Real estate websites for a recovering housing market

Fernando Maciá

Written by Fernando Maciá

The real estate sector could be starting to recover. In recent months, various statistics and media reports have pointed to a market recovery:

The sale and purchase of homes had been rising for six months in a row up to February 2015, with a special incidence on sales of second-hand homes, above sales of newly built homes.

Real estate web
Alicante is the third province with the highest increase in real estate sales.

According to data published by the real estate portal Idealista, more than 30,000 homes were sold in June 2015, 17% more than a year ago, the highest increase since March 2014.

Alicante is the third Spanish province in the sale of homes to foreigners, according to This ABC article suggests that an attractive business opportunity is once again opening up in the real estate market, which advises that to take positions in the promotion and communication of the real estate offer where the potential demand is now: both the local and national audience, as well as the international one. mainly composed of British, French, German or Belgian buyers, as well as Russians to a lesser extent.

The Internet has now become the first reference for anyone interested in looking for a new home, above traditional classified ads in the press, billboards, etc.

In terms of positioning, there are a few factors that can help us achieve greater visibility and conversion for the website of our real estate agency:

1. Objectives in a real estate web site

On a real estate website, we do not pursue the direct sale of a home. As a general rule, the objective of a real estate website is focused on getting prospective clients or leads.

The basis of a promotion strategy of our real estate on the Internet must therefore be based on a website oriented to achieve this double objective:

  • To attract visits from people interested in buying, selling or renting a property. This would be the main visibility objective of our website.
  • Obtain contact information for most of these visits. This would be the main conversion goal of our website.

In other words, what we are looking for are users who can easily find us in their search process, either in a generic or vertical search engine or in social networks; attract them to our website, show them our product and convince them to request an appointment, more information, a visit…

The way to measure our success in achieving these objectives will be twofold:

  • Offline: the user could call us by phone or come to our agency, if we have a physical space. In these cases, it is more complicated to attribute conversion to our online presence.
  • Online: the user fills out a form, calls us from his own cell phone after locating us in a specially enabled ad or sends us an e-mail. In these cases, it is easier to establish conversion indicators in Web analytics that allow us to measure our success.

2. How we search for homes on the Internet

When considering for what type of searches we want to achieve top rankings in search engines, we must think about how a user who is trying to find a property to buy or rent searches, where he/she searches and when he/she searches.

How to search

Searching for housing on the Internet opens up an opportunity for real estate websites.
Searching for housing on the Internet opens up an opportunity for real estate websites.

An Internet search is always preceded by a need. We must first identify this need. The three obvious needs in the real estate sector are: buying, selling or renting a home. Thus, the search will most often begin with or include one of these three words.

Secondly, the most commonly used taxonomy when defining a property is that related to the type of property. Those looking for a property will often characterize it according to the type of property it is and will refer to it in this way: duplex, apartment, villa, townhouse, penthouse, house…

Finally, a real estate search is often limited to a specific geographic area: neighborhood, city, coast or inland, golf course… Thus, real estate searches usually follow the pattern “need+type of property+location”, such as “rent townhouse in Las Rozas” or “buy penthouse in Barcelona”.

Where to look for

In real estate, many searches are initiated in a generic search engine such as Google. But also many others are launched directly on a real estate portal that acts as a vertical search engine. This would be the case of Fotocasa or Idealista. Even in the case that the user searches from Google, one of these portals usually enjoys the highest visibility for many real estate searches, due to its size, popularity, domain authority and adequate search engine optimization.

Since advertising on vertical portals entails costs that can be substantialWe must try to compete in our market niche to achieve visibility in natural results in generic search engines, so that we reduce our dependence on the traffic generated by these national housing aggregator portals.

This will reduce the average cost per acquisition for each visit and therefore also for each conversion. Given that these verticals are not so well positioned abroad, this is an opportunity to position yourself in searches made from countries that account for a significant part of the demand in the Spanish real estate market.

When you are looking for

And we don’t just mean at what time of year specifically, but also at what point in the conversion funnel. Even before a potential customer has enough information to reach long-tail searches such as “buy penthouse in Pedralbes neighborhood, Barcelona”, it is very likely that they have launched many other anticipatory searches and related searches that are much less competitive. For example: “things to take into account when buying a house in Spain”, “how to look for a house in Spain”, “real estate market prices on the Spanish Mediterranean coast”, etc.

Achieving visibility for these anticipatory and related searches will allow us to get in touch with the customer at the beginning of their purchase decision. If we manage to convert them into a registered user, or we act on them with retargeting or remarketing strategies, this will allow us to contact him at a much lower cost and to keep us in mind when they are much further down their conversion funnel, closer to making their purchase decision.

3. How to better position our real estate website on search engines

Visibility in natural search engine results depends essentially on three factors:

      • Indexability: that the website is accessible to search engines.
      • Relevance: that the website uses in its content and structure phrases similar to the users’ searches.
      • Popularity and authority: depends on the website being referenced from other websites of similar subject matter through inbound links, as well as being mentioned in social networks.

