Illinois Real Estate SEO

What Realtors Need to Know to Beat Big Brands in Google Organic Search

Real Estate SEO | What Realtors Need to KnowBefore we get into it, we’ll need to lay some groundwork, and define some terms.  With so many different definitions for SEO flying around the internet and spamming Realtor emails, we want to make sure that we’re all on the same page and talking about the same thing.

SEO for Real Estate Defined

You’ve probably already received several hundred phone calls and emails promising you the top spot on Google for your real estate search terms.  You know the schpeel, “we can get you ranking #1 for the search term, best Chicago real estate agent today with our guaranteed SEO!”  In reality, this isn’t SEO at all, this is SEM (search engine marketing), and it primarily refers to utilizing Google AdWords (which 85% of searchers skip right over).

No, SEM is not the same as SEO.  So what is SEO exactly?  Webopedia defines it this way:

Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.

And Search Engine Land defines it this way:

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.

Both are right in that the focus is not on paying for search results in the form of ads, but rather, structuring your website around specific keyword phrases and working on-site and off-site so that your website appears in the organic search results of Google.

For a real estate agent, this means that the primary goal in doing SEO is to get your real estate website to the first page of Google for your preferred search terms.  Terms like Chicago real estate agent or Chicago Realtor.

Why Should I Concentrate On SEO?

Why is SEO important you ask?  According to “The Digital House Hunt,” a study that was jointly conducted by Google and The National Association of Realtors, 90% of home buyers use the internet while house hunting.

Increasingly, buyers and sellers are looking to Google to help them in their home shopping decisions, and to find qualified Realtors to help them sell their homes.

In addition to the massive increase in internet dependence by the client, there is a significant disconnect with the Realtors.  We’ve found that with the hundreds of real estate agents that we’ve come in contact with, there is virtually no, none, nada focus being given to having a quality real estate website that ranks well.  This is astounding!  What this means for web-savvy real estate agents is, the sky is the limit.  Besides data aggregator companies like Zillow, Realtor, and Trulia, there are no real estate agents doing good SEO so there is no competition.

Are Organic Results Worth the Effort?

In the example below, we’ve taken a commonly searched keyword phrase and tried to calculate the estimated value of that phrase if it was ranking in the #1 position on Google.

“Downers Grove real estate agent”
Real Estate SEO | What Realtors Need to Know

Here you see that the exact match keyword phrase and it’s related keyword phrases give an estimated search volume of 284-920 searches per month.  We took the median of this range which came to 605 searches per month.

According to Advanced Web Ranking, the CTR, or click-through rate, of the #1 Google result is 31.24%.

Real Estate SEO | What Realtors Need to Know
Real Estate SEO | What Realtors Need to Know

Armed with this information we can do some calculations.  31% of the 605 median monthly searches results in 188 new visitors per month.  Given a 12% website conversion rate (this is slightly higher than the average 10% due to the specificity of the keyword phrase), we get 23 new prospective clients per month.  Taking a 90% website to client conversion rate (this is someone who visits the website, contacts the realtor, and then becomes a client), we get 21 new clients per month.  With a client to close rate of 5% (this can be higher or lower depending on the Realtor) we get 1 client that makes it to closing, per month.  The median sales price of a home in Downers Grove IL is approximately $304,000.00.  Taking a 3% commission rate on one side of the transaction we get amonthly gross earning potential of $9,120.00.  This gives us an annual gross earning potential of $109,440.00.

It seems to us that the ROI (return on investment) is significant when doing good real estate SEO.

When It Comes To SEO, Realtors have Two Options

  • Sweat Equity
    • If a Realtor has the time, they can do all of the research and SEO themselves.  This will require many hours of study to figure out what good real estate SEO entails, and will require many hours of content creation, like blog posts, over a long period of time.  But it can be done.
  • Hire A Real Estate SEO Professional
    • This option requires little to no time for the Realtor but will require a financial investment.  The real question is, how much is your time worth?  Do you have the time and knowledge to commit to doing SEO, or would you rather focus on your clients and let someone else handle it?

Is It Possible To Beat Out Big Real Estate Brands in Search?

Big brand real estate websites such as Zillow, Realtor, and Trulia are ruling the search results.  Not because they’re doing fantastic real estate SEO, rather, they’re actually breaking most of the rules.  Google has stated itself that it prefers recognizable brands.  So how does the little guy compete?

For the most part, the final five search results on the first page are going to be what’s up for grabs.  This isn’t to say that the #1 spot can’t be had (we’ll talk more about this later.)

I know what you’re thinking…” the final five?  Nobody makes it all the way down there!”  Normally I’d say you were correct.  However, when searchers get fed up with the major data aggregators, aka Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor, they turn back to the Google search results and make their way down to a more relevant result.  Remember, the big aggregators aren’t in the business of selling Realtors, per se, they’re more interested in ruling home searches.  It’s unlikely that someone searching for a local real estate agent is going to wade through the mountains of results for Realtors that are provided by the aggregators.  Once these searchers make it down the results they’ll come across someone more local.  The question is, are you the local agent using SEO strategy and showing up on the first page?

Quality real estate SEO delivers free, consistent, and motivated leads right to your website.  It is of the utmost importance that you are the local real estate agent being found on the first page since there are many searchers that agree that Google got it all wrong when ranking the data aggregators above the local agent.  Showing up on page one of the Google results is the local agent’s best answer to the impersonal experience that Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor are providing.

How About Beating Other Realtors That Are Doing SEO?

Great question!  The reality is, there aren’t any.  At least not in our experience.  Of the hundreds of Illinois real estate agents that we’ve spoken with, there has been virtually zero agents that have made real estate SEO a priority.  Even the agents that thought they were doing SEO had the wrong idea of what SEO even was.  There have even been some Realtors that were being swindled by companies that we’ll leave nameless, because the service that they were paying for was simply re-blogging heavily used material on their website.

This is great news for aRealtor that recognizes the value of doing excellent SEO.  The search results that Google is providing is mostly because of a lack of anything better to provide.  Good real estate SEO can beat out the competition because there isn’t any.

Local & Hyper-Local

Remember when we said that the #1 spot might be attainable?  In the example above we used the search term “downers grove real estate agent.”  This is what is referred to as a long tail keyword phrase.  It is also classified as a hyper-local organic search term.  Big aggregators aren’t necessarily targeting these types of keywords, but they are ranking for them.

We’ve seen several instances where small Realtor websites were beating the big brands for these types of search terms, while not even trying.  What does that tell us?  Well, if an individual real estate agent set to doing good SEO over a long period of time, that #1 spot can be obtained for some local and hyper-local organic long tail keyword searches.  The search volume for these terms is much, but when you compound that over several areas it really adds up.

Hire a real estate SEO professional

By This time you’re probably wondering how we can help.  Creative Marketing Media Inc. specializes in local and hyper-local organic SEO for real estate agents in Illinois.  We do this by creating quality content, link-building, and social media for Realtors.  CMM is dedicated to helping Illinois Realtors find internet marketing success.  See real estate SEO pricing here or contact us today!