Several years ago learned that you can help inform search engines not only about what you do, but where you do it. And, through informing search engines about what you do, and where you do it, they will in turn direct highly relevant traffic to your website. Even better, they will direct highly relevant traffic to your physical location.
This has become increasingly important as many people are looking for things on the go, and need to find those things as near to them as possible.
People don’t just want to find any real estate agent, they want to find a “real estate agent near me.” They don’t want to find “new homes for sale” they want to find “new homes for sale near me.”
I was able to apply that information to my own website, as well as that of many others, and the results were concrete.
Here’s how you can straight A’s in local SEO for your real estate company as well.
1. Know The #1 Rule of Local SEO
Many times, when I’m dealing with a client, he or she wants to rank locally for the largest area possible. For instance, they might want to get ranked for “custom home builder in Los Angeles.” The only problem is, their business isn’t always located in Los Angeles. Many times its located in Glendale, or Sherman Oaks, or somewhere else on the outskirts of L.A.
Furthermore, they have 20 competitors that have a physical location in the city of Los Angeles, many with a pretty high domain authority.
The thing about local search is that companies like Google want to give people the most relevant results for their search quires. And, the most relevant results for local search quires are the businesses that are nearest to the location the searcher is looking in or for.
So the #1 rule of Local SEO is to optimize for where your business is actually located. Otherwise, you may end up with low rankings in both the area you want to target, as well as the area you should be dominating (especially true for Google’s Local Pack).
But…What if you’re a national company looking to ace Local SEO? This article will still apply in many regards, since most of the strategy will have to do with driving traffic to your sales offices. However, the “start with your home page” approach doesn’t completely apply.
2. Ace Your Site Structure
Before we get into optimization, we should first talk about how to structure your site for optimal local search.
It all starts with your home page. Your home page should set the overarching theme for the rest of the pages on your website. From a structural point of view, your home page should be your foundation.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say your business, Joe’s Custom Homes, is located in Frisco, Texas, and you build in communities throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. You’ll set the theme of your site by giving people general information about your custom homes: the unique benefits of your homes, etc.
You don’t want to go into every detail of your business, or all the information about your various developments.
In the menu section of your site you can start pointing people to more specific information such as:
- About Us – Detailing the important information about your company. What’s the company story? What’s your mission statement? Who’s the founder?
- Areas We Serve – A gateway to the area specific pages you will build to broaden your reach. You can either set up your site to show the various area pages when you hover over “Areas We Serve”, or you can make “Areas We Serve” clickable, and create a “hallway page” for your various area pages. The best way to set this up mostly depends on how many areas you in fact serve, and whether or not you have quick delivery homes, etc. If you have quick delivery homes I think its better to use a hallway page with a map showing current inventory.
- Portfolio – Showcase some of your previous custom homes.
- Warranty Information – If applicable. It could just be a “helpful resources” page where people can easily access preferred vendors of various home services.
- Blog – Where people can find helpful information about all things having to do with custom homes.
- Contact – Address, phone, email, hours of operation.
Joe’s site structure will look something like this:
Having the correct site structure in place will help search engines crawl your site easier, will give users a better experience, and will aid in your local optimization.
3. Ace Local Onsite Optimization
Again, this step starts with your home page. Let’s use the same custom home builder in Frisco as an example.
I already mentioned that your home page should set the overarching theme of your website. In addition to the overarching theme, it should also set the proper location.
Your home page should be fairly broad from a topical point of view, but narrow from a location point of view.
For instance, as a custom home builder in Frisco, Texas, you don’t want to present yourself as a custom home builder in Dallas. Your business may be located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but it’s not located in Dallas.
With that in mind, let’s do a mock optimization:
- Title Tag – “Custom Home Builder in Frisco, Texas – Joe’s Custom Homes”
- Meta Description – “Joe’s Custom Homes located in Frisco, TX builds elegant homes throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Contact us today to learn more.”
