“The next logical question is, “What exactly does SEO get me?” In a word, leads. And not just any leads, but qualified leads.” ~ Realtor Mag
SEO (search engine optimization) is the most misunderstood form of internet marketing. Given the fact that over 90% of all internet users use search engines to search for information online, it is also an important one.
We recently had a client call in and ask to see some websites we had built that were performing well on the search engines, or had good SEO. We sent him a couple of the websites that the owners were blogging consistently and getting good results.
He called back and said that they were not ranking for searches. However, I had done an analysis earlier and knew that they were ranking on the first page for many search topics, or keywords.
SEO novices assume that everyone types the same keywords into Google, a common mistake. In fact a well-optimized Real Estate website will get traffic from people who type in variations of thousands of different keywords.
When we asked our client what keywords he was checking he stated: Major City + Real Estate.
While it is true that most often the city name + the word real estate is the most searched keyword… it is just one keyword variation. And it happens to be the most competitive, by a large margin.
The average major city + real estate search result is only going to have room for 1 or 2 local agent’s websites. This is because you are competing with Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Realtor.com, Homes.com, Craigslist, and the big brokerage firms.
If I use the Google Keyword Planner Tool I can see how much keywords cost per click. The more they cost per click the higher the competition.
Seattle Real Estate = $.98 per click
Seattle Condos = $.64 per click
This tool is used to price Ads and not organic traffic, but is still a good indicator. What that tells me is it will be easier to rank for Seattle Condos than Seattle Real Estate.
An easier way to simply gauge the popularity of a group of keywords is to search for them on Google and you will notice that they show you how many results were populated.
Seattle Real Estate = 98,100,000 results
Seattle Condos = 12,800,000 results
You can see that Seattle Real Estate gets 85,300, 000 more results than Seattle Condos.
Learning to understand SEO is not a task that most real estate agents want to take on… and we understand that. Before you dig in to deep… you don’t need SEO. There are other ways to generate traffic and leads. This is just one way.
SEO is cheaper than all other forms of internet marketing especially pay-per-click campaigns and more effective. It does however, take time, and time is money. And it is not easy. And there is not an exact formula that you can replicate to get the exact results you want.
Why Real Estate SEO
Before search engines like Google came into being, internet users had to memorize URLs of the website they wanted to visit. This was a daunting and time-consuming task not to mention the limiting nature of the method. Search engines came into being, led by Google, making it extremely easy to find information online.
When using search engines, all you need to do is enter a search term to find countless search results on that search term.
Given the popularity of search engines today, any website owner that plans on getting search traffic must make sure their site is friendly to search engines. In simple terms, they must optimize their site for search engines or simply, carry out search engine optimization.
SEO is very important because it helps website owners rank their sites high on search engines. It’s important to note that search engine users rarely go past the first page results. SEO therefore can be a huge advantage to the success of any real estate agent.
43% of Home Buyers polled said the First Step They Took in the Home Buying Process was, looked online for properties for sale. (source: Real Estate in the Digital Age by NAR)
For a long time, traditional industries like real estate have relied heavily on offline marketing. The tide has however shifted as more people embrace the internet to look for real estate experts, listings, tips etc.
Many real estate agents have been left behind in regards to embracing the power of search engines. Others have trouble embracing SEO because of the misinformation surrounding the subject as well as the countless ineffective and potentially dangerous SEO shortcuts out there.
I don’t know what to tell you about sifting through the garbage online, or even at workshops, other than to look at the source… oh and if someone is telling you it is easy, run.
This leads us to a very important question; what’s the best way for real estate agents to start an SEO campaign?
If you are interested in the answer to this crucial question, look no further. Below is everything you need to know about SEO best practices for real estate agents who are beginners in SEO i.e. how to SEO for real estate.
Conduct Thorough Research
The first and most important step in any SEO campaign (let alone real estate campaigns) is research.
Know Your Audience
The best real estate SEO practices all begin with thorough research to find the best audience for your site. This step is crucial because your site is most likely to convert when you choose the right audience.
What’s the point of talking to people who aren’t likely to transact business with you? Most real estate agent fail in SEO because of choosing the wrong target audience right from the start.
Because the internet is a huge place, you need to research and find the perfect audience for your website if you plan on getting the best leads possible. The beauty of internet marketing is that you have control over who you want to find you.
You can start researching by writing down the characteristics of the most successful real estate clients you have dealt with.
- Where were they from
- What was their age
- What problems did they face
- What information captured their interests
- What questions were they asking?
The answers to the above questions will help you to figure out how to attract similar clientele to your website.
