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As digital technology and homebuyer expectations advance and evolve, so too must your real estate marketing plan. Specifically, you need to start thinking digital—86% percent of home buyers consider real estate websites the most useful source of information when buying a home.1 In fact, 44% of all home buyers start their home search online.1
But let’s be real—the chances of a homebuyer stumbling across your company or your properties and becoming a lifelong customer are slim to none (sorry). If you really want to increase leads and sell more homes, your real estate firm needs to—literally—pop up in front of a homebuyer’s face at the moment they’re searching for properties. It’s doable, and how you do it is with real estate SEO.
Below you’ll find a guide to succeeding with real estate SEO—including six foolproof strategies and real estate SEO tips to make your website rank higher in search results, curated from our very own real estate SEO experts:
- Make your website mobile-friendly, fast, and secure
- Optimize everything for the right real estate SEO keywords and best SEO practices
- Focus on local SEO tactics and keywords
- Create a real estate blog and share your content via social media and email marketing
- Take advantage of VR, photos, and videos
- Solve home seekers’ problems in one-click, one-second
What Does SEO Mean in Real Estate?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and is the process of making your website show up higher in the search results. You need it because in order for you to get more leads you first need to be found—organic search equates to 95% of all web traffic and the first position on Google search results has a 34.36% clickthrough rate for desktop and 35% for mobile.12 Basically, if you’re not at the top of the search results you’re losing clicks, leads, and sales to your competitors.
There are more than 200 search algorithm factors that go into what makes a page rank high on the search results page, but the ones that matter the most are:
- Secured sites (HTTPS vs. HTTP)
- Websites that are mobile-friendly
- Schema markup
- Webpage content quality
- Webpage content length
- Optimized title tags and meta descriptions on all web pages
- Page speed
- Social signals
- Quality backlinks
- Optimized images
- Domain age
1. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly, Fast, and Secure
44% of all home buyers first looked for a property online, and 72% of home seekers use a mobile device or tablet to conduct home-buying research.
This isn’t 1989, and the modern homeowner uses the internet to look for houses—frequently from a mobile device. That means if you want to capture the attention of today’s homeowner, you need to solve all their home-searching problems and you need to do it online. Not only that, but most home buyers look for homes on-the-go, which means your website needs to flow seamlessly from a desktop to a mobile device. That means your videos, photos, and landing pages all need to be optimized for mobile viewing, and you need to tailor your content for on-the-go consumption with features like easy-to-find (and easy to click) photos, neighborhood information, and property listings.
Bad news: most consumers will hit the “back” button if your webpage takes longer than three seconds to load, so make sure your website is fast enough.
What Homebuyers Want from Your Real Estate Website:
- 85% of home buyers want detailed information about properties listed on your website1
- 44% of home buyers find neighborhood information on real estate websites very useful1
- 41% of home buyers want your real estate website to have interactive maps1
- 95% of real estate websites feature property listings1
- 36% of commercial real estate websites show customer reviews and testimonials1
- 58% of real estate websites feature a mortgage/financial calculator1
- 56% of real estate websites feature community information and demographics1
- 55% of real estate websites feature information on the home buying and selling process1
2. Optimize Your Website Content for the Right Real Estate SEO Keywords and Best SEO Practices
We already discussed how the modern homebuyer’s preferred method of finding new homes has changed—90% of buyers now turn to the internet to solve all their housing needs, from finding out how to get a mortgage to making that final decision. In fact, 53% of buyers start their search online, frequently on a search engine. Since 55% of searchers click on one of the first three entries of Google’s search results, if your website isn’t in the top three, you’re losing listings to your competitors.
Search engine optimization was built around keywords, but not all keywords are created equal. Take a look at the difference in the search results for “find a realtor to sell my home,” and “homes for sale, Washington, DC”:
(You’ll notice right under my search box in the image above is a little excerpt that says “volume” and “competition”. That is a feature of a keyword tool called Keywords Everywhere that I’ll discuss in a minute, so hang tight!)
There are two considerations when choosing keywords: intent and search volume.
- Search intent: The “why” of the search
- Search volume: How many people actually search for that keyword or long-tail keyword
The best ways to find your ideal real estate keywords include using the “Searches related to” section at the bottom of the search results page and an SEO tool to find search volume. We use a mixture of Google Ads Keyword Planner, Moz, and the free browser extension Keywords Everywhere (among others, including our proprietary SEO software). Here’s what the “Searches related to..” at the bottom of the search results looks like, and what the Keywords Everywhere extension looks like:
WARNING: DO NOT KEYWORD STUFF.
