Real Estate SEO is the sum of search engine optimisation tactics that can be used to increase the organic performance of a website for real estate related searches. The purpose of real estate SEO is to generate more organic traffic from search engines (as opposed to generating traffic through paid channels, such as Google Ads).
There are many elements that make up real estate SEO. As well as having a strong technical basis, a real estate website should also be populated with quality content and have many links from other real estate websites.
Performing real estate SEO is a long term process that will involve a very varied set of activities. A good real estate SEO strategy will encompass technical elements such as improving site speed and optimising images, as well as more creative elements such as writing blogs, creating assets, or running campaigns.
The real estate industry benefits from the technological progress made over the last decades. People interested in real estate property no longer have to find their local estate agent to see available products on the market. The initial stages of the real estate buying / letting process are now a lot more transparent, as users are able to find most of the properties available on the market by using search engines.
Therefore, SEO does work for real estate. By optimising a real estate website for search engines, users will be able to easily find the products available and start their journey. Without visibility in search engines, it would be very difficult for a business in the real estate sector to showcase their products and attract traffic to their website.
Search engines are such an important part of the real estate industry they have become a staple for initial research. Search engines dedicated entirely to real estate (Rightmove, Zoopla, Onthemarket etc.) attract millions of users each year. These platforms have proved so popular that they have expanded from residential real estate to cover commercial and industrial real estate as well. Today, search engines form an established channel within real estate marketing, and ensuring your business performs well in search engines is the main outcome of real estate SEO.
When putting together a real estate SEO plan, a great starting point is analysing what other businesses in your real estate niche are doing. Keep in mind that your business competitors (the ones you compete with for work) might be different from your digital competitors (the ones you compete with for online visibility).
A fast and effortless way to find your competitors is to Google the phrases you would like to rank for. For example, if you are a commercial or industrial developer based in Leicestershire you might want to rank for searches around the key term “new warehouse Leicester”. Google the phrase you want to rank for and select the top websites you see in the organic results section (make sure to disregard ads). Repeat this process for several searches, and see what website come up consistently on the first page. These will be your digital competitors.
Once you have identified your digital competitors, visit their websites to understand why they are ranking well for the queries you also want to rank for. Pay attention to their site structure, the keywords they use in their content and what topics they are mentioning. Also look out for how long their content is. These are the things that will give you an idea of what you need to do on your website to achieve good rankings.
As you navigate through the websites, also try to notice the Call to Actions they use. Ask yourself:” What are users expected to do on this website?”. It may be that some websites push their users to product pages, where they show real estate products and their sale / lease price. This is especially common on estate agency websites. However, less commercial websites might push their users towards their services pages, or an e-book with informational content. Try to identify these main elements and decide which align best with your business objectives. This will be important in creating a website that converts.
Google takes the security of their users very seriously. At all times during their journey on a website, users should be protected from any harmful content or action.
A great safety indicator is using an SSL certificate. This will validate the connection between the user’s device and the server and ensure that the content of the website is safe to interact with. Furthermore, this allows for the use of the HTTPS protocol, which is a safe way of moving data between the website and the user’s browser.
Checking whether a website uses HTTPS is quite easy. As in the example below, if a lock appears next to the web address, this shows that the connection is secure.
Installing an SSL certificate on your website is a quick process, as there are many organisations that provide this service. There are further security measures that can be taken to protect the website and its users, especially when the website has an e-commerce component.
Another important aspect of user security is privacy. Every website manager needs to ensure that if they are using cookies, users have the option to opt in and out. Without good cookie management, Google will not display any websites in their search results. Cookies are especially important for tracking users and understanding their behaviour to further improve the website, however all data collected on users needs to adhere to Google policies and UK legislation.
With the rise of smartphones, more traffic is generated on mobile devices than ever before. This is equally true for the real estate industry, as more users are expecting to be able to search for residential, commercial, or industrial property while using their phone.
Google recognises the importance of a good mobile experience and introduced mobile site speed as a ranking factor. The faster the website loads, the higher the chances of the page ranking at the top of Google results.
A fast mobile experience is not good only for harnessing traffic, it is also good at retaining that traffic and improving conversion rates. The graph below shows that with increasing load times, the probability of users leaving the website increases dramatically:
To ensure your website loads as fast as possible, consider the following:
Real estate websites rely heavily on images to showcase their products. Unfortunately, having a large number of images on a page can significantly increase the load time of the page.
To avoid problems, ensure you only upload meaningful images and don’t display any images that are duplicates or very similar. Secondly, ensure the size (height and width) of the image is appropriate for the page you are uploading it to. Lastly, make sure the weight (kb or mb) of the image is as low as possible. Be careful when running images through a compressor, as these can drastically reduce the quality of the image, which will ultimately have a negative impact on your user experience and your real estate SEO performance.
Effects and animations such as fade-ins, cascades, overlays etc can have a strong visual impact on the user, however these can drastically increase your load times. Keeping these effects to a minimum can be key in improving site speed.
Bloated code – with lines that are read by browsers and crawlers but have no impact on the page’s functionality – adds unnecessary weight to your site. This can be removed to improve mobile site speed. Checking for scripts generated by plugins which are not in use on the page you’re optimising is usually a good starting point in identifying speed improvement opportunities.
One of the main tools that can be used to identify a website’s site speed and potential areas of improvement is Google’s Page Speed Insights. This can be accessed either from its own website or from the Google Chrome console.
