It’s not the first time we say it – make the most of every legitimate hack that can help your real estate investing website rank higher in organic search. If you are yet to get the scoop on traffic from SEO, then you should know that it’s slow and hard to get, but it’s free and it works – it brings house seller leads and that’s all that matters.
In this article, we are going to review ways to get more website traffic through local listings, local citations, local backlinks…everything local. It’s an aspect of real estate investing SEO that often gets ignored or dropped to the wayside, which is a shame since it can positively affect overall ranking. Real estate investors who dominate their markets are aware of the value of organic traffic for getting motivated seller leads and by mastering local SEO optimization, they often outrank big competitors like Zillow.
If we got your attention and you’d like to learn more about this type of SEO tweaks, read on.
Search engines and their algorithms change constantly. At one point, every online marketer made sure that the target keyword is mentioned as many times as possible, and that was enough to rank high. That’s behind us now as things have changed. Let’s explain.
In a bid to make search engine results more relevant to users, Google and other search engines gradually introduced new features and algorithms. One of these improvements was the addition of local search results on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Local search results show up below paid Google Ads and above organic listings. As you can imagine, this is a very hot piece of digital real estate within SERPs. Simply put, if you optimize your real estate investing website for local SEO, your website will end up in the local search results.
As you might already know, organic traffic is great, but local organic traffic is even better. Local organic traffic is free (as opposed to pay-per-click campaigns) and it gets between 1-3 slots in SERPs. It’s a prime target for any business, including real estate investing companies.
Let’s check how local search results come about.
Those who follow our blog on a regular basis know that we often include the location when we talk about keywords (“sell my house fast in X”). The reason is quite simple: if you type a location-based search term you will get location-based search results in SERPs. So, you go for a long tail keyword (keyword + location, more on that below) and you get hot motivated seller leads.
Location based search results were added to SERPs because many users are after local businesses that offer the products or services they need. It’s self-evident really – when you type in something like “barber shop,” you probably need a local barber. Your search intent is to find the closest barber, unless you are looking for someone who is so good that it is worth driving out of town for a haircut.
Now, we know that getting a haircut and selling a house is not the same. The businesses are completely different, but, at the end of the day, they both offer a service. Local search results are important for motivated sellers. In fact, a local real estate investor is likely to inspire bigger trust in house sellers relative to slick investors who works for a big company.
Ok, enough about that. Let’s take a look at how search engine algorithms decide which results are relevant for a query that includes location based search term.
The factors that influence ranking for local organic traffic change on an ongoing basis. In 2021, the relevance of these factors was as follows:
Other aspects of user experience, like engagement on social networks, can play a role too, but their influence is marginal (below 5%).
So, if you want your real estate investing website to be one of the three local organic results for the target keyword in SERPs, you should aim to satisfy as many of these factors as possible. This requires hard work, and we will share a few tips on accomplishing it.
Some of the tips to put local SEO into practice are general but really important. So, without further ado, local SEO starts by:
Let’s turn to pages and content now.
Those real estate investors who operate in more than one market (or within a region) should dedicate a separate page for each of their markets. This is in line with the one keyword – one-page SEO strategy, but here we refer to taking that concept further.
Real estate investing websites built by Carrot use a “City Specific Landing Page” approach and it works. It’s a whole system, and if you like to make it work for your Local SEO, then you better add granular neighborhood pages. Go hyper local, do what others (especially iBuyers like Zillow) won’t do. You can cover architectural landmarks, milestones in urbanization history, distinctive properties, etc. These steps increase your chances to rank high in location-based search results, and they can improve your topical relevance in terms of SEO (more on that below).
But first, let’s check out local citations.
Local citation is when someone mentions your business’s name, address, and phone number online, also known as your NAP. I know, it doesn’t sound like much (are you considering having a “nap” already?), but it’s an important ranking factor, so you better get on top of it.
The best-case scenario for getting your real estate investing website to rank high is when others refer to your website in their content. These are backlinks, and we all know it’s hard to get them if you are a real estate investor.
On the other hand, website citations (or local citations) are much easier to get. And they are the second best, after backlinks, when it comes to ranking. All it takes is someone to list your NAP on their website and you have a citation. Others are listing you, so your business and its website must be legit – at least that’s the signal to search engine ranking algorithms.
Though, that doesn’t mean that you should buy a handful of citations on Ukrainian blogs about vacuum cleaners at $5 for a mention. The mentions have to be relevant, so let’s take a closer look at them.
Relevant local citations for real estate investing business come from local business directories. These are sites like: Yellowpages.com, Yahoo Local, Yelp, FourSquare, Hotfrog, LinkedIn, and many others. The more official the website (well indexed and trusted), the better for your ranking.
