- On-page SEO is necessary to ranking well in search engines, but no one gives great instructions on how to do it.
- Optimize your key page templates for their main keywords to get more traffic.
- On-page SEO is just the beginning.
Do you know how to properly optimize your real estate website to get as much traffic as possible from the search engines? You’ve heard the advice that you should do it, but has anyone actually helped you do it or shown you what it entails?
I’ve talked with a lot of business owners over the years who simply don’t know where to start with SEO. Everyone gets conflicting advice: “just build links,” “write more content,” “have a blog,” “do more social media and use Google Plus,” etc.
Although this advice is all well-intentioned, it doesn’t actually help you move forward to get more traffic for your site. But with the right direction, I believe that you can make a real impact on your business by growing your traffic.
As the former lead marketing and growth manager at two well-known portals, this is something I have spent a lot of time thinking about.
There are three major page templates that you should concentrate on as a business that lists properties for sale (or rent). These are:
- Category pages
- Listing pages
- Blog post pages (assuming you create content actively for your users)
I should also remind you that on-page and technical SEO are just one part of the SEO equation, and links to your site are not to be undervalued. But let’s focus on on-page SEO this time and walk through each of the above templates using illustrations.
Category page SEO for real estate websites
When I say a “category” page, I mean the type of page that would rank for a query like “homes for sale in Denver.” If you look across the pages that rank in the search results page in Google, you’ll notice a number of common elements:
- The page lists multiple properties.
- The page links to other nearby areas, which is good for the user.
- The page contains images of the properties
As you probably know, every page on your website should have a focus keyword (for example “homes for sale in Denver”) that it should be focused around.
If you want well-optimized real estate category pages on your website, here is how I would lay it out:
The important elements to have on this page are:
- H1 tag with the page’s main keyword contained
- H2 tag somewhere on the page (often done at the bottom) with the main or secondary term (such as “Denver homes for sale” if the main keyword term is “homes for sale in Denver”)
- H3 links to your listings using the address (so that you can try to rank for address searches for that property)
- Some text pulled from each listing’s description to give this page more unique and semantically relevant text
- Pagination to deeper pages so that all of your listings can be indexed
One big note here: one of the largest improvements many sites can make to their category pages is increasing the number of listings contained on the page.
Although this does have some website speed and performance tradeoffs, it also serves to create more robust pages across the site, reduce the amount of pagination and can increase organic traffic.
Real estate listing page SEO
Your listing pages are the lifeblood of your real estate website’s existence. Without them, your potential customers can’t see the types of properties you sell or schedule times to go see specific properties.
You know that they likely will not buy that specific property, but you’ll get them into your contact list, and you can show them more properties.
Let’s take a look at how a listing page can be set up for optimal SEO.
This is a rough sketch that leaves many possibilities open to you. The best property pages I have seen all have the following:
- Address as an H1 across the top
- Images with alt text (to rank in image searches for that address)
- Unique descriptions, different from the descriptions syndicated via MLS to the portals
- Property details, such as washer/dryer or yard, that are semantically related to a property
- Links to related properties on the site
Listing pages serve the goals of:
- Driving leads (emails, phone calls) to your business directly
- Driving traffic in your local area to associate your brand with new customers
- Showing the type of properties you sell to cement yourself as that type of agent
Blog post SEO
If you’re creating content for SEO purposes to drive new customers to your site at the very top of your conversion funnel, then you should get as much bang for your buck as you can.
You’re spending good money or time (depending on if you do the writing or pay someone else to do it), so your pages should be set up optimally.
Here’s how I set them up:
Once again, this is just an example of how you can structure it, but the most important elements are:
- Primary keyword in the title, focused on the user
- Subheadings down the page to break up content and structure the content for search engines (and users)
- Main keyword sprinkled through the article’s text as it makes sense (minimum twice, but don’t stuff them in unnaturally)
- Mixed media types such as images, videos or charts as makes sense (these have been shown to increase readability and rankings/traffic)
Manage your own expectations around why you are creating content, as this traffic often takes longer to convert to customers than traffic to a listing or category page.
However, content has been shown to earn more links than these other types of pages, so publishing and earning links to that content can help your site rank overall.
On-page SEO is an important part of SEO for real estate websites. Without it, your website will not rank as well as it otherwise could, but it is also the beginning of optimization.
(I also created this resource for building well-optimized pages.)