For so long, millennials have either lived in their parent's homes or rented an apartment at most even when money was not an issue.
However, according to the latest study, Gen Y who make up the bulk of the population of Nigeria, today make up the largest share of homebuyers in Nigeria. And closely observing Gen. Z are also preparing their ways out of schools, securing high-paying jobs and also owning a share of property in the cities.
For real estate companies and agents what this means is that you need to prepare to meet the demands of these tech-savvy generations.
Because these are digital-savvy generations, and as technology advances from typed queries to voice search, expect these millennials and Gen Z to turn to Google whenever they are in need of properties.
If you observe the digital space closely, you will find out that more and more real estate decisions are moving online with the likes of real estate marketplace like Jiji, PropertyPro, Nigeria Property Centre just to name a few - all gaining traction from Google.
This shows that having a website and posting on social media is no longer enough. You need to position your listings at the top of search engine results to capture potential buyers as they start their online search either through voice search or typed queries.
Although the voice search technology is not commonly used by the millennials, expect Gen Z to utilize this functionality to the fullest.
That said, how do you position your real estate business to capture the tech-savvy generations?
Well, all you need is a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, which we are going to dive into in this article. But before that, let's take a look at what real estate SEO is like...
What is real estate SEO?
SEO for real estate is a way to optimize your real estate listings including other content on your website like blog posts to attract people through organic search results, as opposed to running ads such as Google Ads.
SEO is a search engine optimization practice that involves optimizing your website for search engines - a way to inform Google that you have got amazing content that its users (searchers) will find informative, useful - and that it should rank it. So, the meaning of SEO is not going to change.
However, SEO strategy varies from industry to industry and business verticals to verticals and as such a real estate SEO strategy is different.
When search engines emerged, there were various tactics used by SEOs to circumvent them. Then, optimizing your content meant putting a great focus on keywords and links as the main way to rank.
But those tactics only worked a few years as Google became smarter than webmasters and SEOs who intended to game the system.
Today, ranking on top means creating an all-around good user experience that helps meet your user’s needs.
What are the benefits of implementing a real estate SEO in Nigeria
As more and more real estate agencies invest in SEO, greater ROI is inevitable because the benefits SEO brings to organisations are numerous and here is why it's important you start investing also in SEO.
Billions of people around the globe use search engines to find information, learn about products, search for services and include direct buying searches. With your real estate business optimized for search engines, you gain more visibility and searchers will be aware of your brand name.
Increase traffic and revenue
A strong SEO strategy that includes quality content can improve incoming traffic to your site. On top of that, if your keywords target the right users with relevant content, you will attract the right audience who are potential buyers having greater chances of becoming your clients. This means more revenue to your agency.
Generate More Leads
Visitors from search engines have been known to convert at a higher rate compared to other channels. A commitment to invest in SEO will not only bring traffic to your site but ensure that a greater percentage of the traffic converts.
By creating quality SEO content, you are positioning your brand as a go-to source of knowledge for your loyal visitors.
Your audience will trust you and will be interested in subscribing to your newsletter, which can further increase the conversion rate.
Real estate SEO as a lead generation strategy
A solid real estate SEO strategy however is not a stand-alone strategy. It should be an integrated part of your marketing and sales funnel.
What SEO does is to create new points of entry for new leads to enter the funnel where you can easily guide the users down to the bottom of the funnels (conversion points).
If Google is a search engine SEO is a lead generation engine.
To get the most out of your lead generation strategy, tailoring your content to fit the needs of specific target audiences must be your priority.
As a Real estate business, you would likely have users looking to purchase or lease properties as well as users looking to sell their properties.
These two have different needs and wants and you must tailor your SEO strategy to attract both the property buyers and the property sellers.
Use a buyer's persona for a quick understanding of your customers.
Real estate SEO Tips and Strategy for Dominating the Nigerian Market
To help you start with building your SEO strategy, here are actionable tactics for your real estate SEO success.
1. Analyze your SEO competitors
Not just your business competitors but your direct SEO competitors - those ranking higher above you on search engines.
Even if you know your industry competitors well, these SEO competitors can vary from keyword to keyword.
