Many realtors and brokers look for ways to get better found on Google to generate more leads and, thus, more business from buyers or sellers via their websites.
Being in the first results for the right target keyword or keyphrase can be a great way to generate “free” real estate leads without paying money for ads.
But before investing time and money in search engine optimization (SEO), you might wonder if SEO works for realtors.
Provided you take the two most important ranking signals, which are high-quality content and link building, and optimally all of the 200 existing ones into consideration, SEO will also work for realtors.
You will also have a better ROI compared to PPC advertising in the long run.
I reached this conclusion by analyzing the most important SEO statistics and Google’s current ranking signals in this article.
What Is SEO for Realtors?
The term “SEO” stands for “search engine optimization.”
As a whole, it means that you use different strategies and tactics to improve the visibility of your real estate website in all types of search engines for certain keywords and key phrases.
Today, most aim for better rankings on Google since it’s the largest search engine.
But your SEO efforts also affect rankings on other smaller search engines, such as Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, Ask.com, and Ecosia.
This aims to get relevant “free” and “unpaid” traffic to your website to generate leads and, hopefully, sales.
However, it’s not really “free” traffic since you will have to make an important investment in great content, which you either can produce yourself (with the cost of your time) or outsource and pay for it with money.
Organic Traffic (SEO) [Statistics]
I think it’s essential to learn a bit about current statistics regarding organic traffic and Google’s ranking signals in 2021.
After this data, we can draw further conclusions and know what it means to use search engine optimization for realtors.
- There are billions of daily searches, and 15% are new to Google (source).
- If you are on Google’s first page and among the first five results, you receive 67.6% of all the clicks (source).
- There are more than 200 ranking factors that Google’s algorithm considers to rank websites (source).
- According to Google, the two most important ranking signals to make your (real estate website) rank are high-quality content and link building (source).
- According to 57% of marketing executives, on-page content development was most effective regarding SEO tactics (source).
- Most marketers (70%) consider SEO more effective than PPC (source). This is likely because 70%-80% of searchers ignore paid search results and prefer organic ones (source).
- Articles ranked in the top positions of Google have 2,416 words on average (source).
- Unfortunately, most pages (91%) never receive organic traffic from Google. This is often due to a lack of backlinks (source).
- More than half (55.24%) of websites have no backlink (source).
- The amount of traffic you get from Google correlates with the number of backlinks your (real estate) website has (the more backlinks, the more traffic) (source).
- If you also use video content, you have 50x higher chances of getting organic rankings than with plain text (source).
- If your website ranks number #1, you will get an average click-through rate (CTR) of 31.7 from searchers (source).
- Mobile searchers’ intent is related to location 30% of the time (source).
- Most (76%) people use their smartphones to look for something nearby or visit a business within a day (source).
- Regarding purchases, potential buyers or consumers are influenced by a relevant search 39% of the time (source).
- Regarding major purchases (relevant for realtors), 80% start with an online search, despite the purchase happening in a store (source).
- Less relevant but still good to know is that in 18% of the cases, the local searches end up in a purchase within 24 hours (source).
- Almost one-third of searchers and potential buyers in the U.S. search daily for local businesses (source).
Google’s 10 Most Important Ranking Signals in 2021
Don’t worry; I won’t list all 200 of Google’s ranking signals from 2021 in this section.
Because not all have the same importance. And as in many things in business, marketing, and life, they follow the 80/20 rule.
So, I will only mention the ten most important ones.
But if you still want to dig deeper, I will give you a great article where you can find and read about all of them. You can find it here.
1) High-Quality Content
In the statistics above, I mentioned this ranking signal already as part of the two most important ones.
What does high-quality content mean?
Well, it’s definitely not a fast-written and outsourced 500-word article but rather content that covers a topic in-depth and provides real value.
This also means including visual content that helps understand the respective topic better (e.g., tables, infographics, or videos).
Related to high-quality content is also a signal called E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).
If you cover certain topics that can influence important decisions about someone’s health or financials, you need to establish E-A-T.
For example, if you, as a realtor, would start producing content about health topics, it would be much more challenging to establish E-A-T for Google if you can’t show somehow that you are a professional, such as a real doctor (M.D.) would be.
You would also be up against websites with well-established authority, such as certain universities and health institutions.
So you couldn’t make a claim about a certain substance and treatment without citing trustworthy sources.
Backlinks are the second of the two most important ranking signals mentioned in the above statistics.
Generally, the more links you get from highly authoritative websites, the better you can usually rank for certain keywords.
But here is a word of caution.
In the early days, you could just write a sloppy 250 to 500-word article and then proactively build links from often spammy websites and rank for the targeted keywords.
Due to several algorithm updates from Google, those times are over. You will have a high risk of getting “penalized” if you keep doing this in 2021.
Your backlink profile should look natural. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do proactive link building at all, but you want to ensure that your real estate website is already a bit aged.
You may run into similar trouble if you do proactive link-building for a new website.
This is because Google’s algorithm got quite smart with time and will “ask” itself why a fresh new site suddenly gets a bunch of links, which is not quite natural.
It is okay and even beneficial when your website initially gets some social media links.
But you might want to postpone proactive link building until it is around 8 to 12 months old.
