real estate seo

Why Your Real Estate Website Isn’t Ranking: Common SEO Pitfalls

Did you know that over 90% of home buyers start their property search online? According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, 97% of all homebuyers used the internet in their home search. Yet, despite this staggering statistic, many real estate professionals find their websites lost in the vast expanse of search results. Why is this the case? The answer often lies in overlooked SEO strategies. This article will uncover the common pitfalls in real estate SEO and provide actionable insights to elevate your online presence.

Lack of Keyword Optimization

Keyword optimization is the backbone of any successful SEO strategy, especially in the competitive realm of real estate. Without the right keywords, even the most beautifully designed website will remain be doomed to the back pages of the Google search results. But what does it truly mean to optimize for keywords, and how can real estate professionals get it right?

  • Understanding Your Audience's Search Intent: Before diving into keyword research, it's essential to understand what potential clients are searching for. Are they looking for luxury apartments in a specific city? Or perhaps they're interested in affordable family homes near good schools? By understanding the search intent, you can tailor your keywords to match these queries.
  • Local Keywords: As a real estate professional, your primary focus should be on local keywords. This means incorporating neighborhood names, landmarks, and other local terms relevant to your listings. For instance, instead of just “homes for sale,” a more optimized phrase would be “Victorian homes for sale in Brooklyn Heights.”
  • Long-Tail Keywords: These are longer, more specific keyword phrases that visitors are likely to use when they're closer to making a purchase or when they're using voice search. Examples include “three-bedroom townhouse with pool in Santa Monica” or “pet-friendly apartments near Central Park.”
  • Utilizing Free Keyword Research Tools: There are several tools available that can assist in finding the right keywords for your real estate website.
    • Ubersuggest: This tool, developed by Neil Patel, offers keyword suggestions, search volume, and even gives an idea of how competitive a keyword might be.
    • Answer The Public: This platform visualizes search questions and suggested autocomplete searches in an image called a search cloud. It's excellent for discovering long-tail keyword questions that potential clients might be asking.
  • Competitor Analysis: Sometimes, the best way to find keyword inspiration is by looking at what top-ranking competitors are doing. Analyze their sites to see which keywords they're targeting and consider how you can incorporate similar (or better) keywords into your content.

Keyword optimization is more than just inserting popular search terms into your content. It's about understanding your audience, targeting local and long-tail keywords, and utilizing the right tools to stay ahead of the competition. With the proper keyword strategy, your real estate website can rise to the top of search results and attract more potential clients.

Ignoring Mobile Optimization

The surge in mobile device usage has revolutionized the way people access information online. A recent report from Statista revealed that mobile devices account for over 50% of global website traffic and it's even higher for local searches . For real estate professionals, this statistic is particularly significant, as potential clients often browse listings, view property photos, and contact agents on-the-go using their smartphones or tablets.

  • The Importance of Mobile-First Indexing: Google, the world's leading search engine, has recognized the shift towards mobile browsing. In response, they introduced mobile-first indexing, which means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of a website's content for indexing and ranking. If a real estate website isn't optimized for mobile, it risks being pushed down in search rankings, even if its desktop version is impeccable.
  • Characteristics of a Mobile-Optimized Website:
    • Fast Load Times: Mobile users are often on the move, and they expect websites to load quickly. Compressing images, leveraging browser caching, and minimizing code can help speed up load times.
    • Responsive Design: A responsive website adjusts its layout based on the device being used, ensuring that content is displayed correctly whether viewed on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop.
    • Easy Navigation: Mobile screens are smaller, so navigation should be intuitive. Large buttons, clear call-to-action prompts, and a streamlined menu can enhance the mobile user experience.
    • Click-to-Call Buttons: Potential clients should be able to contact you with ease. Incorporate click-to-call buttons that allow users to dial your number directly from the website.
  • Testing Mobile Usability: It's crucial to regularly test your website's mobile usability. Tools like Google's Mobile-Friendly Test can provide insights into how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device.

In the world of real estate, where quick communication and instant access to listings can make or break a deal, mobile optimization is not just a luxury—it's a necessity. By ensuring that your website caters to mobile users, you not only enhance the user experience but also position your website favorably in search engine rankings.

Inadequate Content Quality

When it comes to online marketing and SEO, content remains a distinguishing factor that sets one website apart from another. For real estate professionals, the quality of content can be the difference between a potential client staying on your site or moving on to a competitor's. But what does high-quality content entail, especially in the context of real estate?

