The Complete Guide to Real Estate SEO
For sale signs. Printed brochures. Word of mouth. Are you tired of the traditional real estate marketing methodologies that deliver lackluster results for your real estate business?
With 49% of marketers reporting that organic search produces the best return on investment (ROI) of any marketing channel, it’s time to take search engine optimization (SEO) seriously.
This guide will empower you with actionable real estate SEO strategies to enhance your online visibility, rank higher on search engines, and attract potential clients.
So, let’s dive into the intricacies of keyword research, local SEO, and compelling content creation.
What is Real Estate SEO?
Before we get too technical, let’s start with the basics.
Real estate SEO is the art (and science) of fine-tuning your online presence to rank higher on search engines. And no, it’s not about manipulating the system. But more about making it easier for search engines and users alike to find, understand, and connect with your content.
The key to SEO for real estate (or in any industry) is to optimize your website and content around specific terms and phrases (keywords) your potential clients use when looking for online properties or real estate services.
What are they typing into the Google search bar?
Screenshot by Kelly Moser
It might sound like we’ve opened Pandora’s box. But don’t worry. All real estate agents can pick up on these trends with the proper guidance (like this article) and a few SEO tools. More on that in a bit.
Oh, and there’s also more to real estate SEO than keywords. It also involves aspects like:
- Improving the technical components of your website so it’s easy for search engines to read and index it.
- Crafting quality content that ranks well and resonates with your audience.
- Optimizing for local searches, such as “houses for sale near me.”
In short, real estate SEO boils down to making your brand more visible, attractive, and accessible online. Stick with us. Soon, you’ll be navigating these SEO waters like a pro.
Benefits of Real Estate SEO
Why should you pay attention to real estate SEO?
Here’s a little fact: 68% of online experiences start with a search engine. Imagine your real estate listings and website perched nicely at the top of those search engine results pages (SERPs). Quite a sight, right?
Not only does it feel good to see yourself sitting at the top of the SERPs. It also comes with many benefits.
- Google sees about 3.5 billion searches each day.
- The top three search results drive 54.4% of all clicks on Google.
- An analysis of 4 million Google searches showed that less than 1% of people click on the second page.
Case in point: if your site isn’t enjoying that spotlight on the first page of Google, you’re bypassing a gold mine of potential leads. Not having a grip on SEO is like hosting an open house and forgetting to put up the “Open House” sign at the end of the street. A disaster and a missed opportunity, if you will.
With an effective SEO strategy, you can capitalize on reaching the right audience via the proper medium, educating consumers when they need it most, and overcoming sales objections. Plus, landing your website or real estate listings on those coveted spots on Google’s first page increases visibility and interaction with qualified potential buyers.
So, let’s explore how to harness the power of real estate SEO and start reeling in those high-quality leads.
Analyze Search Intent to Find Target Keywords
You see, the secret sauce to SEO is all about getting into the minds of your potential clients. What are they typing into that Google search box when hunting for properties?
It could range from “condos for sale,” “family houses in [city name],” or “best real estate agent near me.” These are your clues. Your target keywords.
When you understand the intent behind a search, you can format your website and corresponding pages to provide the most relevant information to turn searchers into homeowners. Sounds idyllic, right?
There are four main types of search intent:
1. Navigational Intent
Here, users are looking for a specific website or page. Instead of typing in the exact URL for their destination, they’re using a search engine as a navigation tool to get to where they are going.
For example, typing “Zillow” into the search bar indicates navigational intent. Often, this is easier (and faster) than typing “www.zillow.com” into the address bar or Google search.
Screenshot by Kelly Moser
Also, most people don’t know the exact URL for a brand. Since Google Chrome is a default browser, typing in Zillow and hitting enter yields similar results.
In the marketing funnel, these users know where they want to go — typically in the middle to bottom of the funnel when using branded searches.
2. Informational Intent
Users with informational intent are on a quest for knowledge. They want answers, advice, or insight. Search queries like “how to invest in real estate” or “benefits of owning a condo” fall into this category.
