Are you tired of paying for a real estate website but not getting any traffic from Google? Many real estate agents are under the impression that when they launch a new website, it will “magically” be found by search engines. That is simply not the case. Many real estate websites get crawled but not indexed at all.
If you are a REALTOR or a local brokerage or real estate franchise, getting organic traffic to your website from is more crucial today than ever before.
With the internet playing such a crucial role in the real estate transaction in 2020. In addition, the Coronavirus has shown just how important having a strong digital presence is. Not having your website found for commonly searched real estate terms, from people in YOUR area means you are missing out on a ton of business.
Unfortunately, many REALTORS do not know what is needed to organically rank their website. We will cover the basic steps for ranking a real estate website using real estate SEO best practices.
How do I SEO my real estate website?
Understanding real estate search engine optimization can be daunting, we break it down for you…
Although real estate Search Engine Optimization is more competitive and has some unique challenges, many of the steps involved in ranking real estate websites are the same as traditional website search engine marketing.
DO NOT BELIEVE a Web Developer that claims to “include” SEO in your website build
Below is the step by step process that agents, brokers and franchises can use to get the organic search results they require for traffic and lead generation.
Below is not a list of real estate SEO tips but the full process to rank a real estate website.
The First Step is Local SEO
In 2021 more than ever, the first step in ranking your real estate website is getting the local SEO nailed down. Google has really been investing in their GMB infrastructure and have been constantly rolling out new features. We expect many new features in 2021 and you can keep up with new releases here.
It has been said a million times…”real estate is local”. That has never been more true then in the word of online real estate marketing.
The first step in establishing your local SEO is creating and claiming your Google My Business listing. This will officially tell Google about your brand, your business name, business address and business phone number. Digital marketing experts call that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). A super important aspect of this process is ensuring that your NAP is consistent with your Google My Business account and your other online mentions such as Facebook, Twitter and of course, your website.
Verifying your GMB listing will usually require a postcard being mailed to the business address claimed. The postcard will contain a PIN – which you enter into GMB for verification.
Once your Google My Business account is created and verified, you will want to create/update citation accounts. Citation accounts are websites that reference your business online such as Facebook, Yelp, Yellow-Pages and Foursquare. There are literally thousands of potential citation/directory websites that you can put your business information on. We can not stress enough how important it is to insure that all citations have the identical NAP as you Google My Business listing.
Next Step is Keyword Research
Real Estate Keywords
Many of the broker provided, agent websites act as if adding “real estate keywords” as meta tags to your website will somehow make it magically outrank your local competition and even large real estate aggregates such as Zillow and Realtor.com. This is absolutely silly. Real estate SEO is much more than simply choosing your keywords. As a matter of fact, Google stopped looking at meta keywords as a ranking factor at all years ago.
That doesn’t mean that keyword research isn’t a major part of any SEO campaign and real estate keywords are no different. You need to have an understanding of what you want to rank for. That should be defined as the “main keywords” for any specific page. Do you want to rank for *your city* real estate or *your city* homes for sale? How many searches do the specific subdivisions in your area get?
What Should be Your Real Estate Keywords?
The obvious key-phrases are simply *your city* real estate or *your city* homes for sale. In many instances, these can be the most searched keyword phrases but are not necessarily what keywords you should be going after.
Low Hanging Fruit Keywords
You will need to find specific key phrases that your potential clients are searching for that does not have a ton of competition. These may be unique terminology that your area uses such as “shotgun homes” in New Orleans or “Boston Brownstones”. If you dig deep and understand your clients intent, you can find some keywords that the big boys have not went after. Large portals such as Zillow create all of the pages automatically. This gives a definitive advantage to the custom built page with unique content. Finding some “low hanging fruit” should be your first step in your keyword research.
Keyword Research for the Real Estate Industry
True Real Estate SEO experts will look a little deeper than simple “homes for sale” type searches. You will also want to review latent semantic keywords to make sure you properly seed your content.