This is where competitor analysis comes in; to find out who you are competing with on Google.
You would typically want to know what kind of content they are publishing, How they structure their pages and their websites. And also study and learn from their wins and mistakes. Nothing gets you started than a good competitor's analysis as it saves you time and money.
But this only happens when you have an experienced in-house guru to do justice to it.
2. Conduct keyword research
To rank at the top of search engines, you need to find out what keywords your potential clients are typing in when they start their housing search.
Keyword research is the basic and fundamental moving part of your lead generation engine. It gets you rolling because before you can rank at the top of search engines, you need to find out what keywords your potential clients are typing when they start their housing search.
What type of keywords are they searching with when they have information at their disposal and are ready to choose a realtor.
There are many keyword research tools out there (both paid and free) that you can use to uncover the top keywords your competitors are ranking for. You can also use it to find out what keywords you are already ranking for - great low-hanging fruits for you to start with.
However, accurate targeting and proper use of the data you get from your keyword research largely depend on experience.
Fortunately, the keyword research process for local SEO is basically a “one and done” process.
Unlike a blog, where you have to keep on finding new keywords.
No doubt keywords are important for local searches. But in Local SEO, a list of a few keywords that people use to find your local business can be all you need to get started.
If you're new to this, you might want to get an expert to handle it while you focus on the business side.
3. Create good quality content that directly target your clients
This is where SEO gets crafty. SEO is a mix of art and science. Without well-crafted content, you are never going to rank on Google. For your information, Google has a set of algorithms watching out for what you are publishing on your website.
As I mentioned earlier, the days of keyword stuffing are gone and your main SEO goal should be to drive and help visitors to your website find what they need. This is quality SEO.
Focus on writing content that your potential clients will find useful, while the keyword helps you stay on topic. The most valuable content will answer their search query and provide insight and information they cannot find elsewhere.
- This is how you build up trust with SEO.
- It is what makes SEO a lead generation engine.
- It is why they say Content is the King.
4. Perform a full technical audit of your site
A website has structures, which we can interpret as skeletons. Just as a scan is needed to understand the human anatomy, a site audit report can only reveal those technical issues in the structure of your website.
To start a successful real estate SEO campaign, you should first run a technical audit of your website to determine what to fix and how to go about the issues.
A site audit not only shows you technical issues but also on-page elements that are missing or incorrect e.g., a missing meta tag.
A site audit will reveal:
- Response codes 200, 404, 401, 410, 503, 505
- Website structure, orphan pages, and internal linking.
- Canonical tag and hreflang tags
- Issues with Duplicate content and duplicate URLs.
- XML sitemaps and robots.txt file setup
- Web security (SSL certification)
- Negative SEO (harmful backlinks pointing to your website)
5. Prioritize solving crawling and indexing issues
Real estate SEO is a bit tricky. You can look at a real estate business website from an e-commerce SEO perspective and an agency such as property valuation, consultation and property inspection.
A lot can go wrong and harm your visibility in search engines in the way you implement your site-wide SEO.
Site audit reports are not fancy reports or what you can throw on the shelves. You should focus on fixing the issues that influence the crawling and indexing of your site
Issues common to a real estate business site from a crawlability perspective are:
- Broken links as a result of deleted listings.
- Outdated URLs.
- Missing or inaccurate or incorrect URLs in sitemap
- Page duplicates
- Slow pages as a result of poorly optimized images of properties listed.
Additionally, poor management of internal linking between categories, listings and blog posts are major technical issues common in typical real estate websites.
6. Optimize Google my Business Profile
It is not enough to have a website optimized for search engines only. A 360 degree SEO for real estate must include local SEO. This is because 3 out of 10 searches are likely to include "property near me" type of queries.
And to get you started with local SEO, you need to create and claim your Google My Business listing and optimize it for search to appear in the right locations.
Here you can list various services you offer along with available properties in order to benefit from the local pack where local related search results are displayed.
Remember the following when doing local SEO:
- Create consistency in information about your business.
- Optimize for Google map.
- Regularly update your profile.
- Get reviews from clients.
- Get reviews from local guide experts (no direct SEO benefit but can be helpful to your potential clients).
