A lot of agents wonder: if I have my own listing on my own website, why isn’t it on the first page of a Google search result when I search for it? After all, it’s my listing.
The simple answer as to why your listings don’t rank on your website is: you have too much competition.
The first thing to understand is how listings (or any content) ranks in search results in the first place, and simply put, it’s complicated. But at a basic level, to rank better, your website has to be more authoritative than your competition. Remember that Google just wants to show the best quality, most relevant results to the searcher, which is how it sees your competitors; Google doesn’t care if it’s your listing or not. So who is this competition?
Your competition for ranking for listings is made up of 2 groups:
- Agent Competition: These are the other agents in your area that have more authoritative websites than you do. Their websites have been online longer, and they actively invest in improving their digital strategy, online presence, and digital marketing.
- Online Business Competition: These are the gigantic, search-focused database websites that do nothing but showcase and allow searching for listings; like Realtor.ca, Zillow, etc.
The chances of you beating out these 2 groups organically without actively trying to is basically impossible, but in this post, we’re going to explore a few strategies around how you can give it your best shot.
The main thing to know is that all of these competitors, regardless of who they are, get their listing information from the same place: the MLS.
One huge thing to consider is how your listings are added to your website. If they’re added by an IDX feed automatically, it’s going to be extremely difficult for your listings to rank high up in the search results if your website isn’t authoritative.
If your listings are added by an IDX feed, you can’t control the most important information about the listing, and you’ll be offering the exact same information as those competitors I mentioned. Worse, if your listings are published by a slow to update IDX feed, your listings might even get published a day or 2 late, which puts the competition miles ahead of you right off the bat.
★ Just a note, I’m not saying it’s impossible to rank your listings that were published via an IDX feed in search results, but rather, if your website is not authoritative, it will take a lot of time, effort, and strategy.
So if your listings aren’t automatically added to your website via an IDX feed, how do you add them? The answer is: manually. For most agents, that seems like a pain to do, but it’s worth the effort if you want to rise in the search results (and for a ton of other reasons). That’s because when you add your listings manually, you can control a lot of the information that displays in a listing and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Here are some strategies you can use to get your listing ranking higher up in search results:
Change the description of your listings
Here’s how most of the listing descriptions on the MLS look (this one was taken from a property on Realtor.ca):
And here’s a look at the same property on the Remax.ca website:
As you can see, it’s exactly the same on both websites, and it’ll also be the same on any other website that it’s displaying on simply because all of these listings are being pulled from the same place: the MLS, as the agent entered it.
Also, the description is terribly written, at least from the consumer’s perspective. It’s purely written for a data entry system that has a limited number of characters, and while an agent can understand it, the average consumer may not be able to. That’s not the agent’s fault of course; this is the exact way you’d write for the MLS, but differentiating the description of your listing on MLS and and the description of your listing on your website gives you an advantage.
By writing a detailed description that’s totally different from the MLS description, it makes you different, and not only improves the experience for the person reading it, but also differentiates you in search results.
Publish your listings a bit early
Some real estate boards have rules around coming soon listings and your ability to publish them on your own website prior to them going on the MLS, but if you can publish early, even by a day or 2, you certainly should. That gives Google a chance to index your listing on your website, and hopefully move your listing to the top of the search results right away; and before any of your competitors have had a chance to post it and before Google has had a chance to index it on their websites.
Build up your link strategy
Ideally, you should always be pushing traffic back to your website. For example, you shouldn’t be posting all of the details about your listing on Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin, but rather, posting a bit of information and forcing them to go to your website to learn more; and that really goes for anywhere else you’ll be posting your listing.
By including a link to your website, and building the number of quality links to your website, you’re essentially telling Google that your content is important because there’s a lot of people linking to it. If you know a select group of agents that you trust, you could also try to have them link to it; and if you can get your listing published on a reputable website, getting a link from them is key too.
You also shouldn’t be pushing people to a single page property website that is outside of your main website. All of your traffic should be pushed to your main website as much as possible.
Basically, the more links you can get from quality websites to your listing on your website, the better.
Define your property meta-descriptions
For each of your listings, you should be hand-crafting the meta-descriptions. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s the snippet of text that shows up in the search result. Those snippets are written for 2 reasons:
- To help with SEO by telling search engines what the content of the page is about.
- To help searchers by giving them a preview of what’s on the other side of the link.
You absolutely can and should define these instead of leaving them blank. A well-written meta-description should include the address, some of the features, and a call-to-action (like: Contact [AgentName] today for more information).
In most cases, a lot of your competitors won’t do this, so most of them will have the exact same meta-description, so by defining it, you’re differentiating yourself in another way from them.
Understanding how IDX Listings are published on your website
If you are using an IDX feed, you should understand that in some cases, the way the listings are added are not indexable, meaning, they aren’t indexed by Google, so they won’t show up in a search result.
Some IDX website template companies do offer listing feeds that are indexable, but as mentioned above, regardless of if your IDX feed is indexable or not, if your website isn’t authoritative, your competitors are likely going to beat you out anyways, so being indexable doesn’t make a lot of difference unless you have a solid, well-thought-out strategy in place and a website with a lot of authority in Google eyes.
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