A website without visitors is like a rock concert with no audience: sad and pointless.
There are a number of ways to get traffic to your website, and SEO is one of the most important. Even basic SEO, if done correctly, can sometimes have a big impact on your bottom line. And since it’s not that difficult to follow a few simple rules and guidelines, and to avoid some no-no’s, SEO should be on every agent’s and property website owner’s to-do list.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a range of methods and techniques you can use to have search engines (like Google and Bing) show your website within the top results for certain words that are relevant for your business, which are called keywords. You find out what words people are using to search for homes or houses for sale in your area, and you improve your website so that search engines recommend your website to those people.
What Does it Mean for Your Business?
Doing SEO for your real estate website will make it easier for potential clients to find you. This is why SEO is important: it brings your business in front of potential clients in the online environment.
Getting listed on the first page for commonly used search engine keywords will automatically send a lot of traffic to your website, and some of that traffic will convert into clients, improving your business and contributing to your success.
How Do You Do SEO on an Agent Website?
This guide will take you through each step required to properly optimize the website you created on Point2.com and benefit from at least a fraction of the huge amount of traffic that search engines can send your way.
There are 4 main steps in SEO:
- Identify optimum keywords
- Enhance your pages so they can attract search engine traffic (also called on-page optimization)
- Website promotion (also called off-page optimization or link building)
- Measuring and tracking your results
1. Find the Best Keywords for You
Think of the audience you are targeting: people in your area that are interested in buying or selling homes, which means that your keywords should be specific to real estate in your area and relevant to your listings. Here are some examples, assuming that you are a real estate agent in Santa Ynez Valley:
- Santa Ynez Valley real estate
- Santa Ynez Valley homes for sale
- Santa Ynez real estate agent
- Santa Ynez single-family homes
- Santa Ynez homes for rent
- Santa Ynez land for sale
- homes for sale in Santa Ynez ca
- houses for sale in Santa Ynez
Of course, if you have other types of listings, you should target them accordingly with keywords like: “your location beach homes”, “your location condos”, “your location coops”, “your location luxury homes”, “your location multi-family homes”, “your location vacant land”, etc.
2. Go Local
It’s much harder to optimize for a general keyword like “real estate agent” than for a more specific keyword like “real estate agent in Santa Ynez”. Also, optimizing for a more specific keyword increases the odds of your visitors converting into clients because the searcher is further along in the buying cycle than in the case of general keywords. You can be sure that a person who is looking for a “real estate agent in Santa Ynez” has that specific area in mind.
3. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to Uncover More Keywords
The Keyword Planner is a free tool from Google that can uncover what are your most valuable keywords. The tool’s purpose is dual-fold:
To give additional suggestions for keywords
To estimate how much monthly traffic those keywords receive in Google
Here’s how to use it: Go to the tool’s location and log in with your Google account. If you don’t have one, create a new account (it will take just a few minutes). Then simply type in some keywords you think people might use to search for what you provide, including your geographical area (e.g. “Santa Ynez real estate”). It will give you a list of related keywords and their search volumes.
4. Complement Keyword Planner with UberSuggest
Another very useful keyword research tool is UberSuggest. You can use the tool to quickly find new keywords not available in the Google Keyword Planner. UberSuggest does this by retrieving all of Google suggestions from related searches.
If you want to delve deeper into this topic, check out this great keyword research guide on the Ahrefs blog.
5. Use Your Keywords in the Page Title
Each webpage has a title that can be seen at the top of the browser, but must not be confused with the heading. The page title (also called title tag) is much less visible on the site itself, but is the first element that appears in the search engine results.
Here are a few examples of good page titles you can use for various page types:
- Homepage: Santa Ynez Real Estate | Santa Ynez Homes for Sale – [Your Brokerage Name]
- Neighborhood: Chelsea Real Estate | Chelsea Homes for Sale
- Listing Page: [Address], Santa Ynez, CA Home For Sale
6. Keep Your Page Title up to 70 Characters in Length
Google will only take the first 70 characters of your titles into consideration. If you have to go beyond 70 characters, make sure your most relevant keywords are at the start of the title tag.
