If someone asked you whether you’d rather have a stack of hot leads or cold leads, the answer is obvious, right? And yet, many real estate agents miss the opportunity to attract more warm and hot leads by neglecting SEO.
When it comes to real estate SEO, there are tactics and strategies that will help take your real estate website to the next level, so you can attract leads to you, instead of chasing them down.
These days, most people start their real estate journey online. According to the National Association of Realtors, 93% of home buyers rely on online websites during their home search. In other words, there’s a lot of opportunity for your brand to connect with potential clients online.
But they’ll never connect with you if they can’t find you. That’s where SEO comes in.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of helping search engines like Google understand the content and value of your site so that you can earn higher rankings in search results and drive better (i.e. more likely to convert) traffic to your site.
Before you write me off as just another smoke-blowing marketer who doesn’t know a thing about real estate, let me put your mind at ease:
I’m a Realtor in Raleigh, North Carolina and a Realtor in Charlotte who began a career in real estate back in 2015. SEO is my main form of lead generation. I don’t pay for leads — ever. Nor do we force registration on our site unnecessarily. Instead, I apply the strategies I’m about to share with you to drive organic search traffic to our websites.
Here’s a taste of what we’ve been able to achieve with SEO over the past year:
…and it’s all thanks to our organic traffic.
I don’t share any of this to brag, but to show you how powerful real estate SEO can be for your business.
So how do you create the kind of SEO strategy that brings your name to the top of the search results and drives ready-to-convert traffic to your site? That’s what I’m about to show you.
Although there are many optimization strategies that go into SEO, the two main components of any SEO strategy are content and links. By optimizing each of these areas, you’ll be well on your way to creating a website that earns love from search engines and clients alike.
Content is the most important aspect of SEO on your website. You want your content to be high quality and appropriate for your audience — including potential buyers, sellers, and other Realtors.
Not only does great content help establish you as a trusted resource, it also helps Google understand and categorize your site so they know when to include it in search results.
You’ll find that if you Google “Moving to Charlotte” or “Living in Charlotte,” our website is the #1 result, and if you search “Raleigh Real Estate,” my other site is ranked #2 and beats out the national websites. This is in large part thanks to the high-quality, localized real estate content on our blog — including pages that help us to attract 15-20+ new leads per day.
One of the best ways to start creating content for your website to help improve your SEO is to ask yourself, What information are my users searching for online?
More often than not, you’ll be trying to connect with people who are hoping to buy and/or sell a home in your area. So, what are common questions buyers and sellers ask you? Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Answering these common questions in the form of high quality blog posts will help you to drive the right kind of traffic to your website.
Some of the best content you can write for your real estate website are “Best of” articles for your local area. For instance the best restaurants, the best neighborhoods, the best places to shop, etc. Resources like this are so incredibly helpful to people who are looking for a new place to live — and they will also position you as an expert resource in your community.
As a local real estate agent, you also have a distinct advantage over national real estate websites: your local knowledge and unique perspective. This allows you to take your real estate SEO hyperlocal. In other words, writing content that’s focused on specific neighborhoods, rather than just the main cities and towns in your area.
When your content is highly specific and optimized, you’re more likely to capture hyperlocal searches, such as “homes for sale in [NEIGHBORHOOD].”
What you’ll find is that users who are making hyperlocal searches like these are the ones who are further along in the buying process compared with those who are searching all around the city — a.k.a. hotter leads.
One mistake people often make is that they write articles that don’t make sense for a real estate website. It’s not the place to share your grandma’s cookie recipe. (Instead, save this type of content to periodically spice up your social media and strengthen connections with your existing sphere of influence!)
The goal of your website is to build a relationship with site visitors. People appreciate it when you take the time to provide valuable information and answer important questions. Once you win them over as a fan, you can win them over as a client for life!
Once you’ve got great content, the next key aspect of your real estate SEO strategy is links. Links fall into two categories: internal links and backlinks. Internal links are links in your content to other pages on your own website, while backlinks are links from other websites to yours. We’ll talk about each of these in greater depth below.
Internal links are one of the best and easiest ways to help with your SEO. In fact, many people use internal linking as their number one SEO strategy.
(You’ll notice in our “best restaurants in Raleigh” blog post above, we have three internal links just in those first few sentences to help site visitors find other Raleigh-related content they may be interested in!)
The more pages you have on your website, the more opportunities you have to build internal links. That means more opportunities to draw users deeper into your site and more information to help Google determine what your web pages are about, so you can earn better rankings.
