Real Estate SEO Guide – Your 3 Keys To Lead Generating and Beating Z

Real Estate SEO Guide – Your 3 Keys To Lead Generating and Beating Z

Depending on where you are on the tech-geek spectrum as a real estate agent, search engine optimization could sound  a bit like “snakes oil.”  For others, this topic has been covered ad nausea and you might be looking for something fresh.  In our research, there wasn’t a single real estate SEO expert that was and has an active real estate license or one that uses their SEO skills to generate income for their real estate business.   So we decided to make our own Real Estate SEO Guide For Agents guide based on our research and our 15-year history of doing SEO in Atlanta.  To be honest, the overarching keys are the same but the implementation is a bit different.  Our hope is that this is a resource for real estate agents everywhere.

I’ve re-written this a few times partly due to all the great SEO training out there and partly due trying to make this as readable as possible.  Let’s start here.

Basically, your key is:

  1. Develop A Real Estate SEO Strategy
  2. Pick A Niche To Target
  3. Understand The SEO Tactics Needed To Succeed

1.  Develop A Real Estate SEO Strategy

Do you have a strategy at all?  Why were you googling real estate SEO in the first place?  If you simply want to hire someone, the please head on over to our SEO consulting page.   If wanted to learn, then read on.

You need a good SEO strategy before you buy your domain name or write your first word of content.  My guess is that you want leads from your online effort or perhaps simply want to be found when someone wants to search for you.  We’ll try as much detail as possible.  If all you want is a vanity website that allows your customers to find you by name then that is relatively easy.  What I purpose is that you actually go after both.

What I mean is go after your brand and for those that want to, go after a niche.

Your actual real estate SEO strategy would be to focus your content on “Your Name” or your unique business name.  Once you rank for your own name, then go for a niche… but first…

Does the keyword phrase need to be in the domain name?

Before we get into selecting your niche, let’s have a conversation about your domain.   I see too many real estate agents get all caught up in the process of selecting a domain.   In our research, we’ve seen a boost in rankings due to a keyword phrase match in the domain (ex.  keyword-phrase.com) but in practice, this will limit your growth.  However, there is a Google penalty if you make a website with a keyword phrase and it’s not any good.

My suggestion to you is to get a domain that represents your brand.  Not only if your name often available but it lines up with our strategy above as well as allows the flexibility to build later.  Build around you and your real estate business.  Then you can move on to owning your Niche.

2. Pick A Niche – Hyper-local is Winnable

Don’t go BIG, go small to win at Real Estate SEO

Real Estate SEO LocalBefore we dive into our guide we need to cover this myth that says, “Big CITY” homes for sale is your end all be all to Real Estate SEO.  It’s not.

You’ve heard it said that “riches are in niches” and it’s absolutely true.  We see most real estate agents decide to face off against a billion dollar behemoth in Zillow for “Big City homes for sale.”  In fact, as of this writing, the number 1 ranked real estate SEO post (image on left) was about this very thing.

Unless you live in a rural area or have an MLS that has decided to stand and fight Zillow, then chances are pretty good you should avoid [Big CITY NAME] Homes For Sale, unless it’s part of a longer phrase that must include the city name.  There’s a huge difference to google and it makes a difference to you too.

For example, let’s say you live in Atlanta.  Naturally, you want to do “Atlanta Homes For Sale” because you read Bruce’s article.  While you could make a strong case for this since you do live there.  I’d recommend focusing on your niche.  In Atlanta, we have areas that are divided up (most places have these), there’s Buckhead, Downtown, Midtown and then there’s a bunch of smaller ones like East Point, East Atlanta, Little 5 Points, West Side.

What I would suggest is starting with a very small niche and branching off.   Stay hyper-local, go for the niches and avoid the “city name” homes for sale.  For example, maybe start off with being a condo building or subdivision specialist, do what we are suggesting here and then move on after you’ve mastered it.  I know this is counter to what you’ve read and it’s also a bit confusing (because I will later say to use “homes for sale”), but stay with me.

Why avoid big city name?.  Take a look at the image below:

Real Estate SEO Atlanta

Atlanta Homes For Sale Search – Courtesy SEM RUSH

For the uninitiated, this means that there are 4,400 searches for “Atlanta Homes For Sale” with 27.6 Million competitive results.  The competition factor is .67 (the higher this number the harder it is to rank) with a cost per click (should you try to do pay per click advertising) is almost $3 per click.  As you can see companies in the UK, India, Canada and Australia are all trying to get rankings for this key word phrase.