7. Make Sure Your Page Titles Are Unique
Each page title should be unique (must not be found on other pages).
8. Place Your Most Important Keyword at the Beginning of the Page Title
The closer a keyword is to the beginning of the page title, the better the chances of that page ranking for that keyword.
9. Write a Compelling Meta Description to Increase Click-Through Rate
The meta description is a piece of text that only search engines can see. It’s what often shows up under the clickable title of a search result. You should include your top keywords here too, because a good meta description can considerably increase the number of clicks from the search engine results to your website. Here are 8 tips on how to write killer meta descriptions to increase your CTR.
10. Keep Your Meta Description up to 150 Characters in Length
A good meta description is roughly 150 characters long and is a concise explanation of the contents of the web page. Preferably, it should contain a call to action that entices people to click on your page in the search results.
11. Use Meta Robots on Pages You Don’t Want Indexed
The meta robots tag is a page attribute that you should use sparingly, only for pages that you want to keep out of the search engines. These pages will never get indexed and will never contribute to rankings. You might want to do this for various reasons, like private offers.
- In SEO, this is also useful if you have two pages with the exact same content. In this case, you may wish to keep only one version.
- It goes without saying that if you do want to have visibility in search for a page, you should leave this box unchecked.
12. Add Relevant Web Page Content
The content that you have on each page is extremely important for the success of your website. And it’s not only your visitors who want to be swept away by what you have to say – search engines appreciate the same thing.
13. Make Your Content Engaging
There are a few things you should take into consideration when writing the content for your pages in order to make search engines like you, but as a rule of thumb you should always focus more on the real people reading it, not on Google or Bing.
Search engines are continuously trying to improve their algorithms to offer people valuable content, and they’re getting better and better at it. If real visitors don’t like your content, search engines will eventually find out using various methods, like tracking visitor behavior.
If Google sees that visitors tend to go back to search immediately after they have clicked on your website, the logical assumption is that they didn’t like what they saw. Your website is then likely to be downgraded so as not to appear so high in the results for the same search terms.
14. Only Use Unique Content
If you copy articles from other websites and paste them into your site you will find it extremely difficult to attain good rankings in the search engines, because duplicate content can suffer penalties in the search engines.
15. Use Your Keywords Throughout Your Articles…
Have your targeted keywords appear naturally throughout the article – Don’t force your keywords in. For example, if one of your keywords is something like “homes in Santa Ynez buy”,
don’t add it in that form in the article. It’s much better if you use these words in a more natural order, like “buy homes in Santa Ynez”.
16. …But Don’t Overuse Your Keywords
Having a keyword appear 2-3 times is enough in a 300–500 word article. Overusing your keywords (also called keyword stuffing) is bad for readers. Search engines can detect keyword stuffing, and it’s not a good thing if they come to the conclusion that you’re trying to exploit them.
17. Put Conclusions at the Beginning
Then continue with explanations of your claims. This will keep visitors reading and will improve your metrics for user behavior, which, as mentioned before, is another signal for search engines that your content is high-quality.
18. Make Your Content Easy to Read
People nowadays are used to skimming, not reading articles. Use short paragraphs (3 or 4 lines), use lists, headers, titles, and subtitles.
19. Make Titles and Subtitles Informative
If you can include your keywords in there, do so, but if it doesn’t look natural, don’t. In any case, make them concise and informative, because nowadays people are so used to quick social networking and browsing that more and more of them don’t read anymore – many just scan articles for what they are looking for.
20. Tell a Story
People love stories. They will give you more attention if you take them on a journey.
21. Use Relevant Pictures
A picture is worth 1,000 words and makes your content more enjoyable. Try to reduce image sizes as much as possible (without sacrificing quality). Here is a great guide on optimizing images for SEO.
22. Use Simple Words Instead of Complex Terms
This is self-explanatory. You want to make your content as easy to read as possible.
