I get calls every day from real estate brokers and agents, wondering why their website isn’t on the first Google search results page. My initial questions invariably are:

  • What keywords are you targeting?
  • How are you measuring performance?
  • What is the current state of your website and online presence?
  • Do you create content?
  • How do you engage your audience via social?

There is always a partial answer for the first question that goes something like this:

“I need to be on page one of Google for {my-town real estate}” or

“I used to be on page 1 and then…”

The rest of the responses generally provide even less clarity.

The truth is, online marketing, like all marketing, is ever evolving. The one thing we can count on is the persistent effort by search engines to improve the search experience and search quality for the consumer. And while there is no magic bullet, there are some essential strategies you can implement immediately to start moving the needle on local search.

Do your keyword research before launching or re-designing a website

Winning SEO starts with diligent keyword research. It’s how we find things, and it’s how search engines determine the relevance of one site over another.

  • Assuming you know your customer, begin by using some keyword research tools. I use a combination of Google Adword’s Keyword Tool, SEOmoz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool, Ubersuggest, and Hitwise to see what people are looking for, how many of those searches exist, and how competitive they are. From there, build a list of primary, secondary, and long tail keywords to target.
  • If you have the budget and are tired of your DIY efforts, consider bringing in a ringer. Hire a third party SEO professional to help you with the keyword research. If you have an existing site, do a website audit with competitive analysis. This is the only way you’ll really be able to establish a baseline from which to improve. (For full disclosure, we do this kind of work for our clients.)

Create Killer Content that targets those keywords

I keep hearing about agents and brokers who have their VA’s create content for them. They often don’t read it, and it certainly isn’t tuned for SEO. If you aren’t inspired to read your own content, your customers won’t read it either.

Content requirements:

  • Have great visuals.
  • Create content in language your customers will understand.
  • Format your content in a way the consumers can easily digest.
  • Be useful, entertaining, or both.
  • Harness anchor text for SEO.

Target a select set of keywords on each page of your website. You will be able to cover more of your target keywords this way. Don’t try to hit every keyword you can think of. Instead, be focused. Provide really useful information, relevant to your audience and your target keywords.

List your contact information using HTML on every page of your website

Providing contact information with location indicators gives search engines an idea of where your website is located, and can help boost your ranking in local search.

  • Include your full address and phone number with local area code.
  • Include your geographic and service keywords in your business title. For example, if your real name is Jackson Realty, adjust your website title to read, “Jackson Residential and Commercial Real Estate – Jackson, MS
  • Don’t use a graphic to convey this information: search engines still haven’t mastered reading them.

Claim yourself on Google Places to show up on local search

Google Places was introduced only 2 years ago, but it’s already starting to dominate local search results and is one of the easiest ways to show up on first page of Google for local search results.

  • See if Google has already created a listing for your business by searching Google Maps for your business name, address and phone number. If you find your listing, click the “Edit” button, then “Claim Your Business,” then log into your Gmail or Google Apps account and follow the instructions.
  • If there is no listing yet, create one by going to www.google.com/places/. Click “Get Started” and follow the instructions.
  • If you don’t claim your business listing on Google Places, someone else can use it to mess with your business and your reputation.

Submit your real estate website to other Local Search Engines

Search is getting more and more complex by the moment. The algorithm used to rank for primary results is different than the local search algorithm. Real estate, by its very nature, is very dependent on local search results. At a minimum, submit your business to the following local search engines.

They will all try to sell you something, but there’s no need to buy: just go with the free business listing.

While there are lots of mysterious and complicated strategies that can impact search, some of them are very straightforward and will help you get found more easily on the web.

Have more questions, or just want to chat about what tools and techniques are helping you market your business online? Drop me a line!

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