Like many small business owners, real estate agents also benefit from a local SEO campaign. Facebook Ads campaigns and pay-per-click on Google will drive traffic, but you can expect to make a significant investment into these channels that might leave you with sticker shock. For a long-term strategy, consider optimizing your website as much as possible for organic search.
How Is Real Estate SEO Different from Other Industries?
One of the key components of SEO is providing search engines with unique content. Whether you operate a blog and publish original posts or you manage an e-commerce store with thousands of product pages, unique copy is a must. However, in the world of real estate, property detail pages will inevitably contain duplicate content.
How Does Duplicate Content Persist In Real Estate Content?
Every real estate agent belongs to a regional MLS system. You can think of this as a localized database of all real estate property listings. Every agent in a specific area has to access this data through their real estate board and pays a monthly subscription fee. Any property data pulled out of the database (images, descriptions, property features, etc.) are shared among any real estate agents accessing the regional MLS database. Because every agent is forced to share the same basic content about real estate listings in their area, duplicate content is unavoidable.
In the above example, the property description comes from the MLS and is duplicated across thousands of sites. A quick search in Google shows the extent of the duplication:
Knowing that property listing pages will be considered duplicate content by Google, it’s important to focus on content you can control. With that said, you’ll still want to be sure your individual property listing pages use basic on-page optimizations like titles, descriptions, clean URLs, etc.
Finding Hyper Targeted Search Terms
You’re likely not going to rank individual property pages. This is an area where bigger national sites swallow up the market simply because of their authority and depth in the space. However, this gives you an opportunity to focus on your specific areas of service like condo buildings, hyper targeted neighborhoods and communities, or price-focused pages if that resonates best with your clients.
Begin researching new content ideas through a common keyword explorer like SEMRush or Ahrefs. Try searching for your “city + real estate” to start to see what kind of content is currently ranking and by whom. You may want to include additional keyword modifiers like “luxury” to further refine your search parameters. The more long-tail you can get while still being relevant to your clients, the better.
Mining Queries from PPC
Another great way to find potential search terms you can translate into content on your site is through a broad match campaign in Google Ads. This keyword match type allows you to cast a wide net to discover how people are actually reaching your site with very specific search terms. Allow the campaign to run for a minimum of 30 days to ensure you collect the best data possible.
Once the campaign has enough data compiled, begin sifting through search terms to identify those with the highest engagement rate (clicks). Avoid trying to optimize for searches with the highest impressions as they might be outside of your reach. Long-tail searches are key with a real estate SEO strategy.
Create Unique Landing Pages
With keyword research complete, move on to developing unique landing pages for your target keywords and phrases. For example, if the primary type of real estate you offer are condo units, create unique landing pages for every condo building you show properties in. This helps create a niche area of content where bigger sites like Trulia and Zillow won’t have the same depth of knowledge about the condo building that you have.
You’ll want to create landing pages for all of the communities and neighborhoods you service as well. While a large real estate site may rank for something like “Chicago real estate”, you have the opportunity to rank for something long-tail like “Chicago Gold Coast real estate listings”.
You may also consider applying this strategy to price tiers. Sort all of your listings by property type, location and then by price, allowing searchers to find your content with phrases like “single family homes under $500,000 in [city]”. Again, bigger sites will not go in-depth with their content for searches like this. You have the opportunity to create better content and rank higher.
Unique Content is Key
With any content you create, remember uniqueness should be the number one priority. Even if you are gathering information from local resources or other real estate sites, use the information as inspiration for your content and avoid blatantly copying anything you find. From text to images, try to be as original as possible. It will set you apart from other real estate agents in your target area and it will help you stand out to Google.
Use Tools & Widgets In Your Content
Want to further separate your content from everyone else’s? Try using tools like a mortgage calculator or an interest rate widget within your content. This helps visitors engage more with your site and provides a useful resource most real estate buyers need at one point or another. Most IDX providers offer tools and widgets with their MLS plugins that are easy to configure.
Use Structured Data In Your Content
Set yourself apart from other real estate websites in your area even more by using structured data. This type of meta data further informs Googlebot about the type of content you offer specific to the real estate category. Learn more about structured data implementation at http://schema.org/RealEstateAgent.
Like everything else with real estate SEO, there’s an assumption that all authentic links are pointing to the bigger real estate firms. However, there is plenty of real estate backlink data to prove that’s not the case. With with the right content marketing strategy, websites still earn plenty of authoritative backlinks.
Before jumping into a content or outreach strategy, make sure you have the basics of local SEO covered first. Publish your contact information and website on local directories, claim and optimize a Google My Business page and use sites like Yelp to further increase your authority.
And if you belong to a bigger real estate firm like Lyons, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, etc., request a link from the firm site pointing to yours.
Above is an example of a backlink from a real estate firm point to an individual agent’s site. This is a highly relevant link that carries tremendous authority that Google loves.
Create Useful Information
When people search for real estate online or offline, they also want to know about attractions in the area they are searching. Restaurants, parks, shopping and crime are just a few of the key things that go into the research process. Consider creating an FAQ or resource guide to the area to best answer potential questions from buyers searching your site. Not only does this help build your authority with your audience, you’re also helping your credibility with Google and you’re creating pieces of content that will earn links over time.
Social media remains one of the top referral channels for real estate web sites. Your followers will naturally share property URLs among family and friends, however, you have an opportunity to share content yourself. Get into a rhythm of posting your personal real estate advice, information about your area and of course, your property listings.
Aside from the standard Facebook and Instagram posts, take a look at Pinterest. Many real estate buyers turn to Pinterest to discover home styles they like and can easily come across your content. Additionally, if you have video content for your listings, be sure to post it on YouTube and Tik Tok.
The reach of viewers grows every day for these video channels and you have an easy opportunity to show off your listings.
Wrapping It Up
Real estate SEO isn’t impossible, but it’s not easy either. It just takes a bit of extra work due to some industry-related limitations and the competition level of most keywords.
You can craft highly refined and unique pieces of content to help compete against the likes of big sites like Trulia and Zillow. Use advanced SEO techniques to make the content stand out as much as possible and work on earning links to your content. Over time, your organic traffic will increase and you’ll become authoritative for the specific area / region you serve.
If you need help with your real estate SEO strategy, website or paid search campaigns, please reach out for a consultation!
Thanks for bringing up how long-tail searches are key when it comes to real estate SEO strategies. I think a ton of people just assume that any form of SEO will work for any company. It’s good to know that different strategies are needed for different types of companies.
Simply put, it’s too difficult to compete with the budgets of brands like Zillow, Realtor, Trulia, etc. Small real estate groups have to focus on long-tail searches and specific neighborhoods to really be successful with SEO.
Great content! What do you think we should do to avoid getting penalize for duplicate contents if our website is structured to be a property listing site? In a listing type of website, it is inevitable to duplicate contents since product is almost similar. What can you suggest we do?
In this case, we recommend creating as much unique content as you can. Have you considered buying guides, selling tips, popular areas, etc.? If you can create more content for Google to focus on, you can avoid worrying about duplicate content from property listings.
Thanks for generously sharing this, we are about to integrate our site for more mobile-friendly uses, do you suggest a native app or make the website easily navigated through mobile devices?