One of the most common questions agents ask after building their websites is if real estate search engine optimization (SEO) is still an effective lead generation strategy. The answer may surprise you. While ranking your content on search engines is harder than it used to be, you can easily outrank your competition by investing some time and effort, using basic SEO strategies that most Realtors either don’t know or don’t bother with.

We put together this guide to help you get started. We’ve included nine real estate SEO strategies to help your content rank better in Google (and other) search results. We’ll also cover the most frequently asked questions and common SEO mistakes to avoid. Here’s what you’ll learn:

What Is Real Estate SEO?

Real estate SEO is the strategy real estate websites use to improve their ranking on search engines like Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, and Bing. The higher your website ranks on a search engine, the more people will see it and hopefully click on it. This translates into more site visitors, and if your website is optimized for lead capture, more buyer and seller leads in your CRM.

Deep Dive: How Google & Other Search Engines Rank Content in 2022

In 2022, Google uses advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to decide which websites and pages rank on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP). Since Google wants to deliver the best and most relevant results, they continually tweak their AI to make sure the most helpful results rise to the top on the search engine results page.

Of course, publishing content that answers common questions that your target audience is asking on Google is not enough to rank well in 2022. After all, thousands of websites are likely to publish content similar to yours. As a result, Google also considers factors like the expertise of the person writing the content, the quality of the website, how easy the content is to read, among other factors. 

9 Steps to Perfect Real Estate SEO

Search engine results page

Now that you have a better idea of how search engines rank content, let’s dive into the nine steps to perfect real estate SEO.

1. Run an SEO Audit on Your Website

The first step to any SEO project is to audit your current website to see if there are any technical issues that might cause Google to rank your content lower or ignore it entirely. There are a few ways to do an SEO audit for your website. 

The easiest way to do an SEO audit is to hire someone from a site like Fiverr to run the audit for you. After they run the audit, they will send you a report that will go over any issues that might be holding your site back from ranking on search engines. Expect to pay around $50 for a site audit on Fiverr. Some SEO freelancers or companies will do this for free, but they will also try to upsell you to paid services without explaining the actual issues with your website. 

Here is a Fiver freelancer who runs SEO audits for $35 with a Zoom call to talk through issues that need to be fixed:

Visit Fiverr

If you’d rather DIY your SEO audit, you will need to invest in a few free and paid tools to do it. Here is a quick rundown of the tools you will need:

SEO Site Audit ToolWhat It’s Used ForPricing
SEMrush Site Audit ToolRuns detailed SEO audits for your website, tracks ranking on Google, competitor research$119.95 per month 
Google PageSpeed InsightsTests how fast pages on your site load on desktop and mobileFree
Google Search ConsoleDetermines if your site is indexed properly on GoogleFree

Here are a few issues to fix that an SEO audit might turn up: 

  • Meta descriptions
  • Image alt text
  • Image compression
  • Keyword usage
  • Heading structure (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
  • Duplicate content 
  • Broken links 
  • Security: HTTP vs HTTPS

While we don’t recommend it, if you want to run your own SEO audits in the future, you can use this in-depth guide from SEMrush to set up and run your audit.

2. Fix Issues Found in Your SEO Audit

After you have your audit, you can then start fixing any issues uncovered in the audit. These might be easy fixes, like deleting duplicate content or fixing broken links, or more complex issues like HTTP vs HTTPS. Fix what you can and hire out for the rest. 

One of the easiest improvements you can make on your website is to make it load faster. This is something anyone can do with Google’s free Page Speed Insight tool. Run the most popular pages of your website through the Google Page Speed Insights tool. If they load slowly, try removing or reducing the size of large images or infographics. You can also try removing WordPress plugins or IDX widgets from pages that load slowly. If all of your pages load slowly, you might need to upgrade your web hosting plan from a shared plan to a VPS or dedicated server. 

VPS (virtual private server) plans will run you around $20 per month and will offer significantly faster landing times than shared hosting. Dedicated hosting plans will run you around $100 per month and will offer significantly faster loading times than VPS plans. If your website gets a lot of traffic, you might want to consider dedicated hosting. If not, VPS hosting should do the trick.

3. Set Up Your Google My Business Account

After you’ve run your SEO audit and fixed any issues that came up, the next step is to claim your Google My Business account. Google My Business is Google’s tool for indexing local businesses for search on Google Maps. This is important in 2022 because Google Maps results are almost always at the top of search results pages (SERP) for searches related to real estate. For example, when I search “real estate agent” from New York City, Google puts a map of nearby real estate brokerages at the top of the SERP:

Google My Business account

If you want a chance of showing up here, you need to set up your Google My Business account. You can get started here: 

While this won’t guarantee your site shows up at the top of the search results, if you don’t fill out your Google My Business profile, you will never show up!

4. Research Keywords You Want to Rank For

After you’ve completed your audit, fixed SEO issues, and set up your Google My Business profile, the next step is to research the keywords your local audience is searching for. Once you know what your audience is searching for, you can create content to address their questions and concerns. For example, if your audience is searching for “affordable condos in Miami,” you can write an article or create a video explaining how to find affordable condos in Miami. 

