The State of Real Estate SERPs
This is the first post in a series on how independent real estate agents can improve their search engine rankings.
Have you noticed something different about the search engine results pages (SERPs) lately? Specifically, when you use Google to search for terms related to your business and your local area, does your site appear? Do any sites belonging to independent real estate agents in your area appear? They probably do, but it's likely they're not coming up on the first page of Google. They're possibly not even on the second page, either. That means it's more difficult for your potential customers to find you, and that's not good for your business.
The current state of real estate SERPs is a little disturbing. Large national brands are dominating the SERPs, keeping the smaller sites—like yours—pushed further down, where potential customers are unlikely to look. This is easily demonstrated by performing a simple search of your city followed by the phrase "real estate," as in "Chicago real estate."
We did just that for the top 50 metro areas in the United States (by population), and logged the first three pages of Google results. This is what we found:
- 1691 individual URLs collected from the first 3 pages of the top 50 U.S. Metros = average of 34 listings per metro
- 750 individual URLs collected from page 1 of the top 50 U.S. Metros = average 15 listings per page
- 30% of page 1 listings were local sites (8% of those local pages were Google Plus pages)
- 58% of page 1 listings were traditional organic (rather than paid listings or ads) (438 of the 750)
- 5% page 1 listings were for news sites (35 of the 750)
- 53% of organic listings were interior pages (pages other than the home page) (231 of the 438)
- 47% of organic listings were root pages (home pages)
- 40% of organic root pages were localized domains/subdomains (contained the full city name in the URL, i.e., "http://chicagorealestate.com")
What does all that mean? Well, first of all, the statistic that should stand out the most to you is this one:
30% of page 1 listings were local sites
This means when we did those "<city name> real estate" searches, only 30% of the results on page 1 of Google were for local—not national—sites. Google displays ten search results per page, not including the local pack that appears at the top of page 1. So in these searches, only three results were for local sites.
Consider the number of independent real estate agents in your area. Is your site one of those three listings on page 1 when someone searches for "<your city> real estate"? What are the odds?
The answer is, they're not good. It's much more likely your site isn't appearing on the first page of Google, and is possibly difficult for potential customers to find unless they really do some digging through the SERPs.
Now think about how you search, and how often you click past the first page to find what you're looking for. Not often, right? The same is likely true for most of your potential customers, too.
This series will go into great detail about the state of real estate SERPs, what's affecting them, how you may be unwittingly putting yourself at a disadvantage against the 800-pound gorillas in the space, and what you can do about all this to improve your site's visibility in the SERPs, thereby improving your business.
Stay tuned for our next post which will discuss predatory linking practices, widget spam, and how you're helping Zillow and Trulia to outrank you.
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IDallas Real Estate.com
I have been finding that agent content contribution through national brand sites is creating an "SEO Co-Citation" link building effect that is increasing national sites relevancy and authority around local none-brand and brand keyword terms. Ultimately, it is a catch 22 when agents are trying to grow their presence on these national brand sites and inadvertently supporting these domains authority in the local market place SERPs.
This is so true Jeff. We're fighting back and appreciate your support. William
The only way you're going to get up there on page 1 right now is 1. using Google Pages and 2. probably using a WP blog ( that has a plugin like Yoast) with all your content using the local KWs you need. I THINK?? Any opinions??
Jeff is correct, there's nothing magical about WordPress. I do use WordPress for many of my client's sites, and Joost's (aka Yoast) plug really does make WP do pretty much all the right stuff. But ranking in the organic (i.e. non-Google Places) results is a matter mostly of #1 your backlinks, #2 basic page-tuning SEO like having the term in your title tag etc., and #3 feeding Google's Panda algo what it wants to see, which means rich (i.e. big photos, maps, videos, virtual tours), original (i.e. doesn't exist on ANYONE else's site but yours) content. Really, there's a #4 as well, and that's for searches that Google considers to have "local intent", you'll see a mix of local websites in the results that are there despite weak link profiles, simply because they're a PRETTY good match for the term and Google can tell the site is based in the searcher's city (this is the Venice update from early last spring...I wrote a blog post about this at SEOmoz.org). For ranking in Google Places results, it's a mix of a good backlink profile, having one of your Google Places categories match the search term, # of Google reviews, # of links and/or citations on other websites (e.g. Yelp reviews, CitySearch listing, etc.), and placement in local business directories with 100% identical NAP (name, address, phone) info. David Mihm's GetListed.org site is the place to go to get all the right local business directory listings claimed for your business & set up properly. Full disclosure: I *don't* work for RealGeeks, but I am in the process of implementing a solution for a client of mine using their technology, which I like very much. I'm a search engine optimization expert from Portland, OR, on the board of SEMpdx.org and am an Associate at SEOmoz.
