Is your real estate development or home building company in the “Top Three” listings on Google Search? Better check these seven factors. (Especially #7.)
All real estate SEO is local. (Well, the saying goes “All politics is local,” but we’re not even going there this election season.) Google search interest in businesses "near me" has multiplied 34 times since 2011 and has nearly doubled since last year. Many of those searches are for things you might expect: gyms, restaurants, dry cleaners. But many of them are also for “jobs near me,” “pediatricians near me,” and—you guessed it—“new homes near me,” “commercial real estate near me,” “vacation homes near me,” and more. If your real estate marketing strategy is not capturing these important local searches in your area, it’s time to rethink it—and fast.
The real estate SEO landscape changed dramatically in August 2015, when Google reduced the number of spotlighted results on its local search engine results pages (SERPs) from seven to three. Why the cut? Consider that 80 percent of searches come from mobile devices: Three results read a lot better on an iPhone screen than seven. What does that mean for your new master-planned community or mixed-use development? It’s now more crucial than ever that your business comes up in the first three results, and that once customers click over to your website, that it’s optimized for mobile. (See #5 below.)
Here are Simply180’s seven crucial factors for search engine success in real estate. Think you’ve got it covered? Well, then skip to #7. (But considering how competitive this marketplace is, and how often it changes, we’d advise reviewing them all.)
- IMAGE OPTIMIZATION. No property photo, no sale—that much you know. In fact, your real estate website most likely features numerous images of your model homes or vacation condos, but are they professionally shot, lit properly, and attractive (but accurate)? Not only will great photos make your company’s website and social media posts more appealing, but people will actually want to share them on their own social media. Buyers today expect a YouTube or virtual tour of a home; make sure these are professionally produced as well. Or hire a drone videographer for a soaring bird’s eye-view video of your community.
- WEBSITE OPTIMIZATION. Now that you have all of these amazing photos, make sure they are working as hard as they should. Employ images that are sized properly, file names that contain strategic keywords, alt names, and comprehensive listing information, including the community or property address, details of the property, and, of course, contact info.
- CAN'T MISS COPY. Images are important, but optimize your copy as well. A professional copywriter can provide buyer-friendly headlines, but also help your real estate property come up in search results. Use compelling content to boost your brand marketing strategy and enforce your community’s value proposition.
- LOCAL SEO LISTINGS. Each community should have a Google+ local page properly created and verified within “Google My Business.” This link will also show up in Google Maps, which increases your chances of being in the “top three” on SERPs. Make sure your “Google My Business” page is optimized with plenty of high-quality photos, keywords, and contact info. You can also create listings in other, high-quality directories that will help your site get found.
- MONOPOLIZE MOBILE. If your site is not mobile-friendly, you’re not in the game. New research from Google says potential homebuyers spend an average of 55 minutes a day on real estate apps and sites. Establishing a successful mobile presence has two elements:
- A website designed to automatically resize (otherwise known as responsive design) to different screen sizes (from smartphones to tablets to laptops and desktops) and load times. Mobile optimization, including site design (user interface, known as UI), site structure (user experience, known as UX), and page speed, are just a few of the factors taken into consideration by Google search engine rankings.
- Local search. Hyperlocal SEO should be the key to your real estate marketing strategy. Include the names of cities or towns where you want to come up in searches in your keyword phrases. Also, a high rate of mobile click-to-calls and check-ins can positively affect your local search results. Ensure that your listings are complete and accurate, as they can also play a role in local SEO.
- BRANDED PPC CAMPAIGN. If potential buyers search on your company name or the name of your properties and communities, it should own the top part of their search results. While SEO efforts can take a while to take effect, the quickest, easiest, and potentially most cost-effective way to come out on top is in the paid ads section of the SERPs for branded terms, whose placement Google recently modified moving from two to three results on top and removing paid entirely from the right sidebar. If someone is searching for your property, you are guaranteed to come up in one of the three top spots with a properly targeted PPC campaign.
- REVIEWS, REVIEWS, REVIEWS. Here it is, folks. Today, 85 percent of consumers use online reviews to evaluate local businesses—and their trust in them is increasing. Consumers trust peer recommendations 6.5 times more than traditional advertising. In other words, not having reviews might all but cancel out all of your other real estate marketing strategies listed above. You can’t afford not to have reviews and testimonials—and they must be marketed and deployed with care. Positive reviews on Google+, Facebook, Yelp, and other review sites are not only helpful to potential customers, but can also help you come up higher in search engine results. Bad reviews are not actually all bad. They give your business a chance to speak and project that you are alert, responsive, and compassionate. You’re not just a big developer or homebuilder, you’re a concerned local business with an authentic “human touch.”
IS YOUR SITE READY? PREPARE THE PERFECT SEO RECIPE
Download our checklist for creating an SEO recipe that is as simple as baking a cake. There are certain ingredients needed in order to come out looking great.
SEO can definitely be a worthwhile investment for your real estate development company, new home community or commercial property. When SEO is done right, you will see a steady rise in your organic search engine rankings.
If you want to tackle SEO yourself, be prepared to do a lot of research and invest many hours each week implementing some of the real estate SEO best practices outlined above. If you don’t have the time or the expertise to develop and execute a thorough SEO strategy, you should hire an experienced and trustworthy real estate SEO specialist.
Here at Simpy180, we are managing several residential and commercial real estate property SEO accounts each month. We know how much time and effort is required to get desired results. If you are open to a preliminary discussion or want a free audit of your SEO practices, simply contact us.