According to a National Association of Realtors report, 97% of all home buyers used an internet search, at least once, to find a home—and 51% eventually bought a home they found online. 

Most people realize the search results on the first page aren’t there by accident. But not many real estate professionals out there understand how search engine optimization (SEO) works—or how to make it work for them. 

So, it’s a good thing HubSpot created its “Complete Guide to Real Estate SEO.”   

If you’re on social media, you probably have some idea of why keywords are important for optimizing your profiles and making your content more searchable. 

But how do you give your content its best shot at visibility when consumers are searching online for help with buying or selling a home? 

Read on to find out. 

What is real estate SEO?

First of all, let’s get clear on what SEO actually is, beyond what that acronym stands for. It’s one thing to know that it has to do with optimizing your content’s searchability with Google (and other search engines). It’s another to be able to explain how it works in the simplest terms.  

You apply search engine optimization when you label, organize, and present information in a blog or on any page of your website so that search engines like Google can easily pick up what you’re writing about. 

When Google recognizes the keywords and key phrases in your content, it’s more likely to offer your page as an answer to a searcher’s query. It does this by rating your content on four key principles (E-E-A-T):

  • Experience
  • Expertise 
  • Authority
  • Trust

The same principle applies with real estate website SEO, but the keywords you use are specific terms home buyers and sellers will be searching for. To make your content more searchable, you include these keywords in your website pages (including blogs) to boost your ranking. 

We’re not suggesting you pack each page with as many keywords as possible. There’s a thing called “keyword stuffing,” and search engines don’t like it. Neither do searchers. 

Improving your real estate SEO strategy has more to do with the following: 

  • Going local with keywords related to more specific, local search queries to get more targeted results—and ensure your visitors find what they need on your website
  • Updating the backend of your site to include the information search engines need to see to accurately categorize your content 
  • Understanding exactly what your potential clients are looking for—and delivering it

What are the actual benefits of real estate SEO?

Improving your website’s SEO is not a one-and-done or a quick fix. It’ll take consistent effort, with a bigger time investment up front and a long-term commitment to regular checks and updates. 

But if you stay with it and keep improving, the results will be well worth your time and energy.  Well-executed SEO benefits you and your business in at least four ways: 

Attract more potential clients (buyers and sellers)

The easier it is to find your website, the more likely buyers and sellers will see it, which means you’re more likely to get noticed by the right people—attracting leads that could become clients. 

Your conversion rate will depend on what you do for those leads once you’ve got their attention. 

Increase your brand awareness

The more focused your content is on the topics your ideal clients are searching for, the more you’ll boost awareness of your real estate brand, which will boost the credibility of your business. The more aware people are of your expertise as a real estate professional, the more likely they are to turn to your content and then to you for help in answering their questions. 

Even when those ideal clients aren’t actively searching for a home—or are only just looking into the possibility of a move—you’re more likely to be the one they reach out to when they’re ready. 

Reduce your paid advertising channels

The more leads you attract with your content through SEO, the less you’ll need to spend on paid search ads or social media ads. The more familiar people are with your content and your brand, the more likely they are to reach out to you by phone, DM, email, or text message

The amount of money you save could be considerable. And according to one Forrester study, SEO returns can be as high as twelve times the investment. And they compound over time.

SEO is ‘always on’

While ads are only active as long as you keep paying for them, SEO is always “on.” It always works to drive traffic to your website and steadily grow your brand awareness, whether or not you’re using digital ads to draw people to your site. 

Your website will keep attracting people searching for the answers and the service you provide. From there, it’s up to you to maximize your content’s impact and ROI. 

4 Steps to getting started with real estate SEO

As a real estate content creator, you need to look at SEO as a long-term investment. And the most critical step is getting started. So, here are the four steps to starting on the right foot. 

Get started on these right away so you can refine your strategy and get the best results possible as you learn. 

#1—Conduct keyword research

The first and often most important step to building your SEO strategy is keyword research. 

Optimizing your content’s searchability starts with understanding what specific terms your ideal clients are using in their internet searches, how often they use them, and how often your competitors are using them to target buyers and sellers in your area. 

The more competitive a keyword is, the harder it will be for you, when you’re just starting out, to rank high enough for it to appear on the first page of your ideal client’s search results. 

The keyword phrase “homes for sale,” for example, is extremely competitive, which means, if you’re just getting started, you have little to no chance of appearing on the first page. 

Fortunately, buyers and sellers tend to use more specific key phrases like “homes for sale in Bridgeport, CT,” which give your website a much better shot at ranking high if Google sees your blog or website as one of the best options for the searcher to find the answer to their query. 

