SEO for Real Estate
Are you tired of paying for a website but not getting any traffic from search engines? Many Realtors believe that when they launch a new website, it will “magically” be found on Google. That is simply not the case. Many websites in the real estate niche get crawled but not indexed at all. Over 90% of live websites receive zero traffic from Google.
The truth is, most Realtors think their site ranks much higher than it actually does.
If you are a REALTOR or a local brokerage or real estate franchise, getting organic traffic to your website is more crucial in 2024 than ever. With organic traffic outperforming both Google Ads and social media marketing for quality of leads, a portion of your marketing budget should to be allocated to organically ranking your website on search engines.
What is Real Estate SEO?
SEO for real estate is having your website organically show up in search engine results. Real estate SEO can be divided into two major sections: Map Pack optimization or Local SEO, which refers to optimizing your Google Business Profile to appear prominently in search results for specific queries that Google has identified as seeking local businesses. This would be for searches such as “REALTOR near me.”
Changes in SEO for 2024
Today, optimizing your Google Business Profile for real estate leads is very important compared to traditional online marketing. This is because Google displays the Map Pack above all other search results.
The other type of search engine optimization, sometimes called traditional SEO, refers to searches such as *city* homes for sale or *city* real estate. These types of searches have the “traditional blue links” as results and are dominated by the giant national websites such as Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com.
With the internet playing such a crucial role in people buying or selling a home in 2024, having your website show up for localized real estate-based queries can make or break your business. In addition, the Coronavirus has shown just how important having a strong digital presence is. Not having your website found for commonly searched terms means you are missing out on a ton of business.
Unfortunately, many Realtors do not know what is needed to rank their website organically. We will cover the basic steps for ranking a website using real estate SEO best practices.
Need to rank your real estate website organically? Check out our SEO pricing packages.
Guide to Real Estate SEO
Understanding real estate search engine optimization can be daunting, we break it down for you:
- Step-by-Step Guide to Real Estate SEO
- Hiring a Real Estate SEO Expert
Although SEO for real estate is more competitive and has some unique challenges, many steps in dominating Google SERPS (search engine results pages) are the same as SEO in other business niches.
DO NOT BELIEVE a Web Developer that claims to “include” SEO in your website build.
Below is the step-by-step process agents and brokers can use to get the organic search traffic required for lead generation.
This is not a list of SEO tips for real estate but the full process of ranking a real estate website.
The First Step is Local SEO
Local SEO is your Google Business Profile
In 2024, more than ever, the first step in your SEO strategy is getting the local SEO nailed down. Google has been investing heavily in its Google Business Profile infrastructure and has been constantly rolling out new features. They recently changed the name from Google My Business (GMB) to Google Business Profile (GBP). d
In both 2022 and 2023, we saw a ton of new features added to Google Business Profile and many updates that have disrupted the rankings across the country. In 2024, we expect Google to do an even better job of displaying Map Packs for a greater diversity of searches. This keeps users in their ecosystem and does NOT drive traffic directly to websites. Google has also pushed business owners to update their profiles from Search instead of providing a full backend management interface.
We expect many new features this year, and you can keep up with new releases here.
It has been said a million times: “All real estate is local.” That has never been more true than in the world of online real estate marketing. Today, more than ever, you need to focus on ranking your Map Pack to get in front of your target audience.
How To Claim Your Google Business Profile
The first step in optimizing your local SEO is creating and claiming your Google Business Profile listing. This will officially tell Google about your brand, your business name, business address and business phone number. Digital marketing experts call this your NAP or Name, Address, and Phone Number.
A super important aspect of this process is ensuring that your NAP is consistent between your Google Business Profile account and your other online mentions such as Facebook, Twitter, citation websites, and, of course, your website.
In the past, verifying your GBP listing usually required a postcard being mailed to the business address claimed during the claiming process. The postcard contained a PIN – which you entered into the GBP manager for verification. However, in an effort to combat spam listings, Google is now requiring video verifications for new profiles in almost all business categories.