Anchor text refers to the clickable words that you select to create a link. Take this example:
“Follow Up Boss has one of the best dialers for real estate agents and many people don’t realize how awesome the feature is!” In this case, the anchor text is “best dialers for real estate agents.”
Using internal links with proper anchor text helps Google better understand and categorize your page, which then gives Google the confidence to move you up in the search engine rankings.
In the example above, our link is helping Google understand that the page we linked to is relevant to searches about real estate agents and dialers — an advantage we wouldn’t get if we placed the link on the phrase “people don’t realize.”
Backlinks are the personal referrals of the internet — that’s why Google uses them as a top indicator to determine your website’s authority. They show Google that other websites and content creators consider your site a trusted resource.
Resources like Ahrefs can help you determine the backlink profile for your website and the authority your website carries. Ahrefs is a tool I use daily to help with my SEO, both for link building and for content creation. It’s a tool you will definitely want to add to your toolkit.
One of the best ways to use link building in real estate is to work with other companies or agents to provide information that is useful to buyers, sellers, and other Realtors. You can do this by networking with other great real estate bloggers and offering them high quality content in the form of guest blog posts. Guest blogs (like the one you’re reading right now!) that provide high quality content are a win-win for everyone involved.
Once you have leads coming in from your site, what do you do with them? How should you prioritize them?
Some of the topics you discuss in your content will be more closely tied to intent-to-buy than others. For example, if you get a lead on a page about “renovation tips,” that is a much lower-intent keyword than “Tampa Bay Homes.”
That’s why it helps to look at your SEO keywords in relation to your sales funnel:
Your cold keywords will be those that have low buying intent but serve to bring awareness to your brand. For example, people searching for “best coffee shops in Raleigh” are probably more interested in coffee than buying a house… but if you’re the one who recommends their new favorite coffee shop, you’re starting to build a connection.
Warm keywords indicate an increased level of interest. They might center on topics about the best neighborhoods in a city or recent real estate market conditions — visitors on these pages are getting closer to buying or selling a home, but not quite ready to pull the trigger.
Then you have your hot keywords. These indicate a high level of intent. For example, if someone is making very specific searches — say, “sell your house fast in Charlotte” — then they’re ready to act at any moment.
Follow Up Boss customers can also use Pixel to get detailed information about how leads are interacting with your website, including when they’re looking at your site, which blog posts or listings they viewed, etc.
For example, at Raleigh Realty, we have so much information about people using our website that our team knows when someone is currently visiting the website, and that signals a great time to call since their interest is heightened in that moment.
As you organize your keyword funnel, you’ll be better able to sort your SEO leads and create an effective plan for nurturing and follow up.
At Raleigh Realty, we get about 20 new leads from SEO each day, so we built an ISA team of two client coordinators. New leads are assigned to agents via round robin, and the client coordinators are added as collaborators.
While the quality of leads coming in from SEO is typically far superior to paid leads or forced registration leads — any agent on my team will testify to that fact! — speed to lead is still super important.
So, new leads are immediately kicked into our Raleigh Realty Action Plan, where they are met with an automatic introduction email and text from the Realtor.
The client coordinators’ role is to call the lead within five minutes of the lead being generated and qualify the lead. If the lead responds to the agent's automated messages, it is up to the agent to follow up or ask the client coordinator to take over (usually only if they are showing homes or with clients).
Then, the client coordinators or agent will qualify the lead as Stage A, B, or C or disqualify them altogether. Here’s how we define each stage:
Buying Time Frame > Follow Up Ownership
Stage A = Within 6 months > Realtor works to build the relationship.
Stage B = Greater than 6 months > Client coordinator nurtures with automated Buyer Long-Term Nurture Action Plan.
Stage C = Greater than 12 months > Client coordinator nurtures with automated Buyer Long-Term Nurture Action Plan.
Because we don’t force registration on our site, most of our incoming leads are already high quality — buyers who are ready to act, not the ones who are just beginning their search. But this system helps to further refine our lead quality, so we spend less time chasing after the folks who are unqualified and focus on the people that matter most.
No matter what, we are always trying to improve the way we manage and convert our leads. It’s such a fun puzzle to solve!
When done correctly, organic web traffic can be one of the best lead generation tools available because it is working for you 24/7 — no days off. And the more you grow and improve the content on your site to make it genuinely useful for your audience, the more they’ll perceive you as a trusted resource, and the more likely they’ll become a client sometime down the road.