How can a real estate agency selling properties in a specific local area successfully compete with nationwide and international property portals and consistently outrank them on Google? While a whole variety of factors is important, there’s one thing a smart real estate agent must never overlook: local SEO.
When it comes to local real estate SEO, plenty of agencies narrow it down to setting a page on Google My Business, missing out the other crucial ingredients like the ones you can discover below. But you want to get more – and if you follow the tips below, you’ll make the most of each touchpoint and ensure that nothing valuable slips through the cracks.
Here are 21 ways to improve your local real estate SEO that could serve you as a starting point for your next efforts.
1) Optimize your website for real estate SEO
Here’s a simple way to treat search engine optimization (SEO) and everything related to it. You can do some things both on and off your website to let search engines and people know about your business. The better you are at this, the more traffic, higher rankings and sales you get.
In fact, it all boils down to the real estate SEO. You can list best properties, have a great blog and perfectly master Facebook, only to discover that your lead generation efforts are oftentimes futile. That’s why you have to iterate your local and niche keywords upon your messaging consistently.
The on-page real estate SEO checklist below gives you a quick all-in-one overview of things you can (and must) do on your real estate website to make it perfectly visible in search results:
2) Long-tail optimization
You’re probably already familiar with the long-tail keywords, and if not quite, here’s a quick recap of what they are. Long-tail keywords are highly specific search queries people use to find properties. How can you spot them? Well firstly, they are very precise and secondly, they usually consist of 4+ words.
Compare: buy condo Hua Hin, or buy 3 bedroom oceanfront condo in Hua Hin. See the difference? The person typing this into Google clearly knows what they want to purchase and it’s an opportunity for you to fully capitalize on this.
Because long-tail keywords are so specific, they usually cover your local area pretty well. If you use them across your website, you’re saving yourself a huge deal of time and effort: you optimize for local real estate SEO and embrace traffic from these search queries.
So you’d want to laser target these keywords on your website and that’s exactly the right thing to do. Be mindful however, of limiting yourself to just long-tail keywords as this will significantly reduce the traffic to your website. Mix and match long-tail and short, high-volume keywords, to ensure that your website gets both high traffic from short keywords and motivated, sales-ready leads from the long-tail ones.
3) Set up your NAP
Name, address and phone number with your area code – that’s what NAP stands for. You need the NAP to make sure that both people and search engines can find you easily. Make your NAP information accurate and updated so Google sees you as a trustworthy vendor. Typically, you’ll want to include the NAP in the footer or header of your website.
4) Create a locally relevant “About Us” page
While most companies have “About Us” pages, local businesses can fill them in with specific detail that every local inhabitant recognizes easily.
You can use everything here: details about your exact location, major businesses, coffee shops and attractions nearby, your work hours, parking info, etc. Overall, make sure you have this info easily available.
*Stats taken from Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behaviour survey by Google
5) Create a great neighbourhood page(s)
Put yourself in a homebuyer’s shoes: if I move to this area, what info do I need in the first place? That means half of the work with writing the neighborhood pages is done.
Ultimately, these pages serve a very important function. They should persuade your visitors that your neighbourhood is a fabulous place to live in – and buy property, of course.
You can be creative here and craft this page exactly to your liking. The best things to feature in the content are:
- your community description;
- photos & videos of the neighbourhood;
- some stats (e.g., employment rate, incomes, the number of inhabitants, etc.);
- school info and ratings;
- local attractions, nightlife and cultural events;
- famous people residing here;
- fun facts about your area and more.
Everything that distincts your area and help it stand out from the competition will serve you well. Make sure you’re wrapping all this info up in a funny, engaging format, not just informing about the average crime rates!
[We have a big post explaining everything you need to know about neighborhood pages: How to Write a Perfect Neighborhood Page in 5 Easy Steps].
6) Create a Google+ Local page
Google My Business feeds directly into Google results so that’s a tool you’d want to use asap to boost your local real estate SEO. It’s a key to appear high in local search listings. Here are a few things you need to do with your Google+ Local page:
- include accurate contact information – name, address, phone number and your business hours;
- make sure to select the right business category;
- include a link to your website;
- post professional photos and branding visuals to show your customers the best about your agency and location;
- don’t add keywords in your description as Google spots that and you can end up being penalized. Your NAP details should be just fine.
You’d also want to find out more about what Google approves and disapproves of right here, its in the Google My Business guidelines.
7) Get rid of duplicate listings
If you have more than one brick and mortar office, you’d want to create a Google+ Local page for each of them – and you couldn’t be more right. It’s really important, however, to make sure your content is not duplicated on pages, created for multiple locations. Sometimes this can happen because employees are setting up a new page not knowing it’s already created. You can use Google My Business Locations tool or Google Mapmaker to spot your multiple locations and delete duplicate content.
8) Use a system to generate customer reviews
Ever wondered what are these tiny yellow stars next to the local search listings? They appear gradually once you get more than 5 Google+ Local reviews and directly affect your rankings and sales. Star rating is the No.1 factor people consider when judging a business. Only for 6 to 8 per cent of customers thought a 1 or 2-star rating is enough to buy from that business, making a whole pool of people switch to another company.
