- 42% of home buyers used the Internet as a first step.
- However, 92% of all home buyers eventually go to the Internet.
- Home buyers who used the Internet saw more homes (10), compared to buyers who did not use the internet.
Here is what you will find in this post:
- On-Page Optimization for real estate
- Mobile friendly websites
- Google Local for real estate
- Targeting Local Keywords
- Social Media
- Targeting Long Tail Keywords
- Video Content
The focus of this post is on Search Engine Optimization advice. As such, it does not outline a complete digital marketing strategy for real estate professionals. This is why, for example, email marketing is not reviewed here.
Between 2008 and 2015, real estate related searches have increased by over 350%. A phenomenon easily explained by the ease of access to internet, availability of free resources (such as realtor.ca), and the abundance of image galleries for listed homes.
The great thing about real estate is that there is so much data collected year after year. For this reason, the first step towards your digital marketing campaign is to create your target audience.
The Customer Persona
Building a persona for your core audience is the first step towards a successful marketing campaign. Demographic segmentation is nothing new when it comes to marketing, but you will be surprised how many inbound marketing agencies leave it out when it comes to SEO and SEM efforts.
Leaving aside the morality of profiling, demographic segmentation is important in order for realtors to get their message to the most receptive group of people. This will:
- Save you money on your budget, by targeting the right audience.
- Increase your conversion rates.
Some of the key demographics in real estate are:
- Marital Status, and
- Average Annual Income
There are some good sources available to realtors in the Greater Toronto Area who are willing to take the extra step towards laser targeting their future customers. Plenty of information is available through websites, such as CREA and the Toronto Real Estate Board.
Diving into the ocean of keywords and title tag optimization.
Every search engine optimization campaign begins with technical changes to the website. This is, of course, once all preliminary industry related research has been done.
On-page optimization does not have to be difficult, but it has to be neat. After all, Google and the rest of the search engines are algorithmic bots that crawl through the code of your webpage. You want that code not only to be accessible, but also effectively and efficiently structured, as well as laser targeted at your product and customers.
On-page optimization requires a certain set of technical skills and experience working with the backend of a website. Since this article is not meant to be an educational piece on on-page optimization, I will simply list some of the most important factors and quickly apply them to a real estate example.
For the sake of this example, let’s say that your money keyword (desired search term) is “real estate agent in Toronto” or “real estate agent Toronto” – since many people seem to be taking the shortcut nowadays.
- Include the target search term in the page URL
This is the end result that you are after, you want your keyword to appear in the search bar once the user has gone to the appropriate webpage.
- Include target keyword in the page headline. This is the <H1> tag on your page.
- Do not repeat your target phrase (real estate agent Toronto) too much within the page. Search engines are wary of content over-optimization.
- Title tag – every unique page on your website should have a unique HTML title no longer than 70 characters. For example, your title tag could be “Award winning real estate agent in Toronto ready to help you”
- Meta description tag – this is the marketing copy of your page. Even though it is not clear if search engines take this into consideration when ranking pages, it is what the users see. This is the short description of your website.
- Image ALT text – if you have a relevant image on your page, you should use your keyword phrase (real estate agent Toronto) to describe the image. When a user hovers over the image with the mouse, they will be able to see the image name. Also, search engines take this into consideration about the relevancy of your page to your keyword phrase.
- Link out with care. It is desirable to have outgoing links on your page, but make sure they point to relevant websites and content. For example, don’t link from your real estate website to pharmaceutical sales pages about pills that give wings.
- Include social media links.
- High quality and informative content. Not copied from elsewhere.
- Smartphone and tablet searches are up 394% in the past 4 years.
- 91% of home shoppers use a mobile devise while searching for a new home.
- 312% increase realtor related searches on tablets over the past 2 years.
- 77% of those searches occur at home or at work.
These numbers don’t lie. Current and future home buyers and sellers are continuously utilizing their smart devices to search the net.
Keeping those statistics in mind, mobile responsive websites are a necessity for the real estate industry. In other words, no mobile website, no rankings on mobile devices. It is simply bad business to miss on all of those real estate related searches.
Not sure if your current website is mobile friendly? Check out Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
If you are still not sure where to start, another great resource from Google is their Mobile Guide.
Latest Google algorithm changes have literally kicked realtors out of the local game. If you are to search “city name” + “realtor”, you will no longer get local results. For example, the search phrase “Toronto realtor” no longer yields Google map results or local results.
However, the keyword “Toronto real estate agent” still shows a map with realtors and the desired top 3 spots.
Optimizing your website for local results can never hurt you, and it should always be a part of your overall SEO strategy.
This is a great resource that shows you a checklist of features that you should optimize for better local results.
Some of the most important attributes for Google local rankings are:
- Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) throughout your website – keep the format the same on all pages.
- Title tag optimization for local rankings.
- Google my business profile.
