Avoid Real Estate SEO – 4 Reasons

If you are trying to learn more about Real Estate SEO, my real estate team sold more than 500 homes and I currently rank on Google for highly competitive keywords…

Who better to learn from than an experienced real estate agent and investor who happens to know a thing or two about SEO?

In this post we will cover :

  • What is Real Estate SEO
  • How to Rank Content
  • How to screen SEO agencies so you don’t get scammed
  • 4 Reasons you should NOT do it

What is Real Estate SEO?

Real Estate SEO is the process of optimizing content to rank higher within search engines like Google. There are a bunch of search engines but Google has 91%+ of the market share.

SEOs (Search engine optimizers) focus on organic search results. Here is an example of organic search results:

Google's Search Results for "Real Estate SEO"

Since companies like Zillow and Realtor.com dominate those searches, real estate agents should focus more on local SEO with a Google Business Profile (GBP). Your GBP shows in what is known as the ‘map-pack’.

The map-pack is a list of GBPs and their location on a map in whatever area the user is searching. See the example below for ‘real estate agent in Lexington, KY’.

Google's map-pack google business profiles for 'Real Estate Agent in Lexington KY'

When it comes down to it, your SEO campaign should provide your business with an ROI by generating leads.

Because of real estate agents’ lack of knowledge, many SEO agencies collect the cash just to under-deliver or outright steal for many months…

and even years.

Why You Should Not Pay for SEO Services

Like you, I had no idea how SEO was done before I started building this blog and hired an SEO coach. But why should you listen to me?

This website gets 2,200 visitors per month from Google Searches, but if we were to pay for the clicks we get, this third-party site estimates that traffic will be worth around $5,000/month.

Example of this websites traffic and it's value from SEO

I have seen a few Realtor websites that generate traffic equal to or more valuable than this website… But they’re been around for many years.

So, why shouldn’t you try to do SEO yourself?

1. The SEO Agency Can’t Provide Solid Case Studies

Every marketing strategy should have a projected ROI. The same can be said about an SEO strategy but SEO agencies don’t even attempt to track their clients’ results.

Or they track clicks… Which aren’t leads

But still, unless they can say something along the lines of “We helped Jim generate X leads from his website or Google business profile. Those leads turned into roughly X dollars.” – RUN.


2. You’re Competing with Billion Dollar Companies

If you search ‘houses for sale in {city}’, industry giants like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Redfin are going to show up on top…

*This might soon change so reach out to me for details.

They spend millions of dollars on their websites’ user-friendliness, speed, and SEO. It’s going to be nearly impossible to beat them for search terms.

A keyword like ‘Homes for sale in {city}’ would likely be cheaper for you to run a PPC campaign for 10 years rather than trying to rank organically.

Below is a screenshot from Ahrefs that estimates Zillow‘s monthly traffic to be worth $11.4M and they are the 515th most authoritative website in the world… There are billions of websites… Quite impressive if you ask me!

Estimated Value of Zillow's traffic

3. It Takes Too Long to Find Out if it’s Going to be Profitable

You MIGHT be able to spend $50k on SEO for your real estate website to rank on the first page for ‘houses for sale in {city}’… But once you’re on the first page, getting to the top 3 search results is probably going to take way more money and time.

I think it takes too long and it’s too expensive to rank for keywords targeting buyers…

You can risk it for the biscuit, or just rent position #1 at an affordable and profitable $30/day via Google Search Ads.

4. You Have No Idea What or How the SEO Agency is Doing

When I hired an SEO agency, I knew the result I was going for… Profits.

I just had no idea how they were getting it. Since I didn’t know what they were doing and was paying them thousands of dollars every month, there’s a good chance I got scammed…

What metrics should you be tracking?

What deliverables are they responsible for?

Heads up, even if they ‘grow’ your website to 100 visitors/month, you’ll be lucky to get 1% of those visitors to convert to a lead.

That means you’re spending $1,000/month for 1 lead per month… High-quality leads convert at 10%… So that’s 1 transaction every 10 months. That sounds like a waste of money!


What do real estate SEO agencies do?

How to Do Your Own Real Estate SEO

Although I lack personal experience doing SEO to generate real estate leads, I know both the retail and investor sides of real estate.

I was much more excited about the ‘sell my house fast’ leads. Why?

The cost per click for some motivated seller search terms is $20-80+. Imagine getting that traffic for ‘free’.

Here’s an example of a flipping company in Charlotte that has ranked #1 for ‘sell my house fast Charlotte’ for years… Imagine getting $7,500 worth of clicks every month… for free!

