Organic Growth Tips Specifically For Real Estate Companies
Gone are the days when new home buyers read newspaper ads to find a new home. In the digital age, 44 percent of new home buyers look online for potential homes before ever contacting a real estate office. For the last few years, we’ve helped a number of real estate websites get more organic traffic from Google.
In fact, the best real estate websites already have carefully constructed listing pages with virtual tours allowing buyers the opportunity to view a number of potential homes and narrow down their search all from the comfort of their living room.
We decided to put together this post to round up our top “real estate SEO” strategies that have helped to achieve explosive results.
This post will explore actionable ways you can optimise your website to capture the attention and purchasing power of your best customers and convert more leads.
Here is what I believe plays a huge role in local search results for real estate agencies:
- Keyword Research [Guide] – Everything online starts with a keyword so why not take advantage of the best ones for your company.
- Onsite SEO – You need to be telling the search engines what your page is about, optimise the title, meta description and headings for easy reading.
- Google My Business – Taking advantage of the tools Google gives you to promote your real estate business is critical. Free Guide.
- Website Technical Review – Key elements like sitemaps, click depth, pagination, URL structure, This will help give you some context.
- Conversion Review Audit [Service] – Elements that people can go from a visitor and become a customer are essential.
- Online PR and Backlinks – Super important to create engagement so people want to buy or rent with you. Content plays a big part in this.
I included some helpful links so you can check out the topics that interest you more.
At the end of the day, this guide will help you to:
- Grow your Real Estate business online,
- Attract new buyers, sellers and renters
- To increase sales, in turn, your sales commissions
- To improve the user experience of your website
- Match the customer journey from search to sold
It sounds like a lot of work but when you chunk it down into actionable steps it really is as hard as you make it. We do this here at Be Media day in day out and our process is very streamlined to get large websites under control and operating like a well-oiled production line.
Let’s dive in.
How Home Buyers Search
Searching For Available Houses Online
The typical home buyer will use their mobile phone to search online, looking at websites, listings and seeking out information about the home buying and lending process.
Understanding how to list homes effectively will improve your chances of having your listings seen before your competitions’.
New home buyers aren’t just interested in the brick and mortar plan of a potential new home. They also need to be able to see themselves living there. To get a better picture of where a potential home is located, buyers will want to know about the amenities of the area. Where is the nearest shopping area? How are the schools? What is the crime rate? The need for this information provides content opportunities for your website. We’ll explore this a little later on.
How to buy a home
When a new home buyer does their online research they are not always just looking at potential homes but also how to purchase it. Many buyers, particularly millennials, often have questions around the more technical aspects of home ownership such as how to get a home loan, how to budget for your first deposit, how to negative gear a current home to buy an investment property.
We noticed that the interest in real estate online marketing from real estate agency owners is growing more and more as the competition expands especially across the local landscape. Agency owners are becoming more savvy and online promotion is increasing in paid ad spend and organic search activity. The way houses are being sold is changing and we might just see augmented reality impact the buyer or renter discovery journey. This may also trickle back to the way that houses are shown online to be more location and time independent with a range of new opportunities and innovations thanks to the way that COVID 19 has impacted the world.
Some potential changes to the way the home opens take place are:
- Virtual home opens
- Virtual reality walkthroughs
- Live stream home opens
- Drone fly overs
- Home Open Attendance done for you services
- Checklist submissions
Creating informative content around these types of questions builds trust with your audience and positions you as a thought leader in your industry. This trust is what makes a potential customer more likely to enquire about and pay for your services when the time comes to buy. It is also what helps your site be found among the thousands of others online.
Understanding how home buyers search for homes and other related information is vital to optimizing your site. In fact, providing content that answers your leads questions is the most important part of the puzzle.
The next piece is understanding how to position this content so that searchers can easily find it. This is where keywords come in. A very common problem we come across with real estate websites is the use of keywords and search terms. The ideal way to walk a visitor who wants information is to provide relevant helpful content. The idea of this to take a visitor and turn them into a lead, educating and giving enough free information that the visitor needs to contact you for more.
