According to research by realestate.com.au (REA), 86 per cent of Australian buyers are turning to real estate websites as their primary resource to search for property. This means ranking highly in online search results is vital to your success as an agent or property manager.
That makes your Real Estate SEO and marketing strategy a top priority.
Simply put, higher rankings can translate into higher sales. But, the Real Estate market can be a complicated industry to promote online.
The online real estate landscape is dominated by big digital brands like Realestate.com.au and Domain.com.au. Then the large franchise groups like Ray White and LJHooker can command high rankings as well. Without a well designed SEO strategy followed by consistent execution, it’s very difficult for an individual real estate agent or office to start beating the big brands with regards to localised search traffic.
With that said, because the challenge is great, few real estate offices are willing to put the time and effort into doing real estate SEO right. This means the opportunity is there for dedicated individuals looking to build a long-term asset with sustainable and consistent search traffic that leads to real leads and real business.
Ranking highly in online search results doesn’t happen by accident. Rather, it comes down to a coordinated SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy that aims to inform Google, and other search engines, that your office website, property microsite or personal agent website belongs at the top of a very long list of search results.
The good news is there are several SEO techniques you can use to boost your search engine marketing efforts and improve your Google ranking.
Use these ten tips to get started with your Real Estate SEO.
Undertake Detailed Keyword Research
Keyword competition in real estate is extremely high. Everyone is competing for a similar set of keyword combinations. Phrases such as, “Houses for sale” and generic words like the name of the city or town make ranking on the first page in Google Search Engine Results notoriously difficult.
As an individual real estate agent or small firm, the truth is, you may never be able to break into the top ten for, “Melbourne Real Estate” because you are competing with large real estate groups and other key real estate websites like realestate.com.au and Domain. However for Property Management searches there is significantly less competition and it can be possible to rank for search terms like “Property Management Newcastle”.
To start a search on Keywords you need to go to the Google Keyword Planner where you can type in keywords and find out just how many times people are searching for specific terms. This is a valuable tool as it will show you many search terms that you may not think of. For instance sometimes misspelled works can often be searched for. This tool will tell you.
Now that you have found the keywords that you want to use it is important to use them correctly to achieve SEO success. Your selected keyword should be included in the URL and page title. Then it should also be used once or twice (depending on the size of the page) within your page content in a natural way. Google will penalise you for keyword stuffing, the practice of loading or stuffing a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Keyword stuffing will also cause your content to appear unnatural and difficult to read or digest for the audience.
Focus on Long Tail Keywords
To achieve the best results in the quickest time your most important keyword research should be for long-tail terms. Because competition is so high for the biggest target keywords in the industry, doing your homework and developing a solid long-tail keyword strategy will help your website rank better in Google Search Engine Results.
These Long Tail Keywords are phrases that are 4 or more words long. Things like, “How much does a Property Manager charge”. Now these terms may not have the high volume of searches as other terms, but they do have the advantage of being buying searches. If someone types in “How much does a Property Manager charge” there is a very high likelihood that they are looking for a property manager… today.
Using long-tail keywords in all your digital marketing content will help you cut through irrelevant traffic and connect with better-quality leads. Successfully targeting these longer-tail keywords which have lower competition but a high conversion rate, means you can create a website that brings in an increasing number of sales over time.
Make the URL structure as clean and optimised as possible.
This is a bit of a technical one but still very important. When you build your website you want to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they are looking for. Thats why we have a menu and sub menu, so everything is easy to find. Sometimes this structure can be making it complex from a Google perspective and making it hard for Google to work out what is important on your site.
A poor URL may look like http://yourwebsite.com.au/blog/category/post-title/ or even worst may look like http://www.yourrealty.com.au/?/property/2996683/18-esplanade-Scarborough-qld-4510
These complex URL’s don’t allow Google to understand what the most important information is on your site. Unfortunately the way that your website has been created may be causing these poor quality pages to be created. Even worse your website may be creating duplicate pages which are bloating the amount of information the search engines are crawling and creating a pool of duplicate content. Google penalises duplicate.
In an ideal world, a real estate website’s URL structure would look something like this:
Home: http://yourwebsite.com.au/ Page: http://yourwebsite.com.au/page/ without additional information. The goal is to get as close to this as you can, without damaging the integrity of the site.
Your site’s structure and navigation are crucial for three reasons and are fundamental for good Real Estate SEO:
Indexing – helping search engines find all your pages.
Only if a page is indexed by a search engine (such as Google) can it appear on that engine’s results pages.
Usability – helping users find what they want quickly (with as few clicks as possible)
Link power – distributing it to all your pages.
At eighty8two we build websites that have these simple structures and are easy for Google to read and rank.
Create Client Friendly Content
Creating high quality, hyper-local content is the next important step. It is important from an SEO perspective but also it is where you can demonstrate that you are an expert in your field and that you have answers to questions that a potential client may have.
It is always vital that you write with your client in mind first. The SEO can be incorporated along the way.
1. In an article focus on just 1 major keyword, this will mean that you have a separate page (or article) for each of your keywords, again making it easy for Google to recognise what is important on each page. Try to incorporate your keyword in the article title as well as in the first paragraph as well.
