The real estate industry is extremely competitive – both offline and online.
With tens of thousands of small, mid-sized and large companies vying for their share of the market, finding a client is always a challenge.
The good news?
The hyperlocal nature of real estate gives a viable chance to the smallest of businesses – provided you properly optimize your site for local search.
Here are 10 SEO tips that will improve your real estate website and help it dominate in local search.
1. Conduct an SEO Audit
Running an SEO audit is usually the smartest place to start.
In fact, an audit is a necessity if you want to optimize your real estate site for local search.
If your site fails to rank locally, drive any organic traffic, generate leads, or convert clients, you need to find out why.
- Site structure: XML sitemap, robots.txt, redirects.
- Page structure: Titles, meta descriptions, H1-H6 tags, ALT tags, URLs.
- Content: Keyword and link placement, structure, visual elements, duplicates, proper redirects and canonical tags.
- Links: Outbound and inbound, interlinking, broken links.
- Usability: Mobile-friendliness, site speed.
Bring these five up to snuff and you’ll see a considerable increase in traffic and clients.
An optimized site will rank nicely, including for local searches.
2. Optimize Your Website
Once you’ve pinpointed all the problem areas of your website, invest an adequate amount of hours into fixing them.
A perfectly optimized website is essential if you want to show up in local results. Address all the SEO essentials, including:
- Keyword research and analysis
- SEO-friendly URLs
- Optimization of tags and meta descriptions
- Image optimization
- Proper outbound and internal link placement
- Broken links
- Site speed optimization
- Content optimization
- CTR and bounce rate optimization
- XML sitemap
- SSL certificate
- W3C validation
If you’re an SEO specialist, then you’re already doing these things every day. If you’re a real estate agent and don’t know much about SEO, hire a professional. At the bare minimum, hire an SEO professional to help you with tips 1, 2, 3 and 9.
3. Optimize for Mobile
Once you’ve covered all the SEO essentials turn your focus to optimizing your real estate webite for mobile.
Why is mobile optimization necessary? Consider that over 48 percent of all real estate searches are now initiated on mobile.
Make sure potential clients can access and use your site conveniently on any mobile device.
Here are nine key areas to bear in mind when approaching mobile optimization:
- Responsive design
- Page speed
- Hosting speed
- Site navigation
- Site search
All of these are pretty important to your rankings and conversions. Visitors expect your site to load in less than two seconds and will immediately leave unless you provide impeccable user experience.
If your site loads too slowly, users will leave and look for a more user-friendly site.
Also, if your entry forms are confusing, users will also bounce back to the search results and check out one of your competitors.
When this happens, Google will notice. Your rankings will drop if this happens too often.
Some mobile optimization tips:
- Run a Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to learn if your page is mobile-friendly, and access the list of page loading issues that need fixing.
- Fire up a Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to get access to even more errors related to mobile optimization and load speed. Fix them until you score 100 points.
- Optimize your site’s code to delete all Flash and script elements that can increase your pages’ load time.
- Get rid of ads and interstitials that block users from accessing content. Both Google and users hate websites, especially mobile sites, that are a pain to navigate.
- Make sure that your site’s homepage is easy to use. It needs to feature visually appealing but not intrusive CTAs, short menus with large, easy-to-click tabs, a distinctive search field with selectable filters, user-friendly contact form, and a logo button that allows users to get back to your homepage.
- Optimize images. Reduce the size of large images and make sure that each image features an ALT text.
- Check if your site search displays relevant results. Ensure that filters work properly and do not make users zoom.
- Adjust your blog to AMP. This will drastically improve a site’s load time.
- Address caching issues of your site. In some cases, a site can suffer from poor performance in mobile search due to problems with hosting and caching. Make sure that all of your HTTP requests are handled in a flash.
Bonus tip: Use this emulator to check how your site is displayed on different devices. A bit of testing never hurts.
4. Get Your Business into Google
To build a continuous stream of clients from organic search, get your business listed in the Google 3-pack.
If your site’s age, authority, and content meet a high standard, it will definitely secure one of the top three non-paid positions on Google. Like this:
Obviously, users pay more attention to search results that feature snapshots, ratings, reviews, and Google Maps directions.
Here are a few tips to guide you through the process:
- Check all required information twice before creating your Google My Business account. These are your physical address, website, telephone numbers, email, etc. Once you claim your business, it will be very hard to change any information on the account.
- Make sure that your physical address is correct. Google will mail your authorization code to that address. If you don’t have a rented office, use your home address.
- Customize your Google My Business page. Specify your business hours and contact information. Add visually appealing photos and a direct link to your homepage. Finally, write an informative, useful and catchy description of your business.
Getting your business listed in Google is absolutely worth it. Once you claim your company, Google will display your site in localized search results, giving you a chance to rank higher than sites like Trulia and Zillow. Physical proximity becomes your best competitive advantage.
5. Register with Business Directories & Listings
To verify your business and drive backlinks, you need to register your company with business- and real estate-related directories and listings:
- Make a list of directories and listings in which you would like to register your site.
- Prepare info for new accounts: business name, physical address, telephone number, email, work hours, logo, visuals, unique descriptions, etc. Some directories allow you to post content, too.
