Real Estate Search Engine Marketing: The 3 Real Estate SEM Tools you Need to Know
One of the goals of having a website is getting on Google’s first page. But getting on the first page of the biggest search engine in the world is a tough game.
There are only 10 spots on Google’s first page (90% of searchers won’t check the second page) and you’re probably competing with 1,000 other real estate websites (maybe more). A portion of these presumably have better content than you. And it gets even dicey because Google is constantly updating its algorithms, prioritizing random search criteria.
Yet, 83% of all home buyers are searching online. 99% of Millennials search for homes online compared to 89% of Older Boomers and 77% of the Silent Generation. Since the majority of online searches would be done on Google, it would still be wise to include a Google SEO or PPC ads strategy in your marketing.
First, you’ll need to have these in place:
- A nicely designed website. Real estate agents without a website might be killing it offline but they will be losing about 51% of potential customers to the competition. Plus having a website, updated with an insightful about page gives you more credibility.
- Top Notch Content. Creating great content is essential to building trust. You’ll need a real estate content marketing strategy that works for your brand. Download my FREE content strategy template.
Real estate SEM?
Search Engine Marketing refers to (PPC) paid advertisements on search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Foursquare or Youtube. It also refers to (SEO) techniques to help your content get found organically on Google and other search engines. With mobile and local search increasingly important, we should also talk about GoogleMyBusiness. In short, both paid and free methods to get your website or content found in online searches.
GoogleMyBusiness is a sort of directory service that gives people more information about businesses in their location. And this is ideal for industries like real estate because potential real estate clients are doing location-based searches. Instead of the generic traffic which Search Engine Optimization may bring, it’s almost a given that people who contact you through your GoogleMyBusiness listing are qualified leads.
There are two major perks of having a GMB account:
- You appear in local searches. These kinds of searches will include a map so folks making real estate searches near you can find you. Apart from location details, they can also check your opening and closing hours, call your phone number and see your reviews online.
- You appear in brand-specific searches. Whenever someone types in your brand name on Google, information about your business is displayed on the right hand side.
To set up a Google My Business account, you’ll need to verify your business with Google. To do this, go to the Google My Business set up page here.
Enter your business name.
Next, click on Add location. Input location details and select your location on the map. You can add more than one location.
You’ll be taken to the next page where you fill in your business category and contact details.
Lastly, Google requires a verification process that usually takes minutes or as long as 14 days, depending on the method of verification. A verification code could be sent by mail at the business address you provide. It takes 10-14 days for your code to arrive. In some locations, verification is done by sending a code to the business phone number you listed. This type of verification is easier but less common.
Once your business has been verified, you can start customizing your Google My Business Listing page. Since this page forms part of the first impression of your business, ensure to use high quality, regularly updated images of you or your office space. Also, request for and include positive ratings of your business from past clients.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Getting on Google’s first page is tough. First, because Google is constantly updating its search algorithms. What worked 2 years ago may not work now. And also because there is so much competition than ever.
Yet, being on Google’s first page will give you an edge. Google processes billions of searches every day. When someone in your area is searching for a home, they probably go to Google and type in a search term. If your website and content are suitably optimized for this search term, you appear on the first page of the search results. This means you get a steady stream of traffic for the keyword and possibly new leads.
But it’s not that basic. There are many other websites looking to appear on Google’s first page. You’ll be competing with a lot of real estate service providers, agents, and brokerages in your area. They’d likely also be trying new techniques and tricks. What’d make the difference is your content. Are you just stuffing your website with keywords or providing value in a way that meets peoples’ needs? It’d be counter-intuitive to boost organic traffic through search engine optimization but chase people off with poor keyword stuffed content.
Across the board, here are five SEO tips that work for real estate SEM:
1. Limit your bounce rate. Bounce rate is the percentage of people who close your website tab only after viewing a page. You’ll need to have an intuitive website design plus helpful content to keep users attention and compel them to stay longer on your website.
2. Avoid keyword stuffing and keyword cannibalization. Keyword stuffing can get your website flagged on Google. Cannibalization means you optimized different pages of your site for the same keyword. This confuses search engine bots and would lead to lower website ranking.
3. Optimize your website for mobile. NAR revealed in 2017 that 58% of millennials and 46% of generation X found their home on a mobile device compared to 33% of baby boomers. Mobile optimized websites rank higher on Google.
4. Optimize your website for speed. Slow loading websites have higher bounce rates and subsequently lower search rankings.
5. Use local, long tail keywords with less competition. Real estate searches are usually location based. So, while you shouldn’t stuff your website with keywords, you want to include these local keywords in your website’s content in a way that search engines understand what your page is about. Take note of long tail keywords (having three or more words) with good traffic as these are less competitive. You can use Google keyword planner to find keywords and Semscoop or SemRush to analyze your keywords.You also want to use LSI keywords (keywords that appear in the ‘searches related to’ section of Google search results).
Don’t want to be bothered with the technicalities of SEO? Outsource to an SEO specialist on PeoplePerHour or Upwork. However, don’t hire just anyone who could send a bunch of spammy links to your website. Hire someone who would work with you for probably a month to make sure your website ranks for the right keyword(s). Check out this advanced real estate SEO guide containing some unique local market domination and SEO strategies.
Paid Per Click Ads (PPC)
Apart from the free ranking tools, Google and most search engines offer PPC advertising. With PPC ads, you only have to pay when someone clicks on your ad. These ads are not cheap though. The more your bid, the better your ranking for competitive keywords.
Generally, your ad appears at the top of search engine results, at the bottom of results or on banner ads for third-party websites using Google Adsense. To learn more about PPC ads, check this article by Eric Doty of RealEstateWebmasters. You could also outsource this aspect of your marketing. There are a number of real estate PPC companies that can help create and manage your PPC campaigns. An example is BoomTown.
Measure the effectiveness of your real estate SEM campaign
Search engine marketing is a potent way to drive traffic to your website. Yet you need to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. Basically, you should have Google Analytics tracking code installed on your website. Plus measurable goals that indicate how well you’re performing. Lars Lofgren, a Google Analytics specialist talks about setting up goals in this post.