If you do it right, SEO will bring free traffic to your real estate investing website. And every investor wants to increase the number of website visitors, because once you have these visitors on your site, your only concern is how to convert them.
Motivated house sellers can land on your website as a result of paid online traffic as well. This is usually done through a pay-per-click campaign, either on Google or on social media (Facebook, Instagram). There are other types of free traffic, like direct and referral, but the volume of visits from this traffic is not big.
Real estate investors often prefer paid traffic because the visits from a PPC campaign are instant – you launch a campaign today, and people start clicking on your ad right away. But when the paid campaign stops, PPC traffic dries out.
Organic traffic through SEO takes a while to pick up pace and deliver results – generally, results are visible after at least 6 months. However, once you get your website to rank high for a keyword that is hot in your real estate market, like ‘sell my house in x,’ you are going to get visits years after you’ve optimized your website.
Before we continue further, let’s examine what ‘optimizing’ and ‘SEO’ refer to.
Organic or free traffic is when search engine users go to your website after it popped up in the top search results. For example, when a motivated seller types ‘how to stop foreclosure’ in the Google search box, Google will offer up the top websites that provide answers to this question.
We emphasize the top search results because, according to research, the first three results get more than half of all traffic.
So, ranking is how you get that organic traffic.
High ranking is achieved by optimizing the website design and content to what search engines prefer – hence search engine optimization or SEO. It’s a very simple concept: you tweak your real estate investing website to suit what Google’s algorithms value.
What does Google prefer when it comes to ranking real estate investing websites? The preferences are based on elements like keywords, content, accessibility, and links.
The keywords have to reflect search intent (selling house fast), the content has to be relevant to motivated sellers so the keywords are used naturally in the text, the website has to be accessible (with fast page speed and mobile-friendly design) and the backlinks to your website have to come from authoritative sources in the real estate industry.
Does that sound like too much work? Well, it is, and that’s why some marketers turn to unauthorized methods to trick search engines.
To avoid doing the hard work, marketers used what is known as ‘black hat SEO techniques’ to boost the ranking of real estate websites.
In the early days of Google, the techniques were very basic. For example, Google preferred websites who use keywords as much as possible, so the marketers were over-stuffing the target keyword in a hidden text color at the bottom of the page. Or they used keywords in anchor text (the words that are used to place a hyperlink) excessively because Google preferred a keyword-rich anchor text. These issues were sorted by introducing new algorithms, however, there are other elaborate black hat SEO techniques real estate investors should be aware of.
Google uses the number of external links to a website to determine the website’s authority. And since no one wants to link to real estate investing websites (sad but true), black hat marketers stack hundreds of poor backlinks to boost the authority of a website. Real estate investors have suffered because of this in the real world – investors we know got their website penalized by Google because their marketer used a private blog network (PBN) to build links for them.
So when you do SEO for your real estate investing website, either hire someone who uses legitimate techniques, or put in the hard work yourself. This applies to every aspect of SEO, not just keywords use, anchor text, or link building.
To boost SEO the right way, provide something that is of real value to motivated sellers.
Let’s cover website optimization through actionable advice.
Website optimization starts with keyword research, and sometimes this research is done before you even have a website (it’s actually better to do it that way). Don’t let the ‘research’ part intimidate you. In essence, you are checking the words motivated sellers type into Google to find a cash buyer.
The keyword list for real estate investing is not long – these are phrases like ‘how to stop foreclosure,’ ‘how to sell a house without a realtor,’ ‘sell my house cash,’ and similar queries. To find more keywords, usually, you either use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or Semrush, or you type a search phrase into Google and note the recommended auto-complete searches.
At Adwords Nerds, we have worked exclusively with real estate investors on both SEO and PPC for more than a decade. As a result, we have compiled data on nationwide traffic in the real estate investing industry and we shared this resource on SEO keywords in a different post.
In theory, the domain name, or what your website is called, plays an important role in SEO. For real estate investors this is not really an issue – chances are you probably can’t use your company name as a domain name anyway because it is already taken.
Websites with domain names like ‘www.webuyhousescash.com’ or ‘www.sellyourhousefast.com’ might have a slight advantage over other domains in the industry, but ultimately, this doesn’t matter that much.
So, if you’ve already purchased a domain, and it’s not perfect, don’t worry, it’s the content of the website that counts.
The content of your real estate investing website is where you use the keywords from the research – keep in mind though, that the text has to appeal to both website visitors and search engine crawlers.
Content works best when it addresses a concern of website visitors. For example, motivated sellers might be interested to learn more about your process and the steps your company takes, from property appraisal to signing a contract. Content solves problems, it helps motivated sellers make a decision, and it is relevant and current (search engines prefer websites who frequently update their pages).
We’ve given you inspiration for content and content marketing for real estate investors elsewhere.
