Research has shown that home buying and renting has become increasingly digital with over 90% of the consumers going online to research information to support their buying decisions. Consumers research online on property aggregator listing websites such as rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk, primelocation.com or visit directly visit local estate agent, realtors or brokers websites such as foxtons.co.uk, kfh.co.uk etc. Some even watch real estate ‘how-to videos’ on YouTube and learn more on social media sites and participate in discussions.
If you Google anything related to real estate in the UK, you’re going to see results from Rightmove, Zoopla, PrimeLocation, OnTheMarket etc. They are big, powerful sites and have way too much authority with search engines. However, there are areas for real estate sites to dominate by attacking the areas that they’re not. In the UK, Rightmove is the number one property website, advertising millions of properties for estate agents, lettings agents and new home developers your local area. Rightmove is significantly ahead in terms of Organic search traffic compared to the competition. According to SEMRush, Rightmove gets about 32.7M Organic search traffic per month and ranks for about 1.48M keywords.
Why Is SEO Important for Real Estate?
Real estate agent aggregator listing sites rank competitively for high volume generic terms such as “houses for sale” which gets about 550k searches per month on average. In the UK, aggregator listing sites such as
rightmove.co.uk, onthemarket.com, zoopla.co.uk, purplebricks.co.uk, propertypal.com, your-move.co.uk, primelocation.com get a lot of traffic. Because of this, broker/realtors sites get listed on these aggregator listing sites to capture potential traffic.
- SEO is one of the most cost-effective digital marketing channels to drive traffic to your listings. Homebuyers using search engines are more likely to take an action on a real estate website.
- Increase your real estate website visibility on Google to get found when buyers or sellers search online.
- Get more targeted enquiries for your real estate listings to gain qualified leads from buyers and sellers.
- Improve target keyword rankings versus competition.
- Apart from the above, a successful real estate SEO strategy can result in an increase of new potential clients, increase of visitor’s time on site and pages per session.
Real Estate SERP Landscape
When you enter a property or a real estate search on Google, the SERPs may show the following depending on the query – Paid ads, local map pack, instant answers, featured snippets, people also ask box, organic listings, video & image listings. Here’s an example of a SERP when you search for “houses for sale” which gets about 550k searches a month on average. There are 100’s of businesses competing for the little organic real estate making real estate SEO competitive industry.
Real Estate SEO Tips and Strategies for 2021
Searches for real estate properties on Google is growing YOY making Real Estate industry SEO quite competitive with so many independent estate agents, letting agents and large property listing brands competing in the SERPs. In this guide, I have listed out some of the essential real estate SEO tips that you can incorporate for your real estate website.
- Step 1: Keyword Research
- Step 2: Optimise Site Structure Based on Keyword Intent
- Step 3: On-Page SEO for Real Estate Website
- Step 4: SEO for your Primary Content – Real Estate Category & Property listing pages
- Step 5: Ensure the site is mobile friendly and optimised for Mobile-first index
- Step 6: Optimise real estate website for Local SEO
- Step 7: Create Quality Content (Blog, Buying Guides, FAQ Pages)
- Step 8: Technical SEO
- Step 9: Build Backlinks
Step 1: Keyword Research
The keyword research process is an essential step to understand how people search for properties on Google. At the end of performing keyword research, your aim should be to rank well for high search demand and the most profitable keywords relevant to your real estate business. Choose the right keywords is crucial to increase the site’s visibility for a large number of relevant keywords for the real estate industry.
Popular property listings sites such as rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk, primelocation.com etc get a lot of branded searches. For example, the brand term “rightmove” receives 13.6 million searches on Google per month on average. “Zoopla” gets about 2.7 million searches on Google per month on average.
You can use tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, Keyword Planner etc to help you with keyword research to discover new keyword ideas.
- Generic keywords such as “house for sale” are very competitive and get about 550K searches per month.
- Local keywords such as “new build homes near me” or “houses for sale in Birmingham” get 301K and 21.2K searches per month on average.