These users are usually at the top of the marketing funnel, gathering information before purchasing.
This stage of the marketing funnel is crucial for real estate. Why? Purchasing a home is a significant financial commitment. And with that, buyers want to learn as much as possible before throwing their life savings at it.
A recent study indicates that most people spend at least 124 hours finding a home. With the average cost of a home reaching $516,500 in Q1 2023, that time spent isn’t so surprising.
Given that a home is often the most significant investment a person makes, your prospective clients are likely to look for information on home loans before looking at property listings. They want to know their borrowing capacity, interest rates, loan terms, and other pertinent information.
Publishing home loan information that meets search intent gives your site a better chance to rank higher in search engine results and builds your brand as a trustworthy resource in the real estate industry. It’s a win-win.
3. Commercial Intent
These users are window shopping online. They’re considering a purchase but want to compare and research first.
You want to consider them as middle-of-the-funnel users, exploring options before making a final decision. An example might be “best real estate agencies in Los Angeles or “top real estate companies.”
During this stage, it’s ideal to target long-tail keywords. These are the longer, more specific phrases that clients use when they’re closer to the point of purchase, like “two-bedroom condo with ocean view in Miami.”
These gems may have less search volume but often attract more targeted, ready-to-act prospects.
4. Transactional Intent
Here, it’s all about making that final purchase. These users have made their decisions and are ready to take action.
They are at the bottom of the funnel. Search queries could include “buy a house in Naples,” “how to hire real estate agent” or “hire a real estate agent in [location].”
Understanding these intents and tailoring your content is key in directing your audience from their search engine results to your digital doorstep.
Leverage SEO Tools to Conduct Keyword Research
If keyword research is a treasure hunt, consider SEO tools your treasure map. These powerful platforms offer insights into search volumes, competition, and relevant keywords that can genuinely enhance your SEO strategy.
Here’s how you can tap into this power:
Step 1: Find your favorite SEO tool
There are plenty of SEO tools available at your disposal. The likes of Google Keyword Planner, Google Search Console, Semrush, Ahrefs, and Ranktracker are just a few examples.
Some SEO tools offer premium versions, while others are free. If you want to test the waters with the paid tools, take full advantage of free trials to find your perfect fit.
If you’re wondering what the go-to tool is for SEO experts, according to a study by uSERP, 25% of SEOs prefer Google Search Console, followed by 21% who use Semrush and 15% who use Ahrefs.
Step 2: Search, analyze, repeat
Now, it’s time to put these tools to the test. Plug in a potential keyword to gain insights into:
- Monthly search volume: the number of people searching that keyword every month
- Keyword difficulty: how difficult it is to rank for that keyword
The goal is to find keywords with a decent search volume (at least 100) and low keyword difficulty (under 20).
Screenshot by Kelly Moser
But don’t only rely on these metrics shared by SEO tools. Truly understanding Google’s algorithm is an uphill battle. So, use SEO tools as a starting point to get you off the ground because they might not be 100% accurate.
Once you create a content calendar and publish the first few pieces, make informed decisions on the best performers based on your website’s organic traffic growth. Once you find a keyword that works, rinse and repeat.
Step 3: Spy on the Competition
Use these tools to do a little friendly espionage. Explore what keywords other successful real estate websites are ranking for.
You never know what kind of inspiration and potential keyword opportunities are flying under your radar. A keyword gap analysis is the perfect play here.
Using Semrush, look up your website and a few of your top competitors. Navigate to the “untapped” tab and publish content on these golden opportunities.
Screenshot by Kelly Moser
Long-tail keywords, those detailed and specific phrases, are also a goldmine. SEO tools can help you uncover these less competitive gems that attract users closer to purchasing.
Step 4: Keep sharpening your skills
Remember, the only constant in SEO is change. From Google algorithm updates to changing consumer preferences and behaviors, avoiding a fix-it-and-forget-it mindset is wise.
You should regularly revisit and refresh your keyword research using these SEO tools to stay ahead of real estate trends and relevant in the current market environment.
