One of the most common questions property agents ask after building their websites is if real estate search engine optimization (SEO) is still an effective lead generation strategy today. Let me put this bluntly. While ranking your content on search engines is much harder than it ever used to be, you can still easily outrank your competition by investing lots of time and intelligent effort, using basic, foundational SEO strategies that most real estate agents either don’t know or don’t bother with.
I put together this guide to help you get started. I’ve included ten proven real estate SEO strategies to help your content rank better in Google (and other) search results. I’ll also cover the most frequently asked questions and common SEO mistakes to avoid. Here’s what you’ll learn:
What Is Real Estate SEO?
Real estate SEO is the strategy real estate websites use to improve their ranking on search engines like Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, and Bing. The higher your website ranks on a search engine, the more people will see it and hopefully click on it. This translates into more website visitors, and if your site is well optimized for lead capture, then hopefully more buyer and seller leads show up in your CRM for you to follow up with.
Deep Dive: How Google & Other Search Engines Rank Content in 2022
In 2022, Google uses advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to decide which websites and pages rank on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP). Since Google wants to deliver the best and most relevant results, they continually tweak their AI and algorithm to make sure the most helpful results rise to the top on the search engine results page.
Google's top 3 ranking factors are
- Rank Brain and
Of course, publishing content that answers common questions that your target audience is searching on Google is not enough by itself in order to rank well in 2022. After all, hundreds of thousands of competing websites are likely to publish content similar to yours. As a result, Google also considers factors like the expertise of the person writing the content, the quality of the website, how easy the content is to read, among other factors.
A bit of warning though, this strategy is not going to work if you're going to create multiple websites for multiple real estate projects (new launch condos) and then try to rank each one for keywords. You'll end up wasting a ton of time and money and it will actually hurt your ranking on Google. Rather than using such a shotgun approach, it is much better to concentrate all your forces to just 1 main website, like a sniper. You'll achieve your sales goals much faster (and cheaper) that way.
10 Steps to Fast (and Perfect) Real Estate SEO
Now that you have a better idea of how search engines rank content, let’s dive into the ten steps to fast and perfect real estate SEO.
1. Run an in-Depth SEO Audit on Your Website
The first step to any SEO project is to fully audit your current website to see if there are any technical issues that might cause Google to rank your content lower or ignore it entirely. There are a few ways to do an SEO audit for your website.
The easiest way to do an SEO audit is to hire someone from a site like Fiverr to run the audit for you. After they run the audit, they will send you a report that will go over any issues that might be holding your site back from ranking on search engines. Expect to pay around USD $50 for a site audit on Fiverr. Some SEO freelancers or companies will do this for free, but they will also try to upsell you to paid services without explaining the actual issues with your website.
Here is a Fiverr freelancer who runs SEO audits for $35 with a Zoom call to talk through issues that need to be fixed:
If you’d rather DIY your SEO audit, you will need to invest in a few free and paid tools to do it. Here is a quick rundown of the tools you will need:
|SEO Site Audit Tool||What It’s Used For||Pricing (USD)|
|SEMrush Site Audit Tool||Runs detailed SEO audits for your website, tracks ranking on Google, competitor research||$119.95 per month|
|Google Page Speed Insights||Tests how fast pages on your site load on desktop and mobile||Free|
|Google Search Console||Determines if your site is indexed properly on Google||Free|
Here are a few issues to fix that an SEO audit might turn up:
- Meta descriptions
- Image alt text
- Image compression
- Keyword usage
- Heading structure (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
- Duplicate content
- Broken links
- Security: HTTP vs HTTPS
While I don’t recommend it, if you want to run your own SEO audits in the future, you can use this in-depth guide from SEMrush to set up and run your audit.
2. Fix Issues Found in Your SEO Audit
After you have your audit, you can then start fixing any issues uncovered in the audit. These might be easy fixes, like deleting duplicate content or fixing broken links, or more complex issues like HTTP vs HTTPS. Fix what you can and hire out for the rest.
One of the easiest improvements you can make on your website is to make it load faster. This is something anyone can do with Google’s free Page Speed Insight tool. Run the most popular pages of your website through the Google Page Speed Insights tool. If they load slowly, try removing or reducing the size of large images or infographics. You can also try removing WordPress plugins or portal widgets from pages that load slowly. If all of your pages load slowly, you might need to upgrade your web hosting plan from a shared plan to a VPS or dedicated server.
VPS (virtual private server) plans will run you around $20 USD per month and will offer significantly faster landing times than shared hosting. Dedicated hosting plans will run you around $100 USD per month and will offer significantly faster loading times than VPS plans. If your website gets a lot of traffic, you might want to consider dedicated hosting. If not, VPS hosting should do the trick.
