As a real estate professional, your online presence (i.e., your website) is one of the most valuable assets you have.
Your website is the first impression many new customers and clients will have of you. It's an easy way to help prospects understand who you are, what they can expect if they work with you, and whether you can be trusted. It can also be the main artery from where your new business comes.
At the same time, a website is not something you can simply set up and forget about (if only it were that simple). If a website isn’t maintained and updated, it can eventually become a liability that sends the wrong message and gives the wrong impression about who you are.
Creating a website isn’t just about checking an item off your list—it’s a long-term commitment that can reap serious benefits if it’s handled properly. And one of the best metrics to determine whether your website has a positive impact is its organic traffic.
The Importance of Organic Traffic
When a website is built and maintained with care, it will eventually start getting attention naturally from people who are searching for answers and solutions on the internet.
Organic traffic is generated when everyday folks search for things on the internet and your website does the best job of delivering what they're looking for.
In other words, organic traffic is traffic that you earn, as opposed to traffic that you've paid for (such as paid search or ads). When your website offers relevant, actionable, and great insight, searchers will start finding your website on the search engine results page (SERP). And if you create enough helpful information and target the right keywords on your website, you could start pulling in a lot of traffic without any monetary cost to you.
Interestingly enough, Google measures over 200 ranking factors when deciding which websites will show up as the number one result for a keyword (that is, a search term). Since there are so many opportunities to get it right (and wrong), almost everybody is potentially missing out on hundreds of new visitors and leads each month.
As a result, any small optimization you make on your website can make a huge difference in traffic. Sometimes it's something as simple as removing a few lines of code from the backend to make your page load faster.
The Small Things That Matter
Optimizing your online presence is a huge topic. Unfortunately, it’s also very situational.
While one site may need better keyword research, another might need a better user experience for visitors that want to schedule a property showing.
Most sites could probably benefit from both.
So, the key to optimizing your online presence is analyzing your performance in as many categories as possible, so you can identify the small things you could be improving. No article can tell you “here’s the one thing you need to do to rank better.” But with a little bit of research, you can make some big improvements.
To start with, you need to evaluate your site performance in three areas:
- User experience (UX).
- On-page SEO.
Or you simply don't want to bother. After all, you might already be ranking on the first page of Google for a few lucrative keywords, and you’re comfortable with the consistent traffic that gets you. No need to bother with these small details right?
That traffic may keep on coming for months, even years. But at some point, someone’s going to fill all of these small gaps that you let slip. And that’s when they’ll overtake you on the SERP. And where does that bring you? Back to this guide.
Let's break down each of these aspects below.
1. User Experience (UX)
The way users “feel” while browsing your site has a huge impact on your ranking.
Generally, if they have a good time on your site, they will stay on your site longer. If they like what they see, they’ll open more pages on your site.
When they love your content and, instead of leaving your site, they may even submit their personal information to be a part of your mailing list. When they do this, your “bounce rate” (the percentage of people who leave instead of continuing to other pages on your site) will drop. All of these are important metrics that Google uses to decide whether your site is worthwhile.
Sure, UX is not all that matters for all of those scenarios, but it’s a big part of it. As long as images don’t shift from one frame to the other, your site is responsive and navigating it is easy, Google will notice how your users behave on your site. And if your users like it, Google will like it too.
Otherwise, if your users don't feel great about your site, you can do a bit of housekeeping. Here are a few tricks:
- Get the Core Web Vitals report. It’s available in the Google Search Console, and it’ll show you areas where your UX is lacking from a technical standpoint.
- Improve your site’s loading time. GTMetrix is an invaluable tool to help you understand why your site loads slowly. It also offers step-by-step guides on how to improve poor loading times.
- Compress images. Tools like Optimizilla can turn a 1MB image into a 13 KB one without sacrificing quality.
- Think your funnels through. No checkout or scheduling process should have more than three steps until your users reach a thank-you page. Anything more is guaranteed to make your audience drop from your funnel.
- Design a logical site structure. Try a “silo” page structure. A silo structure makes more sense for both users and Google because it isolates website subjects from each other and creates “child” pages that are related to each subject.
Flawless UX takes time to perfect. But start with this, and in time you’ll notice happier users, better conversions, and a higher standing on the SERPs.
2. On-Page SEO
Researching SEO best practices and finding valuable keywords is a must when competing to land a spot on Google's search results. Unfortunately, it won't always be enough. Simply using your article’s main keyword a few times in the post can only take you as far.
What you can do is to improve your site's chances by using on-page SEO. This practice optimizes the pages on your site for search engines.
Luckily, improving on-page SEO isn't as gray or ambiguous as UX. Some rules of thumb will always net you better results in terms of SEO, such as:
- Adding multimedia content. Images, gifs, videos, infographics; anything that can illustrate the point you’re trying to make. It goes a long way in satisfying users and Google at the same time.
- Using latent semantic index (LSI) keywords. These keywords are terms related to your primary keyword, which you can find with the help of a tool like LSI Graph. LSI keywords enrich your text and tell Google that you’re approaching the right topic for the SERP position you’re after.
- Writing longer content. Whether that’s for blog posts or for long-form sales pages, longer content tends to do better. That said, it's not the content length that matters, but depth. Google thinks that longer content often tends to have better depth simply because allows you to add more value, which your audience, and Google, will appreciate.
- Utilizing SEO plugins. Tools like Rank Math or Surfer help you optimize your pages for SEO, add the right metadata on them, and analyze your site’s on-page performance overall.
You can have the prettiest, most responsive content, filled with the most valuable articles in the world. But if people don’t talk about it, that won’t matter.
If you want all of your hard work to pay off, you’ll need to get backlinks for your site. These are links from other sites recommending your content or listings. Other sites and discussions on the internet that link to your site are an implicit expression of their trust, and trust builds authority.
Backlinks are easier to secure for articles. Here are a few things you can do to improve your link-building efforts:
- Look for guest posting opportunities. If you Google “real estate guest post” you’ll find sites accepting guest contributions to their blog. In most cases, a backlink is part of this deal.
- Find broken links on other people’s sites. A tool like Ahrefs can help you identify links to expired pages. You can then contact the site owner, and offer your content or listings to swap with the broken link.
- Use HARO (Help A Reporter Out). HARO is an amazing tool for SEO. You just have to sign up, subscribe to the topics you have expertise in, and browse for backlink opportunities every day. Reporters use HARO to find valuable resources (like the ones you have on your site) and they’ll usually link back to them.
If you’re struggling to understand the system, just think about it as a PR effort. Getting backlinks is all about maintaining healthy public relations and establishing lucrative business relationships.
To Wrap It Up
It’s impossible to cover everything in a single blog post, but you can do thousands of other small things when optimizing your online presence. However, these guidelines can serve as a starting point to optimize your online presence and fine-tune your site.
If you've done all this and want to find more ideas to optimize your site, head to our real estate SEO guide. And you’re one step closer to better SEO, getting more traffic, more leads, and in the end, closing more contracts.
Still… does all of this seem overwhelming?
If it is, remember—if you don’t get on top of this, plenty of competitors out there will gladly take on the extra workload and overcome you on the SERP. Why not do the extra work yourself and leave them behind?