- Question-based keywords such as “how much is my house worth” has an average search volume of 27.1K per month. By targeting these question-based keywords with informational content, you increase the visitors time on site.
|Popular Real Estate Keywords for Rightmove & Zoopla (Generics)|
|Rightmove Keywords||Search Volume||Zoopla Keywords||Search Volume|
|houses for sale||550000||houses for sale near me||301000|
|houses for sale near me||301000||houses for rent||201000|
|houses for rent||201000||houses for rent near me||110000|
|property for sale||201000||house prices||90500|
|houses for rent near me||110000||your move||90500|
|house prices||90500||sold house prices||90500|
|sold house prices||90500||rental properties||74000|
|house prices uk||90500||share to buy||49500|
|rental properties||74000||bungalows for sale||40500|
|flats to rent||60500||property for sale near me||33100|
|zoopla uk||60500||rental properties near me||33100|
|property for sale in spain||40500||homes for sale||33100|
|property||40500||commercial property for rent||27100|
|flats to rent near me||33100||how much is my house worth||27100|
|property for sale near me||33100||houses for sale in birmingham||22200|
|rental properties near me||33100||houses for sale leicester||22200|
|land for sale near me||33100||new builds near me||22200|
|commercial property for sale||33100||houses for sale in cornwall||22200|
|homes for sale||33100||3 bedroom house for rent||22200|
|property for sale in france||33100||flats for sale||22200|
|commercial property for rent||27100||flats to rent in london||22200|
|london house prices||27100||2 bedroom house for rent||22200|
|how much is my house worth||27100||houses for sale edinburgh||18100|
|houses for sale in birmingham||22200||new build homes||18100|
|houses for sale leicester||22200||houses for sale in london||18100|
|together housing||22200||letting agents||18100|
|houses for sale in cornwall||22200||houses for sale bradford||18100|
|flats for sale||22200||3 bedroom house for sale||18100|
|flats to rent in london||22200||bungalows for sale near me||18100|
|apartments for rent||22200||homes for sale near me||18100|
|houses for sale edinburgh||18100||houses for sale sheffield||18100|
|new build homes||18100||houses for sale glasgow||18100|
|houses for sale in london||18100||houses for sale coventry||18100|
|houses for sale bradford||18100||find a property||18100|
|3 bedroom house for sale||18100||house valuation||14800|
|homes for sale near me||18100||on the market rent||14800|
|houses for sale sheffield||18100||sold prices||14800|
|houses for sale glasgow||18100||houses for sale hull||14800|
|houses for sale coventry||18100||houses for sale cardiff||14800|
|houses for sale in france||18100||houses for sale wolverhampton||14800|
|find a property||18100||houses for sale nottingham||14800|
|rent in london||14800||houses to buy||14800|
|rooms to rent in london||14800||houses for sale leeds||14800|
|houses for sale in spain||14800||places for rent near me||14800|
|sold prices||14800||houses for sale swansea||14800|
|houses for sale hull||14800||houses for sale bristol||14800|
|houses for sale cardiff||14800||flats to rent edinburgh||14800|
|houses for sale wolverhampton||14800||houses for sale liverpool||14800|
|houses for sale nottingham||14800||entwistle green||14800|
Step 2: Optimise Site Structure Based on Keyword Intent
Once you have completed the keyword research process, you’ll be left with the list of seed real estate keywords. You need to segment your keyword list in a way such that it helps you structure the pages of your site to map keyword intent. A good site structure will enable users to easily navigate through the site and will help Google understand and rank your site pages better for the relevant target keywords.
Segment your keyword list to understand the user intent behind the search query to help build your page structure and map them to your website. Segmenting the content into different funnel types helps with understanding the type of content that we need to produce on our real estate website to rank for those keywords.
- Upper funnel (Navigational/awareness keywords): You are targeting the customer at the stage when they are not sure what they want to buy and when. Keyword example: “things to do in south London”. Here you can focus on creating high-level content but still keep it topical and focusing on your target audience. It doesn’t have to be related to real estate. The aim here is to drive traffic and build awareness for your niche.