- Google + profile.
- Schema markup.
- Local citations with appropriate NAP.
- Reviews, and
- Social shares, lots and lots of social shares
Even though maps results might not be available for keywords such as “Toronto realtor”, homebuyers still use local relevant keywords in their searches. The most searched terms are:
- City + real estate
- City + realtor
- City + homes for sales
- City + real estate listings
- City + real estate agent
As you build up your website, you should be building more target specific pages. You should not attempt to optimize the same page for more than one city. If you sell home in Brampton and Mississauga, you should have specific landing pages on your website targeting those cities.
Keep in mind that if you are using IDX (Internet Data Exchange) in order to render real estate listings, your website won’t benefit from it. Also, your page does not benefit if you simply link to the realtor.ca listing.
Such listings are on unrelated to you subdomains and rendered with jQuery and iFrame. In other words, search engines will not index any of the content as yours. Therefore, not giving your website any “ranking juice”.
For this reason, it is crucial that you create content.
Content has many forms:
- Blog posts
- On page reviews
- Infographics and much more
Rich and user-valuable content is a form of art. First, you will need a great headline. Research shows that 8 out of 10 people will read the headline (whether it’s in an email, blog post, facebook ad, etc…).
Here is a formula that CoppyBlogger uses when they create headlines:
“How to Find Your Perfect Home In Less Than 24 Hours”
The body of your article should be engaging, easy to read, image friendly and fortified with statistics.
Infographics are a great form of content marketing. They are easy to absorb, right to the point and filled with statistics.
Here i a clever infographic portraying the never dying argument of Rent vs Buy.
Such infographics are easy to share, easy to absorb, and not so difficult to make.
Make sure you are present on:
- Google +
Engagement in social media will help increase your search engine rankings, but it will also drive direct traffic and referrals to your website.
Building and keeping relationships in the real estate industry is crucial. Social media channels are great at keeping you connected to your targeted community and customers.
Being active on social media will also create social signals to your website. These signals are used by search engines to better determine the placement of your website on the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Remember, your Pinterest account can be used to showcase all sorts of real estate related material. It is best if you have rich content on your website in order to pin images from it. This will help bring direct traffic to your web property.
Twitter is a great social media tool for establishing authority and trust. Make sure you follow industry leaders, such as home improvement channels, agencies collecting data on real estate, financial institutions, and software companies/individuals responsible for real estate tools and platforms.
That list can also be extended to local real estate bloggers and TV personas and influencers. Here are some examples:
- Follow @BuzzBuzzHome
At BuzzBuzzHome we are improving the way people research and purchase new construction homes.
- Follow @OREAinfo
Follow the Ontario Real Estate Association. Helping Ontario REALTORS®, brokerages & associations succeed.
- Follow @RealtorsSD
With 10,000+ REALTOR members, we know SD real estate inside & out. We’re here to chat w/ our REALTOR members & anyone looking for info on buying/selling a home.
Make sure you leverage Twitter tools that can help you manage your account. Here are a few apps/tools to consider:
- Tweetadder – this app will help you minimize the amount of “fake” users to follow you on twitter.
- Cotweet – great analytical app that can help realtors analyze and engage with conversions in a much more meaningful and productive way.
- Buffer – simple but useful app that allows you to schedule your tweets ahead of time. You don’t have to login and tweet every day, but you can still have tweets go out from your account every day.
Make sure your Twitter account stays relevant:
- Background image should be engaging and relevant.
- Profile picture should be either you, or your business’ logo.
- Location of your business should be included.
- Link to your website.
- Informative, engaging and entertaining bio. Don’t just say “Real estate agent in the GTA for 25 years”. This is boring. Instead say, “Selling more homes than a hot-dog vendor at a baseball game since 1999”.
Not harnessing the full potential of LinkedIn? Get on it, like…RIGHT NOW!
Statistics show that LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter.
Here is how to improve your LinkedIn game:
- Make sure all of your business details are added on your company’s page. Don’t be lazy, fill in all of the information about your company. Experience, certification, previous employment…all of it.
- Design a creative looking banner for the header of your real estate company page. Include some bullet points – anything that separates you from the rest of the real estate pack. Here’s an example:
- Add your videos
- Setup a showcase page
- Connect with locals. There is an advanced search tool in LinkedIn that makes it easy to find local professionals around you, and connect with them.
- Join groups! Facebook and Google+ are not the only social platforms that offer niche relevant groups.
- Publish interesting and engaging content. It does not have to be only your own content. Share articles, tips and helpful videos created by others.
- Consider sponsored updates. Direct sponsored updates on LinkedIn can further help you personalize your content and reach to specific groups.
- Use the analytics tools given to you by LinkedIn. See what works and what doesn’t for your company and showcase pages.
Instagram is running away with it! Not too long ago, the social platform was registered as the fastest growing social website globally. Are you on it? You better be!
