Real Estate SEO: The 2015 Definitive Guide

Google uses over 200 ranking factors to determine where a page ranks when a user enters a search query. In essence, Google’s goal is to find the most quality and trustworthy information or business based on the keywords the user enters.

Good real estate SEO boils down to local SEO services, which is slightly different from search engine optimization on a national level. Local search engine optimization focuses on a specific area, which makes sense as to why it’s extremely useful for real estate agencies.

By informing Google what your website can offer to potential customers and proving that you are an authority for real estate in the area, Google and the other major search engines will naturally drive traffic to your site by placing you higher in the rankings

A good local SEO strategy can drive traffic to your site and through your door for years to come. While it’s a long process to be successful in real estate SEO, consider it an investment in the future of your business and a surefire way to increase sales.

In this article, we’ll discuss each aspect of a successful real estate SEO strategy from on-site optimization and link building to gaining reviews and optimizing your mobile site.

On-Site Optimization

On-site optimization refers to aspects of your website that are under your control (or your web developer) including titles, headings, URLs, and images. Making these small changes can provide an immediate boost to your real estate SEO efforts, but to really fuel a successful local SEO campaign you need to target a keyword and use it throughout your site.

When picking the correct keyword some research needs to be done. In general, this keyword should look something like, “real estate,” “homes,” “apartments,” + “area you’re targeting.” An example would be, “apartments in NYC.” However, targeting all of New York City will be an uphill if not impossible battle because of the immense competition. A smarter approach would be targeting a specific neighborhood, such as “apartments in Chelsea.”

This means the keyword should primarily show up in five places:

  1. The URL of your page. (www.example.com/apartments_chelsea)
  2. The page title on your site.
  3. The image title (chelseapartment.jpg)
  4. In the image alt tag.
  5. Multiple times in your site content.

Having a blog as part of your real estate website can provide a huge SEO boost, but the statistics don’t lie. Companies with blogs get 97% more inbound links (more on these later), an important real estate SEO ranking factor, and 70% of customers would rather learn about a company through articles rather than advertisements. Creating quality content is not only beneficial for potential customers, in the eyes of Google the more content you have, the more of an authority your real estate agency is on the local market.

The more content you post to your blog the better, as consistency and volume are ranking factors when determining where your site lands in the results pages. The topics of your blog posts should be more than specific listings. Some good ideas for posts could be:

  • Neighborhood posts directing potential new residents to local restaurants, bars, and parks.
  • What to look for in buying/renting a home.
  • Tell a story about the history of the neighborhood.
  • Information on local schools.

The key to writing quality content is to keep readers engaged while still integrating your keyword as naturally as possibly.

Keyword density is a term that gets thrown around a lot when discussing real estate SEO and SEO in general. It refers to how many times a keyword shows up within a piece of content. A good range is between a 1 and 2% keyword density within your content. Anything more than this, your site could be penalized for keyword stuffing and the result in a drop in ranking.

Other tips to consider when writing quality content are to utilize long tail keywords, which are keywords with less traffic but can still provide a boost. Google also utilizes something called latent schematic indexing or LSI keywords. This means that Google sees the keyword “house” and “home” as the same thing. Therefore, you should mix up your terminology when writing content to include all the possible variations of the keyword you’re targeting.

Importance of Linking Internally

Internal linking refers to links within your blog or content that link to other pages of your website or earlier blog posts that you’ve made. In general, a good rule of thumb is to link to five older posts within each post you make.

Not only is this good from a real estate SEO perspective with search engines indexing all of the content on your site, but it’s helpful for users giving them all of the information they need in one place.

The longer you can keep users on your site also raises a metric known as “bounce rate.” This refers to how long a user spends on your page. If people only spend seconds on your page this is considered a negative ranking factor for real estate SEO. The more informative your content is and the more internal links you have to other content within your site the higher your chances are of users spending more time on your site.

Of course, the only way to effectively build internal links is to create a lot of content all targeting the same or similar keywords. Writing multiple posts about different aspects of the same area or neighborhood is a good way to build your library of content, keep users interested, and prove to search engines you are an authority on real estate in the area you’re targeting.

Backlinks – Building Your Reputation One Link At a Time

Next to content, backlinks are the most important part of a real estate SEO strategy. Backlinks refer to links on other people’s sites that link back to yours. Not all backlinks are created equal, however. When a reputable site (for example, a .edu, .gov, or well established .com) links to your site, it will give you an immediate SEO boost.

Earning backlinks can be tricky. The best way to do it is simply by offering useful content for others to link to. The days of simply commenting on message boards with a generic message and a link to your site are seen as spammy today, so what else can you do to earn those all important backlinks?

