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SEO for Real Estate: Does it Still Matter?

Real estate is a competitive business but no matter how many word of mouth referrals you pride yourself on getting each month, the most consistent top producers are those who understand the importance of having an effective online presence, in addition to impeccable people skills.

So, what does it mean to have an effective online presence?

Most often it starts with a website that can drive organic (read: unpaid) traffic from search engines like Google or Yahoo.

The process of optimizing your website is known as SEO, short for search engine optimization, and having a solid SEO strategy for your website is almost as important to an agent as having a reliable CRM. Here’s why:

driving organic trafficThe amount of organic traffic to your website can help determine where your website ranks overall in a search. Typically the more traffic, the higher the ranking.  And, since a whopping 75 percent of people never scroll past the first page of rankings on Google, you want to do all you can to be top of mind for those searching for the products and services that you offer.

Implementing an SEO strategy for your business is also a more cost-effective way to grow your online credibility and visibility compared with paid advertising because SEO often requires very little upfront investment. Instead, it takes time and a willingness to assess and update your website on a regular basis in addition to creating and sticking to a regular content plan.

While you might wonder how you can compete for clients’ eyeballs online while real estate giants like Zillow,  Redfin, and Realtor.com, often have duplicate content in the form of listings from the MLS, that’s where the important work of localizing your content and researching your keywords comes in play.

Agents who are the best at driving traffic to their website use a combination of tactics including having an SEO-friendly website (we’ll delve into specifics on this front in next week’s post), nailing a winning content strategy and incorporating keywords that can help drive traffic at a local level.

real estateNever underestimate the importance of keywords. For example, if a potential client searches Google for “apartments in Detroit”, Zillow and Realtor.com will show up first in the organic search results. But if that same client searches “lofts in Corktown” (a trendy area near downtown Detroit) there is virtually no competition for those search terms, making them ripe for the agent picking. Taking the time to research and find the best keywords for your local market is crucial for competing online.

Here are a few tips for coming up with the right keywords to use on your website and within your online content.

  • If you are selling real estate in specific cities or neighborhoods, those areas should be in your list of keywords along with phrases like homes for sale, or the various property types you specialize in such as condos, rentals, luxury homes, etc. Put yourself in the shoes of your future client and think about what they would be searching for to come across your website.
  • Once you come up with your list of keywords and keyword phrases, you can research some related terms by plugging them into Google and scrolling to the bottom of the page to see what it offers up under the “searches related to” section.
  • You’ll also want to check out the keywords of your biggest competitors to see where their ranking strengths lie and where you might be able to take advantage of areas they are not, similar to the Corktown example above.
  • To pare down your list of keywords and determine what will be the most fruitful for you, you can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner to see search volume and traffic estimates for your keywords. Using the tool means you will need to sign up for an Adwords account, but you don’t have to pay for an ad to see the findings.
  • Once you landed on your keywords, plan to use them throughout your website and when you start creating additional content pieces for your business (we’ll cover this in our third blog post in this series).

In the meantime, stay tuned for next week’s post where we will cover what a well-built SEO website looks like and how you can get one.