Get a website, integrate your listings, sprinkle some social media posts here and there, and wait for the traffic to flood in. Right?
Maybe ten years ago.
Real estate SEO in 2019 is a far cry from what it used to be when real estate agents were just starting to move their lead generation and property promotion online. Now, too many agents are haphazardly throwing together their websites and competing for the same popular search terms in their area. They get frustrated that they’re not getting enough real estate leads from their websites, not realizing that they’re getting lost in the deluge of other thousands of other agents.
Meanwhile, the few who do understand how real estate SEO works in 2019 are rising to the top of search engine results every time. The fact of the matter is that 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engine results. If you know how to get to that first page, you’ve won half the battle of winning organic leads.
At this point, a winning SEO strategy comes down to understanding traffic distribution, so let’s take a look at what works in 2019.
Shift your focus towards more specific, long-tail keywords
If trying to rank for popular real estate search terms doesn’t work, then what does?
This is where long-tail keywords come in. Long-tail keywords account for 70% of all online searches, so they’re worth paying attention to. If you’re not familiar with them, a long-tail keyword
- Is a chain of 3-5 words that make your original keyword more specific
- Gets slightly less traffic
- Converts better because there’s less competition
In the world of real estate SEO, ranking for terms with high traffic or even for specific addresses has become very difficult and requires a large SEO investment, but neighborhood-specific terms, niche keywords, and long-tail keywords around specific searches still are great sources of traffic if approached correctly.
Trying to rank for long-tail keywords ends up virtually eliminating the issue of competing for oversaturated search terms and gives you higher quality traffic. To understand this better, here’s a quick breakdown of how traffic distribution affects your return on keywords:
Broad keywords with high traffic
High traffic keywords get a lot of traffic searching for them, but there’s a lot of competition to rank for these terms and that makes it hard to get on the first page of search results.
These are very broad keywords like “Los Angeles real estate” and “homes for sale in Los Angeles”. Not only does the high competition hurt your chances of getting to the first page of search results (although it’s possible with a hefty time and financial investment), but another way to look at it is that the broadness of the search terms also indicates that a potential buyer is still in the very early stages of their purchasing journey and might not even be ready to talk to an agent.
More specific, niche keywords with slightly less traffic
It may seem counterintuitive to even care about keywords with less traffic, but they have less competition and actually tend to convert better than broad keywords while still getting consistent, solid traffic.
These are slightly more niche keywords like “Los Angeles luxury homes”, “Los Angeles realtor”, or “real estate agents in Los Angeles”. Here, we’re getting into long-chain keywords that are more specific than high traffic keywords.
Not only do these see less competition, but again, the actual words used in these search terms are an important indicator of where the buyer is in their purchasing journey. These terms hint that a buyer is slightly more aware of what they’re looking for and may be closer to wanting to interact with an agent than those who are “just looking”– another reason why these terms are more likely to convert.
Area- or neighborhood-specific keywords with fairly low traffic
These are keywords like “Bel Air luxury homes”, or even “123 Sunset Drive” or “the best neighborhoods to buy real estate in Los Angeles in 2019”. They’re not inundated with heavy traffic, but the traffic is still consistent. When you get into more specific keywords with low traffic, you’re getting quality visits rather than quantity visits.
Your website analytics might tell you that you’re hardly getting any visitors looking for these terms, but you might notice that one out of every twenty or thirty or fifty visits converts into an actual lead and that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
Take a holistic approach to optimization
It’s also worth mentioning that while stuffing a bunch of the same keywords into your pages over and over again used to work (before everyone started doing it), it now comes off as a big red flag to search engine algorithms. If you rely on keyword stuffing, you’re actually running the risk of search engines deciding not to index your pages at all.
Flash forward to real estate SEO in 2019 and search engines now regularly update their algorithms to favor the reader’s experience by tracking things like
How long someone stays on a page to read it (also referred to as your “bounce rate”)
The presence of authoritative, industry-specific links
How much valuable, long-form content (meaning blog posts with over 1,000 words) is available on your website
The time it takes for your pages to load
And if your site is mobile-friendly, since 87% of smartphone users use search engines at least once a day.
So as you can see, keywords are important, but they’re just a small part of the user experience which ultimately determines how well your pages will rank with search engines.
But beyond the fact that search engines don’t like keyword stuffing, another reason to avoid it is because your target audience doesn’t like it, either. When you simply focus on keywords, it can make your content sound robotic and salesy, which hurts your credibility when potential leads visit your site.
Making your content work for search engines is great, but it needs to work with your target market first and foremost. Remember that your goal is to make sales, not just rank on the first page of Google.
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