A consistent inflow of leads without having to make cold calls is every real estate agent’s dream. Today, 90% of home buyers use the internet to help them purchase a new home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 44% of home buyers look at available properties online as a first step in the home buying process.
Contrast this with the fact that only 16% contact a real estate agent as a first step, you can see why it’s important to leverage the internet as a channel for leads.
So, what’s the best way to get real estate leads online?
Real estate SEO.
SEO is the process of showing up in search engines when people are looking for what you have to offer.
For real estate agents, this means showing up in search engines when people are looking for someone to help them purchase a home, condo, or apartment.
For the 44% of buyers who use the internet as a first step, they likely head over to Google and type something like this:
When faced with these options in Google, there’s a 45% chance that the searcher will end up clicking one of the top 3 results.
If your real estate website is where buyers and renters end up in their search for property, you have an opportunity to convert them into a lead via contact forms or various other lead generation tactics (which we’ll discuss later in this article).
Today, however, Google’s search results have become cluttered with ads, maps, and instant answers, making it harder to rank for important search terms your potential clients are using.
Because of this, along with the competitive nature of SEO for real estate brokers and agents, if you’re going to generate leads from search traffic, you need a strategic, well thought-out SEO strategy.
To help you put together an SEO plan for your real estate business, we put together this guide to real estate SEO that lists 18 detailed tips to get your website positioned to generate leads from Google.
On-site SEO consists of the things you do on your website to influence your position in search engines.
This includes anything to do with choosing what keywords to go after, formatting your pages, writing content, and modifying the technical aspects of your site.
According to a survey by databox, most SEO professionals consider content, keyword selection, and external links to be some of the most important factors of on-site SEO.
Let’s dive into the tips we’ve put together for real estate agent that involve on-site SEO.
Keyword research is one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO. If you’re going to get traffic from Google, you need to target your efforts. The best way to do this is by knowing what keywords you want to rank for.
The term keyword is SEO speak for “what people are typing into Google.” When we talk about finding keywords for real estate SEO, we mean finding phrases that people are typing into Google that we want to rank for.
Once you’ve built a list of real estate keywords, you’ll know what your target audience is searching for and can then make the appropriate changes and additions to your website.
Find keyword ideasTo find new keyword ideas, just head over to Google’s Keyword Planner, log in, and click “Discover new keywords.”
Next, enter a keyword related to your market. For this example, I’m going to use “condos for sale in Orlando” for this, but here are some keyword formats you could try:
Finally, you’ll be shown a list of keywords that you can choose from with their monthly search volume and cost-per-click (CPC) range. The CPC range is only relevant for running ads, but if these numbers are high, that means they probably generate significant levels of revenue for advertisers.
If they generate revenue for advertisers, that means people who use these keywords are buyers, making them a valuable target to go after.
When conducting keyword research, it’s important that you keep location in mind. If you’re just starting out with SEO, go for your immediate local area, then expand outward.
For example, if you serve the Miami area and have an office in Fort Lauderdale, start with keywords like “real estate agents in Fort Lauderdale” first, then expand to surrounding, relevant areas.
Once you have your list of keywords, you need to determine what type of content people are looking for when they type each keyword into Google.
For example, when someone types “condos for sale in Orlando” into Google, it’s clear that they’re looking for a list of condos to buy.
If someone types “how to purchase a home” however, they’re likely seeking an informational blog post.
There are three keyword “types” you’ll come across – navigational, informational, and transactional.
Navigational keywords are those where the searcher is looking for a particular site. This is usually in the form of branded searches.
Informational keywords are ones people type into Google simply to seek out information. “How to purchase a home” is a good example of a keyword like this.
Transactional keywords are typed into Google when people have the intent to make a purchase. “Townhomes for sale in Tennessee” is a good example of a transactional keyword because the searcher is clearly looking to buy a home
After keywords are figured out, understanding how to structure your site is the next important step in building a real estate SEO campaign.
Good site structure is accomplished site-wide by organizing your navigation correctly and making sure you properly format everything on individual pages.
When structuring your website, the organization should look like a pyramid, with your homepage at the top, your category/navigation pages beneath that, and your individual pages at the bottom.
Not only does this make it very easy for users to navigate around your site, it helps search engines more easily understand your website’s structure.
Internal linking is also very important in helping search engines and users navigate your site.
When linking from one page to another, it’s important to use descriptive anchor text that tells users and search engines what to expect when following a particular link.
