The online house hunt is now a reality for Americans of all age groups and backgrounds.
As far back as 2013, a joint study by Google and the National Association of Realtors showed that 90% of buyers searched online during their home-buying process. Fast forward a few years, and digital technology had taken an even more prominent role: In 2018, 44% of home buyers went online first when looking for properties.
Over 90% of real estate firms now have websites, and their property listings are their #1 feature.
Whether you're new or experienced in real estate, the conclusion is inescapable: Most of your future clients will find you online, not through traditional advertising or face-to-face events. Creating a real estate website full of helpful, informative content is no longer optional; it is critical.
What Real Estate Firms Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the thought of competing for attention online in a crowded market. Carving out your niche can seem even more complicated when it's time to come to grips with one of the most misunderstood topics in real estate digital marketing: Search engine optimization (SEO).
Put simply, SEO is a collection of best practices in website design and marketing. It raises your online visibility by making your website more likely to feature prominently when prospective customers search for topics related to your business, for example, "homes for sale in Tempe, AZ."
In today's world, all real estate agents need SEO. Unfortunately, the misconceptions around it could fill a book.
Some believe it is as complex and challenging as writing a computer program. Others have been told that it is "cheating," something ethical businesses avoid at all costs. These erroneous beliefs come from a bygone era, before SEO practices included measuring data and demonstrating clear results.
Search engine optimization is now more science than art. It is precise, powerful – and surprisingly accessible.
SEO has evolved alongside search engines. All search engines strive to help their users discover the most useful, valuable, and legitimate content on any topic. Instead of being confined to the tech-savvy few, modern SEO often comes down to understanding what website visitors want and giving it to them.
The better you know your audience, the more successful you will be.
And isn't that true of everything in real estate?
MAKE SURE YOUR WEBSITE IS EASY TO USE AND NAVIGATE
You appeal to search engines by appealing to people. By and large, people need signs they're in the right place when they arrive at a website. Otherwise, they'll leave without inter-acting, a phenomenon called "bounce." When designing your site, make sure navigation is simple, and information isn't buried under too many layers. Create clear call-to-actions and avoid clutter which will serve as distractions.
USE THE RIGHT UNDERLYING TECHNOLOGIES FOR YOUR SITE
Two key technical considerations go into any modern real estate website. First, your site must be "responsive," meaning it adjusts its appearance and navigation for people using mobile devices. Second, it should use SSL encryption to keep data safe. Google considers both of these factors when ranking websites.
CHECK YOUR WEBSITE'S SPEED AND MOBILE PERFORMANCE
Before your website goes live, check it out on a variety of mobile devices and browsers. All pages should load in three seconds or less to avoid user frustration. Google's Page- Speed Insights tool not only gives you useful data on your website's performance but also includes actionable ways to improve it quickly.
HAVE A STRATEGY TO OBTAIN BACKLINKS FROM OTHER SITES
Backlink is the accepted term for any link from another web- site to your own. In the old days of Google, each link was regarded as an "editorial vote" vouching for your website's quality. Now, the volume of links going back to any specific page is still a significant factor in whether that page will rank for a given search term.
SHOW VISITORS YOU CAN BE TRUSTED
Many different signals can be used to kindle trust with your first-time visitors. In real estate, customer reviews and testimonials are perhaps the most powerful. Text-based testimonials are effective, but if you can record a video testimonial with a happy customer, it's all the better for making a genuine human connection.
LEVERAGE ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION FOR BETTER RESULTS
On-page optimization includes technical elements such as meta descriptions, title tags, headline tags, and cross-linking your content. Done consistently throughout a website, these tactics will help search engines have a more concise understanding of what each page is about. This will aid in pages getting indexed and gain better visibility in the search engines. This tactic is best handled in partnership with a digital marketing agency.
GET FAMILIAR WITH YOUR WEBSITE DATA AND ANALYTICS
Analytics software collects information as people find and use your website. It lets you know how your visitors heard about you and what they did next. Becoming familiar with this can guide you in creating more of the kinds of content your audience responds to. Analytics can also be a great asset in determining if you are getting an ROI from your online marketing efforts.
PUBLISH NEW BLOG POSTS REGULARLY
Your blog serves as your brand's voice. The more you update it, the more search engines visit your site and recalculate your rank. SEO research tools can help you find search keywords reflecting real search queries to build your articles around. Blogging not only helps from an SEO standpoint, but it also provides visitors better insights into your brand as well as helpful information about the community you serve.
Google My Business: The Key to Local SEO
Even in this exciting age of virtual home showings, most customers will come from within 50 miles of your location. Enter Google My Business, a directory of local business information maintained by Google. When you "claim" your GMB listing, you are more likely to show up when locals search for "real estate firms near me."
Google is careful not to let brand assets like a GMB listing fall into the wrong hands. With that in mind, you'll need to apply to verify your business address through postal mail. This usually takes only a few days, but it can take weeks in times of peak interest. When verification is complete, you control your GMB entry.
This gives you the power to craft the details about your business, update your photos and hours, and monitor reviews on the Google platform from a single centralized interface. Be sure to fill out all your details, post compelling, high-quality photos of your business, and encourage customers to leave reviews on your GMB listing.
Search engine optimization is an indispensable part of real estate marketing; it helps you capture the best results from all your other digital marketing initiatives. With these tips, you can establish a strong SEO foundation, attract more people to your website, and convert more leads.