23. Write List-Type Articles
People love list-type articles (like this one), because they are easy to read. Writing articles like “10 Reasons Why Living in Santa Ynez is Awesome” can bring you a lot of exposure, and eventually clients.
24. Create Infographics
Infographics are also very popular, because they present information that would otherwise be harder to digest, into a graphic format. Real estate market trends in your area are a good starting point for successful infographics.
25. If you Can, Mention Your Name, Address and Telephone Number Somewhere at the Bottom of Your Page Content
This will help with local real estate SEO, meaning that you will get better chances of ranking for generic terms like “real estate agent” if the person who runs a search using this keyword is located close to your area.
26. Use Image Alternative Text
The image alternative text is a piece of text attached to an image that can be read by search engines, which use it as a clue to know what the image is about.
If you have a Point2 Agent website, you can edit the image alt text in your online office. Go to the page where you want to add the image and click on the Edit Content button. Then you can use the text editor to upload an image. After you do that, right click on the image and select Image Properties. You’ll see the “Alternative Text” field just under the image URL. Insert a descriptive alternative text for your image, up to 4-5 words in length.
27. Use H1 Headings
H1 headings are most prominent article headings to your visitors, but are important for the search engines as well. Usually, the H1 heading lets visitors know what the page is about. Insert your most important keyword here, but make sure that it attracts the attention of your visitors as well.
28. Also Use H2-H6 Headings
Use H2 – H6 headings for subsections of your page. A good parallel would be with a book. While the H1 heading is the name of the book, H2 headings are the chapters.
29. Submit a Sitemap
A sitemap is a file that contains a list of pages on your site that you can submit to the search engines. It is extremely useful if you want Google (or other search engines) to find out about all your pages and index them accordingly.
Every Point2 website comes with an automatically generated sitemap in a format that’s recommended and acknowledged by Google. All you need to do is log in to your Webmaster Tools account and submit it.
30. Decide on an Own Domain or a Subdomain
When you sign up for an agent website with Point2, you are by default given an address such as yourusername.point2agent.com, which is actually a subdomain of point2agent.com. However, purchasing your own domain can be beneficial both in your branding, as well as in your SEO efforts.
31. A Good Domain Name is Important
A good URL can go a long way in attracting extra traffic from the search engines. Besides the obvious branding reasons, it can also yield better click-through rates from search engine results. An important thing to note is that as a domain gets older, its strength in the search engine results increases. Consequently, direct ownership of the domain is recommended.
32. Choose a Brandable Domain Name
When you choose a domain name for your business, the most important thing to consider is your brand, and to a lesser extent, your keywords. For example, a good combination is “brand + real estate”. In the case of property sites, a good option is for the domain to contain the property’s address. Also, it should be relatively short and easy to remember.
33. Attract External Links to Your Website
Every time another website links to yours, it acts as a vote that the other website gives you. The more votes you have, the better, because when search engines find out about them they will know that people are talking about your website and this will result in good rankings.
What is very important in a backlink is the clickable text, also called “anchor text”. This is another strong signal that search engines take into account when evaluating your relevancy to certain terms. When you build your backlinks, having your target keywords in the anchor text of some of them can be really useful for SEO.
Link building is hard work, in fact it’s the most time-consuming aspect of SEO, but it’s worth your while if you do it right.
34. Publish News Items on Press Release Websites
This method can get you some good links, and if the press releases are picked up by large sites, you’ll see a boom in traffic and in backlinks. Do this if you have a real event to communicate. Here’s a small guide on how to do this properly. Two very good press release services are PrWeb.com and Pr.com.
35. Get Involved in Discussions on Forums and Real Estate Networks
Whenever you find a forum or a real estate social network discussing topics related to the real estate niche, or better yet, discussing the real estate situation in your area, it’s a good idea to participate in those discussions.
36. Find Local Blogs
Participating in discussion on local community websites will increase your local SEO authority, which means you’ll rank better for searches coming from your area and for keywords that include your area.
