Relevance of SEO for Real Estate Sites in 2021

Real Estate Sites Always Use SEO

The share of organic search traffic for real estate sites is usually 30-40% and even sometimes higher, depending on countries, regions and seasons. At the same time, all over the world there are unconditional leaders who are not formally monopolists, but actually capture a significant part of the search for all real estate requests. For the U.S., it’s Zillow, which over the past 16 years has become not only the undisputed leader in the online real estate market in the United States, but Zillow also tried to buy out all the major competitors in the U.S. market: Dot loop ($108 million), Rent Juice ($40 million), Street Easy ($40 million), Hot Pads ($16 million), Naked Apartments ($13 million), Diverse Solutions ($7.8 million), just over ten and these are only the known deals. Now the share of search traffic at Zillow is more than 30 million per month and is constantly growing.

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Zillow collects all the information about real estate sales in recent years and generates the price of any kind of real estate based on a variety of parameters: the cost of buying or renting on neighboring streets, the change in price in the past, the crime rate in the city, the number of schools, cafes, hospitals, shops and traffic interchanges, the convenience of getting around by car and on foot. Thanks to the analysis of statistics of the largest real estate database in the United States, Zillow can even influence prices.

If possible, small competitors are merged or absorbed, and the purchase of competitors’ sites is done including for SEO. For example, CoStar Group bought Apartments.com for $585 million. Despite the cost of millions of dollars, the high profitability of online business sales or rental properties allows to quickly get even greater income. According to statistics from Ahrefs, it is clear that some of the traffic at Zillow has long been on links from Trulia (in 2014, Zillow announced the largest deal with its main competitor Trulia for $3.5 billion). Now Zillow gets 1 million traffic from Trulia.

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Do not hope in the coming years to get into the Google top searches of the USA by competitive high-frequency requests on the topic of real estate, although in many European countries, there are still enough opportunities for small startups. The fact that over the past 15 years, large monopolies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars just to buy competitors’ websites shows that this competition is constantly growing.

We see that SEO organic traffic is an important part of real estate sites. SEO traffic is important even when it is a popular brand that is bought by other well-known brands. Many new clients come from organic search, and advertising and brand name only help to make a choice in favor of a real estate agency.

Real Estate and SEO: Competitor Analysis

To date, the search engine is crammed with classifications and aggregators, as well as sites that have been bought by monopolists. For example, we can see in the ratings of Similarweb that Zillow is first, Trulia is fifth and Apartments.com is sixth.

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https://www.similarweb.com/top-websites/category/business-and-consumer-services/real-estate/

To understand the situation of SEO competition when promoting a site about the sale or rental of real estate for analysis, several sites were selected from the top results of Google in different countries.

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From the table above we see that the number of pages on the site is not always proportional to traffic, but the top sites always have millions. Compass.com has the most Google keywords, but has the least traffic due to the monopoly of Zillow in the U.S. In European countries too, there are leaders. Obviously, in order for a real estate agency to occupy the top spot, it is necessary to have a million pages in the Google index, then there will be at least 200-300 thousand words in the result.

The numbers are impressive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get into Google’s top searches and get at least some of the search traffic without millions of pages on the site. SEO has always worked on the basis of these type of principles:

  • • Collecting a semantic core, searching for key requests that will lead the target audience from the search engine.
  • • Clustering requests, selecting priorities based on strategy and possible budget for SEO.
  • • If there is no adequate budget, to immediately block competitors by the number of pages and external links, then at the start of the project we promote low-frequency and low-competitive or regional, seasonal requests.
  • • When the site acquires trust, we then promote medium-frequency requests, look for growth points, especially pay attention to what competitors missed, try to react to trends, seasons and news on the topic of promotion.

Growth Points – Looking for Traffic

Each country has its own competition, but most of the top 50 Real Estate sites according to Similarweb have an amount of pages in the Google index – it’s numbers with six zeros. It is unrealistic to evaluate millions of pages with content, but real estate sites usually have information pages about all countries, blog or news, only that this is the smallest part of the content. To create a new site, content is likely to be ordered on a copywriting exchange, so you can estimate the average cost of content on iWriter at 5 dollars per page.

However, most pages and content on classified sites are created by users themselves – user-generated content, and Google indexes UGC as well as everything else. Pages with ads for the sale or rental of real estate are designed by users according to a template, they upload their photos and often it is monetized, that is, each ad is placed for rent. Therefore, it makes little sense to estimate the entire cost of content on the classified sites, and the translation of ads is often done through the Google Translate script.

So, the growth points for real estate sites:

  • • Pages with ads, including closed ones and archived ones.
  • • Blog and news – the most important thing, preferably, is to give the media also to put links to your site.
  • • Information about commercial real estate in all cities and suburban real estate in all regions of the country.
  • • Comments, questions, and answers can also be attributed to SEO tasks, such as when you need to work out a key slang request.
  • • Translation of the site into different languages, at least landing pages.

