SEO for Real Estate Investors – 7 Step Outline

SEO for Real Estate Investors – 7 Step Outline

7 Steps to optimize your motivated seller website, and start bringing in more organic leads.

If you’re an investor who runs a motivated seller website, this is a comprehensive outline of what you need to do in order to optimize your site, increase rank, and start bringing in more organic leads.

Welcome to SEO for Real Estate Investors!

Welcome to SEO for Real Estate Investors. This is a practical guide that will walk you through what you’ll need to optimize your website for motivated seller searches.  

We’ll cover topics like:

  • How to optimize your motivated seller (real estate investor) website to rank for motivated seller searches.
  • A comprehensive outline of what SEO is
  • Myths you shouldn’t believe
  • How to vet and hire a professional if you choose not to DIY
  • And more…

What this won’t be, is a comprehensive guide designed to explain every nuance or detail. Our SEO team has been in the industry for years, and seen all kinds of changes, helped many clients rank, and knows what they’re talking about. But we won’t be explaining things like “follow” vs “no-follow” links, or step by step optimization tips.

Instead, this article will give you a full picture of every step you need to take to have a fully-optimized website that can start ranking, and over time, bring in organic motivated seller leads.

Need help?

If you get to the end of this guide, realize how much work it is (but how valuable it can be) and decide you want some help, we have two options:

Our SEO Kickstart.

It’s a done-for-you service where our team will optimize your site, and help you start ranking for your top 5 target cities. It includes white-hat, high-quality link building, custom copywriting, and basically all the other basics covered in this article. Good for investors with higher budgets, and less time. Learn more here.

Our Marketing Bootcamp.

Jump in a small group style Bootcamp, where our team will walk you through doing it yourself, step by step, including where to find links, how to get them, what keywords to track, and more. Basically, we give all our expertise to you and guide you as you do it yourself. Besides SEO, the Bootcamp will also teach you how to run PPC ads (on Adwords) and do your own remarketing. Great for investors with less money and more time. Learn more here.

Alright, so let’s begin with the pros and cons of SEO as a marketing channel for real estate investors.

What Is SEO?What is SEO? And what is it not?

SEO (search engine optimization) is optimizing your site to try and rank (or, show up) when your target customer makes searches related to what you do. It’s not a quick checklist of things to do. It’s an ongoing effort to make your site be able to be found when people use search engines.

Its goal is to increase your organic traffic (the number of website visitors you have), and help you improve ranking over time.

It’s not a quick way to make money or gain leads. It takes time, effort, and investment.

Pros and cons of SEO.

No marketing channel is perfect. They all require work, strategy, and perseverance. There is no magic solution where you can simply press a button, and just start increasing leads or printing money.

Each marketing channel has its own pros and cons. For example, PPC is wonderful in that you can start to drive leads and traffic almost immediately. But as a con, it’s expensive, needs to be honed in over time, and once you stop paying, your leads stop.

So what are the pros and cons of SEO as a marketing channel for real estate investors?

Pros

If you’re a real estate investor or cash home buying company, you have a lot of marketing options available to you. You could invest in paid ads (like PPC or Adwords), focus on referral marketing, using traditional mailers, network and collaborate with local businesses, etc.

So why SEO?

  • There’s more trust in organic results. Think about it this way – if you search for “REI mentor”, and you see that the first 3 results say “sponsored”, you know that those coaches paid to get in front of you, and aren’t necessarily there by merit. But if you scroll down to the #1-3 results, you’d assume that they are there because they’re the best, right?
  • You can get ongoing, organic leads without spending money in an ongoing way. Once you stop paying for ads, your leads stop. But once you start ranking well, you may continue to get leads for months or years after, as long as you stay up top.
  • The leads can be really valuable. What’s the ROI for ranking in the top 3 results for “sell house for cash Houston”? Well, optimistically, if it brings 500 people a year to your site, and 100 filled out forms to request an offer (20% conversion rate), and you closed 10 deals, that’s potentially $30,000 – $100,000 each year in value (depending on your deal structures and margins).

