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An In-Depth Guide To SEO For Real Estate

According to research by the National Association of REALTORS, 99% of people aged 24–42 use the web while looking for a home, so the importance of a solid online presence can't be understated. This is true whether you're a realtor, developer, investor, or any other player in the real estate game.

That's where real estate SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes into play. It's essential for attracting the right home buyers without too much effort or hefty investments. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about this concept and how to implement it to secure a prime spot in your market.

What you will learn

  • What real estate SEO is and why it matters
  • How to develop and execute the right SEO strategy for your real estate business
  • How much SEO for real estate costs, and whether you should hire an agency to do it for you
  • Which SEO tools to use if you decide to do it yourself

What is real estate SEO?

Real estate SEO is a set of practices that help you position your real estate website high in search engines.

By leveraging techniques such as keyword research, content creation, on-page optimization, and building backlinks, you can increase your site's visibility and attract more visitors to your page.

Through a well-executed SEO strategy, your website can become a powerful tool for capturing leads, showcasing properties, and establishing your brand as an authority in the real estate space.

Why is SEO important for real estate?

SEO is crucial for ensuring home buyers and sellers can find your website online.

78% of property searches begin on search engines, with Google accounting for the vast majority of them.

This means that if you're not optimizing your website for Google search, you're missing out on a massive chunk of leads and buyers.

And if you're thinking about skipping all the SEO work and simply paying for Google ads, think again. Sure, you may get immediate visibility, but the average click-through rate (CTR) of a paid result is only 3.17%, which means most people will ignore your ad.

Compare this to the 27.6% CTR of the #1 organic result, and you can see it pays much more to focus on SEO.

At the same time, you wouldn't have to spend nearly as much money as you would on a sponsored page. The ROI difference is massive—748% for organic traffic vs. only 36% for paid ads.

As you can see, organic traffic is much more cost-effective than paid traffic.

Besides, a high organic rank does a much better job of helping you rise above the crowd in the long run. Once your website is among the top results for a given keyword, it can stay there with minimal maintenance.

11 steps for an effective real estate SEO strategy

There are several steps you need to take to get your real estate website at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

We'll outline those steps below with a heavy focus on local SEO, mainly due to the localized nature of most real estate businesses.

1. Find the keywords potential clients use

The first step of any SEO strategy is keyword research—the process of identifying the search terms users Google when looking for information.

There are countless potential keywords that might be relevant to your business and location, so you need to put yourself in the audience's shoes and consider what they want to see. Specifically, you need to do two things:

  1. Pick the main topics your audience might be interested in
  2. Generate related keywords based on those topics

Pick the main topics and keywords

Let's assume you're a real estate agent in Rhode Island. In this case, one of your main goals is to attract people looking to rent or buy a home in this location. Such people may search for something like "Rhode Island apartments."

This is what we call a seed keyword—a broad search term that reflects one of the core topics related to your business. Other examples of seed keywords are:

  • "Rhode Island real estate agents"
  • "Rhode Island house for sale"
  • "Rhode Island rentals"

You can come up with seed topics based on your industry knowledge, though it's best to make data-driven decisions. That's why you'll want to use Google's features to find relevant search terms.

The first place to look is Google's autocomplete, which shows relevant keywords as you type the query, like so:

Look at the People also ask section for various topic ideas worth considering.

You can also consult the Related searches section of Google, which shows up as you scroll down the page.

Draw up your list of core topics based on these suggestions, and then you can move on to the next step.

Generate related keywords

Once you have your seed keywords, you'll want to identify as many related search terms as possible, which you'll then include in your content.

You'll most likely have numerous keywords to choose from, so you should cherry-pick the best ones using the following criteria:

  • Search volume—It refers to the number of times a specific keyword is searched for in a given timeframe, indicating its popularity and potential to attract traffic.
  • Keyword difficulty—This metric gauges the level of competition in ranking for a particular keyword, reflecting the effort required to achieve a high search engine ranking for it.
  • Search intent—It refers to the underlying purpose or type of information a user is seeking when they enter a query into a search engine.
  • Business potential—Keywords with lots of potential are typically those that can bring abundant traffic and help you generate the most revenue.