To give yourself a headstart with keyword research, consider using an SEO tool like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Moz Pro (among others), which provide valuable information on keyword search volume and competition. Use that information to identify the best keywords to use on your website.

#2—Optimize your website

While Google just keeps getting smarter, it needs more than a handful of well-chosen keywords to understand what your website is all about. 

As you (continually) update your real estate website, pay attention to the details that help organize its pages—including header tags and meta descriptions. Once you’ve incorporated the keywords identified in the first step, a natural next step is to add more content to your site, which could be any or all of the following:  

All of these should give search engines (as well as your site visitors) a clearer idea of your website’s focus. You also want your target audience to get a quick and memorable feel for your brand’s value proposition. But first, they have to get there. 

#3—Focus on technical SEO

SEO doesn’t stop with your website content. Site ranking isn’t possible until your site is crawled and indexed, and technical SEO is what makes that happen. 

According to the Forrest SEO report mentioned earlier, 46% of the most SEO-savvy business owners focus on getting their site pages crawled and indexed. Because they know it’s just as critical to their ranking as their content’s SEO. 

In a nutshell, technical SEO covers the behind-the-scenes details that get search engines to crawl and index your site, including— 

  • Site optimization
  • Page (loading) speed
  • Mobile compatibility

Each of these can be broken down further. Page speed, for example, is improved by optimizing your images so they load quickly, keeping your site visitors glued to the page. 

#4—Monitor progress

According to clearscope.io, it takes a few months, at least, to see your SEO efforts pay off with higher rankings in Google search results. And depending on a variety of external factors, it can take anywhere from one to six months—or more than 12—to rank on the first page. 

Use your analytics platform to keep track of any changes you make along the way and how your ranking changes from one month to the next. 

As you develop and refine your SEO strategy, pay attention to how well your website additions and updates align with your business goals. 

Getting the most value from real estate SEO: 4 best practices

Having a strategy in place does you no good if you’re putting it into practice. Here are four active ways to implement your strategy and create a website that’s as easy to find as it is worth finding (and vice-versa).

#1—Start a blog

According to HubSpot consumer data, company websites that include a blog have 434% more search engine-indexed pages—and get 55% more visitors—than websites that don’t. 

Also, nearly 60% of the web pages you see among the first 10 search results are two years old or older. And while evergreen content ages well, blogs on trending topics generally do not. 

So, if your website doesn’t already have a blog, start one as soon as possible to give search engines, as well as your site visitors, a clearer idea of the main focus and core values of your real estate business. Create and share content your audience would enjoy and benefit from—knowledge broker stuff, with a mix of trending and evergreen topics. 

Optimize each blog/article for SEO using the keywords you’ve identified as the best ones to use to improve the searchability of your website and of individual blogs. 

The more SEO-optimized content you’ve got on your site, the easier it is for search engines to identify you as an authority on specific keywords and keyword phrases. 

Not a writer? We get it. That’s why we now include a fully customizable blog every week in BAMx in a Box. The blog template also includes keywords, a meta description and a  featured image so you can meet all the best practices above. If you’re not already a member, sign up here to get instant access (trust us—a weekly blog template is just the tip of the iceberg).

BAMx-in-a-Box-examples

Source: BAMx

#2—Use meta descriptions—and keep them up to date

More than two out of five people searching the internet click on a link based solely on the meta description. Yet as many as 25% of top-ranking websites don’t include one. 

And, sure, the search engine will automatically supply one for you if you don’t add one, but in leaving that meta description field blank, you waste an opportunity to create more enticing copy for your audience. 

Top agents do not let good opportunities go to waste. Make this an important part of your SEO strategy. 

#3—Focus on the right keyword phrases

Choosing keywords with the highest volume guarantees your site will have plenty of competition for the front page. So, when you’re using Google Search Console to check out your options, focus on those that are lower in volume and less competitive to give your content its best chance at top ranking. 

#4—Get backlinks to boost your site’s authority and improve ranking

One of the things search engines look at to assess a website’s value and authority is how many other websites are linking to it—which is called backlinking. 

Your backlink strategy is critical to SEO because it drives organic traffic to your website, boosting your site’s authority and, over time, its ranking. Those backlinks help increase the number of interested visitors—among them potential buyers and/or listings. 

Takeaways for real estate agents

It makes no sense to create a real estate website if you’re not committed to doing what it takes to make it worth your visitors’ time—and yours. 

And that depends on both the content and technical aspects of your site. As much as possible, your website should communicate who you are, what you do best, and what you value most. 

It should also load quickly and be pleasing to the eye (among other things). Make it the kind of website you wish had existed when you were starting out as an agent. 

Then keep improving it as you and your business grow.