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Estate agent SEO advice during the stamp duty holiday

Categories: SEO

Estate agent SEO strategies that will maximise your presence in local search and help you win more instructions while demand is high.

Last week, the UK government announced a temporary stamp duty holiday on the first £500,000 of all property sales in England and Northern Ireland. The measure was introduced to help boost the property market following the coronavirus outbreak and it has made an instant impact.

According to The Financial Times, estate agents are already reporting higher levels of activity in what it describes as a “sugar rush” for the industry. There are also reports of buy-to-let booms and banks offering low-deposit mortgages in response to the tax cut – all of which stimulates the market further.

With the stamp duty holiday running until April next year, estate agents have a finite window to capitalise by securing as many instructions as possible. In this article, we look at how estate agents can make the most of the opportunity.

Property viewings are changing

The worldwide pandemic led to a lockdown in which people were encouraged not to leave their homes. Whereas property websites would previously provide a description and series of photos of each property, many estate and letting agents started offering virtual tours.

Features such as this are becoming accepted as standard fare, and so it’s important to make sure your website offers the same – and more – than your competitors. This isn’t simply to attract buyers. Modern digital tools are essential in showing you are better than your competitors so that sellers place their instructions with you.

Seize the new search opportunities first

When any major change like this, property owners are going to have all kinds of questions and this generates a swarm of new search opportunities you can use to capture their attention. The challenge is seizing these search opportunities before other agencies beat you to them so the faster you move on this, the better your chances are of claiming the top of results pages.

So how do you find these opportunities first?

Google trends graph showing interest in the phrase stamp duty

Google Trends is always a good place to start for unearthing new search opportunities and, right away, you’ll see how much of a surge in interest over stamp duty there has been since the tax break was announced.

Once you’ve typed in a search query or topic you want to explore, you can head down to the bottom of the page, where you’ll see a list of related questions. These reveal what people are dying to know the most about the stamp duty holiday and these are the questions you need to be asking in your content.

Create blog posts for each relevant query, promote them on social media and build your online presence around the information that’s most in-demand right now.

Manually typing in all the queries and topics you want to explore into Google Trends is going to take quite some time, though. Unfortunately, keyword research is a time-consuming process and this is one of the reasons we built Apollo Insights, an AI-powered marketing insights platform that finds keywords and search trends for you, as they emerge.

Apollo Insights dashboard on screens
Apollo Insights finds keywords and search trends for you as they emerge.

If you want to seize new search opportunities before everyone else, you have to find them first, and automated keyword research is the only way you can do this.

Maximise your presence in local search

People who are serious about selling their property are going to look for estate agencies in their area and this is where having a strong presence in local search is crucial. When property owners type in a query like “estate agency in [location],” the top of the page is dominated by local results and some local queries also return paid ads.

Here’s what you might see for “estate agency in Portsmouth”:

Search results for estate agency in Portsmouth

While a quick search for London shows an ad above the local pack:

Search results for estate agency in London

We’ll talk a bit about paid ads later in this article but, for now, the most important point is to make sure you’re showing in the local pack and Google Maps for local searches.

We’ve published a range of content that will help you show up in Google Maps and local search results. You can watch the video above and take a look at the following articles:

Now, the coronavirus outbreak is going to continue affecting estate agencies and house sales for quite some time. Above all, you need to demonstrate to property owners that you’re taking all the necessary steps to protect them and make their potential buyers feel as comfortable as possible.

Update the images on your Google My Business account to show people the measures you’re taking – for example, how you’re socially distancing in the office and team members wearing masks. Also, highlight any services you have that can help reduce any risk, such as video call appointments and virtual property viewings.

While you’re at it, make the most of Q&As on Google My Business to address any concerns property owners and potential buyers might have to show that you’re on top of everything. Likewise, you can publish Google Posts as a local business to increase your local visibility and keep people updated about how your agency is operating.

Get published in the local press

Whether you’re operating in one area or multiple parts of the country, getting content in local publications will boost your search presence in every locale. By earning local links you’ll both boost your presence in the local pack and Google Maps, as well as improve the ranking of your homepage or local landing pages in search.

Reach out to local publications in your areas of service with articles offering advice for property owners looking to sell, as well as buyers looking to snap up properties to sell them or rent them out.

You’re not just earning links and increasing your local presence here, either. You’re also building brand awareness in the key areas where you operate and establishing yourself as an authority in your industry without having to compete with the biggest players.

Once you’re heavily featured in local publications, you can also take this strategy national and get your content featured in leading industry publications. The links you earn won’t have as much local clout but they will have more overall authority, which is great for improving the ranking of your homepage and domain in general.

Double up with paid ads

With time being limited, the fastest way to generate quality leads is often to supplement your SEO efforts with paid advertising campaigns. This will bring in relevant traffic while your new organic search strategy is gaining momentum, meaning you don’t miss out on valuable leads in the meantime.

We saw earlier, how paid ads can show above local listings and this presents  two crucial opportunities:

  1. Show in ads while your local presence is building
  2. Show in ads and local listings to dominate the SERPs

In fact, you can go for the holy trinity and get your agency showing in ads, the local pack and the regular search results to claim the page for yourself. In terms of maximising visibility during the stamp duty holiday, this could be a valuable strategy for beating your rivals to instructions.

You can also use Google Ads to enhance your content marketing and maximise your return on the keyword opportunities we talked about at the beginning of this article. With remarketing in Google Ads, you can show visual ads to organic traffic (not only paid) as they continue to browse the web and you already know which kind of messages these visitors are interested in because this was the focus of the content they clicked through to view, in the first place.

So you can use your blog posts and web pages to answer key questions and then use remarketing to campaigns to make sure property owners think of you when the time comes to sell.

Paid search isn’t the only advertising channel at your disposal, either. In fact, social advertising can be even more effective than Google Ads when it comes to getting your message out and building brand awareness. So make sure you promote your best content on social media and understand how to use targeting options on platforms like Facebook to reach the right audience.

For example, on Facebook and Instagram, you can target people in specific locations and their homeownership status: first-time homebuyers, homeowners, new mover, likey mover and more. That alone gives you a promising audience to work with and you can layer additional targeting options to guarantee your ads are being seen by the right people.

Build your reach while demand is there

For estate agencies, now is the time to focus on maximising reach and bringing in as many instructions as possible. While the stamp duty holiday isn’t going to last forever, the work you do now will continue to bring in new business long after the tax cut expires.

We partner with Property Jungle, a web design company that specialises in creating websites for estate agencies. We handle the SEO strategies for their clients and our property marketing experts are keeping a constant eye on industry trends. Our close relationship with The Property Jungle has allowed us to develop specialist strategies that other SEO agencies are unable to match. We’re already seeing search activity that suggests the stamp duty holiday will be a major opportunity for estate agencies and not simply a COVID-19 recovery measure. 

Our estate agency SEO experts can help

For more advice on how to make the most of this opportunity, you can speak to our property SEO specialists by calling 02392 830281 or send us your details here and we’ll call you.

Stuart has been a part of the Vertical Leap family since 2010 and enjoys helping people with great ideas find their audience, using organic SEO. Outside of his obsessions with organic SEO, data visualisation and spreadsheets, his favourite away-from-work activities include lazing on beaches, country walks and – most importantly – country pubs.

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