29 Oct How can estate agents benefit from Search Engine Optimisation?
Most up to date estate agencies understand that ranking on Google for their relevant keywords and phrases is really important in order to grow and compete with the larger companies.
A high quality SEO campaign will aid an estate agents website to capture the interest and details of a prospective buyer or seller.
The main goal wit your SEO campaign will be for those prospective buyers to find your website amongst the congested online market and then follow up by getting in touch.
Today we will be looking at how your estate agency can increase the amount of buyers and sellers using their service.
In any SEO campaign this should always be the first job in your to-do list. It is important to have a good understanding of how many people are searching for your primary keywords and then seeing if there are any keywords and therefore opportunities which you had not considered.
Google have their own keyword tool and there are also premium SEO tools such as SEMrush, using this you are able to see how many people have searched each keyword, each month in Google UK.
Many times business owners will have an idea of their most popular searches, only to find out after research that they have been targeting the wrong phrases.
Many agents will be looking to rank for variations of the obvious primary keyword such as simply ‘estate agents’.
The variation may have half as many people searching for it but still plenty of searches each month and less competition.
Thankfully in the estate agency business it is easy to know what the majority of people will search using a tool like SEMrush.
It is also important to remember that even if you think you are on page one already, you might not be. This is because Google show a more biased result based on your search location and history.
Estate agents Liverpool versus ‘houses for sale in Liverpool’
One of the biggest opportunities available to you in the SEO industry is often the keyword ‘houses for sale in (your city)’.
You really want to be ranking your homepage for the search phase ‘estate agents (your city)’ and then also have a property search page for ‘houses for sale in (your city)’.
This can be important as (usually) more people are searching ‘houses for sale in (your city)’ than ‘estate agents (your city)’.
Although we understand that companies such as Zoopla and Rightmove have become popular websites to find properties, Google are still getting large amounts of users searching these terms on google instead of heading straight to these two massive property companies.
Specific Longtail searches
Another SEO opportunity that estate agents have commonly left untapped is the individual property listings.
Both renters and buyers will use Google to search for specific requirements, for example ‘3 bedroom house with garage to rent St Helens’.
If you can rank for these very specific search phrases then not only will there be less competition but most importantly then you likely have secured a lead.
Ranking your website’s homepage for ‘estate agents (your town)’ using on-page Search Engine Optimisation
On-page SEO through keyword use
One of the first steps we will look to implement with any SEO campaign with an estate agents website will be effectively target the main keyword through your website homepage.
We will use the selected keywords in the main elements of the homepage:
Likely starting with the title tag, this will be set in the backend of your site. When first starting your campaign we would start with something simple that concentrates on the main target such as:
‘Estate Agents (your city) | (your company)’
This information won’t be displayed on the website, but is visible to Google and is the clickable blue part in the search engine results page (SERP).
Then we would move to your H1 tags, sometimes called a heading tag. Unlike your page title this field is visible text on your website.
Because of this many people will use their keywords but with supporting text as ‘Estate Agents Liverpool’ may not look to great right at the top of your homepage.
Amount of text on the homepage
Unfortunately you can’t just add a few keywords to your tags and website and be top of Google, to help out your keyword targeting you will also need to understand that Google loves relevant, well-written content.
In a lot of industries including estate agents it is important that the website focuses on visuals such as a slideshow showing properties in the area alongside a call to action t
This is definitely what we would recommend however this needs to be alongside some unique text content. You should be trying to include your keyword at least once but most importantly make it easy to read.
Improving your property listings for good SEO
When you are uploading a new property listing on your website you have the chance to improve your website’s SEO better.
The same way we said about your home page, you will have a title tag and a h1 tag. When you are creating this try to think like a customer and create the title tag and h1 to match what the page is offering.
Make sure not to overuse your primary keywords when trying to rank higher, as this will have a more negative affect both to this page and your homepage.
Creating unique content on your property descriptions is very important, and although it is time consuming (and maybe also boring), it allows you to catch the attention of both Google and the website user.
We would recommend using around 300 words per property on your website. Without a description you will be losing both purchases and search engines.
By researching multiple estate agent websites it seems that both users and Google prefer property listings which include the properties key features in bulleted points.
Dealing with expired property listings for better SEO
When one of your properties is sold and is therefore removed from the market you will of course be looking to remove it from your website.
If however you delete a listing then you will create a ‘404 error’ – which means this is now a dead page. Google will do it’s best to remove the listings from the search results page, however a large volume of dead pages will lead to worse SEO.
