7 Tips for Using Local SEO to Beat Even Zillow

Getting your real estate company its website pages seen on search engines can be extremely competitive these days; new businesses popping up at record levels are saturating the market, and major names in the business, such as Zillow, dominate the search rankings. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most popular and effective methods of marketing that can allow your website to rank higher on search engines, such as Google. The main aim of this is to get seen by more potential customers and subsequently gain more clients and sales. Taking the time to work on your SEO is important so that you can start ranking higher than your competitors, including Zillow. 

SEO Basics

So, if you are not familiar with SEO at all then here are some basics that you need to know. As stated previously, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and quite literally means that: you are optimising your company website for a search engine (i.e. Google). When a customer types in a phrase to Google, different search results pop up and their SEO will determine where they appear in the results.

Local SEO VS Enterprise SEO

Firstly, let’s distinguish the difference between these types of SEO. These terms simply refer to the scale at which you are focusing your SEO efforts. Local SEO is usually used by smaller businesses that normally serve a specific local area, rather than providing services on an international scale. This is useful for start-ups and small businesses because targeting a specific geographical region can bring higher amounts of traffic than attempting to attract people from many locations.

Enterprise SEO is generally used by large-scale organisations that have global business goals. The aim here is to increase brand awareness and profitability by targeting potentially millions of pages and keywords. This guide to Enterprise SEO from Kurt Uhlir stresses the importance of knowing when you need to use local SEO, standard SEO, and enterprise SEO to ensure that you are optimising your website on a scale that will be most effective and provide you with the most growth. Kurt Uhlir says the strategy that you use does not necessarily depend on the size of your organisation, but instead, it’s on how many websites your company maintains and your company’s short-term and long-term goals.

The Importance Of SEO

As a company, you know that marketing is the way to get your real estate business seen by more people, and SEO is one such marketing tool you can use. It is a far less expensive way than other forms of marketing, such as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and other forms of advertisement, and is thought to be the most cost-effective way of growing your company organically. Ensuring you have good SEO also builds a level of trust with search engines and with your customers, because who is truly going to trust a brand that isn’t the first search result when the company name is typed into Google? 

How Can Local SEO Help You Beat Zillow?

Local SEO can be used by your real estate company to rank higher than Zillow for certain local keywords and phrases. As a smaller business, you do not have to beat Zillow on every single possible search because a lot of those searches will be irrelevant to what your company offers; however, ranking higher than Zillow for local searches (such as “properties in Austin” and “Austin houses for sale”) is going to be the way you can ensure they are not as competitive with you when it comes to the local services you offer. 

What Counts Towards SEO?

Before we get into the Local SEO tips, let’s talk about what exactly counts towards SEO. Here are some of the main contributing factors.

  • Keywords: We have mentioned keywords already; these are words and phrases related to your business and what you want to be found for. These should be placed strategically throughout your website in things like content, ALT descriptions, and meta descriptions. 
  • Backlinks: These are obtained when other websites high in authority link to one of your website pages e.g. in a blog post or article. If you have a lot of high-quality websites linking to your page, this helps search engines recognise the credibility of your company’s website. Interlinking, creating links to other pages on your website, can also affect your domain authority. 
  • Webpage speed: Slow-loading webpages cause bounce rates to increase, meaning you are losing potential customers. Google also takes this into account, so improving your website speed can only help.

7 Local SEO Tips

So now you know the basics of SEO, Local SEO vs Enterprise SEO, and how it can help you, we can talk about some actionable tips and strategies to follow that can improve your local SEO. 46% of Google searches are reported to be queries looking for local information, so improving your Local SEO with the below advice can help you reach these potential customers by outranking the competition.

  • Build Local Citations By Applying For Business Directories

A local citation is any mention of your company name on any other website – in business directories, blog posts, and anywhere else. Citations, in themselves, can help promote your business, but they can also count toward your SEO. Applying to be in local business directories (most towns have one) can provide you with a solid backlink, and also boost your credibility in Google’s eyes. You can find online business directories by a simple Google search and they’ll most likely have an “apply here” / ”add a business” button where they will ask for information such as your company’s name, basic ‘about’ (include keywords), number, mailing address, and email address. Especially if you are a start-up company, citations let Google know that you are a legitimate business and verify that you are providing consistent and accurate information about your business. 