Issues you may need someone else to fix for you might be those pertaining to redirects or technical issues. Just hire someone to fix this permanently and get it over with.
3. Set Up Your Google My Business Account
After you’ve run your SEO audit and fixed any issues that came up, the next step is to claim your Google My Business account. Google My Business is Google’s tool for indexing local businesses for search on Google Maps. This is important in 2022 because Google Maps results are almost always at the top of search results pages (SERP) for searches related to real estate. For example, when I search “real estate agent” from Singapore, Google puts a map of nearby real estate agencies at the top of the SERP:
If you want a chance of showing up here, you need to set up your Google My Business account. You can get started here: https://www.google.com/business/
While this won’t guarantee your site shows up at the top of the search results, but if you don’t fill out your Google My Business profile, you will never show up!
4. Research High-Traffic Keywords You Want to (and Can) Rank For
After you’ve completed your audit, fixed invisible SEO issues and set up your Google My Business profile, the next step is to research the keywords your local audience is actually searching for. Once you know what your audience is searching for, only then you can create content to address their questions and concerns. For example, if your audience is searching for “affordable condos in Singapore,” you can write an article or create a video explaining how to find affordable condos in Singapore.
Use a Keyword Research Tool Like Ahrefs
The best way to do keyword research is to use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs. Ahrefs isn’t free but is the best SEO investment you can make to help plan what content to write for your website (and do much, much more than that). You can also hire a freelancer on a site like Fiverr or Upwork to do basic keyword research for you. Most freelancers will be already using a keyword research tool like Ahrefs to research keywords.
Research SERP & ‘People Also Ask’ Results for Your Keywords
Once you have a list of keywords you want to target, research the SERP for each keyword to see what kind of content is ranking for those keywords. Are they articles or videos? How long are the articles? What kinds of websites are ranking for these keywords? What other content are they creating? What keywords do they seem to be targeting? Finally, how can you improve on the content currently ranking on the first page for your keywords?
📌 Pro Tip
Google’s “People Also Ask” section on SERPs can be a goldmine for content ideas. These are questions that Google’s algorithm thinks are related to the main keyword. Here are the “People also ask” results for the keyword “Condos in Singapore”: Each one of these questions would make a great blog post.
To learn more about keyword research, check out this in-depth guide.
5. Create a Content Cluster Strategy
Generally speaking, search engines rank content created by subject matter experts higher than content created by amateurs. For example, when people search for “best cancer treatments,” search engines will display results from top oncologists before your cousin John who thinks crystals and herbs cure cancer (no, it doesn't.) One of the ways that search engines determine your expertise in a subject area is by looking at how much content on the subject you have on your website, and how well organized that content is.
This is where content clusters come in. Content clusters are groups of articles organized from top-level subjects like “condos in Singapore” that then drill down to more specific related topics like “Condos in Bukit Merah” or “How to qualify for a condo in Singapore.”
Pillar Content, Subpillar Content & Cluster Content
Creating content clusters is simple. Start by identifying your most general local keywords. These will be your “pillar pages.” Then organize more specific content related to that pillar page underneath the pillar page. Once you have your cluster mapped out, start writing the content for your pillar pages and planning to write content for your subpillars and cluster content. Once you write your subpillar and cluster content, link to them from your pillar page.
Here’s what a cluster map might look like for an agent who sells condos in Singapore:
Condos in Singapore
Subpillar content: Best neighborhoods to buy condos in Singapore, How to get approved for a mortgage in Singapore, Most affordable condos in Singapore, Waterfront condos in Singapore, etc.
Cluster content: Condos in Sengkang, Condos in Paya Lebar, Condos in East Coast, Holland Village Neighbourhood guide, etc.
6. Create Useful & Compelling Articles, Videos & Infographics
Now that you have a cluster strategy mapped out, the next step is to create the content for your website that others will want to link back to.
Create Pillar Content First
Start by creating your pillar content. Your pillar content should address general topics that you will expand on in your cluster content.
For example, a pillar page about condos in Singapore should be a high-level overview of buying condos in Singapore. Try to think of questions your audience might have about buying a condo in Singapore and answer them in your article. Answers that require more detail will be addressed in your cluster content, so a general overview will be fine for your cluster content. What are the general price ranges by neighborhood for condos in Singapore? How competitive is the market? What should buyers look out for? What should sellers be aware of?
How Long Should Your Content Be?
There is no hard and fast rule for how long your content needs to be to rank on Google, but studies show longer content tends to outrank shorter content. Research from HubSpot showed that the best-ranking articles on Google were over 2,000 words. Just do your best to answer the questions you think your audience will have about the topic and remember to address more specific answers in your subpillar and cluster content.
