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January 11, 2017

Ultimate Guide to Real Estate SEO: 7 Ways to Earn Traffic & Leads 🏡 #DigitalMarketing

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When house hunting, 90 percent of buyers use the internet. In fact, 53 percent of buyers start their search online, according to “The Digital House Hunt,” an extensive report on real estate consumer trends conducted by Google and the National Association of Realtors.

More than ever, people head online when it comes to looking for homes and finding Realtors®. According to the 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 86 percent of home buyers consider real estate websites the most useful source of information when buying a home. The very first step that 44 percent of home buyers make when house hunting is to look online.

Between 2008 and 2012, real estate-related searches increased by 253 percent. With so much opportunity online, realtors can’t afford to miss out on this valuable traffic; for professionals in real estate, SEO is more important than ever.

When it comes to capturing traffic for terms related to real estate, SEO efforts begin with local keyword targets on a personal website.

SEO expert and author Bruce Clay’s advice? ➡️ You have to carve out a niche for yourself — think locally, and then expand.

Read on to discover how you can leverage a real estate website to capture traffic (and leads). Here’s how to optimize your real estate website:

  1. Target local keywords.
  2. Write blog entries.
  3. Take advantage of photos and videos.
  4. Make your Site Mobile with responsive design.
  5. Get listed in Directories.
  6. Optimize your bio on your broker’s website.
  7. Incorporate social media.

1. Target Local Keyword Phrases

Sixty-nine percent of home shoppers begin their research with a local keyword phrase, like “Glendale realtor.”

Most realtors service multiple cities and regions. However, when you start your website, focus on the main city you do business in first. From there, build out silos that target other areas.

Optimize your website for search terms such as:

  • [City] real estate
  • [City] homes for sale
  • [City] real estate listings
  • [City] realtor
  • [City] real estate agent

These words can appear on pages throughout your site. For example, a site focusing on just Glendale realty might be organized like this:

  • Glendale Homes for Sale
  • Living in Glendale
  • Glendale Real Estate Testimonials
  • About Your Glendale Realtor

Throughout these pages, incorporate the local keyword targets, working them into content that is useful to a prospective home buyer.

Clay explained that you should make your website a resource. On a page like “Living in Glendale,” provide information on school districts, crime rates, median income, public transportation, and statistics on the average homeowner.

The more targeted a real estate website can be, the better.

Really focus on capturing local traffic. You have a much better chance to rank for, let’s say, “Glendale realtor” than “Southern California realtor” — as you build your site and traffic, you can eventually target more competitive terms like “Southern California realtor,” but not right out of the gate. You’ll have more success if you take a more targeted approach.

A Note on Using IDX/MLS

It’s common practice for realtors and brokers to use IDX (Internet Data Exchange) to render real estate listings. While this is great for users, it usually does little to influence rankings on search engines because these MLS listings are usually rendered with jQuery, in an iFrame or on a subdomain that appears off of the main site — meaning Google won’t index the content as part of the site. That’s why it’s important to add additional unique content to the listings page, such as:

  • extra facts and features of a property
  • excerpts from your testimonials page
  • videos
  • photos

2. Write Blog Post on Homes You’re Especially Keen to Sell

A real estate agent can represent hundreds of listings at a time, there are no doubt a few key properties that the realtor is particularly motivated to sell. One way to secure traffic to your site for those specific properties is to write blog posts. Each blog post should target a specific property’s address, which perspective home buyers will be searching for using Google. The address becomes the keyword — follow all SEO best practices such as using the keyword in:

  • Meta description
  • Title tag
  • Alt tag on photos
  • File name on photos
  • The content

As for the content itself, come up with 200 words of unique content describing the home’s features in addition to the standard description — and in this case, you don’t have to worry about duplicate content.

Google expects to see those descriptions of homes appear across the web. You won’t be penalized for including standard listing information. However, if you want to rank for the address as a keyword, you’ll have to include unique content, as well.

3. Take Advantage of Photos and Videos

Photos and videos are key engagement objects on all websites, but this is especially true of a real estate site. Home buyers love seeing a video tour of the inside of their prospective new homes. In addition to video tours, consider capturing testimonials on video, too.

Whenever you sell a home, get a testimonial. If you have a video camera, a steady hand and good lighting, try to get that testimonial recorded on the spot. A home buyer is ecstatic right after getting their keys. That’s a great time to ask for a review.

An Australian real estate group reported seeing 403 percent more inquiries for listings with video than those without video, and studies have shown adding a video to a page triples the amount of inbound link.

4. Make Your Site Mobile

The statistics are in and they show that home buyers are searching for real estate on mobile devices. “The Digital House Hunt” report referenced earlier also found:

  • 89 percent of new home shoppers search using a mobile device during the home buying process.
  • A 300 percent growth of real estate broker-related searches on tablets year over year.
  • Foreclosure searches have risen 180 percent year over year on mobile devices.

The report found that home buyers are apt to use mobile real estate sites while at home, at work, while waiting in line, at restaurants and in other people’s homes. Home buyers visit real estate websites to:

  • Read general home information
  • Get directions to visit a home
  • Compare prices
  • Compare features
  • Search a listing company’s inventory
  • Call a broker
  • Locate a listing agent
  • Read reviews
  • Research mortgage financing
  • Email/contact a broker
  • Watch an online video about a property

With these statistics in mind, it’s clear that making your website mobile is an important factor in real estate SEO. We recommend using responsive design, which is Google’s preferred mobile configuration (read more on responsive design).

