The Challenges of SEO for Real Estate

by Dec 12, 2016SEO

With 92% of home buyers using the internet during the buying process (NAR 2014), and many sellers entering the market first as buyers – a strong internet presence should be a priority for real estate agents.

Using internet to find seo optimized real estate site

Unfortunately, even with so many agents ignoring their online profiles, Real Estate may still be the most challenging industry in which to develop a presence through Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO Challenges for Real Estate Industry

Search the most common, broad, real estate search terms (i.e. Real Estate + Your City) and you’ll quickly discover that the the Big 3 – Zillow,, and Trulia – own the top positions on the Google Search Result Page rankings.
Real estate seo

Even beyond the Top 3 positions, you’re competing with major sites like, craigslist, yelp, hotpads, Redfin, big builders like Toll Brothers, and major Real Estate Brands such as Remax and Century 21.

Doesn’t leave a lot of room for the individual agent, small team, or independent brokerage.

Making matters worse, Google has reduced the number of “Local Results” (those associated with Google Maps) from seven to three, while increasing the number of Paid Advertising (PPC) links on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). In addition, the Keywords that produce local results have been limited to those that represent a search for an agent (i.e. REALTOR, real estate agent, real estate agency, real estate company, etc.).

Can SEO work for Real Estate Agents?

It depends . . .

I do believe that agents can be successful with SEO under 2 conditions:

  1. They are committed to it: A “little” SEO won’t be of much help, you need to be committed to creating new pages and new content regularly and for the long-term.
  2. They use the right strategies: success will require a combination of broad and long-tail keywords, keyword silos, local SEO and barnacle SEO.

SEO Strategies for Real Estate

1. Broad Keywords: I still recommend using Broad Keywords (i.e. real estate + your city) on your website. Individual agents or brokerages do still show up occasionally in the search results, Google is constantly updating and changing their algorithm, it will help Google better understand your business overall, and you never know what long-tail keyword you’ll end up showing up for because of your primary keywords.

2. Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords are phrases that are generally comprised of multiple words, they are typically more specific then broad keywords, and are searched less frequently (i.e. How do you buy a HUD home?). Amazingly, even today 15% of all searches are phrases that have never been searched before on Google. Creating a niche market is another great way to focus on longer-tail content.

3. Local Search Optimization: Optimize for your geographical location through website mark-up, registration with “local” search engines, and creating local content.

4. Create Content: You must be committed to creating unique content regularly – at least weekly, but daily would be better! This can be in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.

5. Create Content Silos: Use internal linking and content creation to create themed silos. This will help boost your topic authority in the eyes of the search engines.

6. Barnacle SEO: If you can’t beat them join them. Make sure that your profile is prominent on the major sites that dominate the search rankings.

7. Link Building: Backlinks – links on other sites (high quality and topically relevant) that link back to your site are still the most valuable authority indication to the search engines. Realtors need to create link-worthy content and promote it to other bloggers and publishers.

8. Citation Creation: Citations are additional business listing sites that you can register your business on. While not a huge influence on SEO, they are easy to set up and every little bit can help . . .

Check back soon, or sign up to receive our blog in your email inbox (see sign up box in upper right hand corner), future blogs will cover each of these concepts in greater detail.


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Brent is a REALTOR with Keller Williams in Henderson (Las Vegas valley) NV. He has a background in digital marketing and is a nationally recognized SEO expert. In addition to this blog, he is a VIP contributor to Search Engine Journal and has been syndicated through SteamFeed, Social Media Today and B2C.