Real estate SEO is the use of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques to make real estate websites for agents, brokerages, and teams show up higher in Google’s search results pages (SERPs).
The Current State of SEO
Before we examine the specific components needed to become a local SEO expert, let’s debunk a recent myth: SEO isn’t dead. Far from it. In fact, it’s evolving.
In the past, internet users primarily depended on their personal computers to conduct searches. But the emergence and constant growth of the mobile device market has transformed how users search online. Data from the last five years shows a clear trend of mobile steadily taking over PCs in the search sphere.
Planning your real estate marketing around this ever-growing trend is the key to staying ahead of the curve and ensuring your website looks great no matter what device your audience uses. Of course, aesthetics is one thing — optimizing for SEO is another. It won’t matter that your responsive real estate website looks fancy if it doesn’t feature compelling, relevant, SEO-rich content.
How to Get Listed in the Local Pack
The best way to get into the local pack is to make sure you’re listed on Google My Business and other directories, including Google+, Facebook and Zillow. In order to increase your likelihood of showing up regularly, you need to make sure your information is entered correctly and consistently across all websites, and that you get lots of positive reviews on Google and Yelp.
Deep Dive: To learn more about taking advantage of Google My Business to get into the local pack, check out our in-depth guide to Google My Business here. You can also use an SEO tool like Synup or BrightLocal to ensure you’re hitting all the key directories and posting information correctly.
How Google Chooses Who Shows Up on the First Page
Since Google wants to show their users the most relevant information, they don’t just judge pages by the number of keywords on the page. If they did, anyone could get on the front page by filling their sites with hundreds of keywords. That would make the odds of low quality or even fraudulent content would be pretty high. Instead, they rely on a combination of the following criteria:
Domain Authority and Page Authority (PA & DA)
Domain authority and page authority are measures of a site’s or page’s “authority”, or relevance on Google. While DA and PA are terms measured and designed by Moz, a third party company, they offer a estimated measure of the following criteria:
In 2017, Backlinks are arguably the most important criteria Google uses to determine your page rank. Backlinks are simply links to your site on other sites. For example, here is a backlink to Moz. When people find a site or article that they like, then they generally will link to that site from their own.
In Google’s eyes, the more backlinks from high quality pages a site or page has, the more people like it, therefore the higher the authority and the higher the likelihood of ending up on the first page of the SERP.
The quality of the site that’s linking to your site matters as much as (if not more than) the number of links you have. For example one link from an authoritative, high DA site like Realtor.com will have more SEO value than 1,000 links from spammy websites. In fact, the links from the spammy websites may even hurt your odds of ranking on the first page.
The relevance of your backlinks also matters. For example if you get a few dozen links from real estate websites, Google will assume you have a website that other real estate brokers find useful or interesting. If you get a few dozen links from video game blogs instead, then you might rank lower for real estate keywords.
Here’s a real world example. Let’s say you make a post about the state of the market in Silverlake, Los Angeles. You reach out to a few other agents, and maybe a few local blogs who then link back to your article. Google will see this and assume your article is an authoritative article on the local market in Silverlake. That means you’re more likely to rank highly for searches on the market.
Relevant keywords or content
Even if you have a thousand backlinks from Realtor.com, if you’re article doesn’t have the right keywords, then there is no way it’s going to rank well.
That said, keywords are far less important than they used to be. In order to signal to Google that you have a high quality article about your keywords, use the keywords in your title, URL, maybe a few headings (H1) or subheadings (H2), and also naturally in your article.
Google tends to favor longer articles over shorter articles. If you want your articles to rank well, you should try and write at least 1,000 words.
Google also assumes that articles that are active, e.g. people are leaving you comments, you’re occasionally updating the article, or people are continually sharing your article on social or adding backlinks, are high quality articles.
In order to keep your articles active, encourage people to leave comments, share on social media, link back, and always try to update your articles at least every six months.
Age is another important criteria that Moz and Google use to determine DA, PA and your ranking in the SERPs. Unfortunately you can’t make your site older than it is. You can however, buy an older domain with a decent DA. This may be an expensive proposition, especially in big cities, but if ranking on Google is important to your business and you can get a great local domain it might just pay off in the long run.
This is another big one. Very rarely will a site that is very slow to load stay at the top of the SERPs. After all, Google wants to offer their customers relevant, useful content. Very few people are going to stick around and wait for a page to load when there are other, faster, pages with similar content.
Incorporate Social Media
When it comes to client relations, social media is a great way to start relationships or strengthen existing ones. A realtor with an active social media presence is able to interact with clients where they are every day: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and/or Instagram. Do your research and find out where your target clients are most active socially.
Real estate is all about relationships — any record you can build on social media that shows your expertise is important. When people vet you and discover a healthy, professional social media presence, it’s going to signal trust.
Because photos and videos are key components in real estate sales, Pinterest and Instagram are particularly useful platforms for realtors. On Facebook, consider joining location-based groups and on Google+, get active in local communities. Across all platforms, use social media strategically, employing hashtags like #realestate or #listing.