- H1 – “Custom Home Builder, Frisco, TX
- H2 – Benefits of Joe’s Custom Homes
From there, you can move on to your other area pages. Here’s a mock optimization of an area page:
- Title Tag – “Custom Homes in Little Elm, Texas – Joe’s Custom Homes”
- Meta Description – “We build elegant custom homes in Little Elm, Texas. Visit Joe’s Custom Homes today to learn more.”
- H1 – “Build A Custom Home in Little Elm, Texas”
- H2 – “Joe’s Custom Home Building Process”
Ideally, as you expand your focus to other areas you serve, you will have some photos of your work in those areas. Which leads us to our next step…
4. Ace Image Optimization for Local Search
Did you know that you can get consistent traffic to your site from Google Images?
If you’re a real estate agent, or a custom home builder, or a national home builder, or whatever your business – if you optimize your images for local search you can draw in people who are interested in the areas you serve.
When I lived in Santa Clarita, California, and had just gotten my real estate license, I remember creating a webpage for a community called Westridge Valencia. I did a search on Google for “Westridge Valencia”, and “homes for sale in Westridge Valencia” to see what would show.
The results came came with a couple of sites that were pretty well established, and fairly well optimized, but I noticed that none of the sites (at that time) had any of their images optimized. Many of the sites were simply using Tour Factory to showcase their homes and the area.
To me, this was like finding gold. I optimized not only the title tags, and the rest of the meta data on my site, I optimized every image with local keywords as well.
For instance, the main image of the page (the master slider at the top) was a photo I took of one of the largest, most impressive homes in the entire community.
Since it was a community of luxury homes I optimized the image as follows: alt=Westridge Valencia | Luxury Home | Exterior
I also did some digging and found brochures for every model built in Westridge Valencia. I scanned each floor plan, uploaded the image to my site, and used them to help give people more information about the types of homes sold in every neighborhood in the community.
I optimized these images using local keywords as well. For instance, one of the communities in Westridge, Bent Canyon, has three different floor plans. So I optimized the photos like this: alt=Bent Canyon | Residence One | Westridge Valencia
Every element on my page from the title tags, to the headers, to the content, to the images, ALL screamed out, “this is a page about homes for sale in Westridge, Valencia!” I still get traffic to my site from people searching for images of Westridge, who want to learn more about that community.
5. Ace Your NAP
What is a NAP?
No…Not that kind of nap. NAP stands for:
- Address, and
- Phone number
To ace Local SEO for real estate, you need to make your name, address, and phone number clear on your website. Some people recommend that you put all of this information in both the header, and the footer. I think this is a best practice, but if you can only get it in the footer you should be fine (I only had my NAP in my footer and still ranked really well).
Your NAP will guide you in your offsite endeavors as well, as you start to build citations for your business.
6. Ace Your Business Listing Pages
I’m always surprised when I talk to a seasoned agent, or home builder, that doesn’t have a Google My Business page. And, if they don’t have a Google My Business page, then they typically don’t have a Bing Places page, or in some cases even a Yelp page. Many will at least have a Zillow page, or a Realtor.com page, and that’s great!
Having a Google My Business page is imperative to a solid Local SEO strategy. Without it, you will not show up in the map section of Google searches (though, every now and then Google will create one on your behalf, which you must then claim as your own business. See below).
Still, for a space as competitive as real estate, it’s highly probable that you won’t rank well in Google’s Local Pack for a unverified listing. Remember, Google is still the thousand pound gorilla of search.
Having a Bing Places page, Yelp page, Facebook Business page, etc. are important as well. In fact, the more business listing pages you have, the more signals you send to search engines that you are a legitimate business.
A vital part of acing Local SEO for real estate is making sure you build out every important business listing page you can.
I should note that by “building the page out,” I mean completely. When you create a new business page make sure you:
- Give a long and detailed description of your business
- Add links to various sections of your website (if the site allows it)
- Add photos of work you’ve done, your team, your logo, etc.