With a tool like Surfer you can automate the keyword research process and choose the most lucrative keywords.

Simply enter your seed keyword and choose the country you want to see results for.

Surfer will generate a list of potential keywords you can target. Here's a list of 100 keywords related to "rhode island apartments", accompanied by the keyword search volume, difficulty, and search intent.

You should focus on keywords with a decent search volume and a low-to-medium keyword difficulty, especially when you're just getting started with SEO.

While a high search volume keyword like "apartments for rent rhode island" can seem attractive, it will be difficult to rank for as many real estate companies will be competing for it.

Meanwhile, a more niche keyword such as "apartments rhode island ave" can be easier to rank for and attract qualified traffic, despite its lower search volume.

Both these keywords have a local search intent, which means that people are looking to find information or services within a specific geographic area.

To rank for such a keyword, you would also need to optimize your real estate website to show on Places (previously known as Google My Business) and create product pages and content that focus on it.

2. Build content hubs

A content hub, also known as a topic cluster, is a group of closely related articles centered around your seed keywords and topics. Creating a hub allows you to cover a topic thoroughly from various angles, providing users with all the information they need.

This signals to Google that your website is a reliable and authoritative source of information, helping you climb higher in search engine rankings.

A content hub consists of two types of pages:

  1. The pillar page—A comprehensive, often long-form piece of content that offers high-level information about a topic
  2. Supporting pages—Shorter and more granular content pieces that focus on specific aspects of the pillar page

Pillar pages are often labeled as definite guides or in-depth guides, such as this blog post about the real estate home-buying process.

It covers the process from different aspects, as well as links to additional content pieces covering specific topics, including home ownership, loan terms, and home inspections.

If you visit any of those pages, you'll see they also link back to the pillar page. This internal linking strategy connects the hub and ensures related content is grouped logically.

You should plan your content hubs in a similar fashion—start with the seed topic and then see which related topics could be separate supporting pieces.

You can build content hubs manually or have Surfer help you out, starting with your main keyword.

In the left, you'll see a list of topics you can turn into content hubs alongside metrics such as the average monthly search volume and keyword difficulty.

In the right-side panel, you'll find article ideas you can tackle under each hub and recommendations on the pillar page and supporting pages.

This way, you can build your clusters with ease and focus on the next step - creating content.

3. Create high-value content

Quality content is the backbone of any SEO strategy. You need to position yourself as the authority in your niche so that home buyers and sellers see you as a go-to source of real estate information.

For this to happen, you must provide value for your audience.

This means that everything you publish needs to:

  • Satisfy the user's search intent
  • Provide insightful and substantial information regarding the topic
  • Be free of spelling, grammar, and factual errors
  • Be optimized for search engines

This requires extensive research and time spent writing. The good news is that you can leverage generative AI to streamline the process.

If you're worried that Google will punish you for taking a shortcut with AI, don't be. Search engines don't care how your content is produced—all that matters is the value it brings to the reader.

With Surfer AI you can create an article in minutes. The AI will first analyze articles that are ranking well for your target keyword and create a content outline.

You can then add your own research and insights to the outline before Surfer AI generates a fully optimized article.

Before publishing, give the AI article a human touch to showcase your expertise and ensure the accuracy of information.

4. Include relevant keywords in your content

Adding real estate SEO keywords to your content is necessary for helping search engines understand the context and intent of your page. In a nutshell, it's how Google knows it should serve your page for the given search term.

Now, this doesn't mean you should force as many keywords as possible into your content. On the contrary—doing so is known as keyword stuffing, and it goes against Google's anti-spam guidelines.

Ideally, the reader won't even notice most of your keywords because you'll include them naturally throughout the text. This might take some practice, but it's crucial to master because it helps you avoid damaging the reader's experience.

