For Real Estate Agents, SEO and SEM can both be used to improve your online presence and help you find new leads, through organic or paid search results. When new agents or experienced agents come to us for advice on getting cold leads online, we often recommend looking at SEO and SEM as solutions.
So if you are looking to start your digital marketing, we wrote this article so that you can understand what these terms mean, how other agents use them, how to avoid common problems and the solution to succeeding at SEO and SEM.
SEO is short for “Search Engine Optimisation”, and is a set of tactics used to improve your website’s organic or unpaid search results. This means that you can rank higher in the search engine without paying for it, which means more people will see your website.
SEM stands for “Search Engine Marketing”, and is a set of tactics used to improve your website’s paid search results. SEM includes things like bidding on keywords and ads. SEM can help you by increasing your visibility through paid ads.
“Paid” and “unpaid” (or organic) methods are often misleading. In truth, both strategies cost money. SEM has a direct and upfront cost to the advertiser when paying for advertisement placement. SEO relies on developing content (or paying for people to develop content) that would engage viewers, increase your digital footprint, and make yourself found easily when Google’s crawlers scan your website or social media pages. Even if you are doing SEO activities yourself, there is an opportunity cost in learning, planning, creating, and modifying content – these may be done better by passionate specialists (like professional real estate copywriters, photographers and videographers).
How Real Estate Agents can use SEO and SEM:
Both SEO and SEM are important for real estate agents. SEO can help you get found by more potential clients, while SEM can help you reach more people with your message. Investing in both SEO and SEM can help you get the most out of your online marketing efforts.
Actually useful SEO activities:
- Give out free information on your website:
Real Estate websites are where potential searchers can find valuable information about new real estate launches, investment opportunities, resale recommendations, FAQs and contact information. Most agents make sure that all the latest information is found on their websites because they don’t want their audience to go to their competitor’s site or be turned away because the information is hidden behind contact forms. When your website has all the relevant keywords and info that visitors need, your website will be rewarded with increased visibility on search engines for the high retention and low bounce rate. Viewers absolutely hate hidden info behind contact forms. When they bounce out of your website, this hurts your SEO. If you want to use contact forms or get their details, then provide something that they can’t find elsewhere, such as your analysis of recent real estate projects or useful financial calculators. At least viewers might find them to be worthy information to trade their own contact details for.
- Write vivid listings:
The most basic and common form of writing is to include the facts and figures, such as the floor size, number of rooms and amenities. But if you want to elevate the attractiveness of the listing, then you have to paint a warm and vivid picture. How did the previous owners use the long living room and open kitchen layout? Did the false ceiling make the previous owners feel taller and the house feel more filled up and cosy? Did the hacked and combined toilet mean that the previous and future owners save effort in washing one toilet? As viewers understand the space, they develop preferences and become motivated to see it for themselves. They also start to expect good write-ups from their listings, increasing the likelihood of looking through all your well-written listings.
- Creating useful blog content:
As a real estate agent, you must face questions from potential and current buyers. More than likely many other potential buyers are searching for such advice or answers. If you have a blog, then this is an excellent SEO strategy. You should answer tough questions that buyers face and even some general curiosity pieces like “How do HDB buyers decide on their resale flat?”. Apart from SEO benefits, good blog content will also develop your thought leadership and show that you are an expert in your industry.
Actually useful SEM activities:
- Doing keyword research:
You will be able to find out which keywords your potential clients are actually using when they search for real estate information. Identify only one thing they want to be known for and be the best at it. Then find out what people are searching for about that topic. You can use these keywords in your website content, social media posts and even in your real estate listings. Keyword research enables you to focus your efforts on creating a narrow set of content. This makes viewers understand what you offer at a glance and what is your expertise.
- Paid Advertising with per-per-click (PPC) search ads on Google Ads:
Another way to use keywords is to create Google AdWords campaigns. Setup search campaigns with relevant keywords that would lead viewers to your website. You can use paid advertising to reach people who have a high amount of intention to learn about the real estate opportunities and services you offer.
- Paid Advertising with social media ads:
Facebook and Instagram offer a great way to reach out to potential clients who are just developing an interest. You can use social media advertising to create brand awareness or even drive website traffic.
Problems that Real Estate Agents face:
When SEO or SEM is something you only do when you “have time”, it quickly becomes evident in your website’s traffic. If SEO and SEM are not given attention on a consistent basis, it can take months or years to see results from your sporadic SEO and SEM efforts.
It helps to set realistic goals based on your efforts. For example, creating 3 posts a week, 2 ads per month, optimising your website with new listings every 2 days, and creating a new downloadable guide once a month. These consistent efforts enable you to track your effort to results, which might be more useful than outcome goals like increased website traffic, especially if you don’t know how well your efforts would translate to results.
Burnout from doing too much
SEO and SEM can be a lot of work for Real Estate Agents to do by themselves. Imagine this, you start a full day of meetings, performance reviews and seminars. In between these activities, you follow up with your prospects, have coffee meetings with warm leads, and cold outreach to potential buyers and sellers. You might even do some door-to-door sales in the evening. At the end of a busy day, you sit in front of your computer and figure out what to post, content to make, ads to post, budget for ads, and optimise and update your website – and you still haven’t had the family time or a proper meal. When tomorrow comes, you’ll do it all over again.
Real Estate Agents are business owners, and like all business owners, it is not possible to do it all by yourself. You are your own bottleneck when you don’t replace your effort with cheaper means of fulfilling tasks. If your goal is to learn, so that you can hire well, then it is reasonable to take on some tasks yourself, but at the end of the day, it is really important to your business and mental health to hire/contract help.
Not leveraging on top of the funnel marketing
Real estate agents often tell me variations of this, “I’ve tried social media advertising like Facebook and Instagram brand awareness and traffic campaigns, but I’ve not seen any high potential buyers and real leads. Hence, I only do lead generation and PPC campaigns.”
Top of funnel marketing does pay off but only in the long run. The key is to have consistent and valuable content. Realtors who give up on top of funnel marketing do so because they don’t see results immediately. If you are committed to creating consistently great content, people would constantly engage with your profile, “see you” more often than other agents, believe in your expertise, and feel that you are more approachable. When they need real estate services or want to recommend someone, you’ll be top of mind.
What we offer:
If you want to take your digital marketing to the next level and have an affordable and professional social media team to take care of your online marketing, let’s get in touch. We advise agents on what keywords to focus on, and how to narrow their activities so they get maximum results for their effort. Beyond that, we also create content, manage ads and review performances for our agents.
For content creation, we charge an a la carte price or work within a monthly budget so that your profile and website are constantly updated.
For ads management, we take care of end-to-end ad creation, posting and management, and charge a percentage of your monthly budget.
We consult and provide expert advice for free, but provide digital marketing coaching for a fee.