Over the past two years since Google rolled out the Pigeon algorithm update, local search engine optimization (SEO) has gained enormous importance for real estate agents.
In fact when Google rolled out the update, real estate was among the worst affected industries. Real estate professionals who hadn’t claimed their business on Google Maps or Google My Business were hit hard. The presence of their brand in search engine results skidded drastically overnight.
The reason was Google integrated web results with map search and physical location-related information about a local business.
Pigeon was actually a wake-up call for professionals who didn’t have their brand optimized for local SEO.
If you are yet to wake up to the challenge, here are three killer strategies you can use to boost your real estate brand’s presence in local searches:
Keep your business details consistent across the web
What are the three most important details about your business?
Your business name, address and phone number, right?
They are called NAP (an acronym for name, address and phone). If you add a website, it becomes NAP + W.
The first step towards fixing local SEO is to make sure that NAP details are consistent across the web.
Does the phone number you added in Yelp two years ago no longer exist?[optinform]
You need to fix this because Google collects information about your business from across the web and inconsistencies in NAP can hurt SEO.
- The first place you should put NAP details is on your website. Footer is an ideal place, but the details should be in HTML text format. If your NAP details are on an image, Google won’t be able to crawl it. Use schema.org local business mark-up so that search engines can easily find the info about your business. Here is the link to help you understand how schema.org local business mark-up works. Hire a pro if you think you can’t add the mark-up to your website on your own. You can help search engines identify your address, phone, operating hours, website and accepted payment methods by using the mark-up on your website.
- Claim your business on Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, YP for Business and social media business pages like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Read this article to know the five most important apps for real state professionals.
- Make sure that the email address that you use on your business profiles across the web is on your business domain, not email service providers like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or Outlook.
- Be very careful while choosing a business category. It should be consistent across all online platforms, particularly Google My Business.
- Your NAP should be in the exact same format everywhere. If you have listed your address as 1661 E Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98102, USA, the format should be the same everywhere. Even a small inconsistency like 1661 E Olive Way, Seattle, Washington 98102, USA may affect your ranking in local searches.
- Check out all online business directories that are prominently displayed in search engine results in your area and make sure that the NAP details are consistent in your business listings on these directories.
- Write a detailed description about your business in Google My Business. Make the description unique in terms of content and as long as possible in terms of word length (at least 300 words).
Customer reviews affect real estate local SEO big time
Google My Business and almost all business directories including Yelp enable customers to leave feedback on a local business.
Reviews should be at the core of your local SEO strategy for two reasons:
- It will improve your brand’s authority in the eyes of search engines.
- It will help you scale your real estate marketing efforts. You can promote positive reviews across web properties including your real estate website and social media accounts.
You should always seek out positive reviews from your customers after you have provided them an excellent service. It’s an ongoing process, instead of being a one-time thing.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when you collect reviews from your clients:
- Read guidelines with regard to collecting reviews for each directory including Google My Business. Stick to these guidelines. Some directories prohibit business owners from actively pursuing reviews.
- Some directories such as Yelp allow you to place badges on your website. You can use these badges to encourage your clients to leave reviews.
- Use your site’s ‘About’ page to promote your reviews. Place links to your directory listing pages here.
- Prepare material like postcards or flyers where you can encourage your clients to leave reviews on Google after closing a deal. In some cases, your clients will be unaware of the process they need to follow to leave a review. Have a page on your site explaining the steps.
- You can encourage your clients for reviews by offering special discounts.
- Deal with negative reviews strategically instead of running away from them or ignoring them. Resolve the difference with your clients. Respond to negative reviews with a positive attitude.
Local content is the King
Producing quality content that is geared towards your local prospects is the best way to improve your search engine rankings.
You can build links to your website producing high quality content on a consistent basis.
Many real estate agents don’t even have a blog section on their website. You should regularly produce content to solve your client’s problems and help deal with challenges in buying and selling homes.
Read the following article to know how you can build links to your website to improve search engine rankings:
Producing content on a consistent basis can help improve engagement with your prospects on social media. It will also establish your reputation as an authority on property market trends. It can earn you mentions in the local press.
More and more home buyers and home sellers are hiring real estate professionals on the basis of their brand’s reputation online.
You can’t afford to turn a blind eye to the growing dominance of local SEO in organic search results. You should always strive to ensure your real estate brand’s prominent presence in search results for local keywords.