99 Problems: Realtor Local SEO Ain’t One
This is the first episode of our “99 Problems” series where each episode will explore local SEO strategies and tactics for a specific industry.
SEO for realtors involves optimizing a real estate agent’s or brokerage’s website and online presence to improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords. This can include your GBP listings, and onsite optimizations to ultimately help the realtor generate more leads and close more sales.
In this episode, we’ll dive into local SEO for realtors. Ready to sell more homes? Let’s do this!
Google Business Profile SEO Tips for Real Estate Agents
Should a realtor use their home address or the office address?
Real estate agents should almost always use their home address and avoid using the office address for their brokerage. If you’re worried about privacy, Google has it set up so that you can hide your address (you are what they call a “service area business“). Using the real estate brokerage address will likely cause filtering issues since there are dozens of other realtors using the same address. For example, in this audit we did for a realtor, we found that they weren’t ranking because there were over 100 different realtors currently listed at the same address that he was using.
Additionally, it’s very hard to get the listing verified because Google sees that there are already tons of listings in that category at that address and will often throw it into a pending state.
Are realtors allowed their own Google Business Profile?
Realtors qualify for practitioner listings so every real estate agent can have their own listing. This is only a good idea if they use a home address, or it will just be filtered and is unlikely to rank anywhere.
Did you know that Google is also fine with a realtor having more than 1 listing? In this thread, Google confirmed that they were fine with a realtor having a listing both at his home and his office.
How should a realtor list their business name on the Google Business Profile?
Although we find that real estate agents typically get more organic traffic than from the local pack results, you can use the Google Business Profile listing to target branded searches (ex: Remax agent). Large real estate brands can often get more search volume than non-branded keywords. For example, many of the top keywords listed in Google Business Profile insights can include words like “Remax”:
We usually recommend including the brokerage name in the title if they work for a well-known brand, unless the brokerage has rules that say you can’t. Although this would technically help the agent, some brokerages don’t like this because it means the listing for the brokerage is now competing with the agents. A major brokerage in Canada now has compliance rules to prevent this and other real estate agencies could do the same.
The keywords that trigger local packs are ones containing the brokerage name (Keller Williams, Royal Lepage etc), realtor, or real estate agent. Terms like “homes for sale” or “real estate” do not show local pack results.
- It’s super important to target both “realtor + city” AND “real estate agent + city”. “Realtor” has about 3x more activity than Real Estate Agent*. However, according to Joseph Lee, “realtor” on its own is not a good keyword to target because it doesn’t convert. When we asked him which converts better (“real estate agent” vs “realtor”), he responded with:
- “100% real estate agent. The first problem with “realtor” is that when you run it in Google Ads it is matched ( search terms ) to real estate ( not real estate agent ). The synonyms for that term are huge[…] The second and more important fact is this – it does not convert. We run ads in every city of the US and Canada. When we buy terms with just “realtor” it never converts. In Canada, it’s harder because much of the population that types realtor means realtor.ca the website. Also, it’s hard to get keywords that don’t funnel back to realtor.ca because you cant use terms like Calgary realtor ca, they don’t mean Ca = Canada. They mean realtor.ca. So it’s a much less important term in Canada because it’s 80% buyers looking for realtor.ca. If the term can be “realtors in Calgary” or “Calgary realtors near me” and you KNOW that the phrase is looking for a real estate agent then it’s equal.
- The brokerage name should be in the title tag at the end.
- An example title tag that would be good to use:
- Real Estate Agents in Chicago – Realtors Near You – Brokerage Name
- State terms get searched a lot and variations of neighborhoods & areas (ex: northern colorado) so these terms should probably have their own page but can also be optimized for realtor & real estate agent terms.
What Google Business Profile categories should I use for Realtor SEO?
There are multiple categories for realtors but we tested to see if “real estate agent” (called “estate agent” in Canada) was better than “real estate agency”. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
Additional Google Business Profile Info for Realtors
Realtors often add condos to the map which is not allowed via either Maps or Google Business Profile. There are very rare occasions when a condo could be mapped. The following was taken from a thread on the MapMaker forum (which has been deleted as MapMaker no longer exists):
“If you are mapping a building, that is appropriate. But a place for sale or rent is a business, and in that case you have to map the location of the business.
There is an allowance to map a place if it has onsite management. So an apartment with a live in landlord or a hotel with a front desk can be mapped. What you are really mapping is the management location, which is where the business aspect resides. It is the management that has the fixed location that makes it mappable.
So to provide specific examples, a hotel can be mapped due to the front desk, but a beachfront condo offered for weekly rent for vacationers by the owner who lives elsewhere is not mappable (such as places offered on sites like vrbo.com). And an apartment building with a landlord or rental office onsite can be mapped but a single condo in a building offered for rent by the owner cannot be mapped.
It all has to do with whether someone can see it on the map, decide to visit, and not being able to find help when they visit.
