SEO For Real Estate Investors

Why You Need to Hire an SEO Agent Who Doesn’t Guarantee Results

Why You Need to Hire an SEO Agent Who Doesn’t Guarantee Results

”We deliver 50 backlinks for $500 a month to rank your website on the first search engine results page (SERP) within 4 weeks.” – this is an example of a freelance offer that can easily be found on such platforms. But even though it sounds appealing and affordable, with “guaranteed” results, you should think twice before you consider such offers, and in this article, we’ll explain why that is. 

And even professional online marketers pitch “guaranteed” results to real estate investors, too. Something along the lines of: “We will get your real estate investing website to rank first for the target keywords in your real estate market.” But can this result be reproduced in all markets, for all investors, within a set budget? The short answer is no. The marketer who promises you extraordinary results has probably done it only a couple of times and has a very limited data set.

We’ll go in more depth on this topic to prevent you from getting hurt financially and help you hire an SEO agent who will deliver without selling you the moon, so let’s get started.

Do We Hedge Our Bets When We Advise You To Lower Your Expectations?

When real estate investors set a marketing budget aside, it’s totally natural to expect to get a measurable result. Particularly since SEO is important for securing motivated seller leads online – it’s the lifeblood of real estate investing businesses.

After all, this is in line with basic business logic: you hire a service to complete a task you are not willing or able to do. You probably won’t pay them until they’ve done their job. For instance, contractors who help you do a rehab project, won’t get paid until they deliver a palpable result.

That being said, search engine optimization for real estate investing websites doesn’t work that way. Dan discussed this in the 50th episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast, and it draws all sorts of reactions from professionals in the industry:

We here at AdWords Nerds have gotten flak from some people for the way that we talk about SEO. We say things like we cannot guarantee you a certain ranking, other people do, they say, “We’re going to get to number one, no matter what.” We say it’s going to take a lot of time, other people say, “It doesn’t need to take a lot of time, you can do it real fast.” We say, “Look, we include link building and on page analysis and all these different parts of our sequence, but we don’t necessarily do every part for every client.” and people get in our face for that and they say, “You’re hedging your bets, you’re being too careful.”

We are not hedging bets, we are just saying it as it is.

No One Knows How Google Ranking Algorithms Work

There’s a very simple reason we say this: no one really knows how Google ranks websites. I mean, yes, there are some general guidelines (the most scanty description possible), but marketers don’t have specifics about ranking algorithms. Dan admitted this in a podcast about detecting BS in SEO offers: So all of us are guessing, we perform an action and we look at the result.

So, what do we do? We tweak one aspect of the website, like technical on site SEO (site architecture, URL structures, title tags, meta descriptions, etc.). And if that helps a real estate investing website to rank higher, then, we note it as a successful SEO technique. Since we’ve done this in all sorts of markets and for different type of real estate investors, we’ve compiled an SEO guide for techniques that generally work. We say “generally” because in one market they can help you crush it, but in another they might not work.

On top of this, Google effectuates the changes in search results ranking very slowly. The results of search engine optimization used to be visible within weeks, but now that’s not the case. Your best bet if you want to generate house seller leads from organic traffic is to put a consistent SEO effort, and after months of hard work, you might improve search results ranking.

If someone tells you that they can improve your ranking fast, consider it a red flag. It’s a sign they don’t know what they are doing (or they deliberately try to take advantage of you).

The Dunning-Kruger Effect and SEO Services

You know that sometimes we want to discuss concepts before we get to the practical aspects of business operations. Well, the Dunning-Kruger effect is very useful in determining the type of real estate service professional you are dealing with. Don’t worry, the summary that follows will be short and beneficial.

What’s the Dunning-Kruger Effect

In a nutshell, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias that is used to describe people who overestimate their capacity. The underlying reason is usually lack of awareness about the actual level of their competence. It’s a double bias: people are bad at something, but they also aren’t aware that they are bad.

It manifests as optimism that’s not based in reality and everyone can fall for it.

Or in English: the less people know, the more bold they are in their action. And they believe they are more capable than they actually are.

Spotting the Dunning-Kruger Red Flag

You don’t need to know a zilch about SEO to note this red flag. If your online marketer assures you that they’ll rank your page as a first result on SERP (100%), without any caveats, that’s a sign that something is wrong.

Take a father and son who talk about their favorite football club. If you ask them whether their club will become champions this season, how will they respond? The kid will probably say: “Of course, they are the greatest club that ever existed on the face of the Earth”. His father will probably say: “We’ll see. It depends on the opponent they get in the play offs, whether the whole squad is available to the coach (or some superstar gets injured), whether they’ll keep on performing at this level, etc.”

It’s a complex matter, and people who know what they are talking about, acknowledge this.

The difference in levels of competence is even more obvious when you compare professionals who work in the same field. And it’s very important to spot this red flag, because if you don’t, ultimately you’ll spend a lot on marketing without getting results that are sustainable in the long run.