Besides the seed keyword you'll build the article around, you should add semantic, long-tail keywords wherever possible.

If you're using Surfer AI to generate content, your articles will automatically include all relevant keywords.

If you're writing your content manually, you can find such keywords in the aforementioned places—Google autocomplete, related searches, and the People also ask section.

For example, you can see that the following search for monthly rentals in Orange County immediately yields a few long-tail keywords worth including in your content, such as orange county short term rentals and orange county short term regulations.

The People also ask section covers a few subtopics you can cover:

And the related searches show additional keyword suggestions you can implement:

You don't need to use all the keywords you see, but you should include the ones that naturally fit into the text.

You can also use the Content Editor in Surfer to see which keywords to include and in what frequency.

As a side note, make sure that your article hits the right word count. The exact number can vary greatly according to your topic and the page's intent, but as a rule of thumb, you should give the reader as much information as possible without fluffing up your pieces.

5. Perform on-page SEO

Speaking of keywords, you don't need to guess where to place them in your content—there are specific on-page SEO guidelines regarding their usage you can follow.

Specifically, keywords should be included in the following four places:

URL—Google's crawlers will examine your page's URL to determine its relevance to the given search term, so you should include your primary keyword in it. It's best if the keyword is there without too much additional text for clarity's sake.

Page title (meta title) and meta description—A meta title defines the headline of your page that will be displayed in the search results, while a meta description is placed under the page title and offers a concise summary of the page's contents. Both should include the primary keyword to ensure consistency and clarify the article's subject.

Header tags—The main header tag (H1) is the title of your page (which may or may not be the same as the meta title), and it should include the primary keyword. Other header tags (H2, H3, etc.) are used to structure your content and make it more readable, and they give you a chance to include secondary keywords.

Body of content—Both primary and secondary keywords should be included in the content's body, but remember not to repeat them too many times. Instead, vary your keywords as much as possible, focusing on the semantically related ones.

6. Boost backlinks

Link building is the practice of getting high-authority websites to link to your content, and it's essential for successful SEO. Solid backlinks are an important ranking factor, as confirmed by Google's Andrey Lipattsev.

When Google sees reputable websites sending users to your page, they'll assume the page is a credible source of information and will place it higher for the given keyword.

Simply put, you'll leverage authority by association.

There are lots of ways to build backlinks, and they all involve building relationships in your niche. A Reddit user summed it up nicely:

Look for backlinking opportunities all around the real estate industry, but make sure to focus on authoritative sources of information.

Much like a house loses value if it's in a bad neighborhood, your website will be seen as less reputable if it's connected to low-quality or spammy websites.

Surfer can also help you identify backlinking opportunities. The Audit tool will crawl the web to find relevant backlinking opportunities for your pages.

Theseare pages that are already linking to your competitors, so you know they're relevant to the real estate industry and you can reach out to them.

7. Build local citations

Local citations are mentions of your business name, address, and phone number in different places around the web, which is why they're also referred to as NAP citations.

They help Google verify the accuracy of your business information.

Google scans these directories and stores NAP information, so citations must be consistent across all the websites they appear on. Any discrepancies can confuse search engines and potentially harm your SEO standing.

So where should you submit your NAP citations?

Start with major platforms such as:

  • Bing Places
  • Yelp
  • Apple Maps
  • Facebook

You should then focus on local directories relevant to your business. Here's an example of NAP citations for property management companies in San Diego:

You can find such directories by simply Googling your location and relevant keywords like "business directory" or something more industry-specific like "realtor directory."

Alternatively, you can use search operators to narrow your search. For example, the inurl: operator automatically filters search results to show URLs containing specific keywords.

  • inurl:directory keyword

You can do something similar with the intitle: operator, which filters results according to keywords found in a page's meta title.

  • intitle:directory keyword

8. Optimize your Google Business Profile

Previously known as Google My Business, Google Business Profile (GBP) is an essential component of local SEO.

