When you hear the acronym ‘SEO’, what’s your instinctual reaction?
If your answer is to either stare ahead blankly in confusion or break into a cold sweat, then it’s definitely time to work towards a new perspective.
With so many moving parts at play in your online marketing as a real estate business, SEO provides a sort of framework to aid in your discoverability. After all, it’s not as easy as posting a blog post on your real estate website and watching the viewership pour in. Building authority behind the content you’re producing to ensure it ranks as high on that first page of search results in Google is key.
And the good news is, it’s 100% doable once you have a working understanding of what SEO is and how it can work for your real estate business.
Let’s dive right into this beginner’s guide to real estate SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. At a very basic level, it’s the conscious effort made by marketers, bloggers and other online entities to be discovered via search engines. With this in mind, ask yourself what you want to be found for as a real estate business.
Seems obvious, right? You want to be found so as to drive traffic and in turn, more business. When considering this question, however, it’s important to dig even deeper into the specifics around your ideal audience and their motivations behind choosing your company over any other.
Answer questions such as:
- What market area(s) do I operate in?
- Do I serve families, professional couples, downsizers, retirees, developers, first home buyers and/or investors?
Having a sound understanding of your target customer can make a huge impact on your ability to rank above your competitors. Each of these seller types can perform very different searches on Google over the other. Understanding the questions they ask can position you well ahead of the game – provided the answers are on your website.
Remember, Google doesn’t know you’re the subject matter expert unless your subject matter expertise exists on your website.
In the same way that you approach driving clicks through posting on social media or an email marketing campaign, you’ll want to build SEO-friendly content in establishing your real estate authority. When done correctly, this puts into motion a more rewarding and efficient long-term strategy for traffic than can be found with more manual methods of creating and distributing content.
Understanding Technical SEO for Real Estate Businesses
Optimising for SEO starts with your agency/personal real estate website. These technical SEO aspects come into play with the very foundation of an online presence: your website. You’ll want to structure your website in a way that’s friendly for search engines to crawl and index the site’s content accordingly.
In addition, you’ll want to be mindful of other factors that’ll come into play with your SEO rankings as a result of your website’s functionality. This includes optimisation for mobile, page load speeds and imagery. The time people spend on your website can either positively or negatively impact how Google determines the value of your pages, which means you’ll want to eliminate any roadblocks that could prevent people from even reaching your content in the first place.
Pick your Website Platform
Selecting the right platform is a crucial building block in developing SEO strategy that works in favour of the content you’re producing. It’s important to note that not every website builder is created equal.
In terms of usability, both Weebly and Wix are easy to work within, especially when it comes to templated designs and visuals. For the sake of your SEO however, neither of these options really cater to proper optimisation. WordPress, on the other hand, does deliver in this arena but requires a much more in-depth knowledge of website development when it comes to your initial build and day-to-day content creation efforts.
For Real Estate Agencies:
For Individual Agents:
If you’re an individual agent looking for a solution that delivers in the areas of both usability and SEO, consider our Agent Marketing Cloud platfom. From publishing content to managing listings and reviews, it’s a tool you can count on to drive both visits and results. Plus, the available templates make it easy to get started, regardless of your level of web design expertise.
The Basics of ‘On-site’ SEO for Real Estate
Somewhat self-explanatory, on-site SEO refers to any SEO factors that can be affected by you on your own website, without any outside intervention.
This breaks down into two main components:
- The finding and using of keywords
- The implementation of other on-site SEO best practices.
Working together, these methods will help you in optimising your real estate blog and static web pages for discoverability.
The Importance of Keywords
Keywords are the foundation of any successful on-site SEO strategy, seeing as they’re the descriptive elements you want to rank for on search engines. With this in mind, you’ll want to be conscious of building out relative keywords for your real estate website around the intent of any given page.
Think of intent in this case as any of the following: navigation, informational and/or transactional. Keyword intent can help you in understanding where someone’s at in the buyer’s journey and it’s important to be creating content for these different stages.
If keywords are so important then, how do you know which ones to use for your business? Answering this question starts with research done via a free tool: Google Keyword Planner.
As you input potential audience search terms, it’s usually best to start as vague as possible.
Look at the search volume based on historic trends for each use case and the competition as it refers to PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns. You’ll want to aim for low to medium ranking competition keywords that can then be incorporated into your blogging practices.
Of course, this is an oversimplification of a complex topic, so for more information, consider this Skillshare class that goes through the nitty gritty of finding and using keywords.
Putting your keywords into action will require you to build around the hierarchy of importance as it relates to a web pages’ structure.
This breaks down into the following:
- The URL: Also referred to as ‘slug’ (especially if you use WordPress as your content management system), you’ll want to include the primary keyword for a page as such: http://www.YOURBLOG.com/KEYWORD. Eliminate any categories or dates from URL structure so that it becomes easier to rank for the specific keyword itself. Add dashes (-) between each word in a keyword to signify separation to Google.
- Title and Subheadings: When building out a blog post or page, incorporate your keyword into the H1 heading tag (there should only be one per page). This signifies relevance to search engines. You’ll also want to add your keyword to at least one H2 tag and as many other subheadings as possible, without sounding unnatural.
- Image: When uploading images, be sure to add your keyword to any elements of the image description. This includes the image title, ALT tag, and file name. While it may be tempting to skip this slightly annoying aspect of SEO for realtors, it really is important to ensure the information is properly filled in for every single image added to a page.
- Content: Your content should be reflective of the keyword you’re trying to optimize a page or post for, which means you’ll want to incorporate it into your writing without overdoing it. Finding the right balance without sacrificing natural writing style can be difficult but as a general rule of thumb, add a keyword to your content at least 4 times per every 500 words.
- Meta information: The metadata for a page includes a description that displays under the title in a search engine results page. You’ll want to include your keyword in this section (though some SEOs argue this is no longer necessary), as well as a compelling reason for why someone should click through.
Additional On-Site SEO Best Practices
Alongside proper keyword usage, being mindful of other elements such as post length, incorporating social share buttons, and using external and internal links will benefit your overall SEO rankings. The higher the quality of your content and its ability to make people stay on your site, the better authority it’ll be given by Google when crawling. Incorporating links to other high ranking pieces of content, as well as more your own, will also work towards establishing credibility.
The Value of Backlinks
While you have the power to direct SEO elements taking place on your real estate website, there’s certainly less you can control when it comes to off-site SEO efforts.
One piece of this in particular, that while difficult to drive offers a great deal of value, is building backlinks. Also referred to as an ‘inbound link’, these are links to your website from outside sources that serve to vouch for the credibility of your content in the eyes of search engines.
Though you may not be able to directly control who links to your content and when, putting effort towards building backlinks will benefit your domain authority (how Google perceives the authority of your website) in the long term.
Think of it as showing Google that other websites are vouching for yours. Google loves that.
Tools like HARO are great for connecting high ranking sources with those looking for more publicity. Building a relationship with local businesses and journalists is also another way to provide mutual benefit, and drive those inbound links from other websites.
The Beginners Guide to SEO for Real Estate
With a clear strategy and achievable goals, SEO can easily become a tool that works for your website, rather than against it.
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