Estimated traffic for a 'we buy houses' website

If I were a hybrid realtor and investor, I would focus more on a strategy for ranking ‘We Buy Houses’ and ‘{city} real estate agent’ or ‘{city} realtor’.

This way you can avoid competing with Zillow, Realtor.com, and Redfin for searches where people just want to browse for houses and attract motivated, serious sellers.

Now, how to do this yourself…

I’ll start from a zoomed-out perspective so you get a good idea of the big picture, then get more granular.

Let’s dive in!

SEO Strategy Big Picture

Google’s job is to serve people using their search engine exactly what they’re looking for. It’s impossible to see their algorithm and their updating it daily to get better.

Google seems to care more about EEAT and Quality content than ever… And if I had to guess, that isn’t going to change.


EEAT stands for Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trust. It’s Google’s way of finding out what websites, authors, and brands are legit.

They want to know every aspect of a website and its content is reputable. What are the different aspects?

  1. The author has experience with what they are writing about. For example: I posted this blog’s small success with a limited amount of posts… Plus this website has my story of being an agent and investor in hundreds of transactions. I’ve also been on a TON of podcasts that are on YouTube, which Google knows.

  2. The website is trustworthy. How does Google know someone isn’t pretending to be me? Generally speaking, I think they use backlinks, which we’ll talk about later.

  3. The brand is strong which shows EEAT. We started Five Pillars back in 2019. Google can find years of posts on my IG, Five Pillars’ IG, Facebook, and YouTube accounts. They know we aren’t a fly-by-night brand. For example: If you search ‘Tenis shoes’, Nike is the first result… They’ve got the most powerful brand in athletic shoes.

To sum it up, everything you write should signal you are an expert, have experience, are an authority, and are trustworthy…

Google wants all of these signals, but it also needs to be engaging…

Quality Content

No, your Chat GPT garbage isn’t going to beat someone who cares…

For example, a friend of mine also has a blog for real estate agents. It’s been alive for multiple years and they have over 100 articles, similar to this one. I have about 10 pieces of content and am going to surpass him in traffic shortly. Why?

His content is garbage. They don’t use any unique photos and most articles appear as if they haven’t even been proofread a single time. Just like in business, caring goes a long way.

Not only do you need to create quality content, but Google wants your site to have Topic Authority. That is a link to Google’s post on topical authority for news… However, most SEO experts agree that it’s relevant for all websites.

Topical Authority is Google’s way of saying ‘prove you know you are the best, expert, and authority on this topic’. They want you to cover all your bases. For example:

Here is the previously mentioned ‘we buy houses’ business I was telling you about:

Screenshot from a top ranking website

They say they buy houses in all situations such as divorce and foreclosure.

Then they link to their supporting articles about divorce and foreclosure to prove they buy houses in those situations, and most importantly in that town.

Since most of your real estate business is done locally, I recommend writing articles for whatever area you want to rank for. This means including the city in your heading… We’ll cover headings and article structure later.

The more generic you go, the harder it’s going to be to compete… and the real estate industry is extremely competitive.

At this point, you should understand the basics. Create quality, highly targeted content, and show Google you have a bunch of:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trustworthy

Easy enough, right?

Let’s go one step further…

Backlinks are simply hyperlinked text on different websites that send users to your website.

Just like above I was talking about their ‘we buy houses from people in divorce’ page linking to their own article about selling a house in divorce, except those links would send the user to your website.

Getting backlinks is also known as ‘off-page SEO’ because it’s completed outside your website.

Why does Google care about backlinks?

Imagine you were looking around for the best restaurant but you couldn’t use your phone. Your best bet would be to ask 100 people what their favorite restaurant is. What if 50 of them said the same place?

I would think “That place must be good, let’s go there!”

Google uses backlinks as a way to gauge referrals from other websites. It’s like other people saying “Hey this is good content! Check it out!”

But not all backlinks are good…

Back in 2010, you could get a website to rank by collecting a ton of backlinks from spammy sites. Google cared about the sheer volume of backlinks.

Now Google will actually penalize websites for buying backlinks and having a bunch of spammy, low-quality backlinks… So if your real estate SEO strategy is to go to Fiverr and buy a bunch of backlinks, think again…

What are quality links?

This can be broken into 2 categories:

  • Authority, relevant websites

  • Local, legit businesses

What are relevant and authoritative websites?

Since you have a real estate website, this can be anything related to houses or potentially professional services. A few great, highly relevant, and authoritative websites would be:

  1. Zillow.com

  2. Realtor.com

  3. Rocketmortgage.com

Not sure how to tell if a website is authoritative?

