Let me put myself in your shoes. You’re a real estate professional or team interested in the power of Real Estate SEO services and online inbound marketing.
You’ve heard these methods provide amazing long-term ROI. That a single piece of content can generate leads for years. That qualified inbound leads call you.
While referrals and in-person networking remain essential, the huge shadow of online real estate marketing will only lengthen.
You don’t want to be a small fish in a small pond, and real estate SEO companies, experts, and consultants might just have the best solution out there.
But real estate SEO and the companies offering it can be head-spinning. The methods involve lots of technical language and confusing software. It can also take a significant chunk of your GCI.
It’s hard to pay thousands for something you don’t really understand. Plus, that complexity is exactly why there’s a space for scammy companies to trade big promises for big checks, then leave you with an ineffective product.
Here’s where I come in. It’s why I wrote this Cheat Sheet. It doesn’t teach you how to do SEO, although there are plenty of Real Estate SEO tips from true experts.
This article teaches you how to have conversations with Real Estate SEO companies. More pointedly, it shows you how to recognize scammy services from trustworthy ones.
I provide questions you should ask as a litmus test and reveal the red flag answers that many companies will give you.
How to Talk to SEO Real Estate Companies
In this video, I provide a more comprehensive version of this article. It’s full of useful information for anyone planning to hire or talk to a real estate SEO company.
1. Hyperlocal Search
Hyperlocal refers to searches (usually on smartphones) like “realtor near me” where people are looking for a service in their geography.
It’s a great realtor SEO tactic for two reasons. First, your business itself is local. You’re not trying to reach people on the other side of the country.
Second, it cuts out a lot of unnecessary competition. Why be a small fish in a big pond when you can be a big fish in a small pond?
Question to Ask
Let’s say you’re on the phone with a realtor SEO company. Here are some questions you can ask about hyperlocal search to gauge if they are worth talking to…or if you should hang up ASAP.
1. Can you quickly get me on the Top 3 of the hyperlocal search pack?
“What do you mean?”
To be fair, not every real estate SEO company will offer hyperlocal SEO services. But they should still know what it is and be able to explain that it’s not part of their offerings. Local search packs are sometimes called “local teasers”.
“Sure, we can do that very quickly.”
Unless you have very limited competition, the process of generating positive Google reviews will take at least a few months. Generally speaking, any outright promise of fast-acting real estate SEO results should make you skeptical.
“Yes, we have software that automatically fixes your citations.”
This simply isn’t true yet. Even companies that exclusively provide citation services have to manually clean up your online presence.
“That depends on your competition, Google Reviews, and citations.”
Google prioritizes realty businesses with lots of positive Google Reviews. It’s also essential that your citations (online business addresses) are clean and uniform. If you don’t have those aspects in place, it’s going to take time.
For more information on hyperlocal search, go to the 2:19-minute mark on the video in the intro.
Pro Tip 1: Whitespark is a free tool to check your current citations (online addresses for your business).
Pro Tip 2: Check out this article on hyperlocal real estate SEO marketing or this podcast video below that I co-hosted with Mail-Right on local market SEO.
2. Image SEO
Properly optimized images can do two great things for your SEO efforts. First, they can provide additional signals to Google about the content of your page. By doing so, they help you rank better.
Second, optimized images can be a backdoor method of getting website traffic. They can appear either on the Google Images search page or on image packs on the regular Google search results. In both cases, they help get people through the door.
Question to Ask
In this case, our question is a floating softball for anyone in SEO. Image optimization simply isn’t that difficult, although its benefits are relatively powerful. If the person can’t provide a snappy and informative answer in simple language, they probably aren’t worth your time.
1. What is image optimization?
“[Insert confusing jargon].”
Someone who hesitates or uses confusing language is probably not a real estate SEO expert. The mechanics of optimizing images are not complicated, and anybody who understands them well can communicate the ideas simply.
“The core of image optimization is writing specific image descriptions on relevant, fast-loading, and substantial (like infographics or home tour) images.”
By choosing images that relate to your target keywords (phrases you want to rank for because people search for them), your blog article will look more attractive to Google. In turn, you rank better and generate more leads.
For more information on image SEO, go to the 14:19-minute mark on the video in the intro.
3. Video Marketing & SEO
Asking about video content is a great litmus test. It’s powerful, and that power will only grow. However, some companies or consultants may try to minimize its effectiveness to cover up a weak spot in their real estate SEO services.
Question to Ask
1. Is video marketing worthwhile?
It’s true that you can have a successful real estate website with zero video content, whether property tours, neighborhood guides, or anything that provides a personal touch. It’s also true that every forward-thinking and well-informed real estate SEO expert understands the value of video content.
If they downplay its effectiveness, they either are uninformed OR they don’t specialize in video marketing and therefore want to gloss over its value.
“Yes, especially for inbound marketing.”
Video content has been increasing in importance for years, and this trend will only continue. That’s especially true for Real Estate SEO.
First, it provides a highly personal touch to your website. That creates trust and separates your website from your competition. In turn, you get higher conversion rates. People visiting your site will be much more inclined to pick up the phone or send an email.