In terms of SEO, you should optimize the following elements of your content:
Keywords placement in the title – This is easy to implement: if your keyword is house in probate proceeding you include ‘probate’ in the title, for example, ‘6 steps to sell a house in probate’).
Title tag length – Google shows the title of your blog posts in 512 pixels (roughly 60 characters), and that’s what search engine users see. This is an indicator of the preferred title length and you can use the SERP snippet optimization tool to check how the title will appear to users.
Add brackets to the title tags – to further specify the content of the article. If the title is ‘How we buy houses in probate (free ebook)’ users know they will get a free ebook. You create reader expectation as early as the title and this will improve click through rate, especially if your content answers relevant motivated sellers questions.
Subheading tags – Google likes the use of H1 and H2 subheading tags, which are available on most website templates. This helps Google crawlers to understand what’s covered in each section of the text, i.e. if a user is asking ‘how to sell a house with underwater mortgage’ and you answer this in the 5th paragraph of the blog post, it’s easier to get that part of the blog listed as a best answer to the query.
Bulleted lists – use them to break up the text. Visitors can easily skim the text to check if the content is worth their time and this improves readability, especially on a mobile phone.
Keyword placement in the first two paragraphs – it’s recommended to use the keyword in the first 200 words, so that both website visitors and crawlers learn what the text is about early on. For example, if you write about property appraisal, mention property appraisal in the opening paragraph.
Keyword synonyms – use the target keyword throughout the text, but after several mentions, the keyword use gets repetitive (annoying to crawlers and people alike). Throw in a synonym to solve this. In a text on property appraisal use ‘property inspection,’ ‘home appraisal,’ ‘house survey,’ etc.
Keywords as anchor text – you can attach hyperlinks to keywords, however, don’t over do it. Just make sure that link placement comes naturally. Excessive optimization of the anchor text is suspicious to crawlers.
Publish comprehensive articles – blog posts with 2,000 words (or more) rank higher than short posts. This one is tricky for real estate investors, because sometimes motivated sellers have a pressing need and they want to get answers right away. However, by writing a long and comprehensive post on a relevant topic (like ‘different types of probate proceedings’) you increase the credibility of your company.
Add an FAQ or glossary of terms – they are a great opportunity to use keywords in a text. Not only will the keywords read naturally, but they can also help someone out. For example, you can list all the probate terms: probate bond, executioner, beneficiary, administrator, Bona Notabilia, etc.
Use Short URLs – and use keywords in URLs. This helps readers and crawlers find out what’s covered in the post. For example:
You know what to expect from this page.
Google crawlers, the software that scans the content on your website, are text-based – they can understand what your website is about through the written words. However, you can also use media like audio recordings, videos, and photos to improve your SEO. The benefit is twofold: media helps motivated sellers engage more with the content, and each piece of media is a chance to use keywords.
Image alternative text is a written description of the object that is shown on a website image. The crawlers can’t see what’s in the photo, but they can read that the caption says something like ‘A couple checking out probate documentation in a kitchen.’ Of course, the image alt text is taken into account when Google ranks your real estate investing website.
This applies to every website description you can think of. Why use a file name like ‘generic-stock-photo-147’ for a photo that’s uploaded on your website, when you can rename it ‘house-in-probate-Houston’ and improve your ranking in the process? Whenever you can use a HTML attribute to describe an image or the website through description tags, meta tags and alt tags – do it.
Making the content on your real estate investing website accessible to as many users as possible is very important for SEO. More visits equals higher ranking. This is done through mobile-friendly design, optimizing for fast page load times, using transcripts, and similar SEO techniques.
In short, you are making sure that the content, buttons, and forms on your website can be opened and used on a mobile. Although most websites today are built around mobile-responsive templates, up to a quarter of all websites aren’t. So make sure yours is.
Mobile-friendly design allows motivated sellers to check out your website at their leisure (on their lunch break, while commuting, or in their down time), but they might also convert from mobile as well. So, test if your real estate investing website is mobile-friendly to boost seller leads conversion and not just because of SEO.
Users are increasingly impatient and won’t wait more than 3 seconds for a page to load. Even motivated sellers, who have a big problem to solve, will go to the site of your competitor in the real estate market if your website takes ages to load.
Sometimes, page load times are out of your control because users have a poor internet connection, but often you can cut the load time on your end.
Optimize file size of the content on your website. Use JPEG file formats for photos instead of .png, .bmp or .tiff to reduce page load times. Also, embed videos instead of uploading – they will open faster, and if your video hosting platform is social media, like YouTube, you can use it to engage the audience (more on this below).
Plus, you can check the performance (speed) of your website to get started. Cheaper hosting packages tend to provide poor service, so switch to a better host or hosting plan to improve page load speeds.
