What are the biggest changes in real estate search engine optimization for 2023?
The only thing consistent in the SEO world is change and we have seen some major changes in the last 12 months. Google published ten "named" algorithm updates in 2022 (which are very significant and can take months to roll out fully) and hundreds of smaller updates throughout 2022 -- all of which had an impact on search rankings in some way.
Many websites saw their traffic get devastated by the Helpful Content & Link Spam update which just finished rolling out on January 12th of 2023. Even websites under the control of professional digital marketing agencies have gotten hit as it can be tempting to exploit a current weakness in the algorithm to increase rankings, only to get slammed by Google when they "catch up".
So what are the things you need to be paying attention to in 2023 for your digital marketing?
Google Business Profile
Optimizing your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is the biggest driver of traffic for Realtors in 2023. With more and more searches producing Map Pack results -optimizing your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) will improve your brand visibility and drive more website traffic. It will also generate more real estate leads.
This trend addresses a long-time challenge for Google...people doing a search, looking at the results, clicking a link and going to a website. But isn't that what a search engine is supposed to do?
This change in how SERPS (search engine results page) are displayed has changed the game for them. Instead of having the user to "leave Google" and go to another site after submitting a query, displaying GBP at the top of the results keeps the user within Google's ecosystem. A lot of search queries that produced traditional "blue" links as results now display a localized map pack.
If your are an agent, team or broker that has not registered or claimed your Google Listing, you can do that HERE.
You are missing the boat if you only focus on your real estate website and not your Google Profile. Search terms such as "best Realtor near me" pull up a Map Pack and are quickly becoming a tremendous lead source for agents that invested in Local SEO. The people doing that type of search are generally at the end of their sales cycle, haven't found an agent they like and are ready to buy or sell.
Optimizing your GBP is a very different process than traditional SEO and requires a different skillset as well as specialized tools. Although you can technically rank your Google Profile without a website at all, the copy on your site as well as how authoritative it is, now plays a role in the success of your Google Profile.
Below are some of the basics in optimizing your Google Business Profile:
- Correctly define your primary business category and secondary categories
- Set a service area in which you work using your address
- Your NAP (name and address plus phone number) should be consistent everywhere across the web
- Multiple citation accounts should be created with the exact NAP
- Use Google Posts multiple times per week
- Embed your Goggle Map on your website
- Get tons of positive reviews
- Create unique descriptions for all your services
- Your website should have multiple links to your GBP, reviews, map and website built within the platform.
Local SEO Rankings
Google Business Profile rankings vary dramatically depending on the geographic location of the searcher relative to the listing's office address. Because of this, you may rank #1 while standing in your office, but that changes as you drive down the street. That has many Realtors thinking they rank MUCH BETTER than they actually do.
To get an accurate picture of your rankings in the local search, you can use an SEO program such as Local Falcon. These types of rank tracking tools pull the rankings from different areas and layer that over a map. Google will generally display the top three results per search query.
Although most digital marketing agencies have been using Artificial Intelligence for years, those products have been expensive and provided mixed results.
Recently OpenAI took the world by storm by releasing Chat GPT to the general public and including free option for anyone to play with. This system can greatly simplify many tasks that Realtors do including: writing property descriptions, responding to reviews, even writing full blog posts for your website.
When I asked Chat GPT "how will Chat GPT change SEO for the real estate industry in 2023?" This was what it said:
It is difficult to predict exactly how ChatGPT and similar language models will change SEO for the real estate industry in 2023, as the field is constantly evolving. However, it is likely that these models will be used to generate more natural-sounding and accurate responses to questions about properties, which could improve the user experience and make it easier for people to find the information they are looking for. Additionally, language models like ChatGPT may be used to generate more detailed and accurate descriptions of properties, which could improve search engine rankings and visibility. Ultimately, the impact of ChatGPT on SEO for the real estate industry will depend on how it is implemented and used by individual companies and websites.
Content marketing refers to the creation and distribution of valuable and relevant content in order to attract, acquire and engage a target audience. Real estate companies generally use blog articles, videos and social media posts as their content to drive traffic.