Use a Keyword Research Tool Like Ahrefs 

The best way to do keyword research is to use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs. Ahrefs isn’t free but is a worthwhile investment to help plan what content to write for your website. You can also hire a freelancer on a site like Fiverr or Upwork to do basic keyword research for you. Most freelancers will use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs to research keywords. 

Research SERP & ‘People Also Ask’ Results for Your Keywords

Once you have a list of keywords you want to target, research the SERP for each keyword to see what kind of content is ranking for those keywords. Are they articles or videos? How long are the articles? What kinds of websites are ranking for these keywords? What other content are they creating? What keywords do they seem to be targeting? Finally, how can you improve on the content currently ranking on the first page for your keywords?

📌   Pro Tip

Google’s “People Also Ask” section on SERPs can be a goldmine for content ideas. These are questions that Google’s algorithm thinks are related to the main keyword. Here are the “People also ask” results for the keyword “Condos in Miami”: Each one of these questions would make a great blog post.

People Also Ask

To learn more about keyword research, check out our in-depth guide.

Related Article
The 77 Best Real Estate Keywords (+ How to Use Them & Find More)

5. Create a Content Cluster Strategy

Generally speaking, search engines rank content created by subject matter experts higher than content created by amateurs. For example, when people search for “best cancer treatments,” search engines will display results from top oncologists before your cousin Jeff who thinks crystals and herbs cure cancer. (Sorry, Jeff!) One of the ways that search engines determine your expertise in a subject area is by looking at how much content on the subject you have on your website, and how well organized that content is. 

This is where content clusters come in. Content clusters are groups of articles organized from top-level subjects like “condos in Miami” that then drill down to more specific related topics like “Condos in Brickell” or “How to qualify for a condo in Miami.” 

Pillar Content, Subpillar Content & Cluster Content

Creating content clusters is simple. Start by identifying your most general local keywords. These will be your “pillar pages.” Then organize more specific content related to that pillar page underneath the pillar page. Once you have your cluster mapped out, start writing the content for your pillar pages and planning to write content for your subpillars and cluster content. Once you write your subpillar and cluster content, link to them from your pillar page. 

Here’s what a cluster map might look like for an agent who sells condos in Miami:

Pillar content: Condos in Miami 

Links to: 

Subpillar content: Best neighborhoods to buy condos in Miami, How to get approved for a condo in Miami, Most affordable condos in Miami, Waterfront condos in Miami, etc. 

Links to: 
Cluster content: Condos in Brickell, Condos in Miami Beach, Condos in Coconut Grove, Brickell Neighborhood guide, etc.

6. Create Useful & Compelling Articles, Videos & Infographics

Now that you have a cluster strategy mapped out, the next step is to create the content for your website.

Create Pillar Content First 

Start by creating your pillar content. Your pillar content should address general topics that you will expand on in your cluster content.

For example, a pillar page about condos in Miami should be a high-level overview of buying condos in Miami. Try to think of questions your audience might have about buying a condo in Miami and answer them in your article. Answers that require more detail will be addressed in your cluster content, so a general overview will be fine for your cluster content. What are the general price ranges by neighborhood for condos in Miami? How competitive is the market? What should buyers look out for? What should sellers be aware of?

Related Article
80 Viral Real Estate Blog Ideas (+ Examples & Expert Tips)

How Long Should Your Content Be? 

There is no hard and fast rule for how long your content needs to be to rank on Google, but studies show longer content tends to outrank shorter content. Research from HubSpot showed that the best-ranking articles on Google were over 2,000 words. Just do your best to answer the questions you think your audience will have about the topic and remember to address more specific answers in your subpillar and cluster content.

Article vs Video Content 

While articles usually rank better than videos, for some keywords at least, videos will outrank articles. This is why researching SERPs before you start writing content is so important. If a SERP for a keyword you want to rank for has videos ranking at the top of the page, then making a video for that keyword is a no-brainer.

The best approach is to embed a video in an article. For example, after you finish writing your pillar content for “condos in Miami,” record and embed a quick YouTube video summarizing the content.

Related Article
21 Real Estate Videos Top Agents Use To Generate & Nurture Leads

Use SEO Best Practices as You Write 

Always use SEO best practices for creating content for your website. These include using structured headings like H1, H2, H3, or numbered lists, using keywords in the first paragraph of your articles, writing in simple, direct language, and focusing on answering readers’ questions in the most direct way possible. Getting creative with your writing can be tempting, but for most articles, a bare-bones “just the facts” approach will work better. People are busy! They just want to learn what you have to teach them as quickly as possible.

If you’re using WordPress, a free SEO plugin like Yoast will make following SEO best practices much easier.

7. Work on Getting Backlinks to Your Content 

Another way search engines decide where to rank your content is by the number and quality of other websites that link to your homepage or directly to your blog posts. This is why getting other sites to link to your website is crucial for SEO. 

