Real estate SEO essentials, part 1 – keyword research

Reading time: about 4 mins
Real Estate SEO Helps You Get Found

Real Estate SEO Helps You Get Found

These days, any agent worth their salt has at least some presence online.  Smart agents know that 90% of buyers go online to find homes (2012 NAR Report) and are working to meet clients on their terms.  But simply placing listings online isn’t enough when popular “third-party sites sell ad space to agents with competing brokerages that appear next to listings” (, November 2012).

To truly succeed online, you need to reach prospective clients before the competition, and that means meeting buyers where they start their search.  That’s why search engine optimization, or SEO, is a key part of your real estate marketing tool set.

Effective real estate SEO helps your listing pages and your agency site rank higher on search engines like, Google, Yahoo, and Bing by making your pages easier for search engines to read.

Keywords are Critical for Real Estate SEO

Search engines don’t read your webpages the same way you or I do.  They scan your page’s content for keywords that describe the page’s theme, and look to links to and from your site to determine the page’s relevance relative to other pages on the same subject.  Thus, the path to getting found on search engines starts with focusing your page content on specific and client-relevant keywords.

In Part 1 of our Real Estate SEO Essentials series, we’ll help you identify those keywords your ideal clients are using to search online.  Then, in Part 2, we’ll show you how to apply those keywords to your site content to rank higher for the searches that are most valuable to you.

Successful SEO starts with deliberate keyword research with the goal of identifying two or three keywords for each of the web pages you want to optimize.

Quality keywords meet the following 3 criteria:

  1. It accurately and specifically describes the content of its associated webpage; for example Durham County Real Estate as a keyword for your page showing new listings in the Durham county.
  2. It’s relevant to your ideal client’s needs or interests.
  3. It isn’t already under intense competition.

You can build a list of highly relevant keywords that meet all of the criteria above and are sure to reach new clients interested in your services by taking the following steps:

Keyword Research Step 1 – Brainstorming

Since all searches start with your prospective client entering a keyword into a search engine, start your research by brainstorming a list of between five and ten search queries that someone searching for your page might type into Google.

Be specific; if you’re working on a page describing your core services, make sure you include keywords describing the kinds of properties you list, your service areas, and any other specialties you might have (Relo, foreclosures, etc.).

Including specific keywords is vital because you’re competing with other agents and brokerages in your area for a spot on the first page of search results.  Keywords like Durham relocation will be extremely competitive, and therefore difficult to rank for.  Durham relocation specialist will be much less competitive, but no less valuable to you.

Repeat this brainstorming exercise, listing five to ten relevant keywords for each of the pages you wish to optimize.

Keyword Research Step 2 – Checking Search Volumes

Even if your keywords are extremely relevant to the pages you’re optimizing, you still need to ensure that enough people are searching for them to justify your optimization efforts.

Luckily, there are some great tools available free online that will not only help you measure search volume for the keywords you’ve brainstormed, but will also give you related keywords and their stats for comparison.  For this exercise, we recommend using Google’s Keyword Tool.

Click the link, and start by copying your first group of keywords, and pasting them into the box under Word or phrase.  Enter the Captcha words to verify you’re not a robot, and click the Search button to run the tool for your keywords.


 Analyze keywords for your real estate SEO strategy with Google’s keyword tool.

Once you run the tool, it will quickly search volumes and advertiser competition data for the keywords you entered, along with a list of related keywords.


 Inform your real estate SEO stats with hard data

Take some time to study your results, paying special attention to the local monthly search volume column.  The higher the number of searches, the more people you can reach by optimizing your page for that keyword.

Not only will this analysis give you insight into market interest in the various keywords you’ve brainstormed, but you’ll also be able to identify additional keywords you hadn’t initially thought of.

Keyword Research Step 3 – Gauge Competition

While you might be tempted to target the highest volume keywords from Google’s report, keep in mind that they’re just as valuable to your competitors, some of whom will already be heavily optimized for those terms.

Before you spend valuable time optimizing your pages for keywords that the big firms are fighting over tooth and nail, compare your keywords’ search volumes to the values in the Competition column.  This column tells you the relative competition of a keywords based on the number of advertisers targeting it on Google.


You can use this metric to gauge how competitors value a keyword.  Odds are, if a keyword is important enough for them to target it specifically with an ad, it’s important enough for them to optimize their site for as well.

Try and find keywords that are relevant to your page with more than 100 local monthly searches and a Low competition level.  These keywords are easier to rank for, and will get your page in front of a significant number of searchers each month.

Repeat this analysis for each of the keyword lists you built in step 1 with the goal of isolating two or three keywords per webpage.  When you’re finished, you’ll have a definitive list of keywords with which to optimize your pages.

In Part 2, we’ll discuss how to apply these keywords to your site content to reach qualified buyers and sellers on Google, Yahoo, and Bing!

Be sure to subscribe to FreeAgent (top of the page), like us on Facebook, or follow us Twitter to get access to Part 2 as soon as it’s published!

Have keyword research or SEO tips of your own?  Share them with the community in the comments:


PS – Can you guess which keywords this post was optimized for?

More posts like this:

Leave a comment

Related Information