Second, Google prioritizes websites with video. Visitors stay longer on the page, they return to it more often, interact with it more, and share it more often as a resource. All of these things are essential to ranking highly.
For more information on Video SEO & Marketing, go to the 22:19-minute mark on the video in the intro.
4. Traditional Search Results
There are four real estate SEO services that can effectively rank your website on Google. They are Real Geeks, Sierra Interactive, Real Estate Webmasters, and InboundREM. Each company has different methods and ROIs.
1. Real Geeks
This real estate marketing company relies on direct advertising, Facebook marketing, and other short-term ROI tactics. They aren’t the best content marketers by any means.
They can get you to rank, but you’ll have to keep investing money into direct advertising for that to continually happen. Other companies feature more evergreen strategies with better long-term ROIs.
2. Real Estate Webmasters
REW builds pages with loads of information on them. There are links galore for communities, neighborhoods, listings, etc.
However, the reason this method is becoming outdated is twofold. First, Google doesn’t need as many signals (or “hints”) from a page to understand what it’s about.
Second, these kinds of pages are very mobile-unfriendly. In other words, it’s only a matter of time before they become obsolete and devalued.
Like REW and IREM, this company has real SEO experts on their team. Like REW, they build websites that excel in providing a convenient real estate search experience for their users.
However, this method has been declining in efficacy for years. Lead quality and numbers have declined for many people owning these kinds of websites.
The final top choice among real estate SEO companies uses high-value content that no other website provides. The Google algorithm prioritizes user engagement (or user behavior) over any other category, and that trend will continue.
Forward-thinking websites built for the future have content that people click on, read for a long time, return to, and share. They are mobile-friendly and a pleasure to navigate.
Question to Ask
1. Can you get me to rank rapidly within the first year or two?
Again, anyone promising quick results from their real estate SEO services is probably untrustworthy. In any case, they are more interested in making money than providing a transparent and effective service.
“Ranking quickly is possible but unlikely.”
In most cases, it will take 1-2 years to generate a consistent, strong lead flow. First, you have to build a site with plenty of worthwhile content. Second, Google takes time to measure your content against all of your competitors’ sites.
For more information on traditional search results, go to the 24:49-minute mark on the video in the intro.
5. Real Estate Websites
Questions to Ask
1. Can you show me an example real estate page that in your opinion will continue ranking successfully?
“Let me think about it.”
A real estate SEO expert should be able to list several excellent examples off the top of their head.
They show you a page with many sidebar links, loads slowly, has zero unique written content, and is annoying to use on your smartphone.
The real estate SEO website below is a classic example of a webpage layout that once worked wonders (and still does to some degree). But it will quickly grow obsolete in the coming years because it’s not designed with smartphones in mind.
They show you a page that loads quickly, is easy to use on smartphones, hooks visitors with unique content, and has keyword-targeting headers.
Anything with video content, maps, or specific information about the neighborhood would be fantastic. The real estate SEO page below is a great example.
For more information on real estate websites and page structure, go to the 32:55-minute mark on the video in the intro.
6. Backlinks or “Votes”
Question to Ask
1. What makes for a high-quality backlink?
“We can get you 10,000 links from 10,000 sources.”
A response like that is a huge red flag. This is an outdated and spammy way of getting links that will eventually get your website penalized. A single, super-high-quality backlink is worth more than 1000 spammy links from 1000 sources.
“They come from related websites with high website and webpage scores. Increasingly, it’s essential that those pages have lots of traffic and user interaction themselves.”
Generally speaking, it’s also nice if real estate SEO services can do manual backlink outreach for you. That means they email related websites and convince that site to put a backlink to you in their content.
If they can also blog for you on platforms like Active Rain (like we do), that’s even better.
For more information on backlinks, go to the 41:47-minute mark on the video above.
Scammy Real Estate SEO Services
Here are a couple of examples of marketing emails from real estate SEO companies that may not be outright fraudulent, but they should be avoided.
If you receive emails like these, send them straight to the spam folder. They aren’t even worth testing with the questions mentioned above.
Expert Real Estate SEO Services
If you’re considering doing SEO yourself or hiring a real estate SEO company, I’d recommend checking out my video below. It covers essential questions like:
- Which real estate professionals should hire Real Estate SEO services? (Hint: It’s not everyone, but many agents and teams would be crazy not to invest.)
- What kind of CMS should you use?
- What’s the importance of IDX and real estate listing searches on a real estate SEO website
- How do you design forward-thinking real estate websites?
If you found this super-review helpful, you’ll benefit from reading more of our best content. Check out the articles below to save you time and money.
I also encourage you to browse InboundREM University, a huge resource library with lots of podcasts and related articles. We cover topics like the herculean power of SEO lead generation and using TikTok to build an audience of 70,000.
How InboundREM Can Help You
We provide SEO-based inbound marketing for real estate professionals and teams. If you check out the Google Reviews on the sidebar, you’ll see that I’m a firm believer in radical transparency.
For me, being insanely honest is not only the most ethical way to do business, it’s also the most effective. To learn more about what InboundREM can do for you, especially in terms of providing long-term ROI, use the contact form below.