Cons

  • It takes a lot of work. Ranking in Google is harder than it’s ever been. It takes work, persistence, and knowing what you’re doing.
  • It’s competitive. As with PPC, the real estate investor market is flooded with people opening up new sites every week and month in your geo area.
  • Some factors are out of your control. One ranking signal Google may be using is domain age or domain registration length. Meaning, if a domain has been registered for longer, without showing spammy behavior, it’s going to rank higher. You’re going up against competitors that have had websites 5 years before you, more links than you, and more traffic than you. It won’t be easy to outrank them.
  • It takes time. Ranking won’t happen overnight, no matter what some agencies or gurus will tell you. We’ve seen clients get organic leads in anywhere from 3 months to 6 months, while some need more time to begin getting on page 1.

So, who should consider SEO?

If you’re a real estate investor, you should be asking yourself, “is SEO for me?” Well, if you ask us, SEO is a good marketing channel for investors who:

  1. Are looking to expand on their additional channels.
  2. Are patient, have a marathon mindset, and are in it for the long-haul.
  3. Someone who doesn’t need leads (from SEO) in the next 6 months.
  4. Someone with a time commitment to optimize themselves, or a budget to hire the right professionals.

Who’s a bad fit for SEO?

A real estate investor isn’t cut out for SEO if he or she…

  1. Needs a lead right now (from SEO), or needs ROI within 6 months.
  2. Is impatient.
  3. Is lazy, and won’t put in the time/work needed to rank or doesn’t have the budget to hire professionals

Common myths & misconceptions

There is probably no other marketing channel that is so full of myths, misconceptions, and misunderstandings as SEO. It seems like the bulk amount of people looking to employ SEO for their real estate business knows enough to be dangerous.

Maybe you’re that way. You’ve heard buzzwords like “backlinks” and know they’re important. You “know” that SEO involves slapping some keywords on your site. Well, unfortunately, SEO has never been so hard, or complicated, as it is now

And the reason for this is simple: Google is interested (at least, so they say) in delivering the best results to people searching. If they don’t serve up good results, people stop searching on their platform, ad spend goes down, and they lose money.

Hence the infamous (and sometimes hated) “algorithm”. It’s what set Google apart from the very beginning. When other search engines ruled the world (before they went extinct), Google came along and thought of a better way to drive better search results. And over the years, it’s gotten better, and better and better at determining what (at least they think) drives good results.

That said, it’s important to get on the same page and establish fact vs fiction with SEO.

Myths and misconceptions:

All it takes to optimize my site is sprinkle some keywords in.

Wrong. Google employs over 200 ranking signals to know where your site should end up. Keywords is a small, small part.

More links = better rank.

That depends. Google is much more about quality over quantity – which we’ll discuss later in this article.

I can follow a simple REI SEO tutorial and rank.

Maybe, maybe not. One trend we’ve noticed is platforms like Carrot (who we like btw), holding out sample clients who did some simple steps, for a long time and ended up winning in SEO big time. Because one person did it, they espouse, you can too.

It’s not that easy. It depends on your market, competition, existing ranking, and some other factors outside your control.

I’m going to hire ABC agency, who promises to rank me on position #__.

Bad idea. No professional in this industry should promise rank. Why? Because they can’t. They aren’t in control of your market, competition, or the algorithm changes being made every year. If they are promising a set number of rankings, it may be that they are up to something.

If I wrote 200 blog posts (or get them from my website provider) I’ll rank.

Mmmm… probably not. This answer is too complicated for a thorough explanation, but suffice to say – if it was as easy as buying some articles and pushing “publish”, everyone would be ranking.

How to measure your ROI (return on investment).

How to measure your ROI (return on investment).With every direct marketing channel, it’s important to make sure that you’re investment is paying off. With paid advertising, this is fairly easy, provided you set up goal tracking properly. But for some real estate professionals, the question is: how do you measure ROI with SEO?

