Every real estate business owner has a dream of generating quality leads from search engines on autopilot mode. But similar to an aircraft, the autopilot cannot work on its own and needs inputs from a pilot (a real estate agent). Real estate agents can provide these inputs in the form of local SEO.
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your digital presence for local search results on a search engine. Hire a company offering real estate SEO services to take care of the technical details.
If you are a realtor who wants to get started with local SEO or improve the existing rankings, we can help you. We will take you through the basics and then cover advanced tips that you can use straight away for your real estate website.
So let us get started!
What is real estate SEO, and does it matter?
In simple words, real estate SEO is about showing up in the search engine result pages (SERPs) when people search for brokers to help them buy or sell their property.
Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective home buyer for a moment. You have decided on the location and the type of property you want to buy. If you are a seller, you know which of your properties you want to sell off.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey shows that 44% of home buyers search online before heading out for a physical inquiry. And 87% of home buyers still rely on a real estate agent to complete the purchase or sale for them in 2021.
Now, organic visibility will not help you much as far as real estate SEO is concerned. Google changed the layout of its SERP recently. Ads, featured snippets, and local map packs have pushed down the priority of organic rankings:
So regarding the importance of real estate SEO, it does matter in 2021 that your website or business listing shows up in the top 03 results.
In the next section of the article, you will learn about showing up in the top listings of local realtors. Our tips will help you combine real estate SEO and local SEO to get more traffic, leads, and sales.
10 Local SEO tips for your real estate business
Conduct an SEO audit
An SEO audit can help you determine which pages on your website are doing well and where you should make improvements.
An audit is worth your time and money because it serves as a roadmap for your real estate SEO strategy.
Focus on the following significant areas in the audit:
- Site Structure: XML sitemap, robots.txt, redirects.
- Page Structure: Titles, heading tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, URLs.
- Content: Structure, visual elements, keyword and link placement, canonical tags, etc.
- Links: Outbound and inbound links, internal links, and broken links.
- Usability: Accessibility, mobile-friendliness, site speed.
We will cover most of the above points in detail in the later sections of this article. But to begin with, use Google Analytics to conduct an audit, and then use the Google Search Console to find issues that need your attention.
Optimize your local Google My Business page and other relevant directories
One of the initial steps in real estate SEO is to list your local business in Google’s 3-pack.
When potential customers search for a local real estate agent, they will come across a map pack featuring different Google My Business pages. You can refer to the image in the introduction of the blog to understand its appearance.
The pack shows snapshots, reviews, ratings, and Google Maps directions. You can set it up as follows:
- Go to google.com/business and log in to fill in the required information
Your profile should be 100% complete and up-to-date. Never leave the following fields blank on your profile:
- The exact location on the map
- Business hours
- Telephone number
- Business description
- Primary and secondary categories of your business (real estate, commercial real estate, etc.)
Pay special attention to NAP+W (Name, address, phone number, and website) and format them consistently across the web. It is a good idea to format your phone number using dashes and parentheses. So your customers get the option of one-click calling from the Google map results.
We also recommend using schema markup to help Google understand important information in your local business listing. Here is an example of schema markup for an address:
Do not worry about the HTML coding. Besides Google My Business listing, create a verified profile on the following directories as well:
- Yahoo Homes
- Yellow Pages
- Better Business Bureau
- Yellow Pages
These platforms will act as a lead generation channel for your real estate business.
Focus on getting quality reviews and resolve the negative ones
Almost every digital marketing agency you may have worked with in the past would have told you to focus on reviews. Or you know it for yourself that reviews can make or break your real estate agency reputation.
Well, take a look at the below graph. Online local business reviews gained popularity in 2020 when it comes to local search ranking.
In simple words, reviews are like your customers having an ongoing conversation about your real estate business.
When performing an SEO for realtors, many agents are scared of negative reviews. They opt for paid review services to gather fake positive reviews for their business. But you do not need to do such a thing.