Compare to “Morningside Atlanta Homes For Sale” (Morningside is a neighborhood in Atlanta)

Yes, the volume is lower but so is the competition on every front.  Even here your competition is going to be Zillow and realtor.com but there are a few local brokerages. In fact, at the time of this writing, there were 4 local brokerages on the first page.    Imagine if you only focus on Morningside, with a competition score of .33 you’d have a fighting chance to get on the first page.

Yes even here “Atlanta homes for sale” is part of the search string, but notice what 1 word does.  It can be confusing but this is what is meant as “longtail.”

The biggest reason to go small is that at the higher competition keyword phrases you’re competing with multi-million dollar companies that have a team of people like me working for them.  Even if you hired me full-time we might no crack the top 5 for a competitive word phrase like “Atlanta Homes For Sale”

Sidebar: Why “For Sale” for Real Estate SEO?  because of Buyer Intent

Pick your favorite condo building, block or subdivision then tag on “homes for sale.”  The reason is buyer intent.  We’ve met many savvy agents that tried their hand at SEO and did a great job for ranking “best schools in Dallas.”  Unfortunately, although it’s an outstanding achievement it’s not the goal for your business.

Buyer intent simply means that the visitor to your website is searching with an intent or desire to purchase.  You’ll know the difference when you call them, the people who “love to look at houses” vs “we’re relocating in 3 months.”

Bottomline:  Yes, you will have to use words “for sale” like condos or homes if you want buyer intent.  However, don’t go big here, go small.  I re-ran the above search and found a few great options inside of subdivision (actually the Morningside example was not in our initial draft).

Back To The Top

3. Understand The Tactics For Real Estate SEO Success

Real Estate Blogging

You’ve likely heard about blogging, I know I’ve been teaching it for over 10 years now.  Blogging is simply writing content for your clients and future clients to read.  Don’t get hung up on how and where to do this.  Most websites have some sort of function for this in 2017.  If you’re a pro blogger then a site like ActiveRain could help you a lot, but I recommend focusing on your main content first and foremost.   You might say you’re not a writer, that’s fine!  Just go through your email and look at the questions your clients ask.  Some common good blogger content:

  • Why [Subdivision] is the best?
  • FAQ about [subdivision]
  • 7 cool things to do near [subdivision]
  • Real Estate Market Predictions for [niche]
  • The best neighborhoods in [niche]
  • The best way to buy/sell a home in [niche]
  • Upgrades you must have to sell your home in [niche]

As you can see you can totally write a blog with titles like this.   Keep the word count 500+ and you’ll be doing well!

Get Linked Up

A backlink is like a vote for your website in the same way a friend can refer you to their family is a vote for you as a real estate agent.   If you’re doing this yourself building backlinks can be a pain because it’s time-consuming.  Here are some quick ideas to help.

  • Ask clients if they have a website and see if they will give you a link, most will!
  • Ask vendors (that you spend money with) the same thing
  • Create A “[##] Mistakes Every Buyer Makes” Blog Post and then send it out to media outlets.
  • Hire a designer to make an infographic.

Video

Video is huge and it’s even bigger for Real Estate SEO and lead gen.   You might be shy on the camera, then take video of your niche and answer questions.  If you’re brave then go live with Facebook or utilize Instagram.

These platforms push live video because users are showing that they are very interested in them.   The best videos answer a question.

Where to go to find out what questions consumers are asking?

Check your email.   Then check Quora, there’s a ton of real estate related questions you could answer via video.

Photos

The number one reason a home buyer registers on a real estate website is to see pictures.  They didn’t come here to see you or learn about real estate, they came for photos.   It’s no wonder then that one of the best attractors to your real estate site is great photos!   For example, you could take really amazing photos of your niche neighborhood and post it to a neighborhood page and you’ll likely outrank many other sites.

This strategy is doubly efficient because while you will also rank in the regular search, you’ll also rank on the image search.   Many people will click through to your page because of that.

Also, with your photos on your page, you can post your pages to Pinterest.  Be sure to put a link in the description though.

Be Loud and Local

Be Loud & Local is all about “owning” your niche.  This means your social media post should be about your niche, you should claim all the directory listings you can and get reviews there, all talking about your niche.

I highly suggest you read about Local SEO.  It’s a big deal now.  Google is going to a mobile-first search platform so mobile searching and location based searching are going to be where the top spots go.  The good news is that you can do this without paying for advertising.  Yes, you can DIY your Local SEO.  It’s not recommended but you can.   Check out our Local SEO Guide.

With this SEO strategy, four things happen.  

  1. You build backlinks to your website.  Boosting SEO
  2. You build traffic – proven to help build your ranking
  3. Possibly generate leads
  4. Find “followers” that might share your content.

