Making sure that you optimize your real estate website to ensure it’s a high performing website is a key component to success in today’s digital world, and this is true whether you manage a commercial or residential real estate company, or if you’re a realtor trying to start your own real estate business.
Thirty years ago, the main ways that people searched for real estate professionals were through newspaper ads and word of mouth from friends or family.
But the world we live in today is very different from back then. Things like virtual tours, smart locks and even drone footage of properties have ushered the real estate industry into the digital age.
This is why optimizing your real estate website is so important today.
SEO-e Blog lists some very important statistics that every modern real estate agent needs to be aware of:
“Here are some 2016 statistics collected by the National Association of REALTORS® on how the digital world is impacting the real estate industry:
“44 percent of home buyers looked for properties online first.
“Over 90 percent of real estate firms have websites, and the most common feature on their websites were property listings.
“Buyers worked with an agent 88 percent of the time to find their home.
“The typical buyer visited a median of 10 homes over 10 weeks before purchasing a home.
“The typical home buyer is 44 years old, married without children living at home, and has a median income of $88,500.
“Millennials make up the largest group of first-time home buyers at 66%, followed by Generation X at 26%.
“So what do these statistics mean for the 21st century real estate agent?
“For starters, home buyers are much more educated about the market before they speak to a home seller or an agent.
“But agents need not fear that the internet will replace their jobs. While the initial process may start online, most home buyers contact a trusted real estate agent for advice.”
8 Ways to Optimize Your Real Estate Website
1. Utilize Local Keywords
Using the proper keywords for your website is key–no pun intended–when you set out to optimize your real estate website.
Keywords are the terms you want to show up in Google or any other search engine. They are the words, terms, and phrases that people are going to search for and that you want to rank highest for.
First, create a comprehensive list of keywords that you want to rank for and then develop a strategy to make sure you incorporate all of these terms throughout your website.
However…something to keep in mind as you begin to optimize your real estate website is that real estate is an extremely competitive industry. Thousands of firms and individual agents are all working to get the attention of the same small pool of potential buyers. Although you and/or your company may do business across several towns and cities in your regional area, it’s better to start optimizing for local keyword phrases one at a time rather than trying to tackle your entire service area in one fell swoop.
Here’s why: over two-thirds of home shoppers begin their research with a local keyword phrase such as:
- [City/town] real estate company
- [City/town] homes for sale
- [City/town] land for sale
- [City/town] real estate agent
As you are starting out, just focus on the main city that you do business in. Then, once your primary geographic presence is well-established, consider expanding your focus to additional towns.
Weave the local keyword targets that you come up with into as many of your web pages as possible, including your homepage, blogs, articles, and listings. The more targeted you can get, the better results you’ll see. This is a great way to optimize your real estate website.
2. Invest in an Engaging Web Design
Having an engaging and responsive web design is very important if you want to attract more profitable leads.
If it isn’t already, your website needs to be responsive to whatever devices your target audience is using — laptops, desktops, tablets, or smartphones.
Most home buyers these days use their mobile devices to search for properties online, especially first-time shoppers and younger visitors like Millennials and Generation Xers. If your website isn’t designed responsively to adapt to mobile technologies, your target audience will move on to another real estate site and you’ll be missing out on a huge swath of traffic.
And if your website isn’t engaging enough or easy enough to navigate, this can drive people who do visit your website away. Make sure everything about your website is informative, valuable, easy-to-navigate and attractive to the eye. This will keep the people that do check out your website coming back and will continue to draw new people in.
3. You Feel the Need…the Need for Speed! And Space.
Page load times and site speed are other important Google ranking factors.
Real estate sites can tend to get slowed down due to oversized images, unnecessary content, and a buildup of old listings that never get deleted.
You can optimize your real estate website by making sure that you have enough space on your site to keep you from getting bogged down in an influx of old or unnecessary content.
With that said, you don’t necessarily have to have the fastest site speed to be one of the top-ranked sites. For example, say you created a landing page with high-quality images and an embedded video that slows your page load time but they provide valuable resources for your visitors.
In this case, the pros of showcasing the property or your services may outweigh the con of having a slightly slower site speed.
Just be sure to take into consideration the overall impact and compare your website speed to that of your competitors to get a good baseline to work with.
4. Take Advantage of Social Media
Another way to optimize your real estate website is to incorporate social media into your online content strategy.
It has been estimated that 91 percent of real estate companies already use social media to some extent for their business; but how does one take maximum advantage of it?
Real estate firms and agents with active social media profiles benefit from greater brand visibility, customer service, and engagement than those who do not utilize these tools, meaning increased traffic to their websites.