This is called creating a Buyer Persona.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better. (source: Hubspot)
Earlier in the post we talked about a common mistake involving Keywords or Search terms. The first thing I would do with my keyword research is ignore the search term “Major City + Real Estate”.
We can always come back to this huge keyword and try to rank for it… but lets start with some easier keywords that we can start ranking for more quickly.
I bet you did not know that when you put together your Buyer Persona you came up with some keywords. Sure, when you wrote down that most of your clients did not understand Mortgage Insurance… that is a keyword: “Understanding Mortgage Insurance” or “What is Mortgage Insurance” or “Do I Need Mortgage Insurance” or “Why DO I Need Mortgage Insurance”
As the name suggests,
Commercial keywords are keywords that are used by real estate clients interested in transacting business i.e. buying or selling property.
Informational keywords are those keywords used by people who are interested in finding real estate related information.
Most real estate SEO beginners don’t know this which is why they craft ineffective SEO campaigns. You need to think of the type of keywords your target audience is most likely to use on search engines and use such keywords to make your website content.
Commercial keywords are a great inclusion to your website if you are targeting real estate clients who are already interested in buying property or transacting any other real estate related business.
Good examples of commercial keywords are:
- buy a home
- buy property
- searching for a home
A person typing such keywords on Google will definitely make a faster commercial decision compared to another person who is just looking for real estate related information i.e. the person typing informational keywords.
It’s therefore up to you to decide what you want. Both keyword strategies are good depending on your strategy.
If your site is purely informational, then there is nothing wrong with posting content rich in informational keywords.
If you are looking for clients who will most likely use your services in the shortest time possible, commercial keywords are the best.
You must however do through keyword research since commercial keywords are highly competitive for obvious reasons. Keyword research will help you find those commercial keywords that are popular but less competitive.
For instance, instead of choosing a commercial keyword with a name of a state, you can choose those with the name of a city or neighborhood. Such keywords will give you a better page ranking because they aren’t used by as many established real estate professionals.
If you did not do a Buyer Persona, and are not worried about Commercial vs. Informative keywords, we will just hope you are going to attract the right people. Sometimes just starting is good enough, so don’t beat yourself up.
You can simply start typing words into Google. Sure, once you start typing something in then Google will start suggesting more keywords.
I have a good deal of clients that like to buy Investment Properties. So I might type in: “How to Buy an Investment Property” and Google starts suggesting keywords to me.
If you want a tool to help you think of Keywords try:
Be sure to try different keyword combinations.
Did you know that the word “House” is used 20x More Than the word “Home”
It is however crucial to make sure you create high quality content that your website visitors will like/find useful and return for more.
Craft a Good Content Strategy
Now that you already have an idea of your ideal target site audience as a real estate agent, and an idea of what kind of keywords you would like to rank for, it’s time to create content that captures them perfectly.
[alert class=”alert-info”]Content is a very important part of SEO since it carries the search terms (keywords) that your target audience is most likely to use on search engines when they are looking for real estate related information. [/alert]
We found 100’s, a bunch, a few, at least one keyword that we would like to use… Now What?
We use that keyword to guide us in building our content strategy or content marketing strategy.
“Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content—written or in other media. The term is particularly common in web development since the late 1990s.” (source: Wikepedia)
For SEO Beginners we can boil this down to 2 things:
- Landing Page
Blogging or creating new blog posts on a regular basis is the easiest form of content creation and the heart of a good SEO campaign.
I recommend that you have a:
- WordPress Website
- With IDX
- Lightweight and well coded theme
- Well designed with Good UX (user experience)
To create your blogging content. However, there are other ways to do it.
That is why we want to blog as much as we can. The amount of times you blog is almost as important as what you blog and how you blog.
How Much Should You Blog
” (source: Hubspot)
How To Blog On WordPress
Creating content in the form of blog posts can consist of:
What To Blog About
This is where that research comes in handy… take those keyword ideas and use them for inspiration for creating your blog post.
If you want to try to tackle some of those big Commercial keywords like Buying a Home In Seattle you will need to put together an AWESOME blog post.
If you want to try to do a more informative post about your neighborhood you can get by with a GOOD blog post.
Here are a few posts I have written to suggest some easier blogging campaign ideas:
- Simplify your real estate blogging with curated content
- 60 Real Estate Infographics you can use to ignite your content marketing
- Stop worrying about what Google thinks and just add content
- Easy Real Estate Content Marketing Strategy
On Page SEO
This is detail is not necessarily for the newbie SEO but worth mentioning. On page SEO is the work that we do to make sure that our blog post is as easy as possible for Google to find and rank.
This is like Staging A New Listing… It is not necessary but it will make it easier for people to find the listing and help it to look its best.