You will have to generate hundreds of thousands of pages with content by any means. An option is to create a map of the site with an indicator of cities of the world, and then separate pages with the names of all streets, alleys, etc.

External Optimization and Link Building Strategies

To promote the site about real estate you need not only the usual SEO, but SSO (Search Space Optimization). This is used when it’s needed to drive traffic from YouTube, Facebook and all sorts of sites with questions and answers, forums and other information resources where you can leave a link, even if there will be no follow.

High-frequency commercial real estate queries at the top of Google occupy sites that have spent several years on SEO and have got hundreds of thousands or millions of links. Therefore, starting the promotion of a new real estate site, rationally pay attention to the semantic core of young sites that have started to advance recently, including the use of low-frequency, low-competitive key queries. To begin with, it will be a good strategy to focus on regional and seasonal requests and trends.

On what key queries does a new real estate site really get onto Google’s top  

It is necessary to follow the news to predict at what key time, what key requests will have a rise in traffic. In addition to seasonal traffic surges, there are event-related ones. For example, there is an event: Industrial and logistics real estate in Portugal begins to increase profitability with the recession of the pandemic (48% more transactions than last year), rents have stabilized. At the same time, we know that in the field of office real estate the demand of tenants is growing little. It is reasonable to try to take key queries about industrial and logistics real estate in Portugal for promotion. But the same idea will most likely be implemented by competitors who have SEO resources: dozens and hundreds of satellites already pumped by link building. When some news on the real estate market is trending, this will obviously be taken into account by many competitors, therefore, a site that is just starting SEO promotion is better off using the promotion method based on low-frequency queries or long key phrases of three words.  

It is a good option to build a reasonable strategy to capture a cluster of key queries, which in the future is expected to grow. Therefore, it is important that the SEO specialist works in a team with real estate analysts. For example, let’s take studies that say that the so-called Generation Z by 2030 will make up about ⅓ of the workforce in developed countries, which means that the popularity of co-working will grow. We look at the change in housing legislation in Spain: in Catalonia (including Barcelona), the permitted area of co-living has been reduced to 24 square meters. Previously, the footage of co-living depended on the location and was from 36 sq. m. up to 60 or 100 “squares”. In addition, there are forecasts that investment in real estate in Spain will soon return to pre-crisis levels, all this can predict the interest of investors to co-living, and therefore there will be advertising and traffic on the semantics associated with co-living will start to grow. Probably, it’s high time to create a website about co-working and co-living in Spain, as well as satellites with a regional domain including a co-living request, which means link building for this request.

For each country or region there will be an individual approach, for example in the U.S., Blockchains bought 271 million square meters of land for $170 million in Storey County (Nevada) to build a city in which all payments will be made using cryptocurrencies, and all data will be stored in a distributed registry. The fact of such investments can predict both interest in residential real estate in Nevada, and new ups of Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies, and therefore the rise of SEO traffic on both topics. All of this should be considered when planning your SEO and link building budget.

Promising but risky, link building strategy works on a semantic core in which keywords about real estate, will presumably be in demand next season. Such a strategy of SEO promotion is more often used for sites about computer games: the release date is known and six months before the date, sites are already made to sell digital copies even before the availability of goods. Online cinemas also add movie announcements in advance, but usually do not pay individual attention to the SEO of each new product.

Similarly, it is possible SEO struggle for organic traffic between brand new real estate sites and the monopolists that have occupied Google’s TOP. However, real estate agencies that sell new houses from the developer have long used a similar method: if there is insider information about the upcoming development of a particular area create a site specifically about these new buildings even before the construction.

 Link building for real estate agencies

Given the high competition on the subject of real estate, one cannot do without building a Private Blog Network. One PBN site costs from $150 and they will require hundreds on drop domains (old domains that were used in a certain topic for years, but were abandoned by the previous owners and bought out).

The methods of promotion on low-frequency and low-competitive search queries have been successfully used for more than a decade as the fastest way to get organic SEO traffic on a new site on a highly competitive topic. And these methods always work, because Google search engine tries to diversify the issuance of search results. This is noticeable when analyzing young sites that successfully receive organic traffic and go on payback for 1-2 years of promotion.

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Analysis of links on the site virtoproperty.com shows that the budget was small: only 74 contextual links in articles, the average price is about 200-250 dollars apiece, so within 15-20 thousand dollars. UGS crowd links are almost non-existent and there are hundreds of thousands of end-to-end links, but they lead to a couple of affiliate sites, although GSA runs are relatively inexpensive, so you can consider a very limited budget. At the same time, organic traffic is already several hundred visitors.

