how to optimize your real estate site

How to optimize your real estate site

How to optimize your real estate site

March 16th, 2016 – 8 Comments

There is a significant difference between a real estate site and a ‘regular’ website. Real estate sites have temporary content: when an estate is up for sale, there is a page for it online. But when it’s sold, it tends to leave the internet. In this post, I’ll tell you how to deal with that.

First things first

Next to the ever changing real estate pages, your website needs more static content as well.

About

Even though you’re basically selling bricks, your bricks are quite expensive. It helps when you make your website a bit more personal. Add your team and images of your team. Add a short story about how selling real estate became a passion of yours. A bit of history. All these things together make your website a lot more personal. A real estate agency that understands how to do this is Gottesman Residential.

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Area

We have seen our share of real estate sites in our website audits. And I have to say that especially US based real estate agencies know how to promote their specific area. Try to create levels in this. First address your entire service area. If you’re serving the entire state, add content about what’s great about that state. Why should people move there? Why is buying a house there so very interesting for your visitor? Second, see if you can find districts of that main area, like Central Texas and Northeast Texas. Find the metropolitan areas and create pages for specific cities. Obviously, the number of levels will vary per agency.

Update this area based page regularly, for instance with an event calendar and things like that. Your real estate site should become the Wikipedia of local things. RealtyAustin doesn’t only tell you why Austin is nice, it also provides things like a list of schools, a relocation guide, and neighborhood videos.

Contact and location

Personal contact is important for a lot of real estate buyers and sellers. That means that you’ll have to list your contact details in a prominent spot on your website. Make sure your telephone number is listed in a sidebar or header and add a contact page with contact details, a contact form and a map with the location of your office. Our Local SEO plugin will help you a lot in optimizing these details by adding schema.org markup to your address details. It also provides an easy option to add that map and even an option for directions.

One more thing about contact forms: if you’re looking at a certain house, and like what you see, you simply want to contact the realtor. If the website has a contact form in the sidebar next to the estate details, that will make things easier.

IDX and MLS

IDX and MLS are ways of integrating estates, from yourself or other brokers, in your own website. WordPress offers plugins for that. An Internet Data Exchange (IDX) listing tends to be less detailed compared to a realtors Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listing. Both are based upon the same principle: add your listing to a central website and allow other realtors to share your listings via their websites. Both buyers and realtors benefit: every house that’s on sale is served to the potential buyer and the potential buyer will be able to make a better selection before contacting the real estate agent.

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I have seen a lot of real estate sites adding an iframe with IDX listings to their website. Let me emphasize again that content in an iframe isn’t on your website and won’t help your website rank as such. If you’re using IDX/MLS, please make sure to import the content to your own website, and serve the listings in your own design. But this does mean duplicate content, as the listing are available on multiple websites. The best SEO practice for your real estate site is to create unique listings for your own website. Note that this might interfere with creating the largest reach for the property you’re selling if your website doesn’t have that many visitors (yet). A way to use both could be to serve unique content on your site and link ‘similar properties’ via IDX/MLS services below that.

The ever changing content of your real estate site

All real estate sites have one thing in common: your real estate listings come and go. Of course, you’ve added a great description to your unique listing of the property. This description, your images and the address of your property will help you rank. If your listing appears in the search result pages, it should feel like a waste to delete it from your website right after the sale. So simply don’t.

First of all, if your real estate is sold, it will pay off to keep that listing online for say three months. Clearly list that the property is sold (perhaps even add ‘within 16 days’ to show your agency gets the job done for sellers as well). Clearly list similar properties on that page to redirect people that searched for a property in that street or district.

Step two is an actual redirect. To optimize this properly, we first need to divide the location into a number of levels. In almost every case, it will pay off to create a hierarchical custom taxonomy for that location, going from state > city > district and as many more levels as your service area has. Doing so will make sure you’ll always have some kind of category to link to.

301 or 302 Redirect

If you redirect a listing and are confident that you can reuse the URL soon, you might consider using a 302 Redirect. That is a temporary redirect. If you are pretty sure the redirect is permanent, a 301 Redirect is the one to pick. That will also tell Google not to expect that page to return at all.

If after three months that property is still sold, redirect the page to a collection of properties in the same district. Preferably, you’d want these properties to have some similarities to the real estate you’ve just sold, like the same number of rooms, located near schools; you probably know what the majority of your customers values most. The page you are redirecting to could be a taxonomy page or even the search result page for properties in that district. If you can optimize that search page with a proper title and description, that would work perfectly well as a substitute for a category page.
Now if no such page for the same district is available, go up one level and redirect the page to a similar page with results from within the same city. Broaden your location bit by bit. Doing so will keep the temporary URL of the initial property valuable for your website for a longer period of time.