When you set up your business profile, your business will appear in the local map pack, which is displayed prominently in the search results. Here's what the map pack looks like:

Once your GBP page is live, home buyers will have a much easier way of finding your business. All you need to do is make sure the page contains all the necessary info, most notably:

  • Actual business name
  • Phone number
  • Physical address
  • Website
  • Working hours
  • Services
  • Service area

You should also craft a short but compelling description that will encourage potential clients to take action, like so.

Finally, make sure to add relevant images that will give users insight into your work. Captivating visuals go a long way toward building trust.

You can add images of your office, team members, awards, and properties available on your site.

9. Demonstrate E-E-A-T

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. By demonstrating these factors on your site, you ensure it meets Google's Quality Rater Guidelines.  

Google deeply cares about every user getting credible, helpful information. The search engine relies heavily on E-E-A-T factors to determine if your pages offer such information and where it's coming from.

This means that it's not only about what your content says but also who's behind it.

To show Google your content should be trusted, follow these tips:

Showcase your credentials and expertise—Whether you've received any prestigious awards, trained under prominent real estate figures, or simply been in the industry for a long time, don't hesitate to mention your expertise in author bylines, your website's About Us page, and other relevant places.

Highlight your success— Encourage happy home buyers to tell their stories, and you'll enhance your trustworthiness.

Include visuals—A picture or video is worth a thousand words, especially in the real estate industry. You can showcase properties through images, videos, and virtual tours. You can also use videos to enhance your blog content.

10. Manage your online reputation

Few things are as effective at ensuring a stellar reputation as online reviews. If Google repeatedly sees that users and customers have a positive experience with you, it will send more users your way.

Plus, people trust the recommendations of other people.

Be proactive in asking for reviews.

Ask your clients to provide honest ratings on your GBP and other review sites, such as Zillow. This will increase your business's credibility and legitimacy.

Of course, not all reviews will be positive. While this is perfectly normal, it can make you frustrated and reluctant to engage with an unhappy customer. This is a mistake, as replying to negative comments is crucial to maintaining a positive reputation.

Responding to negative reviews promptly and professionally shows that you care about your customers' experiences and makes them feel heard.

Validate their concerns when appropriate, educate them, and when it makes sense, ask them to get in touch with you to solve the issue.

Here's an example of how you can handle negative reviews.

It can do wonders for your brand image and reputation as a whole.

11. Build a brand

Google seems to favor well-established brands when ranking content under the assumption that they provide a better user experience.

A great way to build your brand is by leveraging popular social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and X to build your brand.

Doing so contributes to brand awareness, drives traffic to your site, and sends more trust signals that Google will use to recognize you as an authority—all of which can positively impact your SEO standing.

As a real estate agency or agent, you can use social media to share tips, create entertaining content, and, of course, showcase properties.

Another way to build your brand identity is simply by including your brand name in key elements of your website, most notably:

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Headers (where applicable)

By doing so, you'll ensure people remember your name and drive branded searches.

3 examples of real estate SEO

To show you what a well-executed SEO strategy looks like in practice, let's go over some businesses that have managed to set themselves apart in search engines.

Elite Ocean View Realty

Elite Ocean View Realty is a real estate agency based in South Florida. If you visit the agency's website, you'll see that it implements many of the real estate SEO tips you've seen in this article.

Firstly, all web pages—from real estate listings to blog posts—naturally include the relevant keywords, so nothing feels forced or spammy.

The agency does a great job at addressing small but important details like including the right keywords in the web pages' metadata, which helps Google match them to the corresponding search queries.

The site also has a dedicated testimonials page that includes positive client experiences dating back to 2008, which does wonders for meeting the E-E-A-T guidelines.

Bell Real Estate Group

Bell Real Estate Group is an agency based in Braselton, GA that has been helping people buy and sell homes for around a decade now. It's established a solid reputation both online and offline, as evidenced by numerous happy customers, a strong presence in local search results, and over 300 five-star reviews.