Keywords are the essential part of real estate SEO. Keywords are words and phrases used in Google searches. By understanding what keywords are being used in the real estate industry, you can optimise your website’s content to show that it has the answer to a user’s search.
Identifying the right keywords for your website is not easy, as you have to account for the volume of searches using that keyword, as well as the difficulty of ranking on the first page. For example, a keyword such as “property land for sale” has a relatively high search volume of 480 average monthly searches, however it also has a very high difficulty.
Keyword difficulty is a metric used to establish the digital competitiveness of the keyword. Popular keywords will usually have a high difficulty, because there will be lots of websites trying to rank for that query. When there are lots of websites competing for the same keyword, more real estate SEO efforts are required to outrank the competition. For example, for the keyword below, a brand new website will be unlikely to rank for this keyword without a very high investment in real estate SEO. However, other opportunities may be available that have a lower volume, but also a manageable difficulty.
Some of the tools that you could use to begin keyword research are:
Once you have selected your list of keywords you want to rank for, you need to create content that targets your keywords. This isn’t simply using the keyword as many times as possible in your content. Rather, it starts with understanding the intent behind the keywords you selected and thinking about what the users who search for the keyword are expecting to see.
This will allow you to understand the content type you need. You could efficiently target some keywords with landing pages, however, other keywords (usually more informational intent keywords) will be better targeted with longer forms of content such as blogs, articles, e-books or infographics.
Once you know the type of content you need to produce, you can start doing your research, writing and publishing pages. Writing content should be a consistent process, making sure your content is relevant and up to date with changes in the industry.
Great real estate SEO content isn’t just copy. Adding images, graphics and videos is a great way to expand your content, provide more information and improve your engagement.
Google considers links to be one of the most important ranking factors, and therefore a strong link profile is a crucial step in creating a strong organic presence. Links are seen as votes of confidence and signal that your content and website are appreciated. If another website found your content so useful that they added a link to it on their website, then Google will be enticed to believe that your website should also be seen by users searching for queries around your topic, and therefore increase your ranking in search results.
Google values links from authoritative websites more. For example, a link from the BBC website is extremely valuable, as BBC is known to be an important authority. Similarly, links from other websites in the real estate industry will also be extremely valuable, compared with links from websites that have nothing to do with real estate.
There are many strategies that can be used to increase the number of links pointing to your website. Some of these include:
Because of the importance of links for real estate SEO, some organisations have tried to bypass the system and gain links in ways that Google disapproves of. For example, paying to have a link placed on another website goes against Google’s policies as this is considered link spam. Google penalises websites that engage in link spam and this could have disastrous consequences to your website’s organic performance.
Real Estate is a very geo-specific industry. Location forms a crucial part of the real estate product and is usually a major factor in determining value. The location of the real estate business itself is also paramount.
Google rewards local businesses for local searches. That’s why, for a localised query such as “new homes Leicester” the multinational website Rightmove will not be part of the map pack that shows up at the top of the page.
By introducing local SEO as part of your real estate SEO strategy, you can bypass organic results and show up in the map pack sitting just under the ads, which can lead to increased organic traffic as the map pack allows users to click through straight to your website, from where they can search through your property stock.
Local SEO is done through taking action on your website as well as properly managing your Google My Business profile.
Once you have deployed your real estate SEO strategy it’s important to monitor the performance of your website to learn what worked and could be scaled as well as what didn’t work and what additional steps can be taken.
Using Google tools is a very simple way to monitor and track results. Google Analytics is the most popular website tracking solution. Once installed on your website, Google Analytics collects user data live, and stores it in easy-to-understand reports. Using this tool, you can easily track how many users accessed your website, as well as how much time they spent in their session, and follow their actions through the website (scrolls, clicks, form submissions etc.). Google Analytics is an immensely powerful tool with lots of advanced features that provide a holistic set of analytics which should form the basis of your website monitoring.
Google also provides information about how your website performs in search results. Using Google Search Console, webmasters can see how many pages of their website are in the Google index. Furthermore, Google Search Console provides information on the performance of these pages in the Google Index, showing which user queries they appeared for, in what positions, and how many clicks were generated. Google Search Console is a vital tool for a successful real estate SEO strategy, as its performance report provides key metrics for appraising SEO performance: the queries ranked for, the position, and the traffic generated as a result.
There are other tools that can be used in conjunction with the Google suite to understand the SEO performance of a website, as well as give you insights to further improve your SEO efforts.
It is important to note all third party tools rely on proprietary algorithms which will be different from the Google algorithm. Therefore, when using third party tools the data will never be 100% accurate and the findings from these tools should be correlated with more reliable sources such as Google Analytics or Google Search Console before acting.
A real estate SEO Audit is a deep dive in all the elements that make up your website to understand how SEO performance can be improved. An SEO audit should be conducted by an SEO expert, as the audit should comprehensively analyse how all the areas of SEO are performing, as well as the best roadmap of action to improve performance and achieve your goals.
The audit should be performed with the real estate industry in mind, as all recommendations need to be fit for purpose within this sphere of activity. A real estate SEO audit can be a great tool to start your SEO journey, as this exercise will provide an all-encompassing list of actions to increase the volume and quality of organic traffic generated.
If you’re unsure about how to proceed with a real estate SEO audit or strategy, get in touch with our expert SEO team to unleash the potential of your website.
31st July 2023