According to data from Google and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), housing searches on Google.com grew 253% in the last four years. NAR reports 90% of home-buyers used the Internet to search for their next property.
It wouldn’t be surprising to find the majority of soon-to-be expats make similar property searches for their new home abroad. Making your real estate site stand out among the hundreds on the web can be a challenge, one that major estate agents can spend millions solving. The question is, is it worth all the effort, not to mention the money?
A study on search engine results show the odds are against small, independent agents when it comes to Google searches:
- Generic search terms such as “Paris real estate”, rarely show individual agent sites on the first page of results. Large, national or international property brokers tend to dominate these searches.
- The researchers conducted 50 searches using the terms “[city name] real estate” noting the website which appeared on the first three pages of results. Note: Typically that is how far a user will go when searching for something. Of the 1,691 websites recorded, just 30% of the results on the first page were for local, independent agents.
How can small, independent agents compete?
So, your real estate business deals with property in a specific region in the south of France, how can you compete with larger national agents in search results? More importantly, will expats find you online?
SEO, or more specifically, basic SEO will only take you so far. You need to look beyond basic SEO and optimise your site and/or blog so they appear when someone searches with keywords local to your area.
Get specific and go local
Narrow down which keywords are local to you and incorporate them into your content. The easiest way for realtors to do this is to provide information aside from property listings. A blog or section on your site dedicated to overviews of the neighbourhoods you have properties in for example.
Some suggestions of how to generate new keyword-rich content:
- Photos or blogs of local restaurants, buildings, events
- Articles about upcoming neighbourhood events and festivals
- Video interview with local community experts
- Video tour of the neighbourhood
However, don’t get so carried away with keywords your content is no longer relevant. A person searching with specific keywords finds your site, great, but they won’t hang around if the information isn’t what they were looking for.
Make friends with other sites
While keywords are a major part of SEO, the second biggest factor in terms of Google ranking is inbound links. When Google algorithms see other (reputable) sites linking to yours they raise the validity of your site for certain keywords.
Make sure you have links to your site on your social media profiles, leave your link when commenting on blogs and encourage agents and clients to check out your site.
For local estate agents to stand out online, the key is to stay specific:
- Identify keywords you want to be found for in searches
- Optimise your content, add a blog or use different media with your keywords
- Remember to provide relevant information
- Build up inbound links from other sites
How do you make your real estate agency stand out? How much time have you spent on SEO? Let us know in the comments below.