Optimizing your Google My Business
After verifying your GBP, you will want to fill out and optimize all aspects of your profile. Here are the basic steps in optimizing your Google Business Profile.
Read detailed instructions here: https://oneclickseo.agency/search-engine-optimization/real-estate-seo/google-my-business-real-estate/
CHOOSE PRIMARY AND SECONDARY CATEGORIES
Next, you will want to choose your Primary Category. This is extremely important and a major ranking factor! You also have the option of adding Additional Categories.
ADD BUSINESS SERVICES
Next, you will want to add your Services. You will have Services under each Category you have claimed. You will want to write a brief (under 300 characters) description of each service listed.
UPDATE YOUR BUSINESS DESCRIPTION
Next, you will want to write a Business Description for your Google Business Profile. We don’t recommend just doing a copy/paste from your website, it really should be original copy.
ADD YOUR SERVICE AREAS
The next step in optimizing your Google Business Profile for Realtors is adding your Service Areas. These are the areas in which you will travel to list a home or show a home.
ADD YOUR ADDITIONAL BUSINESS INFORMATION
You will want to meticulously add all of your business information to your profile, including:
- Opening Date
- Phone Number
- Business Hours
- Holiday Hours
- If the location is handicap accessible
- If the business is veteran-owned
- Appointment contact phone or URL
ADD PHOTOS & VIDEOS TO YOUR GMB
You will want to add as many photos and videos to your profile as possible.
START GETTING GOOGLE REVIEWS
Lastly, you will want to get your Review Link so you can send that out to all past clients. That link will send them directly to you, leaving you a review.
Once your Google Business Profile account is created and verified, you want to create or update what are known as citation accounts. Citation accounts are websites that reference your business, such as Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages and Foursquare. We can not stress enough how important it is to ensure that all citations have the identical NAP as your Google Business Profile listing.
Real Estate Marketing in 2024
The Next Step is a Website Audit
Now that your Google Business Profile is set up and you have a good idea of what keywords you want to be found for, the next step is to complete an SEO website audit.
Having your website built out to be fast, with a good user experience and with good on-page SEO is part of any real estate SEO strategy. Even where you are focusing on local ranking factors like the proximity of the searcher to your business to display your Google Business Profile, your website’s quality, authority, and usability are also ranking factors.
There are many types of website audits. One Click SEO offers a free website audit that covers SEO best practices, such as the on-page SEO of your homepage and important real estate pages.
We also review your domain authority, backlink profile, alt text of your images, page speed, homepage title, XML sitemap, mobile-friendliness and your brand’s social media presence. This is a great place to start.
You may also use some more complex website audits that look at each webpage individually. Although you may have to subscribe to a service or pay an SEO agency to complete these audits, they are more comprehensive. You can expect these types of website audits to provide detailed information on your internal linking strategy, broken links, load speed, check for duplicate content, schema markup, title tags, website structure, image ALT tags, and user experience, and even provide some quality content ideas and provide overall SEO strategies.
Some of the paid SEO tools you may use for this are:
- Screaming Frog
- Surfer SEO
- Google Analytics (free)
- Google Search Console (free)
These more advanced audits will require some SEO knowledge to get actionable ideas from. Another advantage to the above SEO tools is that they can assist with your content strategy backlink opportunities.
Lastly, hiring an expert to do a manual audit is a more expensive but more thorough option. Depending on the size of your site, a manual SEO audit should start around $500 and go up from there.
Once you have your website audit results, you will at least know where your website stands from a technical perspective. It is important to remember that there is no silver bullet to rank any website; many parts must all work in concert.
Real Estate Keywords
Many broker-provided agent websites act as if adding “real estate keywords” as meta tags 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.
SEO for real estate is much more than simply choosing your keywords. As a matter of fact, search engines stopped looking at meta keywords as a ranking factor years ago.
