Real estate is one of Australia’s most competitive industries and, as such, agencies are turning increasingly to digital marketing to attract vendors more effectively.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the primary strategy for enabling prospects to find your agency online — and it’s here to stay. But it involves creative, not only technical, techniques to achieve higher online visibility.
Search engines regularly update the algorithms used to index websites, so it is essential to not cling to habits as some can now be outdated. Tactics that might have previously been successful can now garner negative responses from search engines, which results in site punishments through ranking penalties or outright bans.
Here are nine of the worst habits that can kill the Google ranking of your real estate website:
1. Overusing the same keywords
Your agency wants to be known for a particular search phrase, but beware of keyword stuffing. This is when content is artificially inflated by inserting keywords such as “Sydney real estate agency” throughout a site in a deliberate and unnatural way. While this method may have previously been effective, it is now punished by Google.
2. Duplicating content from other sites
It can be tempting to use text that is exactly the same or very similar to other text on the internet, but this “duplicate content” will negatively impact your own website ranking. Google sees this as low in value, and its algorithms won’t pick up the content.
3. Low-quality content for the sake of SEO
Google’s AI technology now takes relevance into account when determining content quality. Dropping in target keywords and irrelevant links might have been successful in the early days of SEO, but not now. Today, it is better to write less than to write irrelevant copy for sheer quantity.
4. Non-optimised images
Images are king in real estate. When uploading images to your site, it’s essential to fill in each section of an image’s information fields so it is accurately described and attributed. Images should also be reduced to the lowest possible file size while retaining quality, as too many cumbersome files will slow down your page speed and lead users to leave or “bounce” from your site prematurely. Google takes user session durations and experience into account when ranking.
5. Creating new pages for every keyword
Creating a new web page on your site to promote a major key phrase, such as “Melbourne property management”, is no longer effective and is now frowned upon by Google. Google favours sites that are simple to use and provide users with a one-stop experience, where they can get all the information they need in as few clicks as possible. When creating your site, keep similar services, such as your agency’s property management and sales function, on the same page.
6. Trading links
Google penalises link exchanging (also called link scheming), the buying and selling of links to boost your website’s backlink profile. This practice doesn’t reinforce natural, high-quality content that will be beneficial to the user. Real estate agencies should focus on producing content that will benefit users who will voluntarily create backlinks on their websites, rather than you paying for these backlinks.
7. Too many hyperlinked words in your web copy
Hyperlinked words or phrases, technically called anchor text links, are often used to create cross-reference links between the pages of a website to generate traffic to your site and associate those keywords with your domain. Like many other tactics, this was previously a reliable tactic until the practice was cracked down upon after Google’s algorithm update. Relevant words or phrases can still be linked, but just remember not to overdo it.
8. Low-quality hosting
Hosting impacts the speed of your site and subsequently can deter the ease of navigation and overall user experience. To ensure prospective clients get the most from your agency website, choose a host that is high-quality, local and will protect you from viruses and malware that can lead to your site being penalised.
9. Not optimising for smartphones
Mobile-friendly sites are ranked higher by Google than those that aren’t, making it crucial for real estate agencies to target mobile search patterns and ensure their site is just as functional for mobile users as it is for traditional desktop browsers. For example, if a potential home buyer is using their smartphone to search through listings on a site that is not optimised for mobile, it can lead to premature site exits which will impact your site’s overall Google ranking.
David Defendi is head of strategy at digital marketing agency SEO Shark, which has a 4.9/5 Google rating and an 8.8/10 Trustpilot rating.