Every savvy real estate professional knows that the bulk of your marketing and brand-building efforts for your business are done online. There are dozens of ways to accomplish this, from paid advertising to social media marketing to email list building and more, but one of the most effective ways to build your brand as a real estate agent is to optimize your real estate website.
Yet it’s not enough to simply have a nice-looking site with a few pretty pictures and some MLS properties listed on it. There’s so much more to attracting traffic to your real estate website, after all – and much of it comes down to real estate SEO. Unless you focus on real estate website optimization, you’re not going to attract the attention you want. Here’s what you need to know about this unique and effective online marketing strategy.
SEO is an acronym – it stands for search engine optimization. The concept behind SEO, collectively, to make website content attractive and easily accessible to search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others. SEO is as old as the internet itself – in fact, the origin of the term can be traced back to 1997, though SEO has gone through some major changes since those early days of the internet.
Today, for example, more than 50 percent of searches take place on mobile devices – which means your website better be mobile-ready! Another example of this evolution is how most SEO practices today focus almost exclusively on Google, and for good reason – by 2003, Google was responsible for 75 percent of all internet searches around the world. Totday that figure has risen even higher to anywhere between 90 percent regionally in countries like the UK and 92 percent of the entire global search engine market!
One of the most common SEO methods today is link building. Google’s search algorithm prioritizes content that it considers valuable, and one of the ways it determines value is by counting the number of good links that lead back to that content. Link building involves both building a network of internal links (links in between pages of your own website) and external links (links pointing to your content from other websites).
Another crucial method for real estate SEO is the sitemap. Kind of like a table of contents for your website, a sitemap is a single place where all the relevant pages of your website can be reached. This is convenient for users, but its main benefit is for “web crawlers”, the automated software processes that search engines like Google use to quite literally map out and analyze your content. A good site map speeds up this process, meaning your content will be more readily available during searches.
So what does SEO do exactly? How can it be used to funnel more traffic to your site? It’s rather straightforward in theory. Google and other search engines offer ranked results to users who search for content. It’s been proven time and again that the better-ranked search engine results get more clicks. In fact, only 2 to 3 percent of users even check the second page of search results. SEO improves your content’s rank, increasing the chances that it will appear near the top of the results page. Thus, good real estate SEO drives traffic right to your front door.
There are dozens of factors on your page that influence SEO. Here are just a few.
Content is king in SEO right now. That’s because Google and other search engines have become advanced enough to evaluate natural language for relevance as well as value. Unique content that is easy for users to read and understand ranks higher than content that uses overly complex language.
SEO goes further than just content on the page – it extends to the title of that web page as well. Ensuring your title tags have the right targeted keywords that are relevant to users’ search queries increases the likelihood of being better ranked. Additionally, it helps attract users when the exact keyword or phrase they ran a search for is in the title of the page they’re looking at.
Meta descriptions are similar to title tags, but they’re possibly even more important: your meta description is what shows up in the search engine results, right below your title and URL. It’s an opportunity to hook the user, so be sure to keep them short but sweet (less than 160 characters) and include your strongest keywords.
Headings are HTML code that do more than set the size of the font for a title or subtitle of your web page – they also help Google and other search engines categorize your target. Make sure that any headings you use to separate different sections of your work have proper keywords as well.
Google prefers content with URLs, or internet addresses, that are as short as possible, as they’re much more easily accessible. Users like them too, as they’re easy to remember. An URL that’s easy for a user to type in by hand is one that they’ll likely choose first before others.
A picture has always been worth a thousand words, and that’s no different with SEO. Content that has accompanying images are prioritized over content that doesn’t. Additionally, images that bear captions and meta tags with your keywords in them help your overall search ranking further.
That’s all how you can control on-page SEO, but what about off-page? What goes into that process? Let’s take a look.
Inbound links play a major role, as mentioned earlier. The greater number of these links (sometimes called backlinks because the “link back” to your content, the better. At the same time, quality matters, too. Experts say that no more than 30% of your backlinks should contain your keyword or keyword phrase, while no more than 30% should contain variants it – the rest should be “click here”-type links.
Social media is another major driver in modern SEO. The more social shares your content has on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms, the better ranked that content is on Google and other search engines.
Search engine optimization is not going away any time soon. If anything, SEO is just going to get more advanced. In other words, if you want your online advertising efforts to pay off, you simply must devote yourself to developing good SEO for your real estate website.