I am sure we have all heard it before. As real estate investors, we are marketers first and foremost. This absolutely holds true.
Skim through the forums, do the research, and you will find that a prevalent topic in REI is lead generation—more specifically, what the best lead generation strategy is.
How would you feel if I told you that you could get daily leads for free? Not just mediocre leads, oh no, sirree—high-quality, motivated-seller leads. And you can accomplish this without expensive Facebook advertising or sending thousands of mailers every month.
Heck, what if I told you that you never again had to worry about skip tracing or testing which postcard color or design performs better? No more buying expensive lists, and no more trying to convince leads to sell their house.
Au contraire, these leads find YOU and ask you to please buy their house. Isn’t that THE dream?
Not possible, you say? No way, you say?
Well, yes way, I say!
Not only will I tell you that this is absolutely possible, I will also show you how to do it!
Introducing SEO for Real Estate Investors!
Contrary to popular belief, SEO doesn’t actually stand for seriously evil ostriches. It actually stands for search engine optimization. Yes, you guessed it, SEO is all about optimizing your website for higher search engine results placement.
It is implementing strategies so that search engines (like Google) will rank your website as high as possible on the search results page.
Why Does This Matter?
Well, have you ever searched the web and picked the site featured on the fourth page of results all the way at the bottom? Well, neither has anyone else. You probably picked the number one ranking website. And again, so did most other people.
Having your website displayed at the top of the search results promises a lot of traffic being directed to your site. So, the chances of getting leads if at the top are extremely high.
Keep in mind that ranking No. 1 on Google or other search engines will not automatically get you deals—or leads, for that matter. You also need to be credible, but that is a whole other discussion for another post. (Let me know in the comments below if you want me to write a “how to” on that topic.)
Now you will ask, “OK… so… Jerryll, are you saying that SEO is the best marketing strategy out there?”
Hmmm, I need to be very careful answering this one.
Don’t you hate it when looking for an answer to a burning question, just to find there is no simple straightforward “yes,” “no,” “green,” or “15” answer? It’s always a “yes and no,” a “this but that,” a “close but not quite,” a “well, it depends” kind of response that will make you feel more lost and confused than when you first began the quest for an answer.
Let’s get to it then. Is SEO really all that and then some?
Why yes! Yes it is!
OK, OK, there is a little bit more to it than that.
SEO is indeed the best thing since sliced bread—(and here comes the fine print) as long as you are ranking No. 1 in the search results. But can anyone guarantee you will be at the top spot on Google for all eternity?
Probably not. Therein lies the problem.
Does that mean investing in SEO is a gamble or lost cause? Oh, heavens no! Blasphemy! Shame on you, I say!
SEO is not some magic ritual that needs to be performed by trial and error, a mystery unknown. You can certainly work at it so you indeed will be at the top for an eternity—or you can at least try. Even better yet, you can absolutely do it yourself and outrank anyone in your market, both local competitors and the big national companies. I know, because I have done it!
However, an SEO shortcoming is that it is not really scaleable. You can’t simply go out there and decide you are going to get 400 leads this month.
The good thing about SEO, though, is that the leads come to you. And the bad thing about SEO is the leads come to you. You can’t just go out and fetch them like other marketing strategies (i.e., direct mail marketing) boast. You don’t have much control over when or how many leads you can get. You have to wait ’til they come to you.
But if you take SEO seriously and you do it right—oh, boy—can life get exciting fast!
SEO Can Get You Home-Run Deals Periodically
SEO is about quantity and quality. SEO will inherently get you a lot of motivated-seller leads, because these leads are proactive. They took the initiative to go out to find you to sell their house to.
That is motivation/quality, but how about quantity? Well, it’s that, too—if you are credible.
Most people will seek solutions to their problems online. If you can be found online when and where people will look to sell their house and you are credible, chances are you will get a lot of leads.
When you have both quantity and quality, assuming that every 50 to 60 leads you get one amazing “home-run” deal, it is quite realistic to get these home-run deals periodically. This is considering 30 motivated-seller leads a week is a very feasible number for SEO-optimized websites.
How Does SEO Fare Against PPC?
This is a burning question many marketers try to answer, and answer this I shall! In very basic terms, “PPC” or pay per click means you pay Google for each click you receive while being displayed in the advertisements section of the search results.
Now what exactly does this mean?
Well, let’s say you just got yourself a brand new website. Obviously you will not rank high organically. How would you then have a chance of getting online leads when there are so many other sites ranking higher than you?
Well, you can pay Google money to have your site featured at the top of the search results in the ads section. Let me be a bit more accurate here. You don’t actually pay Google to be featured at the top. You pay Google for every click you get on your listing due to being featured at the top of the search results.
