest so that you can optimize your website accordingly.
Look out for duplicate content, broken links, and images with missing alt text – as these are all notorious technical issues that affect search engine rankings.
Before moving on to the next step, address and fix all the issues found in your audit. Otherwise, you may end up neglecting a serious issue that will bring your other SEO efforts to a screeching halt.
Once everything is fixed, including transitioning to HTTPS, you can move on to the next steps.
Step #2: Conduct keyword research
You’ll need to find relevant real estate keywords that your target audience searches for regularly.
Your keywords are the cornerstone of your SEO strategy, as they guide the content that you’ll eventually create.
We have another tool that can help you out here, the keyword research tool we linked to before. Type in some words related to your industry (i.e., condos in California), and the tool will spit out some valid suggestions.
Metrics to pay attention to are search volume and keyword difficulty (KD).
A high search volume means lots of users are searching for the keyword each day, which is what you want.
Conversely, you want the keyword difficulty score to be low. The difficulty represents how much competition there is for the term. If the KD is high, that’s a sign lots of websites are competing to rank for it. That will make it a lot more difficult to rank in one of the top spots, so it’s best to avoid high KD scores.
The ideal keyword will have a high search volume yet low keyword difficulty. That way, you stand a better chance at ranking for it, and you know that it’s constantly showing up in the organic search results.
Step #3: Set up Google My Business
This step is crucial for real estate SEO, as a GMB account allows your site to show up in Google Maps results, which almost always show up for real estate searches. Not only that, but they appear above the organic search results – which means potential clients may click on the maps instead, even if you’re ranked #1.
You’ll need to set up your GMB account by visiting this page and entering all your details. Beyond that, you’ll need to optimize your listing for the right SEO keywords. To learn how to do just that, check out our guide on Google My Business.
Besides GMB, you need to add your website to other relevant local directories as well, including:
- Yellow Pages
- Angie’s List
- Better Business Bureau
- Home Snap
Adding your website to these directories will strengthen your local SEO visibility.
Step #4: Create outstanding real estate content
Content is still king, and it’s one of the most important ranking factors. As such, you’ll need to regularly release content that adds value to your target audience.
To stay organized, create a content release calendar to keep everything on track. To see results, it’s recommended that you blog at least two to four times a week.
In addition, users love video content, especially when it comes to real estate.
For instance, video and virtual tours are extremely popular for potential home buyers, as it gives them a chance to preview the property in more detail than looking at photos.
Step #5: Monitor and tweak accordingly
Once you’ve got everything set up, you need to track your results. Two great tools to use here are Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
By keeping an eye on both, you’ll be able to view key metrics like:
- Website traffic (including the total number of visitors)
- Click-through rate
- Bounce rate
- Dwell time
- Conversion rate
If you notice that your efforts aren’t producing results after a few months, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. SEO can take some trial and error, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t rank in the #1 spot on your first attempt.
Final Thoughts: Real Estate SEO
SEO services are essential for any real estate agency in today’s age for a variety of reasons we’ve already covered.
SEO needs to become a staple of your overall marketing strategy if you want to remain competitive and scale your business.
By following this guide, you’ll be able to construct a winning SEO strategy from scratch, so don’t hesitate to bookmark this page as a reference.
Do you not have the time to build an SEO strategy for your real estate business?
Then you need to check out our five-star managed SEO services at HOTH X as soon as you can. Our SEO gurus will construct an in-depth strategy for you, and we’re also available for consultations – so don’t wait to book a call today.