That doesn’t mean that keyword research isn’t a significant part of any SEO campaign and real estate keywords are no different. You need to understand what you want to rank for and what website content to create. 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? This information is critical in devising an SEO strategy for your website content and web pages to build out.
What Should be Your Real Estate Keywords?
The obvious key phrases are “<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. For Local Search and direct SEO leads, you will want to focus on terms such as “Realtor near me,” as those searches show intent to find a Realtor to work with.
Low-Hanging Fruit Keywords
You will need to find specific key phrases your potential clients are searching for that do not have much competition.
These may be unique terminology that your area uses, such as “shotgun homes” in New Orleans or “Boston Brownstones.” Finding these low-competition SEO keywords will help to put your brand in front of your target audience with less effort.
If you dig deep and understand your clients’ intent, you can find keywords that the big boys have not gone after. Large portals such as Zillow create all of their 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 defining your search terms.
Keyword Research for the Real Estate Industry
True Real Estate SEO experts will look deeper than the simple “homes for sale” searches. You will also want to review latent semantic keywords to make sure you properly seed your content. Your keywords should also match your business objectives, so if you want to attract real estate investors, your website would need to be optimized with keywords for real estate investors.
Your keyword research should include the obvious and every deviation of those keywords. For instance, “<your city> homes for sale” should also include the following:
- your city + state abbreviation + homes for sale
- homes for sale + in your city
- homes for sale in + your city + state abbreviation
- your city + real estate
- your city + state abbreviation + real estate
- your city + real estate for sale
- your city + state abbreviation + for sale
- real estate + your city
- real estate + in your city
- real estate for sale + your city
- similar search phrases with subdivisions
- similar search phrases with counties
Each of these search phrases will have a different number of monthly searches and different levels of competition, and ultimately, the person searching will have a different intent.
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 want statistics on the local market or other general information in the respective city, whereas the “waterfront condos for sale” search expects active listings in the condominium complex.
Creating your specific real estate keywords takes time and a methodical approach. Be sure NOT to get caught keyword stuffing – also known as just injecting your keywords where they don’t semantically belong.
Meta Titles and Descriptions
The next step is reviewing your meta headers on each page. Meta titles and meta descriptions are very easy to update and are important aspects of your on-page SEO.
The meta title for each page should include the main keywords you would like to rank. Your meta title is one of any page’s most powerful ranking factors. When you boil all of the content on the page down – you should end up with your meta title.
Each page’s meta title should be between 10 and 70 characters long.
Your Meta Title and Meta Description are what people will see on their search engine results page on Google and other search engines.
Your meta description is slightly longer at 160-300 characters. The meta description for each page provides a quick description of what the page is about. The meta title plays an important part in the page’s ranking, while a well-written meta description will entice users to click on your site instead of the others in the search results. Although your meta description is not a direct ranking factor, it dramatically affects your click-through rate (CTR) from search results.
Mobile Responsiveness and Site Speed
We are in 2024, and by this time, anyone 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 vital that 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 using Mobile First. A mobile-first website 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 at which your website loads is even more critical for mobile devices. In addition to how the site is built, the hosting utilized for your website will play a large role in its speed. Websites must have proper URL structure, which we call “Siloing,” and must be easy to navigate and crawl. We have done extensive work to come up with the best WordPress hosting for SEO purposes.
SEO for IDX Listings
Anyone in real estate understands that one of the main reasons home buyers and sellers use the Internet in real estate sales is to search for listings. Most of the browsing on your website will be on real estate listings. Real estate listings from other brokers are displayed on an agent’s site 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 push out the same information as every other local real estate site with a RETS feed from the local MLS. Ultimately, every agent displaying IDX listings on their site displays duplicate content. Google looks at MLS listings as very low-quality website content because it is not unique and is replicated across the internet.
For the last seven years, Google has been moving from a raw quantity of content to quality content as a ranking factor. Throwing up thousands of mostly duplicate pages dilutes the 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 make your IDX listings somewhat different from other local real estate brokers.