Now that you understand how home buyers search, we’ll take a look at how you can leverage this information to position your website to be more easily found.
Step 1: Select Your Keywords
Have a brainstorm session and write down a list of keywords that reflect your business and its services. For example, you might try ‘real estate agency’, ‘real estate agent’, or “real estate companies”.
If you’re having trouble finding keywords for your business try typing various “keywords” into Google based on your business (i.e. “Gold Coast real estate agent”).
Google Suggested Search will show you similar keywords to help you build out your list.
The best place to start is by putting yourself in the shoes of your audience and thinking about the process they would go through to find you. Think about the people you mainly work with and what they want you to help them with.
If you wanted to start with a easy suggestion try thinking of your last client and how you helped them.
- How did they find you?
- What did they want you to help them with?
- What did you actually help them with?
- What type of house did they want?
- How many bedrooms, bathrooms etc did they want?
- What locations did they want?
- What price range did they want?
That’s your first list of basic keywords and search phrases to look into. I like to imagine the people that I’m trying to help in the search phase. They know they need help and I want to provide the best keyword lists to get them in front of people that can actually help them.
Pro tip: When choosing your keywords, ask yourself if the keywords are relevant to your services and the content on your website. Will a searcher find what they are looking for if they searched using the keywords you have chosen? Or, will they find irrelevant content when they arrive to your site.
When you have built your list of keywords, sign up for Google Ads. You won’t need to create an ad campaign but you can use the account to access the Google Keyword Planner Tool which will show you how much traffic your keywords get and will also list other related keywords that may benefit your website.
When you are ready to compile your final list of target keywords, you’ll need to consider which of the two following headers they fall under.
Research intent keywords are a good indicator that a potential lead is just shopping around and in the early stages of the process. Perhaps they are considering selling their home, or downsizing in the near future but haven’t made a firm decision. For example, searching for “home prices Parramatta” is probably just someone deciding whether they should buy a house in this suburb, rather than a lead ready to buy.
Research intent keywords will not result in a quick conversion but are valuable when it comes to building your blog content. These vital posts build trust in your brand with those who are still doing research and will remember you when they are ready to buy or sell a home in the future.
Don’t underestimate the value of these keywords when it comes to long term content creation which should be a vital part of your SEO strategy going forward.
Buying intent keywords are those that a potential lead searched when they are already in need of your services. It would be safe to assume that someone who is searching with “buy a house in Parklea” would like to make a purchase soon.
Search intent is how Google learns what web pages match the intent of the person searching. As shown above, the keyword funnel shows how a person would move down the customer journey if they were searching for a Ford Ranger.
The same principle applies to people searching for a rental property in Penrith or looking for a 4×2 house for sale in Applecross. While one person may want to find a house in Hillary’s another person may want to find a house for sale in Hillary’s, while this is nearly the same the web pages that each person wants to see will be different depending on the search query.
When it comes to optimizing your site initially, your primary focus must be these buying intent keywords. Ensure they are used in your listings pages, featured on your home page and build your service pages with these keywords at the core. All supporting keywords can be semantically related and on the topic to the buyer keywords, this creates a more complete and helpful web page for people searching for information.
Step 2: Keep it local
72% of consumers who did a local search visited a business within five miles when it came time to make their purchase. Be sure to optimise your site for local search before you try to rank nationally.
Most real estate agents service more than one region or city. But when you first start optimizing your website, be sure to focus solely on the main city you do business . After you have had success with this you can branch out to target other areas.
Optimize your website for search terms such as:
- [City] real estate agent
- [City] real estate
- [City] real estate listings
- [City] homes for sale
These words should appear on the main pages of your website. For example, a Sydney real estate website that focuses on just Penrith realty might consist of pages based on local search suggestions such as:
- Penrith Houses for Sale
- Penrith Apartments for Sale
- Living in Penrith
- Penrith Real Estate Testimonials
- About Your Penrith real estate agents
Be sure to use the local target keywords throughout the pages by writing them into content that is useful for a prospective home buyer.
Offline marketing tactic that Ive used to help improve some of the listings getting more engagement is to use QR barcodes on the physical listings flyers so that people who are interested can visit your real estate agency or see your flyers and use the QR code to bring the listing up on their phones and then continue the customer journey on the smartphone I know this helped me when searching for houses.
