Author’s note: This is a two-part series on search engine optimization for real estate agents. Part one (below) explains what SEO is and how it works. In part two of this tutorial, you’ll learn specific steps you can take to improve your search engine visibility and traffic over time.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for all real estate agents. With a solid SEO strategy in place, you can attract a steady stream of potential clients through the major search engines like Google and Bing.
But there’s a lot of conflicting information online about what you should, and shouldn’t, do to improve your rankings. That’s where this guide comes in. Our search engine optimization guide for real estate agents will help you cut through the confusion and maximize your results.
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
As the name suggests, search engine optimization is when you optimize or improve your website so that it ranks higher in Google, Bing and Yahoo for certain keywords or phrases. It often involves small changes that can make a big difference over time. When it’s applied to a real estate agent’s website, it is aptly referred to as real estate search engine optimization.
Here are some more definitions, from the S.E. companies themselves:
- Bing says SEO is a “valid practice which seeks to improve technical and content aspects of a website, making the content easier to find, relevant, and more accessible to the search engine crawlers.”
- Google says SEO “is often about making small modifications to parts of your website” and “when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results.”
As Bing stated, there are both technical and content-related aspects to consider. Search engine optimization for real estate agents includes technical matters such as URL structure, internal website linking, HTML title elements, etc. But there are also content considerations. The type of content you publish on your site — and the way you publish it — can have a big impact on your search engine traffic.
Benefits for Real Estate Agents
So what’s the purpose of search engine optimization for real estate agents? What value does it bring? What are the benefits of all this work?
Consider this statistic, for starters:
“Nine in 10 home buyers today rely on the internet as one of their primary research sources, and 52 percent turn to the web as their first step. In fact, real estate related searches on Google.com grew 22% year-over-year.” –The Digital House Hunt, a joint study from The National Association of REALTORS® and Google
If you want to benefit from all of this online activity, you need to have a highly visible website or blog. This means you’ll need to incorporate SEO into your marketing program.
A real estate search engine optimization campaign, done well, can result in a steady stream of targeted website traffic. This kind of exposure can improve your market competitiveness, lead generation, and overall marketing success. These are the long-term goals and benefits of search engine optimization for real estate agents.
What Does Search Engine Optimization Involve?
So what does SEO involve? What can you do to improve your website’s ranking in Google, Bing and Yahoo? For the most part, it comes down to two things — website content and popularity. Here’s how those two factors affect real estate search engine optimization.
- Content: If you want to show up in a Google search for a particular phrase, you have to have sufficient and original content relating to that phrase. For instance, to show up for “Austin housing market in 2016,” I would need to have a page dedicated to this phrase. This kind of specificity helps the search engines understand the main topic of the page, and match it to relevant searches.
- Popularity: Having content that matches a user’s search is step one. That will get you into the search results. But content alone is not enough to achieve top rankings, in most cases. To rank well for a particular phrase, you need to have some degree of “link popularity.” This is the quantity and quality of backlinks (incoming links) that point to your website. Search engines view websites with strong link popularity as authoritative. As a result, they tend to rank them higher than other sites, with all other things being equal.
Granted, there are some lesser, more technical matters that go into a real estate search engine optimization campaign. For example, it helps immensely to have keyword-rich title elements, as discussed in part two of this tutorial. But those are afterthoughts compared to the all-important concepts above.
Bottom line: Search engine optimization for real estate agents involves content development and link attraction. If you want to attract more visitors through Google, Bing and Yahoo, you need to (A) publish keyword-rich content relating to their searches, and (B) attract links from other websites.
Three Things to Avoid
We’ve talked about some of the things you can do to boost your website’s position and visibility within the major search engines. Now let’s talk about some of the things you should avoid.
We recommend that you avoid the following:
- Don’t try to “game the system” or manipulate your way up the search engine ranks. They’ll only penalize you for it.
- Avoid SEO companies that guarantee top rankings. There is no legitimate way to guarantee such results. As a result, legitimate SEO firms don’t make such promises. Guarantees are a red-flag indicator that you’re working with a shady company that might do more harm than good.
- You don’t have to pay a company to “register” or “submit” your new website to the search engines. Google and Bing will find your site on their own, without any manual input or submission. These companies make money by portraying themselves as “official” submission services, and by preying on people who don’t understand how search engines work.
For more on this subject, check out Google’s helpful guide: Do you need an SEO?
Part 2: SEO Tips to Improve Your Visibility
In part 2 of our guide, “Search Engine Optimization for Real Estate Agents,” you’ll learn some specific steps you can take to improve your website’s overall visibility. You’ll learn how to optimize your page titles and body content, and how to naturally attract links from other sites. Don’t miss it!
Need help? We can help you with many of the things discussed in this tutorial, particularly when it comes to website content. We offer weekly blogging services that have SEO built in. Our services are designed to help you steadily increase your web traffic over time, by using Google-friendly publishing techniques.