Real Estate SEO: Beyond Your Website

In addition to optimizing your personal website for traffic, there are steps you can take off-site to entice prospective clients, as well, such as optimizing your bio page on your real estate agency’s website, getting listed in directories and using social media strategically.

5. Get Listed in Directories

Real estate agent directories get a lot of traffic, so it’s worth your while to get listed in them. Each of the following highly trafficked real estate sites have directories available to realtors:

Zillow alone had 498 million page views in a single month and Trulia had 277 million. There’s a lot of potential traffic to be captured by getting listed in the right real estate directory.

6. Optimize Your Bio on Your Broker’s Website

If you’re a realtor working with an agency, your brokerage house more than likely hosts a web page for each realtor. While it is unlikely that this sub-domain can rank for a local keyword target, this is a great page to optimize for your name. People will Google your name, so it’s something you should optimize for.

Clay recommended including your full name in the title tag and meta description. This might be challenging, however, because on the broker site, you’re operating on a domain that you don’t have full control over. Find out what you can and cannot change — if you can alter the meta data, optimize those fields for your name.

In addition to ranking for your name, you can also use the bio page to provide contact information and link to your personal website. For additional tips on ranking for your name, check out “Rank for Your Name,” which has more insights on why and how to use your name as a keyword.

7. Incorporate Social Media

When it comes to client relations, social media is a great way to start relationships or strengthen existing ones. A realtor with an active social media presence is able to interact with clients where they are every day: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and/or Instagram. Do your research and find out where your target clients are most active socially.

Real estate is all about relationships — any record you can build on social media that shows your expertise is important. When people vet you and discover a healthy, professional social media presence, it’s going to signal trust.

Because photos and videos are key components in real estate sales, Pinterest and Instagram are particularly useful platforms for realtors. On Facebook, consider joining location-based groups and on Google+, get active in local communities. Across all platforms, use social media strategically, employing hashtags like #realestate or #listing. For more tips on leveraging each of these networks, read “Social Media for Business.”

Need some inspiration? Take a look at how professionals are wielding #realestate:

This article was originally published in 2014 and updated for 2017.

If you’re a realtor or represent a brokerage house and are interested in learning more about digital marketing, we’ve love to have you come to our critically acclaimed SEO training in Southern California. We’ve been a global leader in digital marketing since 1996 and have worked with thousands of companies to maximize their reach online.

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9 responses to “Ultimate Guide to Real Estate SEO: 7 Ways to Earn Traffic & Leads 🏡 #DigitalMarketing”

  1. Jim Hinman writes:

    I think #2 is really important, but it is also important to include strutured data markup for address information as well. Many folks search for info on homes for sale via the Address of the property…valid data markup can help google understand your page is the one to serve up in the SERPs.

  2. David Prochaksa writes:

    Simple and effective, I love it. I think I’ll just bookmark this and when I get a real estate client, I’ll just run down this checklist :). You made great points. Pictures and videos are important as well as being listed, and I really believe in building citations as being listed. Incorporating social media is important to because that’s where millions and billions of people are! Plus, it let’s customers see your company’s personality.

    I like the idea of having a blog and creating content about the housing you’re selling, too.

    I’ll just check the “All the above” button if I’m asked which is my favorite point. :)
    Great article!

  3. Florian writes:

    I do think it’s can be cool also to add some instagram photos whenever you visit a place linked to your website articles. As Jim said, structured data and now are also a must have !

  4. David Trounce writes:

    I am only just beginning to see the potential of using Social Media in my Real Estate SEO. Much of my past marketing has been using traditional means – even online.

    Nice clear article.

  5. viewpointokc writes:

    I was always wondering how difficult it will be to apply SEO to real estate agents due to the fact there are high authority sites in page one. Thanks for this, so much information; you really know your stuff Kristi. I will actually have to come back to re-read it to ensure every ounce of detail sticks with me.

  6. Margareta writes:

    I have done everything except #4 “Make Your Site Mobile” because i have an old theme installed that is not mobile friendly and i am worried about that. On the other way i have very big local real estate (renting and selling properties) website made with WordPress with a lot of posts and pages with shortcodes for gallery etc. So i wanted to redesign it and make it mobile friendly but do not know what to do with these shortcodes because every page/post has gallery with images so i have to make everything from the beggining and that is going to be very hard job. Do you have any idea how to make it easier? I have exported all content from the old theme but when i import it in new theme, none of images is shown and shortcode is visible instead? This is my main website and i have to make it mobile friendly. Thank you in advance, best regards, Margareta.

  7. Andy Kuiper writes:

    Thanks Kristi/Bruce :-)

  8. Toby Barnett writes:

    Niche is still key and local even more so. Real estate continues to be a local industry no matter how much brands, portals and brokerages themselves, build national companies. Also, national brands, as the ones mentioned above, have large funding pools far above the average real estate broker making it very difficult for local brokers to compete in search. Ads and social media seem to close that gap.

  9. Ascent writes:

    Thanks Kristi! I have a potential RE client and was looking for some guidance. With the zillow’s and realtor sites dominating even the local cities this is clearly a niche where you need a good plan going in. Appreciate your info.

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