- If the site allows you to add detail about the photo, add details
Make sure your business listings tell the full story about your business….don’t just breeze through creating them.
7. Ace Getting Reviews
Now that you have your business listing pages up and optimized, what better way to draw more interest in your real estate services than reviews?
Most people are more than willing to attest to your services if you’ve done a good job.
I think a good strategy for this is to not overwhelm people with leaving you reviews on every business listing you’ve created. Ask a few people to leave you a review on your Google My Business page, and ask a few others to give you a review on Facebook, etc. Then, when you have a few reviews on each business listing start the process over again with new clients.
8. Ace Citation Building
Citations are closely related to business listings. In fact, some business listings are categorized as citations.
For a more concrete definition, you can say that citations are “mentions” of your business on directories, such as Yellow Pages, or City Search.
In order to ace citation building you need to:
- Identify as many directories that have to do with your niche as possible (general directories are OK too, just not as good)
- Submit your business to those directories
- Keep your NAP consistent (don’t use a variation of your business name, or a different phone number…everything should be just as it appears on your website)
Citation building is a vital part of a complete Local SEO strategy, so, if you’re doing your own Local SEO, make sure you don’t skip this.
9. Ace A Local Blog
Don’t underestimate the power of a blog. I would go out on a limb and say that having a really good, local focused blog, is one of the top 3 most important things to your local SEO strategy.
A few years ago, I had one single blog post on my real estate site that drew in over 10% of my traffic for the entire year.
Your blog will not only draw in extra traffic, but can increase your topical authority for the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
Here’s another example using Joe’s custom homes:
Joe has optimized his site, images and all, built citations, and built business listing pages, but he’s still not ranking as good as he would like. His goal is to draw in a much traffic as possible from people who are looking for “custom home builders in Frisco, Texas.”
Joe decides he’ll give content marketing a try and starts a blog on his website. He chooses three main categories to blog about:
- Home Construction Best Practices
- New Home Construction Trends in Dallas-Fort Worth
- Reviews of Various Building Materials
After a couple of months Joe starts to see an increase in the amount of traffic to his site. A few months later he notices that he’s also on the first page of Google’s organic search results for the keyword he’s trying to rank for. A couple months after that, Joe’s Custom Homes is in the first two positions on Google, and is one of the three results in Googles Local Pack.
There are plenty (understatement) of factors in Google’s and other search engines ranking process. However, it’s important to state that besides backlinks, content is one of the main ranking factors.
10. Ace Link Building
In an industry as competitive as real estate, it’s typically not enough to do everything stated above and dominate local search. You need to set you site apart as the authority in: “real estate sales” or “new home construction”, or “property management.”
To become the authority on a given subject in search, you need other people to “vouch” for you. Not just vouch for your existence, like citations, but vouch for your expertise. And while getting reviews is a great way to have people vouch for your expertise, the most powerful way from a ranking standpoint is by link building.
There are a few ways I’ll share with you on how to build links to your website to increase your sites authority.
- Guest Posting – Reach out to real estate news publications, and ask to share your expertise with their readers. If they accept, they will typically give you a link in your author by-line.
- Social Sharing – Share your amazing blog posts with as many people as possible via your social media channels. Some of those people may find your information helpful, and will cite your work on their own blog.
- Syndication – Email real estate news publications and ask if they would like to syndicate a piece of content your wrote for your site. Mention that they are free to use the content for their internal linking purposes to help remind them that it is a win-win. You should make sure that it’s some of your better work, or at least up to their standards.
Don’t just do Local SEO, Ace Local SEO!
Ranking for local terms is an important goal for any real estate marketing strategy. Doing so can help you not only bring in more traffic, but more of the right traffic.
If you have any questions feel free to post a comment below. Or, if you have some amazing Local SEO strategies of your own, please feel free to share them.