*Stats taken from Local Consumer Survey Review by BrightLocal
Customer reviews strongly affect both your rankings and sales. The more positive reviews you have, the more trustworthy you’re in the eyes of people and search robots. You can check out the Whitespark software to collect your reviews. E.g., it offers a totally free tool, Review Handout Generator. You only have to submit your business name, phone number and logo and it automatically creates you a PDF file with step-by-step instructions on how to leave Google review which you can hand out to your customers (this is really helpful as plenty of people aren’t familiar with leaving Google reviews).
Take a look at this terrific 2015 survey from BrightLocal, which covers everything about local consumer reviews and, honestly, is a must-read for every local business.
[Here’s an inclusive post on how to get more of customer reviews: Real Estate Agent Reviews: Are You Missing Out a Crucial Ingredient?]
9) Make sure you’re mobile
Customers love using their mobile devices to find out what’s happening nearby. When it comes to finding info about a local business, a smartphone is the first thing people use. Making sure your real estate website is responsive and shows up fine across all mobile devices is a great way to leverage real estate SEO on a local scale. A high rate of mobile clicks and check-ins positively affects your local search rankings.
If you’re not sure if your website is optimized for mobile, you can run Google’s Mobile Friendly Test and use insights from your Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) account to fix the issues.
*Stats taken from Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behaviour survey by Google
You also may want to engage with your leads and customers via your native mobile app.
10) Create your blog
Blogging or Guest Blogging is just so essential to building your online presence, that ignoring it literally leads your website to a dead end. If you blog, you’re giving your audience a solid reason to come back to your site, again and again. If you blog about local goings-on, you are actually aiming at becoming a local influencer (let alone the fact you clearly signal to Google that your site is regularly updated, so it can crawl it more often and get higher in organic rankings).
Blogging is not about what you do; it’s about what people want to learn about. This is not to say you can’t promote yourself via your blog more openly: everything important about your company goes right there. But sharing truly useful and interesting content that resonates with your audience is what people expect you to do. Therefore, that’s what you should be doing.
Here’s a bunch of things you can start writing about:
- a general overview of your area;
- the most interesting historic, geographical and cultural facts;
- lifestyle in your area and what makes it different from the other neighbourhoods;
- employment opportunities and companies working in your area;
- tourist spots and nature attractions;
- famous people and events associated with your area.
[Still not sure what to write about? Here’s a post to get your creative juices flowing: 7 Types of Real Estate SEO Content That Make an Exceptional Blog].
11) Be consistent with internal linking
Local real estate SEO is a long game. Search engines need time to figure out what your website is all about and if it’s worthwhile to rank high. Linking is at the core of real estate SEO and the best strategy is to be patient and consistent with it.
Jot down a handful of your most important keywords and carefully make sure they appear as the anchor text on different pages of your website. E.g., if one of your focus keywords is “Hua Hin condo for rent”, then use it as an anchor text here and there and this will save you (and Google) a great deal of time and confusion.
12) Get local links
This is yet another way to show search engines your real estate business is all about this geographic area. If the other businesses from your area link to your site, this clearly signals that you rightfully are an influencer within this area.
The success, however, lies in how you’re trying to get local links. To earn inbound links, you need to do something valuable for others, like share relevant and interesting content, take part in local events and promote them via your own networks, etc. This is all about being truly helpful without trying to sell right away. People appreciate your time which will translate into actual sales later.
Here’s a great example of a local resource to go for: https://www.coworker.com/lab/thailand-travel-guide/
[Check out this post on local link building too: SEO for Real Estate: a Definitive Guide to Local Link Building].
13) Get mentioned on convention & visitors bureau sites
This is a tool most real estate agents overlook far too often. Convention & visitors bureaus (aka destination marketing organizations) promote a town, city, region or country in order to increase the number of visitors and tourists. Quite often CVBs have pretty good sites and local content which is usually the type of content good for real estate too. E.g., this is an official website of the Tourism Authority of Thailand covering the city of Hua Hin. Is there any reason a real estate agent can’t be mentioned on such sites in an informative, not self-promoting manner?
Just think that people thinking about moving to your area naturally land on CVB’s sites while looking for info about living in your area. Wouldn’t it be great if that sort of person spots info about your services on a trustworthy site exactly when you want it? If you worry about competition in search rankings, you shouldn’t. You have a clear real estate focus while CVBs don’t. They simply provide general info about the area you work in.
14) Submit your site to business & real estate directories
Search engines largely rely on information from business directories. You need to submit your real estate website to the ones that are high-ranking and trustworthy.
Google compares the information it finds on these sites with its own data about you. If it’s the same everywhere, it marks you as a reliable, established business worth being ranked high. It believes you’re most likely provide the best expertise to customers, and that’s what Google tries to deliver for every search query its users enter. So your next big step should be listing your website on many good real estate directories, making sure all info that appears about you is updated and consistent everywhere.
