Why Real Estate SEO is so Challenging
There are many factors that make SEO of Real Estate a bit more challenging for a SEO Professional. In many cases – even within a given local real estate company – the real estate agents compete against one another, yet they are united as “team members” under a larger brokerage (like Remax or Century21). Individual agents rely on the combination of brand recognition of their parent brokerage, personal branding, and team branding to acquire business. Real estate agents will often target specific locations or regions, and try to differentiate their services based on certain needs or demographics. For example: first-time home buyers or luxury real estate.
Real estate brokerages have to manage and promote the individual agents while marketing their brand. They want their agents to differentiate themselves, to have success within their demographic and to bring in business to the company. But the company also needs to create and maintain consistent marketing of the brand. The goals of a real estate company organized in this manner can be in direct opposition of one another.
As you can see, real estate SEO becomes very complex due to the very nature of the industry. Moreover, real estate websites are often large and complex due to the high level of home search and display functions that are needed to appeal to home buyers. This is especially the case with larger multi-area real estate companies. These real estate companies need to have content on multiple geographic areas and regions to perform well in search and real estate websites need to appeal to multiple demographics as well.
Real Estate SEO is further complicated by the fact that many Multiple Listing Service (MLS IDX) solutions providers have not designed their IDX feed with search engine optimization in mind. To have so much content (IDX Home offering content) poorly optimized makes the task of real estate SEO even more difficult.
To add more challenges, keyword competition in real estate can be extremely high as real estate companies and their individual agents are all competing for the same targeted keywords (usually “location + real estate” or “location + homes for sale”). I know of many examples of disreputable search engine placement companies that try to convince real estate companies to enter into expensive monthly programs that promise high rankings for obscure keywords that will not result in appreciable traffic to their website.
A real estate company always needs to be certain of their keywords before initiating a search engine optimization program.
Given that real estate web design and SEO can be so difficult and complicated, I recommend that real estate companies and large real estate teams hire an experienced SEO consultant to design and implement a comprehensive SEO strategy. From what I have seen, many firms rely on the expertise of their IT departments for SEO advice. While many IT professionals have a working knowledge of standard SEO techniques, they are not always able to spot key site structure or content issues that will affect rankings. Again, I have seen this first hand.
It is also good if the SEO professional has some manner to work on gaining high-quality in-coming links. This is often the missing ingredient in the quest for high search position for a real estate company.