Real estate SEO guide for 2021
Learn how you can leverage SEO to improve your real estate marketing and maintain a steady stream of quality local leads on autopilot.
May 11 · 8 min read
Like many things today, the process of buying or selling real estate property has gone digital. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, over 44% of potential home buyers turn to online channels first. So what does this mean for you as a realtor in 2021? Well, it’s simple — your real estate website must be easy to search for and find on the internet!
For this, your real estate SEO strategy must be on point.
The real estate market is highly competitive, especially in urban areas and big cities. From the solo realtor trying to keep their business afloat to large real estate agencies with dozens of agents and advisors on their payroll, everyone is out to improve their lead generation tactics and ensure better visibility for their listings.
Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a critical role in making this happen. In fact, done properly, real estate SEO is a gift that keeps on giving. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can leverage SEO to improve your real estate marketing and maintain a steady stream of quality local leads on autopilot.
The basics of real estate SEO
Broadly speaking, SEO is all about optimizing your business’s online presence for better searchability and visibility on the web. It’s a detailed, often lengthy process aimed at maximizing the number of your website visitors by ensuring it ranks high on the list of results returned by Google following an organic search.
Appearing high on the list of results means aiming to be on the very first page of a search engine results page (SERP). Do a simple Google search now; how likely are you to visit other pages on the SERP list?
There’s an age-old saying among online marketers that the best place to hide a body is on the second page of Google’s SERPs because no one ever goes there. Though it’s not entirely true that no one checks out other pages on a SERP list, the need to be on the first page remains paramount.
For real estate agents, this means putting in intentional SEO work while also keeping up to date on current best practices. The reality is that it’s no longer enough to just have a real estate website and publish content. If you want to outmuscle your way in the highly competitive real estate industry and drive qualified leads, you need a proper SEO strategy.
Real estate SEO requires a specialized approach
There’s no shortage of technical terms and jargon floating around, but at its core, real estate SEO really boils down to trust and credibility from both human searchers and search engine crawlers. When people trust your real estate business, they’re more likely to click on your website to check out your real estate listings. Homebuyers want real estate agents they can trust, so making your website an authority source is a top priority. When search engine crawlers see your website as credible, they award a higher ranking on the SERP for relevant keywords.
Another thing to consider is that Google’s search algorithms and ranking factors have evolved over the years.
To give you a clearer picture, put yourself in the customer’s shoes for a moment. For example, let’s say you want to buy a home in Oakland, California. If you’re like most homebuyers, you go straight to Google and type in the search phrase’ home for sale in Oakland.’
The search returns a shortlist of options to look at.
A few years back, you could simply check out the top three or four results to start evaluating your options. Today, however, the layout of the SERP has changed. Ads, instant answers, and local business listings dominate the top half of SERPs. This means visible organic rankings are harder to notice for important search phrases.
That’s why if you want your real estate agency to succeed with its digital marketing efforts, you cannot afford to do what everyone else is doing. Stick with this guide, and you’ll learn exactly what to do to set your marketing strategy apart and drive more organic traffic to your real estate website.
How can SEO help my real estate business?
An effective SEO campaign means that whenever Google records a search for real estate-related keywords, it will immediately determine that your website is most relevant to searcher’s needs. This increases your website’s SERP rank, which in turn increases your website traffic, and ultimately leads to several prospective new clients.
Let’s delve deeper into how SEO can positively impact your real estate business.
- Have potential clients come to you
Executed properly, your real estate SEO strategy could have you living every real estate agent’s dream — a full sales pipeline with people coming to you instead of the other way round. That’s because organic search queries are usually preceded by buyer intent. When people do a Google search for ‘homes for sale,’ it’s likely because they’re looking to buy. Your SEO campaign will then direct them to your website to check out your real estate listings.
- Real estate SEO is cost-effective
Compared to other pillars of digital marketing like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, SEO stands out as one of the most cost-effective. More importantly, it can generate steady returns over the long term.
Yes, paid advertising brings immediate results and is perfect for building brand awareness, but with average cost-per-click (CPC) rates of around $4 per click in the real estate industry, you’ll need a deep budget, which many realtors don’t have. Plus, once the ad ends or the payment stops, your leads pipeline starts to dry up.