The best way to do this using WordPress is the use the WordPress SEO plugin:
You can also take a look at my post on how to create a blog post template:
For an extremely detailed and comprehensive look at WordPress SEO you can download the Yoast “THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO HOW SEO OPTIMIZE A WORDPRESS WEBSITE” e-Book in the DIY Members Area:
The basis idea here is to make sure that your post has a Keyword that you are focusing on. Like a paper you would write in college or even high school. You get an idea for a topic you want to write about then you build an outline.
Blog Post Promotion
Once you Publish on that blog post you are done… not quite.
We Need to Generate The “Fly Wheel Effect”
After we publish our blog posts we immediately share them on our social platforms.
- Facebook Business Page
- Google +
We bookmark the post.
We blast the post out to our email list.
We syndicate the post.
We content share the post.
Often times we put out a press release about the post.
Thus getting the “Fly Wheel” moving forward and generating momentum for the content.
It is important to note that all the above blog promotion is Free.
Creating content in the form of landing pages is not much different from creating content for blog posts.
The main difference being that:
Landing Pages are what we call Evergreen Content
Blog Posts are Dynamic Content
Meaning that blog posts will eventually rotate off the main page and “Get Old”, whereas Landing Pages are always accessible from the main page and “Stay Fresh or Relevant”.
Examples of Real Estate Landing Pages:
- Email Listing Alerts
- Instant Seller Home Value Report
- Seller Home Value Report
- Ebook or Electronic Report
- Relocation Packet
- Single Property Page
- Market Report
These pages will stay relevant for the life of the website, sans a few adjustments here and there.
Interested In Learning More About Real Estate Landing Pages:
How To Create A Landing Page on WordPress
There are many ways to go about creating a Landing Page or Page on WordPress. There are 4 ways that I would recommend.
- Simply create a new page and add content
- Home Value Leads (or similar service)
How To Add A Page On WordPress
On page SEO should be set up in the same way as we discussed for a blog post.
Landing Page Promotion
Typically you won’t promote your landing pages in the same way you do with the blog posts. The reason being is that generally your blog posts will be more informative and your landing pages will be more sales driven.
People won’t appreciate you go sharing your sales driven landing pages all over the internet. I am not saying that you can’t do it… just be careful.
Promoting Your Landing Page:
- Facebook ads: These are the small advertisements that pop up in your sidebar or show up randomly in your Facebook news feed.
- Twitter: Advertising on Twitter is ridiculously easy and very reasonably priced. It can also get your ads in front of a lot of new prospective customers.
- Google Ads or PPC: These are the paid listings that show up at the top and on the right side of your search engine results page (SERP). You bid on keywords and the more you pay, the more often your ad shows up.
- Display or Banner Ads: These are paid advertisements that can appear in multiple places on websites. Often when you visit a particular website, you’ll see display ads for that website in multiple places online for a while. It can feel like these ads are following you around online (it’s because they often are). These are known as retargeting ads
Craft a social media strategy
Although SEO is undoubtedly the most effective online marketing strategy, social media marketing can’t be overlooked. Furthermore, the two marketing methods are interlinked in that a popular article/site on social media is bound to be favored by search engines. These are called Social Signals.
“Just because Facebook and Twitter aren’t driving you a ton of sales doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leverage them. Why? Because both Google and Bing use data from social sites in order to determine how high to rank your website.” (source: QuickSprout)
Check Out This Gifograph on How Social Signals Affect SEO
CLICK THE IMAGE TO SEE IN FULL SIZE
It’s therefore crucial for you to create social media pages for your site. Furthermore, there is no need to create great content that isn’t sharable and the best place to share website content today is on social media.
Having social media pages for your site on all the major social media platforms is a great start.
- Google +
- Google + Collections
- Google + Communities
- Facebook Page
- Facebook Group
- Linkedin Page
- Linedin Groups
A social media presence will allow you to collect leads as well as share updates faster. If you aren’t familiar with social media marketing, you should start familiarizing yourself. Luckily, it’s very easy to use all the major social media sites for business.
You just need some spare some time and be willing to learn. As long as you keep creating fresh high quality content for your website and posting links on social media, your social media efforts will start impacting your SEO efforts positively.
The above information summarizes the most important information on how to SEO for real estate.
Why you want SEO. How to get started building your world-class real estate SEO campaign, including:
- Doing Thorough Research
- Knowing Your Audience
- Keyword Research
- Crafting a Content Marketing Strategy
- Landing Pages
- Building A Social Media Presence
This post should give you enough information to get your Real Estate WordPress website to start ranking on search engines. It’s however advisable to use the above information as a basis for further research.