10 Ways To Improve SEO For Your Real Estate Website

Building a brand in real estate is hard. Usually it requires years of due diligence and a die hard work ethic in order to truly establish a strong presence in your neighborhood or list of neighborhoods. When you factor in the myriad of related disciplines a realtor needs to know well in order to succeed, it’s not surprising that a large percentage of real estate agents aren’t around to see year three.

However the advent of online marketing, social media and technology has given real estate agents the same growth hacker advantages that many tech startups are able to employ. Utilizing cloud-based storage and document signing tools, responsive real estate IDX driven websites, and marketing automation tools allows agents who are willing to invest in technology the opportunity to disrupt traditional real estate systems and gain massive advantages over their competitors.

One of the fastest ways to take advantage of technology is to ensure that you have a sound, stable search engine optimization strategy. And while most real estate agents will not be able to replicate the results that a seasoned SEO professional could generate in terms of traffic and positioning, most simply are not learning and not doing enough to promote themselves effectively in this area.

Online marketing is a requirement; not an option for agents, and I believe agents and brokerages should strive to gain a reasonable amount of working knowledge in terms of driving online traffic. Often, that initial knowledge and passion for learning is what powers “entrepreneur” agents to be able to implement enough strategy in order to make that difference; which in turn, generates more prospects and allows that agent to hire a qualified company.

Here are 10 ways to increase performance in search engine optimization:

 
1. Understand Your Audience

Understanding your audience is key. It’s key – not only in knowing who you are speaking to, their buying and living habits, but the language that they use when seeking professionals. Knowing that language inside and out will help you map the correct phrases to your pages, driving the right audience to you.

 

2. Focus Your Keywords

it’s critical to focus your keywords. Too often I see agents targeting much too large of an area. Unless you are a very successful agent with the team, and have aggressive growth goals, I would suggest targeting neighborhoods and communities as your first step in generating online traffic. Not only will competition be slightly less, but you can speak specifically to that audience which will inadvertently lead to better conversion rates and better relationships with clients. Let’s face it we can’t be everything to everyone.

The keywords you are targeting should fall naturally within the scope of your audience. For example, if you’re an authority at listing condos, stay away from targeting real estate in many of the titles as this will lead to traffic that might not fall within your wheelhouse. Focusing more pages on condos will increase the effects of “theming” in the website, helping all pages rank higher. Remember – show Google precisely what your targeted area of authority is – and find keywords that support that authority. Also be sure to target 1 to 3 keywords per page, and do not reuse those keywords for any other pages in your website.

Google keyword planner tool is the fastest and most accessible way to research keywords.

 

Here is a quick rundown on how to use this tool:

A.) First, you’ll want to log into your Google account at the Keyword Planner under Google Adwords. You can access at the following location.

www.google.com/sktool/

B.) Once you log in you’ll be greeted by the keyword planner screen prompting to “plan your next search campaign”

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C.) We want to determine the search traffic for our primary keywords in our targeted geographic location. Select “Get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups”

D.)  Enter your relevant keywords you would like to collect search data for. Choose relevant keywords that you think your target audience would be searching. Consider using the “multiply keyword list to get new keyword ideas” option to produce additional keyword variations if you are short on keyword ideas. Remember to think about using natural keyword searches that your target customer would be searching for in Google.

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E.) Select the targeting for your geographical location that you wish to collect the data for. If you are in a small location, consider doing broader location searches to collect accumulated data that can help you dominate your niche. This is crucial to make sure that you have data for the location you are interested in getting seen in.

F.) Click the blue “Get search volume” button once your keywords are entered to produce historical search data for each keyword. This will tell you how many searches are done for these keywords in your area in the past month.

G.) Click on the “Keyword Ideas” tab to display the individual keyword data.

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H.) Target high traffic keywords with many monthly searches. Don’t overlook the other lesser keywords, as they can be diamonds in the rough that are potentially unchallenged with your competitors.

The important thing to know about using the Adwords Keyword planner is that it maps monthly search engines statistics to give you an idea of the search volume a keyword can yield for your area monthly. This is a critical step to determining the target keywords you’re after to maximize relevant search enquiries to your website.

Don’t be shy to repeat these steps more than once to make sure that you have the best diversity of high traffic keywords for your region to review.