Link Quality Counts More Than Quantity 

Generally speaking, quality counts for more than quantity when it comes to links to your website. For example, a link from a well-respected site like the New York Times might be worth 100 (or more!) links from smaller websites. It’s not easy, but putting in the work to get high-quality links to your website will have an unbeatable return on investment (ROI) for SEO. 

Links from websites that are related to your pillar content are also more valuable for ranking than more general sites. For example, if you’re writing about condos in Miami, then a link from the Miami Herald might be more valuable than a link from the New York Post. Since you are writing about real estate, a link from Realtor Magazine or NAR would be even more valuable. 

Link-building Strategies 

One of the best ways to get links from high-quality websites in 2022 is to use HARO. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a website where journalists submit questions when they need expert quotes for articles they are working on. Getting quoted as a real estate expert along with a link to your site is actually much easier than you might think. Journalists are almost always on tight deadlines, which means they sometimes scramble at the last minute to get good quotes from experts. 

To get backlinks from HARO, subscribe to their email and pitch journalists when they need quotes from real estate experts. If they accept your pitch, ask them to link to your website. Easy, right? The key is to respond to journalists’ quote requests as soon as they get posted. This will greatly increase your odds of getting your quote accepted. 

To learn more about getting links from HARO and other sources, check out our in-depth guide to strategic PR below.

Related Article
5 PR Strategies Any Agent Can Use to Get Free Press

8. Update Your Best Performing Articles on a Schedule

Since your local real estate market can change from quarter to quarter or even month to month, search engines generally rank up-to-date content higher. So once you have your content written, create an update calendar to make sure that content stays fresh. 

For pillar pages, you should schedule updates at least once per quarter. For subpillar and cluster content, you can get away with updating once or twice per year. When updating your articles, spend a few minutes researching what changed since your last update, and then address those changes in your article. 

9. Regularly Audit Your Website for SEO Issues 

Even if your content is ranking well, you still need to regularly audit your website to look for any issues that might affect your rankings. For example, articles or videos you link to might change their URLs, leaving you with dead links, or your articles might start to load slowly if you install a new plugin. Scheduling yearly or quarterly SEO audits can find these issues before they start to affect your ranking. 

How Much Does SEO Cost?

Like most great lead generation strategies, real estate SEO can be done for free. Writing great content that puts the reader first might take up a lot of your time, but there are no real upfront costs. 

That said, if you are serious about using SEO as a lead generation strategy, investing in some basic tools or hiring freelancers will be a huge help. Here is a quick rundown of some SEO tools and services you might want to consider as your rankings grow: 

DIY SEO Tools 2022: Recommendations & Pricing

Type of SEO ToolOur PickCost per Month
Keyword Research ToolAhrefs$90 per month 
Upgraded Web HostingBluehost VPS$20+ per month
WordPress SEO PluginYoastFree

Hiring SEO Freelancers 

Since ranking your website on search engines can take years of hard work, you might be tempted to skip the line and just hire a freelancer to do SEO for you. Having hired many SEO freelancers in the past, this is not something we recommend for individual Realtors. Like any good freelancer, good SEO freelancers can be extremely expensive. The best SEO freelancers charge $5,000+ per month! Beware the “affordable” SEO freelancers. Some use dishonest tactics that might help you rank on Google for a week or so, but can also result in your site getting blacklisted from Google’s search results. 

That said, there are many SEO tasks that you can and should outsource to freelancers on a site like Upwork or Fivver. Here are a few tasks that you can safely outsource as the need arises: 

  • Keyword research 
  • Google My Business profiles
  • Article editing 
  • Reducing image sizes 
  • Submitting your pitches to HARO 
  • Basic link-building outreach

Visit Fiverr

How Long Does It Take to See Results?

This is kind of like asking, “How long will it take until I can speak French?” You might see some results right away, while others can take years. There are two basic factors that determine how quickly you will see results from your SEO efforts:

1. How Competitive the Keywords You Are Targeting Are

The first criteria is how competitive the keywords you’re targeting are. For example, if you’re trying to rank for “Beverly Hills Mansions for sale,” your chances of seeing results right away (or at all!) are very, very low. This is because there are many real estate portals like Zillow and well-established real estate brokerages that also want to rank number one for those keywords. Your chances of outranking Zillow or Compass for these keywords is virtually zero. These companies spend millions of dollars to rank their content on search engines.

However, if you’re trying to rank for “best neighborhoods in Elmira New York,” you will see results much faster since you will have much less competition on the SERP.

2. The Quality of Your Content, Website & Backlink Profile

The second criteria that determines how quickly you will see results is the quality of your content, website, and backlink profile. Let’s tackle those one by one: 

  • Your content: If your content does not offer useful information related to the topics people are searching for, you might never see results.
  • Your website: Even if you have great content, if your website loads slowly, is not optimized for mobile, or uses complicated code, you will have a hard time ranking.
  • Your backlink profile: Part of the way Google and other search engines judge the quality of your content is by looking at how many other websites link to it. More high-quality links = better chances of ranking highly. 

Bottom Line: Is SEO Good for Realtors? 

As long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort to audit your website, research keywords, create content clusters, and produce great content, then SEO can be an effective way to generate leads and raise brand awareness with your website.

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