When it comes to optimising your estate agency website for Google, you will have two main types of target user. One is looking to buy or rent a property; the other is a landlord or someone with property to sell.
Of course, estate agent websites should cater to both. Many, however, tend to target the first type of user (buyers and renters) much more than the second type. Consider, for example, the fact that a property search bar is usually given high visibility. The onus is on helping buyers and renters browse the properties the estate agent has available.
The emphasis estate agent websites place on buyers and renters usually translates into a skewed focus in SEO strategy. Many will target this type of user in their SEO elements – such as keyphrases, content and site hierarchy – to the near-exclusion of the other type of user, namely landlords and property sellers.
Is this the right approach?
Search Results for Buyers and Renters
To understand this, you should look at the search experience of buyers and renters. When they go to Google to search for a property, they will use phrases like “flat to rent in <location>”, “house for sale in <location>”, or “<location> property for sale”.
Let’s use the latter keyword as an example to search for properties for sale in Godalming in Surrey. The keyword is, therefore, “Godalming property for sale”.
As you might expect, the top of the search results page for this keyword features four PPC ads. Below those ads the organic search results include:
- Five UK property portal websites, four of which are in the top four positions on the page
- Five Godalming estate agent websites
In other words, the big UK property portals dominate this search results page. As those portals appear at the top of the results, they get the clear majority of traffic. After all, research shows that around 70% of clicks on a search results page go to the top four positions, and the first position gets a whopping 33% of clicks.
So, what does this dominance of the major property portals over the Google results mean for your website?
An SEO Strategy for Estate Agents that Works
There is an answer to this question, and the great thing about it is, it proves to be an effective SEO strategy for estate agents in its own right.
Simply put, your SEO and website content should be more focused on sellers and landlords. This means widening your keyphrase strategy to include an emphasis on keywords that sellers and landlords use, and adding more content to your site that conveys messages about your services for sellers and landlords. Of course, you can still target buyers and renters, but there should also be a clear emphasis on sellers and landlords.
Adopting this approach will deliver the best return on investment and offer maximum benefits for your business. If you allow the property portals to dominate, buyers and renters will see your properties on those websites anyway. In other words, by taking this approach, you will not abandon buyers and renters. Instead, you let the reality of the buyer and renter search experience match your SEO and marketing strategy, i.e. buyers and renters are more likely to find the properties you offer through a property portal than they are by landing on your website directly from Google.
Optimising your Website for Landlords and Property Sellers
Let’s look at keywords that sellers or landlords might use when searching for estate agents. An example of such a keyword is “Godalming estate agents”. When you type this into Google you also get four PPC ads at the top of the page. Below that, things get interesting.
The first thing you see in the organic search listings is a map and three detailed local search results featuring Godalming estate agents. These results are powered by Google My Business. Below this, the 10 main search results include:
- Nine estate agents, including in the first four positions
- One property portal
In other words, estate agents dominate this search results page. This is significant for several reasons:
- It is much easier to compete for position with other estate agents than it is to compete with the resources of a major property portal
- If your website is not on the first page of a local estate agent search, users are unlikely to find your website. This is different to the situation with buyers and renters who still see the properties you offer through the property portals even if they don’t find you in Google.
- It is free to list and optimise your business in Google My Business.
It is possible for an estate agent to unseat the major property portals in the top positions of Google. The reality, however, is that you will find it very difficult to compete with them. Even with significant investment in SEO, and even with success in the wider digital marketing mix and a prevailing wind behind you, you might still struggle to get into the top four, let alone position one.
Adopting an SEO approach that focuses on landlords and property sellers, however, allows to do three things. First, it enables your website to start appearing more often in Google for clients who may go on to give you instructions and boost your inventory. Second, it helps you to compete with local estate agents – not the major property portals. And finally, this approach allows you to localise your website more effectively, appearing higher up in Google for your best target locations.