How can estate agents benefit from online visibility?

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In this complicated and ever more competitive world then how do we ensure prospective buyers, sellers, landlords or tenants actually find our portfolio of properties so that we can compete against our online competitors?

Modern estate agencies realise that ranking on Google for relevant terms based around our portfolio and our geographic position is important. Without this we fall into invisibility across the largest deliverer of traffic this industry has ever seen.

A well-constructed search engine campaign will result in an estate agent website capturing the interest of a prospect from amongst the online ‘noise’ and importantly, them actually getting in touch.

Within this blog we will explore areas that can be utilised to deliver a search compliant website and drive your portfolio of properties from the lower pages of a Google search to page one prominence. This is not a definitive list, more like some quick wins that will make a difference.

Being search experts with a passion for the estate agency market then Pure Digitals skill set will deliver the results that any modern business craves.

Keyword research
The first area to understand are the keywords that your perspective users will use to search for your business. Of course, your experience will deliver the basis for a list here, but this must then be targeted towards search terms that prospects will actually use.

Utilising your brand name is important, but this will not deliver the traffic you need. We must therefore understand keywords and phrases that actually deliver traffic.

There are many tools available to help with this requirement including Google itself. They will show an estimate of the number of searchers each month a particular term may deliver, and the idea is to therefore choose a combination of competitive terms and those that may be easier to start your programme.

Do not forget the importance of delivering a generic term with your geographic location, for example ‘house for sale Tottenham’. The vast majority of searches will be based within a geographic radius of where that person currently lives and therefore, we must attempt to answer this with our keyword choice.

Another potentially untapped area is how individual property listings are generally listed. Renters and buyers alike will use Google to search for specific requirements for example; ‘4 bedroom house in Romford’. If your site appears for searches like this then you could secure a lead.

On Page requirements
Once the ideal keyword list has been highlighted, we must now start targeting our websites pages towards these terms. Lets not forget that every page on a website is different and should therefore be targeted towards an individual set of key terms from your list.

As the home page will be the strongest within the website then this page should target the most generic terms within your list. In order to target these pages correctly then you must use the specific elements that make up your page. Your pages title tag is the most important element to address. This field is generally called the meta title or just the title tag.

It’s always best to utilise keyword specific information within this title and remember, this will not be visible directly on your website page however, it will be visible as part of the Google snippet and is the clickable blue line in the search results.

Don’t forget the page description here. This will also be known as the Meta description and again this does not show on your page but is not important for the search algorithm however, it is the small paragraph of text Google utilises in its search snippet and will therefore make a difference with your click through rate. Write for people here so make it sound relevant and enticing.

The next element to look for is the H1 tag. This field is visible on your web page and so remember this when utilising words here. By implementing your key terms with your brand and if possible, with your geographic location then you are now starting to tie these elements together with those terms that potential traffic is using.

Once your H1 tags have been completed then look for the H2 and so on. It is important here to not miss a particular level for example, you can have your H1 and then your H2 followed by your H3 but do not miss out the H2 and go straight from H1 to H3.

Available page text
To compliment your keyword targeting you must now consider that Google is ultimately a text reader and so content is important. Its no good delivering a beautifully designed image heavy page if there is not content for the search engine to jump into. Deliver an amount of text that targets the keyword emphasis for this particular page. We are now tying each element together and that starts to make your website highly specific.

Your websites property listings
This is where you start to pull away from your competitors. If you have targeted each of these elements for each of your pages then your website is answering many of the important factors however, many property listings will be fairly generic and could even appear on other sites. The idea here is to complete the relevant page title and H1 tags and to then make the property description unique.

This will be time consuming, but it will make a difference to your websites ability to list. By making the property description unique then Google wants to see this and will hopefully list it accordingly. Don’t worry about cramming in a particular target keyword but concentrate on the property itself. 100 to 200 words will truly make a difference here.

Another way to push the property name is by utilising the image you have uploaded. Utilise the alt tag element to maximise the type of property it is for example ‘4 bedroom house Tottenham’ and its different variations.

Expired property listings – this is important!
As a property comes off the market you will obviously want to remove it. When you delete a property, you create what is essentially a dead page. This is known as a ‘404 page’. The more dead pages you have then this will lead to the pages visible to Google being bloated when the search spider is trawling your site.

Google sees this as poor management of your content and this will affect your search compliance. You should redirect the page using a 301 permanent redirect to your main property page so that there is no 404-error page for that property.

How to rank each office for their location
If your agency has more than one office, then it makes sense to gain visibility for that particular area and direct it to that office. If you are aiming your homepage to target many different locations, then you dilute its strength where as if you have a particular page for each office location you can then be ultimately specific towards their geographic locations.

On each location page or office page as they are known, you can upload text that talks about the locations you are targeting. Of course, this makes the page extremely targeted towards an area but, don’t think you can use the same text and simply change the location. This will not work. Each page must be unique and that will give you the edge over other generically copied content.

Off page attributes – linking
Back links have always been a prominent factor in search optimisation. Years ago, you could simply buy links from a link farm that would drive you up in search – quickly. The major search engines have for many years penalised those websites that implement poor links in this way simply for manipulating their search positions. There are many websites that have been penalised for links that they have had no part of and so your ability to manage and continually analyse these links is important.

It is still a serious point that the quality and volume of links pointing to your website will always matter and will have a direct impact on your sites search rankings. Even established websites can have a poor backlink profile, meaning that even with good onsite SEO their competitors will out-rank them because they have more valuable links.

Whilst analysing your websites back links then don’t forget to look at those of your main online competitors as this may well highlight links you can target yourself to gain extra strength to your campaign.

You definitely need a clear link building strategy in order to gradually get those page one positions we all need.

Bad backlinks
Back links are other websites that link back to your page and in essence, these deliver strength in Google. However, these links must be quality and on theme or potentially you could receive a Google penalty.

Back links grow naturally and therefore they must always be analysed to make sure they are delivered by the quality of page that you are after, if not then you must make a concerted effort to remove them from your system. This is not easy and will be tedious, but it is vital to your ongoing search health.

Directories
Directories are not always great ways to generate quality back links, but they do provide evidence of a natural website growth and this is really important towards what search engines are looking for.

Good quality directories will allow you to list your business details and your website address that of course delivers visibility. The important thing here is again using unique company descriptions on each directory listing, consistent use of your company name, accurate address and the inclusion of your website link.

The idea is to deliver a website that has been uniquely targeted and that grows naturally. If you manage this then you have a chance to compete in this ever more crowded market. If not, then you will slide to page ten and beyond and when was the last time you search that far into Googles listings?

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