Your keyword research should include not only the obvious but every deviation of those keywords. For instance, *your city* + homes for sale should also include:
*your city + state abr* homes for sale
homes for sale in *your city*
homes for sale in *your city + state abr*
*your city* real estate
*your city + state abr* real estate
*your city* real estate for sale
*your city + state abr* for sale
real estate *your city*
real estate in *your city*
real estate for sale *your city*
all of the above with the state abbreviation
similar search phrases with subdivisions
similar search phrases with counties
keyword research is an important step in understanding what terms you want to rank for.
Each of these search phrases will have a different number of monthly searches, different levels of competition and ultimately the user (the person doing the search) will have a different intent.
With Google’s algorithm learning at lightning speed, today the correlation between keyword research and user intent is more important than ever. In 2021, Google BERT is used on nearly 100% of searches. BERT was a Google Algorithm update that leverages AI to better understand a search query.
Is there a different user intent if the search is *city* real estate vs waterfront condos for sale in *subdivision*?
Of course there is. The “real estate” search may be wanting statistics on the local market, or other general information on the real estate in the respective city. Where the “condos for sale” search is expecting to see active listings in the respective condominium complex.
Coming up with your specific set of real estate keywords takes time and a methodical approach.
Complete a Website Audit
Now that your local SEO is in place and you have a good idea of what keywords you would like to be found for, the next step is completing an SEO website audit.
A more expensive, but more thorough option is hiring an SEO agency to do a manual audit. Depending on the size of your site, a manual SEO audit should start around $500 and go up from there.
Once you have the audit results, you now at least know where your website stands from the technical perspective. It is important to remember, there is no silver bullet for search engine optimization – to effectively rank any website, there are many parts that must all work in concert.
Meta Titles and Descriptions
The next step is reviewing your meta headers on each page. Meta titles and meta descriptions are a very easy to update and important aspect of your on-page SEO.
The meta title for each page should include the main keywords you would like to rank. When you boil all of the content on the page down – you should end up with your meta title. The meta title for each pages should be somewhere between 10 and 70 characters long.
Your Meta Title and Meta Description is what people will see in their search engine results page on Google and other search engines.
The Meta Title and Meta Description are very easy to update on most real estate website platforms. The Title has a huge impact on rankings and the description explains what is on the page.
Your meta description is slightly longer at 160-300 characters. The meta description for each page provides a quick description of what the page itself is about. The meta title plays an important part in the ranking of the page while a well written meta description will entice users to click on your site as opposed to the others in the search results.
Mobile Responsiveness and Site Speed
It is 2021 – by this time anyone who is even remotely serious about their website has already made it mobile friendly. In addition, this should be caught in your website audit too — but it is so important, we felt it still deserved its own section.
With more than half of the internet traffic in the world being from mobile devices, we even recommend building your real estate website Mobile First. A mobile first website is one that is built to be displayed on a mobile device and then adapted afterward to display on a desktop computer. This may seem like a minor difference, but from the web design perspective, it changes the entire process.
Another no-brainer is assuring that your website is as fast as possible. These two factors somewhat go together as the speed in which your website loads is even more critical for mobile devices. In addition to how the site is built, the hosting that is utilized for your website will play a large role in its speed. We have done extensive work to come up with the best WordPress hosting for SEO purposes.
AMP Pages for Real Estate
Another new technology that can be leveraged to speed up your real estate website is AMP. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP for short) is a process in which you create a stripped down version of your web page or blog to make it AMP compatible. AMP pages are then delivered straight from Google’s servers for lightning fast results. Having AMP pages on your real estate website for your blogs can provide a super fast experience for your readers. Its important to note — you generally cannot place real estate listings from IDX on an AMP page, so you will need to have those pages load fast without AMP.