Depending on what keyword you paid Google to place you at the top for, the price per click varies. It can get quite expensive, quite fast, depending on how competitive your chosen keywords are.
Why PPC Can Be a Good Strategy
Although expensive, pay per click can make sense if your return on investment is significant, which is quite common when you invest in real estate. There are a few other benefits to this approach, too.
The obvious benefit to PPC is that it is instant. You don’t have to worry about months of SEO headaches to finally start seeing results—if you ever see results, that is. Keep in mind, SEO does not guarantee results. You can be amazing at SEO, but if your competitor is better at it, you are out of luck.
Never Worry About Google Updates
Another benefit of a solid PPC strategy is that you are basically immune to the dreaded Google updates. Google updates do not apply to PPC.
Usually people that apply shady SEO tactics are the ones who are terrified of the G-updates. However, as I have mentioned above, if you’re doing SEO the right way—ignoring Google and genuinely pleasing your target audience—you don’t have to worry (that much) about these updates either.
How Does PPC Measure Up Against SEO?
SEO takes skill (as does PPC marketing), but unlike PPC, SEO is 100 percent free—if you do it yourself, that is. SEO also provides continuous leads—if you manage to rank at the top spot in the search results.
To illustrate this, I have compared an organically No. 1 ranking website to their direct competitors that do PPC. The results are interesting to say the least.
First, consider the website that mainly does PPC:
They spend over $4,400 monthly for almost 767 estimated monthly clicks.
Now consider the No. 1 organically (through SEO) ranking website in that market:
They spend no money on any form of marketing, and they get 1,140 estimated monthly clicks. For the competitor to get a similar result, they would have to increase their PPC budget to $6,430 a month.
That’s $6,430 vs. FREE leads for the same results.
Although indeed an obvious choice, I should mention that the best way—especially for investors who are just getting started with a website—is to do both! While working on your SEO strategy, it would be a good idea to also implement PPC while your SEO effort is gaining momentum. This way you are getting leads immediately while you are working on ranking your website.
Once your website is ranking high and you are getting more leads than you can handle, why pay money for leads when you get plenty for free?
Now you may be very interested in how you can jump on the SEO wagon.
The Most Important Concept to Understand for Successful SEO
Google this, Google that, Google has a cat! Forget Google! As long as you do SEO to appease the Google Gods, you will always be afraid of Google and their dreadful updates.
So… FORGET GOOGLE! You know what Google wants. You know what Google cares about, and you know what Google’s job is.
Don’t Please Google; Please Your Users—Genuinely!
Google’s only job is to present you, the internet surfer, with the best website based on what you typed into the search. Many website owners who desperately want to be at the very top of the search results will now manipulate their way into Google’s good graces by bending the rules listed in its guidelines in attempt to manipulate their rankings.
The thing is Google is not stupid. Well, actually it is… it is just an algorithm. BUT Google continuously tries (and is succeeding) to improve their algorithms to pick out these websites that are manipulative. It punishes said sites by de-indexing them (aka removing them from search results).
Google Is Continuously Trying to be Smarter
Yup, Google is always trying to be more humanlike. In the early days of SEO, all you had to do is repeat or “stuff” your website with keywords you want to rank for. Some websites took it a bit too far by stuffing their keywords back to back hundreds of times, resulting in a very poor user experience.
Long ago, they got away with it, as the Google algorithm was quite primitive.
What if a human was in charge of checking websites for these shady tactics back then? Would that website have gotten away with keyword stuffing? Of course not. But now, with every update, they are getting smarter—more humanlike!
If your website is genuinely catered to your user, not Google, you WILL rank high in the search results. Plus, you will never have to worry about Google updates again! Now you see why it makes sense to not worry about Google so much and just focus on pleasing your traffic?
A Straightforward Recipe for Real Estate Investing SEO Success
Mind you, we are doing SEO for real estate investors, not just any SEO. We do SEO with motivated sellers in mind. We need to know what they think, how they think, what they feel, what reaction certain content will have on them.
To do so, we put ourselves in their shoes and then we emulate as best we can how they see the world around them, including the websites they land on. What would speak to someone who is in desperate need to sell their house? We extract all this data and transform it into solid SEO and lead conversion strategies, and apply them to the website.
Following are some very low level, beginner SEO 101 tips to apply to your strategy right now. Note that these tips will probably not bring you even near the No. 1 spot within search results; however, without these SEO must-haves, you will never rank period—no matter what you do! So take these seriously.
1. Get a Solid Domain Name.
When someone browses results after performing a search and they see your domain name (without yet visiting your website), you need to be able to lure that person into clicking your listing.
Believe it or not, so many people get this wrong. If you were to go to NYC and hand a blank business card to a random person that has just one line written on it, “Alpha-Omega Property Solutions,” then asked that person what business niche that card is related to, you could get a lot of answers.
