This is a guest post by Casey Abernathy, from our friends at CyberKazoo. He’s a website builder, tech trainer and IT project manager.
The main goal of investing in a real estate website is to get more leads and close more deals. Sure, it can help improve your online image. It can give you a chance to show off local knowledge and industry achievements. It can also be a platform to extend your inventory, and to include that of other trusted REALTORS© in the region. But its main goal, the most important one, is helping your business grow. That is why you need to optimize your website for search engines.
I’m a Real Estate Agent, Do I Really Need SEO?
An investment in SEO helps ensure that your realty site gets maximum exposure to potential buyers. Odds are, your site is already linked to an aggregate service such as Point2Homes, or a local MLS. Although these larger sites will often feed traffic and leads to you, it is important to make sure that you offer your users relevant content, links, images and other elements to engage them, once they arrive at your site.
Good content with quality SEO will not only help attract customers to your agent website, it will help get them to come back. It will also help to harness some of that traffic from other portals that you are linked to, and make sure that you get credit for it.
What is SEO and How Does It Apply to My Real Estate Website?
SEO is Search Engine Optimization. With good SEO, you’re giving Google, Bing, Dogpile, Ecosia, and other search engines the right basic information about your real estate website. This information helps people who are performing a search in your local area, or half a world away, find you first.
SEO info will naturally include a few basic details, such as your location, and the type of service you are providing. It also includes more specific things, like keywords that you must use effectively in your content, meta descriptions, and meta-titles for each page. These pieces of information might not seem like much, but they can make the difference between whether your site is thriving, or is invisible.
A real estate agent website is like most other sites. It has pages that share background and area information, pages that offer products (homes, rentals etc.), and pages with background info on the company and team members. It is important to remember that people could search for any one of these things.
For example, have you taken the time to make sure your SEO for basic terms such as [My City] real estate is optimal? How do you rank for more specific terms like Condos for sale in [My Neighborhood]? There are lots of keywords and phrases that people will search for, when they are looking for a new home, or a local expert. It is important that your strategy takes all of these into account in order to perform better than your competitors.
Search Engine Optimization: Where Do I Start?
Know What Your Visitors Are Looking For
There is no substitute for research. Taking the time to identify and prioritize keywords will take you a long way. While some keywords may have higher search value, they are also likely to be more competitive. This means it will be harder to get to the top of the search results page.
While competing for the main market terms should be a part of your long term strategy, there are other keywords that will help generate traffic and organic reputation in the short term. Take the time to search out every term for your business. There are likely several that are missed by competitors, but still searched by potential clients.
Certain sites offer free tools, like SERPs Keyword Rank Checker. Just type in a few keywords for your market, and enter your URL to see where you rank. You can even search based on a specific location to focus on a target market.
Get a Good URL
A good URL will make it easy for Google and your potential customers to know what you do. For example: http://www.puertoricohomes4sale.com/. Can you guess what that site is for?
The idea is to remove all doubt and establish confidence before asking the user to click. A good URL should be simple and straightforward, so people will intuitively click on it. The more users clicking, the more reliable your website will look to search engines. No wonder PuertoRicoHomes4Sale is one of the top performing sites in Puerto Rico. Feel free to take a look at some of the other internal pages to get an idea about why it does so well.
A bad URL does not clearly imply what the site is for. For example: AgentName.com. Although your name might be good as a domain for an online resume, or a portfolio, it is not necessarily good for a realty site. Unless someone knows you personally, or is searching for your name, they will not be impressed by that URL in the search results, and fewer clicks means less search engine authority.
Use SEO Best Practices
Search engines want to send their users to the best possible site. But how do the search engines know which sites are the best? A good site will have links that point to it from other reputable sites. Think of these as references on a resume.
The site should be easy to navigate. This means that it should have a menu that points to all major pages. You can also link to other pages within the content itself. This is useful when you mention varied specific topics such as price ranges, neighborhoods, or a specific housing type like single-family detached homes or condos. Making it easy for a user to click from one page to another is essential to SEO.
Some of the most important aspects of SEO optimization are keywords and meta descriptions. When a stranger performs a search for a term, it is important that you either use that term, or a close variation of it. This is especially true on the pages in your website where the user is likely to find the content they’re looking for.
You should also use that term in the meta descriptions for those pages. This will help both the search engines and your potential clients identify that your site has exactly what they are looking for. To complete the connection, use part of the meta description and the keyword, or key phrase, in the page headers or at the top of an opening paragraph.
Stay Away from Bad SEO Tricks
There was a time when you could trick a search engine. Keyword stuffing, blind redirection to other sites, links on unrelated pages, and shady data collection methods were common practices. Thankfully, the internet has evolved.
Google and the others are now smart enough to tell the difference between a good site and a bad site. Google has a list of black hat (bad) practices that will get you penalized, and white hat (good) practices, that will yield rewards in terms of SEO.
Want to learn more about good and bad practices in SEO? Check out this blog article on real estate SEO best practices.
Boosting a Realty Site in a Competitive Market
You need to make other efforts and investments to draw traffic to your site. Even franchise real estate companies will feed traffic to their local pages from a blog or social media. Many use AdWords, email newsletters, and other methods of targeting an interested audience.
Once your real estate website has solid SEO, the search engines will credit more and more traffic toward your ranking for page specific keywords.
I’m not Tech Savvy, Help!
If you’d rather just stick to selling houses, we understand. Taking the time to learn SEO, come up with a strategy, and create content is a lot to take on. Lucky for you, there are service companies that exist for this reason. Our friends at CyberKazoo happen to run one of them.
As we all know, nobody looks on page 2 of Google search results. So, take a look at what CyberKazoo have done for others, and what they can do for you:
Casey Abernathy has worked in technology for over 10 years building websites, testing and training users in custom software applications, managing projects and serving as a translator between technical and non-technical stakeholders.
He presents at live events and webinars and will be guest speaking at an upcoming real estate conference in Cabo, Mexico in May of 2017. More of his work is available on the CyberKazoo Blog. Connect with him on LinkedIn, or at the next CyberKazoo Webinar.