The agency nurtures its reputation in various ways, such as:

  • Posting useful market insights on the blog
  • Using videos
  • Showcasing reviews and testimonials
  • Highlighting each team member's credentials and experience

Bell Real Estate Group also invests a lot in building a solid brand. You'll find the agency on major social platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

If you look at the meta titles of the agency's pages, you'll see they all include the brand name alongside the headline, so this is a perfect example of SEO-friendly branding we described earlier.

BMG

BMG is a real estate management group that operates in several locations, including Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. They're among the top results you'll see when searching for property management companies in these locations, and there are several good reasons for this, most notably:

  • A well-optimized website with in-depth insights into the team and their expertise
  • A detailed, accurate GBP page
  • A robust blog with lots of SEO-friendly content

BMG is also an excellent example of a business that knows how to manage its online reputation. It has a high GBP rating, and the team responds to the vast majority of comments—including negative ones.

Should you hire an SEO agency for real estate SEO?

Whether you hire an SEO agency or bring your strategy in-house depends on your budget, expected turnaround time, and in-house expertise.

If you already have someone on your team who is familiar with SEO and doesn't require extensive training, they can take over the process without the need for external experts. Give them the right tools to streamline the workflow, and you should be able to achieve your goals.

On the other hand, if you want a largely hands-off approach to SEO and have the budget for an agency, it might be a good idea to outsource SEO, especially if you can't or don't want to invest the time and resources necessary for building an SEO team.

How long do realtor SEO results take?

You should notice the first results of your SEO efforts after around three months. Tangible results should take around 6–12 months, though this is only a general reference point—the actual timeframe can depend on several factors, such as:

  • Your goals and resources
  • Your website's history and authority
  • Your location and competition

How much does SEO for real estate cost?

An average business spends between $500 and $5,000 per month on SEO services. The exact cost depends on the scope of the services provided and the chosen model.

For example, if you hire a freelancer or SEO consultant, you can expect to pay $75–$150 per hour. If you bring SEO in-house, the cost will depend on several factors, such as the number of dedicated team members and the tools you'll use.

For reference, the average salary of an SEO specialist in the US is $62,682, so you can use that as a reference point.

6 tools for real estate SEO

Real estate SEO might seem daunting, but don't worry—there are many tools you can use to achieve results faster and with less effort. Here are some of the most useful platforms:

Surfer

As you saw throughout this guide, Surfer is a comprehensive SEO toolkit that streamlines various aspects of your SEO strategy. Whether you need to come up with keywords and topic clusters, audit existing content, or write ready-to-rank pieces, it can be your best companion.

With Surfer, you never need to take shots in the dark. You get lots of invaluable keyword insights that help you make data-driven decisions, and the Content Editor tells you exactly what your content needs to rank well.

And if you don't want to write the content yourself, all you need to do is fire up Surfer AI. You'll get a well-optimized piece in minutes instead of hours or days, so you can start climbing SERPs in no time.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free, easy-to-use tool that helps you monitor the performance of your SEO strategy. Specifically, it lets you monitor the following:

  • Search traffic (impressions, clicks, and click-through rate)
  • Average position of specific pages
  • Search queries your pages rank for
  • Backlink data

The platform also lets you examine the performance of your pages on different devices (desktop, mobile, and tablet). Google shifted to mobile-first indexing in 2020, so optimizing your pages for mobile devices is essential to ranking well.

Localo

Localo is a local SEO tool that focuses on optimizing Google Business Profiles. It lets you perform several important tasks, most notably:

  • Check and monitor the visibility of your GBP page
  • Audit the page to identify any errors like missing information or a short business description
  • Encourage and manage Google reviews
  • Track your local citations

Localo recently added a feature that lets you create an entire website without much hassle. The platform promises the website will look good on any device, so it might be useful for accommodating the mobile-first indexing requirement if you don't have the technical skills to do it manually.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog gives you an easy way to understand how Google and other search engines think. It stimulates the crawling and indexing processes to help you assess your website's health and spot issues such as:

  • Duplicate content
  • Broken links
  • Server errors

The tool also lets you analyze your pages' metadata, site architecture, and robots.txt files that impact your website's indexability. Overall, it's an excellent tool for those who aren't familiar with technical SEO and don't want to go through a tedious learning curve.