Here are a few tips to gain quality backlinks with just a little effort and networking:

  • Reach out to local reporters and news sites with your content. If you can provide good articles about a neighborhood you are helping them do their job while gaining a backlink in the process.
  • Post your content on real estate industry publications. Two good examples of these could be inman.com or RISMedia.com. Both are trusted sites, and will provide you with quality backlinks.
  • Local organizations are a great place to share your neighborhood specific content. Reach out to someone within the organization and offer to do a guest post for their website in exchange for a link.

The truth is that gaining backlinks all comes down to offering quality, engaging content. The more quality backlinks your site gains the better your real estate SEO will perform.

Utilizing Local Listings

Local listings come down to a trifecta of information known as NAP, which stands for name, address, and phone number. Making sure that this NAP information is consistent throughout the internet is imperative to ranking well in real estate SEO.

From your Google Places page to the key business directories (Acxiom, Localeze, Expressupdate, and Factual) your business name, address and phone number must be exactly the same. Even minor details like “Avenue” and “Ave.” can count as an inconsistency.

Also, making sure your phone number utilizes the right format (either (123)456-7890, 123-456-7890, or 123.456.7890) to make it clickable and callable directly from mobile devices. Regardless of the format you choose, make sure it’s consistent wherever it happens to be listed.

Using a tool, offered by Moz, called Get Listed , will check all local listings for your business and find any inconsistencies. It will also tell you important places your business information is missing.

Make Sure Customers Are Leaving Reviews

Customer engagement is imperative when developing an online presence, and is a key indicator of good real estate SEO implementation. The importance of reviews on sites like Yelp and Google Places is self-explanatory because of the amount of users who check these sites before making purchasing decisions. It’s considered a positive ranking factor the more reviews you have (obviously positive ones) and that reviews are around 300 words or more.

Getting reviews from real estate sites like Trulia, Realtor, and Zillow are equally important and can contribute to a robust real estate SEO campaign. Website testimonials from previous, satisfied customers are imperative as well. As a real estate agency, encouraging people to leave reviews can greatly improve real estate SEO. While good service should be enough incentive to leave a review, it often helps to remind satisfied customers to leave a review detailing their experience.

Social Media – An Important Real Estate SEO Tool

The benefits of social media are endless. Social media platforms are the perfect place to share that content you’ve been writing, create a buzz for your brand, and active social profiles are a positive ranking factor in the eyes of the almighty search engines.

In order to get the most out of social media follow these tips divided by platform:

  1. Facebook
    • Include your URL and NAP information in the contact section. Once again, make sure all this info is consistent with all the other information online.
    • Stay active – Posts are a great place to share content and create a buzz. The better your content is, the more shares it will get.
    • More engagement indicates authority in the eyes of Google and results in good real estate SEO.
  2. Twitter
    • Tweets have a very short life and they are not indexed by Google at this time. In the future they probably will be, but this doesn’t mean Twiter can’t be a useful tool in your social media arsenal.
    • By placing your website URL in the information section of your profile and in tweets you drive traffic to your site.
    • Twitter remains a good place to share content. Not only will good content drive people to your site, it creates a buzz for your brand and can help gain backlinks.
  3. Pinterest
    • Pinterest is extremely visual, so it can be a great tool for real estate.
    • It’s also extremely effective at driving traffic to your site because Pinterest boards rank highly on Google. By putting your URL in boards and pins your URL will be indexed by Google. This adds the potential to gain backlinks as well.
    • Creating boards and pins for neighborhood or even DIY home improvement (extremely popular Pinterest) can be great for your real estate SEO.
  4. Youtube
    • Youtube can be an extremely powerful, and often underutilized, tool for real estate SEO because videos are ranked highly by Google.
    • Creating neighborhood local videos, and promoting them on your site can provide an immediate SEO boost.
    • Some tips for properly utilizing Youtube videos include adding your website URL in the video description, geo-tagging videos, posting your videos to Google+, annotating your video with your website URL, and embedding your video within your website including a transcription to target keywords used within the video.

Go Mobile or Go Home

With Google’s recent algorithmic changes, having a responsive mobile site is an absolute must for successful real estate SEO. With more users accessing the internet from mobile and tablet devices, you are missing out on a great deal of potential business by not having a responsive mobile site.

In the past, businesses would create a separate mobile site rather than making their existing site compatible with mobile devices. This raises a problem for real estate SEO because Google sees this separate site as duplicate content, which will hurt your ranking in the search engine results pages.

Any Questions?

While juggling sales an existing clients, real estate SEO can seem like a daunting process. While it’s a great marketing technique to boost leads and conversions, there is no question that it’s extremely time consuming.

If you choose to hire a company (like bidpin) to handle your real estate SEO it is an investment in the future of your business that will bring in revenue for years to come. While it takes time to launch, once it’s up and running the results will speak for themselves providing a higher return on your investment than any other marketing strategy.

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