So you want your real estate (or other) website to rank high in search engines. You have the basics down. Your page titles are on point. Your content is good and provides value. Your navigation is seamless. Any user would have a fantastic experience on your website. But there's one problem: Your site's having a hard time ranking in search engine results pages.

Some in the SEO industry don't want to talk about rankings. You'll hear this phrase a lot: "It's not about rankings; it's about the user experience... and everything will fall into place." Although I believe wholeheartedly that there is truth in that approach, I also believe that you can help yourself by improving your rankings.

Who wouldn't want to be on the first page in search results organically? That's one of our main goals as online marketers. Some 75% of searchers never going past the first page during their search, so it's imperative that you be on the first page, or that you at least strive to be.

Various ranking factors contribute to ranking your website and content high in search results, but the one that is seemingly ignored among them in the real estate industry is consistently identified as the one with the biggest impact: links. Top influencers in the search industry say links are one of the main contributors to higher rankings.

Just to clarify: I dislike the term "link building." For the rest of this article, we'll call it "link earning." Earned links will have a serious impact on your website, your business, and eventually your rankings.

What is a Link and How Does It Help My Website?

We could get all technical with this, but it can get boring. So in my own words I'll explain what links are and how they help your website.

What Links Are

A connection. Simply put, links are a connection between your website and another site. That's it. The fun part is why they're important and how they help your website.

How Links Help Your Website

A link to your site is a vote for your website. It's kind of like the popularity contest in high school. When you're not popular and you start dating the popular kid, everyone takes notice. When authoritative websites start linking to you, search engines start taking notice.

Links establish your authority. If websites start using you as a resource in their content, search engines start to recognize your content as valuable for the user.

Links reaffirm your content's value. If you create a piece of content that starts earning links, it's evidence that the specific piece of content is valuable and useful for the user on that specific topic.

Links help drive traffic. If you earn links on the right websites, you will see an increase in traffic to your site, which we all want.

Links improve domain authority. This is basically a measurement of trust. The higher your domain authority, the more trustworthy you are—somewhat like a credit score. Quality links help build that authority.

How to Earn Links for Your Real Estate Website

Earning links for your real estate website is not something that is going to come easy. It takes hard work and commitment. It's doable, absolutely, but only if you're willing to commit.

Earning links for your website is no different from earning links for any other website in another niche. You can earn authoritative links in various ways, and we're going to discuss most of them—not only what to do but also how to do it, so you can get out there and start earning links.

Create Linkable Content

I did say it was going to take hard work and commitment. When I talk to real estate agents and the topic of writing comes up, I always hear the same excuse: "I don't have time to do that."

Yes, you do!

Writing awesome content doesn't mean that you write something every single day. But it does take consistency. It's important to establish how often you can write, and stick to it. And here's how to get started.

Step 1: Figure out what you can write about

One good thing about real estate is that you have plenty of things to write about that are valuable to many readers. The bad part is that those topics have been covered extensively. So you need to get very specific with what you can write about.

Start by brainstorming. Ask yourself questions such as these:

  • What are the most frequently asked questions I receive from clients?
  • What are the most frequently asked questions I receive during a listing presentation?
  • How can I address those and other questions through articles? Or, what would I like to say?
  • What are common mistakes I see from first-time homebuyers/sellers? How can I be specific about each?
  • What are the biggest challenges I face as a real estate agent? Can I help other agents?
  • What success stories would people want to hear about?

As an agent, those are great questions to ask yourself, and they also work as great article ideas.

Another great way to find topics users are interested in is by using Google Suggests. It's a simple process: Open up the Google search engine, start typing in a keyword or two, and Google will suggest the rest of the sentence. (You can see examples here.)

You can also do some serious research, if you'd like. For that you could use a tool like Buzzsumo and perform competitive research to see what is out there and what still needs to be covered.

Step 2: Make that content amazing

If you can create amazing content, it can pay off big time in earned links. There is no magic potion or exact way to make your content great enough to start earning links. But there are some guidelines you can follow to make sure you're on the right track. Rand Fishkin, The Wizard of Moz himself, explains it well in what he calls "10x Content":

Get Influencers Involved, or You Be the Influencer

This method might be one the most effective methods in building valuable relationships, increasing your audience, and ultimately earning some high-quality links.

Get Influencers Involved

Having top influencers in your industry, or those related and relevant in some way to your industry, can be extremely effective in helping you earn some high-quality links and gain more exposure. It can elevate a piece of good content with good information to the level of great content with valuable information.

Using influencers as a resource in your content will help establish credibility and increase your reach. Why? They will want to promote it because you have made them an expert on the topic. If you're talking about staging a home, get influencers in the staging industry to give a quote. If you're talking about the appraisal process, get a top appraiser in your area to help contribute.

Become an Influencer

Chances are various authors and editors are writing about topics within your expertise. You just have to find them, and then find opportunities to contribute content to their websites. Doing so helps position you as an expert on the topic, builds your influence, and earns you high-quality links.

How to Find or Become an Influencer

I will give you a tool that's going to change your life. Well, it will at least help you earn some awesome links. A service called HARO (Help a Reporter Out), can get you connected with top influencers and help you become an influencer. Check it out if you're serious about earning links for your website.

Five Other Ways Real Estate Agents Can Earn Links

  1. Get involved locally. Find opportunities in your community and surrounding communities to get involved or to create partnerships. It's a great way to build lasting relationships that will help amplify your business and create link-earning opportunities in the form of good stories to tell.
  2. Outreach to authors and blogs. Blogs and authors in your industry create weekly roundups, top 10 lists, and spotlight-type articles (a comprehensive review of a topic). Reach out to them to see whether you can help provide content for their website or you have an article that would be perfect for their spotlight content.
  3. Create a valuable tool. I enjoy linking to tools or embedding them in my own content. They are helpful for the reader and help enhance the content. If you can provide a valuable solution in your niche, it will earn links.
  4. Create a guide. An in-depth guide will do well organically and become shareable content; it will also be linkable content. Create a guide having to do with your expertise. If you can have a complete guide for home sellers, create it.
  5. Guest content. Guest blogging is not dead; you just have to be careful when selecting where to request a spot as a guest blogger. But if they let just anyone guest blog on their website, simply move on to a better site. Providing guest content on a quality website can help in many ways, but especially in earning good links.

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Links, the Ranking Factor That Real Estate (and Other) Websites Ignore

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image of Caleb McElveen

Caleb McElveen is the director of SEO at Listing Power Tools, which provides marketing solutions for real estate agents.

Linkedin: Caleb McElveen

Twitter: @cj_mce