Being a real estate agent is all about developing and building relationships with your current and potential clients, and social media is the perfect trust-building tool to do that.
Popular social media platforms for real estate agents to utilize are:
- LinkedIn (for commercial real state)
- Google+ (for local community involvement)
Don’t be intimidated, though. You don’t necessarily have to be active on ALL of these platforms.
First, do some research to find out which social media platforms your clients and customers are primarily using and meet them where they are. Strategically employing hashtags like #realestate and #justlisted are also a good way to expand your visibility and drive more traffic to your real estate website.
And don’t forget to respond to comments appropriately, professionally, and quickly. This will help establish your credibility and a community’s trust in your services.
5. Rethink Your Content Strategy
If you think that simply publishing property listings means you can check off the content marketing box on your list, then think again. While online listings are an important part of optimizing your real estate website, they’re only one piece of the puzzle.
Updating your website on a regular basis with fresh, informative blog posts, articles, tools, and valuable resources is a great way to keep online visitors coming back to and engaging with your site, which is one of several key Google ranking factors.
For instance, if you’d like to target a certain town or geographic area, consider writing a series of blog posts talking about the top reasons for living there. Or create a checklist for first-time home buyers that they can download for free that helps simplify the complex steps involved in purchasing a home. Perhaps, you can even create an online tool that allows prospective buyers to estimate what they can afford based on their monthly income and the amount they’re able to provide as a down payment.
While the content you provide can include some listing information and a link, make sure it contains unique information as well. Some other on-page SEO tips for creating effective real estate content include:
- Using high-quality images, graphics, and videos.
- Follow SEO best practices by including meta descriptions, title tags, alt image tags, etc.
- Internally link to other pages and resources when possible and relevant.
- Write for people, not search engine algorithms.
- Put your main keyword or key phrase in headers and subheaders.
- Long-form content (1,000+ words) tends to perform better in internet searches.
6. Work to Attract Natural Inbound Links
Inbound links are when someone else is writing an article and adds a link to a blog post, article, or tool on your website that they found to be valuable and helpful. Inbound links are a great way to give your website and yourself credibility.
So naturally, a question that is often asked is, “What’s the best way to get inbound links for real estate agents?”
But rather than thinking about the issue of link building in a “how do I get that” mindset, try restructuring your mindset to the question: “How can I provide valuable content that people WANT to link to?”
While backlinks are an important component of your site’s overall rankings, achieving increased traffic and user engagement is a better goal to aim for than trying to generate links.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to avoid the tactic called “black hat” SEO. “Black hat” SEO is when someone buys or pays for links going back to their website. Google will penalize your website for this when they discover that you have been utilizing this false form of SEO.
Instead, optimize your real estate website by focusing on creating unique, valuable, and high-quality content that other sites will naturally want to link to, giving you organic link building points.
You can proactively create a backlink profile for your site (in a Google-approved way) by setting up profiles/accounts for your business in the following places:
- Local newspaper and website
- Local Chamber of Commerce
- Angie’s List
- Google My Business
- Google Maps
- Yellow Pages
Sponsoring or attending local community events such as races, fairs, school events, etc. is another great way to attract links, as well as working with charities and organizations.
By getting involved in your local community, you gain brand recognition and potentially earn inbound links to your website when local reporters or other organizations write about the event.
Check out this insightful Search Engine Journal article for more real estate link building tips.
7. Don’t Forget About Using Real Estate Directories
A great way to optimize your real estate website is to utilize tools like online real estate directories. There are a few online directory services that reach the vast majority of potential home buyers.
For instance, take a look at Zillow, which boasts 83 million users total and accounts for roughly 64 percent of the online real estate market share.
Other top directories where real estate agents commonly place their listings include:
Buying a house is one of the biggest investments a person will make in their life. So it’s important that they feel they can trust a real estate agent to find them the best property. Showcasing positive customer reviews as often as possible on your website goes a long way towards establishing this trust with new potential clients.
Along with promoting reviews on external sites like Yelp, Google Places, and online directories, you should also create a testimonials section on your own website to validate your business to prospective site visitors.
8. Test, Analyze, Repeat
Once you have a system in place that works, continue testing and improving the process to see how you can further optimize your real estate website.
Just like you might make small changes and improvements to a house before showing it, you must continuously re-adjust your SEO website strategy to stay ahead of the competition and adhere to Google’s constantly changing algorithm updates.
We recommend using tools like Google Analytics to identify who your audience is and discover what’s working and what isn’t. With this data in mind, try different real estate digital marketing tactics and analyze the new outcomes.
Achieving an optimized real estate website is never a quick and easy thing. It requires constant vigilance, determination, and patience.
Fortunately, those are qualities which most successful real estate agents already possess to some degree.