You can automate website health checks by scheduling audits at your chosen intervals. This way, you can let Screaming Frog monitor your web pages regularly instead of having to perform manual assessments.

Trustpilot

Trustpilot is a popular review website you can use to manage your online reputation. It's an excellent way to build authority and receive customer feedback beyond your GBP page.

Besides gathering reviews, you can respond to them and even flag or report reviews if you believe they were intentionally malicious. Trustpilot uses advanced fraud detection software to identify and prevent spoof reviews, protecting your brand from any attempts to damage its image.

Thanks to Trustpilot's high domain authority, your profile on the platform is likely to rank high in search engines, driving more organic traffic. You also get useful analytics for managing your brand's reviews, which include insights into your page's organic reach.

Mention

Unlinked mentions of your business across the web may not be a direct ranking factor, but they significantly contribute to your brand's authority. Mention lets you monitor over one billion web sources for such mentions so that you can see what home buyers and other relevant users are saying about your brand.

It's also a great tool for social listening, as it gives you insights into any posts related to your business. You can track and analyze this data to further improve your authority or take corrective action timely if someone shares any negative opinions.

Mention also features competitor research, letting you compare your online presence to that of other realtors and agencies. This can come in handy for seeing where you stand in your niche or location and identifying any areas of improvement.

Key takeaways

  • Real estate SEO is a set of practices that help you rank your website high in search engines. It's essential for attracting more home buyers and ensuring a consistent stream of leads without substantial ongoing investments.
  • Organic SEO has a much higher ROI than paid ads, so it's well worth the effort. Each page that ranks well gives you a low-maintenance way to put yourself in front of prospective buyers, making it more viable in the long run.
  • Effective keyword research is the heart and soul of successful SEO. The goal is to find the right target keywords you'll use on your pages so that Google can serve them for the relevant search terms. You need to identify the seed keywords that reflect your brand's core topics, as well as the secondary keywords you'll use in your content.
  • Once you've identified the right keywords, you'll build content hubs around them. Each content hub should focus on a specific topic and contain a pillar article alongside the relevant supporting pieces.
  • When writing your content, make sure to follow the necessary on-page SEO practices. You can also leverage AI tools to expedite the content writing and optimization process.
  • Backlinks and local citations are necessary for building authority and sending positive signals to Google. Tap into your network to build high-quality links, and monitor your NAP citation to ensure consistency and accuracy of business information.
  • Real estate businesses are local by nature, so a Google Business Profile page is a must-have if you want to rank well. Make sure your page contains all the necessary information, and write a detailed, SEO-friendly description to be featured in the local map pack.
  • Your brand needs to demonstrate experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) to climb SERPs. You can do this by publishing high-quality content, managing your online reputation, and building your brand.
  • You can use various tools to streamline SEO and get results faster. Many of those tools are free or pretty affordable, so they're worth adding to your workflow.
  • If you don't want to do SEO in-house and have a considerable budget, you can outsource it to an agency. Either way, you should notice considerable results in 6–12 months.

Conclusion

The real estate industry is highly competitive, and SEO is essential for standing out in a crowded market. By investing in the right strategies and tools, you can significantly boost your online visibility and attract more clients.

Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, and the rewards of your efforts will compound over time.

Start with thorough research, apply the best practices outlined in this guide, and watch as your real estate business climbs to the top of search engine results and enjoy a steady pipeline of prospective buyers.

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Screenshot of Surfer SEO Content Editor interface, displaying the 'Essential Content Marketing Metrics' article with a content score of 82/100. The editor highlights sections like 'Key Takeaways' and offers SEO suggestions for terms such as 'content marketing metrics