SEO for Realtors is a hot topic in Realtor Marketing circles. I spend a lot of time talking to Realtors who are totally confused about what Realtor SEO is today and how they can get their website to the top of the rankings on Google. This post is long, but worth reading in its entirety if you are going to be spending time marketing your website with SEO.
A History of Realtor SEO
If you are paying attention to the Realtors who have top Google rankings in your marketplace, you probably notice one or two have all the top listings. Whenever I find this, I can guess a couple of things that will make a difference for you now.
First off, they have older sites that have been around for a while. Google thinks domain age (how long your URL has been in existence) is a good indicator of quality content.
Secondly, they probably got those rankings sometime in the past when there was less competition. For example, I rank in Google because I have been writing since 2011 and because my content is old.
If you are going to try and knock off those old sites and take their top spots, just know that you are going to have to do more work to beat them than they will have to do to stay there.
The good news. I have to say that many of the “old dog” sites that have those rankings are now taking them for granted. They are not working as aggressively to keep their rankings as they did in the past to get them. This leaves the door open for an aggressive Realtor (like you) to step in and start taking them away.
1. Check your competition’s domain age. I like using Webconfs.com for this.
2. One thing that you can do to make Google more confident in the longevity of your site is to register it for 5 years or more (paying for your domain name or URL for 5 years). The cost is minimal (about $60) but the benefits are HUGE. By paying for it for 5 years or more, you are signaling to Google that you will not be just a flash in the pan.
Paid Listings and The Aggregators
In what I have talked about so far, I am specifically talking about your local competition. But if you pull up a Google search for something like “Fayetteville Real Estate” you will see that there are some heavy hitters competing for that term.
The first three on the top and the ones down the side are paid listings done through Google Adwords. Now, it may be worth your while to pay for these, but that is a post for another day.
The next ones are Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia and finally there is one little independent site, Townsend Real Estate.
As an independent agent or broker, I am sure you would like it if those spots weren’t all taken up by the “Big Dogs”, but they are. Those sites like Zillow, Trulia and Homes.com are called aggregators because they combine the data from all of the different MLSs and put it in one place.
And it is kind of okay that they are there. If someone is searching for Fayetteville Real Estate, they are probably REALLY early in a home search and will probably not settle on an agent for a while. Plus, there is no use belly-aching about it, that is just the way Google works.
Additionally, if there are no ads at all, that is probably not a keyword that converts well for getting buyers or sellers. People who are spending money want to know for a fact that their hard earned dollars will return them revenue. At least early on, if there are no paid keywords ignore that term for now.
Check out your “actual” competition like Townsend rather than focusing on the big aggregator sites like Realtor.com and Zillow.
Checking Out The Competition
So next you will want to see what kind of site your competition has.
Rank In The World
My first stop is always Alexa.com. Put the domain name in there and hit submit.
WOW! According to the Alexa search, this site is not actually all that popular (4,638,250, having just lost 2,206,222 places). This means that a Realtor in Fayetteville would have a chance!
Now let’s look at Webconfs.com and see how old the site is…OVER 17 YEARS old. So Jimmy Townsend was a smart cookie back in the 1990’s and established himself as a player with his site. He DESERVES that ranking for how long he has had it. (not to say we would try to pick him off!)
Google uses an algorithm (a computer program) to rank websites and one of the key things that they think is important are the number of sites that link to a website.
With that in mind, we have to find out how many incoming links your competitors website has. For this I like to use a tool from Moz, https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/.
For such a high ranking site I am surprised that they have so few incoming links! That is good news for anyone trying to compete for this keyword!
Site’s Number of Pages
Now we want to know how big the website is. This will help us to know how many pages we might need to be able to compete with the current top ranking site. To do this we will go to Google.com and type in site:domainname.com. This is what it looks like:
Once I do the search I get a result that looks like this:
Holy cow they have a lot of pages! Not to get too technical, but the site is made in ASP which is an older programming language (many sites are now made in PHP which is what WordPress is built in). Even so that is a lot pages! I would not try to compete directly with Jimmy on that top ranking term right off the bat.
Now we want to find out what Google thinks his site is about. To do this we need to use the Keyword Planner Tool in Google Adwords.
Note: it can be a little scary to log into Adwords for the first time, I think you need to add a credit card, but if you don’t set up any campaigns it doesn’t cost anything.
Ohhh another interesting little nugget here, they are really ranking most highly for charlotte keywords terms and not so much for Fayetteville.
Site Research With Long Tail Pro
I KNOW, this much research seems like it could take a long time. There are many paid sites out there that will give you some or all of this at once but what I don’t like is that they are subscriptions that cost money each month. What I do like is Long Tail Pro, which is a program that you can buy outright and use as much as you like without costing more money!
This one tool will help you check out your competition MUCH more easily giving you the site age and number of links all in one place (it does even more that we will talk about later!)