- Connect you website to your profile with a Google address link
7. Use Schema Markup
Schema markup, also known as structured data, is microdata that you can add to your website’s HTML to help search engines better understand what the page is about.
Your site can benefit from the two main types of schema markup specifically created for real estate businesses:
2. RealEstateAgent schema.
In addition to these two, you can markup the articles on your site with Article schema and internal and outgoing links on your website.
If implemented properly (of course you can always test this), Google will show when the listing was published, the location, price of the home or lease, and length of the lease, to match appropriate queries and show them in the featured snippets above the usual 10 organic search results.
8. Get local backlinks to your real estate website
A local backlink for your real estate website is a link from local online sources. It could be local business directories, local news publishing websites, or blogs.
Links from local sources send signals to search engines and help validate your local authority, which signals trust.
Apart from signals to search engines, backlinks help drive referral traffic with relevant leads to your website.
9. Monitor your keywords rankings
Monitoring your keywords is about staying on top of any changes happening on search engines. This allows you to make changes as you move up to the top page of Google.
10. Define KPIs for your Real Estate SEO Campaign
Setting goals has been a bedrock to success in every aspect of life. And your SEO campaign isn't left out - if you must outrank and turn SEO to lead generation engine for your business.
Here are some of the KPIs you could potentially track:
- Increase Google rankings on key terms for your real estate business
- Increase organic impressions
- Increase organic traffic
- Increase interactions and engagement with your Google My Business profile
- Improve click-through rate (CTR)
- Improve conversion rate
- Improve time on page
- Increase number of pages viewed per user session
- Reduce bounce rate
- Improve soft conversions such as newsletter subscriptions or demo video views.
11. Get insights on your users with a web analytics tool
To improve conversion rate and reduce bounce rate on your real estate website, you need to gather and analyze data. Google Analytics is a good start but you should superimpose it with heat map data.
Heat map analysis will show how users are interacting with your real estate listings.
You can then use the information derived from data to improve the user experience and conversion rate on your website by testing different versions, elements of your pages.
12. Optimize your real estate website for mobile devices
Google understands its users' behaviours and how they conduct as many searches from their mobile devices compared to using the desktop.
And in response to this behaviour, Google implemented the mobile-first indexing approach for all websites in March 2021.
Today all websites are automatically switched to mobile indexing first which means that Google will only crawl your real estate website with mobile bots. These mobile bots treat your website the same as a mobile device. So, it is vital that your website is optimized for mobile users. If the mobile bots cannot easily access your web pages, your rankings will suffer.
Therefore, while sitting behind your desktop computer designing your website, consider following mobile responsiveness design principles.
13. Improve your EAT factors
Finally, let's talk about that ranking factor that can affect your website. Since a typical real estate business falls under YMYL, although not explicitly stated, it may impact someone's happiness and financial stability.
EAT stands for Expertise, Trust and Authority while YMYL means Your Money, Your Life content.
These factors are highly crucial for your users who are looking for trusted resources online. Google now places an increasing value on the EAT factors and you can lose your rankings and traffic where the trust signal is missing.
To prevent such ugly situations make sure that relevant pages such as your About us page, contact pages, and homepage are consistent with accurate and up to date information and that you publish only content that positions you as a trustworthy, local authority in your field.
If you have accreditations or have won awards, don't leave them out of your website.
What is the ROI of real estate SEO?
I'm rounding up this post and I know you must be asking… so, what's the ROI? What are the benefits of SEO for real estate?
Before now you probably might have heard of paid ads and how they generate revenue.
You might have well seen the return on investment of a social media campaign.
But, guess what?
None comes close to SEO.
Although on a short term basis, SEO doesn't come near PPC. But, wait! SEO is never a short term strategy, its results are long-lasting and as such, it brings long-lasting revenues to your real estate business. You can run ads forever, remember!
Now when compared to social media, a study conducted by Outbrain revealed that organic search drives 300% more traffic than social media.
Also, a poll conducted on Twitter by Search Engine Journal showed 49% of marketers reported that organic search brings the highest ROI out of any digital marketing channel.
And when you talk of email marketing, leads generated through search engines are more likely to convert than any other channel.