Offline advertising has always been an important marketing avenue for real estate investors to find great deals and get their properties sold. Direct mail campaigns, ads in community newspapers, local and regional radio and even TV spots have all proven to be effective ways to promote property listings and find motivated sellers.
But in the age of the internet, if you really want your properties to get noticed by the masses, you absolutely, 100%, NEED to have a robust online presence — and it all starts with a well-designed, constantly updated, search-friendly real estate investor website.
A Brief Primer on SEO for Your Real Estate Website
Before we dive into the SEO best practices, let’s take a step back and explore the concept of search engine optimization and why it’s such a vital concept for real estate investors to grasp.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is how your website gets found in Google (and, to a lesser extent, other search engines like Bing and Yahoo).
Optimizing your real estate website for these search engines requires that you pay attention to some key details:
- Your website domain name (in other words, your URL)
- Titles and headers for your pages and blog posts
- Images and videos you incorporate into your site content
- Even the links you feature in your site’s top navigation bar
We won’t go into intricate detail regarding how you can fully optimize your on-page SEO strategy for your real estate investor website.
Just know it’s best to learn the ins and outs of modern search optimization so your business and investment properties get found by the right people (e.g. – interested buyers with strong intent to purchase soon).
Alright — now on to the 9 specific SEO hacks that can boost your digital presence in the weeks, months, and years ahead …
1) Create niche pages and blog posts that outline your investment properties and business.
If you're a part-time investor (meaning you have another job and sources of income), that means you have only so much time to allocate to researching, buying, and fixing up the properties you work with. But some of that time should be spent creating interesting, informative content for your real estate investor website.
One of the primary ranking factors for SEO success is producing and publishing a steady stream of original content — content that explains who you are, what your products and services are, and how interested buyers can connect with you, among other things.
Take your passion for real estate investing and infuse it into your website. Create pages that explain your business, why you love investing investing in real estate, why you love helping buyers and renters find a great place to own and/or live in, and even the ins and outs of buying and renting.
2) Optimize your content with relevant, locally focused, highly searched keywords.
Once you finish a page for your real estate investor website, it’s time to conduct some keyword research to determine how you can get that content to rank well in search engine results pages (well, let’s be honest: Google) over the long haul.
There is no right keyword (or keyword group) to use for your pages, nor is there a specific timeline regarding how that content and those keywords will help you rank high in search engines down the line. Having said that, the more you test different keywords across your site pages, the easier it is to recognize things like:
- which ones work (drive your content to page one or two of Google)
- which ones don’t (and can be switched out for better keywords)
- which ones to try next (set aside time to research keywords related to your local market at least once a month; it should only take 20 minutes to identify popular terms and phrases you can infuse in your content).
Keyword implementation is both an art and science. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t add the “right” ones to your site pages right off the bat.
Once you find the mix of keywords that helps you once, you know you can use those terms again and again on your site and get numerous pages to rank well in search.
3) Leverage popular blogs, news outlets, and other publications to promote your brand and/or units.
Don’t think you need to rely solely on yourself to boost your SEO value online. Consider working with popular individuals and platforms in your space — like those in the media and who run popular blogs — to get word out about your business and/or your properties.
This requires a more proactive approach in terms of outreach (e.g. emailing a contact and convincing them to allow you to join their podcast or write a blog entry for their website).
Connecting with at least one of these types of people or platforms with large networks/audiences can help establish your brand in the area and garner more attention for your investment properties.
Now, you’re probably saying:
“This seems like an interesting tactic… but what the heck does it have to do with my website?”
Once you work with others in and around your market to promote your business, you can link to the content you created with them — radio interviews, TV appearances, blog articles, etc. — on your own website.
If those you work with are popular in their own right, just using their names and the names of the companies/organizations they work for can bolster your site’s SEO ranking.
4) At a loss for content ideas? See what other successful real estate investor websites are publishing.
Inspiration for your search-optimized content can come from a variety of sources — including and especially the competition (or larger investors in your area you don’t directly compete with).
Visit their websites to see the types of articles, resources, and visuals they share online. If they produce lots of short explainer videos, like “how-tos” on buying homes and other properties, perhaps that’s an avenue to take with your site.
You can tell if these types of content provide a boost to their websites if many of their site pages rank in the first page or two of Google for certain search terms.
There are several SEO “spy” tools you can use to identify the keywords and subject matters competing investment companies — everyone from part-time investors to the giant firms in your city or state — use across their sites and how they perform in terms of helping those companies and individuals enhance their web presence.
5) Develop a comprehensive social media presence and automate shares promoting your company.
You may not have realized this – but Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other well-known social networks can have a huge effect on how a brand’s websites are found in search engines, and they actually play a big role in their SEO efforts as well.