Indexable websites

They are those that do not generate problems for search engines to crawl them. Basic recommendations would include using standard HTML code, separating content from design using cascading style sheets, optimizing server download times, and avoiding crashes and server failures.

Information architecture adapted to SEO

In a real estate website, relevance depends to a large extent on the way in which the information architecture of the website is structured. Basically, to adapt our content to the most popular searches we should group our different properties according to whether they are for sale or for rent, the type of property they are and their geographic location. It is also advisable to include sufficient explanatory text in each property file, beyond the simple data of the building specifications. That way, we will have more and better content than the same property’s listing on other vertical portals or other competitors. This will give us a chance to appear better positioned in search engines.

Promotion of content in social networks

In addition to trying to get links from other related websites – real estate associations, tourism websites, local or specialized directories, websites of financial institutions… – it is very positive to take advantage of the virality of social networks to disseminate the incorporations of new homes for sale, market trends, as well as to attend, listen to the demand and answer any questions.

4. Conversion-enhancing functionalities and contents

Attracting traffic at the lowest possible cost should therefore be one of our concerns. But no less than converting that traffic into a useful contact for our real estate. To achieve this, we must take advantage from the beginning to persuade each visitor to become a “registered user”. We must keep in mind that visitors may have landed at a different point in their decision-making process.

The website must be prepared to offer different contact options because, if we are too aggressive, the user who is not yet ready to make a decision will be reluctant to provide us with their data for fear of being bombarded by a commercial.

Let’s look at different options:

User registration

It can be of different types. We can include a form where the visitor can directly make an appointment with a salesperson to visit a property. But we should also include other types: for example, subscription to our newsletter, subscription to news on a specific promotion, subscription to an e-mail alert system for price reductions, subscription to an automatic cassation system (with which, in addition, we have access to valuable information on what users demand), etc.

Internal home search engine

It is advisable to track the internal search engine from Google Analytics. It will inform us about the type of homes, towns, etc. preferred by our users. If, in addition, we have an “open search” system with free text, it will tell us what the users’ preferred search patterns are, what they searched for and we were not able to provide results, how they refined their search, etc. All of this is very important information.

Alerts for homes matching our searches

If a user sets up an alert to receive news of a price drop, availability of a reserved property, etc. by email, this is not directly a conversion, but it can be considered a micro-conversion. In other words, it is an indicator of a higher level of user interest in a home and the prelude that, if the right conditions are met, the conversion will take place.

Automatic matching of supply and demand of real estate properties

Giving visitors the opportunity to register the property profile they want provides us with the highest level of information to better focus our offer. It also gives us the opportunity to communicate directly with users, customize the information we send them in newsletters, etc.

Personalized sending of updated newsletters

If we can segment the users who register according to criteria such as the types of properties they are interested in, price ranges, locations, and so on.We can set up personalized newsletters that will register many more views and clicks, since the offer presented will be much more aligned with the recipient’s interest.

5. Measuring results

Finally, we recommend having a properly configured web analytics system capable of measuring not only the basic traffic indicators but, above all, the different conversion and micro-conversion goals of the website as well as the correct attribution of its success to the right promotion channels.

Measuring traffic to our website

Landing pages, navigation paths, traffic quality indicators such as average dwell time, page views, bounce rates, etc. as well as traffic origin, both geographically and by device type.

Measure conversions: appointments, calls…

Contact forms, make an appointment, request information about a property, call-me back form, use of the online chat…

Measuring microconversions

Use of the mortgage payment calculator or comparator, currency converter, newsletter subscription, alert configuration, matching subscription, etc.

Measure internal search engine: what users search for

What is searched for, from which pages, searches with and without results, search refinements, post-search visit quality indicators, etc.

Real estate market is once again a business opportunity

The real estate market has experienced several years of recession. The first signs of recovery are beginning to appear, so it is urgent to take positions and be present and visible in the main source of information and references for domestic and foreign real estate clients. A real estate agency today simply cannot avoid having a well-structured, conversion-oriented website with good search engine visibility for its geographic area and type of clientele.

Given that the market today is much less saturated than in the years of the real estate bubble, it is possible to enjoy great opportunities for quality traffic at a much lower acquisition cost. We must take advantage by generating quality content with a level of depth of elaboration beyond the reach of large verticals.

Likewise, we can incorporate content that obeys those anticipatory and related searches that any future buyer will initially make at first. It is a great strategy to get registered users at a much lower cost, and accompany them in their documentation and purchase decision process until they become more mature users, ready to become customers.

To do this, you must rely on professionals and companies with extensive experience in the field of real estate website development and positioning. Consulting the portfolio of clients and the dates of their different projects can provide us with key information when selecting the right supplier for our project.



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Fernando Maciá
Fernando Maciá
Founder and CEO of Human Level. Expert SEO consultant with more than 20 years of experience. He has been a professor at numerous universities and business schools, and director of the Master in Professional SEO and SEM and the Advanced SEO Course at KSchool. Author of a dozen books on SEO and digital marketing.

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