A useful technique is to begin the article with a short introduction that summarises the content and include subheadings.
2. Be consistent. Consistent content creation keeps your website fresh and relevant, encouraging the search engines to crawl your site more often while also fostering your community. When Google realises that your site generates regular, fresh content, it will begin to crawl your webpage more. This is one of those smaller, but still important SEO aspects that often gets overlooked.
If you don’t have time to write your own content, talk to eighty8two as we have writers to take some of the work off your plate.
3. Use tools that add value to your site. People looking for property management or real estate are often considering a mortgage. Perhaps you can point them to a suitable lender.
Better yet, consider adding free tools like the guys at Apple Property Management so that people don’t need to leave your site.
4. Write about things people care about. A good way to do this is to answer the questions that you are often asked. If one client is seeking certain information then it is likely that others will be as well.
Don’t fall into the trap of only posting your latest listings, people can find that information of realestate.com.au. Put yourself in the minds of your potential clients, what are they looking for? They don’t come to your site looking for bus timetables or school carnivals. They come looking to see if you can solve their property related issues.
5. Think Locally. Remember our goal is more than just search engine traffic. Rather we want search engine traffic that will lead to real estate leads. As such, we want local search engine traffic. By building high quality local content and getting other businesses and websites in your location to link to your site, you can build authority for your website specific to your locale. By establishing a highly respected website with deep, local content, you can start to compete successfully with the big brand real estate websites that are not specific to your city or town.
Think About Your Images
Real Estate depends heavily on images. Make your images:
Uniform in size
Uniform in position
Quick to load
Complete with descriptions, alt tags, dimensions and titles
Images can trigger a response from the reader or simply capture their attention
Don’t Forget to Link
Search engines pay attention to how your web content is linked. If you’re publishing a blog article, for example, link to older posts or to other pages on your website where relevant. This helps search engines discover your other content and will have a cumulative effect on your search rankings.
Leverage Your Social Media Accounts
One of the take-aways from recent Google algorithm changes is that Google prefers websites that don’t get 100% of their traffic from search.
Google wants websites that people are genuinely interested in, not just websites that are good at manipulating search algorithms. The theory is that if a website is generating buzz via social media or other channels, then it must be a quality website. As such, one of your goals should be to build other distribution channels via places like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or email newsletters in order to generate non-search traffic to your website.
Not only will this bring in additional traffic, but it should help drive more search traffic over time as Google take notice of this “buzz.”
Monitor Your Site Speed
A website’s speed is basically how fast it appears in a user’s browser. Google has made it pretty plain that it counts site speed in its ranking factors. You want your site to load in under 3 seconds. After that, people begin to shut down and move on to another site. Real Estate websites rely on heavy resources. Take a look at all the trinkets on your site and eliminate any that do not work toward a comfortable user experience and a call to action.
Keep your website clean and simple.When checking your site speed pay special attention to image size, sliders and other wizz-bang plugins and features on your site. Also avoid plugins or on site features that gobble up resources by providing you statistical information. These features are notorious for sapping site speed.
Minimise the moving parts of your site. Auto Slide-shows are irritating and slow down your site. If I want to see the next picture, provide me with a simple “Next” button.
Page Speed is a critical component in the digital user experience, and it is hugely important in our content-driven world. There’s a reason why Google Analytics now includes statistics like page load time, lookup, and page size. Page speed affects both Search Engine Results and, perhaps more importantly, user experience.
One popular free service for managing and modifying page speed issues is GTmetrix.com try it out and see how your website rates.
How to Spot SEO Scams
Real estate is a perfect target for unscrupulous operators, as real estate agents know that they need to drive sales through their website, but unfortunately may not be well versed in SEO. The sad result is that many agents and firms get burned, and they lose faith in the entire field of SEO.
Here are a list of of few warning signs to look out for when it comes to SEO for real estate. While there are exceptions to these rules, in general, I have found these to be true.
Avoid SEOs that:
are cheap. No you can not get good SEO for $99 per month. What you will end up with is a heap of spammy backlinks that may work for a couple of months until Google catches up with your site and then punishes you.
promise certain rankings. No SEO worth his/her salt will ever guarantee rankings, because of the ever-changing nature of how search engines work.
cold call you or e-mail without knowing anything about your business. Here’s the truth: Most high-quality SEO firms don’t have to look for business. The business comes to them. So, if you have someone cold-calling you on a Wednesday afternoon, be wary.
define keywords for you, without knowing your business. If someone tells you they can get you ranking #1 for “local realty houses to purchase” or something similar, run away. Keywords like that are junk, and you can almost guarantee they won’t convert. You want to rank for keywords that will drive business to your office.
Be in it for the Long Haul
Finally and most importantly, approach Real Estate SEO as a long term process. Most of your competitors will quit this process before the benefits really kick in because it takes a while to see the results. If you’re able to build a website that in a few years is automatically generating high quality leads on a regular basis while you sleep, would you do it? Of course you would. Well, take that approach. Execute on the above list while focusing on quality and consistency.
If you found this article useful, please share or comment below. We are always happen to answer any questions that you might have.