Publish Quality Content to Meet the Search Intent of Your Target Audience
Now that you’ve got a hold on search intent and armed yourself with the perfect keywords, it’s time to weave this knowledge into compelling, quality content that hits the mark.
Let’s dive into how you can master content marketing, a key component of real estate SEO.
Remember the four types of search intent:
Identify which intent your chosen keyword is targeting. Is your audience looking for information? Or are they ready to purchase their dream home? Your content should cater to this intent.
Remember that thanks to generative artificial intelligence, publishing low-quality content is as simple as asking ChatGPT to spit out a blog post in seconds. Although that sounds compelling (read: less time researching and writing), Google isn’t a fan.
So quality is king for content. Make sure your content isn’t just packed with keywords but provides value. Keep it engaging and informative. And try to answer all the questions your audience is asking.
Your content, enriched with captivating real estate images, should also guide your potential clients through their house-hunting journey. Top-funnel clients need informative content, while those at the bottom of the funnel are ready for more sales-driven content. Tailor your message to match their stage in the funnel.
Harness the data stored within your real estate CRM. It holds a treasure trove of information about your leads’ pain points and frequently asked questions. Then, use this information to write articles that comprehensively answer their specific needs (and search queries).
That way, you can position yourself as an industry expert and establish trust within the real estate industry. You’ll also enjoy higher rankings on search engine results pages because you’ve managed to match your buyer’s intent (what they were looking for) with your content (the answers they found).
And Google loves helpful, reliable, people-first content. It’s one of the simple E-A-T guidelines that can seal your ticket to content success.
Oh, and just like fruit, content can go stale. You must update your content to keep it relevant and fresh. This process keeps your audience engaged and sends trust signals to search engines.
The whole content creation process is a puzzle of moving parts. It’s time-consuming. It’s demanding. And sometimes outright technical to keep up with Google’s updates.
Don’t worry. As an agent or broker, if you aren’t familiar enough with SEO, consider consulting a real estate SEO expert. With a proper understanding of search engine algorithms and the various ranking factors, they’ll fine-tune your content strategy to align with buyers’ intent.
In other words, they’ll do the heavy lifting to help you increase your chances of driving leads to your real estate listings.
But one thing’s for sure. Don’t sleep on the power of content marketing. Your competition isn’t waiting around. So start crafting and publishing high-quality content today and let it work its magic. Your clients will thank you. And so will your organic traffic (and ultimately your bottom line).
Don’t Skip the Meta Descriptions and Title Tags
Meta descriptions and title tags might seem like small pieces of the SEO puzzle. But boy, do they pack a punch. Overlooking these on-page small details can lead to:
- A negative user experience
- Screen reader roadblocks
- Index crawlability hiccups
Title tags are your webpage’s headline in the search engine results. It’s the first thing people see. A well-crafted title tag can grab attention, spark interest, and invite clicks.
Meta descriptions are the little text snippets that appear under the title tag on the SERPs. They offer a sneak peek into what your content is about. A compelling meta description can distinguish between someone clicking on your site or scrolling right by.
Screenshot by Kelly Moser
Both title tags and meta descriptions are perfect places to sprinkle your chosen keywords. When search engines see these keywords, they understand your page, improving your chances of ranking for those terms. Keep your title tags short, between 40–60 characters, to achieve the highest organic click-through rate (CTR).
A relevant and engaging title tag and meta description can enhance the user experience. They provide clarity and context, helping users decide if your page holds the answers they’re seeking.
Note that Google will often rewrite your meta descriptions. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write one. When in doubt, write it out. If Google changes it, don’t stress.
Optimize Your Website’s Technical Infrastructure
The inner workings of your site play a significant role in its performance, search engine rankings, and overall user experience. Here are some critical technical SEO elements to keep your eye on.
It’s a fact. Slow-loading sites frustrate users, leading to higher bounce rates.
Search engines also note this and could penalize your site’s ranking. By improving your site speed, you’ll offer a smoother user experience and score higher trust signals pointing to your website.
With Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool, you can unlock everything you need to know about improving page speed.
