Top Ten List of Search Engine Optimization for Realtors
on Jul 26, 2010
Listed in Search Engine Optimization

We are very passionate about search engine optimization at Tribus.  With a little blog elbow grease, you can dramatically increase the ranking of your site.  Many of the speaking engagements that I do include a session on the topic but we haven’t really discussed it much here on the blog.

For our new brokerage in Long Beach, CA I was asked to put together a top 10 list of items to consider when thinking about Search Engine Optimization.  There is somewhat of an order here, but once you get past item four or five, it starts getting very subjective.

1 ) Domain Authority

It’s simple.  After the first search engines used meta tags as a way to understand what your site was about, they were ripe for spamming.  For example someone who had a site about being a Realtor could just type in Realtor 900 times into his meta tags and might appear higher than someone who had it 800 times.  This just was not a good way to categorize data by letting the user have a say in it.  So while at Stanford, the Google guys came up with something they called PageRank, which contrary to common belief does NOT mean webPAGE it refers to Larry Page, the creator.  PageRank takes into account numerous factors but the most important is who links into you?  Someone that has a lot of authority like CNN linking into you would have much more value than Steve your neighbor who writes a blog.  All rankings receive a value from 0-10, and consider that only 160 sites in the world have a ranking of 9 or 10 you get an idea of how difficult it is to get up the list.  (Click the graphic for a better idea of how PageRank scores are distributed.) This means the number of links into you are valuable.  But do not be sucked in by the “let’s exchange links” scams.  If someone asks to exchange links with you that you do not know, spam the message.  Even in most cases a link exchange would be considered of no value.  Google and other search engines are very smart to be able to figure out what you’re doing.  They know that if you each have a link to each other’s site on your page you’re probably trying to get higher rankings.  Instead focus on great content on your site and get people to want to naturally link to you whether they are PageRank 0 or 10.

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2 ) Domain Age

How long your site has been up and running definitely factors into how high you will appear on the search engines.  Furthermore, sites that are only registered for a year or less at their registrar’s can be hit as well.  Ever wondered why that really crummy site from another Realtor ranks better than yours?  The answer is probably a mixture of authority and age.  How long has the site been continuously operating without changing ownership?  Has their been a continuous change of content on the site over a long run or is it the exact same content from 5 years ago.

3 ) Your Domain Name

Is it a geographic URL?  If you’re in real estate it’s much better to get a domain that includes the area in which you sell, not your name.  In most cases just by having the about page on your site, it will rank for your name if someone does a search.  Why not go after traffic that isn’t looking for you specifically but is looking for answers about a particular area?  Therefore a domain like (which by the way still ranks 1 or 2 for searches about the subject after just throwing the site together) is going to do better for many keywords than

4 ) Your URL / PermaLinks

I still don’t understand why WordPress defaults to using the location of your post in the database as the default URL structure of the site.  However, thanks to Kevin Sablan from the OC Register I have a video on how to fix it, see our previous post here: Creating Permalinks in WordPress for Realtors .  Does the full URL of your post give Google and other search sites a good idea of what’s on the page?

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For example the URL for this page is

In that URL, we’re telling Google exactly what this post is about and then the content in that post matches it.

5 ) Page Title

When you create your page does the headline or title actively reflect the topic you are discussing?  Is it in a format that might be something someone would type into Google to find a post like yours?

6 ) Description

In the meta description of your post, does it give a brief overview of what the content is?  Or did you just copy a section from the post?  A description should be a short executive summary of what you just wrote, not copied.  It’s a way for Google to understand the Gist of your post that makes sure to use many of the keywords people would type in to find your post if they were interested in your subject.

7 ) Headline Tags

When you write your content do you see a little box that says “Paragraph” ?  It’s a drop down box and usually lets you select other types of treatments to your text as well including Headline 1, Headline 2, Headline 3 and so on…

Try to create some sub headers in your posts and include h3 and h4 tags.  Leave your site to make the h1 tags, and use an h2 tag only for the most important concept for an entire page or post.

