Real estate is high value and fiercely competitive. One way to stand out from the crowd is by developing a strong online presence so that buyers, sellers, and even investors become familiar with you or your company.
Many agents and brokers take the first step—which is setting up a website and some social media profiles—but often don’t do much beyond that.
If you’re in the real estate industry, you’re probably very familiar with the concept of lead generation. The close rate for SEO leads is 14.6% compared to just 1.7% with traditional marketing (print ads, flyers, etc.), so there’s no denying that the internet is prime for real estate professionals looking to close more leads.
However, building an online presence is not a “one and done” type of activity. It requires your on-page SEO, content marketing, and link building activities to work together seamlessly to produce stellar results. Additionally, you need a strategy that focuses on the real estate niche specifically. Even within real estate, some people will focus on subsets, like SEO for real estate investors.
In this post, we’ll show you 6 ways you can build real estate backlinks but first, we’ll talk about why it’s an important step towards getting better rankings.
Why Do Quality Backlinks Matter?
Inbound links (also known as “backlinks”) are and have been one of the most important ranking factors since Google first started using them as a ranking factor, and this isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Not so long ago, the quest to create backlinks was a numbers game. Today, link outreach companies still look at building backlinks in volume, but only if that volume can be reached without sacrificing quality and relevancy.
As a real estate agent, the concept of building backlinks may seem a little foreign, but it is certainly worth taking the time to understand. The ability to secure quality inbound links will help your search engine rankings, increasing exposure and leads.
What Makes Quality Backlinks
When you do build backlinks, quality is key. You can have 10,000 backlinks but if they’re low-quality, they’re not doing you much good and in fact, you can find yourself penalized by Google for engaging in what it considers link schemes.
Search engines make a distinction between what they determine to be quality links and paid or unnatural links. According to Google, some examples of unnatural links include:
- Content with links that pass PageRank but that are undeniably a paid placement
- Low-quality directory links
- Links that are embedded in a widget and that are keyword-rich, low-quality, or hidden
- Forum or blog post comments that contain links
Now that you know some of what constitutes low-quality backlinks, what makes for high-quality real estate backlinks?
- Domain Rating/Domain Authority. This should be no lower than 20 (Domain Rating) or 30 (Domain Authority) in most cases.
- Site traffic. When building links, you’ll want to pay attention to the amount of traffic a website generates before you decide to try obtaining a link pointing back to your site. A good rule of thumb is to say the site should have 1,000 unique monthly visitors and that you should notice a pattern of increasing traffic over time.
- Sidebar links. Avoid sites with sidebar links pointing to casinos, forex, adult sites, scholarships, and others that are notorious for being spammy.
- Categorization. Along those same lines, pay attention to categories (often in the sidebar) on the site. Do you see categories relevant to real estate professionals? Can you picture your real estate website fitting in with what’s already on their site? If so, this could potentially be a good candidate.
- High-quality content. We all know that “content is king,” but not just any content; only high-quality content. Thus, you should examine the level of quality the website is already publishing. Do they appear to have standards, or does it seem like anyone willing to pay can publish on their site?
With these things in mind, let’s take a look at some tactics you can employ to build great backlinks to your real estate website.
1. Use Your Existing Network
The real estate industry requires several elements working hand in hand to transfer a property from one owner to the next. Naturally, the reliance upon teamwork also is a great opportunity to promote yourself online and build real estate backlinks at the same time.
Let’s say that you are a realtor with your own website and you commonly work with a handful of lenders and title companies. Since you are already in contact with these people, reaching out to the website owner and asking them for a link is easy, and your likelihood of success is higher since they already know you.
Outside of those, you may also find that you work with organizations like your local Chamber, local news sources, and other great geo-relevant websites. Simply make a list of your contacts in your community that have websites covering the same location and send them a quick email asking if there is a way that you can work together to help each other.
In many cases, this is a very quick way to get some great geo-targeted links that will be harder for your competitors (especially non-local ones) to replicate.
2. Study What Your Competitors Are Doing
A solid competitive analysis can save you a lot of time and money when building your initial marketing plan. Over time, your first-hand experience and data will alter your strategy, but it is still a great starting point.
Specific to links for real estate professionals, you should identify which competitors are dominant for the terms/keywords that are important to your real estate business and create a list of your top competitors. This could be just a few or there could be a unique set for each of your main pages.
The easiest way to compile the list is by doing a Google search for your most important keywords and making a list of which sites are ranking in the top 5 for each. Once you have this, you can move on to analyzing your competitor’s link profile.
Not all of your competitors’ links are likely to be replicated and in many cases, you will find some that aren’t worth replicating.
To decide, you need to know what makes a quality backlink (see pointers above) as well as the A.R.T. of link building and you need to familiarize yourself with the most common link outreach tactics. Once you have a better understanding of those fundamental principles, you can start to build a target list of your competitors’ best links, followed by a plan to recreate them.
3. Look at Your Existing Backlink Profile
It’s often easier to build backlinks with those who are already linking back to your site. You should create a Google Search Console and Google Analytics account to find out which sites those are. GA will show you your website’s main sources of organic traffic, too. Use this info as you build a strategy. You may be surprised to find out that your main sources of traffic aren’t necessarily real estate agents but they could still be high-quality and relevant.