- Fill out the accounts and check them regularly. If users leave comments or rate your business, always reply or send a thank you message.
- Now that you have covered all the coveted spots, research new opportunities. Directories and listings are not that popular nowadays, and yet new players appear once in awhile.
- Place logos of registered directories and listings on your site. Show your website visitors that you are a trusted and respected business.
Here are several directories to consider:
- Yellow Pages
- Better Business Bureau
- Angie’s List
- Merchant Circle
Claiming your business at the following listings is also a must:
- Yahoo! Homes
Clients do a substantial amount of search and research directly at these directories and listings. Thus, you kill two birds with one stone: improve your organic SEO stats and create additional sales channels to drive more conversions.
6. Start a Blog
You need a blog. Properly optimized content that speaks to the needs of your targeted audience is your path to dominate local search results.
Meanwhile, as a small business, you can’t go big on content. Your resources are too limited to compete with established corporations. This is why you should prioritize:
- Informative articles. These are blog posts about your neighborhood: schools, crime, walkability, median income, prices, social life, entertainment, restaurants, etc. Provide unique perspectives and describe actual pros and cons of the neighborhood.
- Interviews with local business owners. These can take a pretty large chunk of your time, but it will be time well spent. They will display the soul of your neighborhood and demonstrate to prospective home buyers how nice your area is. On top of that, business owners will share these interviews on their social pages and websites, building awareness and increasing reach for your business.
- Visual content. These are your images (ordinary and 360-degree immersive panoramic photos), infographics, video tours, live-stream videos, virtual tours, etc.
Optimize your content for search engines before posting and sharing. Include “geo” keywords into titles, subtitles, meta descriptions, ALT text, URLs, hashtags, etc.
7. Create & Optimize Video Content
Videos can truly distinguish your business from your competition. This is why you should:
- Launch and optimize a YouTube channel
- Upload videos to your channel on a regular basis
- Share (or upload) videos to your site and social pages
- Run live-streams on YouTube and Facebook to attract a larger audience
Consider the following types of video content:
- Open house videos
- Neighborhood video tours
- Listings videos (e.g., “10 Best Houses Sold This Month”)
- Q&A videos
- Q&A live-streams
- Virtual tours (use Matterport camera)
Your videos should be optimized for local search: include geotargeted keywords into headlines, descriptions, and hashtags.
Consider adding subtitles and placing the entire subscript in the description section for better crawlability and indexability.
Also, adding links to your website, social pages, related listings and content in the description is a must.
8. Be Social
Social media can help your SEO efforts, though it may not necessarily improve your organic rankings. However, social media is important because it helps you:
- Connect with your targeted audience.
- Build awareness, authority, and trust.
- Increase exposure.
- Drive more traffic.
- Convert this traffic into customers – and sales.
As a real estate business, it’s tough to gain visibility online unless you have social media accounts (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest). Use social networks to post and share your blog content, videos, and other important things (stats, news, etc.).
You can use the power of social networks like Instagram and Pinterest to promote your site with visual content. Let users have a peek at the best home sale opportunities on Facebook. Create boards on Pinterest to simplify pinning. Share stories on Instagram.
Make sure to dd local-focused hashtags and descriptions that feature geotargeted keywords.
9. Implement Structured Data Markup
Structured data markup allows you to display rich snippets in search. As a real estate business, consider implementing the following schema:
The choice of specific schema for your site depends pretty much on its structure. If you don’t know which one to choose, or how to get started implement structured data markup, consult with an SEO professional.
When everything is done, check your schema with a Google’s Structured Data Testing tool.
10. Earn Featured Snippets
Featured snippets give your site a chance to get to the #0 spot with almost zero effort (provided your page is ranking in the top 10 already).
But this is actually only one of the benefits of earning featured snippets. Thanks to snippets, you can:
- Improve rankings in SERPs.
- Display your offer directly in search.
- Attract users who are interested in your offer.
- Increase conversion rates.
Though featured snippets are pretty hard to earn, only a few businesses have them in local search. Consider these examples:
Google doesn’t display a featured snippet for a geotargeted query. As a real estate business, you can optimize your content to fill the gap. Here’s how:
- Run a keyword analysis to sift out relevant, geo-focused long-tail keywords and phrases.
- Place these selected keywords in content that matters to users, aka in-depth, high-quality content.
- Structure and markup your content properly. Use question-focused heads and subheads, shorter paragraphs that could fit into a featured snippet section, H1-H2 tags, tables, lists, charts, images, etc.
- Create a Q&A section on your site. Specific answers are more likely to be displayed as featured snippets, especially if they include images and lists.
Implement these real estate SEO tips will help you build a strong foundation that will help you dominate in local search.
Getting a juicy slice of the real estate pie is challenging, but don’t be discouraged. The niche is abundant with opportunity for small companies and individual real estate agents.
If you do your homework and optimize your site for local search properly, it will rank nicely – even against the strongest listing sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Yahoo Homes.
Some of the strategies require a substantial knowledge of SEO. Make sure you consult or hire a professional before taking your first step. It’s easier to avoid mistakes than fix them.
Screenshots taken by Sergey Grybniak, August 2017
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!