By: Izabelle Hundrev, Content Writer, Directive
As a growing number of real estate clients rely on digital resources to buy or list their homes, it’s becoming increasingly important for REALTORS® to be easily discoverable online.
In fact, according to NAR’s Quick Real Estate Statistics, 52 percent of homebuyers reported finding their most recent home on the internet. You can have the best properties and most competitive prices on the market, but if clients can’t find your website or listings online, then it’s not going to be worth much.
For REALTORS®, showing up in search engine results is vital to generating leads and staying top-of-mind in this highly competitive industry. To help you get there, we’ve broken down the most important elements of an effective real estate search marketing strategy.
HOW TO IMPROVE ONLINE DISCOVERABILITY THROUGH ORGANIC AND PAID SEARCH
Before we dive into the details, let’s briefly run through some definitions.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy that’s focused on growing visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
When strategizing ways to boost your search presence, there are two primary methods you want to focus on: organic and paid search.
Organic search traffic refers to the users that find a website as a result of unpaid “organic” search results. This type of traffic is especially valuable because it’s earned, not paid.
Paid search traffic is used to describe users that find a website as a result of clicking on a paid search ad. Put simply, this method allows digital marketers to buy visibility in the search engine results pages.
A robust search marketing strategy combines both organic and paid search efforts to ensure maximum visibility. That said, you don’t need a massive marketing budget to be successful.
Performing basic keyword research will give you an idea of the terms and phrases that your audience uses when they are searching for services similar to yours. You can then use these terms to help build out the page content on your website, incorporating relevant keywords wherever there is a natural fit. Sights like Google Keyword Planner or Wordstream Keyword Tools are just a few that are out there on the market.
START WITH KEYWORD RESEARCH
Keywords are the building blocks of effective SEO. Search engines use keywords to understand what your website is about and make recommendations to users.
The goal is to have your website rank for as many relevant keywords as possible, thus increasing the likelihood of getting discovered organically by your potential leads.
There are a wide variety of free and paid keyword research tools available on the market, such as SEMrush, SpyFu, Google Keyword Planner or Wordstream Keyword Tool. These tools are designed to identify popular keywords and show you how easily you can rank for them.
Performing basic keyword research will give you an idea of the terms and phrases that your audience uses when they are searching for services similar to yours. You can then use these terms to help build out the page content on your website, incorporating relevant keywords wherever there is a natural fit.
CREATE AND PUBLISH ORIGINAL CONTENT
Creating keyword-driven content is essential to boost your organic rankings. Perform basic keyword research to identify topics that your audience is interested in. In the same way you can use keywords to build out page content on your website, you can also use keywords to guide your content marketing strategy.
Aim to regularly publish original content that provides meaningful value to your audience. This doesn’t necessarily mean only blog articles either. Videos and infographics are other examples of content that can help drive organic traffic.
OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE FOR LOCAL SEO
Real estate is all about location, location, location. As it turns out, this is also true for your SEO efforts. Local SEO is a method of optimizing your website to appear in geographically-based search results. This means ranking for terms that are specific to your local market. For real estate agents, local search offers a massive opportunity to capture high-quality traffic from the in-market buyers in your area.
To effectively optimize your web presence for local search, you need to make sure you have a Google My Business listing. This is a free business profile that Google uses to identify businesses and fuel local search results. Google will prompt you to fill out basic information about your business including name, address and phone number (NAP). You may also add images, a short description and hours of operation.
Once you have a Google My Business listing, it’s important to actively manage it and make sure the information is accurate and up-to-date.
GATHER LOCAL CITATIONS
A local citation is any online mention of your business’s name, address and phone number. Google views these mentions as a signal that your business is credible.
For this reason, it’s especially important that your NAP information is consistent throughout your website and anywhere else that it’s listed online.
Citations commonly come in the form of listings on third-party directories. Having your business listed on trusted directories helps to show Google that your business exists. In the same way that people check directories prior to booking a restaurant reservation, prospective clients will come here to read about your services. That’s why having accurate NAP information across the web is so critical.
SEO aside, gathering citations is also beneficial because it’s another way to get more eyes on your business. Popular real estate directories include Zillow, HotPads, Trulia, Movoto and Realtor.com. You can also seek out general directories such as Yelp or even social media networks like Facebook for additional citations.
INVEST IN PAID SEARCH ADS
If you’re ready to take the leap and explore paid options, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising via Google Ads is the way to go. Pay-per-click, often referred to as PPC, is a method of digital advertising that charges advertisers a fee every time a user clicks on their ad. Paid search ads allow you to bypass the organic search results and bid on ad space at the very top of the results page.
This method is popular among real estate agents and marketers alike because it allows you to target users in the exact moment that they’re searching for your services.
For example, since you’re selling real estate in Chicago, you can bid for very specific keywords that indicate the user is serious about buying a home in your market, such as “apartments for sale chicago il”, “2 bedroom apartments chi”, or “chicago real estate for sale”.
Someone searching for these phrases is likely at the beginning stages of their buying journey. When you place a relevant ad to appear in the search results for these terms, you’re intercepting the user at the perfect moment, capturing their attention and offering a solution to their problems. With one click, that user lands on your website and can be converted to a lead.
Keep in mind that having a budget is only one small piece of the paid search puzzle. Simply allocating money to a Google Ads campaign and hoping for the best won’t be enough to generate meaningful results. It will require ongoing effort and maintenance to ensure your campaign sees long-term success.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a brand-new agent or an established broker, your online presence can have a tremendous impact on your business. Armed with these tips, you’re in a good position to build out a search marketing strategy that’s a unique fit for your real estate business.
Before you know it, you’ll be climbing the search rankings, growing your traffic and bringing in a steady stream of qualified real estate leads.
Directive Consulting is a team of search marketing savants, creatives, and technical specialists who love helping in-house teams at software companies excel in competitive markets.