In our view, there are a few specific things you can track on your SEO campaign to help measure ROI:

  1. Impressions. This is the most basic metric, provided by Google Search Console. Impressions = “the number of times any URL from your site appeared in search results viewed by a user, not including paid Google Ads search impressions.”
  2. Clicks. Google defines this as “the number of clicks on your website URLs from a Google Search results page, not including clicks on paid Google Ads search results.” In other words, you can track how many people click your website when they find it in search results.
  3. Traffic. This is a generic way of saying that you can easily use Google Analytics to measure the number of monthly visitors coming to your site. Over time, you should see that number increase.
  4. Leads. Let’s say you’re using a Carrot website. This would be the number of times a visitor, from search, finds you, hits your website, and fills out a form requesting an offer. For most investors, this is the primary thing they want to track, other than deals. Carrot makes this super easy by automatically showing you the lead source in your dashboard. But even if you’re not on Carrot, you can set up Google Analytics to track this.
  5. Deals. Ultimately, as long as you’ve set up the tracking correctly, you can measure deals you close as a result of organic leads.

There are always more factors to measure, but these are the main ones.

Okay, so now that we have some of the basics out of the way, what are the steps to actually ranking your real estate investor website, and increasing organic leads?

Step 1: Analytics & Goal Tracking

Step 1: Analytics & Goal Tracking

As we mentioned, the first thing you’re going to want to do is set up analytics and goal tracking. You’ll want to start with this, because it will help you capture the most accurate picture of the before and after result.

Think about it this way: you don’t want to be trying to set up analytics after you’ve finished optimizing your website, because if you do end up seeing improvements right away, you won’t have a good picture of what traffic looked like before the improvements you made.

To set up basic analytics and goal tracking:

  1. Setup traffic analytics. This is usually done by Google Analytics. Register your website, integrate the tracking code, and you’re done. If you use a platform like Carrot or Lead Propeller, or a major one like Squarespace or Wix, they probably have a simple field for you to drop your code into. If you have WordPress, there are plugins you can use.
  2. Set up goals. Once you have analytics set up, create goals inside analytics that will capture when someone completes an action you want to track. For example, if a motivated seller fills out a form, set that up as a goal. If they complete a 2-step form and go to a “thanks!” page, make that a separate goal. Later, you’ll use these goals to work backward and see if any of them came from organic searches (in other words, this is how you measure ROI from SEO).
  3. Build all basic local citations. This requires paying for a citation building service. If you’re a client of ours, we do this for you. If you’re not, you can use a 3rd party service to do it for you. Moz Local is a great place to try.

Step 2: GMB (Google My Business) Setup

Step 2: GMB (Google My Business) Setup

After you have goal tracking and analytics in place, it’s time to set up and optimize your Google Business listing. If you haven’t already, create your business profile on Google My Business.

From there, you’ll want to register your physical address. Having one is crucial to ranking well for local searches, and unfortunately, a temporary address (like from a UPS Store, etc.) won’t fly. We find many investors are resistant to using their home address, but often, this is the easiest and best way to get started. If you have a coworking space that you work in, and they can grant you an address, then by all means, use that! Verifying your address is as simple as receiving a postcard at the address, then entering the verification code into Google.

Besides registration and verification, you’ll also want to describe your services in detail, and begin to solicit reviews (something we’ll talk about later). A few words of warning:

Don’t be spammy with your Google Business listing. Yes, you may see others titling their business name “We Buy Houses Houston – Sell House Fast Houston – ABC Buyers”, but we’d encourage you to stick to your actual LLC or operating business name.

 

Step 3: Research

Step 3: Research

Alright, you’re analytics, goal tracking, citations, and Google My Business are all in place and ready to go. Before you start with any optimization, you need to do some keyword research.

This basically means that you’re using SEO tools (paid and free) and researching:

  1. What phrases motivated sellers are actually typing in to look for services like yours (vs. ones that are tire-kickers or looking for a Realtor, not selling for cash)
  2. Of those phrases, how many searches/month does each get, and which should be the primary phrases you target and go after?
  3. Which phrases you can get competitive with, that may be unique to your geo area (city).

A great tool to get you started for free is Moz’s Keyword Explorer. You’ll be able to make a limited number of searches to cut your teeth on keyword research and gather some data. Again, the point is to determine what phrases are niche enough that you can actually rank for them and get found, while at the same time, driving enough traffic to be worth optimizing for on your site.

Hint: there are usually always 2-3 primary keywords, and the rest can serve as supporting keywords.

After you find the keywords you want to track, you’ll need to add them to a keyword tracking tool. This will let you measure where your site is ranking at the very beginning, through the end of your SEO work.