Michael Dinneen I can show you plenty of sites that are in the top three in markets that are not WP Blogs... It is a myth that WP Blogs rank better than other sites... Real Geeks sites have all that built into them without using plugins... It is definitely getting harder with all the local stuff and the big portals in the SERPs... This is the first of a series of three that will help educate agents on how they can help themselves get higher rankings :-)
Here is my blog postings: http://www.coastwalkrealestate.com/blog/ -- if anyone has any advice on how to make them more relevant, please let me know. I am a RG customer...just not overly tech or SEO savvy, thanks!
Justin - I would only put up unique content and try to write interesting stuff others would like to share and talk about socially... If you write about interesting stuff that is going on in your market... buyers and sellers are more likely to subscribe to your blog and follow what you have to say. Show them you are the authority what is going on in your market :-)
Justin, it looks like you are reposting. That is duplicate content and will hurt your SEO efforts, not help them.
Thanks for your info and education
Tonya D Graves
My site is in the top 3 for Google and it is a RG site - not WP. Google "Columbia SC Real Estate" - if you find me in the first 3 please like or G+ my site. Proof positive!
JC Penny Orlando FL Built our site about 3 years ago on Joomla platform but aren't able to use all of the new tools without rebuilding it using the New Joomla. Thinking about coping it to Wordpress so we don't have this problem in the future. Any advice or opinion would be appreciated. JCPennyRealty.com
JC Penny - You need to ask yourself what your goals are with your website... Is it to generate more business? Are you interested in being a webmaster or an agent that uses the website as a tool to generate and follow up with clients... You might want to read some these reviews: http://activerain.com/product-reviews/technology-products/web-sites-personal-idx/realgeeks-idx-websites/131 WP is a good CMS, but not the best tool if you are looking to convert more of your traffic into leads and sales... Here are a couple more links you might want to read as well: http://www.realgeeks.com/blog/wordpress-vs-real-geeks-real-estate-websites-myrtle-beach-broker/ http://www.realgeeks.com/blog/diverse-solutions-vs-real-geeks-idx-oklahoma-city-broker/
Appreciate your knowledge Jeff.
Another item I've noticed is local brands versus local broker sites are receiving a brand bonus with no additional on-site or off-site SEO. Also, the big brands are really starting to dominate in the SERPs which is source of frustration for me.
Thanks for the summary of how it boils down, what goes where and comes up on a front page SE index. Worthwhile read and consideration to keep following your blog!
Love to see the data behind this Jeff thanks for sharing. Luckily I'm not in a large metro area so the results here (Park City, UT) seem to be more towards local brokers and agents thus far but I track a large amount of areas across the country for fun and see what you're seeing. Very similar to the latest SEO article I did for Inman: http://next.inman.com/2012/11/tips-to-beat-the-national-real-estate-portals-at-seo/
Thanks for this information , it is more appreciated that is why you need to be intuitive for searching about this issue keep posting!
Anton D. Stetner
yeah we are definitely seeing this for our blog http://www.resg.info/category/blog/ that used to have a bunch of 1st page rankings and now we are being pushed out by the nationals. And who has better expertise a local agent or some national brand that just intends to resell a lead?
Great discussion. There are ways to get your site be on top when using the search engine. -BuildIdaho.com
Search engine index a lot of real estate site, I think its the great achievement of real estate industry. <a href="http://steelgarages.blogspot.com/2013/02/discount-steel-buildings.html">steel buildings</a> thanks for sharing
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