Location is a crucial element of the real estate industry. This is true for all types of real estate, including residential, commercial and industrial. Therefore, to achieve success, the importance of location also needs to be reflected in the marketing strategy of any organisation operating within the industry. Local SEO for real estate gives the perfect opportunity to include and improve how your online presence targets your geographic audience.
Local SEO for real estate is the process of optimising the online presence of an organisation to perform better in searches performed by local users. Whereas normal SEO simply looks at improving organic performance (and therefore the location of the users is not important beyond a national level), local SEO focusses on the geographical component of a search more than on the total traffic generated.
As an example, a chartered surveyor based in the East Midlands might be interested in ranking for queries around “commercial property survey”, as user queries containing this element will most likely have an intent that can be met by the chartered surveyor’s services. Usual real estate SEO efforts will attempt to place our chartered surveyor at the top of searches containing the phrase “commercial property survey”, without necessarily paying attention to the location of the users. This strategy can generate increased traffic and leads, however these leads may not be of use if they are coming from an area the surveyor firm does not operate in.
On the other hand, Local SEO will focus on improving performance for meaningful queries that account for the location and span of the business. For example, a good real estate local SEO strategy for the same surveyor will attempt to achieve good organic positions and traffic from queries such as “commercial property survey Leicester”, “land valuations Derby” or “rent reviews Nottingham”.
There are many elements that make up a real estate local SEO strategy, which need to coherently work together to localise the business and its offering, giving the right signals for search engines.
Google Business Profile is a tool designed to display organisational information within the Google suite of products, specifically on Google Search and Google Maps.
This tool provides an unmatched ability to showcase your business to users looking for information either about your organisation or the services you provide.
There are three main ways in which Google Business Profile can help with real estate local SEO:
The Google Business Panel is presented to users when they perform a “navigational” search. When users search for your company name on Google, they are most likely interested in your website , contact options or opening hours. All this information is available in the business panel, usually displayed to the right of organic results, making it easy for users to find what they are looking for without the need for additional clicks.
Other than the usability benefit, the business panel also confers a level of legitimacy, as it shows that the business is real and established. Another factor that can positively contribute to increased legitimacy is reviews, which are also part of the business panel.
As part of the business panel, you can configure the following information about your business:
One of the most important features of the Google Business Profile is the Google Map Pack.There is an increasing number of searches focussed around local businesses. These searches target a service rather than an organisation, as the users are looking at finding the best fit for their need. Google answers these queries by providing a comprehensive map of businesses that provide the service the user is looking for.
The Map Pack displays the location of nearby businesses that offer the service the user is searching for. It also provides other information about the businesses, such as contact information, opening times and reviews. The Map Pack is designed to help users find businesses relevant to their searches.
The Map Pack is displayed at the top of organic results, and therefore it can be a very easy way to outrank your competitors, and become the first answer local users see.
Lastly, Google Business Profile also gives the advantage of a Google Maps pin. With this, users will be able to easily find your location and use all the features of Google Maps to find their way to you. Furthermore, the Google Maps pin also displays business information, such as opening times or links back to your website. This is a really useful feature for businesses both in cities and in more rural areas, as this makes your business very easy to find.
Furthermore, the Google Maps platform has a search functionality, which displays local businesses for any queries. For example, if users are searching for “surveyor”, all the local surveying business will be highlighted on the map. This is another great opportunity to target local traffic that searches for a service rather than for a business.
Generating as many positive reviews as possible is paramount to a successful Real Estate Local SEO plan.
Reviews are user generated content that rate the interaction between the organisation and the reviewer. These interactions can be both B2B and B2C, making reviews relevant to all the niches within the real estate industry.
Reviews are a great way for new users to get to trust your business more, as they can see how other people feel about your business. Therefore, generating reviews on your Google Business Profile listing can attract more customers to your business.
Each review on the Google Business Profile platform can include the following:
Attracting a larger number of positive is a great way to increase your legitimacy. Furthermore, to show other users that you value customer feedback, make sure to reply to all your reviews, both positive and negative. Where possible, try to use this opportunity to present more facts and give more insight into your business and its success.
Local SEO isn’t just about your Google Business Profile listing. Although GMB will be a crucial part of your local SEO for real estate strategy, there are more actions you can take to improve the local performance of your website in search results.
