Real Estate SEO: 3 Actionable Tips for 2020
“I know a guy…” is the oldest method of marketing known to man. As much as the way we consume it changes; in truth, the end game remains. We market to generate buzz about business; to inspire consumers to take action and then pass that information from one another.
The Importance of Realtor SEO
In real estate, the more people you reach, the more references you can generate. Networking is essential, and it expands your reach. Reach is why creating compelling marketing and SEO strategies are so important for real estate agents. It makes sure that you establish brand awareness by the right people, and it continues to work for you even after your content has been seen.
SEO offers several other benefits to real estate marketing. For one, the industry’s quick turnaround shifts in the market benefit from quick adjustments that are possible on digital platforms. A rapid change in content and links can generate a response that aligns with what’s trending. It’s quite different from pulling down a billboard or updating a catalog.
Here’s a few examples of what we are going to cover in this article:
- On-Page SEO: Elements like Page Titles, Meta Descriptions, Content Marketing.
- Technical SEO: How to optimize your website and URL structure, Robots.txt, Sitemaps.xml.
- User Experience: Elements and signals to focus on to increase interest and awareness from potential home buyers.
#1: Pick Your Real Estate SEO Keywords by Intent
Because of the numerous benefits that it offers, SEO is, of course, competitive. The beauty of digital marketing is that anyone who understands keyword selection based on intent. If Zillow is bidding on a keyword, it’s ideal for focusing on words and phrases that they won’t. Let’s start from the beginning of a buyer’s journey.
Top of Funnel (ToF)
The buying funnel has different sections, and where a target is in the funnel will determine what’s being searched by your users. In this stage of the funnel, you’ll want to target high-level, informational keywords that are relevant to your target audience rather than real estate keywords. For example, users are more likely to search for local search terms like “Best coffee shops in Miami.” While search terms like these may not drive a lot of leads, they will drive traffic and awareness to your brand.
We recommend staying away from “luxury” keywords. While it may be tempting to target these keywords, there’s several issues with them:
- “Luxury” keywords are extremely competitive. The more competition, the more difficult and expensive it will be to rank your website.
- It’s rare someone will purchase a $3M home from one internet search. Potential homeowners in the market for a unique home typically work off of referrals, they’re generally not performing searches via Google.
- The keyword quality isn’t good to begin with. You get a lot of lookie-loo’s that want to see a few attractive images and move on. This isn’t the best kind of traffic.
Middle of Funnel (MoF)
The middle of the funnel is a fun place to be. Though the customer has not made a decision on a purchase just yet, they passed awareness. The intrigue has evolved into intent by now. The consumer just needs to address a few of the points that would help them move farther along the funnel. Put yourself in your client’s shoes-If you’re selling high-end properties, people would search for terms like
- “Private schools in Miami”
- “Parks in Miami Beach”
- “Supermarkets in Miami”
Bottom of Funnel (BoF)
The bottom of the funnel is everyone’s end game. This is where the customer is ready. Bottom of the funnel searches will look a little like this:
- “Homes for sale in Coral Gables”
- “Townhouse for sale in Miami”
- “Family home in Miami Beach”
That said, this is the last stage of your funnel. This is where you’ve provided them with all the information they need to make a decision. They are aware, they are informed, and now they just need a nudge. This is where your website, structure, and content will shine.
Of course, using Google’s Keyword Planner helps. You can enter some of the phrases that seem relevant. The Planner will provide results on a chart. Focus on the terms that have a “Medium” competition. Disregard the highly competitive words as you will be competing with businesses like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.
We also recommend installing Keywords Everywhere, a free Chrome browser plugin that allows you to research how many times a keyword is getting searched per month.
Try executing real estate searches based on your business (e.g. “Condos in Downtown Miami”) and start tracking similar searches and search volume until you have a full list of keywords to target.
#2: Real Estate SEO Requires Proper Website Structure
How content is grouped, linked, and presented will have an impact on how it is ranked. Google interprets your site structure as a reference; it helps the search engine in understanding what’s important.
The hierarchy on your website organizes your content in order of importance for search engines. When a user arrives on your site, they are more likely to stay longer if it is useful. If the information is easy to find, they will browse through all the necessary information, reducing bounce rates. These signals lead to better rankings.
So, what is the ideal structure for a realtor? Here are a few common pages:
1. Blog Posts/Resource Pages
- These pages are where a majority of your traffic will be coming from. The content on your blog/resource pages should be optimized to target top and middle of funnel keywords.