Be Social

It’s a fact that social signals play a role in Google Search.  It’s been mentioned here before, but one of the best lead gen techniques is to be socially engaged on social media.  Use the same strategy as mentioned just above.   You should at least have complete profiles on all the major social media outlets, linkedin, facebook, google plus, twitter, instagram and whatever you use.

Back To The Top

We covered a ton of real estate SEO here, but really if you can simplify your thinking to these 3 keys then you can achieve the results you want from SEO.

  1. Develop A Real Estate SEO Strategy
  2. Pick A Niche To Target
  3. Understand The SEO Tactics Needed To Succeed
5 Reasons Why Every Digital Marketer Should Write SEO Content

5 Reasons Why Every Digital Marketer Should Write SEO Content

As the saying goes, the Cobbler’s kids have no shoes.  It’s often the case you’ll see a web designer who is brilliantly gifted and their website is still stuck on the modern day equivalent of geocities or worse, wix.  I started to look around and realized that although I’m doing work that I’m proud of for my clients, my own site and businesses are not looking so hot.  After a month and a half of writing with over 60,000 words worth of posts, articles, cornerstone content etc I’ve learned a ton!  It really opened my eyes to what it takes to be successful in SEO but also business.  There’s a reason the top sites stay at the top.  So here’s 5 reasons why every digital marketer should write seo content. (more…)

Local SEO Guide – What Matters To Google For Your Small Business

Local SEO Guide – What Matters To Google For Your Small Business

You might already know how Google works.  Did you know that there are basically two ways to rank on google?  Keywords and Local SEO

The first is for keywords.  For those that don’t know keywords rank on google, it’s pretty straight forward.  Say you have a site about purple elephants.  When other sites link to your site, Google takes that as those sites are “vouching” for your site.  If they use the word “purple elephants” then all the better.   Now Google is much smarter than this simple description, it weighs the “vouching” sites to determine if they have authority or not.  So a link from Mashable.com would be worth more than a link from my own website at Gahomesdigest.com.  In addition, it evaluates your page and how “good” the content (you can get an idea of what google is looking for by using the free service on the sidebar).  Finally, google also takes into account a list of other harder to manipulate things such as how long people stay on your site, how many social shares are out there and how updated the site is (and how long the domain is registered for).  All told it’s a lot for a business owner to master.

Luckily there’s an easier way for local business owners.

(more…)

Is Coca-Cola A Mission Driven Business?

Is Coca-Cola A Mission Driven Business?

I believe that businesses can change the world.

I believe this because, we are stronger together and when we’re united under a common vision that there’s nothing we cannot do.

The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!Genesis 11:6

You may look at the world around you and see that this is not the case anymore.  This is why I believe business can change the world.  Businesses have the one thing that is missing from our social endeavors, unity resources.  Now some businesses catch this better than others, while others vision may only monetary.  A friend of mine has a statement about businesses that goes like this, “A business has one purpose, profit.”  I can agree in part because clearly a business that does not turn a profit will not last very long.   That view in my opinion is short sighted at best and (word that sounds bad here) at worst.

What I’m talking about is a Mission Driven business.

Instead of a rant about social justice followed by a Pollyanna view of a world where rainbows and unicorns thrive, let’s take a look at what’s currently possible, and where there is huge potential.   Every single case here is either real world happening right now or could.   Also, in every single case moving toward a mission driven business (vs profit driven) would likely elevate profits, enhance what they are already doing and increase brand awareness.  This isn’t a call to spend money, this is a call to be intentional with the power of unity behind a vision.

Coca-Cola

Coca ColaIn my home town of Atlanta there’s a few of the businesses that already have the recipe for a mission driven business.  Coca-Cola is one such company.  Are they mission driven?  No not yet, maybe someone will read this and they’ll “get it.”  However, Coca-Cola Company has all the ingredients for this particular recipe (see what I did there?).  Let’s take a look at these ingredients:

When you look at a company you really need to see if they have a written mission and vision…

Coca Cola’s Mission

  • To refresh the world…
  • To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…
  • To create value and make a difference.

Let’s stop and pause.  Right now, there’s nothing about Coke’s marketing to me that says anything about these three.  I bet you didn’t even know they had these three things written down.  If they call me I’ll tell them, “Hey, delete the bottom two” – Refresh the world… That just gets me excited.  Unfortunately, for the average Coke employee there’s nothing refreshing about what they are doing.  I won’t go into their product but it’s just a business, a profitable business.  Let’s keep going.

Vision

Coca Cola's Vision Statement

(blah, blah) this is where it breaks down.  You can read it for yourself.

