To grow your home-building business, you need potential homebuyers to find you. And, more likely than not, that process will start with a Google search. After all, it remains the most popular website in the world by a significant margin. The good news: with the right strategy, you can ensure that your content will be among the top results when your audience searches for new homes online. That strategy is called search engine optimization, and homebuilder SEO is among the most important marketing investments you can make.
Unfortunately, SEO can also get complex quickly. This guide breaks it down to the basics, giving you the overview and steps to rank your content, increase your visibility, and grow your business.
Just the Basics: What is Search Engine Optimization for Homebuilders?
Search engine optimization (SEO) describes the strategic effort to appear as consistently high as possible on the results pages of search engines like Google, Bing, and YouTube.
Homebuilder SEO narrows that effort specifically to the industry. It’s about ensuring that your homepage, model home listings, new constructions, and other core content appear prominently on search engines.
Getting there takes time. Experts estimate that it takes between six and 12 months to start seeing results. It’s also complex, requiring both technical optimization and excellent content your audience wants to read.
But once you start seeing results, SEO becomes one of the most consistently successful marketing strategies to drive traffic, enhance visibility, and grow your business.
Why Homebuilder SEO Matters
Online channels have transformed the home-buying journey. It’s now primarily digital with 97% of homebuyers using the internet at some point in their search.
And here’s the key: nearly 86% of consumers consider the builder or seller’s website the most important source of information when researching or buying a home. Where do they find your website? Via Google, of course; 78% of real estate searches begin with a search engine, with Google accounting for three-quarters of that share.
Meanwhile, results outside of the top 20 of a given Google search only receive 0.63% of user clicks on that results page. That might explain why, according to some estimates, the ROI for real estate SEO is above 1,300% after three years of implementation and optimization.
Technical, Onsite, and Offsite: The Three Pillars of Homebuilder SEO
With search engine optimization firmly established as a cornerpiece of any homebuilder marketing effort, it’s time to get specific. The easiest way to think about the concept is to separate it into two areas: technical SEO and SEO-optimized content.
Onsite SEO: Keywords, Page Experience, and Content Quality
Search engines like Google will use hundreds of ranking factors to surface content highly in results for relevant keywords. The most important content-based factors include:
- High-quality content: Content that is designed to add tangible and unique value that users won’t be able to find elsewhere.
- Thoughtful keyword optimization: This involves writing content around a given keyword or phrase without stuffing the keyword into the content to the point where it becomes unnatural.
- Page experience: Focus largely on the user’s experience while on your website–from intuitive navigation to the layout of individual pieces of content.
- Outbound links: Add value by linking your content to credible external sources for users to research further as needed.
None of these factors require technical expertise. Instead, they require a comprehensive, thoughtful content strategy based on what your audience needs and looks for.
Offsite SEO: Listing Sites, Google Business Profile, and Link Building
SEO focuses on your website, but the ecosystem around your website matters just as much. Search engines like Google use it to determine your site’s credibility and authoritativeness. Three factors particularly play into this piece of the equation:
- Backlinks: This involves coming back to your content from other credible websites. More backlinks to your site increase its value in the eyes of search engines.
- Listing sites: Sites like Zillow and Trulia have built up a content cache and can help expand your presence beyond your owned digital properties.
- Google Business Profile: This is the search engine’s business directory. Claim and optimize it to ensure your place at the top of search results related to your business name.
Offsite SEO focuses more on organization and less on pushing out consistent content. But, as the steps below show, you will still need to pay attention to it as you optimize your website and entire online presence to appear prominently in search results.
Technical SEO: Architecture, Speed, and Accessibility
Finally, the technical optimization of your website is crucial to any SEO success. You can’t rank prominently without it.
That’s because search engines like Google, above all, need to understand your website and its ability to offer a good user experience. Technical SEO components include:
- Informational architecture: This is typically in the form of a sitemap that tells Google what pages you have and how they relate to each other.
- Website performance: This especially relates to site speed. Google knows that user experience drops drastically once a website takes even a few seconds to load and will adjust its rankings accordingly.
- Mobile optimization: Because most searches now happen on smartphones, Google has shifted to a mobile-first approach in which all sites are primarily based on user experiences on mobile devices.
- Website security: Google will only rank websites prominently that have an HTTPS security certificate designed to keep user information encrypted and secure.