You might not need to do proactive link-building in the first place when you produce high-quality content, and other sites will naturally start linking to your content because of the value it provides.
In the case of my blog that you are reading, I didn’t do any proactive link-building and now have more than 1,000 backlinks.
3) Keep it Fresh
In June 2010, the so-called Freshness Algorithm was rolled out.
This means that Google prefers fresh new content over old and outdated content.
This also means that you could analyze existing content you have but don’t rank and improve it in terms of quality and “freshness.”
Another thing it also means is that you might want to prefer producing more timeless content that doesn’t require periodic updates to maintain it fresh.
Regarding content for realtors, you will need to update articles such as “best restaurants to visit in X in 2021” to “best restaurants to visit in X in 2022” once we are in the new year.
RankBrain not only sounds smart but is actually a smart ranking signal.
It uses machine learning to understand the intent behind a particular search.
What it also does is understand complex searches, how they relate to certain topics, and how the searcher interacts with the search results she or he finds.
Let’s say you want to answer the search question (“How to qualify for a mortgage in XYZ location”) and write an article about it.
Suppose you just list the mortgage providers in the article without answering the question.
In that case, your article won’t be relevant for the search term (the question asked). Google will likely prefer another article that answers this question specifically and ranks it higher.
5) Mobile Friendliness
This signal I already mentioned several times while reviewing certain realtor software because of the importance this now has for the Google algorithm.
The mobile-first indexing algorithm was rolled out on November 4, 2016.
As a decent web developer (I also do web development work), you now know that you start developing with mobile display first in mind and desktop later.
But there are still realtor websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, which will harm their ranking potential.
This is especially important for local search results. In this context, you may want to remember the statistic from above “Mobile searchers’ intent is related to location 30% of the times .”
6) Core Web Vitals
This signal was part of one of the most recent Google algorithm updates in May 2021.
It helps rank websites with good loading, visual stability, and interactivity.
Some of the things Google measures with this is, for example, how long it takes to load the largest element of a website (e.g., image, text, video, etc.).
It also measures how fast the site responds to a user’s first interaction and visual instability.
If, for example, your real estate website doesn’t have images without defined dimensions or fonts that are rendered with visual instability, it will affect your Core Web Vitals.
You can check the Core Web Vitals of your real estate website with Google’s Search Console here.
7) Page Speed
Although page speed is part of the core web vitals, it merits a separate section.
If your real estate website takes a long time to load, especially on mobile devices, it will be more than a challenge to rank it well.
So, together with the Core Web Vitals and the Page Speed signals, you can see that Google not only looks at the relevance of your content for certain search results but also ensures users have a good user experience on your site.
If you want to test your page speed, you can check out this tool from Google.
And if you want to work on your website page speed, I can recommend you the below video by SEO link builder Julian Goldie:
8) The Power of Your Domain and Brand
If users search your real estate website by using your name directly, you get branded searches.
This is another important ranking signal for Google because it signals that your “brand” has a certain name recognition.
And the more branded searches you get, the more it will be liked by Google’s algorithm.
Usually, these branded searches are caused by mentions on social media.
People may hear the name of your website in a video on YouTube or another channel but can’t use a link and then look you up on Google.
But another cause is when your site is well-known, and people want to find further information.
They may just think of you and type your website’s name into Google to find out if you produced content about the topic they are interested in.
So, it doesn’t mean that you just need to spam social media channels with your website’s name, and you will get this benefit.
It is more a combination of both and often develops automatically over time.
9) Schema Markup
Google’s search algorithm is smart, but it’s still not super smart.
And this is where schema markup comes in.
It is basically code (semantic vocabulary) that you can include on your website, which helps search engines provide visitors with more informative results.
You can apply the schema markup for different use cases, such as movies, products, events, software applications, book reviews, and local search results.
The latter is especially relevant for realtors.
For example, you can help search engines understand phone numbers, addresses, and where your business is located.
If you include this, you will have better chances of ranking higher.
10) HTTPS/ SSL
The last ranking signal to mention is HTTPS, first introduced in August 2014.
The HTTPS protocol is used to establish a secure connection to a website.
So, with this update, Google wanted to ensure that users don’t get hacked, scammed, or more by just visiting a website.
This means that if you don’t use an SSL certificate which makes HTTPS possible with your hosting provider, you likely don’t rank as well as you could.
Does SEO Work for Realtors?
To answer this question, we need to see what we can derive from the statistics and rank signals I previously discussed.
First of all, most of the SEO statistics also apply to realtor websites, and they are not just a weird exemption from the rules of the internet.
And the major key points to make SEO work that also applies to realtor websites are:
- Producing high-quality content and doing on-page content development
- Link building
- Local SEO with mobile-first in mind
If you do all the above correctly, you will have a high likelihood that you will make SEO work for you as a realtor.
Additionally, you may get even a better ROI than PPC advertising since it was stated that it could be more effective than PPC.
Additionally, since buying a house is a major purchase, and these purchases start in 80% of the cases with an online search as a realtor, you will benefit from being visible and having high organic rankings in search engines such as Google.
But this also means that by producing short 250 to 500-word articles, not tailored to search phrases that don’t provide value by answering specific questions, the chances are pretty low that you will make SEO work for your realtor website.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.