- Make use of Instagram’s photo maps tool. Use it to display your extensive knowledge of certain neighbourhoods that you target for real estate.
- Quickly grab attention by sharing 15 second videos that are now enabled through Instagram. Think what you want to say before you hit the record button, improvisation is not always your best bet in these cases. Record a quick 15 second video of a property you have something to say about.
- Show your personal side. Don’t strictly share real estate related items. Show people who you are, a friendly and trustworthy mom of two or a community engaged and politically unbiased dog owner.
- Share your clients’ happiness once they find the property of their dreams.
Google Plus is reported to have over 350 million active users. But, let’s not dwell on the numbers.
Google+ social signals, shares and well developed profiles carry an undisputed SEO benefits for your real estate website. As with any other social media platforms, it is hard to attribute an exact numerical value on the positive effects of Google+ to your overall real estate SEO efforts. However, growing your Google Plus profile is well linked with positive key phrase improvements in SERPs.
- Find real estate relative G+ hangouts and groups and join them.
- Ask your clients for G+ reviews.
- Work on increasing your G+ following, just like you work to increase your Twitter and Facebook following.
Facebook is a giant social network that can work wonders for your digital marketing. As such, it has the ability to boost your search engine metrics, as well as bring you cold leads and potential customers.
Facebook likes and shares are social signals that search engines take into consideration when ranking your website. Organic Facebook signals alone will, of course, not rank your website. However, they are rather irreplaceable as a part of your overall SEO campaign.
Note: do not go on fiverr or similar websites and purchase cheap Facebook signals. They will do you no good. All likes and shares that you will receive will be from bot-like (spam) accounts and carry no value to your website.
Search engine algorithms are evolved enough to be able to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant social signals.
Also, running a Facebook ad and targeting Asian and African countries for cheap likes will also not do you any good in the SERPs. If you are a real estate agent who services the Greater Toronto Area, why should Google care that someone in Pakistan liked your realtor page?
The way to go with Facebook is to:
- Create a page
- Create helpful tabs, such as featured listings. Make it easier for people who browse your page to see your current home listings.
- Update your cover photo regularly. Take quality pictures of the homes you are selling, and post them as cover photos – preferably with your “For Sale” sign visible.
- Mix your post – don’t just post about your real estate business. Post photos of unique homes, infographics, links to real estate related news, helpful tips, etc…
- Be engaged with your local community – follow community influencers, schools, non-profit organizations and share their posts.
- Add a sign up form if you have a newsletter – you SHOULD have a newsletter.
Naturally, shorter key terms are searched more frequently on Google and other search engines. Google statistics shows that “Toronto realtor” has around 400 monthly searches and is a highly competitive keyword search.
In comparison, there are many long tail key phrases with less monthly searches and less competition that can earn your website more targeted traffic. As such, it is much easier to target those keywords and rank them on the first pages of search engines.
Eventually, once your website has earned enough trust by the search engines, ranking for more difficult keywords will become easier. Rank your website for key terms, such as “How To Buy a Home in Toronto” by giving people real actionable advice. Earning peoples’ trust and referrals will be a bonus to your first page rankings.
Google adwords has a free tool that allows you to do research and find actionable long tail keywords for real estate. Here are some long tails that you can target with the help of your blog posts:
- Buying home in + city name (Toronto)
- Buying home without down payment
- Buying home checklist
- How to sell your home fast
- Home selling tips
- Cost of selling you home + city/province name
- Find real estate agent + city name
Each of those keywords should have a separate page on your real estate website. Each piece of content that you create should be shared through social media and various marketing strategies, such as outreach.
In addition, you can create informative short videos to help those long tail real estate keywords rank.
In case you weren’t sure, Youtube is a search engine. Also, Youtube is not the only video sharing website. There are quite a few.
As a realtor, you should be creating a variety of short videos.
- Featured home videos
- Sold home videos
- Happy client videos (endorsements and reviews)
- How to videos
- Community real estate videos – this is what sold, this is how much it sold for
- Answer commonly asked questions
When posting your videos on your realtor website, make sure you transcribe them. There are tools such as REV that will transcribe your videos at a $1 per minute rate. Don’t miss out on adding this unique content to your website in its purest form – text.
Use a tool like OneLoad to automatically distribute your video to the largest video sharing websites (Youtube, Vimeo, Dailymotions, etc…). This will save you time, and get you far more exposure.
Make sure your video title and description have intent. Don’t name your videos “John Smith Realtor Video #2”. If you are answering a question, name the video after the question “How to Apply for a Mortgage Pre Approval in Toronto”.
The focus of this SEO guide for real estate, is to help you establish yourself as an authority. SEO is no longer simply about building backlinks and ranking for keywords. A good SEO campaign will help you get referrals and spread your networking net wider.