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The site estate-spain.com promoted three years ago in the same economical way: careful internal optimization of on-page SEO and promotion on low-competition requests, getting little traffic from the target audience, which still allowed the site to recoup all costs in the first year. After a year of promotion in the top-100 about 6,000 requests came in, of which in the top-10 – 1500, in the top-5 – 604 and in the top-3 about 200 requests. All this gave about 50 visitors per day from Google in conversion from request to site of more than 0.5%.

It can be seen that the new site is being promoted in the TOP by some low-frequency and medium-frequency requests with a relatively small budget, as if collecting pitiful remnants of traffic from market monopolists. But if link building is done correctly, persistently looking for the key phrases overlooked by competitors, then every year will yield natural SEO traffic. All this we see in the example of the site estate-spain.com and in three years its organic traffic has grown significantly.

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If estate-spain.com was made bigger through the traffic from Runet, its affiliate virtoproperty.com focused on traffic from around the world and for the first year of promotion already collects good traffic from the UK and US.

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Budget and Prospects

A cursory analysis of not only the top 10, but even the top 30 in Google shows that most sites with commercial real estate started working 10 or more years ago. But do not despair, because Google does not give all the traffic to any one monopolist company and quickly identifies affiliates. We mean that Google TOP is always diluted with information sites and media, so we combine SEO and content marketing by placing more links in articles.

The new site is enough to get into Google Knowledge Graph to start increasing the target audience through SEO traffic. Mass optimization of all pages of the site will be required. To create content, it’s important to analyze not only seasonal, event, political aspects, but also social changes in society, migration, pandemic, a lot of factors that can lead to a change in the tourism or lifestyle of people. Working in a team with real estate market analysts, an SEO specialist should try to predict where traffic will go in this and future seasons in order to stay ahead of competitors who at this time only work with analytics of traffic that already exists or was in the last season.

It is extremely important to have reliable partners in the regions where you see the opportunity of SEO promotion, so that there is work with clients and organizing real estate displays on the ground. Even if for a year you will have only 100 real customers who will come to the place to inspect the property: – conversion of viewing to purchase from 30-35% is enough to pay the annual budget on the promotion of the site of the real estate agency.

It turns out that SEO is a profitable sales channel – leads of absolute the same quality as with contextual advertising and the case of the site estate-spain.com proves it.

  • • Prices of cheap real estate in Spain about $100,000
  • • The cost of an expensive villa is about 1 million.
  • • For the year, the average cost of one property sold is about 140,000-145,000.
  • • In total, there is turnover of more than 4 million and revenue of about 174,000 per year.
  • • The cost of development, SEO and advertising is about 150,000, which means a profit ~ 25,000.

Thus, we see how the new real estate agency site in just 1 year got SEO conversions sufficient to fully recoup the budget.

Cost Forecasts and Possible Profit for the Year

It is important to develop a project strategy in advance for specific purposes, that is, it is better to take a cluster of requests not of the whole country, but one of the most promising regions in which there are business partners for organizing real estate sales. Moreover, sometimes it is even better to narrow the segment of requests. Let’s say we see the omission of competitors in the region on the part of the cluster of requests for letna-belvedere and a startup with an emphasis on low-rise buildings and villas. Perhaps it will be advisable to create several sites for adjacent clusters of queries to get at least in the top 20-50 of Google, and then as the position of satellites grows, choose the most successful segment, pump it with links and bring it to the top 10. It will require detailed semantics, regional catalogues of real estate and usability: convenient filters and sorting, forms of feedback and a lot of information content, including fresh news about the real estate market.

In many SEO topics, the specialist uses superficial business analysis, focusing on trend statistics and the semantics of large competitors and their reference profiles. The highest competition in the topic of real estate involves primarily a high level of business research and region to build the right SEO strategy to promote and plan the budget for the project.

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It should be taken into account that about 20% of traffic, especially at first, the new site will have to attract through advertising and this is also part of the budget. Referral traffic from social networks can be 5-15%. Organic traffic will be about 40-50% and the cost of SEO is also about half the total budget. The constant struggle of competitors for traffic entails the need for a solid budget. But the regional fragmentation and algorithms of Google allow new sites to find a working version of the strategy for payback in 1-2 years. Therefore, in 2021 it is also relevant to start SEO promotion of new sites of agencies, developers or about the lease of commercial real estate.

Especially promising, is to make a startup to cover those countries and regions where competition is still relatively low. In any case, over the years, the site’s trust will grow, and monetize easily: commissions from the sale, rent, paid allocation and rise of ads in the tape, media advertising, the collection of leads and the sales of target audience traffic. In a crisis, any real estate project with some position in Google can always be sold to larger competitors.

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