3. Focus on Local SEO Tactics and Keywords
58% of Millennials and 46% Generation X found their home on a mobile device compared to 33% of Younger BoomerS.1
More than half of your target audience is searching for new homes and properties on a mobile device, which means you need to focus on local SEO tactics. Local SEO for realtors is slightly different than regular real estate SEO because of the emphasis on making it into the local pack of the search results:
Here’s a rough summary of how to optimize your website for local SEO:
- Create content targeting local real estate keywords and search terms –
- [City] homes for sale
- [City] realtors
- [City] real estate listings
- homes for sale near me
- real estate agent near me
- Clean up your NAP citations – Be sure your business’s name, address, and phone number are EXACTLY the same across all of your online assets like your website, social profiles, and Google My Business/Bing listings. Learn more about NAP citations >>
- Local directory listings – Claim and verify all listings on local directories including Yelp, Superpages, Foursquare, Yellowpages, etc. Learn how to get to the top of local listings >>
- Reviews – Reviews are key to local SEO. Regularly solicit reviews and engage in review-building tactics on social and search profiles. Learn how to get more reviews >>
- Localized onsight content – The more relevant your on-site content is to the searcher, the more likely it will show up in search results. This means creating pages for each neighborhood, having local resources, and featuring listing maps.
- Schema markup – Ask your web developer to implement local business schema on your website. It gives the search engines a clearer supply of local information about your business.
Consider these statistics:
- In 1981, 22% of home buyers read newspaper ads to find a home. In 2016, 44% looked for properties online first1
- The typical buyer used a mobile device to search for properties online. S/he looked at websites with photos, home listings, and information about the home buying process. S/he then contacted an agent and visited a median of 10 homes over 10 weeks before purchasing a home1
- 57% of all US online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets9
- Mobile searches for “best” have grown over 80% in the past 2 years10
- 3 in 4 smartphone owners turn to mobile search first to address their immediate needs10
4. Create a Real Estate Blog and Share Your Content on Social Media
70% of home buyers prefer to get to know a real estate agency through online content over paid advertisements.
You need to invest in content marketing like blogs, 360-degree guides, and relevant resources. Not only do you need this content on your website, but you also need to get the word out through channels like social media and email marketing. Write blogs on what to expect as a first-time homeowner, or create an infographic that sums up the homebuying process. Instead of creating your run-of-the-mill “Find Your Home” ads, share homebuyer stories from past clients in the form of a video. Consumers trust online testimonials almost as much as a recommendation from a friend, so creating videos highlighting happy customers is a smart bet.
Consider these statistics:
- Adding a blog to your site will increase your chances of ranking on search engines by 434%12
- 94% of realtors prefer to communicate with clients via email1
- 90% of realtors like to communicate through text messaging1
- 34% of realtors prefer to communicate through instant messaging1
- 91% of realtors use social media to some extent2
- 67% of realtors send email marketing campaigns more than once a month4
5. Take Advantage of VR, Video, and Photos
50% of home buyers want to be able to tour a home virtually on your website, and listings with sharp photos sell at or above list price 44% of the time.
Consumers are all about the visuals these days, and they want to know everything they can about a home before visiting it. Having features like 3-D virtual tours and high-resolution photos can enhance your property presentation and catch more customers.
Consider these statistics:
- Listings with sharp photos sell at or above list price 44% of the time3
- 50% of home buyers want to be able to tour a home virtually on your website1
- 89% of home buyers find photos on a website extremely helpful1
- 78% of real estate firms show agent and staff photos on their website1
- Over half (51%) of home shoppers claim that YouTube is their favorite video research platform5
- 70% of homeowners prefer to list with a real estate agent who uses video marketing to advertise their home6
- 36% of home seekers used online video in their research process1
- Real estate is projected to account for 22% of all drone use by 20203
6. Solve Their Problems in One-Click, One-Second
Homebuying Pain Points of today’s Consumer:
Take a look at the image above. This Washington, DC real estate company has made finding or selling a home stupid-simple—a visitor can get the information they want with one click within one second of landing on the homepage. You, too, need to solve homebuyers’ problems with one click and in one second. That means having content that predicts their pain points and proactively solves their problems.
- 52% of homebuyers say finding the right property is the most difficult step in the homebuying process1
- 24% of homebuyers say understanding paperwork is the most difficult part of finding a home1
- 17% of homebuyers say understanding the home buying process is the most difficult aspect of buying a home1
You could create three infographics that sum up the answers to each of those questions and feature it on your homepage—and you’ve already solved some of their most pressing problems.
Get More Clients With Real Estate SEO Services from Blue Corona—A Premier Real Estate SEO Agency
In order to sell homes, you need to be found. In order to be found, your real estate SEO strategy should make sure you dominate all the places homebuyers look for information: in the search engines, on social, media, and on your website. About 52% of home seekers say finding the right property is the hardest part of buying a new home. Make it easy for them with the help of our real estate SEO experts!
People are searching the web right now for a new place to call home. Will they find YOU or one of your competitors? Contact us here to make sure it’s you.
About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's in-house Digital Marketing Specialist. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod