SEO for real estate pros: Keyword Research

In part 1 of SEO for Real Estate Pros, we taught you the basics of search engine optimization. The first topic we’re going to cover in depth is the strategy of discovering what your customers are searching for – also known as keyword research. So what is keyword research? According to Nick Eubanks of SEO Nick, keyword research is “the practice of identifying which phrases are used on search engines when people are looking for information, and usually includes finding both the search volume and relative competitiveness of the terms”. Finding these terms and utilizing them can make your content more easily discovered through search engines.

If you’ve ever searched online, you know how keywords work. The more specific your search is, the better results you’ll get, and the more likely you are to find what you’re looking for. Like we talked about in part 1, simply stuffing your pages with basic keywords won’t be beneficial. There is tons of competition out there for general keywords like “real estate” and “houses for sale”. These frequently used terms are referred to as the “head” of the keyword search. If you want to rank highly, you should focus on the opposite end, the “long tail”, when you’re writing content.

The further the search term down the “tail”, the more specific the term is, which also means search engine rankings are less competitive. People searching with long-tail keywords are likely more serious buyers, as they know exactly what they’re searching for. While someone searching “Naples condo” might just be killing time dreaming of places on the beach, someone who searches for “Naples Florida condo for sale 3 bedroom Pelican Bay” has likely already done some searching and is further along in the buying process. For this reason, creating content that is naturally related to long-tail keywords should be a big part of your online marketing strategy. The first step in writing stuff that gets found is finding out what people are searching for. There are many methods to do this, we’ll give you the two simplest that exist right on Google.

Google Autocomplete – When you type a search query into Google, you’ll see suggestions come up like this:

These are part of Google Autocomplete, a part of the Google algorithm that generates these suggestions based on many factors, but the biggest is how often other users have searched for the term. Though these aren’t in any particular order, this will give you a good start of what popular terms people are searching in your area. To make sure that your search history isn’t affecting your results, be sure to log out of your Google account and either open an incognito window or clear your search history. This will prevent your previous searches from popping up and clouding your results. Try a few different combinations of terms to get a variety of keywords to keep in mind when you write. This will give you a good baseline of keywords to include in your content. Google also provides suggested searches at the bottom of a search results page. These suggestions may include other relevant terms that weren’t included in Autocomplete. Take note of these too, they’ll look like this:

Make a list of these keywords to reference whenever you’re writing content. This will help you think of topics to write about when you’re short on ideas, and will help you to include keyword phrases naturally in your writing. Here’s a helpful way of organizing your keywords from generic to hyperlocal.

Like this template? You’re in luck, we created one for you to fill out with your own keywords as well! You can download it here.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner – This tool is a free option as part of your AdWords account. AdWords is free to sign up for, and only charges you if you start a Google ad campaign. To access this tool, go to the Google AdWords home page. If you have a Google account already, log in with that. If you don’t you’ll be prompted to sign up for one. Once you get logged in, you’ll see a page like this:

Click on “Tools”, then select “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”. This is where you’ll be able to fill out information about what you’re searching for to get a list of keywords. For example, we entered the following information. There are a few parts of this form it’s especially important to fill out:

  1. Your product or service – Choose a few different sets of words to put here, you’ll notice different keywords coming up depending on what you select. We started with “Naples condos for sale”.
  2. Location – Under targeting, click “All locations”. You will then be able to select the areas you want to target. Select your city and some surrounding areas.
  3. Keyword filters – Under customize your search, select “Keyword filters” and then check the boxes next to medium and low competition. The high competition keywords are at the “head” of the keyword search and are very popular, which makes them difficult to rank for.

Then, click “Get ideas”, where you’ll be taken to a big spreadsheet page. Click on the “Keyword ideas” tab just below the bar graph to display all of your keywords. Select “Add all”, then “Download”, where you’ll be prompted to download the keywords as an Excel file where you can reference them later. The information we entered resulted in over 300 keywords, but depending on your area and the product or service terms you enter at the beginning, you may get more or less results. There may also be a few that get thrown in that don’t exactly relate to your area, but reading through the list should give you a ton of new options to add to your keyword list for writing content.

Now that you’ve got keywords, what do you do with them?

The keywords that you’ve found using these methods should be integrated in the content of your website. These can be used as page headers, captions, or blog posts, the important thing is that you’ve got a variety on your website and you’re using them thoroughly. If you’re crafting localized content, integrating these keywords into your writing should be simple, as they should already reflect and complement your content. They’ll flow naturally into your blogs and other writing. One important thing to remember is at the end of the day, over-stuffing your pages with keywords can be detrimental to the readability of your site and can actually hurt your search rankings more than help. Be aware of your use of keywords and only use them in a relevant, useful way.