Let us show you how to deal with negative reviews and turn them into positive experiences for your customers. The following table highlights some of the things you can and cannot do when dealing with negative reviews:
Thus, online reviews can improve your real estate SEO efforts and help you stand out from your competitors. If you have many happy customers, ask them to review your business on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other genuine third-party review platforms.
Perform targeted keyword research
Some of you may overlook keyword research or do it at a basic level. But it comes in handy when trying to understand consumer intent.
If you get it right, keyword research can get you massive volumes of quality organic traffic. Also, it backs up your content marketing efforts.
It is a good idea to include your location in your targeted keywords. You can reach customers in the geographical area you serve.
We can divide keywords into two categories:
- Head keywords
- Long-tail keywords
Head keywords are short and very competitive. If you want to rank on page 01 of Google for such keywords, you will face cut-throat competition from high-authority sites. Also, people searching for head keywords usually do not have a very high intent to buy.
Long-tail keywords are more specific, and 70% of total search engine traffic comes from them. For example, it could be something similar to buying a 3-bed apartment in New Delhi.
With long-tail keyword optimization, there are high chances of conversion. Typically, the longer the keyword, the higher is the intent.
Here are three quick ways to get started with targeted keyword research:
- Use the Google search bar to discover long-tail keywords. It will also return a list of additional queries of users.
- Check your search queries in Google Ads. Set up Google Ads to unlock the keyword search functionality, and this will not cost you anything. You can then look for valuable keyword opportunities.
- Make a list of the organic terms you rank for in Google Analytics and experiment with them.
Always consult your real estate SEO team for more insights regarding keyword research. It will make your life easier!
Optimize the website and on-page elements
On-site SEO and website optimization for a local real estate business require a different approach than national SEO.
Ensure your business NAP (name, address, and phone number) is present throughout the website, and it matches with that used for your local listing and citations.
Use state, city, and town names in title tags, meta descriptions, and web content.
Opt for a content management system (CMS) that uses Schema local markup. It guides the bots of search engines and helps in indexing the website’s pages.
When performing SEO for real estate, ensure all your listings are indexable and have an XML sitemap. If you get it right, you can enhance the value of your listings in search engines.
Other components of on-site SEO that you can optimize are as follows:
- SEO-friendly URLs.
- Image optimization.
- Proper placement of outbound and internal links.
- Fix broken links and redirects.
- Site load speed optimization.
- Content optimization.
- CTR and bounce rate optimization
- Redundant code.
- Custom font.
- XML sitemap.
- SSL certificate.
- W3C validation.
SEO is a broad topic, and discussing all of the above pointers is beyond the scope of this blog. But we will cover some of them in detail in the later sections.
Optimize your real estate website for accessibility
Every person on our planet deserves access to the internet. The following image can give you a brief idea about the population of disabled persons in the US alone.
People living in the US should be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It serves as a benchmark to enable internet access to all disabled humans. Businesses with a digital presence should ensure their websites are ADA compliant.
The basic guidelines for ADA compliance are as follows:
- Any media players or PDF documents should have a link to where users can download the required software.
- Notify users immediately about any invalid information entered by them.
- The website’s appearance does not rely solely on its color scheme.
- Buttons and links are named clearly.
- Implement a skip navigation function to ensure easy accessibility for all disabled users.
- All images should contain alt text so that screen readers can read them.
- Video content should have text captions.
- Back audio and video content by transcripts or descriptions.
- Page titles should provide a good description of the page content without misleading users.
- Notify users of any time limits.
- The site does not contain any empty links and heading tags.
- Headings appear in a logical order.
- Users should be able to use their keyboards for site navigation.
- Any type of automatic blinking, flashing, and scrolling should be disabled.
- The interactive elements should not affect the layout or readability of the page.
- Any keyboard focus should not lock on a specific website element.
- The site passes W3C HTML validation without errors.
- When the window resizes to 200%, the text should remain consistent without affecting the page layout or usability.
- Images cannot replace functions that plain text can achieve.
- The keyboard focus needs to be highly visible all the time.
- If the user encounters any input errors, provide suggestions to fix the issues.
- The background elements and readable elements should have a contrast ratio of at least 4:5:1.
- If the site uses multiple languages, identify the languages in the code of each page.
So it is a long list, but you need not worry about it. Connect with leading website design companies, and they will take care of ADA compliance for you.
Create localized content for your customers
Localized content means content that resonates with your local, potential customers instead of a global audience.
We cannot deny that the real estate industry has earned a reputation for producing quite lame content. But you can change it by creating inspirational content. Take the help of leading content writing services if needed.
Quality content is the one that educates and engages consumers throughout the customer life cycle.
You can start by looking at some of your competitors’ websites. It will give you an idea of what they are doing right or wrong regarding content marketing.
Besides blogs and other forms of conventional content, you can create the following as part of your real estate SEO strategy:
Interviews with local business owners
Conducting interviews can be time-consuming for you, but it will be worth it.
The interviews can give potential home buyers a unique perspective on your neighborhood.
The local business owners will probably share the interviews on their social media platforms and websites. It will bring them into the limelight and also increase your reach.
Before posting the content and sharing it, ensure you optimize it for search engines. Include the relevant geographic keywords in titles, headings, subheadings, meta descriptions, URLs, alt text, and hashtags.
You can consider launching and optimizing a YouTube channel. Here are some content ideas for your videos:
- Open house videos.
- Q&A live-streams.
- Listings videos (10 Best Homes in XYZ locality for Families).
- Q&A Videos.
- Virtual tours.
Once your content strikes the right chord with your target audience, you will see a steady flow of leads and conversions coming your way. So give your best shot at it.
Optimize your website for mobile devices
More than half of global internet traffic (56.75%) comes from mobile devices.
Since July 01, 2019, Google has enabled mobile-first indexing by default for all new websites. So you cannot ignore mobile optimization if you have not done it for your real estate website yet.
You can start by focusing on significant components such as:
- Responsive design
- Page speed
- Hosting speed
- Site navigation
- Site search
The user should be able to navigate the site seamlessly. You can also minify your code and optimize the images. We recommend using an emulator to check how your content appears across multiple devices.
Strategically placing internal links helps you group your site’s resources and provide a clear for the user. It motivates users to stay longer on your site and find what they want.
Wikipedia is the best example of strategic internal linking. You can always navigate back and forth between articles and other related topics.
You can link to your newly published blog posts from older posts that had a good ranking. In this way, you have passed the ranked page’s authority to the new page, thus making it discoverable by Google.
Also, link your web pages to each other in a relevant way. It enhances the user experience and also helps with real estate SEO efforts.
Google is different from other search engines because it leverages backlinks to discover quality content and websites. The logic behind it is that nobody would link to a poor website intentionally.
We will not go into the technical details of backlink analysis but give you some ideas for generating quality backlinks:
- If you are a part of any real estate association, get a backlink from their website to your site.
- Include links to your site when posting any press releases on external websites.
- Analyze your competitors to understand where they are getting their backlinks.
- Create valuable online tools or resources so that other websites would be happy to reference them in their content.
We recommend getting a few backlinks from popular websites rather than getting many backlinks from low-quality sites.
Social media does not directly help with real estate SEO, but we still recommend it as our last tip in this article.
Exposure on social media helps to:
- Connect with your target audience.
- Build authority, trust, and awareness about your real estate business.
- Drive more quality traffic to your website.
You might be thinking about creating an account on all social media platforms. But it is better to choose a few of them to build your presence. Besides Facebook, you can consider Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Use social media platforms to share your blogs, videos, and other important information related to real estate.
When sharing content on social media, add local-focused hashtags and descriptions with geo-targeted keywords. It will enhance your overall visibility.
We have spoken about almost everything related to real estate SEO. You can start using the tips to dominate local search and even compete against the big names in the industry. When in doubt, seek help from professionals. Good luck!
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