Real Estate SEO - Cold Hard Facts

Services for Real Estate Pros with Buzz Marketing Pros

Comment by Michael Sahlman:

Hi I just added you as an associate. I am looking for possible alternate SEO companies or experts to help me. I am not too pleased with my current one. Also am trying to avoid paying an upfront charge for services not yet proved. Thanks for the post.

Michael, I've decided to answer you in a new post, because I have a lot to say about this.

In my opinion, the real estate industry is one of the most difficult for a search engine optimization specialist to tackle. Some reasons:

  • Fierce competition.
    • More real estate agents daily are realizing the Internet is the place to be, and there are hundreds if not thousands of people selling real estate in most locales.
  • Old, sometimes spammy, domains that are grandfathered into the SERPs
    • Google is taking a closer look at these when they are poorly designed and slow to load, but it's still hard to knock them off the first page.
  • Limited number of keywords available.
    • How many ways can you say 'homes for sale'?
  • Dynamic templated sites that don't allow for proper optimization.
    • Some of these companies are making their templates more SEO friendly, but they are still usually cumbersome and make a difficult goal even harder, if not impossible, to achieve.
  • Lack of money, especially now with sales down.
    • The more you can spend on link building and advertising, the easier it is to get rankings and traffic.

With most web sites, especially national ones, I can hit a home run pretty quickly. When it comes to real estate, it's a struggle every time. Not only that, when and if it comes, it takes a long time...often 6-12 months of dedicated hard work.

The following is what I stress, and Michael, make sure this is what your current SEO is doing:

  • First: extensive keyword research on how buyers search in your area
  • Your site should be impeccable:
    • Clean code
    • Proper navigation - no broken links
    • Keyword targeted titles - no duplication within the tag
    • Original titles on every page
    • Meta description that includes keywords and draws visitors to your site
    • At least 5 pages of original content with targeted keywords
    • Proper keyword density (run your content through a density checker)
    • H tags and alt tags that include keywords
    • Photos that are named using keywords
    • Contextual links to deep pages within the site
    • Footer links
    • Unique IP address if at all possible
    • Domain name registered for at least 5 more years
    • No invisible text, cloaking, or anything else that Google frowns upon
  • Listings in all local directories.
  • Submission to Yahoo! Directory,, Best of the Web, and other paid directories that are smiled upon by Google.
  • Submissions to niche directories.
  • Regularly updated blog (at least 3 posts per week): on-site if your web site is hosted separately, off-site if you are with a templated site. This is in addition to posting on Active Rain.
  • Submission of your blog to blog directories.
  • Participation in Social Media networks.
  • Buy text links from the demographic you're marketing to, for traffic (if you get link juice from it too, so much the better).
  • In an extremely competitive market, like Miami, consider Pay per Click ads. They work.

There are no guarantees when it comes to getting on the first page of Google. An SEO specialist can do everything right and still not get there; after all, in reality there are only 5 slots for each keyword. PPC takes hard cash, but there aren't many types of advertising that don't cost money.

Michael, I would never take a job without upfront fees, because of the uncertain nature of the Internet and Google in particular. However, many SEO's will make part of their fee results-based. At the very least, review this list with your SEO, ask them to de-spam your title and meta description, and I strongly suggest that you get yourself an original website hosted with a unique IP address.

Some of the SEO's reading this may not agree with everything I've laid out here, although I'm not sure what it would be. I don't have time these days to enter into debate on any of this (no offense intended). We all have our own ways of optimizing sites, these are my guidelines, and this is all pure white hat advice that can only help a web site.I need a nap now!

Al, thanks for encouraging me to continue posting on AR once in awhile.

Whew - now I need to go take a nap! 


SEO Diva ~ SEO Tips and Advice


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Sandra Carlisle (Ayers)
Berkshire Hathaway California Properties - Newport Beach, CA
Real Estate Marketing & Sales

That was too much to take in at this time on a Friday...  Bookmarking...

Jun 06, 2008 10:55 AM #20
Josh Holt
RE/MAX Coast To Coast~ Dedicated to You! - Berwick, ME
Southern Maine and NH Real Estate - Your Source of Info on the Berwicks

GREAT info! Way to break it down for simple folks like me. Thank you very much.


Jun 06, 2008 11:46 AM #21
Jon Lu
Coldwell Banker Platinum Group - San Jose, CA

Thanks for the great information.  What do you think about's pro version which costs about $400 a year?  Is it worth the money?  I know they have a money back guarantee, but how would I go about gauging its effectiveness?

Jun 06, 2008 01:16 PM #22
Kay Frenzer-Zeeh
Buzz Marketing Pros - Chandler, AZ
Real Estate SEO

Wow, lots of comments to leave!

@Dave - Yes, separate blogs.

@Marchel - a couple of years is okay, but if you plan to keep it for a long time more is better.

@Eric - it's an ongoing job to keep a site up to day. At some point in time you have to admit you can't do it all.

@Kelsie - Thanks for your input - I try to keep my recommendations on AR within accepted SEO practices.

@Bill - You're right, and it's like that in every industry.

@Dirk - I don't know, metro areas seem to be tough. Those are mostly what I've had to deal with. If you're getting good results, that is awesome!

@Leolinda - You're welcome. :)

@Pam - Thanks, you're welcome too!

@Joseph - It sounds like you've got a good marketing person.