  • Depth and Detail: While it's essential to be concise, your content should provide comprehensive information that answers potential queries. For instance, property listings should not only showcase images but also delve into neighborhood amenities, nearby schools, and local attractions.
  • Regularly Updated Blog: A blog serves as a platform to share insights, market trends, and home-buying or selling tips. Regularly updating your blog not only positions you as an industry expert but also provides fresh content for search engines to index.
  • Engaging Multimedia: High-resolution images, video tours, and virtual walkthroughs can significantly enhance content quality. They offer a more immersive experience, allowing potential clients to visualize properties better.
  • Localize Your Content: Think of your real estate website as a local media company. This perspective shift can be transformative.
    • Neighborhood Guides: Create comprehensive guides for neighborhoods where you have listings. Highlight local cafes, parks, schools, and cultural attractions. This not only aids in SEO but also provides valuable information to potential buyers.
    • Local Market Analysis: Regularly publish data-driven insights on local real estate trends. This positions you as a market expert and provides valuable information to both buyers and sellers.
    • Community Involvement: Showcase your involvement in local events or charity initiatives. This not only builds trust but also strengthens your connection with the local community.
  • User-Generated Content: Encourage satisfied clients to share their experiences. Testimonials, reviews, and even guest blog posts can add authenticity to your content and build trust with potential clients.
  • Avoiding Duplication: Ensure that your content is unique. Duplicate content can harm your SEO rankings. Tools like Copyscape can help you check for content originality.

Content quality goes beyond well-written property descriptions. It's about creating a holistic, engaging, and informative experience for your audience. By localizing content and positioning your website as a local media hub, you not only enhance your SEO but also establish a deeper connection with your community, making your site the go-to resource for all things real estate in your area.

Neglecting Backlinks

Backlinks, often referred to as inbound or incoming links, are a cornerstone of SEO. They act as endorsements from other websites, signaling to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy. For real estate agents, cultivating a strong backlink profile is crucial for enhancing online visibility. But how can one effectively build and manage backlinks?

  • Understanding the Value of Backlinks: Not all backlinks are created equal. A link from a reputable, high-authority website is far more valuable than several links from low-quality sources. It's essential to prioritize quality over quantity.
  • Local Directories and Listings: One of the most straightforward ways for real estate agents to gain backlinks is by ensuring they're listed in local directories. Websites like Yelp, YellowPages, and even local Chamber of Commerce sites often allow businesses to create profiles with links back to their websites.
  • Guest Blogging: Offer to write guest articles for local newspapers, magazines, or popular community blogs. Not only does this position you as an industry expert, but it also provides opportunities for backlinks.
  • Partnerships with Local Businesses: Collaborate with local businesses related to the real estate industry, such as home decor stores, moving companies, or mortgage brokers. You can co-host events, webinars, or workshops and link to each other's websites.
  • Engage in Community Events: Sponsor or participate in local community events. Often, event websites will provide backlinks to sponsors or participants, offering a relevant and local backlink source.
  • Real Estate Platforms: Websites like Zillow,, and Trulia allow agents to create profiles. Ensure your profile is complete and includes a link back to your website.
  • Engaging Content: Create content that others want to link to. Whether it's a comprehensive market analysis, an interactive property map, or a guide to local attractions, valuable content naturally attracts backlinks.
  • Monitor Your Backlinks: It's essential to keep an eye on your backlink profile. Tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush can help you monitor and manage your backlinks, ensuring you're aware of any potentially harmful links.
  • Reclaim Lost Backlinks: Sometimes, websites that linked to you in the past may update their content, resulting in a lost backlink. Regularly check for such opportunities and reach out to reclaim these links.

In competitive real estate markets, backlinks can play a pivotal role in boosting your website's authority and search engine ranking. By focusing on local, relevant, and high-quality backlink sources, you can enhance your online presence and ensure that potential clients find you before your competitors.

Overlooking User Experience (UX)

User Experience (UX) is the bridge between visitors and your website's content. A well-optimized real estate website should not only be a repository of listings but also a platform that offers a seamless, intuitive, and engaging experience for its users. Let's delve into the intricacies of UX and why it's paramount for real estate professionals.

  • Simplicity is Key: While it's tempting to integrate the latest design trends and flashy animations, it's essential to remember that the primary goal is to guide users to the information they seek effortlessly. A clean, clutter-free design with intuitive navigation ensures that visitors can easily find listings, contact details, and other essential information.
  • Responsive Design: As discussed earlier, a significant portion of users accesses websites via mobile devices. A responsive design ensures that your website adjusts to fit any screen size, offering a consistent experience across devices.
  • Clear Call-to-Action (CTA) Buttons: Whether it's “Contact Us,” “View Listing,” or “Schedule a Tour,” CTAs guide users towards taking a desired action. Ensure these buttons are prominently placed, easy to find, and use compelling language.
  • Fast Loading Times: A slow-loading website can deter potential clients. Optimize images, use content delivery networks (CDNs), and minimize unnecessary scripts to ensure your site loads swiftly.
  • Intuitive Navigation: The website menu should be straightforward and logically structured. Group related pages under appropriate headings and avoid overloading the menu with too many options.
  • Engaging Visuals: High-quality images and videos can significantly enhance the user experience. However, ensure they're optimized for web use to prevent slow loading times.
  • Accessible Content: Ensure that your content is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Use readable fonts, ensure proper contrast, and consider tools that allow for text resizing or voice narration.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Incorporate features that allow users to provide feedback. Whether it's through comments, reviews, or direct contact forms, understanding user pain points can offer insights into areas of improvement.
  • Consistent Branding: Maintain consistent branding throughout the website. Uniform colors, fonts, and logos reinforce brand identity and offer a more professional look.
  • Avoid Autoplay: While videos and multimedia can enhance UX, avoid autoplay features, especially with sound. Allow users the choice to play videos or audio content.

A well-optimized user experience is about balancing aesthetics with functionality. For real estate professionals, where the competition is fierce, offering a superior UX can be the differentiating factor that turns a casual visitor into a potential client. By focusing on the user's needs and expectations, you can create a website experience that not only showcases your listings but also resonates with your audience.

Missing Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

At the heart of every successful SEO strategy lies a deep understanding of both the user and the search engine. While a website might appear visually appealing to a human visitor, search engines rely on specific markers to understand and rank content. Two of the most crucial markers are meta descriptions and title tags. Let's explore their significance and the common pitfalls associated with overlooking them.

  • Search Engines vs. Human Perception: Unlike human visitors who can visually interpret and navigate a website, search engines deploy web crawlers—automated scripts that browse the internet methodically—to index content. These crawlers don't “see” websites in the way we do. Instead, they rely on the site's underlying code, including meta tags, to understand the content's context and relevance.
  • The Role of Title Tags: Title tags define the title of a webpage and are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) as clickable headlines. They play a dual role:
    • For Search Engines: Title tags help search engines understand the main topic of a particular page, aiding in accurate indexing.
    • For Users: They provide a quick snapshot of the page's content, helping users decide if the content is relevant to their query.
  • The Significance of Meta Descriptions: Meta descriptions offer a brief summary of a webpage's content. While they don't directly influence rankings, they impact click-through rates by giving users a glimpse of what to expect on the page.
    • For Search Engines: A relevant meta description can signal the page's quality and relevance to a particular query.
    • For Users: A compelling meta description can entice users to click on your link over competitors.
  • Common Pitfalls:
    • Generic Tags: Using generic or vague title tags and meta descriptions can make your content indistinguishable from others, reducing click-through rates.
    • Overstuffing Keywords: While it's essential to include relevant keywords, overstuffing can make the content seem spammy and may deter users.
    • Exceeding Length Limits: Search engines truncate title tags and meta descriptions that are too long. Ensure your title tags are under 60 characters and meta descriptions under 160 characters for optimal display.
  • Consistency with Content: Ensure that your title tags and meta descriptions accurately reflect the content of the page. Misleading tags can increase bounce rates as users leave the page if it doesn't match their expectations.

While the visual appeal of a website is undeniably important, it's the underlying elements, like meta descriptions and title tags, that play a pivotal role in search engine optimization. By ensuring these elements are well-crafted and aligned with the content, real estate professionals can enhance their website's visibility on search engines and attract more potential clients.

Not Utilizing Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for businesses, including those in the real estate sector. Beyond its role in brand building and direct marketing, social media plays a subtle yet significant role in SEO. Let's delve into the importance of harnessing social media and the potential pitfalls of neglecting it.