37. Guest Posts on Other Blogs
This is one of the most effective link building methods. There are a lot of bloggers out there that will agree to publish your article on their website. In that article they will usually let you add a link to your site.
38. Create Real Estate Videos
Real estate video marketing is becoming the norm. If you have a property site, create a video with images of the property. If you have an agent site, create a video showing more properties, and maybe some information about the real estate activity in your area and about you. Then upload the video on the major video hosting websites (YouTube, Dailymotion, etc) and place a link to your website in the description of that video.
39. Add Value
Don’t comment on blogs or forums just with the intention of getting a link. Try to add real value to the discussion, help people when they have questions, follow up on your conversations, and be a valuable asset to the community.
40. Don’t Use Automated Software to Get Backlinks
No matter what you do, don’t use software that automatically gets you inbound links. At first it may sound like a good idea to get thousands of links with no effort, but the links obtained this way are unnatural and practically useless. This method can get you penalized by Google or even banned. This is a big no-no in SEO and you should avoid it.
Tip: Create a natural backlink profile by getting links from various types of websites (try getting links using all the ideas in the list above) and by using varied anchor text. Although having your keyword in the anchor text is good for you, if each and every one of your inbound links have the same keyword in the anchor text, this doesn’t look natural to search engines and it makes it harder for you to get good rankings. Besides your keyword, use anchor texts that are variations of it, and even use your name or your website’s URL as the anchor text from time to time.
41. Add Your Business to Google My Business
Having a listing in Google My Business dramatically increases your chances of showing up in the special results package called the “3-pack” that Google often shows when somebody searches for a business in a particular area.
42. Ramp Up Your Social Media Marketing Presence
Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus profiles are essential for your social media presence. If you get people to talk about you, it’s going to help your business. Be active, add people on Facebook, follow people on Twitter, and be genuine.
43. Consider Other Social Media Outlets as Well
Although Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus are considered by many to be the most important social media sites for marketing, there are also other resources you can use if you want to maximize your social visibility, like LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.
44. Use Google Analytics to Measure and Track Results
How do you know if your real estate SEO efforts have been successful? It’s pretty easy actually: use a free online service that allows you to monitor your traffic.As a matter of fact, one of the best visitor tracking services comes from Google and it’s free: Google Analytics.
Point2 Agent gives you the option of adding your Google Analytics tracking ID in just a few clicks. You just go to the Page Name and Search Engine Information area and scroll down to the bottom, where you’ll see one field called Google Analytics Tracking ID.
In order to get that ID, first you need to go to the Google Analytics homepage and login with your Google account. If you don’t have one, you can create one in a few minutes.
45. Link Google Analytics to Google Webmaster Tools
You can link your Webmaster Tools account to your Google Analytics account which you already verified by going to the Webmaster Tools homepage and clicking Manage Site next to your website, and then click Google Analytics property. You then select the web property you want to associate with the site, and then click Save.
46. Track Your Keyword Rankings
If you have only a few keywords in your list you can track your rankings manually by running searches on the search engines you are interested in. Usually Google and Bing are the ones that will send the real traffic. It’s recommended that you use Google Webmaster Tools to check your rankings.
If you have a Google Webmaster Tools account and you verify your site, you just go to Search Traffic -> Search Analytics in the left navigation menu. You’ll be able to see what keywords brought you traffic, and what their ranking positions are.
Finally, a website with visitors is not very useful if those visitors don’t convert into targeted real estate leads, so make sure you have a clear call to action. This might be a contact form, a click-to-call button, etc. Whatever it is, make sure that it’s clearly visible and your potential prospects can contact you easily. If you want to learn more about conversion optimization, read these 100 conversion optimization case studies.
Real estate SEO is not that difficult to do, but it requires you to follow a set of rules and guidelines. If you don’t, it will be harder for your website to get organic traffic. And if you don’t have traffic, you’re losing big time on potential clients. So roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath and start working on your online visibility. Point2 is here to help!