Then you do the leg work to get your business listed at these directories. This is fairly easy, however, you need to optimize your NAP, and this includes NAP correction and NAP consistency.
In a nutshell, your NAP should be the same across all platforms. And when we say “the same” we mean same to the T. Each listing should have your full address, not different version of the address on each listing (down to street name and number). Same goes for the name of your real estate investing business. You can’t have “Detroit Investor – We Buy Ugly Houses” in one listing and “We Buy Ugly Houses Detroit Investor” in another, they have to match perfectly.
If your business details are incorrect or inconsistent across listing directories, people can easily lose their trust in your business. It’s a pain, but it improves ranking, so you better make sure that your NAP is both consistent and correct whenever you are listed. Don’t worry, there are tools that can make the whole process easier. For example, this local citation finder can help you find citations your competitors have, but you don’t.
Let’s turn to local link building now.
We’ve come to the sore point for all real estate investors: link building (or backlinks). These are links on other websites which lead back to your content. It’s so important that we dedicated a full length blog post and many podcast episodes to it.
So, here we won’t cover the basics, like sponsoring local events, or registering your business at the chamber of commerce. And we won’t warn you about the dangers of using black hat SEO techniques to get real estate investing backlinks, as we’ve already done that elsewhere.
Rather, we’ll discuss strategy for local link building that’s in line with the latest trends in the industry.
So, what’s the most recent shift in the real estate investing industry? It’s the move from a problem-aware market to a solution-aware market. Dan outlined this in the 156th episode of our REI Marketing Nerds podcast.
It goes along the following lines.
In the past, real estate investors were dealing with home owners who are aware they have a problem, i.e. a house they need to sell fast. It was enough just to launch an advertising campaign that will let homeowners you exist, and you are the solution to their problem.
The industry changed in 2021 (the process has been a long time coming) and now home owners are aware that there is a service for selling houses on a short notice. In fact, there are many options: iBuyers (Opendoor, Knock, Trulia, and to a lesser extent Zillow) and local investors. If you want to get those deals, you will need to differentiate yourself from the competition.
This is new to real estate investors, but in many other industries it has been the market reality for decades.
Real estate investors need to adapt to this change in the market, and this includes the process for building backlinks as well. Don’t worry, it’s nothing novel, it’s what established professionals around you did for the past decade. So, if you want to get seller leads, you’ll need to build a relationship with your target audience before they need you. Sort of what realtors do.
In terms of link building, this means that you’ll have to embed yourself in the local market and focus on quality instead of quantity (of links). We talked to Tessah Aihara from The SEO Mama, who was guest on our REI Marketing Nerds Podcast recently and she shared her advice about the expectations real estate investors should have from link building:
..what we’re trying to do right now is … shift our mindset from output [toward] outcome…[This means that] as an agency, we don’t just think about output. We also think about outcome. Link building is like that.
At the end of the day, it’s a vanity, unless it does something to your business, meaning, the output are the links that you build, but what is the outcome in your business perspective, business-perspective-wise?
For real estate investors, the ultimate measure of success is the answer to these two questions:
Of course, it would be very useful to have measurable indicators that your link-building efforts are in line with these goals. Tessa’s recommendation for real estate entrepreneurs is to focus on metrics that will capture measurable results:
We don’t just build links just for the sake of it, just to say to people, Hey, I have 20 or 80 links by the way. Oh, hey, I think my competitors have 70 onwards links, so I’ve got to have them. No. The mindset we have is, okay, I want this exposure because I want these results and these results could be measured by these X KPIs. [Things like] the content asset, how many engagement it drove, how many sign ups you’ve had, or how many conversions we had for that if those are your target KPIs.
What do these insights from someone like Tessah Aihara, who provides backlinks for businesses, tell you about your efforts to boost local SEO for your company? The short answer: it takes hard work. You will need to establish real relationships with people and businesses in the real estate market you target.
Quick solutions are no longer possible. You can’t just pop up in the market, place a bandit sign, get a house at a bargain and go on with your life. Nor can you buy backlinks from a shady freelancer. If you intend to have a real estate investing company, your content should produce real value, and your relations with local businesses will have to go deeper than mere exchange of backlinks.
In a bid to improve website ranking for selected keywords, real estate investors turn to local SEO tweaks. This type of SEO works on more than one level:
Ultimately, local SEO is there to help you increase revenue. Focus on the important stuff: local SEO exists to get your website to rank high for target keywords, so that if your conversion rate is satisfactory and you close deals from those leads, you’ve grown your business.
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