For some local queries (query + location, e.g. “houses for sale Leicester”) the map pack provided in Google Search Results may not fully meet the user intent. For queries that are highly research focus ( for example, queries around buying a house), users will most likely scroll past the map pack and use organic search results as well to find what they are looking for. Therefore, it is important to have good organic rankings for local searches as well, as this might generate more traffic than the map pack for some queries.
Ranking organically for local queries is no easy process, and careful consideration is required as part of a real estate SEO strategy to make sure your website has the best plan to achieve this. Common tactics used in local SEO for real estate websites include using location modifiers in title tags, meta descriptions and the content of the page. For example, instead of using a meta title that focuses on just the services you provide (e.g “ Real Estate Agent | Company Name”) , try incorporating the areas where the services are provided as well (e.g. “Real Estate Agent in Leicester & Nottingham | Company Name”). This will be a clear signal to Google that your website should be pushed to users in these areas, and as a result can improve your organic positions for local queries. Other elements that can benefit from having a location modifier introduced are meta descriptions and the actual content of the pages.
A common tactic used in the real estate niche to generate local SEO results is the use of dedicated landing pages. By creating an individual page for each location (e.g. Homes for sale in Leicester, Homes for sale in Nottingham etc.) a clear distinction and journey can be planned for each geographical location. This will also allow for bespoke title tags and meta descriptions that will include the location modifier. However, the problem with this approach is duplicate content. Depending on how your website is built and what you display on these pages, Google may not be able to understand the difference between your content. If it finds that the content is similar or identical, this could be detrimental to organic performance, as Google will most likely not index any pages it suspects are duplicates of others. Introducing unique, meaningful content on each page that is able to differentiate the intent of each page is a solid strategy to maximise real estate local seo efforts.
A great example of this is the US based real estate agency Miami Real Estate. They have created individual pages for each area of Miami they operate in. However, to avoid duplicate content issues, each page has a dedicated content block, thoroughly covering each area. Because of this, they can signal the difference in intent on their pages, even for very similar locations, such as Miami and South Miami.
Directories are websites featuring information about places, people and organisations. They are a great tool to find the business you are looking for or a list of businesses in your area. Apart from their benefits to users, directories are also important for search engines, as they provide crawlers with a vast amount of links to different websites.
Citation building should be considered as a real estate local SEO tactic, given the ability of this process to generate links back to your website. There are numerous property specific directories as well as general ones where real estate organisations can be visible to users and search engines.
Citation building should always be carried out by someone with a strong understanding of local SEO and your organisation. This is because, if done wrong, it can have devastating consequences for your website’s NAP.
NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number.
Your organisation’s NAP should be identical throughout your citation building efforts. Having a consistent NAP is imperative to a successful real estate local SEO strategy, NAP is a strong signal for Google, as they will be able to use it to better understand your business and serve it to local users.
Google also uses NAP to identify different businesses with the same name. In the example below, Google is aware of two organisations named “Reach Marketing”. So when a user searches for this, the search engine has to decide which result will best satisfy the query. Based on NAP, Google understands that the organisation Reach Marketing Communications is geographically closer to the user’s location, and therefore serves this result first. The same search query performed from New York will yield a completely different SERP, as Google will most likely associate the intent of the query with the Reach Marketing organisation based in the USA.
Recently, NAP has been extended to NAP-W, which also includes Website. This addition aims to bring your attention on the URL you use when creating citations. Especially if your business operates multiple domains (such as different domains for residential and commercial real estate), it’s important that your citation building points all links to the same domain, preferably to the same page as well (usually the homepage). This will act as an extra element that identifies your website and organisation from other businesses with a similar name.
Furthermore, including a website link as part of your citation building efforts can have wider positive impacts to your real estate SEO, as backlinks to your website are a strong ranking factor for Google.
Creating a good plan for real estate local SEO can be a daunting first step. From making sure your Google My Business is set up correctly, to effectively conducting citation building and optimising your website for local searches, it may be hard to figure out where to start and how to approach the process. Our digital specialists are always on hand to discuss your needs and lend a helping hand in getting your local SEO for real estate started.
31st July 2023