Another option for reducing duplicate content when using IDX is to place the IDX property listings on a subdomain of the main website. Dealing with how IDX is implemented on your site should be part of your overall SEO strategy for real estate.
Are you looking to add IDX to your real estate website? You can save the $100 setup fee from IDX Broker by clicking here.
Backlinks from Authoritative Real Estate Websites
The quality and quantity of backlinks that point to your real estate website show Google that you are an authoritative source of quality information. There are different ways to acquire backlinks, but it is important to remember that not all backlinks are created equal.
Links pointing to your website act as an “upvote” and are a major ranking factor — the more authoritative and relevant the site that links to you, the more powerful the backlink.
Having many low-quality spammy backlinks pointing to your website can be highly detrimental to your SEO.
In addition, just because you have a link from a powerful real estate site doesn’t mean it counts the same. For 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, which link to your site from a profile page, will have little impact on your real estate site’s 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 to manage the quality of your backlink profile.
- Guest Posting
- Study Your Competitors’ Backlink Profile
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Syndication of Original Content
- Creating Citations for Local SEO
- 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 content marketing is done to have other websites link to that content. So not only do you need content worth linking to, but you also need the process for getting that content in front of enough people to have them link to see any real benefits from that content.
With backlinks being the single most important factor for search engine rankings on Google – it is also the single most abused process by many working in SEO.
In the past, simply a higher number of backlinks increased the authority and visibility of your website. Today, primarily because of the abuse from SEO companies, search engines like Google look very closely at every backlink.
Although in the past, many found success with creating tons of backlinks from just about anywhere, in 2024, too many backlinks from the wrong websites can hurt your search engine optimization efforts and even get you banned or de-indexed from Google. Your backlinks should relate to proper keyword research and your real estate business and should be from within the real estate industry.
SOCIALLY SYNDICATE YOUR ORIGINAL REAL ESTATE CONTENT
Today, you can not be a successful REALTOR without a solid social media presence.
All real estate agents and brokers should have the following social media accounts:
- Facebook Business Page
- Twitter Page
- LinkedIn Profile
Your social media accounts should post all 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 push your content to your social media accounts to drive traffic back to your website?
Many products will assist you in socially syndicating your original content from your website. Hootsuite is a prevalent content-sharing application, as is Buffer.
Schema for Real Estate Websites
Schema, or structured data, 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, the above mentioned NAP. Other data your schema can include are your hours of operation, the 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 basic schema apps or plugins only implement the bare minimum (which, of course, is better than nothing). Getting 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 know the power of online reviews. Whether you get your reviews on Zillow, Yelp, Google or your real estate website, you should maximize every testimonial.
For Google to recognize the text as a review, all 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.
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 to obtain more organic traffic for their real estate businesses. 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 traditional 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 technology background to understand the implementation of IDX or other unique aspects of real estate SEO. You need to find a search engine optimization company experienced in real estate. Understanding SEO, the real estate industry and real estate businesses is not enough.
For instance, many specific rules and regulations exist for displaying listing data (IDX from your MLS) and the average SEO might not know any of them.
In addition to understanding everything there is to know about traditional organic and local SEO optimization, to be an expert in SEO for the real estate industry requires all these skills as well:
- Understanding of IDX and listings display
- Working with MLS boards
- Working with listing data
- REALTOR board and MLS rules and regulations
- Real estate lead generation
- The real estate sales cycle
- What marketing works for buyers vs sellers
- Real estate business models and their value proposition
- History of Real Estate Online Marketing
- Real estate franchises vs independent brokers and their tool sets
- Broker vs. agent vs. REALTOR
- Proficiency in real estate CRMs
- An understanding of real estate website design and creation
- Real estate agent and broker mentality
Keeping up with the hundreds of Google algorithm changes and being technically endowed is hard enough if your online marketing partner is not proficient in the above list, then they are not a real estate SEO expert!
Is Real Estate SEO So Competitive?