Article vs Video Content
While articles usually rank better than videos, for some keywords at least, videos will outrank articles. This is why researching SERPs before you start writing content is so important. If a SERP for a keyword you want to rank for has videos ranking at the top of the page, then making a video for that keyword is a no-brainer.
The best approach is to embed a video in an article. For example, after you finish writing your pillar content for “condos in Singapore,” record and embed a quick YouTube video summarizing the content.
21 Real Estate Videos Top Agents Use To Generate & Nurture Leads
Use SEO Best Practices as You Write
Always use SEO best practices for creating content for your website. These include using structured headings like H1, H2, H3, or numbered lists, using keywords in the first paragraphs of your articles, writing in simple, direct language, always keeping content above the fold and focusing on answering readers’ questions in the most direct way possible. Getting creative with your writing can be tempting, but for most articles, a bare-bones “just the facts” approach will work much better. People are busy! They just want to learn what you have to teach them as quickly as possible. For reference, just look at how I've structured the headings on this blog post and generously used targeted keywords in both the headings and throughout.
If you’re using WordPress, a free SEO plugin like Yoast will make following SEO best practices much easier, even when you write. I'm using the premium paid version and it works great in suggesting the best keywords to target and assigns me an SEO score so I know how much more work I have to do (or not).
7. Always Work on Getting Backlinks to Your Content
One of the top 3 major ways search engines decide where to rank your content is by the number and quality of other websites that link to your homepage or directly to your blog posts. This is why getting other sites to link to your website is crucial for SEO. This is also why Distribution Trumps Content. You may write the best content, but if nobody can find it, then it will never rank! If all you do is write content and never promote it, then you will always struggle with getting organic traffic. To use Rand Fishkin's terminology, you will get a 'Spike of Hope' after you publish a post, then a 'Flatline of Nope' and you'll be in this vicious cycle for years. If you focus on getting more backlinks, your content will give you exponential returns over time.
Link Quality Counts More Than Quantity
Generally speaking, quality counts for more than quantity when it comes to links to your website. For example, a link from a well-respected site like the Singapore Times might be worth 100 (or more!) links from smaller websites. It’s not easy, but putting in the work to get high-quality links to your website will have an unbeatable return on investment (ROI) for SEO.
Links from websites that are related to your pillar content are also more valuable for ranking than more general sites. For example, if you’re writing about condos in Singapore, then a link from PropNex might be more valuable than a link from the Singapore Post. Since you are writing about real estate, a link from Realtor Magazine, CEA or NAR would be even more valuable.
Link-building Strategies That Work in 2022
One of the best ways to get links from high-quality websites in 2022 is to use HARO. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a website where journalists submit questions when they need expert quotes for articles they are working on. Getting quoted as a real estate expert along with a link to your site is actually much easier than you might think. Journalists are almost always on tight deadlines, which means they sometimes scramble at the last minute to get good quotes from experts.
To get backlinks from HARO, subscribe to their email and pitch journalists when they need quotes from real estate experts. If they accept your pitch, ask them to link to your website. Easy, right? The key is to respond to journalists’ quote requests as soon as they get posted. This will greatly increase your odds of getting your quote accepted.
To learn more about getting links from HARO and other sources, check out our in-depth guide to strategic PR below.
5 PR Strategies Any Agent Can Use to Get Free Press in 2022
8. Update Your Best Performing Articles on a Schedule
Since your local real estate market can change from quarter to quarter or even month to month, search engines generally rank up-to-date content higher. So once you have your content written, create an update calendar to make sure that content stays fresh.
For pillar pages, you should schedule updates at least once per quarter. For subpillar and cluster content, you can get away with updating once or twice per year. When updating your articles, spend a few minutes researching what changed since your last update, and then address those changes in your article. If you're using WordPress, there is even an option for you to Republish that article.
9. Regularly Audit Your Website for SEO Issues
Even if your content is ranking well, you still need to regularly audit your website to look for any issues that might affect your rankings. For example, articles or videos you link to might change their URLs, leaving you with dead links, or your articles might start to load slowly if you install a new plugin. Scheduling yearly or quarterly SEO audits can find these issues before they start to affect your ranking. The best way is to use the Weekly Email Alerts feature in your ahrefs account that will automatically email you whenever there are any issues with SEO.
10. Stay Sharp About Google’s SEO Changes
This goes without saying that Google changes the rules of the game at its own whim. Therefore, every time Google changes its algorithm or releases a major update like Panda, it will affect your search engine traffic. Ignorance (and inaction) is going to cost you dearly. Therefore, stay sharp and always make informed decisions. No one else is going to fix this for you. Simply create google alerts relating to 'algorithm update' or 'Google search update' and get such news straight to your inbox. Or subscribe to popular SEO websites. Make it easy on yourself.
How Much Does SEO Cost?