Technical SEO optimization is, in many ways, the foundation. It’s how you can ensure that the baseline criteria are taken care of before going into ranking for specific keywords.
7 Steps to Succeed in Homebuilder SEO
Knowing the details of search engine optimization for homebuilders only matters if you know how to apply those details to your benefit. These steps can help you succeed.
1. Audit Your Website for SEO
First, it’s time to take stock of where your website stands. An SEO audit will help you understand where you’re doing well, and where you still need to improve.
Plenty of SEO audit tools can help you get started. Each of them comes with their own nuances. But the gist remains the same: get a basic idea of how your website is currently performing, so you know where to spend your time and effort to get to baseline or improve above that baseline the most.
2. Perform Keyword Research
Keyword research is at the core of homebuilder SEO. It’s how you know what content you need to focus on to maximize visibility in search results.
Chances are your target keywords revolve around terms like homebuilding, new home construction, and new homes for sale. But of course, some of those will be more popular and more competitive than others. Keyword research helps you understand those factors, along with longer-tail phrases that might be easier to rank for to start.
It sounds complex, but can actually be quite straightforward. You just need the right keyword research tool to get started.
3. Create Keyword-Optimized Homebuilder Content
With the right keywords in place, it’s time to turn your focus on your content. Google will follow its E-E-A-T formula when rating the quality of content:
- Experience, ensuring that your content is as unique as possible by bringing in your personal experience where possible.
- Expertise, showcasing your business as a thought leader in the homebuilding industry. The more you can demonstrate your expertise, the better.
- Authoritativeness, establishing yourself as a go-to resource for the keyword and content in question. That means covering the topic from all angles and building backlinks to it (more on that below).
- Trustworthiness, which most SEO experts consider the culmination of the three above. The goal, after all, is establishing value and credibility for your audience.
E-E-A-T is a great guide for your entire content strategy. Use it for all of your individual web pages, including and especially your blog or resources section, where you share content relevant to the home building industry.
4. Optimize Your Google Business Account
Let’s step away from your website for a second. When your audience googles you, they’ll actually spot a part of your brand before they even click on your link: your Google Business Profile.
The Google Business Profile establishes the physical location of your business. It also provides an opportunity for customers to leave reviews. But perhaps most importantly, it’s yet another SEO opportunity.
Verify your business name and address. Optimize your description for relevant keywords. Add relevant visuals, like blueprints and model home pictures. You can even publish Google-specific content under your profile.
5. Employ a Link-Building Strategy for Your Content
Let’s talk about those backlinks we’ve been mentioning. After all, they’re a core ranking factor for Google because they show that other websites believe your content enough to use it as authoritative.
But backlinks don’t happen automatically. You need a link-building strategy to get them, which includes submitting guest posts on other websites, listing your business on external listing sites, and using services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out).
You want lots of links, but the quality of the pages linking to you matters even more. While a link from a national newspaper like the Washington Post is like gold, links from spammy websites can actually decrease your SEO. Fortunately, you can always disavow bad-quality links to your website to avoid those negative consequences.
6. Evaluate and Optimize Your Website and Content Periodically
Once you start with SEO, you don’t stop. It’s an ongoing process that, even after years, will still require active attention and content production.
Continuous optimization is key. Run an SEO audit at least once a year, and ideally every quarter. Check in on keywords you’ve been trying to rank for to see if your ranking has improved. Learn from high-performing blog posts and apply those lessons to new content you publish.
And, of course, you’ll want to continue publishing new content. That helps you build credibility and authoritativeness, improving your Google presence over time.
7. Find a Partner To Help With Homebuilder SEO Services
Finally, don’t be afraid to look for help if you need it. SEO is complex, and you’ll be able to find plenty of homebuilder SEO companies ready to help you succeed.
The right company can help you with anything from technical SEO to keyword research, content strategy, and the actual content build. That way, you can focus on growing your business while your SEO strategy and partner help build additional touchpoints in the home buying journey in the meantime.
Ready To Get Started With Homebuilder SEO?
There is no better time to start with homebuilder SEO than the present. After all, the homebuyer journey will only continue to move further into the digital realm. Take the above steps to get started with an intentional effort to improve your prominence in relevant searches from your target audience.