Going back to the specific edit, for condos, you can map the building/complex itself so that visitors can find it when owners say “I live in the Wind Residences”. That has already been done in this case. Since it is mapped, if someone was trying to add the condos again I would say they cannot due to it being a duplicate. But when it comes to the edit I’m trying to delete:
- Most condos would not have a phone number, it is just a building after all. This listing phone number is for a realtor in another location who will try to sell you a unit.
- Most condos would not have a URL, or the URL would be for the owners. This listing has a URL to the website of the above-mentioned realtor, where she tries to sell you a unit.
- Most condos would not have hours, after all, the building exists 24 hours a day. This listing has the hours the above-mentioned realtor works.
This realtor is permitted a listing; at the location where you can find her and where she does her business. In this case that is her office. I already created her a listing there. That is the one listing she is permitted on the map. While this is her location, what she was trying to do is add listing with her contact information at each of the buildings her company has for sale. Look at her edits and notice that they all have the same phone number even though they have different locations. Read her website and look at the address at the bottom, that is where she is located and can be mapped.”
Model Homes & Temporary Leasing Offices
Model homes are allowed via Google Business Profile if they have staffed sales offices in them, even though they are temporary. When they close down, they should be marked permanently closed and you can contact GBP support to get them removed completely. They will do this since it’s a private home and they don’t really want it on Maps at all. The appropriate category to use for them would be “Home Builder”.
Temporary leasing offices would follow the same rules as above. Make sure they have proper signs on them and I would upload photos of these signs & the trailers onto your GBP listing so it can be easily confirmed that you are there during stated hours.
Listings for vacation rentals are not allowed to be on Google Maps unless they have a visible, staffed, onsite office. Things like chalets or cottages would not qualify. Google does a horrific job of automatically catching these but if you report them via the Redressal Form, they will get removed.
That wraps up part one of the 99 Problems series. Stay tuned for the next episode.
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This Post Has 18 Comments
Thank you for this great post and insight! Just what I was looking for. I do have a question- On this recommendation for title tags: “Real Estate Agents in Chicago – Realtors Near You – Brokerage Name”, are you referring to how to name the business title in Google Business, or are you referring to how to title a specific webpage on the realtor’s website? Also, that is a great tip about having a Google Business listing at both home & office. If the Broker is a 1-person show (meaning, the broker is also the realtor, it’s a 1 person business) then should the brokerage listing be listed as the Business Name and then create a separate listing for the person using his real name as the agent? Thank you!!
We are referring to a specific webpage on the realtor’s website. For the second question, yes they could do that. Just keep in mind that you would never want to set up both listings at the same address. So that tip is only effective for a situation where the realtor works out of an office as well as their home.
This is a great post, Colan. Thanks for the insight!
So end result… should real estate agents that work for a large broker in a single geographic location (that already has a well-ranking company listing) set up their own GBP listing using their home address? If yes, is this the way to do it: Local Real Estate Company Name: REALTOR Name ?
Hi Tim, that’s correct. We usually recommend including the brokerage name in the title if they work for a well-known brand, unless the brokerage has rules that say you can’t.
Thanks, Colan. In our area the rules say you can’t use the REALTOR’s name WITHOUT including the full brokerage name.
Hi Colan, great stuff this article and I am looking forward to more of these!
Regarding the name, I’m curious what you think about the guidelines Google states about it:
“Multiple practitioners at one location.
If the practitioner is one of several public-facing practitioners at this location:
The title of the Business Profile for the practitioner should include only the name of the practitioner, and shouldn’t include the name of the organization.”
It doesn’t seem to be allowed to have the organizations name in the name if you are one of many practitioners for said organization?
Taken from: https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en#zippy=%2Cname%2Cindividual-practitioners
Hey Dennis, this is one of those things where it becomes important to watch what Google does and not just what they say. In our experience, Google is totally fine with an agent including the agency name. Also, keep in mind that the guideline is referring to the ” the practitioner is one of several public-facing practitioners at this location” So this wouldn’t be relevant to an agent set up at their home.
I might be fully misunderstanding what you’re recommending, but isn’t that type of GBP name against the guidelines? Shouldn’t they just be using their name?
Hey Brian, the guidelines mention that, yes. But my experience has been that Google doesn’t seem to mind. Ie. just watching what they actually do. However, I don’t typically advise a practitioner to use the brand’s name if they are at the same location due to potential filtering issues.
Great insights for real estate – thank you. Looking for may data/use cases. Who is Joseph Lee referenced in the article? The hyper link takes you to a generic online form. If he also has info related to Google local search, I’d want to follow him as well.
Hi Geoff, you’re welcome! I would suggest connecting with Joseph Lee on LinkedIn.
That was so much fun! This article reveals a lot of important information. Thank you for sharing
Hi Maria, I’m glad you enjoyed it!