Real estate professionals across the country are confused about search engine optimization (SEO) – and rightfully so!
Unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of information sources out there, most of which contradict each other entirely (and were created by companies trying to earn your SEO business). This has created an understandably perplexing landscape and has turned SEO into a real estate buzzword. Very few brokers and salespeople actually know what it is, or – more importantly – how it is accomplished.
Here’s the cold, hard truth about SEO.
SEO is a major undertaking. There is no magic SEO button that a company can press, or a “guarantee to get you No. 1 on Google in one week!” SEO is hard work and it isn’t for everyone. Simply put, if you don’t have the time and/or budget to make it to No. 1, then don’t waste your time or money. Instead, buy the traffic with pay per click (PPC), Facebook ads or another form of paid advertising.
SEO success is following a structured plan
SEO isn’t guesswork, there are very particular elements that create successful SEO. Legitimate SEO requires a structured, long-term plan. About 70 per cent of SEO elements involve high-quality, unique content; regularly added and updated content; and an inbound linking (links from other websites to yours) plan. The other 30 per cent is a long list of elements, including: an internal linking structure; optimized images, meta tags and descriptions, brand mentions, social mentions, domain age and much more.
Intelligent keyword selection
“Blogging” isn’t a great SEO strategy, because you need to target specific real estate keywords that people are searching on Google. You also need to target local keywords with lower competition in order to be successful. For example, “homes in Vancouver” might get 720 searches a month locally but it has extremely high competition. “MLS listings White Rock BC” has only 40 searches a month, but very little competition. When you add up all those smaller-volume keywords, they have significantly more traffic – and are easier to earn.
Use an analytics, metrics-based approach
Throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks might be a fine cooking strategy, but it doesn’t work for SEO. In SEO you have powerful tools that measure your successes, and more importantly, failures. This allows you to continually improve your results. Google Webmaster and Google Analytics are both free, easily installed on your website and offer a wealth of information that will help you supercharge your SEO efforts.
Getting traffic to your website through SEO (or any other online marketing method) is an amazing accomplishment but it needs to be converted into clients. Without conversion there’s no ROI. To do this you need impressive call-to-action buttons that get your visitors’ contact information, and then imports that information into your database.
It takes time
If there’s one piece of advice I could give to agents, it’s that SEO takes time. Far too many agents go gung-ho for two months then quit before they begin seeing results. If you aren’t in it for the long haul, then it’s best to put your money and effort into PPC. It takes at least six months of effective SEO to truly begin seeing the fruits of your labour, although you can use Analytics in the interim to find out if you are on the right track (you’ll see incremental growth before the traffic jumps up).
Bonus: Three SEO cheats for real estate professionals
So now that you know the truth about SEO – that it is a long, uphill battle – there are a few ways to achieve some early success.
- Google business registration – By registering your business self on Google you’ll show up in Google Map results (which are near the top of page 1). You won’t be the only real estate professional, but seeing as it takes very little effort to get listed, it’s worth the effort.
- YouTube marketing – Google, which owns YouTube, often puts videos near the top of search results, so take advantage of this by creating YouTube marketing videos with your intelligently selected keywords.
- Low-hanging fruit keywords – Create a low-hanging-fruit keyword strategy that targets the keywords in your area with the least competition. This means working at “Condos for sale in X neighbourhood”, instead of “Homes for sale in X City”.
So, give it time, pick keywords with the biggest bang for the buck and measure, measure, measure.