SEO as a Marketing Strategy for Real Estate

So, would you like to know more about search engine optimization (SEO)?

Not sure? Not sure you should even care?

Well, let me ask you this: when someone searches for homes in your area on the Internet, would you like your website to be the first result to show up? In a nutshell, would you like to drive more traffic to your website?

If so, then this post is for you. Furthermore…

In a recent post I wrote an extensive article about creating a real estate marketing plan and…just recently realized that I failed to mention SEO in the web marketing portion.

Here’s why SEO is important to you and your website and SHOULD NOT be a strategy left out of your marketing plan:

In 2005 the NAR reports that nearly eight out of ten home buyers start their home search online. More importantly, as noted in an earlier study, 76% percent of people used the first agent they contacted.

That means if you can be the top agent on Google for home searches in your area, then you’ll hog all the business. Which means a lot in our 2007 belt tightening market.

Before you get started, however, the first thing you need to decide is whether you or somebody else is going to optimize your site.

You might be the type who likes to tinker with your website or you might be someone who doesn’t. If you don’t, then choose a seo company or consultant. (I don’t have any recommendations at the moment, so you’re on your own.)

After that, get to work…and keep some of these the following ideas in mind as you pursue your seo marketing strategy.

Eye tracking studies have shown that searchers scan a search results page from top to bottom and left to right, looking for a relevant result. Placement at or near the top of the rankings therefore increases the number of searchers who will visit a site. Cool, not-to-be-missed heat map stuff.

However, more search engine referrals does not guarantee more sales. SEO is not necessarily an appropriate strategy for every website, and other Internet marketing strategies can be much more effective, depending on the site operator’s goals. You make the decision, but my feeling is that every agent website should be optimized. This article is just to make you aware of those OTHER things, like viral marketing, out there to drive traffic to your site.

A successful Internet marketing campaign may drive organic search results to pages, but it also may involve the use of paid advertising on search engines and other pages, building high quality web pages to engage and persuade, addressing technical issues that may keep search engines from crawling and indexing those sites, setting up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure their successes, and, most importantly, improving a site’s conversion rate.

SEO also should, obviously, generate a return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies heavily on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors. That’s why SEO should be one strategy among many that drives traffic to your site.

In addition to paid search listings, websites also often receive search traffic from free, so-called organic listings. These visitors are obviously no problem, except that you can’t count on them as a sustainable strategy, since organic listings can change without notice.

According to notable technologist Jakob Nielsen, website operators should liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic because of this fact. That is, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

And remember this: three or four months down the road, when you’ve got some mileage on your seo strategy, let me know how you are doing. Okay?

Here’s to your SEO success!

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  1. says

    That last comment is absolutely accurate, “don’t put your eggs in one basket” we always advise our clients that they should have many different forms of marketing to attain website traffic just as they market themselves in more than one venue offline. Same difference- Different vertical.

  2. Gary Elwood says

    You are right, Rebecca. Just because you go online, and just because everyone seems to be making SEO the major online push, that is all one needs to do to market. Rebecca, are you using SEO strategies to market yourself or your listings? If so, have you had good success with SEO?

  3. says

    If you are suggesting that SEO is not important, that’s like saying in the 80s, that Newspaper Ads are not important, and why put up a ‘for sale sign’ in the yard.
    Right now, 85% of all people who buy a home go to the internet first. That’s the figure I’ve seen, and it’s probably higher. They are looking at maps, at school info, and other things as well as homes.

    My team sells about 130 homes a year, and right now 50% comes from the net. It used to be 5%, then 10%, then 20, etc. The rest are referrals, signs, newspaper, etc.

    We’ve had people who have bought a home from our web site info, and never saw it until after closing. Tours, great pictures, web resources, Google Maps, etc…have take over. If some does not keep pushing to get high on the organic side, they are doomed to spend more money and make less.

    Vic Kaspar
    Cary/Raleigh, N.C.

  4. Joan says

    This was the worst information anyone gave to anyone who reads this article on SEO and your Real Estate website. It is obvious that the author who wrote this article has no idea what they are talking about. I’ll repeat myself – If I were anyone I would not listen to this as it was written by someone who has no idea what he is talking about. To give a brief understanding on SEO meaning is this the science/art of first choosing the correct keywords for your site and then designing your web pages around those keywords to rank highly at the search engines in conjuntion with an effective linking strategy. If you learn how to do this on your own you don’t need to pay a company (which will charge you alot of money) You would also have back links from other webmasters with a good page rank linking back to your site. (You would have an (anchor text link using your keyword list working from the bottom up and use 3 to 4 keyword phrases) to other website owners by exchanging articles and have the anchor text link (from your keyword list) that would go back to your site. Linking to similar sites as yours) By doing this you write articles. You would also do a Keyword list that you would use in conjunction with your page of content and strategically use keyword placement in your page of content. By doing this the spiders from the search engines will have an idea of what your site is about and then index your site. This is a brief explaination of what you need to do.

  5. Gary Elwood says

    Hey Vic, thank you very much for sharing your numbers. It clearly demonstrates that the Web can’t be ignored…50% is very impressive. I wonder if anyone else is having as good succes online?

    Anyway, to answer your question: I was in no way saying SEO is not important. Just that it can’t be the only egg in your basket. Just like you wouldn’t depend on postcards only to drive leads offline, you shouldn’t depend upon SEO only to drive traffic to your website. Your web marekting strategy has to be made up of several different spokes, like press releases, email, viral tools, ppc or blogging. That way you protect yourself from fallout if one unexpectedly malfunctions.

  6. Gary Elwood says

    Hi Joan,

    I appreciate your feedback. After reading your comment, it’s obvious you understand SEO. Possibly even an SEO specialist? Feel free to come back and create a link back to your site. It would help us to know who you are. Gary

  7. says

    Anyone looking to build their SEO knowledge base and engage with other like-minded agents should check out the REW (realestatewebmasters) FORUM. I’ve been working to get my website ranked at the top the search engines for a few years now and most all of the strategies I employ are discussed in detail with other agents across the country (and Canada) who are doing the same things. This year I expect to close well over $400,000 GCI directly from my SEO and website.

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