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Real estate SEO competition is tough, is it worth the effort?

Real estate SEO has long been a competitive game filled with million dollar players all the way down to a lone agent selling five homes a year, so is it a game that can be won? Is it worth the effort?


real estate seo

Is There A Point to Real Estate SEO?

It’s a digital age, so obviously, people are going to be searching for real estate on Google and on their mobile phones and tablets. NAR recently reported that 90 percent of homebuyers searched online for homes during their new home search, and Google searches related to real estate are up 253 percent. But, Real Geeks also did a study that found that odds can be stacked against agents when it comes to Google searches.


  • Generic real estate searches, such as “New York real estate,” rarely show individual agent websites on the first page of Google, because national brokerages dominate those segments of the search with their tech tools and strategies, creating lots of traffic and search volume for them.
  • Real Geeks performed Google searches for the nation’s top 50 metropolitan markets, searching for “[city name] real estate,” and noting the websites that showed up on the first three pages of the Google search (typically, that’s how far a Web user will journey when searching for something), and of the 1,691 sites that Real Geeks recorded, just 30 percent of the results on the first page were for local, independent sites.
  • To put it in perspective, 10 websites appear on a Google search page; therefore, only three (out of thousands of agents in your area) will appear on that first page.

How can an independent real estate agent compete online?

So what’s an agent to do? How can they capitalize on capturing potential clients from Google searches? Is it worth an agent’s time using all sorts of SEO strategies? Is there even a point to putting forth effort into SEO?

Well, here’s the thing: you can’t just do basic real estate SEO on your site, or clearly, it won’t really do much for you – you’ve got to go beyond basic SEO and optimize your site/blog so that they come up when the search includes keywords local to you.

Get Specific and Go Local

Get specific. Get beyond specific. Narrow down what keywords you’d like to be found for in a search that’s local to you and incorporate those into your content. The easiest way to do this is to optimize your content as a neighborhood expert. This means that in addition to the listings and photos on your website, you should also have pages that talk about the neighborhoods your listings are located in. Here are some ways to incorporate that info:

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  • Articles with important information about the neighborhood, utility information, and great places to eat, etc.
  • Photos of local hot spots and interesting neighborhood events you’ve attended.
  • Photo/video/blog posts of dishes from restaurants, cool buildings or landmarks in the area.
  • Articles about upcoming events and festivals in the neighborhood or general neighborhood news.
  • Video interview with local community experts.
  • Video tour of a hot property that has come up for sale.
  • Neighborhood video tours.
  • Home values, selling prices and other market information.

Making Those Keywords and Content Work

Keywords isn’t the only thing you need to concentrate on to raise your Google ranking – inbound links are the second-largest way (behind keywords) to help you rank higher for the neighborhood terms you’d like. Why are inbound links so important? When Google algorithms see other websites are linking to yours, it acknowledges your site’s validity as a relevant source of information for certain search keywords.

Put links to your website on your social media profiles, leave your link when you comment on a blog and encourage agents and clients to check out your site – they may link to it in a blog post or Yelp review of their own (and if it’s a Yelp review, hopefully it’s a positive one).

Even using these tactics, though, can take time – there’s no instant-success algorithm when it comes to Google and SEO. Agents, share your SEO tactics – are you doing anything differently? Did you try optimizing hyperlocal search terms? How did it work for your website? How long did you try optimizing for?

Written By

Stephanie Sims is the managing editor of Agent Publishing, which currently has online publications in Chicago, Houston and Miami. With expertise in evaluating housing markets, website content and social media strategy, and reporting information agents want to know about, Stephanie can be found at her desk with coffee that got cold or not eating lunch because she’s busy planning editorial assignments and interviews for the Agent Publishing websites.



  1. Jack Cassedy

    January 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Absolutely go local, the more geographically specific you can make your pages, the better. Go after the long tail key phrases first (build pages specifically for condo complexes, neighborhoods, parks, buildings, landmarks, restaurants, etc – anything someone in the area might be searching for), build links to these pages – if you are the only one with a page devoted entirely to one subdivision, chances are high that the local news site/chamber of commerce/visitors bureau will link to you when they explain what the area is like or mention the neighborhood or complex, then your main pages will begin to rise in search due to the relevant links to the rest of your site (that you got from creating the super local long tail pages). Also, get more links from good sites, period.

    • Jack Cassedy

      January 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      ….and make the pages look good & match what is on the page to what the searcher is actually looking for (usually info, photos, association dues, units available in that area), use lots of photos, a video, and make sure that everything is optimized correctly.

  2. Drew Meyers

    January 30, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Local search can be won, but it’s not easy and requires a fair amount of either time or money (or both).

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