15) Craft ads that are locally relevant
As a real estate agent, you’re probably using ads to gain your properties more exposure. Same research from Google revealed that customers find very specific, hyperlocal ads to be worth clicking on:
- 67% of smartphone users prefer ads with info about city and ZIP code, and 61% want ads customized to their immediate surroundings;
- 61% of customers use the phone number or address from the ad.
- 68% use call-to-actions, like the “Call” or “Get Directions” buttons.
*Stats taken from Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behaviour survey by Google
Google AdWords pulls your contact details from your Google My Business profile, so you’d want to set it up the way you need it to get displayed in your ads.
16) Take a thorough look at online local forums
People wishing to move to your area usually do some research online. They want to learn what does it mean to live in your area and naturally, they ask questions on forums and social media. E.g., this is a Hua Hin forum which could be a great read for every business working in the area.
Plan some time to check out both questions and answers. These forums don’t usually allow you to link to your website. But you can try and outreach people on Facebook or Twitter and answer their questions in a helpful way. After all, real estate is all about building personal connections, right? Such places are also great to see if there are any negative reviews about your agency (hopefully there aren’t!) and how audience reacts to them.
While this strategy is actually more about the lead generation, one thing you can do is cover topics people talk about in posts on your blog. This way you’ll quickly and easily produce locally descriptive content people are really curious to read and share, and that’s a strategy that really levels up your local real estate SEO.
17) Make the most of Facebook
It turnes out that the websites Google ranks high enjoy a big social buzz around them. That being said, it’s not enough just to have a few inbound links. Google wants clear signals that your website is delivering a real value to its users. Among others, those signals are things like shares, comments, likes and views on social media.
So you need to be on Facebook, even if it’s not driving you much traffic and leads right now. It will, if you get serious about it.
The most important things to do on Facebook is posting the URL to your website and all contact information about your brick and mortar location, including your postal/zip code and full address. It has to be an exact match with what you have published on your website – remember the NAP you just read a few paragraphs above?
Next thing is to get really active on your FB page and share all kinds of information on there – from your blog, your latest listings, featured listings, info about local events, etc. And, of course, starting real conversations with your fans. You should also look at running campaigns and contents to really engage your audience.
You’d also want to make sure you’re using Facebook ads. Local businesses love them as they are price friendly and highly geo-targeted. E.g., there are insights like Behaviours and Interests, and even a “Likely to move” category. You can even narrow down your ad campaign to specific neighbourhoods just by selecting the appropriate postal/zip code. It’s actually true that with Facebook advertising a real estate agency can get far ahead in the game.
When it comes to local real estate SEO, Twitter is not a social media that’s going to boost it. Google currently doesn’t index all tweets, although it works a lot on reversing the situation. Twitter, however, is a far too important network to be ignored. The traffic you can get from it can outperform the rest of your social media taken together. And traffic is what every real estate agent want, what do your think?
Twitter is also a great place to start chatting with people and monitor trends. So next thing you can be doing is sharing all kinds of things via your Twitter account, outreaching your customers and peers and trying to grow the number of mentions and chats. Using hashtags is a great way of doing this which we will cover in more detail later.
If there’s an industry for which a nearly perfect social media campaign is created, that’s real estate and Pinterest. Pinterest is great for showcasing beautiful homes, gardens, landscapes and sharing visual content people just love. Pinterest boards usually rank high in Google results and, moreover, pins enjoy a long life. Creating Pinterest boards and pinning amazing visuals is an especially great way to boost rankings when you’ve just started. So that’s a truly valuable platform you should really master asap.
LinkedIn is a wonderful platform for building personal connections and maintaining meaningful conversations. As with any other social media, you’ll need to list all important contact information about your real estate agency here.
Next thing to do is search for your local connections and join local groups. Share interesting content to that group and foster discussions, making sure you respond to each comment in a friendly, not excessively self-promoting way. Always research what new connections you can build and monitor what people are publishing and talking about on LinkedIn. Oftentimes, what you’ll find out can be eye-opening for many things around your business.
As the real estate agent, you can create many useful videos focussed on your local area. Not only are videos a great content people love sharing, but they are also the exact content type that boosts SEO.
Here are a few things to do with your videos once you’ve created them:
- post your video not only to YouTube but your Google+ page as well (you can set this up to be done automatically). This won’t immediately drive huge traffic to your website but Google will see it as yet another positive factor to rank you higher;
- aim for 100 views – in order for your videos to help you boost your rankings, you need to get really serious about promoting them. 100 views is an important milestone to reach to signal your real popularity to Google;
- include your details – make sure to mention all your contact information both in the videos and in the descriptions that go below each of them. Always include the link to your website;
- come up with a rich local description for your video. YouTube offers a great option of using geo-tags and that is yet another way to optimize your videos for local real estate SEO.
That’s quite a list, right? Don’t worry! You can really think of it as a motivation. Plenty of tips here are one-off (do it and forget it) and will only take you minutes to complete. The others, like blogging, take real effort and dedication and have to be on-going. But that’s how things are shaped on today’s marketing landscape and the smartest thing you can do is master them. After all, your properties are just too brilliant to be kept shadowed somewhere in the background of the web, aren’t they?