This is because Google will see this as a poorly managed website and content. To correct this you should be creating a (301) redirect which will then remove the error and link the page to your home/category page.
Another alternative is to create a standard 404 page which lets the user know that this property is no longer available but you do have these similar properties and have a feed of some of your other properties and a link back to the home page.
This way you will reduce your bounce rate and also give the visitor some relevant examples.
Beating Rightmove to Google
When you have created your new property listing it is best practise to share this page with Google first before also adding the listing to Rightmove (or similar sites).
The reason for this is that Rightmove may be getting all of the credit from Google as they are well trusted already by Google and constantly analysed by the Google crawler.
If you visit the Google Search Console and go to the ‘crawl’ section on the left, you can then select fetch. Then, you click on the index button and now you have told Google to review your new page and claim to be the original writer of the content.
When you have completed the SEO basics of your website you will then want to look into the links which are pointing to your website.
Backlinks can be great for your website’s SEO but like anything in the search world quality beats quantity.
Before you start building links to your website, you should firstly review the current links. We use a paid tool called ahrefs for this. Ahrefs allows us to find and audit your websites links, this therefore shows us which links are helping you to rank for your keywords. Then we would look at any links which could be negatively impacting our SEO performance.
Some common bad links:
- Low quality directories
- High amount of foreign sites linked
- Too many anchor text links
- Business listings with an incorrect address
Google penguin and keeping on top of your links
In 2016 Google made the analysis of your website links increasingly important this means that your ranking is more sensitive to any links you have.
How to rank for multiple locations
If your business has properties across the country or has multiple offices, then I am sure that you will want to get high rankings in all them areas.
If your homepage is predominantly aimed to rank for Liverpool, but you also have an office in Manchester, Cardiff and then in Birmingham, then unfortunately it is unlikely that the homepage can also rank highly for all of your keywords in all of these different areas.
To compete each of your offices will need their own visibility.
Creating location based landing pages to rank in a given location
As we said about the homepage you will need to set-up title tags, h1 tags and text for each landing page you create which will need optimising.
With the location based landing pages you can add more text than on a normal home page too which will also help you to rank higher.
Be aware though of a common mistake which many people make. Don’t copy text from one location page to another, only changing the location name. This will make Google be much less likely to rank you for your other offices as it is seen as duplicated content.
Link Building for Estate Agents
The amount and more importantly the quality of the backlinks pointing to your website matters and will have a direct impact on your search engine rankings.
Even the more established estate agents can have issues with under-developed backlink websites, this can mean that even though the website has a good level of onsite search engine optimisation competitors may out-rank them.
However not having enough links is a better idea than having a lot of bad backlinks, however it does mean that you need to consider a link building strategy to establish yourself further.
We have seen websites with just a few links outrank a competitor with 100 bad quality links on a number of occasions.
Review the top-ranking estate agents
Using SEMrush you can get an accurate list of who your top online competitors are for your targeted keywords, fro this you can then see which links have helped to get their website to this ranking position.
You can use high level directories to list your business and include a link to your website. This will give Google more trust and confidence that you are a real business and offer what you claim.
When you are adding your website to these directories it is important to add your address and website link.
Google My Business for estate agents
As well as just ranking your site organically at the top of Google search results, you can also increase visitors with ‘Google My Business’.
The way you can recognise a GMB listings is when you have searched for ‘estate agents (your town)’ and look at the results which are below the ads.
To improve your GMB listing and therefore increase your ranking chances then do the following:
- Your address on the listings and website should match.
- Add your website link.
- Set your business in the correct category (Estate Agent).
- Add your business name with Estate Agents at the end
- You don’t need to add the location keyword at the end.
- Get as many reviews as possible (Minimum 6) to start with.
- Aim to get a couple of reviews each month.
What impact does this have on leads
When you have followed the above steps and are ranked in the top 3 GMB listings you will start to get more new website visitors.
It will also increase the chances of someone clicking your organic listing as it will add that extra trust and credibility.
What to expect from an SEO Company
A search engine optimisation company will be able to manage all of the tasks mentioned above or at least guide you on improving some of them yourselves such as the content.
The agency will help you to not just grow but also sustain your SEO position and therefore also business.
It is most common that there is an initial 6 month agreement between a business owner and digital marketing company as that is enough time to see notable growth in your search rankings compared to your position before you hired the company.