Leveraging Local SEO for Real Estate?
First, let's cover some of the basics of Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a term that in this day and age every local business owner should recognize.
If you don’t know or are scratching your head trying to figure out the acronym, you need to read this article. And the chances are that your website -- you do have one, right? -- is likely only found if someone types in your URL directly. SEO is the means by which a website is optimized for search, and every day there are literally millions of searches that are performed on Google.
Here are a few quick statistics:
- There are over 7.5 billion local searches each month
- 87% of people who search for a certain type of business are searching for local results and call or visit the business within 24 hours
- Implementing local SEO into your digital marketing plan is 15 to 20 times more of a cost-effective marketing plan than compared with traditional SEO concerning return on investment (ROI).
- Previously, local businesses relied primarily on foot traffic and traditional forms of advertising to compete at the local level. However, more and more people are using search engines to find local businesses around them.
- The creation of Google+Local, local SEO has become necessary to put a business on the map (figuratively and on map applications users refer to on their mobile devices).
Local SEO is Constantly Changing
Even if you already have done some SEO for your business or real estate brokerage, the new ranking factors that define local SEO differ from traditional SEO especially when it comes down to building links. We will outline the most important aspects of local marketing services that will optimize your real estate brokerage and most assuredly will increase your digital presence as well as online traffic to your website.
Local SEO services can even help your bottom line if you don’t have a website by using your Google My Business page along with posting your listing in various directories on the Internet, such as Yelp and Yellowpages. These are called citation accounts. There are thousands of local citation websites of varying levels of authority. These local “links” act as a hub for potential customers to find your business. When it comes to choosing a SEO company, make sure they have expertise and proven experience in Local SEO.
The NAP Factor
There are multiple factors that lend themselves to ranking your real estate brokerage in local searches, however, the most critical part of providing local SEO services comes down to three pieces of information known as NAP which stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number.
While providing this basic information may seem like a no-brainer, a recent Constant Contact survey revealed that more than 50 percent of small businesses surveyed knew that there were inaccuracies in their NAP listings, however, 70 percent of the same businesses said they simply did not have enough time to spend on updating their listings across all directories.
That is an amazing percentage, especially considering the fact that according to Moz, the number one negative ranking factor on Google is a false business address, and the third negative ranking factor is inaccuracy across directories in NAP information.
Updating your company’s NAP information has become a critical piece of a business’s online ranking, and it all comes down to consistency and accuracy - which can be a real challenge for many because we all know that “to err is human.” In today’s world, a simple typo in your business name or the wrong address in a single directory can negatively affect your Google ranking.
It’s not always convenient to stop everything else and take time to update your website with hundreds of citation accounts. What might seem small changes, but it can be critical when it comes to your customers finding you on Google when they need to.
Update your information:
- If your business changes names (even slightly).
- If you’ve moved to a new address.
- If you’ve changed or added a new phone number or fax line.
The accuracy of Your Business Information Across The Web
Accuracy is critical and keeping this information up to date on the major internet directories can take some research, patience and time that many business owners just don’t have in today’s fast-paced world of commerce.
Which brings the question:
How does a local business owner make sure the NAP information for their business is accurate and consistent across all of these internet directories?
While you can spend your time searching the internet to check each listing, making sure your information is accurate and consistent, many small business owners simply don’t have the time to take on the task. If that is the case, then it may be time to find a reliable and professional SEO agency. They will do the work for you and scour the internet to find and check each directory your business is listed on to make sure that your information is accurate and consistent.
Information Beyond NAP
Name, address, and phone numbers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to filling out local directories for your business. Potential customers want to see more information and the more information about your business that can be found in local directories is the more credibility it lends to your company in the eyes of local search engines. Beyond NAP you include as much information as you can including:
- Hours of operation
- Forms of payment
- General Products and Services
- Customer Reviews and testimonials
- Link to Website and Social Media
- Local Maps and Directions
As a general rule, the more information you include in local directories about your business the better. Not only do customers like to see the most information possible; every little detail you provide also gives your business a slight advantage in your local SEO efforts when compared to other local businesses in your geographical area.
Google makes this process simple with its My Business page. This shows the business owner a completion bar which indicates how complete their page’s information is.
Tips For Local Real Estate SEO
Compared with traditional SEO algorithms, social media becomes much more important when it pertains to local SEO services. This is because many customers may never see your business website but will find you on whatever social media platforms they might be searching with, i.e., Yelp, Facebook, etc.
