In 2023, just over half of U.S. homebuyers found their properties on the internet, according to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors. With over 645,000 active real estate listings in the United States, the vast majority of which are marketed on an online platform, cutting through the noise can seem an impossible task for agents.
While much of the internet goes to the highest bidder, there are a number of cost-free ways agents can drive the right traffic to their listing—they need only to know the right words to say.
Understanding and implementing the proper search engine optimization (SEO) keywords, or the words or phrases in web content that allows people to find specific sites via a search engine, has grown into a crucial practice for any successful agent.
Although SEO keywords may seem simple enough to master—just choose generic words that garner the most searches—it is becoming increasingly more nuanced, says Matt Beall, principal broker of Hawaii Life.
“Trending searches have gotten longer and more specific. People are submitting very specific queries and the degree to which our content answers those questions the better.”
To best answer these queries, and thus increase the likelihood of reaching the right buyer for a listing, Beall suggests agents do the necessary work to find and utilize the right long-tail keywords.
Simply put, long-tail keywords are more specific phrases used in online content, resulting in a more targeted and lower search volume. Although logic may deem that less traffic means less chance of success, Beall says that often the opposite is true.
“If someone types in ‘single-level plantation-style home with an infinity edge pool and an ocean view,’ that’s a serious search. If they get a return and find something that’s written well and includes those phrases, you’ve already started a rapport.”
Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have allowed many real estate professionals to outsource the work of writing listings descriptions to various applications and tools. Beall, however, advises against relying too heavily on technology.
“There’s a big measure of authenticity and you have to be able to answer questions prospective buyers may have, you have to get specific. If there’s a buyer having a tough time finding their dream home and they submit a query and you and your blog post are the ones that answer it in such a custom and organic way—they’ll feel like they found their hero.”
“When ChatGPT first came out, we plugged into the API [application programming interface] and wrote about 30,000 building descriptions in 10 minutes. But we made sure that we heavily edited, that we refined it to capture long-tail keywords.”
Rossi continued, “You have to layer in descriptions about the amenities and the features to catch those long-tail keyword searches.”
In addition to written descriptions, long-tail keywords apply to video, says RETSY founder Chris Morrison. The Scottsdale-based broker says that what is said in the video is often more important than the written description.
“Written listing descriptions get lost in the noise of Google, they get pushed out by all of these different sites like Zillow and realtor.com. But the SEO keywords that you use in the video get indexed and they show up in [the video section] Google and have more of a chance of getting eyeballs on them.”
As such, Morrison implores his agents to do detailed videos for their listings. “You can’t just have a person panning around an interior with pretty music. The video needs to have a voice that states those keywords.”
Regardless of where you implement long-tail keywords, Beall says that the human element of real estate marketing, at least for now, is what will set an online listing apart. “Over time, the consumer will call that bluff. If they read a blog post that was written by AI, and they pick up the phone to call you, and you sound like you’re bumbling your way through the topic, that’s going to be very obvious. The people who can write and can articulate clearly what their insight is are only going to see their value increase.”