On the other hand, an informational, keyword-optimized blog posted today can improve your website’s search engine rankings and continue to drive quality traffic to your website for the next couple of months or even years. And the only thing you’re paying for is to have the content written and optimized. In 2021, you simply cannot afford to ignore the long-term potentials of a well-crafted SEO strategy.
- Real estate SEO helps you remain competitive
With more and more participants entering the real estate market with each passing day, you’re going to need more than the usual measures to stay ahead of the competition. In fact, CNBC reports that for every available real estate listing, there are twice as many real estate agents. A focused SEO strategy can mean the difference between maintaining your relevance in the market and being brushed aside.
- Real estate SEO can involve social media integration
Social media is all the rage now in digital marketing, and SEO can help bolster your efforts. Even if you don’t have a dedicated real estate website (you definitely should though), SEO can still help drive organic traffic to your social media page.
At the end of the day, realtors can tap into the power of search engine optimization to reach their target audience more effectively. Of course, the key is to put together a winning real estate SEO strategy, one that takes into account the most current trends and best practices in the industry. Let’s look at how to go about it.
Our best real estate SEO tips for 2021
Real estate SEO is more competitive compared to other industries, which in turn presents a number of challenges. For instance, when setting up a local SEO campaign, you need genuine online testimonials, which can be hard to acquire.
Also, user experience is a broad field; and yet it has quickly become one of Google’s most important ranking factors. However, it can be hard to get a full grasp on optimizing user experience, especially for small real estate businesses with limited marketing resources.
Notwithstanding, progress is always infinitely better than doing nothing and hoping for the best. So with that in mind, here are our top real estate SEO tips to up your overall digital marketing strategy in 2021.
1. Implement local SEO strategies
In 2021, ranking your real estate website means nailing down your local SEO. This important first step is all about optimizing your real estate agency for local search. If you really think about it, real estate is local. After all, homes and commercial properties can’t be shipped around like ecommerce products. So it makes sense to focus on ranking your real estate website for local search queries.
To implement your local SEO strategy, you’ll first need to create and claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Your GMB profile provides Google with important information about your real estate business, including your business name, address, phone number, and business hours. You need to make sure that these details are consistent with the business information on your website, social media pages, and other relevant local business listing platforms, such as Yelp, Zillow, and Trulia.
Claiming your GMB listing is free and provides a number of important benefits. For one, it places your business on Google Maps, allowing visitors to know your exact office location should they wish to visit. Another benefit is that because it centers around optimizing for local search, there’s less competition for the real estate keywords for which you want to rank.
2. Focus on localized keyword research
This just ties back to the earlier point about optimizing your business’s online presence for online search. Because the real estate industry is so highly competitive, you need to avoid selecting keywords based on search volume alone.
It’s also important to avoid generic keywords like ‘homes for sale’ and ‘buying a new home.’ Instead, focus your keyword research on finding long-tail keywords. These are generally easier to rank for since they are more descriptive, less competitive, and capture user intent better. A good example of a long-tail real estate keyword would be ‘2-bedroom condo for sale in Oakland.’ This keyword specifies the type of real estate (2-bedroom condo), the type of transaction (for sale), and the geographical location (Oakland).
These search terms easily capture user intent, which improves your chances of ranking high on the organic search.
3. Enhance your content marketing
Every aspect of your real estate marketing plan requires quality content. Whether it’s on your website, social media pages, or online platforms, you must maintain a consistent quality in the content you’re publishing. You also want to make sure there’s no duplicate content whatsoever and no unnecessary jargon. Publish SEO-friendly blogs regularly, so you always have fresh content.
Another key factor in the success of your content marketing strategy is understanding your target audience. People need to feel like you’re addressing them directly with your content. The more you know about the people you’re targeting, the more personalized your content will be. When people can easily relate to the content you’re publishing, they’re more likely to hire your services.
4. Practice effective link building
Content marketing is also integral to link building. This is important in SEO because it helps improve user experience and establish authority. There are two main categories under link building — internal and external.