Competitors Know Who’s the Overconfident Professional in Their Industry

Competitors know this – they know how an overconfident professional within their field would present the work they do. It works the same, whether you are the real estate investor or the real estate investor service. Dan put this very succinctly in the 77th episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast:

[T]here’s always a percentage of those people that are terrible at what they do. Just like when there are new investors entering the market, and this may be something you’ve experienced because I hear this all the time when I talk to investors, and they say, Look, I’ve been investing in this market for years and I kind of know how it works, and, all of a sudden, there are all these new investors coming in and I go to these deals and I go to the house to meet with the sellers, and I can see the offer that my new competitor’s making and it’s so high, I know they can’t make money on it.

And you’re in this situation where you can see someone doing it poorly, because maybe this person’s new or they don’t have the experience or whatever the reason is, and it’s frustrating for you because you’re like, Look, I have to make an offer I can make money on. I can’t make an offer where I lose money, right? It’s frustrating to lose the deal to someone that you know is making a mistake, even if you know in the long run that person’s probably not going to last. In the short term, it hurts you.

Well, this happens to businesses who provide services for real estate investing, too. We can identify if an online marketer offers results that simply aren’t realistic. If they operate under the bias that comes with the Dunning-Kruger Effect, we know it – right off the bat.

When someone presents a complex matter (like ranking first on Google) as easy, chances are, they are overestimating their abilities. Let’s now turn to how experts operate.

The Expert Is Never Certain

Everyone wants to avoid being hurt. Real estate investors want to hire someone who’ll get them seller leads. And online marketers want to make sure that those who are new to real estate investor services know how to acquire seller leads. The alternative – hiring just about any online marketer – does more damage than good to the industry in general.

So, how to know that your online marketer is capable?

Look at the language they are using.

This is more subtle than the Dunning-Kruger red flag, but the way they talk about results from SEO is an indicator of their expertise.

Think back of the example we shared regarding the kid, his father, and the football club. Those who are aware of the complexity in any given field are uncertain when it comes to the outcome. If you analyze the language the father used, you’ll note that he tried not to express certainty. On the other hand, the kid was absolutely positive that whatever their club set out to achieve is possible.

This applies to all experts out there.

Cautiousness Is Not a Sign of Incompetence

The more you know about a subject, the less certain you are, because you are aware of the complexities involved, especially when it comes to predicting results from an ad campaign. But when you look for someone to do your search engine optimization so that you can get motivated seller leads, you will find more agents who say they are 100% sure that your website can rank first on SERP. And, if they also boast that they are “the best,” frankly, there’s nothing worse than that.

We don’t say that we are the best, but we’ve managed campaigns to secure motivated seller leads for real estate investors exclusively for over a decade. Whether we are good or bad at what we do – that’s for others to say.

We kept on learning as we served real estate investors over the years. And we still do. We got to build data sets over those years from ad spend in the real world. As Dan put it: this is not knowledge that I gained by watching a YouTube video on how to do PPC or reading a book about SEO, or reading a blog or signing up to someone’s mailing list, or taking a course.

It depends”

So, we know a lot about the subject – hence, you’ll hear us use the caveat “it depends” when we talk about leads:

[W]hen we get on the phone with an investor and they say, How much money do I need to spend in order to dominate my market in Google Ads? I say, It depends, depends on the time of day, depends on the time of week, depends on the time of year, depends on the season, depends on the market, depends on the housing market, depends on your competition. It depends on a lot of stuff, right? It’s complicated. The more you know about it, the more complicated it gets, and the more complicated it gets, the more humble you get.

Now, that quote is specifically about PPC, but it works pretty much the same with SEO as well. Dan talked about this at length in an episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast.

It’s an easy way to find out if you are dealing with someone who knows how online marketing works. The expert is not certain, and if they say “it depends”, you are in good hands.

Let’s wrap things up.


Getting a real estate investing website to rank high (first three spots) on SERP is not an easy task. Google’s ranking algorithms change all the time and no SEO agent knows them to begin with. SEO mostly rests on empirical data – you tweak the website and note the results. Online marketers are much like entrepreneurs in this sense.

Real estate investors can check whether their online marketer is up to the task – it can be done without having to learn anything about search engine optimization. We singled out the following red flags:

  • If they guarantee a specific end result from SEO – their experience (and data set) is limited;
  • If they say that it’s easy to rank high – they are either overestimating their abilities, they use black hat SEO techniques, or they are oversimplifying the process;
  • If they express certainty through their use of language – they aren’t aware of the complexity of the task at hand.

Go for online marketing experts who acknowledge that ranking your real estate investing website on the top of SERP depends on many factors. Although real estate investors tend to expect results from SEO tweaks to set in fast, and to be easily translated in terms of seller leads, deals, and revenue, it simply doesn’t work that way. Search engine optimization takes a consistent effort and the results are visible months and years down the line.

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