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, getting 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 2018, not having your website found for commonly searched real estate terms means you are missing out on a ton of traffic, which converts to leads, which convert to sales.
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.
Challenges in Ranking Your Real Estate Website
SEO for real estate is substantially more challenging than in most industries. The challenge in good SEO for Real Estate is that it is dominated by the big, nation-wide companies such as Zillow, REALTOR.com, Trulia and Homes.com. After those authoritative websites, you are going against the large real estate brokers. You even have to fight with the Real Estate Franchises such as Keller Williams, Remax and Coldwell Banker.
Just about every REALTOR in the country has a website and each and every one of them are fighting for the same keywords in Google.
The Steps in Ranking a Real Estate Website
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. 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.
Below is the step by step process that real estate agents can use to get the search results they require for traffic and lead generation.
Below is not a list of SEO tips but the process from beginning to end to rank a real estate website.
The Step by Step Guide to Real Estate SEO
Local SEO for Real Estate
The first step in ranking your real estate website is getting the local Map Pack nailed down. It has been said a million times…” real estate is local”. That has never been truer than in the world of online real estate marketing.
The first step in establishing your local SEO for real estate 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.
Real Estate 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 account 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 websites that you can create. Because of its importance, we have created the full guide to Local SEO for Real Estate. We can not stress enough how important it is to ensure that all citations have the identical NAP as you Google My Business listing.
Keyword Research for the Real Estate Industry
For many SEO agencies, the keyword research completed for real estate SEO does not go deep enough. 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 key phrases but are not necessarily what keywords you should be going after.
True Real Estate SEO experts will look for the best keywords to convert and even use latent semantic keywords. Keyword research for real estate should include not only the obvious but every deviation of those keywords included. 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
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.
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 subdivision. Coming up with your specific set of real estate keywords takes time and a methodical approach.
Complete a Website Audit on Your Real Estate Website
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. For may REALTORS that did not build your own website, this may seem like a daunting task.
For most of you, your best bet in the website audit process is to either use a free, website audit tool like the one One Click SEO provides, you could also use a tool like Screaming Frog or you could hire a professional to manually go through your site. We feel that One Click SEO has the Best SEO Audit Tool.
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 SEO – to effectively rank any website, there are many parts that must all work in concert.
Meta Titles and Descriptions
Notwithstanding the structure of your real estate website, the meta titles and headers are the most important aspect of the on-page SEO. Your meta title for each page should be 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.
Your “Meta Title” can be looked at as the question that the individual web page answers.
Your meta title should stay somewhere between 10 and 70 characters long. The next step is reviewing your meta headers on each page. Headers are looked at as the structure of the web page. Similar to how you would structure an outline when writing in school.
Your H1 header should be the same (or very close to) your meta title. As a general rule, you should only have one H1 Header. You should also try to have a couple H2 and H3 headers in each page also. These would be the second most important. Under each header would be a paragraph or two that defines what the header stated.
Mobile Responsiveness and Site Speed
It is 2018 – 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.
SEO for IDX Listings
Anyone in real estate understands one of the main reasons that home buyers and home 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. Most people working on real estate website marketing will already have IDX in place, but is it implemented best for IDX 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 MLS. Ultimately, that has everyone displaying IDX on their site is displaying duplicate content.
For the last 5 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.
You should be pushing custom blog content from your site and sharing that on social media. All of that work is substantially diluted when you push out hundreds of new “crap” pages (AKA IDX listings) every week.
Backlinks from Authoritative Real Estate Websites
The quality and quantity of backlinks that point to your real estate website is what shows Google that you are an authoritative source of 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 back links pointing to your website, that can actually be detrimental to your SEO.
Here are a couple of ways that you can create and sculpt your backlink profile.
- Guest Posting
- Study Your Competitors Back Link Profile
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Syndication of Original Content
- Creating Citations for Local SEO
- Finding Broken Back Links 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
- Twitter Page
- LinkedIn Profile
- Google+ Publishing (looks to be going away sometime in 2019)
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.
Real Estate Schema
Schema structured 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 real estate site should also contain your exact Name, Address and Phone Number also known as NAP. Other tags schema include your hours of operation and what real estate markets you serve.
Implementing schema 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 real estate agents, brokers and 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.
Need SEO for Your Real Estate Website?
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. Dean Cacioppo was a licensed real estate instructor for 8 years and has been a REALTOR for over 17 years and handled technology for real estate firms with up to 5,000 agents. With decades of experience in all aspects of real estate technology company owners. We understand that having your real estate website show up for a major real estate search term shows market dominance.
Ranking for a search term that gets thousands of searches per month is the best advertising you can get for growing a real estate brokerage and recruiting agents. The name recognition for your real estate brand is elevated when squeezed between Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. Ranking for either major real estate terms or thousands of real estate keywords is a game changer from not only a lead generation aspect but a branding perspective.
If you are looking for fully managed real estate internet marketing – by true real estate experts, fill out the form below.