SEO for real estate is more challenging than other business niches. Most major real estate search queries you want to use to generate traffic to your website are dominated by large aggregate websites such as Zillow, Homes.com, Trulia and Realtor.com. Although you can beat them in a few specific niches, it is very challenging to beat them for most search traffic outright.
After those authoritative websites, you are fighting the large brokers. You even have to fight with Real Estate Franchises such as Keller Williams, Remax, and Coldwell Banker.
We recommend focusing on Map Pack – Local SEO based on your Google Business Profile, which can be low-hanging fruit and the easiest part of optimizing your online presence.
Lastly, almost every agent has a website, and in 2024, we will have nearly two million active real estate licenses. It won’t be long until all National Association of Realtors (NAR) members have a business profile with Google.
So get ahead of the curve now by investing in local search!
SEO FOR REAL ESTATE BY REALTORS
One Click SEO doesn’t just talk about understanding real estate marketing; our founder was a licensed real estate instructor for eight years and has been a REALTOR for over a decade. In addition, our content marketing manager has 21 years of running a real estate brokerage.
We understand real estate marketing from the bottom up.
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, we understand what it takes to rank your real estate website.
One Click SEO will drive more traffic to your site and your business profile, bringing you more leads and more closings.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION FOR REAL ESTATE
We have specialized in SEO for Real Estate for over 20 years with powerful results. Working with some of the largest real estate brands in the country, focusing specifically on search engine optimization for real estate, makes us the best real estate SEO company.
As Real Estate SEO experts, we look at search rankings as only one part of an overall Digital Marketing Package designed to provide an ROI from your web presence. All Search Engine Optimization takes time, and 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 retargeting to build your brand. Creating targeted traffic helps your SEO over the long term and generates new seller leads immediately.
The ongoing follow-up marketing on Facebook keeps your real estate brand in front of buyers and sellers for months after they visit your website.
A DIGITAL MARKETER WHO UNDERSTANDS REAL ESTATE
You need a Digital Marketer who 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 MLSs, including past President of one of the nation’s largest MLSs and heading technology, strategy and internet services for some of the nation’s largest real estate brands brokers with over 5,000 real estate 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) doesn’t just pretend to understand real estate marketing; we have been deep in it for over two decades.
If you are looking for fully managed real estate internet marketing – by true real estate experts – fill out the form below.
FAQ – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON REAL ESTATE SEO
Can my real estate website really compete with Zillow?
Absolutely! Although your website may not outrank Zillow for large city searches such as “Atlanta homes for sale”, as a local Realtor you can dominate Local SEO. Google only displays local businesses in the Map Pack so Zillow will never be there. In addition, you can drive traffic with informative blog posts as well as custom neighborhood and subdivision pages. Many of these search terms such as “Realtor near me” have the added benefit of catching a client at the end of their sales cycle.
Doesn’t my real estate website already come with SEO?
Almost certainly NO. Although your website may have good SEO bones, much of what goes behind a successful SEO campaign for real estate is providing original and unique copy and building backlinks. These are ongoing processes that cannot be included in a web build. Some “all-in-one” real estate agent suites like kvCORE, Chime, Sierra Interactive, and others offer paid traffic but not true SEO.
What is included in SEO for real estate?
Most successful SEO campaigns in the real estate industry include a real estate SEO company: Optimizing your Google Business Profile, technical SEO, content marketing, on-page SEO and backlink creation. Each digital marketing service requires a specific skill set and process to outperform the other two million Realtors. It’s not easy to be the best SEO company for real estate.
How long does SEO take for real estate?
A professional digital marketer with proper SEO strategy can usually SEO realty and rank a real estate broker or agent in the Map Pack locally within a year. That doesn’t mean you are done! If you stop pushing your SEO services you are guaranteed to be passed up by your competition. With your SEO for real estate agents ideas and strategies in play, you don’t want to stop it once you start. As for traditional organic ranking, that can take two years or more for a top real estate SEO company. If you have an established real estate brand and website with existing backlinks and authority, the journey to search engine rankings will be much shorter.