People often joke that the best time to buy real estate was “five years ago.” You might feel the same about your real estate SEO strategy. But while figuring out your search engine optimization can feel daunting, there’s no time like the present to get started.
To help you get the ball rolling, we’re breaking down real estate SEO best practices, what a good real estate SEO strategy entails, how SEO differs for the real estate industry, and more tips for effective real estate SEO.
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11 tips for effective real estate SEO
SEO is how companies win traffic from internet searches. It involves tailoring webpages, apps, and social media posts to the algorithms of search rankings, so your content appears before your competition.
To increase your visibility and drive high-quality traffic to your website, try these proven tips for establishing a winning real estate SEO strategy.
1. Start with an SEO audit
An SEO audit is a periodic check of your website and its performance from an SEO perspective. In-depth audits take 40-60 hours of research and should be performed at least twice per year. The results will give you a roadmap and help you set priorities for improving your site’s rankings.
An SEO audit should include the following:
- Testing your site’s speed
- Checking whether Google has indexed all of your pages
- For multilingual sites, ensuring that hreflang tags have been implemented
- Making sure your site has not been penalized by Google
- Grading mobile-friendliness
- Making sure your meta descriptions, knowledge graph, Google Business Profile, and reviews are appearing as they should
- Making sure you’re not missing essential pages and navigational links
- Checking for crawling issues like broken links, errors, redirect issues, or markup issues
Some audits even include a competitive assessment. This means checking your site’s performance against competitors, finding keywords you might be missing out on, and uncovering missed backlink opportunities. If this all sounds complicated, don’t worry. An experienced real estate SEO team can easily perform this audit for you and provide recommendations.
2. Optimize for fast search
Optimizing for fast search means ensuring that your site—as well as the data your site needs to pull from databases like IDX—is lean and easy to load. When it comes to speed, every fraction of a second counts. That’s because you’ll lose 53% of potential visitors if they have to wait three or more seconds for content. And conversion rates continue to tumble 8.3% for every tenth of a second someone spends waiting for your articles or listings to appear.
To speed up your site, start by checking your speed on Google’s PageSpeed Insights analyzer, which will provide a list of issues to fix. Common solutions include minimizing code, reducing excess code and plugins, and caching your web pages. You may want to consider working with real estate SEO experts who can ensure your site is lightning-fast while still featuring customizable search and IDX functions.
3. Optimize for mobile devices
Sixty percent of searches happen on phones, so making your site mobile-friendly is non-negotiable. It should also be a top requirement because Google prioritizes the mobile version of your site to index and rank your site by default.
Start with a responsive website design that loads your page based on your visitor’s device. You’ll run into fewer redirects and shorter load times with a single URL to load. Responsive design also reduces the chance that visitors end up on an error page or come across content that is unreadable.
4. Be accessible and ADA-compliant
Sites are areas of public accommodation, so all visitors need to be able to use all website features. One in four Americans has a disability, from mobility issues that make website menus tough to navigate to visual impairments that make it hard to interpret images. Assistive devices can bridge the gap, making a site ADA-compliant.
Here are some actionable ways to make your site accessible:
- Make links descriptive. Avoid phrases like “click here,” which does not tell users what kind of content they’ll get when they click.
- Use alt text on all images. This helps Google understand your page’s content and also helps your images rank in the Google Images tab.
- Use accurate title and heading tags. This helps readers recognize they’ve landed on the right page.
5. List your business on Google and other relevant directories
Online directories group similar companies together, display reviews, and build community trust for local businesses. And they’re hugely popular in searches that can accelerate your local real estate SEO. Case in point: Yelp sees 194 million monthly views, while Zillow gets 60 million.
To capitalize on that traffic and elevate your website’s authority, start by listing your business on Google with a free Business Profile. You’ll appear in local search results when readers run a search query for a “real estate agent in [my city].” Your Google listing also ensures you appear on the Google knowledge panel, Google Maps, and the Google three-pack, which is where Google displays the top results for a local search.
You should also list your company name, address, and phone number on Facebook, Foursquare, the Yellow Pages, Yelp, and real estate directories, and consider these top real estate sites:
- The National Association of Realtors (NAR) directory
- Neighborhood Scout
Also, think about adding your business to local directories like your chamber of commerce. Some directories are highly reputable, and their backlinks are simple to acquire, which can jumpstart your SEO authority.
6. Get active on social
Social media has grown to be the second-largest lead-generating avenue for real estate agents, with 82% looking to improve their social media marketing and 30% of realtors engaging clients from their social presence. That adds up to thousands of agents vying for prospects on multiple platforms.
While it can be tempting, don’t try to dominate every channel. Think about the channels where you spend time and where your prospects are most likely to be. If your target market favors Facebook over TikTok, so should you. If they live for YouTube or Instagram, post there. Your comfort level with each platform should also influence the platforms where you choose to be active.
Consider hiring a professional to handle your social media if you don’t have the time or interest in managing it yourself. With so many social media platforms and ever-changing algorithms, working with social media experts is one of the best ways to ensure you get results without having to spend countless hours learning or managing campaigns yourself. Even a single prospect gained from social media can make these services worth it.
7. Get local backlinks to your real estate website
When relevant, reputable websites link to your site, it’s a sign to Google that the domain is authoritative. Plus, showing off your connections to the community means your content ranks higher in Google, bringing you more traffic and leads. Locally relevant backlinks are valuable in real estate since they help your business rank higher for the geographically-specific keywords most likely to bring you motivated leads.
