Are You Spending Too Much on SEO for Real Estate?

Real Estate Agent with Concierge Auctions

I have been doing a lot of thinking on this subject, but not a ton of writing. I think in one of my previous posts I said I would write on the subject, so here it is.

I consider myself extremely lucky getting to participate in meetings at some outstanding real estate companies around the country. No matter where I go both companies and agents are trying to engage heavily in SEO(search engine optimization). In a few meetings I think people considered it heresy when I mentioned that I felt people should be spending less money on SEO and shift the online budget to PPC(pay per click).

So, let's describe the landscape on what is being played for here. According to NAR's latest report, eighty-eight percent(88%) of consumers are searching for homes online, thirty-two percent(32%) are identifying the home they purchase online, and nine percent (9%) identified their Realtor online.

The logic behind this madness is for Realtors to pick up new buyers. So, all of this money is being spent on where 9% of the consumers find their agent. The challenge with SEO is that it is very difficult to measure and more importantly our beloved Google(where most people search) is changing the game. They give us all of these great applications for free because they generate billions of dollars from the advertising.

Below are two screen shots. The first is of a Google search for Baltimore real estate(just because that is where I am sitting at the moment), and the other is from an SEO company called SEOBook on one of their blog posts. Blog post for SEOBook found at

In the screen shot from SEOBook they are explaining how basically everything that appears now is a Google ad except the #1 result in the organic search. WOW!!!! Only the #1 organic result is displayed above the fold on the screen. How many brokerages or agents can achieve the first spot? I imagine almost none. Also the company or person that is there almost never gets moved out. I know in 4 years of owning Aspen Sotheby's International Realty we were in the top 3, but we were never able to achieve #1.



In the screen below you can see a live example of search for Baltimore real estate companies. Using the example from the SEOBook screen shot, only Long and Foster is displayed naturally and everyone else is either an ad or being displayed on the Google Map promotion or ads.



You will also notice that the best company in the real estate industry(ZipRealty) for generating web leads is the #1 PPC ad. If you have Zip Realty in your market, do Google searches until your heart's content and I bet you will almost never find them in an organic search.

I have two conclusions: 
1. If you are spending money trying to generate buyers then spend it on PPC. The advantages are that you can control both you result placement and your budget. 
2. Is that the majority of advertising dollars should really be spent online promoting listings. One area the industry seriously needs to improve is consolidating these online statistics for sellers. There are so many sites out there today and very hard to get good consolidated data to share with a seller.

So, listing agents get out your wallets and start promoting your listings online. That is where 32% of your prospective buyers are finding their next home.

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