The real estate industry is a competitive market. Hundreds of agents, both from large firms and small businesses, are competing to win the attention of college graduates, new families, retirees, and brick-and-mortar businesses.
You are confident in your skillset – you know the market, closing costs, local listings and comparable HOA fees, you know it all. You have prepared yourself to be the most suitable option for potential clients, knowing you can crystallize their real estate dreams into reality.
So, how do you make sure the right customers can find you? In the past, many have answered this question with flyers, word of mouth, street signs and networking. Although these all remain valuable, the digital world we live in today requires real estate business to be a little more tech-savvy. To rise above the competition, it’s imperative to implement Local SEO.
What is Local SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization: the practice of optimizing a website to rank higher in search engines (aka, Google’s search results pages). Therefore, your site can earn more traffic, promoting conversions and profits. With Local SEO, you can ensure your target clients see your potential.
Although some SEO elements can be quite technical, there are various strategies any real estate specialist can implement regardless of experience. Read on to see the top five Local SEO tips for your business to take action on today.
1. Create a Google My Business Account
Registering your company on Google My Business, or GMB, is arguably one of the most important steps any realtor takes to grow their digital presence. GMB describes its service by stating: “Engage with customers on Google for free: With a Google My Business account, you get more than a business listing. Your free Business Profile lets you easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps.”
To understand what this service does, check out this image. The business overview, often equipped with contact information, address, and more, is provided by GMB. This snippet allows consumers to visit your site and quickly contact for more details. Not only are they directed to your business, but they also feel more confident in your services due to being recommended by Google.
Additionally, listing your company with GMB allows you to appear in map results. In today’s day and age, more and more people are searching “real estate agents near me” rather than just “real estate.” Being recognized in Google based upon your location is essentially the foundation of Local SEO.
2. Consistency is Key: NAP+W
Although Google is the number one search engine, directories are not dead. Listings on sites such as Yelp, Realtor.com, Zillow, etc. is another way to reach your target audience. If you are starting a new agency, reach out to these directories. If you are refocusing marketing efforts into a long-standing business, revisit your listings to check for accuracy and consistency.
Accuracy and consistency are two factors that search engines consider when ranking sites on the results page. If your business is listed across three directories with different information, search engines will not view your company as credible, lowering your overall rank.
So you’re saying I have to individually check each directory I could be mentioned in?! Seems like a time-consuming task.
I had similar concerns until I learned about Moz’s Check Your Listings. To benefit from this free tool, all you have to do is enter your business name and address, and it will generate a list of directories your business appears in. The inconsistencies across your listings will be everclear, as the service does all of the nitty-gritty work for you. Now that you are properly equipped, you can reach out to each directory and ask for an update.
Local SEO commonly uses the acronym NAP+W: Name, Address, Phone + Website. Even a discrete difference, such as including an Inc at the end of your business name, will cause a red flag. By solidifying your NAP+W and using them consistently across listings and throughout your website, your business’ Local SEO will instantly improve.
3. Implement Keyword Research
Keywords are an essential part of on-site content optimization that every real estate agent should learn to use. Keywords are phrases or terms that consumers search for, such as “real estate agent near me,” “houses for rent,” or, “commercial real estate Chicago.” Because your business is location-dependent, it is crucial to attempt to rank for location-based keywords.
Free tools like Google Keyword Planner provide you with data metrics, including monthly search volume and how much competition exists for each term.
So, instead of arbitrarily choosing keywords to describe your business, plug them into Google Keyword Planner. See if there is a better variation that might earn more traffic due to higher search volume or less competition.
4. Create a Blog On Your Website
Now that you’ve decided on a few stable keywords to use in your website’s copy repeatedly, it may be time to create a blog. If your website is already built with WordPress hosting, it should be a pretty simple addition to your existing content and provides an opportunity for more keyword space and the potential to earn backlinks.
First, by creating informative blog articles that supplement the services described on your website, you will have more real estate (pun intended) for keywords to live. The ultimate goal of keyword strategy is to place the keyword(s) on the site multiple times without sacrificing your information’s readability and authenticity. By having various hubs of information, you can sprinkle keywords across your website. This way, you can rank high on Google while maintaining trust with your customers.
Second, blogging often leads to backlinks. Backlinks are links to your website from other websites. They are one of the backbones of SEO; the more credible backlinks you earn, the higher your website ranks.
If you are an expert in your field and can share valuable insight into real estate, people will want to read your work. Better yet, if the information is of high quality, they will want to share your work.
Pro tip: Domain names that clearly illustrate what a business offers improve consumer perception of the website. Consider purchasing a domain that highlights your real estate capabilities. For example, consumers are more likely to click on, “JeffSellsHomes.com” rather than “JeffSmith.com.”
5. Manage Reviews
The foundations of customer service play a significant role in Local SEO. Review management will not only improve your reputation in the community but also from Google’s perspective. Google tracks the number of reviews, their freshness, and their connotation.
If you lack reviews for your business, appropriately ask for testimonials from previous clients. If they had a good experience with your services, they would likely be eager to take three minutes to complete a review. Placing signs encouraging reviews in brick-and-mortar locations or sending out an email post-service are some tactical ways to earn honest reviews.
Avoid unnatural review acquisitions. This tactic places your reputation in danger and is often flagged by Google as spam, resulting in a penalty.
Because customers tend to leave reviews when service was really good or really bad, it is not uncommon to receive some negative reviews. Instead of shutting your screen and never looking back, take time to respond authentically. Apologize for their experience, take accountability, and explain how you are actively working to improve. Additionally, reply to favorable reviews to keep the positivity flowing. With these five Local SEO tips, you can, quite literally, get your real estate business on the map.