The tool should show you where your site is ranking, for each search phrase, both within the target city, and nationally. This will be the main metric you’ll want to track as you go along, because if you aren’t increasing in rankings, then you aren’t going to increase in traffic, leads, or closes.

Step 4: Content Creation

Step 4: Content Creation

Once you’ve done your research, and have a list of all the keywords you want to rank for, and you’ve set up reporting to track them, it’s time to create some content for your site. Here are the steps for this part:

First, determine which pages should rank for what terms.

This is really important. You can’t rank every page for every keyword. It doesn’t work like that. You’ll need to decide which pages should rank for certain terms, and organize your site accordingly.

For example, say you want to rank for a few foreclosure-related keywords. You may decide that building a specific foreclosure page, explaining the process, is going to be better to rank than trying to get your homepage to rank for that.

In the end, it’s up to you, and this is where the strategy comes in. The goal is to get a single page ranking for all the relevant terms it can… but then when a term just doesn’t fit, breaking it off into its own page which ranks for its own cluster of keywords.

Next, it’s time to create the actual content.

Now that you have a visual map or layout of what pages should rank for what keywords, it’s time to actually write the content.

Now, many of you may be using a platform where they produce ready-made content for you. And that’s fine, except you’ll still need to write your own (or throw out the stock stuff entirely and re-write from the ground up). Here’s why:

  • If you don’t, you’ll literally look like everyone else in your target city who is using the same content, with no competitive advantage.
  • You’re trusting that the website company knows SEO. They may have a cursory understanding, but they won’t be as thorough as you, with your specific keyword research… we promise.
  • The stock content likely isn’t targeting all the keywords you want, isn’t long enough, and probably doesn’t even sound like your “voice”. You’ll want to write something in your own voice that connects to motivated sellers, and less like a canned copy.

Aim for content that is long enough to be fully-comprehensive, so that each page is fully covering the topic you’re trying to write about, leaving no major questions unanswered.

Once you have all the copy written, you can build out the pages, creating new content, or add the copy to existing pages and enhance existing content. Again, this requires some strategy and planning, and in the end, it’s up to you and your goals.

Step 5: On-Site Optimization

Step 5: On-Site Optimization

Now that you’re content is written, and the pages are built or enhanced with it, it’s time to optimize. On-site is basically laying out the page(s) in such a way that all the confirmed ranking signals Google looks for, will be there.

This includes everything from having the right “density” of keywords to the file names of your images, outbound links, headings, metadata, and more. We’ve found there are roughly 13 (depending on how you count) that matter the most.

You’ll want to go through and optimize each page that you’re trying to get to rank. One pro tip is to go down a checklist of all the major signals and check it off one by one to make sure each page has what search engines will be looking for.

Everything up until now is considered “on-site optimization”, making up the 1st half of SEO. Now we’ll move to the 2nd half: off-site optimization.

Off-site optimization.

At this point, all the optimization on your site is done. From the analytics and tracking to the copy, to the way you’ve optimized your pages.

All that is only 50% of the work. The rest comes from building signals that Google looks at off of your site (hence the name, “off-site optimization”).

Truth be told, there are over 200 signals that Google weighs at any given time to know where to rank your site. SEOs don’t know all of them. No one has access to the full algorithm except Google. And it’s impossible to turn the investors reading this article into professional SEOs in 3,000 words.

So here we’re just focusing on two of the most major, change-making off-site signals: reviews and link building.

Step 6: Review Building

Step 6: Review Building

The first off-site signal to focus on is increasing the number of Google Business reviews you have. Some clients ask us whether or not it’s helpful to get reviews on places like Yelp, or Facebook.

While it does appear that Google is taking note of Facebook reviews for your business, we always recommend that the best use of your finite time is to solicit reviews for your Google listing. After all, the one thing you know for sure is that Google is ultimately only going to want people to use it more and more.

The best way we have found to do this is to find the direct link to your reviews area, and send that to clients every time you close with them, or send it to past clients and ask them to leave you a review. If you tell clients, “find us on Google and leave a review” it’s just not going to happen. People are lazy. So make it easy for them.

A really easy way to do this is to search for your business name and find your business listing. Click “leave a review”. Then copy and paste the URL into an email or text message (however you’re asking them to leave you a review)

If you want to take it a step further, you can use Bitly or another free link shortener to create a nicer looking link. Share this link on social, email, text message, wherever you’re communicating with customers.