@Kathy - You're welcome. I always enjoy the comments when I post on AR.

@Paul - Yep, most people do, including myself. My sites tend to be like the shoemakers children who need new shoes.

@Bryan - Naps are good! :)

@Sal - You're welcome.

Jun 06, 2008 01:35 PM #23
Kay Frenzer-Zeeh
Buzz Marketing Pros - Chandler, AZ
Real Estate SEO

@Richard - Some of my previous blogs cover keyword research.

Bolding all your keywords isn't really a good idea, or necessary.

Just write naturally, with a goal of about 3% density for each keyword. There are density checkers online.

You can sometimes ask for a unique IP from your host.

I can't say for sure about blogs on templated sites, but your research is showing that they don't help.

Oh sure, the search engines can go right into the whois database ( Check it out.

Jun 06, 2008 01:36 PM #24
Kay Frenzer-Zeeh
Buzz Marketing Pros - Chandler, AZ
Real Estate SEO

@Ryan - Funny thing, I do find it to be a full time job! I like your addition.

@OurMonmouth - Just to let you know, I've been around the SEO block, and in fact just attended an advanced search marketing conference with the big boys. Trust me, link selling is alive and well, but quite secretive now. Link buyers with brains know to buy a link that does not have a no follow tag on it and will not easily be found by Google. Sometimes a no follow link brings enough good traffic that it's worth it, however.

Also, keyword density is still important. A site with too much density is called "SPAM." A site with no keywords is called "not in the SERPs." :) It's important to pay attention to it.

@Sandra - That's why I had to take a nap after I finished it!

@Josh - You're welcome!

@Jon - I just spoke to a rep about it at the conference, and I think if, as a single site owner, you are really into metrics, it's worth it. It's definitely worth it to me and the marketing company I work for, and we are going to order it.


Jun 06, 2008 01:52 PM #25
Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239
Real Estate One - Commerce, MI
Michigan homes for sale ~

Thanks for all the great information.  I hope I can keep moving up.  Have a great day 

Jun 09, 2008 01:24 PM #26
Annette Smith
Allen Real Estate Services, Inc. - Sarasota, FL
Sarasota Real Estate Agent

Kay, I always get something wonderful from your posts.  I've bookmarked this one for a quick checklist to my never ending seo work.  I do my own and one thing I know -- keep on keeping on!  You can't stop or your seo person can't stop.  It has to be ongoing just like any advertising campaign.  Thanks again for sharing! 

Jun 18, 2008 08:59 AM #27
Kay Frenzer-Zeeh
Buzz Marketing Pros - Chandler, AZ
Real Estate SEO

@Russ - good luck!

@Annette - you're right, it's like any advertising campaign. Many people don't understand that.

Jun 18, 2008 03:14 PM #28
Jolina Rodriguez
jolinacom - Virginia Beach, VA



i'm very interesting in your post

hope to chat you soon



Jun 18, 2008 03:28 PM #29
Craig Smith
Re/Max Achievers - Frederick, MD
Frederick MD Real Estate

Thanks for the informations. It's always good to hear new ideas or reinforce one that I should be doing

Jun 18, 2008 03:59 PM #30
Glenn Sanford
eXp Realty & Working The Magic, LLC - Bellingham, WA

Again great stuff...  There are lots of ways to SEO heaven and it looks like you have figured out many of them...


Jun 18, 2008 04:51 PM #31
Michael Sahlman - Keller Williams Realty - Miami Beach, FL
e-PRO - Miami Beach Florida Luxury Homes

Thanks Kay for taking the time to write such a complete response. Now I have to re-read your comments as i am about ready to fall asleep. Thanks again for your response.

Jun 25, 2008 03:31 PM #33
Kay Frenzer-Zeeh
Buzz Marketing Pros - Chandler, AZ
Real Estate SEO

@Joli - I hope it helps you.

@Craig - you're welcome!

@Glenn - lol I keep trying :)

@Michael - see what you inspired!

Jul 02, 2008 02:00 PM #34
Rent 2 Own Land
843-410-8732 - Charleston, SC realize that you are a little intimidating - beauty & brains :)

How did you learn so much about SEO?

Bobby Wallace

Oct 05, 2008 11:03 AM #35
Boston Condo Guy
Boston Condo Guy - Boston, MA

Thank you for hte thorough post.  And I look forward to further reading on the SEO Diva blog as well, thank you.

Oct 25, 2008 02:13 AM #36
Troy Erickson
Diverse Solutions Realty - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Great information!  One other thing to keep in mind is that the SEO criteria seems to continue to change as SEO becomes more and more popular, and people are trying new methods.  With that in mind, one must always try to stay ahead of the curve.

Nov 04, 2008 02:37 AM #37
Eileen Begley
Coldwell Banker, DelMonte - Carmel, CA
Monterey Real Estate

Hi Kay; Awesome post.  Do know it is not easy - especially in the real estate industry. I bookmarked you post as there is especially good info here.

Nov 04, 2008 09:24 AM #38
Rent 2 Own Land
843-410-8732 - Charleston, SC

Kay - posts like this is why you are my hero. Thank you very much.

Nov 04, 2008 01:43 PM #39
Scott Barr
Hom Sotheby's international Realty - Newport Beach, CA

Kay, great information. I will need someone to interpret some of things you mentioned, but I still appreciate the value that you bring to a/r.

Nov 05, 2008 03:07 PM #40
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