SEO for IDX Listings
Anyone in real estate understands one of the main reasons that home buyers and sellers use the internet in the real estate sales process is to search for listings. The process of having real estate listings from other brokers displayed on an agents site is through the implementation of IDX or a VOW, with IDX being the dominant option. There is a long history of IDX and bringing listings online.
Most REALTORS working on their digital marketing will already have IDX in place, but is it implemented best for SEO purposes?
When you display an IDX listing on your website you are pushing out the same information as every other local real estate site with a RETS feed from the local MLS. Ultimately, that has everyone displaying IDX on their site is displaying duplicate content. Google looks at MLS listings as very low quality content because it is not unique and is duplicated across the internet.
For the last 7 or so years, Google has been moving from a quantity of content to quality of content algorithm for ranking. Throwing out thousands of mostly duplicate content pages dilutes your QUALITY CONTENT that you should be pushing out of your site.
This can be avoided by creating a custom IDX display or augmenting the IDX data with other 3rd party information. This will have your IDX listings be somewhat different than other real estate brokers in your area. Another option for reducing the duplicate content issue when using IDX is to place the IDX property listings on a subdomain of the main website.
The quality and quantity of backlinks that point to your real estate website is what shows Google that you are an authoritative source of quality information. There are different ways to acquire backlinks, but it is very important to remember that all backlinks are not created equal.
The more authoritative and relevant the site linking to you, the more powerful the backlink. If you have many spammy backlinks pointing to your website, that can actually be detrimental to your SEO. In addition, just because you have a link from a powerful real estate site doesn’t mean that it counts the same. As an example, you can have a profile page on Realtor.com, Zillow and many other large real estate sites – but that will bring little authority to your website.
Many will not have that link pass any “link juice” to you by using a rel=nofollow tag. Some go to great lengths to not have any outbound links showing. Even very powerful, real estate domains such as Zillow linking to your site from a profile page will have little impact your your real estate sites authority.
The Best Backlinks
The most authority is passed from otherwise powerful real estate websites from within the content itself. For instance, if Zillow were posting an article on their blog, and they were to mention the term “discount real estate brokers” and use that term as the anchor text and point to your site, that link would be very powerful in ranking for the term discount real estate broker.
Here are a couple of ways that you can create and sculpt your backlink profile.
Finding Broken Backlinks From Sites You Want a Link From
Web 2.0 Sites
Backlink creation is the single most important, and most challenging task of an SEO Agency or individual.
Much of what is done in the content marketing process is done to have other websites link to that content. So not only do you need content worth linking to, you need the process for getting that content in front of enough people to have them link to it.
With backlinks being the single most important factor for ranking on Google – it is also the single most abused process by many SEO agencies. In the past, simply a higher number of backlinks increased the authority and visibility of your website.
Today, mostly because of the abuse from SEO companies, Google looks very closely at every backlink. Although in the past, many found success with the creation of tons of back-links from just about anywhere, today too many backlinks from the wrong websites can hurt your search engine optimization efforts and even get you banned or de-indexed from Google.
Socially Syndicate Your Original Real Estate Content
You can not be a successful REALTOR today without a strong social media presence. Your social media accounts should post all of the community pages and blog posts from your real estate website. Most real estate agents post articles from real estate websites like ActiveRain, Inman or Realty Times to their social media accounts. Wouldn’t it make more sense to be pushing your own real estate content where they end up on your website?
All agents and brokers should have the following social media accounts:
Facebook Business Page
There are many products that will assist you in socially syndicating your original content from your website. Hootsuite is a very popular content sharing application as is Buffer.
Schema for Real Estate Websites
Schemastructured data is what tells Google and other web giants what your business is about. The schema on your real estate website should reflect if you are a real estate agency, real estate broker, real estate agent and so on.
The schema on your site should also contain your exact Name, Address and Phone Number also known as NAP. Other tags schema include your hours of operation, latitude and longitude of your office and what real estate markets you serve.