STEP 3: GET TECHNICAL
When you are optimised locally, you’ll need to go a little deeper into making sure the technical aspects of your site are taken care of. The better your site works and can be crawled by search engines, the more likely it is to rank for the keywords you have chosen. The higher your pages rank, the more sales you are likely to generate.
In my time working with realty businesses Ive come across a lot of real estate websites that have a host of limitations and out dated systems. Alternatively I also come across those little “custom” developed website CMS platforms that are built by niche real estate web design or marketing firms that use a cookie cut template for all clients including content and images. I see it more than I should and its a damn shame when we have to come in and clean up the mess a “industry specialist” makes when selling to real estate agents.
Duplicate content from one website being used on another is really bad. Google is all about providing a unique, helpful and informative experience for its users, we push you to provide a custom experience for your visitors. Building your website with content and images that 52 other real estate agent websites are already using is a BAD idea if you want to take advantage of free organic SEO traffic. Build a website with the idea that it will be your primary business location in the next 6-12 months and build your next website with professionals who keep up to date with the trends and changes in design for your industry.
The biggest problem I come across are the website needs integrations to CRMs, Email marketing software, feeds, and in some cases platform to platform connections that make it very hard to parse good clean data from one point to another without the help of a connector. These are usually the biggest risk elements of a website because they have moving parts and third party integration they can often be incorrectly setup or they produce knock on effects that may not be picked up until there is a problem. We also see this more than we should.
Its not all bad news though, a lot of companies are working hard at creating universal integrations so their platforms can speak to 95% of the real estate businesses out there. The way to ensure you have a secure connection and problem free transfer of data is by testing and monitoring the right parts of the website. Be Media understands this.
How Does Online Real Estate Marketing Work?
We cover the basic SEO steps in our processes that you can get when you sign on as a client. This post is about more marketing tips that work in conjunction with search engine optimisation tactics. The way that we structure the online component of our marketing specifically for real estate businesses involves Geo location targeting, the type of audience they have and what limitations we may have based on the website and CRM or other legacy integrations we encounter.
- Audience use their website more on mobile or desktop audience
- Audience messaging towards male or female
- Audience age brackets
- Primary communication method (Facebook page, email newsletter, YouTube, Snapchat or other)
- The lead capture process and how many touch-points are required on average
As a start this is the bare minimum that we would consider asking. The key for our marketing team is to understand what they have to work with and who they need to be speaking to with the businesses messaging. The discovery of the audience that you have and learning who the audience that you want are is how we make online marketing for real estate businesses work.
What does our process look like?
Discover Analysis. In the discovery stage, we look at the landscape, keyword opportunities, competitor research and areas that can be improved.
We also look at what type of listings competitors use, what features to include, what details are provided to people searching for houses.
Technical SEO. Auditing website page load speeds, URL structures, Schema markup, navigation structure, Mobile responsiveness and xml.sitemaps.
We go on a real deep dive into the website backend looking for areas that can be improved for Google to read and understand the website and for people searching to find what they want without needing to click too many times.
OnPage SEO. We optimise items like page titles, keyword density (on each page) and content quality / depth and readability.
Here is where a lot of the work comes in analysing what you have and don’t have, finding a balance of enough information, how it is presented and where it is placed.
User experience signals. Items like enagement, on site dwell time, analysis of bounce rate and search queries.
We also expand into placement of buttons, placement of the listing features, maps, contact details for the agents and anything that can help in the decision making process for a website visitor.
Online buzz. Items like social media activity, bloggers, branded search and online coverage and local media.
We want to really look at how we can increase our clients online visibility, this includes looking at backlinks and areas where we can get more exposure.
When it comes to optimising your real estate website there are two main types of pages where it pays to be scrupulous:
These pages target your buyer intention keywords and are the pages on your site where you list and describe the properties you have for sale. When it comes to SEO, these pages can be problematic for a couple of reasons:
- Quality: When it comes to ranking, these pages are considered by Google’s crawlers to be of lower quality than your website’s main pages. Containing the same information as other websites they can get your site bitten for containing duplicate content.
