The Challenges of Real Estate SEO
The digital real estate competitive landscape is getting tougher and more sophisticated. There are big names such as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com that have vast resources and are committed to online dominance.
Without a well designed SEO strategy followed by consistent execution, it’s very difficult for a real estate company to maintain position in search let alone improve it.
With that said, because the challenge is great, only a select few of the smaller local real estate companies are willing to put the time and effort into doing real estate SEO right. This means the opportunity is there for niche-focus real estate companies to build considerable long-term assets that sustain consistent search traffic. High traffic levels for a niche real estate business translates into success.
What’s Too Weak To Work
Due to the highly competitive nature of search positioning, success requires doing many things right. Relying on a single component of SEO of a single tactic most likely won’t yield the results you’re looking for.
Here are some examples of a good SEO tactic that by itself will not be effective enough.
IDX Integration with no other SEO tactics and execution – Many real estate professionals look to IDX integration as a SEO panacea. While IDX integration is a must, simply adding an IDX listing service to your site is not likely to result in a flood of search traffic. All the strong real estate companies have a well designed IDX feed.
Simple on-page optimization without a back link strategy just isn’t enough. The optimization of your content is important. However, it is the bare minimum as a real estate SEO tactic. Optimizing your content is easy if you have the right website system but without a back link strategy and other SEO execution, on-page optimization won’t be enough.
Here is my advice for a comprehensive Real Estate SEO plan.
An effective real estate SEO plan is multi-faceted. Some aspects of it are more important than others, but if your goal is truly to generate large amounts of quality search traffic you should execute on each aspect defined below.
One of the most important metrics of doing well in search rankings is your domain authority. You might have a perfectly optimized piece of content that matches up extremely well with a specific keyword, but if Google doesn’t value your entire website or your actual domain, you’re not likely to get traffic to that piece of content. High authority domains plus well optimized and targeted content leads to search engine success.
How do you build domain authority? The main way is by high quality backlinks to your website from other well established, quality websites. These links should be to your root domain and sub pages within your site. You want natural links that accumulate consistently over time.
Local Content & Local Links
This is where a smaller local real estate company can really out-perform the big national players. A local company has to significantly out-perform in this area to make up for the disadvantages in the other areas.
Your goal here is more than just search engine traffic. You want search engine traffic that will lead to quality real estate leads. As such, you want search engine traffic that is looking for real estate in your geographic area.
The smaller local real estate company can out-perform a larger company by creating high quality local content and getting other local businesses with local websites to link to your site. You need to build authority for your website specific to your specific geographic area. 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. Do this well and consistently and you can do more than just compete – you can out-perform them!
Long-tail Keywords & Content
Create content on your website that supports being found for targeting specific long-tail keywords. This is an effective way to drive long-tail search traffic. Long-tail traffic is typically more focused and therefore the searcher is typically more interested. Use tools such as Google’s keyword tool to find long-tail keywords to build content around.
Build other content distribution channels – One key take-away from recent Google algorithm changes is that Google prefers websites that do not receive 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 or
- Email newsletters
These other channels will 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 and the other major search engines take notice of this “buzz.”
Back to integration IDX… as you build domain authority, you will definitely want to add IDX integration and one that is search engine optimized. Indexed listings are a good thing… and even better if you have a domain and website that Google values. Moreover, IDX is a fantastic feature for your users and can be instrumental in lead generation.
Consistent, Fresh Content
One of the other minor SEO factors is consistency of new content. When Google realizes 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. Don’t generate filler content for your website, but work hard to keep a regular schedule of new content for your users.
Build Quality Resources
In addition to more dynamic, blog-like content, consider building some high quality, long form resources for your readers. You could create a guide for moving to your locale or a guide to buying an investment property. High quality resources help create high ranking subpages on your site as other websites link to your resources. High-quality resources also translate into sharing. When people like something they share it and when your content is shared then this helps with the “buzz”.
Moreover, quality resources, linking and a “buzz” helps build domain authority. All together this provides a quality service for your visitors and customers and helps bring in new traffic to your site.
The Long Haul
Real Estate SEO is a process. Most of the small local competitors will quit this process before the benefits really kick in because it takes a while to see the results.
Build a website that moves higher in search over a wider range of relevant keyword phrases and your website will automatically generate high quality leads on a regular basis. Execute on the list above with a focus on quality and consistency.