 

3. Target All Title Tags Meticulously (And Naturally)

Once you have built your keyword research out from step 3, you will want to build your title tags.

It’s very important to target your title tags meticulously. Title tags are the largest single indicator of topic for the search engines, which makes them the most important on page element in search engine optimization.

Depending on the type of website you have, the provider or developer for the website and whether or not you have a webmaster managing the site, the way in which those keywords are published to your title tags will differ. It is important to publish those quickly and check life pages to ensure those are proper once completed. Also always be sure to target keywords that have appreciable search volume monthly. There’s no sense going after keywords that are going to drive traffic.

Here are some tips on best practices for creating those tags:

– Ideally you want your primary keyword as close to the beginning of the title as possible.
– Ensure your title tag length is less than 65 characters
– Look to target anywhere from 1 to 3 main keyword phrases in your title tag
– Don’t stuff your keyword into the title tag. Instead use natural language with a call to action
– Stay away from using your brand name at the beginning of title tags, and instead integrate this at the end

 

4. One Page Per Topic

Always make sure that you follow the one-page per topic rule. Every page on your website should describe a unique topic. Keyword should always be grouped together to describe a single page in the case where keywords have the same meaning. This prevents duplicate content creation on the website, which can negate all of the great work you are building.

A great way to do this is to create what is known as a taxonomy. The taxonomy can be a simple Excel sheet that lists your main page topics in column A. column B, C and D can be reserved for adding in keywords you have researched that apply to that page. Thoroughly review column A to ensure that each topic is unique to itself on your website.

 

5. 350 Words Per Page

As a rule, every page on your website that is index-able in Google should have a minimum of 350 words published on the page. While there is no hard and fast minimum or limit, it is best to stay at or above the minimum. Google craves fresh, compelling and useful content for the consumer.

If you are struggling to find enough content to build for your pages, consider pulling in and writing about cornerstone content (geography, weather, culture) as well as points of interest in connection content (events, news)

Suffice it to say, this content should mirror the topic of the page, and be reflected in your natural title tag.

 

6. Setup Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) Account and Target

It is crucial that you set up a Google Webmaster Tools account in order to both verify your website and change geo-targeting settings within the account. Additionally the Google webmaster tools account allows you to submit a site map and perform other basic SEO site health functions. Further in your campaign, this account can provide some meaningful data in order to help guide your actions in optimization.

Ensure that you adjust the geo-targeting settings within Google webmaster tools to reflect the location of your audience. This is a strong signal which helps Google understand what audience you’re targeting to and therefore how you should display in search at the Country level.

Here is a quick guide on how to get started with Google Webmaster Tools:

 

7. Setup Google Analytics and Benchmark

Without benchmarking progress and measuring campaign results it is very difficult to understand the benefits you will receive from the work that you do online. While your copy, presentation and layout speak directly to your audience and their needs, analytics serves to build scientific data tracking behind-the-scenes. I advise that you track anything, and everything that can benefit your online business, so that you can understand where you are gaining traction, and where you can use improvement.

Here is a quick rundown on how to use this tool:

A.) First you’ll want to access Google Analytics by navigating to www.google.ca/analytics/ in your browser. If you have no fully set up Google Analytics, check out the advanced setup checklist for Google Analytics.

B.) Select your website to access the main screens of your Analytics data.

C.) Once you have the analytics interface open for your website, click the “Audience/ Overview” option to get an overview of your general traffic.

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D.) Click the “v” downward arrow to specify variable for the report. Consider including options such as; search traffic, new users, and returning users to get a sense of the regular traffic of the website.

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E.) Using the timeline on the top right, specify the correct time frame you wish to view data for. Ie. Last 30 days, last 7 days etc.

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F.) You can also specify to compare to another timeline such as the previous month so you can review your growth over the progressive timeline.

G.) Be sure to review the Acquisition section of Google analytics. It will provide a breakdown of the traffic coming into your website from organic, pay per click, direct, referral and other sources.

 

You ideally want to track every form on your website and connect those with goals in analytics. Additionally, you should be also tracking content and PDF downloads from the website. At an advanced level there are a myriad of further areas you can track and monitor in order to understand progress.

Don’t forget to apply add words conversion tracking code to those same forms and downloads so that you can directly measure your efforts in Google Ad Words.

Here are some great guides on setting up goal tracking and Adwords conversion tracking for your website:

Setting up & Editing a Goal – Google Analytics

A Beginner’s Guide To Google Analytics Goals – Search Engine Land

A Guide to Goals & Funnels – Hongkiat

 
8. Always Have a Buyer and Seller Page

I run across a lot of real estate agent websites in the average day, and about 10% of the time find agent websites that do not have a buyer and seller page. I think this is a major oversight on the part of those agents.

There’s a big difference between a consumer that would like you to list their home and market, and the buyer. Not only are the two transactions different, the core needs of each of both consumer types is entirely different. For this reason alone, it would be wise to create a separate page for each, so that you can speak independently to these audiences and convey your value proposition to each of them.

Additionally, you can employ targeted keywords on both pages that are unique and reflect the needs of those consumers in the buying cycle.

For example, the following keywords are better suited for the seller page because they reflect the intentions of the consumer who wishes to sell their home:

sell my home
sell my home in {city or area}
selling my home
buy my home
list my home
what’s my home worth
home evaluation
real estate market evaluation
real estate market evaluation  {city or area}

The following keywords are better suited for the buyer page or a hybrid community and listings page, because they reflect the intentions of consumer who wishes to browse or buy a home:

{city or area} real estate
{city or area} real estate listings
{city or area} MLS
{city or area} MLS listings
buy a home in {city or area}
buy a condo in {city or area}

And so on. Remember, this is far from an exhaustive list, and you should perform due diligence in researching keywords extensively for your area of expertise so that you maximize potential to generate prospects and visibility.

Also note that it can be difficult to understand the intention of the consumer who uses keywords such as <city or area> real estate and finds your webpages. For that reason, I recommend that you integrate excellent supportive content on those pages, and in addition to MLS listings, also create a call to action for content download. An example might be a PDF guide or e-book explaining the entire process of buying or selling your home. You can offer this download in exchange for the consumer’s name and email, and therefore build a lead that can be nurtured over time and potentially closed at a later date.

 
9. Blog and Build Fresh Content Often

Great content in the form of blogging is extremely important on a number of levels – especially for real estate agents.

– It builds authority and establishes your expertise in your marketplace
– it generates search engine friendly content that is indexed, and will help improve rankings
– it allows you the opportunity to build more landing pages to influence traffic
– it attracts fans, followers, likes and links to your brand

 
10. Build Links From Local Directories and Authority Opportunities

Inbound linking is largely due the biggest component that real estate agents have difficulty executing on. And rightly so, because the process is difficult and hard work. Search engines often update their algorithms in order to try to prevent spammers from manipulating ranking results using black hat link practices.

Google simply wants to see natural, editorial and trustworthy links pointed at your domain. Those links should show the consumer that you are trustable, and authority in your vertical and ethical. The more trusted authority links that you can build to domain; the better you will rank in the major search engines.

I recommend starting with local authority opportunities such as your Chamber of Commerce, tourism and trade board, Better Business Bureau, local business directories and other localized opportunities that endorse and a credit your business.

Besides the obvious opportunities above, you can shortcut the prospecting process of finding these opportunities by using what are known as queries in Google. Search queries simply help filter and focus your search so that you can return more relevant results for your campaign.

Run your queries in Google, and spreadsheet your results. In search for your results, and determine which local opportunities you feel are trusted, authority and ethical. Those should be your targets.

Here’s a sample list of queries that you can input into Google in order to find a range of link types to prospect, analyze and consider pursuing:

inurl:directory {keyword}

Intitle:directory {keyword}

inurl:resources {keyword}

Intitle:resources {keyword}

inurl:links {keyword}

Intitle:links {keyword}

{keyword} association

{keyword} accreditation

{your location} chamber of commerce

{your location} site:www.bbb.org

{your location} chamber of commerce

{keyword} sponsorship

{keyword} sponsors

{keyword} donations

 

Thank you for reading this article, and I hope that were able to learn something useful from this content, please feel free to share this with your community if you found it helpful.

Also, feel free to reach out to us any time to ask questions about this or other online marketing areas.

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