When you add a sitemap, you are helping both website visitors and Google crawlers. Though some motivated sellers will use the sitemap to navigate through the content on your website, sitemaps are developed to outline the architecture of the site to crawlers.
Crawlers check your real estate investing site constantly (between 3 days and 4 weeks) to index new content. Each URL on the site is indexed: blog posts, about page, terms and conditions, everything. A sitemap enables crawlers to make the whole indexing process more efficient. You can use SEO tools to check how a website crawler would scan your site and improve the sitemap.
Google crawlers don’t watch your videos, and they don’t listen to your podcast. So, you can add a transcript for each video and podcast to make spoken keywords accessible to the crawlers. Just think about it: How many ‘probate’ keywords would you use in a 5 min video?
Also, this allows visitors who, for various reasons, can’t listen to the audio track, to have access to the content.
In SEO, the links that lead back to your website (i.e. backlinks) are the most valuable for high ranking. Backlinks are a painful subject for real estate investors, because even other professionals in the real estate business don’t want to link back to REI websites. We’ve covered real estate investing backlinks in depth in another post, so here, we will only share a few tips.
Link building for real estate investors is a slow process – if a marketer promises fast results, run away from that offer. The only way to attract backlinks fast legitimately is to create a resource page that will be helpful to a wide range of website visitors. They don’t have to be motivated house sellers, though that would help. For example, a rehab project cost calculator or a detailed guide on property appraisal.
Other link building ideas include: guest blogging, sponsoring a club or an event, fishing for broken links, and even exchanging links with any local business (coffee shop or a restaurant).
Also, don’t forget about internal links – the ones that go between two pages of your website. Internal links can help crawlers understand how the content on the website is interconnected, and the same goes for website visitors.
For example, a motivated seller might first open a page on ‘stopping foreclosure,’ check out your ‘house buying process,’ then proceed to ‘property appraisal.’ You need to interlink these pieces to make site navigation easier for the reader. You know how these things go, you browse other websites every day.
List your real estate investing website in relevant business directories. The most basic is Google my business (or Bing Places and Yahoo Localworks), but you can also go for LinkedIn, Yellow Pages, and the Chamber of Commerce. Adding a profile to industry specific sites like Bigger Pockets, RedFin, REIA, or Mashvisor will also help.
Business directories are a small ranking factor compared to what they used to be, however, you will benefit if motivated sellers check your business and find that you are legit.
Google features snippets that contain the best answer to a query. They are important for SEO because the snippet appears above the search results (also known as Position 0). This is organic traffic – hence free – and it’s a great way to boost your SEO.
To get a featured snippet, you need to answer a question better than anyone else at the moment. The answers that usually get picked are short answers (100 words) that contain lists, graphs, or tables. The target can be a question that includes a keyword with a big search volume like ‘how to stop foreclosure.’
A large portion of the online traffic these days is on social networks and real estate investors have an audience on many platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.. But does that traffic affect website SEO?
For one, you should add share widgets to every page on your website – this will make it easy for users to share the content they like. And if other social media users visit your website as a result of that, great. However, the engagement on social networks doesn’t directly affect SEO.
Google can’t afford to depend on Facebook’s metrics about engagement, and so they remain separate, although if a publisher is hot on Facebook, that certainly helps.
There is one exception to this rule, and that’s YouTube. Google favors video content that is posted on YouTube because the platform is owned by Google. Check video search results on any real estate investing keyword and you’ll see.
Also, YouTube in itself is not just a video sharing platform but a search engine and a social network, too. When it comes to video content on your website, your ranking will be better if you embed the videos from YouTube. You can create a playlist and cluster videos based on keywords to keep viewers on your YouTube channel. This, combined with the use of keywords in video transcripts, will definitely improve your ranking.
Pro Tip: you can change the title, video description, and meta tags of a YouTube video to improve ranking after the video was uploaded. It’s a neat SEO hack.
Ranking algorithms change from time to time, and the same goes for keywords. It’s recommended to run an SEO audit of your real estate investing website every six months so that you can keep up with these changes. You simply identify website elements that can be optimized for improved ranking.
During an SEO audit, you need to check all of the aspects we talked about: keywords, content, links, site structure, accessibility, etc. Even if you already rank high for some keywords, you can benefit from an SEO audit, especially if the audit is done by professionals.
Motivated house sellers turn to Google for answers, and if you want to pop up in their searches, you need to optimize the content of your real estate investing website. SEO is the best way to get free organic traffic. The only alternative to getting leads from search engine users are paid Google Ads, but these leads have an expiration date.
Optimization itself is not complex, you need to:
SEO helps search engine users find your website, but it’s not only about high ranking and traffic, it’s also about improved lead conversion once these visitors land on your site. It’s what every real estate investor out there does in terms of online marketing, so you better take your piece of the cake. Good luck!
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