Real estate SEO is getting so difficult and while it's not impossible, it is harder and harder to compete with the big, national companies. For many searches real estate related, the entire first page of most search engines is covered by Trulia, Zillow, Homes.com, Realtor.com, or national brokerage sites. There may only be one or two spots, if that, at the bottom for little ol' Miss Realtor in podunk town. So how in the world can individual real estate agents compete with these sites that spend millions on advertising?
Well, one way is to be grandfathered in. We have a client in Louisville KY that has had his site for decades - yes, decades. Has blogged on it regularly for years, is perfectly optimized and covers all his bases socially. That site deserves top billing and he gets it. He's usually top 3 or 5 on the first page for Louisville real estate and all the variations thereof. But most of us don't have that luxury. If you don't have a website or you've had one for less than 3 years, kiss those big keyword phrases goodbye. It's just not going to happen. Sure, you can pay for the PPC (Pay per click) and go completely broke on $10 a click for serious keywords, which may work but it won't get you anywhere organically.
If you have had a site for less than 5 years it may be difficult but not impossible to show up on the first page for some phrases. But here is where long tail key words come into play. Most of these large websites don't focus on smaller neighborhoods, subdivisions and communities and they won't know the area like you do. You can focus your efforts and blog posts on a particular neighborhood that you prefer to work in and then drive it home that you know this area better than anyone. When someone searches that area, you dominate the first page.
Another thing you can do is video. These large companies don't have video and Bing, Yahoo and even Google from time to time, love video. Take a video of your community, tips for buyers and sellers and be real with people. Then don't forget to optimize those videos on Vimeo or YouTube so it can be found when searched.
But then there are those sites out there that may just be a calling card.
While you don't need a website to run a business, it's pretty much expected. You also don't need a property search but it helps your buyers to search specifically your MLS and you can feature your own properties. Then again, your website can simply be a fun place to blog, let people know who you are and really get a sense of your business before meeting you. Maybe you drive new clients there or mention the site in your emails. Whatever it takes to get them there, you want to provide something of value. That doesn't always have to be real estate.
If you just want a site that people can find, have fun with and return to, you don't have to always be writing about real estate. For SEO purposes, 70% of your site should be solely about your business, but if the site is there merely for those you direct to it socially or personally, you can write anything you want. Perhaps you have a new recipe; local event; bad day; family outing; whatever~! You get the idea. People won't always be buying and selling real estate so offering something else beside real estate may be the key to getting them back to the site again and again.
And HECK! Who knows... Maybe Google will eventually see the value in your site and start to rank you anyway!