If I had to pinpoint where Coca-Cola lost it, it’s in their vision.  Their entire Mission page reads like a textbook leadership manual but there’s no heart.  Outside Refresh the world, it lacks the real clarity needed to change the world.

What if we helped them a tad.  If I had to keep the “P” motif, I’d say.

People – Our people are our secret ingredients.  They refresh and energize each other and create a rejuvenating environment in which to accomplish our Mission.

I could do this to each one.  However, I don’t think you want to read it, and frankly without knowing why Portfolio is in there or why is Productivity separate from People, I can’t really offer any insight.

The rest of this page needs a redo as well.

So  what’s the point?

Coca-Cola’s New Business As A Mission as Defined by Joshua

Mission: To refresh the world..

Vision: To quench the world’s thirst. 

Statement: Imagine a world where the beverage companies end world thirst.  Every Coca-Cola product sold at retailers serves not only to excite the taste buds of those drinking but also provides drinking water to those that do not have access.  Together Coca-Cola’s secret ingredient (it’s employees) and non-profit organizations (like Charity:Water) work hand in hand in creating new innovative ways to solve this World problem while innovating new flavors and refreshment for retail partners.

Is this far-fetched… uh, no.  You can read it here, but Coca-Cola already does this.  So why does the above excite you and I so much more than what they have.  They’ve kept these things separate.  It’s only through raising awareness of what they do at the Coca-Cola foundation that they’ll actually tie these together.  Coca-Cola Foundation is doing some GREAT things worldwide.  If they could simply UNIFY their entire company under this mission, they could end a World Problem.

Seriously.

What do you think?  Am I pushing Coke too hard on this?  Are they doing a great job and don’t deserve my critique?  Are they on the cusp of something even greater?  Would you like to see more of these kind of posts?

You Might Be A Blocker

You Might Be A Blocker

I love the game of football.  Not so much for the action or the violence or anything quite as masculine as that.  I’m a fan of strategy.  What the average Sunday watcher doesn’t see is the block that gets made which opens up a hole for the running back to run through. Everyone on the field is important, even a wide receiver on a running play!

When I reflect on my own life I think we can learn a lot from football in this aspect.

There are very few moments when I can claim I heard God clearly.  I will tell you boldly that we have a relationship but the clarity of His voice isn’t always there.  One time a few years ago I asked (ok pleaded) that God would use me.  He said,

“If you want to be used, you need to be usable.”  

At the time I had a bad attitude, I was selfish and although to the outsider it looked as if I was doing the right things, it was a show.

Later that year I felt led to start a non-profit called Heroic Event (currently being re-designed) and throw an event or conference designed to highlight businesses and non-profits that were making a difference.  The event was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and if judged by attendance, it was a huge failure.  Dejected, I cleaned up after the event and headed home.  On the way there I prayed, “Why Lord?  Why would you lead me to do this only to have it fail?

“If you want to be used, you do not get to choose how you are used.”

I was rocked.  I knew that was Him and not me.   So I’m asking,
ok, so how was I being used there?!

The conference we had set up was able to see 300 and it was at an arena.  In addition, the speakers we had lined up were CEOs and Non-profits of some of the most successful in the Atlanta area.  Unfortunately, we only had about 45 or so people show up, including my Mom and the speakers themselves.

There was one woman in tears at the event. She would later say it was the inspiration she needed to get on with her life.

I was reminded of this when I prayed and God showed me something, “what does it matter to me if I (HE) loved her so much He caused me to act?

 That settled it.  The event was a success.  Maybe not in the world’s eyes, but if I was moved somehow to allow God to touch someone then it was a touchdown for me.

I think we often compare ourselves to the players scoring the touchdowns.    I don’t think we’re prideful in this comparison in terms of we want their greatness.  I think more often it’s a comparison of adequacy.  I don’t want the fame, I want to bring fame to the name of Jesus.  Without the measure of success (wins, touchdowns, stats) it’s hard to tell how we’re doing.

What I’ve come to understand is that in the Body of Christ most of us are blockers.

In many ways, the blockers are more important than the runners or the quarterback.  Without the blocking, the throw doesn’t get made, the run stops in the backfield.  In my lifetime, the only running back that made it without a great offensive line was Barry Sanders.  Consider this, no one blocker is more important than the rest, yet when one single blocker misses the play is over, it’s a sack, a tackle for a loss or worse.

In this video you can see the most important person on the field isn’t Devonta, it could be Mohammed Sanu as he blocks the very person that should have made this tackle, or it could be Alex Mack the center who snapped the ball and blocked his person, …

When you’re questioning your purpose or your impact, remember that you might be a blocker.