  • The Power of Social Shares: Every time content from your website is shared on social media platforms, it generates a link back to your site. While these links, known as “social signals,” don't carry the same weight as traditional backlinks in SEO, they amplify content visibility, driving more traffic to your site.
  • Potential for Organic Backlinks: When your content is shared widely on social platforms, it increases the chances of bloggers, journalists, and other content creators coming across it. If they find your content valuable, they might link to it from their websites, generating organic, high-quality backlinks that boost SEO.
  • Enhanced Brand Visibility: Active social media profiles can rank in search engine results. Prospective clients searching for your brand might come across your Twitter or LinkedIn profiles, offering them additional touchpoints to engage with your business.
  • Local Engagement: Social media platforms, especially platforms like Facebook and Instagram, allow real estate professionals to engage with local communities. Sharing local news, participating in community events, or highlighting local landmarks can resonate with a local audience, driving more targeted traffic to your site.
  • Direct Communication with Clients: Social media offers a platform for direct communication with potential and existing clients. Engaging with comments, sharing client testimonials, or addressing queries in real-time can enhance user trust and brand loyalty.
  • Content Diversification: While your website might primarily host listings and blog posts, social media allows for content diversification. Share video tours, client interviews, behind-the-scenes looks, and other engaging content formats that might not be a primary feature on your website.
  • Staying Updated with Market Trends: Social media is a real-time platform. Engaging with industry peers, joining real estate groups, or following industry influencers can provide insights into the latest market trends, which can be reflected in your content strategy.
  • Analytics and Insights: Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer detailed analytics on post engagements, audience demographics, and peak activity times. These insights can inform your content strategy, ensuring you reach the right audience at the right time.

While social media might seem like a separate domain from SEO, the two are intricately linked. By actively engaging on social platforms, sharing valuable content, and fostering community engagement, real estate professionals can amplify their online presence, indirectly boosting their SEO efforts and driving more organic traffic to their website.

local seo results real estate agents

Forgetting About Local SEO

Local SEO is a game-changer, especially for industries that operate predominantly within specific geographic confines, and real estate is a prime example. While global SEO strategies aim to improve online visibility on a broader scale, local SEO focuses on reaching potential clients in specific localities. Let's explore the nuances of local SEO and its undeniable importance for real estate professionals.

  • Google Business Profile (GBP) – A Vital Tool: Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, is a free tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. For real estate agents, GBP is often the first point of contact for potential clients.
    • Higher Visibility: GBP listings appear above organic search results on the local results page, granting them prime digital real estate. This prominence means that, often, a well-optimized GBP listing can attract more clicks than a website.
    • Comprehensive Information at a Glance: GBP allows agents to showcase essential details—office hours, contact information, location, and more. This immediate access to information can expedite the decision-making process for potential clients.
  • The Power of Online Reviews:
    • Boosting GBP Rankings: Google considers online reviews as a significant factor when ranking GBP listings. A higher number of positive reviews can improve the visibility of your GBP listing, making it more likely for potential clients to engage with it.
    • Building Trust and Credibility: Reviews act as testimonials. Prospective clients often gauge an agent's credibility based on the experiences of others. Positive reviews can significantly enhance trust, leading to higher conversion rates.
    • Engagement with Reviews: Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, showcases your commitment to client satisfaction. It also offers an opportunity to address concerns, rectify issues, and build a positive brand image.
  • Local Content Creation: Tailoring your website's content to cater to local queries can enhance local SEO. This includes creating content around local events, property market trends in specific neighborhoods, and other localized topics.
  • Local Backlinks: Acquiring backlinks from local businesses, blogs, or news websites can bolster local SEO efforts. Such backlinks signal to search engines the relevance of your website to local audiences.
  • Optimizing for Local Keywords: Incorporating local keywords, such as neighborhood names or local landmarks, can make your content more relevant to local searches. For instance, “condos near Central Park” or “homes in Beverly Hills” can target specific local queries.

While global SEO strategies are essential, real estate professionals cannot afford to overlook local SEO. With tools like Google Business Profile and the power of online reviews, agents can tap into the local market more effectively, ensuring they remain at the forefront of potential clients' minds when considering property transactions in specific locales.

Not Monitoring Analytics

In the dynamic world of digital marketing and SEO, success isn't just about implementing strategies but also about continuously monitoring, analyzing, and refining them. Analytics provide a window into how your efforts are translating into results, offering insights that can guide future strategies. For real estate professionals, neglecting this crucial aspect can mean missed opportunities and inefficiencies. Let's delve into the importance of monitoring analytics and the tools at your disposal.