Implementing schema markup can be a little overwhelming for the novice webmaster. Most of the basic schema apps or plugins only implement the bare minimum (which of course is better than nothing). To get all of the appropriate tags set on your real estate website requires some programming knowledge.
Aggregate Online Reviews from Past Clients
Most REALTORS, brokers and real estate teams are well aware of the power of the online review. Whether you get your reviews on Zillow, Yelp, Google or your own real estate website, you should maximize every testimonial.
For Google to recognize the copy as a review, all of your reviews should have the proper schema and an aggregate rating. Be careful, if you tag the reviews on your site incorrectly, it may look to Google as if you are copying an existing review and trying to get credit for two.
How to choose an SEO Agency and NOT get burned!
Hiring a Real Estate SEO Expert
It is possible to rank your website yourself, but because of the complexity and the unique challenges in real estate SEO – many choose to pay an expert. Because of the intense level of competition, you may find that the SEO pricing, when referring to the real estate vertical is higher than others.
Any SEO agency may not be up to the task either. Just because they may have the SEO tools, they most likely do not have the real estate tech background to understand IDX (which will make up the vast majority of your content) as well as other unique aspects of real estate SEO.
Is Real Estate SEO Hard?
Search engine optimization for real estate is substantially more challenging than in most online vertices. The challenge in good SEO for Real Estate is that it is dominated by the big, nationwide companies such as Zillow, REALTOR.com, Trulia and Homes.com.
After those authoritative websites, you are fighting the large brokers. You even have to fight with the Real Estate Franchises such as Keller Williams, Remax and Coldwell Banker.
Lastly, almost every agent has their own website — and in 2021, we have about 2 million active real estate licenses.
SEO for Real Estate by REALTORS
One Click SEO just doesn’t pretend to understand real estate marketing, our founder was a licensed real estate instructor for 8 years and has been a REALTOR for well over a decade. Even our content marketing manger has 20 years of running a real estate brokerage under his belt.
We understand real estate marketing from the inside out. With years of experience in all aspects of real estate technology from being one of the leading IDX experts in the country to creating websites for some of the largest real estate brands in the country, we understand real estate marketing.
One Click SEO understands that having your website show up for a search term that gets thousands of searches per month is the best advertising you can get for growing a brokerage and recruiting agents.
The name recognition for your real estate brand being squeezed between Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com is a game changing experience for a brokerage. The website traffic and leads from your website is just the cherry on the top.
Search Engine Optimization for Real Estate
We have specialized in SEO for Real Estate for over 18 years with powerful results. Working with some of the largest real estate brands in the country, focusing specificity on search engine optimization for real estate.
As Real Estate SEO experts, we look at search rankings as only one part of an overall Digital Marketing Package, all designed to provide an ROI from your web presence. All Search Engine Optimization takes time, because of that, we have devised a way to start delivering new leads immediately while growing your website’s SEO over time.
We utilize Google Ads to generate immediate traffic and leads while leveraging Facebook REmarketing to build your brand. Creating targeted traffic not only helps your SEO over the long term, but starts generating new seller leads immediately. The ongoing follow-up marketing on Facebook keeps your real estate brand top of mind for months after potential clients visit your website.
A Digital Marketer Who Understands Real Estate
You need a Digital Marketer that understands real estate. We have a deep history in real estate including: sales, brokerage ownership, training as a licensed real estate instructor, Board of Directors for multiple MLS’s including past President of one of the nation’s largest MLS’s and heading technology, strategy and internet services for some of the nation’s largest real estate brands brokers with over 5,000 agents.
We have also assisted dozens of smaller brokers with their digital marketing all across the US, Canada and Mexico.
One Click SEO (formally DEAN Knows) just doesn’t to pretend to understand real estate marketing, we have been deep in it for almost two decades. We understand that having your real estate website show up for a major real estate search term shows market dominance.
If you are looking for fully managed real estate internet marketing – by true real estate experts, fill out the form below.