Anchor text is the clickable text of a link. It looks like this in the code. For users, this describes where they’re going.
Search engines use anchor text to attribute ranking value to the page you’re linking to. So if you link to a page where your target keyword is “condos for sale in New York,” using that anchor text when linking to that page can help improve your rankings for that keyword.
When formatting your pages for search engines, you need to pay attention to your title tags, meta descriptions, and H tags.
For your title tags, make sure you place the keyword near the beginning and show how your page will fulfil what the searcher is looking for. These listings for “homes for sale in charlotte nc” accomplish that.
The purpose of the meta description (the small paragraph shown under a page title in the search results) is to attract clicks.
To see what’s working, type your target keyword into Google and look at the existing meta descriptions. In the screenshot above, notice that all of the meta descriptions contain the keyword and include a number of homes, so this may be worth making note of when writing your meta description.
Finally, you want to properly structure your page using Header tags (otherwise known as H tags.
H tags are used to structure your web page into sub-headers. These tags are often followed by a number – H1, H2, H3, etc. This is to show where they lie in the hierarchy of your page structure.
The hierarchy of H tags looks like this:
In this hierarchy, the H1 would be the page title, the H2 would be the first section of the page, and the H3 would be a subsection of the previous H2 tag.
When writing your H tags, keep a few things in mind:
Here’s an example of a blog post about buying a home that does all of this – title tag, meta tag, and H tag formatting – correctly.
For transactional and investigational keywords found during your keyword research, you’ll want to create landing pages that drive a user toward a specific conversion.
The main objective of these pages is to capture a user’s contact information. This is accomplished by adding value, which you can do by offering the user something for free, such as a market report, email alerts for listings, or relocation packages.
The three main types of landing pages on your real estate website will be your home page, location specific pages, and neighborhood or building pages.
Let’s go over each of these.
Your home page is going to be your most powerful page on your real estate website. Since this is essentially the hub of your site, search engines will give it the most value.
Because of this, you want to target your most competitive keywords with your home page.
Miami realtor Stavros Mitchelides accomplishes this by targeting the keyword “best Miami Beach realtor” on his homepage.
The most important part of your homepage, however, is that you feature eye-catching images of your best properties.
This helps capture interest from your users. If they see an image that catches their attention, they’re more likely to explore your website, which can lead them to take the next step to contact you if they find something that fits their needs.
The Chad Carroll Group accomplishes this beautifully.
It’s also important to feature reviews or press mentions to build credibility, trust, and social proof.
These should be just under your featured property listings.
The Altman Brothers do this with press mentions.
Finally, you want to have a compelling call-to-action (CTA) that drives your users to take action and contact you.
On your homepage, the CTA will usually be designed to drive users to view your properties. From there, you’ll ask them to contact you if they’re interested in learning more about a particular property.
Most real estate sites, like this one from the Sheerin Feizi Group, accomplish this with a property search box.
Location specific pages are those that target keywords including the city, county, or other geographic locations that you find during your keyword research.
An example of this would be “Orlando homes for sale” or “living in San Diego.”
In the case of a keyword like “Orlando homes for sale,” you’ll want to have a page that lists properties available for sale in Orlando. At the very least, this page should have a unique title and meta description that targets the keyword, and if your page has copy, make sure it’s unique.
Century 21 targets the keyword “find homes for sale in orlando” with an interactive map of homes for sale in the Orlando area.
You may also find keywords where people are looking for information about what it’s like to live in a particular area, such as “living in San Diego.”
For these keywords, creating pages about what it’s like to live in a particular area of your real estate market is best. On this page, put information that prospective home buyers might be curious about, like schools in the area, things to do, local businesses and attractions, sports teams, restaurants and shopping, and anything else that’s interesting about the area.
Miami real estate agent Stavros Mitchelides does this with several pages that list resources in the Miami area, one of which lists the best happy hour locations in Miami.
Neighborhood pages are the pages on your site that tell visitors everything they need to know about a particular neighborhood.
These are essentially long-form articles (1,500 – 2,000 words) that should include content like:
Lux International Properties creates pages like this for each neighborhood they service. It’s a great example of what you should try and build for your surrounding areas.
You already know the local area well enough to sell homes to your potential clients. Blog content is simply a way to communicate this information on your website so that search engine users can find it.
It’s best to create multiple pieces of content around the same or a similar topic, but using different keywords. For example, you can create top 10 lists of things to do in different areas in your city.
