The State of Real Estate SERPs

Real Geeks ProfessorThis is the first post in a series on how independent real estate agents can improve their search engine rankings.

Have you noticed something different about the search engine results pages (SERPs) lately? Specifically, when you use Google to search for terms related to your business and your local area, does your site appear? Do any sites belonging to independent real estate agents in your area appear? They probably do, but it's likely they're not coming up on the first page of Google. They're possibly not even on the second page, either. That means it's more difficult for your potential customers to find you, and that's not good for your business.

The current state of real estate SERPs is a little disturbing. Large national brands are dominating the SERPs, keeping the smaller sites—like yours—pushed further down, where potential customers are unlikely to look. This is easily demonstrated by performing a simple search of your city followed by the phrase "real estate," as in "Chicago real estate."

We did just that for the top 50 metro areas in the United States (by population), and logged the first three pages of Google results. This is what we found:

  • 1691 individual URLs collected from the first 3 pages of the top 50 U.S. Metros =  average of 34 listings per metro
  • 750 individual URLs collected from page 1 of the top 50 U.S. Metros = average 15 listings per page
  • 30% of page 1 listings were local sites (8% of those local pages were Google Plus pages)    
  • 58% of page 1 listings were traditional organic (rather than paid listings or ads) (438 of the 750)
  • 5% page 1 listings were for news sites (35 of the 750)   
  • 53% of organic listings were interior pages (pages other than the home page) (231 of the 438)   
  • 47% of organic listings were root pages (home pages)   
  • 40% of organic root pages were localized domains/subdomains (contained the full city name in the URL, i.e., "http://chicagorealestate.com")

What does all that mean? Well, first of all, the statistic that should stand out the most to you is this one:

30% of page 1 listings were local sites

This means when we did those "<city name> real estate" searches, only 30% of the results on page 1 of Google were for local—not national—sites. Google displays ten search results per page, not including the local pack that appears at the top of page 1. So in these searches, only three results were for local sites.

Consider the number of independent real estate agents in your area. Is your site one of those three listings on page 1 when someone searches for "<your city> real estate"? What are the odds?

The answer is, they're not good. It's much more likely your site isn't appearing on the first page of Google, and is possibly difficult for potential customers to find unless they really do some digging through the SERPs.

Now think about how you search, and how often you click past the first page to find what you're looking for. Not often, right? The same is likely true for most of your potential customers, too.

This series will go into great detail about the state of real estate SERPs, what's affecting them, how you may be unwittingly putting yourself at a disadvantage against the 800-pound gorillas in the space, and what you can do about all this to improve your site's visibility in the SERPs, thereby improving your business.

Stay tuned for our next post which will discuss predatory linking practices, widget spam, and how you're helping Zillow and Trulia to outrank you.

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