  • Research Your Local Keywords

You may have seen this tip coming already, but it is because it is one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking for your desired keywords and phrases. If you have done some research into keywords before, but not concentrated on making them local, then it’s time to re-strategise. If you have, then there is always time to update your knowledge on local keywords because the world of SEO is everchanging and there may be some changes in keyword trends.

There are several ways and numerous tools you can use to help generate relevant keyword ideas. A good idea is to collate a list of as many relevant search terms and words as possible and then filter through them and combine words to discover keywords that have low competition and a high number of searches. This is the key to finding a good keyword because the fewer results there are for something that people are searching for a lot, the more likely you are to be able to rank highly for that search term. Google Keyword Planner is an example of a tool that can provide you with this kind of information and give you other keyword ideas.

  • Create Local Content In Blog Posts

A great way to gain organic traffic and increase click-through rate (CTR) is by creating a blog. Writing content about local issues and information will help you start ranking for local search queries that people want to learn more about. Your article is likely to rank quite high for niche and local keywords that you will incorporate in the content of the blog post (because chances are, Zillow is not creating content based on specific local searches), so more people will click on the article to read it and, in turn, they will discover your website at the same time. Then you can interlink to other pages of your website in the blog post or point readers to other relevant parts of your website, including products and services. Another thing you can consider doing is to create a pop-up to encourage people to sign-up for a mailing list (by offering an incentive, such as a discount), which will increase the chances of them returning to your website when you send out something, such as a weekly newsletter. 

  • Do Not “Keyword Stuff”

So even though we’ve discussed the importance of using and repeating keywords across your website and in your content, make sure that you do not overuse them. Your content should read fluently and naturally, without too much repetition, otherwise, it can be confusing and frustrating for potential customers who are reading the information and you could scare them away. SEO is about building your website and optimising it for search engines; however, one of your primary concerns should also be how it comes across to humans. Although this may seem obvious, it can be so easily overlooked when you get caught up in the whole SEO thing. Google penalises websites that appear to stuff their content, alt tags, meta titles, and meta descriptions with too many keywords. Using a variety of SEO strategies, not just keyword incorporation, is far more effective.

  • Optimise Images

Images can be an overlooked aspect of SEO. Firstly, as discussed before, they can affect website speed, so resizing an image can help improve loading times. Secondly, you should ensure that photo file names contain keywords and that you provide alt text (text which describes an image for visually impaired users, but can also allow Google to index the image content accurately). Using unique images is recommended but doesn’t directly affect SEO; what is important is ensuring that the image relates to the writing description surrounding it. Using a local picture with descriptions of it would therefore make sense to help improve your Local SEO.

  • Create A Google My Business Page

Having a business page on Google can have a variety of benefits, one of which is improved SEO. Add your address and other details, and incorporate your researched keywords into your business descriptions. You can also place keywords (including ones including your location) into responses to reviews and answers to questions, but make sure to use them naturally within the sentence, as well as actually helping your customer too. Google says local search results are dependent on “relevance, distance, and prominence”, so even though you can’t control all of these things, having a Google My Business page will definitely only help to increase your chances of being seen.

  • Location Pages

Even though you may not have as much information to share as larger corporations, your real estate company can still fill out more web pages than you think. The more pages you have, the higher the probability that one of them will rank high, which ultimately determines the overall ranking parameters of your website; however, web pages should be created with quality in mind still, not just quality. As previously discussed, a blog and each post can become a page on your website, but you can also include a page for your locations.

Location pages can be used if you have more than one real estate branch because you can create a page for each place where you are located. You can include the unique opening times, staff members, addresses, testimonials, and much more, that differ between each branch. Ensure that you create unique content for each page to increase your chances of ranking. If you only have one location, creating an “about us” page is still super important and can help Google index your website more effectively. 

To summarise, SEO is extremely vital to work on when it comes to your real estate company’s website. Using local SEO can help smaller businesses beat companies like Zillow in search rankings. Local SEO can be improved by thorough research into local keywords and then incorporating them into your website and blog, but being careful not to overuse them. Don’t forget to optimise everything, and that includes your images and each individual website page by creating unique content for each one. Gaining local citations and creating a Google My Business page is also super beneficial.