- The content on these pages don’t necessarily have to be all about real estate. Again, put yourself in your client’s shoes and write content about what’s most useful to them.
- Image optimization is also very important, allowing you the opportunity to rank on Google Images as well. The best approach to image SEO is inclusion of semantic keywords in the filename of the image, adding alt tags to your images and tagging the images on Web 2.0 sites like Pinterest and Tumblr.
- You can track how well your images are performing via Google Search Console.
- Remember! Traditional SEO tactics still apply. This includes optimizing Page Titles, Meta Descriptions, H1/H2 Tags, Semantic Keywords, etc.
2. Schema Markup
You’re probably wondering, “What is schema markup?”
Schema markup is microdata that makes it easier for search engines to collect the data on your pages and show more details in the SERPs that will increase the chances of getting clicks to your website as well as rankings since Google puts more preference into websites with schema markup over those that don’t.
A well-structured schema can help you get a good CTR in search results. Most real estate firms are not aware of schema markup and don’t know how to implement it so if you’re able to install it on your site, you’ll already be ahead of the competition. Here are a few of the most popular schema tags:
- Organization schema
- Breadcrumbs schema
- Data feed item
- Apartment/Residence schema
- Aggregate offer
- Single-family residence
You’re welcome to generate the proper schema markup for your website using several schema generators online but this is a process meant for experts so we recommend someone who has a good understanding in HTML and SEO.
3. Category Pages
- Rather than spamming dozens of keywords on your pages in hopes that you’ll get some traffic, we recommend setting up category pages for each city where you have a property for sale.
- These category pages will be targeting “Bottom of Funnel” keywords so these pages should be optimized right out of the gate. You’ll want to build robust and detailed landing pages that will rank as the authoritative page for that specific area.
- We recommend linking to your top-performing service areas in the header/footer navigation to show Google these are your priority pages.
4. Listing Pages
- Your listing pages are the pages on your site to showcase your properties. From an SEO perspective, these pages can present several problems:
- Short lifespan for listing pages. A lot of listings are published and then sold before Google has a chance to rank them. If not addressed properly, you can decrease your website’s quality and authority with a lot of these “cruft” pages that are no longer relevant.
- These are low-quality pages to begin with. Almost all listing pages are fed directly from MLS feeds, meaning thousands of other websites have the exact same information and images as you.
We recommend blocking Google from crawling your listing pages via your website’s Robots.txt file. This sends a signal to Google to not look at your listing pages when ranking your website. While it may seem like a poor strategy, it actually cleans up the overall performance of your site. When you block low quality pages, (Listing pages) you’re giving Google a chance to rank the pages that matter most to you.
#3: Build Quality Backlinks
Link building is a “best practice” for SEO. It is a backlink or hyperlink that is featured on another website and sends link equity to your own. If there are relevant links all over the internet linking back to your website, Google is going to deem you as a valuable, credible source for users.
To create high-quality links, you’ll need to do the proper research to understand what interests your audience. Despite what many people think about SEO, more isn’t better. Getting featured on low-quality sites that aren’t relevant to your industry won’t work, so avoid the spammy link building as it’ll be a waste of your time and may result in a penalty from Google.
If you aren’t sure which links would help, don’t fret. Provide below are a few types of the link types we target and notes on how we leverage them:
- Resource Pages: A resource page lists helpful links and resources for a particular topic. If the Miami New Times is writing an article on successful realtors in Miami, we’ll want to secure a link placement on that article to pass on that link equity to your website.
- Blogger Outreach: Any local bloggers creating content on lifestyle, restaurant, nightlife are a good fit for link acquisition.
- Unlinked Mentions: Unlinked brand mentions are online mentions (citations) of your brand-or anything directly related to your brand-that do not link back to your site. If these sites are already talking to you, they’re already likely to agree to linking back to your site.
- Broken Links: Broken link building is a tactic where we find a broken (i.e. dead) link, recreate the dead content, then pitch publishers to replace the broken link on their site with a link to your newly refreshed content.
In summary, done right, SEO can be significantly helpful to your marketing strategies. Great SEO is the equivalent of an agent working while you sleep. It’s always unfortunate when time and resources go into creating good content on an optimized page and no one gets to see it. Make sure to use the notes above as a guide to prevent that from happening.