The goal here is not to get 50 on day 1 (that would be suspicious), it’s to have a sustainable way to increase reviews over time. If you can get 10 in your first 2 months, that’s great! If you can get 50 in a year, even better! The more, the better.

Step 7: Link Building

Step 7: Link Building

The second major off-site signal you’ll need to continue building over time is links. A backlink is simply any link, on another website, that when clicked, goes to your website. If you click on a link, on another website, and it takes you to yours, it’s a backlink.

Gaining high-quality backlinks is the hardest part of SEO. Links have always been super important when it comes to ranking, and 2019 or 2020 is no different.

However, link building has evolved, today it’s more about quality over quantity. Google wants to see a diversity of trustworthy links related to the industry you’re in. For example, if you’re a cash home buyer, you shouldn’t have 20 links on obscure websites, bakery websites, or car-salesman websites. You want links on websites that are about remodeling, homes, interior design, etc.

When you’re optimizing your real estate investment site, you’ll want to make sure you get links on high authority, real estate related websites, or websites that are focused on the location you’re targeting.

Again, take a marathon mindset and aim for quality over quantity. And remember that you never want to gain links in a blackhat way that violates Google’s guidelines. Don’t work with any agency that builds links through PBNs (private blog networks), don’t buy links,  and don’t build a bunch of spammy/cheap links.

Aim for 10, high quality, real estate related links. If it seems hard, that’s because it is. Our internal SEO team builds anywhere from 8-15 links for our SEO Kickstart clients, all through pure hard work. If you want access to a 1hour seminar on link building for real estate investors, you can check out our Bootcamp where we teach DIY SEO.

FAQs

Common SEO related questions real investors may have:

My competition looks like he bought links and hasn’t gotten  penalized, can I

We wouldn’t. Google is getting better and better at cracking down and sniffing out bad links out. If you get penalized, you’ll be dropped from the search results until you fix it and have them review your site. Talk about negative ROI and work going down the drain!

Who should consider doing SEO themselves?

Anyone who is willing to put in the work, and can dedicate weekly time to their campaign. If you need guidance, we provide step by step coaching.

How long does it take to see results?

Anywhere from 3-6 months on average. We’ve seen clients that are already ranking well go to spots #1-3 in as quickly as 3 months. We’ve also had clients who aren’t ranking anywhere, who Google doesn’t know at all, take 6 months to make it to pages 1 and 2.

What website is best for SEO for real estate investors?

Any website will do, but some platforms we prefer are WordPress, Carrot, or potentially Squarespace. Anything that comes with an SSL certificate (https), is fast loading, mobile responsive, and that can be indexed cleanly by Google.

How much time should I devote each week to SEO?

As much as you can! No, but seriously, it depends on your schedule. If you only have 3 hours, that’s plenty! If you can devote 10+,  you’ll probably build links faster and get where you want to be a bit quicker too.

Hiring Tips

Avoid companies who promise results.

SEO is not as guaranteed or mathematical as PPC. With paid ads, you can measure right away that if you put in $x, you can make $x. It’s not that simple with SEO. Any agency that says they can guarantee results (without knowing your unique website, market, or competition) is probably using some shady tactics to get those results.

Avoid companies who buy links or use PBNs.

When vetting a company or SEO consultant, ask specifically how they get their links. Ask directly, “do you build PBN links?” If they use lingo like “we have a proprietary network of websites that link to you” or some BS like that, run. Make sure they build links on real, 3rd party websites, with high authority, that people actually visit and read.

Make sure they do a comprehensive job, not just edit some metadata.

Finally, make sure they provide all the steps we list here, or that if they don’t, they charge accordingly. For example, we charge a premium for our done-for-you SEO service. But that’s because we provide everything we’ve written about here. It’s a lot of work. Some companies won’t write any copy or create content.  Others just make page edits or changes to your meta titles. Others don’t build links. So make sure you know what you’re getting.

Start Generating Motivated Seller Leads Online.

Apply For a FREE Strategy Session to Learn Exactly How To Get Started In Your Market.
As Seen On
All Marketing Guides