For instance, you could find that a lender or broker ends up being one of your top referrers. In any case, reach out to these website owners and offer to do some guest posting. Also, make sure that the links back to your site are all working links. If not, fix them of course but you can also use this as an opportunity to contact the webmaster and provide them with some of your best articles instead.
4. Give People Something to Talk About
PR campaigns can be a huge undertaking. However, that’s not the only way to get news outlets and community websites talking about you. If they’re talking about you, they’re likely linking back to your site, too. Consider doing something other real estate agents in your area aren’t doing and you’ll find people will naturally post about it in places like social media especially. Social media backlinks are not directly beneficial to your SEO, but indirectly the exposure could help you naturally generate high-quality backlinks.
You can also check HARO for journalists looking to speak to a real estate professional. Securing backlinks through HARO takes practice, and you aren’t going to get tons of inbound links from it but if you are strategic, you can obtain at least a few high-quality backlinks.
5. Define Your Unique Value or Approach
Many companies have a mission statement, a tagline, and other brand-focused pieces of marketing collateral. When it comes to building backlinks, this same approach can prove to be beneficial, just on the granular level.
For each piece of content that you are creating, it should have a purpose and it should have value. Value can be educational, but that isn’t the only way to create value.
Products and services were created to meet the needs of your target audience. Some content helps them in the recognition, consideration, and comparison phase. A transactional page on the other hand helps them finish the loop and solve their problem.
When promoting a piece of content via link outreach, it is very important to make sure the context of the link fits the current stage of the buyer cycle. By doing this, you will be able to promote both content and transaction pages. We will talk about a specific example below under tip #5.
6. Create Geo-Targeted Content
Create Geo-targeted content for your real estate blog. Geo-targeted content is simply content focused on your location rather than your industry. If you sell homes in Nashville, TN, creating content about neighborhoods in Nashville, best bars and restaurants, and other location-relevant information will turn your website from a sales page to a resource.
This will help you in many ways. Let’s say for example in tip 1 (reaching out to your existing network) you find that you are on good terms with three local restaurants. If you were to create a post on your blog talking about some great local restaurants, why wouldn’t they link to you? That is just one example, but this approach can be scaled up significantly.
The other benefit is that all of the content you create and attract links to is likely to start ranking. When homebuyers are planning to move to a new city and a realtor site has detailed guides on neighborhoods, schools, entertainment, and other key information, they are more likely to contact your company first.
If you are using re-marketing strategies, this type of content can also help you build an audience with an interest in your area of operation.
Overall, good geo-targeted content has so many ways to add value that your imagination is nearly the only limitation. So, do it early and do it often.
7. Start Small to Build Big
If you do commercial and residential real estate across a few markets, you may be tempted to “spray and pray,” reaching out to sites in all of those areas, without one focus area. Resist the temptation… you can thank us later.
One of the earlier tips was to define your unique value or approach. Once you have done that, you should be able to narrow your outreach down to a few smaller groups.
For example, let’s say you have a rental home search website and one unique item you offer is filtering by pet-friendly and pet-free homes. This now gives your two different outreach targets.
For pet-friendly rentals, you could reach out to your local vets, animal shelters, and other animal help organizations and let them know your site allows pet owners to easily search for pet-friendly rentals in the area. This is a win-win for all three parties.
On the flip side, for homes that have never allowed pets, you could reach out to allergy, asthma, and similar local sites and let them know you have an easy way for people to find homes that are not likely to trigger their pet allergies.
That is just one quick example, but regardless of what you offer, that way of thinking will help you to turn a “sales” page into a valuable resource.
Set a Clear Goal and Get Help If You Need It
S.M.A.R.T is an acronym that stands for:
Whenever you decide to launch any new marketing plan, you should have clear, S.M.A.R.T. goals in place. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you have arrived?
As an individual or even a company, you may find that once you dip your toes in the water, getting links is more time and resource-intensive than you expected. This can put you behind schedule and cause you to miss your overall marketing goals.
Many companies start out handling their outreach internally and then decide to hire an agency to build links for them when they need to free up time or ramp up the scale of their link acquisition.
As the marketing director or person in charge of your company’s SEO efforts, it is important to identify when the switch from in-house to outsourcing is necessary to stay on track with your overall goals.
In many cases, companies find that working with a reputable agency allows them to reach the scale they need for a fraction of the cost of building out an in-house team.
Building real estate links is going to be challenging, but most things worth having are. The most important thing to keep in mind as you dive into tactics like broken link outreach or guest posting is to focus on natural, quality links. You may not get as many, but over the long run, you will have built up a solid link profile that pays you back time and time again.
If you do not have the time or inclination to do link building on your own, working with a reputable link building company can help you speed up the process, without taking on more risk.
Good services are not cheap, because they do not cut corners, but they will provide a strong return on your investment.
Real estate websites face tough competition, and that is likely to change in the future, so no matter which way you decide to go, the best time to start is now.