With most web browsing happening on mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly site isn’t optional anymore — Google recommends it as a part of the “usability of webpages” criteria.
Sitemap and Robots.txt
These elements guide search engines as they crawl and index your site. A sitemap provides a roadmap of your website’s pages, while the robots.txt file instructs search engines on what they can or can’t access.
Google has excellent documentation on sitemaps that can help get your site indexed in no time. Remember, if Google can’t index your site, you won’t appear on any search engine results page.
If you fear that a page on your website isn’t appearing in organic search, test the URL using Google Search Console.
Screenshot by Kelly Moser
Those pesky broken links and 404 errors lead to a frustrating user experience. They’re also a major red flag for search engines, as they disrupt the crawling process.
Regularly audit your site to fix such issues and keep it running smoothly. That way, you encourage visitors to stay on your site longer and continue to explore your real estate listings.
Optimizing your website’s technical infrastructure lays the groundwork for successful long-term SEO campaigns. It’s like preparing a house for a showing. Get it right, and the house will sell quickly. Sweep the imperfections under the rug, and you risk staying on the market too long.
Create a Google Business Profile
In real estate, location is everything. You know the saying “location, location, location.” So, naturally, the same holds in SEO. Local searches are your bread and butter. Here’s where creating a Google Business profile comes into play (in addition to your real estate website).
Think of a Google Business profile as your online storefront or digital business card. It’s a free tool that opens the door for promotion across Google Search and Google Maps.
Setting up and optimizing your profile gives local prospects a direct line to your business. So when potential clients in your area search for real estate agents or listings, you appear as a top contender in the local search results.
It provides a snapshot of your business with contact details, operating hours, and customer reviews. It’s a one-stop shop that puts your business on the map (literally) and helps you stand out from the local competition.
Plus, the results for Google businesses appear at the top of the Google SERPs. So you can reap the benefits we discussed earlier (higher click-through rates) and boost your organic traffic tenfold.
Screenshot by Kelly Moser
So, whether you’re a real estate giant or a small agency, don’t underestimate the power of a Google Business profile or other social media channels. Embrace it, and watch your local SEO efforts drive the organic traffic numbers you’ve always dreamt of.
Build Authority Backlinks
As the CEO of uSERP, Jeremy Moser, famously said, “Links are like Yelp reviews: the more you have from credible sources, the more trust you gain and the better you’ll be favored in search results.”
Backlinks, or incoming links to your website from other sites, act like endorsements. They tell search engines your site provides quality, trustworthy content, which is crucial in determining your site’s authority and ranking.
The quantity of backlinks your website accumulates also plays a significant role. More relevant and authoritative backlinks can enhance your site’s credibility and visibility in search engine results.
So, how do you build these coveted backlinks?
- Conduct original research or compile unique data about the real estate market, then share your findings in a blog post.
- Contact authoritative real estate blogs or other publications to write informative articles and share your expertise.
- Start your own or appear as a guest on popular real estate podcasts.
- Collaborate with non-competing businesses in your area for cross-promotion.
Do all backlinks hold the same weight? No. A link from a highly respected site carries more weight than one from a lesser-known site. Also, the linking site must be relevant to your industry. A backlink from realtor.com will have a more significant impact than one from sallysbakingshow.com.
Building high-quality backlinks may seem daunting, but the payoff in SEO success and increased visibility is well worth the effort. When in doubt, outsource to a link-building agency that can score you the best backlinks online.
The upfront investment is pricey, but the outcomes are always worth it. And you’ll see results much faster than doing it in-house.
Maximize Your Real Estate Listing Visibility with SEO
And there you have it, folks—your complete guide to mastering real estate SEO.
From keyword research and content creation to building backlinks, every step moves you towards better online visibility, more leads, and closing more deals.
But remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for success. It takes time, dedication, and a bit of trial and error.
So don’t wait. Start implementing a few of these strategies today. Take your real estate SEO strategy one step at a time and transform your online presence into a robust lead-generation machine.
This article is contributed by Hopper HQ.