Much like the weather, spring is the time when Canada’s real estate market starts to heat up.
So if you’re a realtor in Toronto, that means now is the perfect time for some search engine optimization.
If you work on your SEO now, you can make yourself more visible to prospective clients and get ahead of the competition before we welcome the warmer weather.
Ideally, you should work with a digital marketing expert who’s helped realtors to succeed in the Toronto real estate industry.
But some people are determined to do everything on their own.
So, for all you lone wolves out there, today I’m offering some SEO tips for Toronto real estate professionals.
If you want your SEO strategy to be successful, you need high-quality content.
Great content gives people a reason to visit your website, keeps them on your site for longer, encourages them to come back, and is more likely to be shared.
And all these things help to improve your SEO.
But if you don’t optimize your content with the right keywords, you’re making it less relevant and harder for people to find.
So, before you even begin to think about content, you need to do some keyword research.
Using Google is the easiest way to do this.
But first, you need to choose a target audience and think about what words and phrases that the audience might be searching for when it comes to real estate.
For instance, if your target audience is people looking to buy and sell property in Toronto, start by choosing a simple phrase like “Toronto real estate” and searching for it on Google.
Next, scroll down to the bottom of the search results, look at the related searches and the “People also ask” section, which shows popular questions people are asking which relate to your search.
Here, you’ll see other popular keywords and questions people are searching for that you might want to consider using.
There’s also a free tool called Keyword Shitter that will provide a much more extensive list of related keywords.
Depending on what you search for, it can produce hundreds of related keywords in a matter of seconds.
Just type in your keyword, click on “Shit Keywords!” and let it do its thing.
When you’re ready to look through the results, click “Stop Job” and have at it.
Regardless of how you’re doing your research, try to focus on longer and more specific keywords, as they’ll be easier to rank for, and more relevant to your target audience.
Once you have a list of keywords you want to use, you can start building your content around them.
But don’t just randomly dump a bunch of keywords into your content. They should be relevant and used in a way that’s grammatically correct and sounds natural.
Because if you’re just stuffing a ton of keywords into your content, this could get you penalized by Google and have a negative effect on your ranking.
Typically, when I’m writing these blogs, I choose one long-tail keyword to focus on and use it two or three times in the body of a 1,000-1,500-word article.
I also do my best to include it in the title, meta description, header tags, and the alt text of any images.
A long-tail keyword, otherwise known as a keyword phrase, is a term made up of two or more words.
Typically, using long-tail keywords is more effective, because it’s easier to rank for these terms, and they’re more specific, so the people searching for them are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
For example, ranking for the term “property” is going to be harder than ranking for the term “real estate” because there will probably be more competition for such a generic term since it’s relevant to so many different things.
Ranking for a term like “property” will also provide less of a benefit because people searching for it will have vastly different intentions, and as a result, many of them will have no interest in what you’re offering.
However, those searching for the term “real estate” obviously have some interest in it, and people searching for “Toronto real estate” are clearly interested in real estate in Toronto.
So if you’re a Toronto realtor, this would be a good keyword phrase to focus on, along with its variations and synonyms.
But you should only use a focus keyword phrase for a single page or post because if you’re trying to rank for that phrase, you don’t want to compete with yourself.
It’s not impossible to have multiple high ranking pages or posts for the same keyword phrase, but it is going to be very difficult.
So it makes more sense to only use a focus keyword phrase once and use slight variations of that phrase for other pages and/or posts.
If you follow all these keyword optimization guidelines, you should be alright.
Now that you have a list of keywords and an understanding of how to use them, you’re ready to start creating content.
But what makes content so important to search engine optimization?
Well, if you’re not providing anything of value, then your content’s not going to get shared, your website’s not going to get much traffic, the visitors you do get aren’t going to spend much time on your site, and it’s unlikely that they’ll ever come back.
As a result, it’s going to be very difficult to build trust and authority with the search engines, and this will all have a negative effect on your SEO.
So, if you want your SEO efforts to be effective, you need to create valuable content.
But, before you can create anything, you have to understand what your target audience will consider valuable.
Typically, the most valuable content is going to be that which offers answers to people’s questions and helps them to solve problems.
So, take some time to consider what questions your target audience might have and what issues they might be facing.
Then, you need to create content that answers those questions and addresses those issues.
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, use Google’s related searches and the “People also ask” section I referred to above, or check out some blogs that focus on real estate in Toronto (I’ll provide some examples later on).
There’s also a great tool called BuzzSumo, which allows you to search for a website, topic, or keyword and then generate results based on what’s getting the most engagement.
Just sign up for the free version, log in and type a keyword, website address, or topic into the search bar and it’ll generate results, starting with the most popular stuff at the top.
On the right of the results, you’ll see how many engagements (shares, likes, and comments) each piece of content received on several social media platforms, as well as the number of backlinks and total engagements.
Functionality is limited in the free version, and it only allows you to look at some of the search results, but it’s more than enough to help you come up with some ideas.
Below, you’ll see some examples of content that would be valuable to people looking to buy or sell real estate in Toronto.
This blog from Post City Toronto offers an awesome example of textual content:
And here’s a great example of video content, from Toronto-based real estate agent, Michael Jakobczak:
At this point, you have all the information you need to start creating content, so get to it already!
If you’re a realtor in Toronto and you need some help with your SEO, check out our Real Estate Marketing page for more information.
Backlinks, otherwise known as external links, are links to your website from other sites and they’re one of the most important factors when it comes to your website ranking.
But why is this?