You can use a free tool like Ahrefs authority checker. Keep in mind, these are third-party tools and they do their best to scan the web.

A solid authority score is anything over 40. If it’s over 50, great. If it’s 75+ that’s awesome… and likely has millions of dollars invested into building that website or brand.

Don’t overlook an authority score though… If a website has a high authority score but extremely low traffic, there is a possibility that the website has a bunch of toxic backlinks.

Just like you in real life, you don’t want connections (backlinks) with toxicity.

This website, Five Pillars Nation, has a very low authority score because we don’t have many backlinks and the domain was purchased in July of 2023… But that doesn’t stop us from getting traffic due to the aforementioned reasons… It just takes longer to rank.

So, what is another signaling factor that your real estate website is an authority in your local market?

Local SEO Optimization

Creating quality content about the area you operate in is important. But just like getting a referral for a restaurant, so are votes from other local businesses.

If there is a local attorney’s office, home inspector, lender, home improvement company, or any other local business you frequent, try to get a backlink from them.

You can do this by:

  1. Contacting your favorite person at that business and asking to be connected with the person in charge of their marketing strategy

  2. Ask that person if you can write a post for them that will help their website gain topical authority and possibly some traffic that could convert into customers… and also include a backlink to your website. (We’ll talk about how to structure articles in the next heading)

  3. Write that post

  4. Repeat with another local business

I personally haven’t tried this but would love it if someone did and let me know their results!

These are Local ranking factors straight from Google:

“Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web, like links, articles, and directories. Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.”

Again, this is for local SEO and local keywords which includes ranking your Google Business Profile… Which I do have some experience with.

Google Business Profile

I’m not going to tell you what you can and cannot do… But I will tell you what Google does and does not want you to do… You can take the risks from there.

One of the most important factors in ranking your Google Business Profile is location and proximity to the searcher’s location or the proximity to the area the searcher is looking.

Google has 2 types of Google Business Profiles:

  • Service Area Businesses
  • Local Businesses (Requires signage)

If you’re an agent who doesn’t have an office and works from home, you are technically supposed to have a ‘service area business’… But this hurts your rankings because Google doesn’t have you in a specific location.

Google almost always suggests and ranks businesses with a physical location first… Here’s an example:

In May, I noticed one of our agents had her business listed as a ‘service-area’ business… Which is the right thing to do by Google’s standards…

But she was getting next to no visibility – like under 30 impressions per month. In June, we switched her business to have a physical location, which may or may not have been her home address…

The next month she got 350 impressions… She got a lay down lead from her Google Business Profile which ended up sending her a referral and resulted in over $1M in volume…

Every month after that she has had over 500 impressions on her GBP. Google will not let you set up your GBP with your home address so don’t attempt it.

Mind you, she had been posting photos on her GBP for a long time which was the reason she was able to crush her competition… So don’t forget to post on your GBP 2-3x per week.

This concludes ‘Off Page SEO’.

‘On page SEO’ is what can be done on your actual website.

On-Page Search Engine Optimization for Your Real Estate Website

We’ve covered some external and internal factors when doing your own SEO strategy, but I want to repeat some important details of technical SEO and how it relates to on page SEO. Technical SEO sounds scary and complex but I’m going to keep it noob level for you…

It has to do with structuring your website and other factors that are too nerdy for me…

Structuring your Post

There are a few rules to follow when structuring your content. The title of your article should include whatever keyword you are trying to rank for. The title should also be the only <H1> text on your article. What is an H1?

Just like an outline for your high school English paper, blog posts and articles are written and divided into sections using ‘Header’ tags. These go from H1 all the way down to H6 or maybe H7… But you will rarely use below H4 and here’s why:

H1 is the title of your article… It tells search engines what you’re article is about.

H2 headers are used to be the main points supporting your H1 header…

As you can imagine H3 headers are used to support your H2 headings and so on…

If you’re getting to H5 and H6 tags, your article is likely extremely long.

Here’s an example of this post’s structure of headings:

Heading tags and structure for this article

Time to repeat myself… In a different way. For local SEO you will likely want to rank highly for something like ‘{City} Realtor’ or ‘Sell my house {City}’. In order to do that, you need to create a bunch of articles proving your local knowledge and expertise of the area and service.

To bring it back to the Charlotte homebuyer I was talking about previously… They only really care about ranking for terms like ‘Sell my house fast’… That means their pages with the H1 ‘We buy houses in {City}’ are their “Money Pages“.

Those money pages have stuff about buying properties from divorcees and whatnot… Their money page links to those supporting pages and vis-versa. Search engines can easily find that they have a bunch of knowledge and experience supporting their money pages.

