If you’re new to SEO for real estate, this article is for you. SEO stands for “search engine optimisation.” It’s the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand, through non-paid (also known as “organic”) search engine results.
Despite the acronym, SEO for real estate is as much about people as it is about search engines themselves. It’s about understanding what people are searching for online, the answers they are seeking, the words they’re using, and the type of content they wish to consume.
Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to connect to the people who are searching online for the services you offer.
If knowing your audience’s intent is one side of the SEO coin, delivering it in a way search engine crawlers can find and understand is the other. In this article, we share how to do both.
Search engine basics
Search engines are like answering machines. They scour billions of pieces of content and evaluate thousands of factors to determine which content is most likely to answer a specific search query.
Search engines do all of this by discovering and cataloguing all available content on the Internet (web pages, PDFs, images, videos, etc.) via a process known as “crawling and indexing,” and then ordering it by how well it matches the search query in a process we refer to as “ranking.”
Which search results are “organic”?
Organic search results are the ones that are earned through effective SEO and are not paid for (i.e. not advertising).
These used to be easy to spot. Ads were clearly labelled and the remaining organic results typically took the form of “10 blue links” listed below them.
However, advertising options have expanded, and search engine results pages (aka SERPS) are filled with more advertising and more organic results than we’ve seen before.
Some examples of SERP features are featured snippets (or answer boxes), People Also Ask boxes, image carousels, etc. New SERP features continue to emerge, driven largely by what people are seeking.
Why SEO for real estate is important
While paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines.
Organic search results cover a wider digital landscape, can appear more credible to savvy searchers, and receive more clicks than paid advertisements. Google research reveals that paid advertising receives 2%-3% of all clicks, whereas organic results receive 47%-57% of all clicks.
SEO is also one of the only online marketing channels that, when set up correctly, can continue to pay dividends over time. If you provide a solid piece of content that deserves to rank for the right keywords, your traffic can snowball over time, compared to advertising which needs continuous funding to send traffic to your site.
White hat vs black hat SEO
“White hat SEO” refers to SEO techniques, best practices, and strategies that abide by search engine rules, its primary focus to provide more value to people.
“Black hat SEO” refers to techniques and strategies that attempt to spam/fool search engines. While black hat SEO can work, it puts websites at risk of being penalised and/or de-indexed (removed from search results) and has ethical implications.
The Do’s and Don’ts of SEO for real estate
While SEO guidelines vary from search engine to search engine, the underlying principles stay the same; Don’t try to trick search engines and Do provide your visitors with a great online experience.
- Make pages primarily for users, not search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging.
Things to avoid:
- Automatically generated content
- Participating in link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content (i.e. copied from somewhere else)
- Cloaking — the practice of showing search engine crawlers different content than visitors.
- Hidden text and links
- Doorway pages — pages created to rank well for specific searches to funnel traffic to your website.
Search engines are getting smarter, but they still need our help.
Optimising your site will help deliver better information to search engines so that your content can be properly indexed and displayed within search results.
Depending on your bandwidth, willingness to learn, and the complexity of your website(s), you can perform some basic SEO yourself. Or, if you’d prefer, engage the services of a reputable SEO expert to help you.