  • Google Analytics – A Comprehensive Overview:
    • Visitor Insights: Understand who's visiting your website, their demographics, and their behavior. This includes which pages they visit, how long they stay, and the actions they take.
    • Traffic Sources: Identify where your traffic is coming from, be it organic search, paid ads, social media, or direct visits. This can help you understand which channels are most effective for your business.
    • Conversion Tracking: Set up goals to track specific actions, like form submissions or contact page visits. This helps in understanding how many visitors are converting into potential leads.
  • Google Business Profile Insight Reports:
    • Visibility Metrics: Understand how often your listing appears in Google searches and the number of views it receives.
    • Engagement Data: Track how users interact with your listing, from website clicks to phone calls, providing a clear picture of how your GBP listing drives user actions.
    • Audience Insights: Gain knowledge about where your visitors come from, be it direct searches (people searching for your business) or discovery searches (people searching for services you offer).
  • Google Search Console – SEO's Best Friend:
    • Search Query Data: Understand which search queries are driving traffic to your website. This can offer insights into keyword performance and areas of opportunity.
    • Indexing Status: Monitor how many of your pages are indexed by Google. If essential pages aren't indexed, they won't appear in search results.
    • Site Errors: Identify any crawl errors or issues that might be hindering your site's performance in search results. Addressing these promptly can prevent potential drops in rankings.
    • Backlink Data: View which sites are linking to your website, helping you understand your site's authority and potential areas for backlink building.

SEO and online marketing is always evolving and changing, and what worked yesterday might not necessarily work today. By actively monitoring analytics, real estate professionals can stay ahead of the curve, making informed decisions that drive traffic, enhance user engagement, and ultimately, increase conversions. Ignoring these valuable insights can lead to stagnation and missed opportunities in an increasingly competitive market.

Overlooking Technical SEO

While content, backlinks, and local SEO often steal the limelight in discussions about search engine optimization, the foundation of a robust SEO strategy lies in its technical aspects. Technical SEO refers to the optimizations made to the website and server that help search engine spiders crawl and index a site more effectively. For many, especially in industries like real estate, these technicalities can seem daunting, leading to their neglect. However, overlooking technical SEO can be a costly mistake, especially when targeting competitive keywords like “SEO for real estate agents.”

  • The Intricacies of Technical SEO:
    • Site Speed: A slow-loading website can deter visitors and negatively impact rankings. Tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights can provide actionable recommendations to enhance site speed.
    • Mobile Optimization: As discussed earlier, with the rise in mobile traffic, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is paramount. This isn't just about design but also about site speed and functionality on mobile devices.
    • XML Sitemaps: An XML sitemap acts as a roadmap for search engines, helping them understand the structure of your website. It ensures that search engines can find and index all essential pages.
    • Robots.txt: This file instructs search engine spiders about which pages or sections of the site should not be crawled, ensuring that only relevant pages are indexed.
    • Structured Data: Implementing schema markup helps search engines understand the context of your content, potentially leading to richer search results and enhanced click-through rates.
    • HTTPS: Security is a priority for search engines. Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS, a secure version, can offer a slight ranking boost while ensuring data integrity and confidentiality.
  • The Challenge of Technical SEO:
    • Specialized Tools Required: Tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider or DeepCrawl can help identify technical issues, but they require a level of expertise to use effectively.
    • Constant Evolution: The technical aspects of SEO are continually evolving. Staying updated with the latest best practices can be time-consuming and complex.
    • The Need for Expertise: Given the intricacies involved, many businesses, especially those targeting competitive niches like “SEO for real estate agents,” opt to enlist the help of specialized SEO companies. These experts bring in-depth knowledge, tools, and strategies to the table, ensuring that the technical foundation of the website is solid.

While content and off-page strategies are vital, the technical foundation of a website cannot be ignored. Especially in competitive sectors like real estate, where every edge counts, ensuring that your website is technically sound can be the difference between ranking on the first page or being lost in the depths of search results. For those daunted by the complexities, seeking expert assistance can be a prudent investment, ensuring that the website stands tall on a robust technical foundation.

SEO For Real Estate Agents

While the real estate industry is competitive, avoiding these common SEO pitfalls can significantly improve your website's ranking. By focusing on quality content, optimizing for local search, and ensuring a seamless user experience, you can position your website at the forefront of search results and attract more potential clients.

Want to learn more about how you can level up your SEO game? Contact 3Bug Media, we have been helping real estate agents with their SEO for over 10 years and can help your website and company stand out form your competitors.

The following two tabs change content below.


CEO at 3Bug Media
Gary Shouldis is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company that helps businesses create 360 Marketing Strategies to dominate their market. His blog is read by over 20 thousand small business owners a month and has been featured in the N.Y. Times Small Business, Business Insider and Yahoo Small Business.