A landscaping company? Property management company? Heck, maybe even a painting company, or perhaps a termite extermination company.
Better names would be “Smurfette Buys Houses In Cash” or “We Buy Houses In [name a city and state].” The domain name itself makes it instantly clear without a doubt in the world what your business does.
“They buy houses!”
2. Put Thought Into Your Content.
Remember we are dealing with motivated sellers. Write content that will speak to your target audience. Avoid making your content generic or similar to every other website out there!
The goal is to have your traffic be convinced you are the most likely choice to solve their problem.
3. Find Your Keywords.
Don’t just randomly write content. Find the words motivated sellers use to find services you offer, and try hard to rank for these keywords. If you are interested in how exactly to do this, let it be known in the comments below, and I will do a follow-up blog post specifically on this.
As a brief example, consider ranking for:
- “local cash buyers in [city state]”
- “we buy houses in [city state]”
- “sell my house fast [city state]”
- “cash for houses [city state]”
- “how do I sell my house without an agent”
These are just a few.
4. Use Your Keywords Within the First 100 Words.
A keyword is likely a key phrase that a motivated seller would type into the search box to find the solution to their problems. When that keyword is mentioned loud and clear, high on the website, and early in the content, your target audience is more likely to stay on your site to look for the solution to their specific problem. This translates into a good user experience.
We all know by now that this is what Google is after. (Not that we should care about Google, but we DO care about turning traffic into leads—this is the most important reason why we do this!)
5. Use Media, Graphs, Infographics, Pictures, and Video.
Not only is this an awesome opportunity for media SEO inclusion on your website, it also improves conversion rates on your website. What can we say? People love pictures, videos, and visuals!
6. Make Your Headings Count.
Use a heading, denoted with an “H” title tag (behind the scenes in the website HTML code). This denotation tells Google that this text is a header. Thus, this text tells Google what the following paragraph is about.
The more Google knows about your website, the better it can place you in the search results, as it can more accurately match up a search query to your website. For these reasons, definitely put your prevalent keywords in headers!
7. Don’t Write Long Content. Write Great Content.
Everyone says, “Write long content.” Or, “Content should contain about 1,400 words.”
Obviously that doesn’t make any sense. Long content is not what it is about.
Content that provides value to your traffic is what Google will reward. That being said, will a three-sentence article profoundly explain or educate someone on anything? Not likely.
So yes, long content is what you are after, but not for the sake of writing long content.
8. Be Mobile Friendly.
By all means, whisper sweet nothings to your phone. Call her “Betsy” and give her goodnight kisses. But this is not what be mobile friendly means, you weirdo!
A website looks different on a desktop than on a cellphone. Be sure your website can adapt to both mobile and desktop versions.
Why? If a desktop user can’t read content on a desktop optimized website or a cellphone user on a mobile optimized website, they will have a bad user experience—obviously. And we all know how Google feels about bad user experiences.
9. Build for Speed, But Also for Comfort.
If “comfort” here means a “user-friendly design,” then yes. Make sure your website is fast.
Again, a slow website will result in a bad user experience, and as we all know, say it with me: “Google hates bad user experiences!”
Therefore, pick a fast website hosting company and optimize your site (pictures, videos, among other stuff) for fast loading.
10. Build Your Brand Online.
A huge part of SEO, and ultimately the point of all this, is making deals. To make deals, you need to be found, and you need to be credible.
Credibility is all about building your brand, building a reputation, having people talk about you. So take your logo seriously. Be original, be unique, and set yourself apart from your competitors.
11. Always Work on Citations and Backlinks.
Ahhh, good old backlinks. How I despise you!
It is hard getting powerful backlinks from niche-related authority sites. Yes, backlinks do not do much (and may even hurt your ranking) if they are not from a related niche and from a strong authority website.
Citations look a lot like backlinks. A citation simply is a “mention” online. If your company is mentioned on an external page (a page on the internet that does not belong to you) that would be considered a citation.
Adding a YouTube channel where you list your company name, address, phone number, city, and state would count as a citation.
Here are some awesome citation opportunities you should absolutely take advantage of:
- Google My Business
- Bing Places for Business
- Facebook Business page
Be sure the information in the citation is consistent everywhere. It should contain the same address, spelled the same way, the phone number, the company name, etc.
SEO Is Doable, So Just Do It!
Implementing SEO strategies will give you a solid start on your journey to the exciting world of ranking No. 1 in search engine results. With an open mind, a creative attitude, and a vicious drive to succeed, you will succeed.
All that is left to do is just get on it, and give it your all!
Does this make sense? Do you need anything above explained further? Would you like more information about a topic I touched on?
Let me know in a comment below!