Well, when Google ranks your website, one of the factors it considers is how many backlinks you have.
A study from Moz analyzed Google’s top 50 results for nearly 15,000 keywords and found that over 99 per cent of these sites had at least one backlink.
The basic idea is that popular and trustworthy websites will be linked to more by other sites.
But Google also considers the quality of those links.
High-quality links come from websites with high domain authority (50 or higher) and a low spam score (3 or lower).
If you want to check the domain authority and spam score of a website, sign up for a Moz account and use the Moz Link Explorer.
Once you have your account, log in, go to the Link Explorer, type in the URL and hit search.
Then click Spam Score to look at the website’s domain authority and spam score.
Now that I’ve got all this background out of the way, let’s talk about how to get backlinks.
There are many ways to obtain backlinks, but I’m going to focus on the best ways to go about doing it.
In my opinion, the best way to get backlinks is to earn them by creating valuable content.
How does this work?
Well, if you’re offering valuable, relevant content, people are more likely to share it, and if more people are sharing it, it’s going to be more visible.
When it’s more visible, it’s more likely that other people will link to it in their content.
You can also reach out to Toronto real estate blogs with high domain authority and a low spam score and see if they accept guest postings.
If they do, send them a blog that contains a link to your website and hopefully they’ll post it.
Here are some examples of high authority blogs to get you started:
Toronto Life is a very popular Toronto-centric blog that offers a kick-ass real estate section, which has a domain authority of 70 and a spam score of 1.
blogTO is another one of Toronto’s most popular blogs and it also has an impressive real estate section with a domain authority of 74 and a spam score of 1.
Citations are listings that contain information on your business, such as your address, phone number and hours of operation.
Having as many citations as possible is great for two main reasons.
First, there’s more information about your business in more places, which makes it easier for people to find your business and get in contact with you.
Secondly, having lots of citations can improve your website ranking by helping you build trust with search engines like Google.
A study from BrightLocal found that businesses with more citations tend to have a higher website ranking on Google.
But in order to build that trust, your citations have to be accurate.
And when I say accurate, I mean there shouldn’t be any inconsistencies in the information, such as different business hours being listed on different citations.
A BrightLocal survey found that 90 per cent of local search experts believe accurate citations are important to your local search ranking.
Any inaccuracies in your citations can work against your website ranking because it makes you look less trustworthy.
So, keep a list of every citation you have.
This way, if any of your information changes, you can use this list to ensure you’ve updated the info on all your citations and have peace of mind knowing you haven’t forgotten about any of them.
You should also try to get as many listings as you can on industry-specific citation sites and include as much information in them as you can.
However, just like backlinks, you should only have citations on websites with a low spam score and high domain authority.
Here are some examples of high authority citation sites for you to start with:
Yellow Pages is one of the most trusted names in Canadian citations, offering tens of thousands of listings for real estate agents in Toronto alone.
Their website has a domain authority of 82 and a spam score of 1.
Another popular and highly recommended citations site for realtors in Toronto is REALTOR.ca.
The site has a domain authority of 69, and for some reason, no spam score data is available.
But with over 21,000 listings for realtors in Toronto, it’s unlikely that it has a high spam score.
A responsive, mobile-friendly website is one that adapts to different screen sizes and provides a great user experience on every device.
Making sure your site meets these standards is crucial, considering more than half of web traffic comes from mobile devices.
In addition, Google’s mobile-first indexing considers the mobile version of your site, not the desktop version, when ranking your website.
So, if the mobile version performs poorly, it’s going to hurt your ranking.
However, designing and developing a website requires a ton of technical knowledge that I can’t even begin to teach in a few blog posts.
So, if you need a website or need to update your site to ensure it performs properly on every device, I recommend hiring the services of an expert web developer.
What I can teach you is how to find out if your site is responsive and mobile-friendly.
But before we get into all that, below, you’ll see some examples of Toronto real estate websites.
The BREL Team’s website provides a near-perfect example of mobile-friendly web design.
See how the site adapts to different screen sizes? This kind of website will provide a great user experience no matter what device you’re using.
On the other hand, Sandy Kennedy’s website offers an example of web design that’s definitely not friendly to mobile devices.
Basically, it’s just displaying as much of the desktop version as it can for each screen size.
It looks like crap, it’s not responsive, and it’s especially annoying to navigate on a smartphone.
Shame on you, Sandy!
So, now that you have an idea of what all this means, let’s talk about how to evaluate your own site.
First, go to your website, right-click on it, and choose Inspect.
On the right-hand side of your screen, where you see all the lines of code, click on that little device icon (when you mouse over it, it’ll say “Toggle device toolbar”).
From here, you can see what your site’s going to look like on mobile devices.
Click where it says responsive and you can see emulations of how your site will look on several different devices.
If the one you’re looking for isn’t there, click Edit to view a more extensive list of devices and then click the little checkbox next to the device you want to add to the list.
Review as many devices as possible and consider whether there are any issues with the design, such as text being too small to read or buttons being too small to press.
Then, load the website on your own device(s), test it out for yourself, and look for any performance issues, such as pages taking forever to load (more than a few seconds is too long).
You can also use The Best Media’s Website Audit tool to get more information on the performance of your site.
Hopefully, everything works fine, but if you do find any issues, make note of them, and hire a web developer to fix them.
Did these tips help you with your SEO? Leave a comment and let us know how we helped.
Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of doing all this SEO stuff yourself? Visit TheBestMedia.com and book your Free Strategy Session with a Digital Marketing Expert today.