Local SEO results, those listings on the Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) connected to Google Maps, are the most relevant ranking positions for REALTORS® for a number of reasons:
- Consumers like “local” listings.
- Appearing there implies that you must be an expert in that area.
- It is one place on the SERPs we’re not fighting the likes of Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia for rankings – it is restricted to local REALTORS®.
The steps outlined below, by themselves, are not likely to result in your listing appearing on Google Maps, but they will set the foundation so that later on-page and off-page SEO efforts could help you climb to the top of Local search results.
Name-Address-Phone Number (NAP)
The first step is to establish your NAP.
What is the name of your business – not always a straight forward question for an agent. Are you a solo agent, or part of a team, does your broker need to be recognized in your online media?
Address is generally more straightforward, however, you must have a physical address in the city your trying to rank for. While I generally consider myself to work in Las Vegas, our brokerage is in a smaller city at the southern tip of Las Vegas, so I optimize for Henderson NV instead.
What phone number will you use online? I personally use my cell phone, but doing so means that I get calls or texts outside of normal business hours – I’m okay with that, are you? Whichever number you use, it should be a “local” number, not a 1-800, or the cell phone number you got while in college on the other side of the country.
Once you’ve established your NAP, make sure that it appears consistently across the web. Inconsistency can lead to uncertainty in the search engine’s perception regarding the validity or authority of your business.
Preparing Your Website for Local Search
- Your NAP should appear on every page of your website. The best way to accomplish this is to include it in the header, footer, or sidebar of your site. If you have more than one office, include each office on every page.
2. Create a separate “Contact Us (or some variation of this)” for each location. Include a Google Map on the page.
In the case of multiple offices, use a dropdown menu with a page for each.
3. Create website pages around the broad local keywords: i.e. realtor, real estate agent, etc. (Optimizing a webpage for a specific keyword will be addressed in a future article).
Registering with the “Local” Search Engines
When registering with the search engines, or setting up citations (see below), provide detailed information including service and location based keywords, use your NAP, add pictures/video, remember to update if anything changes, and make sure that you don’t have duplicate accounts on any of the search engines or directories.
- Register your business on Google My Business (Google Maps). Click START to claim (or add) your business. Google will send a postcard to the provided address to verify that it is yours.
- Bing also has a “local” search engine registration site. Go to Bing Places to add your business to Bing. They too will probably verify with a postcard.
- While not officially a search engine, enough local search goes through Yelp that I recommend setting up on Yelp for Business as well. Go to Yelp for Business Owners to set up your account.
Create Citations for your Business
Citations are quality websites where your business can appear online (i.e. industry or location related business directories). There are hundreds of citations available (this topic will be addressed in more depth in a future article). Following are some important ones for real estate agents:
Any of the other “home” or “real estate” sites are good, as well as location based citations like your city’s Chamber of Commerce, or your area Better Business Bureau (BBB).
In addition, there is an SEO software company, Moz, that I recommend. They offer a local service (the Essential package) that will connect your business with the local aggregators (major business citation sites), which in turn will transfer your information to other smaller citation sites. They charge $9 per month, or $99 per year for this service.
Client reviews or testimonials are powerful because they can influence click through rates from the the SERPs, and help establish credibility and trust with website visitors. They can also help with your Local SEO. While there are many places for you to send your clients to leave reviews – Zillow, Realtor, Facebook, etc – from strictly an SEO perspective, Google is the most important. Although not always, often the businesses that show up on the Google Maps Local 3 Pack have Google reviews.
This should get you started on the road to being found on search engines. Fill out the form on the upper right-hand side of this page to subscribe to receive future articles about “on-page SEO”, “off-page SEO”, creating more citations, blogging, getting more reviews, and more digital real marketing information in your email in-box.
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