SEO for Real Estate
Are you tired of paying for a website but not getting any traffic from search engines? Many Realtors 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 websites in the real estate niche get crawled but not indexed at all. Real estate SEO is what is responsible for organically having your website show up for relevant Google searches.
If you are a REALTOR or a local brokerage or real estate franchise, getting organic traffic to your website is more crucial in 2023 than ever before. 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 refers to the process of 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 2023
Today, it is very important to optimize your Google Business Profile for real estate leads over traditional types of online marketing. The reason for this is Google is displaying the Map Pack above all other search results. The other type of search engine optimization, sometimes called traditional SEO, is referring 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 national websites such as Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com.
With the internet playing such a crucial role people buying or selling a home in 2023, 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 organically rank their website. We will cover the basic steps for ranking a website using real estate SEO best practices.
Need to organically rank your real estate website? 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 of the steps involved 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 that agents and brokers can use to get the organic search traffic required for lead generation.
This is not an list of SEO for real estate tips but the full process to rank a real estate website.
The First Step is Local SEO
Local SEO is your Google Business Profile
In 2023 more than ever, the first step in your SEO strategy is getting the local SEO nailed down. Google has really been investing in their Google Business Profile infrastructure and have been constantly rolling out new features. They have even recently changed the name from Google My Business to Google Business Profile.
We saw a ton of new features added to Google Business Profile in 2022 as well as a ton of updates that have disrupted the rankings. In 2023 we expect Google to do even a better job of displaying Map Packs for more searches. This keeps users in their ecosystem and NOT driving traffic directly to websites. Google has also pushed business owners to updated their profile from Search as opposed to providing a full backend. We expect many new features in 2023 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. Today, more than ever, to get in front of your target audience, you need to focus on ranking your Map Pack.
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 that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). A super important aspect of this process is ensuring that your NAP is consistent with your Google Business Profile account and your other online mentions such as Facebook, Twitter, citation websites and of course, your website.
Verifying your GBP listing will usually require a postcard being mailed to the business address claimed. The postcard will contain a PIN – which you enter into GBP for verification. Although you can choose to set up your GBP as a service area business, we strongly recommend using an address as the epicenter of your rankings.
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. You can read our 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 extremally 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 recomend 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 businesses information to your profile including:
- Opening Date
- Phone Number
- Business Hours
- Holiday Hours
- If the location is handicap accessible
- Is the business 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 Google Business Listing 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 review.
Once your Google Business Profile 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. We can not stress enough how important it is to insure that all citations have the identical NAP as you Google Business Profile listing.
Next Step is Website Audit
Now that your local SEO is in place and you and your real estate SEO companies have a good idea of what keywords you would like to be found for, the next step is completing 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 in where you are focusing on on ranking factors to display your Google Business Profile, the quality, authority and usability of your website is a ranking factor.
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 also reviews your domain authority, backlink profile, alt text of your images, page speed, homepage title, XML sitemap, mobile friendliness as well as your brands social media presence. This is a great place to start.
You may also choose to use some of the 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, alt tags, 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 be able to get actionable ideas from. Another advantage to the above SEO tools is that they can assist with your content strategy backlink opportunities.
Lastly, a more expensive, but more thorough option, is hiring an expert 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 your website 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 to rank any website, there are many parts that must all work in concert.
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. 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 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 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? All of this information is critical in devising a SEO strategy for your website content and webpages to build out.
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. For Local Search and direct SEO leads, you will want to focus on terms such as “Realtor near me” as those searches show intent for finding a Realtor to work with.
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”. 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 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 defining your search terms.
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 keywords should also match your business objectives, so if you want to be a real estate investor, your website would need to be optimized with keywords for real estate investors.
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
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.
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 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. Be sure to NOT 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 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. Your meta title is one of the most powerful ranking factors for any page. 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.
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. Although your meta description is not a direct ranking factor, it does dramatically affect your click through rate (CTR) from search results.
Mobile Responsiveness and Site Speed
We are in 2023 and 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. Website’s must have proper URL structure, which is what we call “Siloing”, and it 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 one of the main reasons that home buyers and sellers use the internet in the real estate sales process is to search for listings. Most of the browsing on your website will be on real estate 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 website 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 raw quantity of content to quality content as a ranking factor. 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. Dealing with how IDX is implemented on your site should be part of your overall SEO strategy for real estate.
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 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.
Links pointing to your website from another acts as a “upvote” and is a major ranking factor. 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.
- 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 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 for any real search results.
With backlinks being the single most important factor for search engine rankings on Google – it is also the single most abused process by many SEO experts. 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, search engines like 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. In 2023, too many backlinks from the wrong websites can hurt your search engine optimization efforts and even get you banned or de-indexed from Google. You want your backlinks to relate to proper keyword research, your real estate business, and should be from within the real estate industry itself.
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 content to your social media accounts to drive traffic back to your website?
All real estate agents and brokers should have the following social media accounts:
- Facebook Business Page
- Twitter Page
- LinkedIn Profile
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
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 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.
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 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. You really need to search out a real estate SEO expert. Understanding SEO is not enough, nor is understanding the real estate industry and real estate businesses. There are many specific rules and regulations when it comes to displaying listing data (IDX from your MLS) for instance.
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 this SEO tools list too!
- 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
- Understanding of real estate websites
- 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….they are NOT a real estate SEO expert!
Is Real Estate SEO to Competitive?
SEO for real estate is more challenging than other business niches. Most major real estate search queries that 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 out on some long tail keywords, it is very challenging to outright beat them for most of the search traffic.
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.
That is why we recomend focusing on Map Pack – Local SEO based off of your Google Business Profile can be low hanging fruit and the easiest part of your online presence to optimize.
Lastly, almost every agent has their own website — and in 2023, we have almost two million active real estate licenses. It won’t be long until all of the members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) have a business profile with Google — so get ahead of the curve NOW!
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 manager has 21 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, we understand what it takes to rank your real estate website.
One Click SEO understands what it takes to drive more traffic 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, 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 retargeting 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 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) just doesn’t to 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 certainty 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 both ongoing processes and cannot be included in a web build. Some “all-in-one” real estate agents 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 of these digital marketing services requires a specific skillset 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.