8 ) Alt Tags

One of the more forgotten items in search engine optimization is to set the ALT tags on your graphics.  When you upload a graphic in WordPress and most any other content management system it asks you for a title and “ALTernate text.”  Just take an extra second to fill in what the graphic is in 5 words or less. “Realtor Search Engine Optimization” would be a good example for a graphic on this post.  Everyone of your graphics should include that data.  People often ask how we get our data sites to rank so well, we’re pretty convinced that it’s this one major item alone that sets us a part.  We have someone manually go through and code each ALT tag specifically for the community and the data the chart is representing.

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9 ) Content

Long Tail for RealtorsSo obviously this is a really important item and the only reason we’re putting it at 9 is that we’re assuming you know that content is king.  The reason we’re even taking time to cover it is to mention that when you write your content you should consider if the text you’re typing in, includes the phrases that people would search Google for to find a page like yours.  You should then consider if the terms you’re typing in are too broad.  For example, I’ve had people tell me that they’re optimizing for “real estate.”  Folks… there are 101,000,000 searches for that term every month.  Forget it.  Let the big guys spend $4-8 per click to buy those terms.  I’ll let you in on a secret… the people that search just “real estate” aren’t really ready to buy.  It’s the person who types in “Realtors in _____”  insert a subdivision or neighborhood.  Those are the people ready to buy.  There might be a lot less but those are the terms that are going to convert for you and the terms you should be thinking about when you’re writing posts.

10 ) Meta-Data or Rich-Snippets

Example of Rich Snippet Data for RealtorsThis is a new entrant into the list.  But have you seen on Google the new little stars or price listings in yellow?  When you get results that include them doesn’t your eye go right to that? For the more advanced people why not start to put this data into your posts?  You can get more information on what formats Google allows at their Google Rich Snippets page.  Realtors consider that you could speak to your IDX providers and try to get them to include pricing data in this engine.  It’s possible Google could see that you have this information and send your site right to the top.

Here are three PDFs we’ve done on Search Engine Optimization:

SEO For Realtors Part 1

SEO For Realtors Part 2

How to create Permalinks in WordPress

With more than 17 years experience in the real estate industry, including being a Realtor and Broker / Owner, Stegemann brings a wealth of knowledge to this job as CEO of TRIBUS. He focuses his time on helping brokers enhance and expand their business and working with the TRIBUS labs team to consider what's next in real estate.
  • Laura Monroe

    Thanks so much Eric…this is a very articulate list..not just the “how to's” but the “how come's.” Would you happen to have any thoughts on how much the IDX solution chosen (indexable vs. i-framed) can impact SEO? Thanks again!

  • Wow. Laura. That's a can of worms discussion :)I'm going to stay simple and maybe follow up with a blog post on that as well.It's simple: iFrame solutions can NOT be indexed by Google and therefore offer no benefit to your site whatsoever other than the obvious answer to people's need to search homes on a real estate website.Indexable solutions are a whole conversation. There are about to be a lot more on the market. Right now the only one I can recommend with nationwide data is Diverse Solutions' dsIDXPress. I really respect the people there, and commend them since day one they have been very upfront with people that it's not going to have Google index every listing. It's also going to vary dramatically with how much domain authority and domain age the site has. Finally, these IDX providers are not in the business to sell a product to one person in a market. The more people that use the same product in the same market mean the value of having those listings indexed go down since Google will only index the listing on one person's site….see like I said can of worms conversation here :)

  • Laura Monroe

    Thanks for your input on my can of worms:) I gather that having an IDX solution that is seen by Google is better than I'll stick with that for now, and see how the rest plays out. I look forward to your blog about it!

  • Nice work, thanks for the useful information

  • Great info! How have things changed in the last 5+ years? What does an agent do when their website is pretty controlled by the real estate group & everyone uses the same template? We have little control over anything but our basic content & there is much we can’t do on our own.

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