So, if you’re based in Tallahassee, you might make top 10 lists that feature the best things to do in Tallahassee, around Tallahassee, and in surrounding areas, such as:
It’s important that you don’t guess on your topics, though. You want to write helpful content with information that people actually search for. After all, the purpose of this content is to get traffic from search engines, right?
Here are some ways you can come up with content ideas that actually have demand:
You can also create community pages for each area you serve that include data on schools, income level, public transportation, restaurants, and parks.
Lastly, you can also create blog content around key properties you’re trying to promote. This is especially true if you’re doing so on an ongoing basis for a neighborhood or apartment complex, since blog posts tend to be good long-term sources of traffic.
Just look at how Tara Moore does this on her blog.
When you’re finally ready to create a blog post, keep in mind that you’re writing for the internet
Something that can negatively influence your search engine ranks is what SEO professionals call pogo-sticking.
This is when people search for something in Google, click the first listing, then click back to Google and click on the second listing.
To Google, this means the user didn’t find what they were looking for on the first page. If this happens frequently to a page, Google will drop it’s rankings.
A huge factor that can cause pogo-sticking is page load time. In fact, Google found that as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%
Not only that, but Google uses page speed directly as a ranking factor.
Thankfully, Google has a tool that helps you determine how to increase your website speed.
Just go to the PageSpeed Insights tool, plug in your web page, and Google will run an analysis that recommends different ways to improve your speed.
Over half of internet traffic is now on a mobile device.
This means that half of your visitors are probably accessing your site from a smartphone or tablet.
Additionally, Google now uses mobile first indexing. This means that when Google crawls your website, it’s looking at the mobile version of the site instead of the desktop version when determining where in the search results it should be placed.
To make your site mobile friendly, you should ensure that:
Take a look at how LA real estate agent Bobby Boyd’s site checks off those 3 parameters on mobile:
Have you ever come across a website and noticed the little “Not Secure” message next to the URL?
That doesn’t look very trustworthy, does it?
As you know, one of the most important parts of winning new clients is building trust with them. If they can’t trust your website, how can they trust you?
If you want your clients to trust your website, you need to get rid of this error message. To do that, you need to secure your website with an SSL certificate.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s essentially a form of verification for your website that confirms there aren’t any intermediaries between a page and the website’s servers that could potentially steal a user’s information.
You can tell if a website is secured with SSL if they have https instead of http at the front of their URLs. Once your website is secured with SSL, you’ll have https in your URL instead of http.
You can usually get an SSL certificate through your web hosting provider for a small annual fee. This will fix any and all “not secure” messages that are showing on your site.
Buying through your web hosting provider is the easiest way to get this implemented without any errors, but you can also get an SSL certificate for free from Let’s Encrypt.
In any case, once your website is set up with SSL, plug your https URL into Why No Padlock? to have their tool crawl your site and make sure it’s implemented correctly.
Just a heads up: If your website is older, moving to https may have a temporary negative impact on your Google rankings. Google treats adding an SSL as if you’re changing domains.
Internal links are links that point to the same domain they exist on. Any link on your website that directs users to another page on your website is an internal link.
In blog posts, they look like this…
For users, these are great for helping them navigate throughout your site.
Search engines, however, look at internal links to help understand page topics.
For both users and search engines, it’s good practice to use anchor text (the text of the link) that describes where the link points. This helps search engines understand the topic of the page being linked to, and helps users get an idea of where they’ll end up if they click the link.
When creating unique content, such as blog posts or neighborhood pages, it’s good practice to link to other blog posts or sales pages on your website within the copy to help search engines attribute value and topical relevance to these pages.
As a rule of thumb, it’s recommended that you link to at least 3 other pages on your site in every blog you publish
None of your SEO efforts will make a difference to your real estate company if your website isn’t generating leads.
To generate leads, you have to actively optimize your site for lead generation.
Here are a few ways to do that.
If you have a form at the bottom of every page on your site, then you have lots of opportunities to capture the contact information of people looking to buy homes, apartments, or condos.
Aaron Kirman, an agent from Los Angeles, does this by putting the contact info in the footer. If you scroll to the bottom of his site, you’ll see this on every page.
Offer something for free
People love free stuff. As a real estate agent, you can offer lots of value in the form of free eBooks or reports to give your visitors in exchange for their email addresses.
Mike & Marta offer free buyer and seller guides on their site.
Clients increasingly want the businesses they work with to be available 24/7.
By combining these live chat solutions with freelancers available overseas, you can easily cover a 24-hour time span that makes you available to your clients whenever they need you.
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