Real estate sales can be a lucrative—if tricky—business. If you’re a homeowner looking to sell your home as quickly as possible, or for the best price possible, you’re better off working with a real estate agent. According to Green Residential, only about 10 percent of homes listed as FSBO (for sale by owner) end up selling.
But if you’re a real estate agent, your job will depend on your ability to spread the word on new properties as quickly as possible, achieving the highest level of visibility and showing off the best parts of the home at the same time.
Most agents harness the power of paid advertising and referral networks, but what about search engine optimization (SEO)? Can that be an effective strategy?
What Makes Real Estate Unique
Most search optimizers argue that SEO can be effective for literally any business in any industry. However, each industry has key considerations that may make SEO more or less efficient, or only effective under certain circumstances, and real estate is no different.
These are the factors that make real estate unique:
Individual listings are temporary.
According to Realtor.com, the median length of time for a home to be on the market is 65 days. Remember, SEO is a strategy that relies on long-term development to bear its greatest fruit—that means months, if not years of optimization. Optimizing a page for a period of 2 months won’t get you far, and might end up being a total waste of effort. Fortunately, there are alternative strategies, so you won’t have to optimize individual listing pages.
Agents and agencies often work together.
In most cases, realtors work on behalf of real estate agencies, which likely have their own domains. Agents are free to seek clients and deals on their own, under the parent brand, which gives them access to the best of both worlds; they can use the primary domain, which already has significant authority, and attempt to build a web presence on their own. This can be a key advantage if utilized correctly.
Major real estate brands dominate the web.
People love to rely on search to find housing; according to the National Association of Realtors, 53 percent of home searches start online. That means you should have ample opportunities to get in front of prospective home buyers. There’s just one issue: the web is dominated by major brands like Zillow and Trulia, so getting to the top of search rankings for general housing search terms is somewhat difficult.
Personal brands have exceptional power.
In the real estate game, personal brands carry favor with people—which is why so many real estate ads feature headshots and personal greetings. Personal branding is a powerful strategy in SEO, enabling you to build your own authority, guest blog on offsite sources, and gather a social media audience. The fact that realtors already work on building their personal brand power lends synergy to this relationship.
How to Make the Most of SEO
Knowing these special considerations, you can adjust your strategy to make the most of your SEO campaign:
Rely on the power of your personal brand.
Play up your personal brand as much as possible. Start writing content focused on selling houses, and make sure your headshot and biography are available on any real estate agencies or organizations you belong to. Then, build your social audience and grow your authority further by writing for offsite authorities in the real estate space. The more authority you gain, the higher your content will rank.
Be as specific and niche-focused as possible.
Because of the major real estate powerhouses in play, you won’t be able to target general keyword terms, but according to Wordtracker, hyper-specific long-tail keyword phrases are more valuable anyway. Zero in on a niche, whether that’s a particular type of housing or housing in a specific area. The more niche-focused you are, the easier you’ll be able to slip past the major competition.
Draw on the power of bigger brands.
If you can’t beat them, join them. Don’t try to compete directly with the big brands of the real estate world; you won’t be able to win. Instead, use them to your advantage by getting yourself featured on their blogs and by listing your homes for sale there if you fail to attract an audience organically.
So, is SEO effective for selling real estate? The answer is yes if you know how to play to its strengths and compensate for its weaknesses. You won’t be able to use it as a short-term fix to boost individual listings, but over time, you can develop your reputation, earn more leads, get more visibility, and expand your network.
For how little it costs to pursue SEO, it’s worth it for almost anyone selling real estate.
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