- Turnaround speed: Listings pages are published and irrelevant very quickly as houses are sold. Sometimes, this process happens so quickly that Google doesn’t even have time to rank the page before it is obsolete. If these types of pages are not managed correctly they will bloat your site which can cause further ranking issues down the road.
Quick fix: Block the crawl of any listing pages in Google Console using your Robots.txt file. The paged will remain live on your website but will not be indexed by search engines. This may seem strange considering the goal is to rank highly in the SERPs but by removing dead weight from your sitemap, Google is forced to focus solely on your best and most-optimized pages.
If you have a new, low authority website, it’s super important that every page that makes you money has unique and valuable content on it.
Blog posts and resource pages
These pages are used to target your research intention searchers. Here you create blog post and informative pages about your region to convert readers to future leads.
The topics within these pages don’t need to be about real estate. Instead, focus on answering questions that a potential buyer would ask about the neighbourhood you operate in. Returning to the Penrith real estate example, here would create informative pages that cover topics such as ‘what is it like to live in Penrith?’ ‘Schools in Penrith’ or ‘Things to do in Penrith.’
Here you want to capture all of the searches people undertake before they are ready to hire your services.
Recommendation: Apply traditional SEO tactics to your pages, ensuring they have optimized headers containing your keyword, structured data laid out with <H2>’s, <H3>’s and bullet points.
Be sure that the content is in-depth, containing at least 500 words, tables, relevant images and other media.
Once you’ve mastered all of the above, give your site an overall audit to make sure everything is performing as well as it should be. It won’t matter how good your content is if your images take 30 seconds each to load. Be sure that your site loads quickly and is easy to use.
This leads us to the next step:
STEP 4: IMPROVE USER EXPERIENCE (UX)
Researchers found that coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. It is small changes like this that can make a big difference to how user’s experience your website. It is important to evaluate UX regularly. Continuous improvement over time will keep your site easily found and accessible to leads ready to buy.
Here are a few changes you can make today to improve home buyers’ interaction with your website:
1 Make search easy
We’ve all seen search forms that have so many fields that once you have entered the information required you only receive one or two results. Make sure your search form doesn’t have too many fields so that users can easily find what they are looking for.
2 Make next steps obvious
Make it clear what is the most important element of your page. Make any links or calls to action clear and obvious so that your site visitors aren’t confused about what action they need to take next.
3 Only list relevant information
The benefits of listing pages is that you can give as much information as you want about a property, but be careful not to give too much information. Stick to what is relevant and important to home buyers, such as price, location, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, the size of the property, the floor plan and images of the home itself.
4 Optimise for mobile and tablet
It cannot be emphasised enough how important this is for the success of your business. Home buyers are searching online right now for their new home. You need to be sure that the properties on your books are listed where your audience is looking for them.
BONUS: Optimise for page load speed. The single most important factor moving into the new year is speed.
Another thing a LOT of Real Estate companies leave out of their online marketing is hyper-relevant content. The focus on content for real estate websites is about the Geo location and providing searchers with access to houses for rent or sale in specific areas, having content that is helpful can help visitors looking for a new home may consider areas that your realty website is featuring on it’s blog or as a highlighted suburb.
Search engines love hyper-targeted content that users can engage with, plus used strategically this type of content can increase attendances at home opens and sales leads.
What would we suggest to do for real estate websites that want to expand their business? we suggest investing in a content marketing strategy that covers your target business areas. Content marketing is time-consuming and is not for everyone however you are in the right place, we have specialists in content marketing that can assist you with strategy and delivery to help you reach more people.
As you can see, there are many considerations when it comes to optimising your real estate website. Be meticulous in your keyword research, optimise your content to rank locally for these target keywords and ensure your site is mobile friendly and easy to use and fast. The return on your time and investment will be well worth the effort or you can fast track it all and work with a company like Be Media that specialises in this.
Contact us today to talk about how we can help your real estate marketing get back on track.
Fascinated by how things work. I like Pizza 🍕 and Marketing 💻 in that exact order.
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