- Mid funnel (Informational/research keywords: You are targeting the customer at the stage when they are thinking of purchasing a property in the short to medium term. Keyword example: “house prices in south London”. Here you can focus on creating content around things that people are searching for before they’re ready to hire an estate agent. For this example keyword, you could cover content covering information on south London neighbourhood, demographic information, crime rate, schools in the area, pubs, shopping centres, parks, restaurants etc. Those are the things that are going to help capture your site visitors and then convert them eventually.
- Bottom funnel (Transactional/decision keywords: You are targeting the customer at the stage when there is intent to purchase in the short term. Keyword example: “3 bedroom house in south London”, “buy a flat in east London”. These bottom-funnel keywords (also known as money keywords) should be your long-term focus as they bring in the revenue or leads to the site and often going to be dominated by the big websites.
Step 3: On-Page SEO for Real Estate Website
You must use the target keywords in important page elements such as the page title, meta descriptions, page heading (H1’s) and sub-headings, body content, ALT tags, URLs etc.
Step 4: SEO for your Primary Content – Real Estate Category & Property listing pages
Property listing and category lister pages are the primary content of real estate websites which are transactional in nature. Your listings must be as descriptive as possible following all the best practices such as;
- The content on these pages should be unique and add value for your site visitors. Because the category listing pages are dynamically generated from an MLS IDX data feed which is fed to hundreds of thousands of real estate websites, this creates a duplication issue. So, unless you add additional content on the listing pages, your site can’t compete with the authority sites like RightMove, Zoopla etc. If adding additional content is not feasible, then I would recommend not indexing these duplicate pages.
- Utilise good Photos and Videos in your listings: Images and videos attract the attention of the buyer as they like to see the property in detail before expressing interest for a property viewing. So, including high-quality images and videos will turn visitors into qualified leads. Virtual tours and videos showcasing the property is the closest you can get to an actual viewing experience from the comfort of your home.
- Give some context to your listing such as where and how far the nearest public transport station is (bus, tube, train or tram station), nearest good schools, park, shopping centre etc. Majority of people in the UK use public transport so they would want to know what their commute will be like before making a decision. An interactive map would be helpful.
- Include a floor plan to show the design plan of the house to give you an idea of the dimensions of the property and the amenities.
- Each listing should target a specific property’s address, which prospective home buyers will be searching for using Google. The address becomes the keyword. Follow all SEO best practices such as using the keyword in:
- Title tag & Meta Description
- ALT tag on photos
- The file name on photos
- The content
Step 5: Make sure your site is mobile friendly and optimised for Mobile-first index
Research has shown that the majority of home buyers browse properties using their mobile devices. About 9 in 10 home buyers today research on the go with their smartphones and tablets and this is growing YOY. Because of this change in consumer behaviour of information access, it is significantly important for site owners to optimise their site for mobile devices to provide optimal mobile browsing experience.
To test if your site is mobile friendly using the Mobile-friendly test tool. In addition, Google has also moved to the mobile-first index and uses the mobile version of a brand’s website to determine it’s relevant for ranking. With limited space available for detail on the property listings landing page, ensure you include all the useful features of the property for display. My recommendation is to use a responsive design for your website.
Step 6: Optimise Real estate website for Local SEO
Because real estate property search is local in nature, consumers search online using local keyword phrases relevant to a local area. For example: “city + real estate agent” or “city + homes for sale” etc. So, optimising your site for local queries will help your local SEO rankings.
First and foremost, register all your business locations on Google My Business. This is Free! With a GMB Account, your business listing will appear on Google search and map listings to help you easily connect with potential customers using local keywords on Google. Below is a SERP screenshot for the local search term “new build homes near me” that gets 12.1K searches per month on Google. It is critical for local businesses to get listed in Google local pack for local keywords.
Don’t just limit yourself to Google. You must also build citations on high authority local publications and local directories such as Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Yellow Pages etc. Your details must be consistent across all the sites and Google especially the consistency around NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) and opening hours are important. Besides the proximity of the location and online reviews, Google also considers quite heavily on these local citations to rank your website. Collecting positive reviews is also crucial to succeed in local search as it improves trust and credibility of your business.