> Check outLong Tail Pro now!
Beating A High Ranking Site
Before I go on to talk about what keywords to target yourself, let’s talk in general about how to beat a high ranking Realtor website that is already established in your marketplace.
1. All the little boats method.
My first suggestion is to have LOTS of little keywords that you rank for that add up to a bigger keyword you would like to target. So instead of trying to rank for Minneapolis real estate, you write posts to rank for:
- Best Minneapolis Schools | Minneapolis Real Estate
- Top 10 Luxury Neighborhoods In Minneapolis | Minneapolis Real Estate
- Types of Homes For Sale In Minneapolis | Minneapolis Real Estate
There is no way you can write just one blog post that will beat the incumbent site. Instead you need to have an accumulation of posts that lets Google know what your website is about and then use those to “help all the little boats rise at once”.
It is by having lots of pages about a specific topic that you will start to rank in Google for your target keywords.
2. Write Hero Blog Posts
I know that there information out that saying that you can have 300-500 words in your posts, but you need to have at least a few that are big giant posts with lots of words relevant to the keyword you are trying to rank for.
For example, I am trying to increase my ranking for Realtor Marketing AND SEO for Realtors in this post. I have LOTS of great content that will show Google that this post is a good one to show people searching for this keyword.
Now, on thing to know right off the bat is that I don’t do SEO for Realtors. I am not available for hire that way so my goal for this post is:
1. To get more traffic to my website
2. To increase my rankings for my big keyword Realtor Marketing
3. To capture Realtor email addresses with my popup box so I can sell them things that I do want them to buy
This page will wind up being over 2,000 words of content related to those two keywords and while I am not “stuffing” it (using them over and over again), just by the length and the quality of content it will have.
Picking Keywords To Target
You will want to check the top two or three competing sites for each keyword that you are targeting. But how do you know what are good keywords to check out?
Are You A Listing Agent or a Buyers Agent?
I know, I know, you are both and you can help anyone with all their real estate needs. But when you are working on your SEO you need to think strategically and figure out whether you are going to target keywords that will attract buyers or sellers.
For example, here are Buyer keywords:
Homes for sale in Tampa | Tampa Real Estate
Top Seattle Neighborhoods | Seattle Real Estate
Where are the best schools in New York City | New York Real Estate
Here are seller keywords:
Selling Your San Diego Home | San Diego Realtors
How To Get Top Dollar For Your Home | Denver Realtors
Top Realtor In Tacoma | Tacoma Real Estate
Think about it, that old saying is true, Buyers buy houses, Sellers buy marketing. A home buyer is looking for homes for sale keywords and a seller is looking Realtors to help them sell their home fast and for the most money.
And yes it is “realtors” not “realtor”. When your pipes are leaking and you need a plumber you look for “plumbers” to help you fix it, not just one specific “plumber”. If you did have a specific plumber in mind you would search for his business name rather than doing the broader search.
This happens in almost every market. While I do remember one years ago that was opposite, it was the only one ever!
So here is an interesting thing….only 170 searches per month for New York Realtors (I am looking this up in the Adwords Keyword Planner Tool). This is a GREAT example of what you need to do succeed in Realtor Keyword Marketing! I was really perplexed about this until I thought, well damn, NYC is HUGE, I bet they search more so by their boroughs.
Hmmm still not enough, let’s dig a little deeper.
Okay, that was bummer, but this is how keyword research goes. Just by-the-by, here is the suggested search terms that Google is giving us for that search term. I am super surprised that the number of searches for New York City real estate terms is so low. If you were an agent in NYC you would have to try to rank well for a wide range of terms to get any traction at all!
Next you want to look at how many competing site there are with the EXACT term you pick to use. Go to Google and do a search for that term with quotation marks around it.
Okay, there are 448,000 results. That is kind of high for a new or small site to try to rank for out of the gate. That said, most searches look more like this.. (let’s head back to Fayetteville and see what is going on there!
Okay, that is much more doable to try to rank for! You could knock off a bunch of your competition for this search with a nice meaty post that has the keyword in the title and lots of content.
A Little Bit Easier (or a lot)
Now you can do this over and over again to try and search for keywords with high monthly searches and lower competition, or you could use my friend Long Tail Pro that does all that preliminary searching for you!
So with this I see that just using “Fayetteville” and not “Fayetteville NC” would be a waste (who knew there were so darn many Fayettevilles in the country). Additionally it suggested some neat terms to think about like “Real Estate Companies”.
But wait there is more! You can click any of those ideas and immediately see data about the competing sites!
Check outLong Tail Pro now!
Alright, I think that is enough to really get you started on your way to doing your SEO for Realtors! But I know that doing this kind of research can be funny if you don’t have a real system to use. With that in mind I made you a worksheet that you can use to check out each keyword and pick some potential candidates to target with blog blog posts or web pages.