Local links can come from places like guest posts in local publications, newsletters, websites, and neighborhood blogs. To start building these relationships, think about sponsoring a local team, pitching a story to the local news outlet about real estate trends, or teaching a class at a local venue.
8. Publish city-specific content on your blog
Location is king in real estate. And that’s true with local real estate SEO, too. 97% of potential customers search online when they’re seeking information about relocation, schools, neighborhoods, and what it’s like to put down roots in a new community. That’s why it’s essential to publish helpful real estate SEO content centered on your location.
Consider writing stories about local real estate and development trends. And don’t forget to look for neighborhood blogs where you can regularly post quality content, answer questions, and engage. You can also start your own newsletter, which will help you drive traffic to your website, connect with your target audience, build trust, and get more conversions.
You can also partner with professional writers and SEO experts to develop engaging local content that establishes you as a market expert.
9. Optimize images for search
Optimizing images is an effective way to amplify the real estate SEO potential of your articles and listings. Google Image Search receives 735 million views per month, and its new multisearch, which combines words and images, benefits agents who have both gorgeous listings and in-depth neighborhood guides to show off.
Make sure to include your focus keyword in file names, use alt tags to describe images, and add captions that gel with your topic and image. If you’re using stock images, be sure to compress them so you’re not slowing down your website. You can use plugins to handle compression when you upload images to your blog.
10. Provide helpful tools and resources
While traditional marketing was about blasting your services via bullhorn to the general population, these days, it’s becoming more about finding ways to personally serve your target audience, with focused content and quality leading the way.
To provide more value to your audience, consider adding features like mortgage calculators or a resource page with recommended mortgage lenders and title companies. Truly valuable tools will also win passive backlinks. Some other examples include:
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- Neighborhood guides
- Searchable listings with customized alerts
- School ratings
11. Optimize for on-page factors
On-page factors should give agents confidence. Google, which currently accounts for over 86% of internet traffic, ranks on-page factors highly. Essentially, these are components on your page that play a large part in real estate SEO—and they are 100% in your control.
Consider the following to optimize your on-page factors:
- Update titles, headings, and meta descriptions.
- Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are correct and easy to locate on your website and across all of your profiles.
- Include local identifiers, like neighborhoods, or your city and state, in your titles and meta descriptions so that Google can rank you high for these geographically-specific terms.
- Make sure your real estate listings are indexable with an organized XML sitemap.
An XML sitemap tells search engines what pages are on your site and how to access them. Many site builders generate sitemaps automatically, so add “/sitemap.xml” to the end of your website’s URL to see yours. Submit it to Google Search Console to ensure crawlers have an updated view of your site.
Frequently asked questions about real estate SEO
Is real estate SEO different than other SEO?
No matter the industry, these best practices will increase your odds of being discovered by the people you want to reach.
- Quality content: Publish up-to-date, high-quality content with focus keywords that are relevant to your target audience (home buyers and/or sellers).
- Keyword research: Include relevant keywords with adequate search volume and, ideally, low competitiveness.
- Local SEO: Build your Google Business Profile and optimize for nearby searches and other location-dependent info.
- Technical SEO: Optimize your real estate website for speed and structure.
- On-page SEO: Optimize your website design, article headings, tags, images, meta descriptions, and outbound links.
- Off-page SEO: Capitalize on social media, link strategies, and mentions.
When it comes to real estate SEO specifically, one key difference is that real estate agents are generally interested in reaching local clients, rather than finding a national audience. Because of this, agents should tailor their keywords to their location and niche.
Is real estate SEO worth it?
Because SEO is integral to finding and nurturing new leads, a good real estate SEO strategy is among the best digital marketing investments a company can make. 49% of marketers believe that SEO has the best return on investment of any channel they use.
Real estate SEO is unique because local links and up-to-date listings are incredibly significant in capturing buyer traffic. But that doesn’t mean SEO is more challenging for a real estate business or that it doesn’t work. In fact, real estate SEO is a key source of traffic. That’s because it helps agents deliver a customized experience in a world where personalization is vital to sales.
How long does real estate SEO take to work?
SEO is a long-term strategy, and it takes time to see results. It can take between five months and two years to rank for a new article, depending on the difficulty of the keywords you choose. Even with low-competition keywords, ranking can take up to a year for websites that haven’t been fully optimized.
Take heart: Google indexes content within days, so updates or technical optimizations can result in new visitors almost immediately. Optimizing your content around topic clusters and pillar pieces can also get you ranked faster. Use internal linking to show connections and organize your content with subpillar content. For example, if you create a lengthy pillar page on “homes in Seattle,” your subpillar content might include articles like “waterfront homes in Seattle” or “homes in Queen Anne.”
Can agents do real estate SEO on their own?
Having some SEO education is a must for all agents. Understanding your real estate SEO strategy means you’ll be able to identify problems, search for keywords, and make updates confidently. Learning about common mistakes will help you get your website on the right track.
But having an agency or contractor manage SEO can also take the pressure off and deliver much better results. A professional will be up to date on industry trends and best practices and have the experience to make the right changes at the right time so you can rest assured your site is working its hardest for you.
Implement a smart real estate SEO strategy for your business
Implementing SEO for your real estate business website comes with big rewards that get bigger over time. You’ll be able to control your brand and present yourself as an expert. The added visibility will improve traffic, brand awareness, lead generation, and revenue, all of which will continue to accrue with referrals and experiences you can share on your website.
If you’re ready to start ranking higher and bringing in more quality traffic, our expert real estate SEO team is here to help. They’ve got the deep industry knowledge and experience to optimize your website, develop content that establishes you as a local expert, and help you generate more prospective clients and maximize conversions. You can get started by booking a live demo now.