Like most great lead generation strategies, real estate SEO can be done for free (but with a catch). Writing great content that puts the reader first might take up a lot of your time, but there are no real upfront costs. Honestly, in my opinion, you're better off outsourcing things you're not good at and things that do not directly produce income, like article writing.
That said, if you are serious about using SEO as a lead generation strategy, investing in some basic tools or hiring freelancers will be a huge help. Here is a quick rundown of some SEO tools and services you might want to consider as your rankings grow:
DIY SEO Tools 2022: Recommendations & Pricing
|Type of SEO Tool||My Pick||Cost per Month in USD|
|Keyword Research Tool||Ahrefs||$97 per month|
|Upgraded Web Hosting||Bluehost VPS||$29+ per month|
|WordPress SEO Plugin||Yoast||Free or $99 per year|
Hiring SEO Freelancers
Since ranking your website on search engines can take years of hard work, you might be tempted to skip the line and just hire a freelancer to do SEO for you. Having hired many SEO freelancers in the past, this is not something I recommend for individual Realtors. Like any good freelancer, good SEO freelancers can be extremely expensive. The best SEO freelancers charge $5,000+ per month! Beware the “affordable” SEO freelancers. Some use dishonest tactics that might help you rank on Google for a week or so, but can also result in your site getting blacklisted from Google’s search results.
That said, there are many SEO tasks that you can and should outsource to freelancers on a site like Upwork or Fiverr. Here are a few tasks that you can safely outsource as the need arises:
- Keyword research
- Google My Business profiles
- Article editing
- Reducing image sizes
- Submitting your pitches to HARO
- Basic link-building outreach
How Long Does It Take to Rank in Google and See Results?
It depends. Really. This is kind of like asking, “How long will it take until I can speak French?” You might see some results right away, while others can take years. There are two basic factors that determine how quickly you will see results from your SEO efforts:
1. How Competitive the Keywords You Are Targeting Are (Keyword Ranking Difficulty)
The first criteria is how competitive the keywords you’re targeting are. For example, if you’re trying to rank for “Singapore Property,” your chances of seeing results right away (or at all!) are very, very low. This is because there are many real estate portals like PropertyGuru or Zillow and well-established real estate agencies and brokerages that also want to rank number one for those keywords. Your chances of outranking Property Guru, Zillow or 99c0 for these keywords is virtually zero. These companies spend millions of dollars to rank their content on search engines.
However, if you’re trying to rank for “best neighborhoods in Central Singapore,” you will see results much faster since you will have much less competition on the SERP.
2. The Quality of Your Content, Website & Backlink Profile (Existing Content)
The second criteria that determines how quickly you will see results is the quality of your content, website, and backlink profile. Let’s tackle those one by one:
- Your content: If your content does not offer useful information related to the topics people are searching for, you might never see results.
- Your website: Even if you have great content, if your website loads slowly, is not optimized for mobile, or uses complicated code, you will have a hard time ranking.
- Your backlink profile: Part of the way Google and other search engines judge the quality of your content is by looking at how many other websites link to it. More high-quality links = better chances of ranking highly.
Bottom Line: Is SEO Good for Realtors?
In short, yes. As long as you’re willing to put in the time and smart effort to audit your website, research keywords, create content clusters, and produce great content, then SEO can be a very effective way to generate leads and raise brand awareness with your website. But this is a long-term game requiring some money and lots of time investment. SEO has a perception of being free, but it has a huge time cost involved.
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Author, Coach & Trainer
Yasser Khan earned less than $1,000 in his first year as a full time property agent. With no money for the $2 train fare to his Broker's office, he was forced to walk 25 kilometers on foot. Worse, he got evicted at midnight with his wife and baby son by the roadside. Desperate, he bought a $16 Sales book and took massive action. That single investment in himself gave him an OBSCENE ROI of $160,000 in just 11 months. Today, Yasser is on a mission to make the real estate great career again and helps ambitious agents quadruple their commission income within 90 days.
Yasser Khan is a real estate coach at YasserKhan.SG, trainer at PropertyAgentUniversity.com and the author of Property Agent Secrets Book who teaches Realtors how to make more Money, have more Time and enjoy more Freedom without all the B.S. plaguing the industry today.
Yasser Khan’s approach to coaching is highly personalised, holistic, no B.S., and for “PROS ONLY… amateurs not allowed.” He believes that true success means winning in every single area of your life (like Financial, Family, Social, Physical, Mental, Spiritual and Fun).
When Yasser isn’t coaching, he loves playing GOTY PC Games with top-of-the-line Razer products and being a kid again with his 3 naughty children (actually, boss babies...), traveling to and across scenic Pakistan, enjoying hot & spicy food, taking pictures of the Milky Way with his favourite Canon DSLR and reading up all about Dinosaurs (especially T. Rex)
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