Why is it called a money page? Because that’s where the gravy is baby! I’ll repeat the screenshot above of this website’s estimated traffic value to better explain.

It estimates $2,936 worth of traffic, right? That’s because every time someone searches a keyword, we rank for that keyword organically. If we bought those clicks, we’d have to pay roughly that amount for the traffic we get…

Screenshot of Ahrefs data for fivepillarsnation.com

If you compare our traffic and traffic value to the ‘we buy houses’ company I was showing you earlier, we have roughly the same amount of traffic but look at the difference in value of that traffic…

Estimated traffic for a 'we buy houses' website

The keywords they get clicks for are much more valuable than our keywords.

Now let’s talk about photos on your posts…

Original Images and How to Label The Alt-Text

If Google has the capability to 3D photograph every road in America and blurs license plates with a bot… Chances are they have the ability to scan your images and find out if it’s original content.

Your real estate business involves lots of photos so use those photos! No one else has those same photos except for you! When uploading photos, there is something called ‘Alt-text’. Here is how one of the most reputable SEO companies, Moz, defines it:

‘Alt text (alternative text) describes the appearance or function of an image on a page. Alt text is read aloud by screen readers used by visually impaired users, displays in place of an image if it fails to load and is indexed by search engine bots to better understand the content of your page.’

Use the alt text in your photo to support whatever point you’re trying to make in the article. Be mindful of stuffing keywords… Google doesn’t need to see ‘real estate SEO’ 100 times in this article to rank for real estate seo…

If you took the photo with your phone and the EXIF data says it was taken in your local market, I don’t think that would hurt!

So… Sound like too much work? Don’t want to master real estate SEO?

How to Screen a Real Estate SEO Agency

If you’re still convinced SEO is something you want, but don’t want to work on yourself, I’m going to teach you how to filter through the BS real estate SEO Agencies. There are a ton of real estate businesses that have gotten ripped off, myself included…

Here’s how I would screen a search engine optimization company:

Ask for Case Studies and Proof of Revenue

Most people think their real estate SEO strategy should include a goal of a certain number of impressions or clicks… efff that!

If you are spending money on marketing, it should be generating a return. I will say impressions, clicks, and rankings are good leading metrics to track, but that’s not the purpose of an SEO campaign… Or is it?

Traditionally speaking, SEO is the practice of ranking higher in search engines… which isn’t easy. Converting that traffic into leads is something totally different.

It’s called Conversion Rate Optimization or, CRO (crow), for short.

Chances are, you don’t have the funds to pay for a full-fledged SEO campaign and a CRO expert. Therefore, the agency needs to be able to prove they’ve helped a real estate business generate revenue through their SEO.

How can they do that?

One way would be to connect you with a real estate business that they have done work for. After that, I would want to see a few things about that business’s real estate website…

Ask for Traffic and Analytics Data

Remember how I said impressions and clicks are good leading metrics? Make sure the data about the real estate website or GBP they provide in their case study is first-party or directly from Google. Here are some examples:

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results.

It will show you keywords that you are ranking for, clicks for those ranking keywords, clicks to certain pages, and how your rankings move over time. This is a free, extremely valuable tool provided by Google.

Google Search console for fivepillarsnation.com

Google Business Profile performance

Similar to GSC, your Google Business Profile (GBP) will track performance metrics such as calls, website clicks, bookings, and impressions. This is also valuable information because 25-50% of the phone calls are high-quality leads.

Google Business Profile Performance Metrics

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a little different because it tracks activity on your website. This is helpful when tracking conversions. But, most SEOs aren’t going to mess with your Google Analytics and it’s data can be inflated by getting people to go on your website and just click around…

Whereas the other two tools actually show search engine results and even some of your rankings.

Google analytics data for Five Pillars Nation

Third-Party Data

There are a TON of SEO tools on the market. They assist SEO efforts by showing what competitors are doing, estimating the traffic of websites and the value of that traffic, and conducting keyword research.

Oftentimes, people will post little glimpses of these third-party tools which can be WAY off.

I suggest giving these tools 1/10th the weight of GSC and GBP stats.

Summarizing Real Estate SEO

There are a ton of other search engines out there, but Google is still king. Generating leads by creating content in the form of blogs for your real estate website is going to be difficult, but if you approach it like a full-time job, you will dominate.


I don’t see anyone doing it except for wholesale companies… And I believe Google will give licensed Realtors more credibility due to the license. This isn’t a free way to generate leads, but it can be very cheap if you DIY.

If you dig in, you’ll find that there is a helpful community of SEOs, and you just happen to be in the real estate niche.

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