When it comes to SEO, most agents are focused on getting to the top of the search results for phrases like “Real Estate Agent in X” or “Where To List My Home.” After all, spending time and money on rising in the search rankings will lead to more clients, right?
I wholeheartedly disagree. I’d rather see all of my search engine clicks come from searches for “Virgent Realty” rather than “Real Estate Agent in Atlanta,” because that means my clients are interested in working with us and not just any random agent in the area.
In my opinion, SEO is a red herring, especially in an industry like real estate where the services are personal and expensive. Here are 4 reasons I wouldn’t focus on on SEO as a real estate agent:
1. It means your services are commoditized
When you try to optimize your content for search engine rankings, you’re implicitly agreeing that your content is very similar to what else is out there, and that your goal is to use search engine tricks to come out on top. Sure, it’s great to rank #1 in the search for “Real Estate Agent in X”, but what this actually means is that a prospective client thinks that any old agent in X will be fine, and you happened to be the first one to come up.
This leads to a problem: the clients who choose you don’t do so because of any unique advantage or service you offer. These clients will view you as a commodity, and have no issues switching agents down the road. Flour is also a commodity, and I’m betting you pick the cheapest bag of flour at the store. You don’t want to be flour.
2. SEO is irrelevant when it comes to finding clients
Guess how many home buyers find their agents via a search engine. According to the National Association of Realtors, the answer is 1%. That’s it.
A basic Hubspot subscription is $2,400 a year. Using that as a proxy for SEO spend (and I know Hubspot does much more than SEO), your annual marketing spend would have to be $240,000 (both in ad spend and agent time invested in marketing) for that investment to make sense based on the expected return.
3. Your best audience isn’t searching for your keywords
Think about the best content you’ve seen in the last year. That video you shared with your friends on Facebook or the blog post you emailed to your colleagues. Now ask yourself how you found that content. I’m betting it wasn’t because you did a Google search for “cats in funny hats.”
Real estate is a unique business because there is only a small window in a person’s life when they are looking to buy or sell a home. As such, most SEO-friendly content (e.g. “How will interests rates affect the home buying process”), will be completely ignored by the vast majority of people who could become your clients down the road because it isn’t relevant to them right now.
By instead focusing on content that future clients may be interested in by will likely never search for (e.g. “How many bedrooms does your house have? The answer isn’t what you think“), you’ll reach a far larger audience of prospective clients.
4. SEO should take care of itself
Although Google’s search ranking algorithm is a well-guarded secret, it’s well known that backlinks are the most important factor. This is also the factor you can’t control just by picking the right keywords and putting them in the right places.
The best way to get backlinks? Create interesting content worth sharing. If you focus on developing interesting blog posts and engaging infographics, you’ll be much more likely to get other to link to your content, which will do far more for your SEO than any keyword research you could possible do.