Content marketing is only slightly behind optimizing your Google Business Profile as the most important things in real estate SEO for 2023. Remember that you must produce original and quality content. It is not possible to simply copy content from another article and try to pass it off as yours. Google is able to tell the difference.
Content marketing is a way to build brand awareness, establish a business as an expert in a field, connect with clients, and create natural backlinks that will help SEO. An SEO tool like SEMrush can help you come up with blog topics, monitor your websites rankings, track backlinks and do keyword research.
On the topic of Content Marketing and Artificial Intelligence, here are some common tools used by SEOs to leverage AI to produce content.
- Article Forge
*NOTE - We strongly recommend NOT posting copy to your website directly from any of the above tools without being fully reviewed and rewritten by a human to avoid any penalty by Google.
Here is a video showing the power of ChatGPT
Use a Professional
It has become increasingly difficult to implement SEO by yourself with Google constantly changing their algorithm. This is especially true for brokers and real estate agents as the daily grind of running a brokerage or working with buyers and sellers is a full time job. It's one thing to dabble in search engine optimization if you are a web developer or a Google Ads specialist since you are working around the technology day in and day out. That doesn't mean it cant be done yourself, but remember...home owners can sell their home FSBO - but is that the best decision?
SEO, particularly for the real-estate industry, requires constant attention to the changes in best practices for SEO as well as the ability to create great content on a regular basis. It also requires a high level technical knowledge and web development experience as on-page SEO and technical SEO are necessities if you want to compete with real estate franchises, large independent brokers and 3rd party sites like Zillow and Realtor.com.
Hiring an agency that specializes in real estate SEO can be expensive. We strongly recommend staying away from any "super cheap" offers or one time charges that supposed to rank your real estate website. Proper SEO is an ongoing process and takes time. Although some marketing professionals charge by the hour, many established agencies will have SEO package prices and some will even offer Managed SEO Services.
One reason it can be expensive hiring a pro is most SEOs spend thousands of dollars a month on a variety of tools to get the job done. There are many aspects of SEO including Local SEO, Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, Backlink Sculpting and content creation and each of these have their own set of tools. Most specialized SEO tools are expensive and generally have a pretty steep learning curve. Just like anything, you need the right tool for the job to get it done correctly.
Here is a short list of some of the most popular SEO tools:
- Moz Pro
- Screaming Frog
- Bright Local
- GMB Everywhere
- SEO Quake (free)
- Local Falcon
- Surfer SEO
- KW Finder
- Google Search Console (free)
- Google Analytics (free)
- Google PageSpeed Insights (free)
- GTMetrix (free)
- Raven Tools
- Yoast (free)
Real estate SEO is more difficult than other industries for a variety of reasons, so you might want to find an agency that specializes in real estate SEO. Most SEO companies are not familiar with even the most basic technologies commonly used in real estate such as IDX. In addition, they are not aware of the rules and regulations within the real estate industry.
As an example, one thing we see over and over is "New Listings" being leveraged as blog posts. Although this can be done, the post needs to be totally removed from the website as soon as it sells (never done).
Reason is the listing agreement is complete the moment the home is sold and the listing agent no longer has the right to market the property. If that blog post stays active forever, you are advertising a listing that is not only not for sale, but has a new owner. If the site has good SEO, that blog will rank upon anyone Googling that address.
A reputable SEO agency should pay for themself in the long-term. Their job is to give you back $1.50 for every $1 you spend. They should be able to start providing a return of investment (ROI), within one year if they are skilled at what they do.
Being competitive in the online world for the real estate industry is hard. With over 3 million people holding real estate licenses and 1.6 million active Realtors, there is a ton of competition and that's not counting the Zillow's of the world.
If you have generating leads online as part of your marketing strategy, it's important to stay abreast of the constant changes in the industry and if you choose to invest in hiring a professional, do your homework and hire someone who specializes in real estate marketing.
no problem -- I'm putting some more content together on the subject over the weekend