The ultimate guide – Real Estate SEO for 2018
First things first, as entrepreneurs we know that a business owner’s primary goal is to boost sales. You need to rank high in web searches to drive organic traffic, generate leads and convert clients. Updating the SEO on your website is one of the first places to start.
Don’t be put off by the tight competition as the local nature of real estate gives every business owner a good chance with the proper SEO. Optimize your website to improve its web visibility, and you will step ahead of your competitors.
1. Get an SEO Audit
Best way to start optimizing your online presence is to conduct a website SEO audit. This is a broad topic to cover, so I will just run through the main checklist. Keep in mind that you should most probably hire an SEO professional to help you with this one. An optimized website will rank high in search results but if your site fails to do that pay attention to these essential items:
Site structure: check your XML sitemap for errors, test your robots.txt file to see if your website is available for index crawlers and get SSL certificate and W3C validation.
Page structure: check if titles, meta descriptions, header tags and ALT tags are optimized, and your URLs are SEO-friendly.
Content: see if your keywords are relevant and how you place them, optimize visual elements, delete duplicates or use canonical tags
Links: check for optimal outbound and internal link placement, get rid of broken links and test for proper redirects.
Usability: measure your website site speed and mobile usability
Once you’ve fixed all these items, next step is to note down your SEO strategy plan and invest time and effort to carry it out.
2.Create a complete Google profile
For your local SEO strategy, it is mandatory to get your business listed on Google 3-pack. Create a profile on Google My Business, Google Maps, and Google+ to increase your site visibility and gain visitors fast. You will have good chances to get in the top three non-paid positions on Google provided your website has high authority and valuable content.
Pay attention that you have a consistent Name/Address/Phone Number (NAP) throughout your profiles because Google uses this verify all your business listings across the internet. Make sure that your phone number has the proper format to enable one-click-dial up. Use parentheses or dashes such as (123) 444-5555 or 123-444-5555.
Consider adding a dynamic contact page on your site and incorporate Google Map and click-to-call phone number to allow your visitors to know your business location and to contact you quickly. This also confirms that your website is legitimate. With WordPress, you can find plenty of free and paid plugins to optimize your site for local search.
3.Make a keyword action plan
The real estate business faces a tight competition for keywords so you should use SEO tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to target geo-focused terms to improve your local ranking. Focus on the central city/region you do business (let’s say Baltimore) and place the keywords in these five areas: URL, page titles, titles of images and image alt tags and several times on pages.
Target relevant keywords such (Location) real estate, (Location) realtor, (Location) homes for sale, (Location) renting, etc., to place throughout your site. If you do business in Baltimore, then your keywords strategy should include page titles like Baltimore homes for sale, Baltimore real estate reviews, Living in Baltimore, Baltimore real estate agents
Consider also using synonyms and long-tails keywords (3-4 words phrases particular to your business). There is less competition for these search terms so that you can get a higher search rank for your site. Place them in blog posts but don’t overuse this strategy. Keep your writing natural and use a keyword ratio of 1 to 2% for an informative, helpful article.
SEO and IDX/MLS
As a real estate business owner, you may consider using IDX to provide more property listings. Unfortunately, this doesn’t influence your ranking position in Google search because MLS listings source is on a separate database. However, to help Google index the page as part of your site you can add extra content: useful & original facts about the properties, unique images and videos and client reviews.
4.Create a real estate blog
Valuable content is vital in search engines results. It is a fact that websites that have a blog get more traffic so start publishing quality articles on topics that would interest your target audience.
An optimized SEO gold blog should have a unique and regularly updated content, optimized for targeted keywords. Consider real estate relevant topics such as property news, interesting articles about city/neighborhood life, interviews with local VIPs.
Nowadays visual content is as important for SEO purposes so incorporate a lot of property images, virtual tours, infographics and live-stream videos.
5.Refine your internal linking
In your newest blog posts consider linking to your oldest article. This allows your visitors to find more information about related topics. And you also give search engines the opportunity to see your older blog posts. Link to posts about the neighborhood to keep your local SEO strategy going.
The linking should be consistent throughout your pages meaning the anchor text should match the topic of the linked article.
6.Gather client reviews
Every good reputation relies on word of mouth advertising, and thus to build your own, you need written recommendations on popular review sites: main portals like Yelp and Google Places that every local business uses but also specific real estate websites like Trulia and Zillow.
You should also consider adding a testimonial page to your website. These positive reviews on your site are great for SEO because it mentions your location to Google and helps validate your business to your audience.
7.Be active on social media
If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business, you need one fast. A page with many likes and followers is a powerful tool for local SEO and helps your website rank higher as Google up-ranks websites which are active on social media.
Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn are also crucial online marketing tools but if you want to beat your competitors fast considering opening a YouTube account. Videos are most valuable content as Google ranks them very highly without a lot of written material and people love videos, so it is easy to get found online with short but useful videos.
8.Register your site in online directories
Make sure your website is listed in popular business listing directories and keep your information accurate on all sites as Google uses this info to validate its data. This will drive backlinks to your website and increase traffic so make a list of directories in which you would like to register.
Here are some directories to consider and the list is open: Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, CitySearch, Whitepages, Local.com, Craigslist and specific real estate websites like Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com.
The information you provide should include your business name, logo, phone number, physical address, email address, work hours. Add unique visuals and text descriptions if you can post content and place the logos of registered directories on your site to show your visitors that you are a trustworthy business.
9.Make your website mobile friendly:
As over 80% of home shoppers are now searching properties using a smartphone or tablet you should check if your site works on any mobile device. Furthermore, Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites and will penalize you in search rankings if you are not offering your visitors the best online experience.
You should consider every one of the following aspects:
Responsive design: your mobile site needs to feature short menus, large, easy-to-click tabs, optimized images, user-friendly contact form, and a logo button that allows users to navigate back to your homepage.
Page speed your site should load in less than two seconds, and for that, you should delete all elements that can increase your load time.
Site navigation and search: get rid of ads that block users from accessing content and ensure you have a unique search field with selectable filters and that filters are working correctly.
10.Implement structured data markup
Why is this important for SEO? Structured data is a term that refers to a type of markup implemented on a webpage that provides extra info about the page’s content. This helps search engines understand that content better.
Google Search uses structured data to enable unique search result features called snippets. For example, a page with valid structured data correctly will benefit from enhanced results in SERP (rich snippets, image carousels, knowledge boxes)
A featured fragment appears at the top of a result page, and it is a brief answer to the user’s search query. The snippet also includes a linked page title and the URL of the page. To earn this coveted position in SERP you should correctly structure, and markup your content and use keyword targeted paragraphs that answer specific user questions. Keep them short so that they could fit into a featured snippet section.
Stick with the latest SEO practices for real estate, and you will build a robust online presence and lead off in local search.