Tweets are now indexed by Google, meaning that anytime you share a post on Twitter and use certain keywords, your post could be one of the first results in Google for that term or phrase.
That’s the case for your main accounts on these social channels as well. While using your actual name on your business' social media pages is ideal, it's also ideal to use a formal business name, if you have one (“John Smith Investment Properties”), or the strongest keyword associated with your niche business model, like “Orlando Condo Sales” or “Portland Homes for Sale.”
If you haven't developed a presence on these social outlets yet, get started now — and create the accounts for your business, not your personal name. The two should be entirely separate, so you don’t annoy family and friends with social shares regarding the units you’re trying to sell or rent.
6) Send automated emails featuring links to your investment properties to your network.
Email may not directly relate to the world of SEO, but it does have an impact on your click-through rate — how often your recipients click on links in your emails that direct back to your website — which, in turn, affects your search engine standing.
These days, Google favors websites that generate lots of traffic, both through its own search engine and via other sources:
- Direct: when people types in the URL of the site they want to visit (instead of Googling it)
- Referral: When a visitor lands on your website via a link from another website
- Social: When users find your site links on your social accounts or other social pages
- Email: When someone clicks a link in a targeted, promotional message in their inbox
There are a lot of other SEO ranking factors to know about, but the point is this: Email can and should be your premier marketing tool to nurture potential buyers and business partners into happy customers.
7) Link to reputable, popular websites in your content to boost your SEO ranking in Google.
There’s white-hat SEO, which is the search engine optimization approach that everyone should abide by (e.g. posting original, unique content). Then, there’s black-hat SEO, which Google and Bing can actually penalize companies and professionals for (e.g. buying website clicks from shady sources/sites).
As long as you follow on-page SEO best practices for your web presence, you’ll be fine. One white-hat tactic in particular that can aid your efforts in getting your pages found is to link — and link a lot — to reputable sources.
It's usually not difficult to tell when a website is and isn’t reputable. The former kind is modern, sleek sites that clearly have tons of useful information, legitimate domain names, and are easy to navigate. The latter type is unintuitive, has a shady URL (“bobs-amazing-home-listings.net”), with an outdated design (e.g. poor navigation, overstuffed links).
So, whenever you produce a page or post and want to enhance it for SEO, think about relevant, informative pages to which you can link. For every 100 words you write, you should have at least one reputable link you incorporate in your content.
8) Shoot amazing photos and videos of your units so you can showcase them site-wide.
You don’t need thousands (or even hundreds) of dollars worth of video and photo gear to capture great footage and pictures of the investment properties and units you own and operate. All you need is a decent smartphone or tablet.
Androids, iPhones, and similar modern gadgets allow us to become the directors of our very own mini-movies and photographers on par with some of the best (well, at least come close to them).
While there will definitely be times when you’ll want and need to hire professionals to produce videos and take photos of your residences, just know there are certain multimedia-creating activities you can conduct on your own — and ones that can improve your SEO efforts.
Another one of Google’s latest search infatuations is the implementation of videos and photos on websites. We’re not just talking about a photo here and a video there. The search engine wants to see lots of amazing visuals from top to bottom on your pages.
That doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the amount of copy you generate for each page. Instead, it means you should find videos and photos to include along with that copy to create the most search-friendly pages as possible.
Also: Don’t forget you can secure stock photos from a number of royalty-free stock image websites and embed videos you find on YouTube as well – even those that aren’t your own. Just be sure to provide proper citation whenever you use someone else’s multimedia and ensure it’s okay to use said multimedia for your own marketing purposes.
9) Ensure your real estate investor website is mobile-friendly (you’re in trouble if it isn’t).
And finally, we come to arguably the biggest and most important SEO hack — which, technically, isn’t so much a “hack” as it is a prerequisite for SEO success: a responsive website.
Responsiveness is just a fancy way of saying mobile-friendly – your site looks just as crisp and is just as easy to read and use on smartphones and tablets as it is on desktop.
You’d be surprised how many businesses today still haven’t made the transition from dated sites that look like they were somehow built in the 70s (that's right, before the internet existed).
Don’t be one of these brands. Put the effort into setting up a responsive site. There are dozens of respected and revered site providers out there that offer pre-made, responsive themes that are easy to modify with branding visuals, unique content, contact information, and other core details that can win you new business — and help you climb the proverbial search ladder. Lead Propeller and Investor Carrot are two great examples.
Your SEO efforts won’t yield results overnight — they never do, even for Fortune 500 brands with marketing teams featuring dozens of people.
With a persistent attitude and approach and the willingness to both establish and improve your online presence, though, you’ll eventually realize the ROI of promoting your business and properties online VASTLY beats any paid, offline strategies by a long shot.