Step 7: Create Quality Content (Blog, Buying Guides, FAQ Pages)
The homepage and listing pages are not enough for your website rankings. You need to provide your target audience with useful content to help them in the property purchase decision process. Your content should cater to a varied audience such as repeat buyers, first-time buyers, commercial property buyers etc. Your content should be engaging and act as a resource to find answers. This sort of informative content can also help you rank for long-tail keywords that usually have little competition but a much higher conversion rate. For blog posts ideas, take some inspiration from the questions listed under Google’s “People also ask”.
Some ideas to build high-quality link-worthy content to target mid-funnel and bottom-funnel keywords in the real estate industry is placed below;
- Homebuyers’ guides such as Home loans or mortgage financing guides, First-time buyer guides covering home buying process, help to buying schemes information etc. Brands like Rightmove, Zoopla make a huge impact on real estate SEO by creating content hubs targeted at buyers, sellers, renters, students, landlords and more. Rightmove have nailed their real estate SEO strategy with so much useful advice for consumers to engage with on their site at every stage of the customer journey which makes them an authority in Google’s eyes.
- Create a series of blog posts with long-form, in-depth content on topics that answer user intent.
- How to posts such as how to find a real estate agent, how to find a mortgage broker etc? Research questions people ask and setup FAQ pages.
- Informative market posts such as current market landscape or conditions, local area living standards and inflation etc.
- Comparison posts such as Renting vs. Buying, Renting/Buying a Flat versus House.
- First-time buyers and Senior buyers place a high value on neighbourhood posts or area guides to understand what their future location is like in terms of information on schools, crime rates, public transportation, restaurants and shopping centres or other local attractions & landmarks etc. Check out some examples of buying area guides produced by Zoopla. This sort of local content also helps with local SEO efforts.
- Most real estate websites provide tools and widgets that widely increases consumer engagement with early in their customer journey. Examples of tools include a Rightmove’s mortgage calculator, stamp duty calculator, Zoopla’s postcode finder etc. These sites also allow website owners to embed these widgets on your sites.
- Earn featured snippets: Featured snippets can drive a high amount of traffic to your real estate website as it ranks in position 0 and stands out on the SERPs. Featured snippets provide direct answers to search queries.
Step 8: Technical SEO
You should have a well-structured real estate website that is easy to navigate for the visitor and crawlable by Googlebot. Related pages must link nicely to each other. Things to focus Technical SEO-wise to optimise your real estate website’s site architecture include;
- Target the right keywords used in the URL, Page title, Meta Description, Image ALT text and page header tags.
- Optimise HTML sitemap.
- Optimise robots.txt.
- Optimise internal linking: Optimise your site architecture with good internal linking. Internal links provide a proper structure to the website helping both Google and the site visitors find related content easily. From a search point of view, these internal links help crawlers find pages for indexation and from a user point of view, it helps users navigate the site. You should link deeper from your blog posts to your listing pages to drive visitors and Googlebot to your most important pages.
- Add schema markup to describes a property listing or markup an office location.
- Setup XML sitemaps and submit to search console.
- Focus on core web vitals and improving page load speed.
- Integrate your website with Search Console to monitor crawl stats, crawl & indexation issues.
- Optimise your website images.
- Proactively fix tech SEO issues such as broken links, canonical issues, indexation issues, internal redirects etc.
- Your website must be secure and you should enable HTTP2 on your web server.
Step 9: Build Backlinks to your Real Estate website
Building backlinks from high authority sites is still essential and an important Google ranking factor. Build quality links to not only improve rankings but to also bring in high-quality referral traffic. Tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush etc can help you to analyse competitor backlinks. At the time of writing this guide, Rightmove had 633M backlinks from 30.2k referring domains. They may not all be from reputable publishers or high authority sites but these numbers are staggering compared to its direct competitor Zoopla that has 16.9M backlinks from 21k referring domains.
One of the ways big brands build links is by contributing their own research findings to journalists of high authority real estate industry publications. This research work often gets published on publication sites as press releases and to links back to the brand site. Google views these backlinks as a trust signal that the site is a real estate industry authority. Some good examples of recent backlinks built by Rightmove – Link 1, Link 2, Link 3.
Please comment below if you found my real estate SEO guide useful.
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