Under internal link building, you’re interlinking key terms or phrases in your content or web page to other relevant pages in your website. For example, in the Call to Action (CTA) on your website’s home page, you should interlink your Contact page to the phrase ‘contact us’ or ‘contact form.’ This promotes a better user experience since the reader can simply click the link to go to the page instead of looking for it on the navigation.
Under external link building, you’re creating backlinks from other websites and online platforms to your website. The key is to make sure you’re getting these backlinks from authoritative real estate websites. This tells Google that your website is also authoritative (domain authority), which in turn improves its ranking on SERPs. The more authoritative the source site, the stronger the quality of the backlink.
Related: How to build domain authority
Some of the best ways to create and acquire quality backlinks include:
- Guest posting on other websites
- Syndicating your original content on social media
- Creating consistent citations for local SEO
- Studying the backlink profile of your competitors
5. Do a comprehensive website audit
A website audit sets the foundation for proper on-page SEO — optimizations done directly on the website. For most small businesses, running a website audit means using free specialty tools like ahrefs, Screaming Frog, or SEMrush. However, if you can afford it, you should definitely hire an on-page SEO expert to do it for you. The audit result will be more comprehensive.
In any case, a web audit looks at your website from a technical SEO standpoint. Some of the most important things to look at include:
- Site speed — Page loading speed is a fundamental ranking factor in SEO. The current standard is three seconds for regular websites and two seconds for ecommerce sites.
- Meta titles and descriptions — These are the page titles and short descriptions that you usually on SERPs. Keyword-optimized title tags and meta descriptions are important for improving on-page SEO. The good thing is that they’re easy to update.
- Mobile responsive web design — Mobile-friendliness is another important ranking factor. If your real estate website is difficult to access or navigate on mobile devices, your search engine rankings will drop severely.
- Content and URL structure — This looks at content structures, URL architecture, website navigation, header and footer info, proper alt tags for image optimizations, and so on.
- Website health — A website audit will reveal information on broken web pages, failed 301 redirects, outdated plugins, crawl errors, schema markup, XML sitemap errors, and other important technical stuff. To complement the result of the audit, you can also look at your Google Analytics data.
6. Aggregate testimonials from previous clients
By now, you should be well aware of the power of online reviews for your real estate business. Most potential homebuyers will want to read success stories from your past clients before deciding to take the plunge with your agency. So wherever you’re getting your online reviews, make sure to maximize every testimonial.
One important thing to note is that every review should have the correct schema information and aggregate rating. This enables Google to recognize the review as legit. Tagging them incorrectly can appear like you’re copying an existing review.
FAQ about real estate SEO
Q. How long does real estate SEO take?
It can take anywhere from three to six months to start seeing tangible results from your real estate SEO efforts. However, you should remember that SEO is an ongoing affair, so even when you start seeing results, don’t slack off.
Q. What are the key metrics I should track for real estate marketing?
They’re basically the same stuff you would track when setting up goals on Google Analytics:
- New clients — The more you acquire, the better your SEO strategy is performing
- Keyword ranking — The higher your keyword ranking, the more traffic you will attract to your real estate website
- Organic traffic — People visiting your website directly from the SERPs
- Visitor duration — The amount of time the visitor spends on your time. The longer, the better for SEO because it means they find your content relevant and engaging
- Pages per Session —How many pages the visitor visits on your website within a browsing session
Q. What ROI should I expect?
There’s no standard answer here. However, expect returns that are proportionate to your SEO efforts. If you’re adhering to all SEO best practices correctly, then you can look forward to better returns on your investment.
Q. Where can I find real estate SEO experts?
Right here on B12! B12 is a complete web solutions platform dedicated to helping our clients build and maintain a powerful online presence that translates to better profitability. Most of the services we offer are powered by artificial intelligence, allowing for a more streamlined process from start to finish. Learn more about our AI-powered SEO services for residential real estate brokers today.
In addition to SEO, we also offer top-of-the-line solutions such as copywriting, blogging, online scheduling tools, billing and payment services, and of course, AI-powered web designs. Check out our collection of case studies so you can see for yourself what to expect when you partner with B12 for your real estate business.
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