If the property is up for sale again within a few months (which sometimes happens), remove the redirect and reuse the initial URL. After six months to a year, feel free to remove the initial redirect, as Google will understand by now that the property is gone from your catalog.

Should I add my listings to sites like Zillow or Realestate.com.au?

I would add your listings to the larger real estate search platforms as well. Most of the searches for real estate are probably not done on broker’s sites but on sites like Zillow. These sites provide demographics on the neighborhood you want to move to and even things like crime rate. They probably have a larger team than you working on these facts and figures, their information might be a bit more accurate. All of this makes these sites very attractive for people that are looking for a new house. If you’re not on these websites and haven’t added a similar great description and the same number of images to your listing on these websites, you’re missing out on a lot of potential buyers.

Real estate sites like Zillow and Realestate.com.au should be considered an essential part of your marketing mix, like social media marketing most probably already is. Use them to show off all the great real estate you’re selling to a larger audience.

I trust this article has given you something to think about. If you have something to add to it or want to share your experience (or real estate website), feel free to leave a comment below!

Read more: ‘Local SEO: setting up landing pages’ »


8 Responses to How to optimize your real estate site

  1. Michelle
    By Michelle on 22 March, 2016

    Great post! Particularly about creating a local area page and not removing the property as soon as it’s sold. Often a redirect is put straight in back to the listing page which is frustating/confusing for users. One thing i’d say is to make sure that you’re using the more specific RealEstateAgent Schema type rather than the general LocalBusiness too.

  2. Manolo
    By Manolo on 20 March, 2016

    Thanks for the post I’ve been doing a Real Estate website right now (listing primary lands) and this come handy.
    I ve suggested my client NOT to delete any listings ( he does not have such a huge traffic) and instead:
    – Changing the Image with a “SOLD” watermark
    – adding some line of content with related listing: “Sorry this lot has been sold, please check this, this and this before they sold, too”
    – trying to get picture of the new building /family / whatever to give it more “real people” sensation.

    for the “off and on” again i told him to do a 302 on homepage… but actually your idea of making a 302 on a dir of “similiar” place is great. Thanks!

    Manolo

  3. Randy Milanovic
    By Randy Milanovic on 19 March, 2016

    Thank you. Just launched a new rental apartment building website. It’ll be interesting how the management company uses the site after we fill the building.

  4. Charlie
    By Charlie on 18 March, 2016

    Great insight about shelving the listing for a few months. My best rankin ing realtor sites have been ones that serve their mls on a sub domain vs root domain. That helps to segment the ever sluffing mls content you have no control over. Though in America I’m sure our mls is more intense than Europe.

    Also Realty Austin does a great job of owning the demographic.

  5. Lisander
    By Lisander on 17 March, 2016

    Good piece Michiel, it comes handy.
    I was thinking about the effects of content coming and going on my jobboard. I just started so, I don’t have a lot of jobs posted yet and deleting every job after it’s been online feels like a waste indeed.

    But I will try applying these tips.

  6. Brendan Martin (Gravitii)
    By Brendan Martin (Gravitii) on 17 March, 2016

    Great post. It’s interesting that Google tends not to care about giant amounts of duplicate content generated by real estate listings.

  7. Don Peterson
    By Don Peterson on 17 March, 2016

    Excellent post Micheil, with lots of sound advice! Thanks!

    I’ve been building and optimizing real estate websites for over a decade. I’ve also discovered that MLS listings, which may be shared by a number of real estate websites will be treated as duplicate content by Google. Because of that, most websites using that MLS content will get little SEO value from it. However, if you have the strongest ranked real estate website (not necessarily the oldest) in your territory with lots of fresh original content Google will show your MLS listings first in the search results!

    Many real estate websites will use the same blog content issued by their headquarter real estate company as blog content for their local real estate website without rewriting it. As a result, they will have lots of content, but all of it is seen as duplicate content by Google, as it is used by every other realtor or broker representing that real estate company. This hurts SEO as well. I encourage my real estate clients to always rewrite that content so that Google sees it as original.

    These two strategies have often moved my client websites to the top of search results in their local markets, (especially if their competitors are not paying attention to SEO) and Google will make my clients rel estate website the first link returned in a search result that involves MLS listings that may be featured on hundreds of other websites.

    I hope this helps your readers. Thanks again for an excellent post.

  8. Robert Werner
    By Robert Werner on 16 March, 2016

    If an agent wanted to feature different neighborhoods, or maybe different condo buildings within a city, would you recommend category pages with blog posts for new info, or static pages with content updated regularly?


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