Your first step in dominating the Map Pack of Google is to claim your Google My Business page. You will want to optimize your Google My Business for real estate as their are some specific items within your Google Business Profile you need to address. Then optimize all of the information on your social media pages to match the information on your My Business page as well as other local directories. This provides customers with all the information they need to find your business and optimizes your local SEO.
Facebook “Likes” and “Retweets” on Twitter will count as a local search ranking factor. This basically means that you will rank higher on local search results based on how many people you have interacting with your business on social media.
Google Local Service Ads
Google LSA Ads work in unison with real estate SEO as they generate direct, incoming phone leads for people looking to buy or sell a home. Lead generation products like One Click SEO's Local Call Generator make the phone ring with new clients.
Encourage Customers to Review
A huge local ranking factor is that of getting reviews from your customers, and there are ways to incentivize your customers to leave those all-important Google+, Urbanspoon, Yelp, etc. reviews.
It is no secret that Google favors businesses that are highly reviewed over ones that don’t have enough reviews, or even worse, have negative reviews. Good reviews from your customers can be the difference between showing up somewhere in the murky middle of local search results and ranking to the highly sought after top spot.
If your establishment is needing reviews, there are a variety of ways to encourage customers to leave a review after visiting. Something as simple as putting up a sign asking customers to leave a review could work. Incentives, such as a discount, coupon, or even a shout-out on social media could be enough to generate some reviewers. Assuming you have a great product or service these positive reviews can immediately bolster your local SEO efforts.
Google’s New Hyperlocal Algorithm
The newest development in the local SEO is Google’s hyperlocal “neighborhood algorithm.” While sometimes it may be hard to group businesses into neighborhoods because of unclear boundaries, Google is trying to make local searches more accurate for the people trying to find businesses in their area.
It’s never too early for businesses to jump on this bandwagon and include neighborhood data in their listings. By including specific neighborhood terminology, a company can be ahead of the curve when Google integrates neighborhood data into local SEO and optimizes their existing local SEO efforts at the same time.
Some ways to take advantage of this new hyperlocal search are:
- Include neighborhood information in your Google My Business page
- Add your neighborhood to your website and social media page text
- Add your neighborhood to title tags on your website.
- Make sure Google Maps has your neighborhood mapped correctly.
While hyperlocal SEO is still being embraced and understood by businesses, it’s important to continue to stay ahead of competing for local businesses as it becomes more and more significant for consumers.
Local SEO for REALTORS
We have been implementing SEO for real estate for over two decades now. Although we have our own internal processes for ranking real estate websites, Google is continuously changing.
In the past, a part of our overall process for ranking a real estate website on Google has been implementing best practices for Local SEO. Ranking locally is very different than traditional "National" SEO, where differing criteria to determine how well a site ranks locally vs nationally.
Toward the middle of 2018 and for 2019, we have noticed that real estate websites that have very strong local SEO tend to rank better on Google than those that focus highly on traditional search engine optimization (even when the traditional SEO is implemented well).
This had recently led us to start maximizing Local SEO factors for real estate agents and brokers to a much higher degree as part of our ranking processes. Also, understanding that many REALTORS are not in the position to pay for ongoing, traditional SEO - we have come up with other pricing options which we leverage local ranking factors to rank a real estate website. Unlike traditional SEO, which is ongoing, much of the local online marketing is a one-time shot with a smaller focus (such as GMB posts).
Will Real Estate SEO Rank My Site?
Many REALTORS first attempt to market their own website on the internet. Our real estate SEO will create the foundation for any real estate broker or agent, and position them for the possibility for ranking. After completing the foundational work - you should definitively rank for your company name and a handful of other terms. If you are in a highly competitive real estate market (as many are) our Real Estate SEO will set the stage and jump start your rankings. In addition, because this is the EXACT same process for ranking a local brick and mortar business, this same package could be used for placing on Google for other business verticals too.
What is Included in One Click's Real Estate SEO?
We include all of the basics for Local SEO. The first thing we will do is verify your Google My Business page. This will require Google mailing a postcard to the address listed; however, in the occasional instance, we may be able to verify the GMB page using the phone number. If your Google My Business page is already verified, we will review and optimize your GMB for real estate.
Once the GMB page is verified, we will create a minimum of 40 citation accounts, all with back-links pointing to your website. These citation accounts are important online mentions of your real estate business, including the proper Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP for short).
An example of the citation sites that we will create for you are:
- Chamber of Commerce
Once we have created the 40+ citation accounts for you - we will then submit all of those URLs to the best Website Indexing Services - which will assist in getting the new pages indexed in Google. This is a very important step, as a citation that is not indexed by Google has very little value at all.