This is a special holiday series to get you ready for the new year! This is part 2 of a 3 part series covering real estate SEO for commercial real estate professionals. We are so grateful to Michael Hayes for providing this special series for our audience!
Part 3, “Leveraging Image Search for Commercial Real Estate SEO” will be publishing on Wednesday, December 13, 2017. Sign up to our “Blogs of the Day” email list to get notified when it goes live!
In my previous article I’ve written about an overall strategy for competing online against large real estate competition. The major step in that strategy is finding smaller sub-niches to target in a way that will outshine your competitors (both in the eyes of Google and of the user).
Understanding that this strategy may be easier said than done, so I wanted to make an article focusing entirely on this keyword research portion. I’ll walk you through the real process I use for my clients, and after all is said and done you will have a full strategy ready to download!
If you are performing this work on your own as a real estate pro, you actually have a leg up on SEO professionals that don’t know your industry well. It will allow you to quickly identify potentially profitable and very relevant keywords, where your SEO competition won’t necessarily have that insight.
That being said, this type of work isn’t for everyone, it can be considered boring, confusing, or even frustrating at times. However, with a little bit of determination it can be handled readily.
Ok, let’s dive in!
There is usually an SEO tool for every task. For this process you will only need two standard tools:
This is my second favorite SEO tool (behind Screaming Frog), and might be my favorite Browser Add-on of all time. It pulls in keyword volume (i.e. how many searches per month) as well as cost-per-click (if you were to buy traffic from Google) and displays them right on your Google search results.
After Google started limiting the data displayed on their Adwords Keyword Tool for “free” accounts, this add-on swooped in and saved everybody.
And it’s free! So to continue with this process, install the Chrome browser add-on extension and you will be able to follow along!
Important note: Be sure in Google Chrome Settings, Advanced, you have it set to:
Spreadsheet Software (Excel)
You’ll need excel or at least OpenOffice to handle the keyword research. You’ll be sorting through a lot of keywords and there is no easy way to do this without spreadsheet software.
Google sheets is OK, it’s not my personal favorite so I don’t have much experience working with it, but I’m sure it’s doable.
As mentioned in my previous article, the first step in competing against larger competition is to niche down. What this means is starting with a general keyword and finding sub-niches of that keyword to focus on.
Let’s start with “commercial real estate”:
74,000 searches per month in the U.S. Nice! But not what we are looking for. Too broad, too competitive, and of those 74,000 only a fraction are actually in your area.
If you scroll down to the related searches section you’ll start to see some smaller, yet more relevant, keywords:
Ok, now we are getting somewhere.
We are given all the outer boroughs (Brooklyn, queens, etc). These are good to add to our spreadsheet and investigate further, but let’s see if we can compete in Manhattan first.
What really stands out is the “commercial retail space for rent nyc”.
This represents not just a qualifier to our original query, but a brand new sub-niche keyword. Let’s click that and see what we’ve got.
Now we’re cooking. We’ve just spilled out 10 great sub-niche keywords, and each of those will probably spill out some more of their own. We’ve even started to see our first pattern emerge, i.e.:
“retail space for rent *neighborhood* nyc”
So far we’ve seen this for the financial district and for harlem. How much to want to bet that it’s a viable keyword for more neighborhoods?
Let’s take a look!
Google search suggest is a great way to track down these types of keywords. Copy the keyword into the search box, but don’t hit enter. Instead, delete the neighborhood term, and just hit the spacebar once, you’ll see these keywords drop down:
Is that cool or what!?
These ten keywords are the most popular, but you can get even more granular by typing “a”, “b”, “c” etc., in the neighborhood field. By the time I got to “d”, I saw even more goodies:
Try it for yourself and see what great stuff you can unearth in your area.
Ok, we’ve just made a few clicks and already we’ve found a pattern emerge. This gives me the opportunity to talk about how you should leverage patterns for your online publishing.
Large online publishers have to deal with millions of pages being published, and the vast majority of them are not individually authored. If you just think about the scale of it, for a human to dedicate even just an hour of their time for authoring a page, the amount of time necessary to publish a million page site would not only create an immense budget, but a giant management and quality assurance problem, as well as taking an extremely long time.
So large publishers rely on templates to publish the majority of their content. Whether it’s the Broker List’s manually curated directory (for which humans evaluate the listings, but templates automate the publication), Yelp, ThomasNet or even Amazon’s search results, they all use some type of pattern.
So why shouldn’t you?
The trick is to find a pattern that will effectively target your customers search intent, in a way that at least a little bit scalable (we aren’t talking a million pages, but a few hundred would be nice).
We’ve already tracked down the “retail space for rent” keyword, which seems to have lots of neighborhood variation. I’ve jumped ahead and tracked down a few more, using the same steps as above:
- Commercial space for rent *neighborhood* nyc
- Retail space for rent *neighborhood* nyc
- Office space for rent *neighborhood* nyc
Furthermore there are sub-categories that could be utilized as well. These didn’t have as many neighborhood variations, but are great sub-niches to tackle for the space for lease nyc/space for rent nyc keywords:
- Restaurant space for lease nyc
- Small restaurant space for lease nyc
- Recording space for lease nyc
- Studio space for lease nyc
- Medical space for lease nyc
- Nightclub space for lease nyc
- Warehouse space for lease nyc
- Café space for lease nyc
Pick and choose which of these are most relevant to your business, clients, or target clients, and go from there.
Do you see the power of this type of niche research? Why go after the same “commercial real estate nyc” keyword everyone else is clamoring for? Not only does it drive up the cost of clicks for paid advertising, but it makes it practically impossible to rank for in any reasonable amount of time and with a reasonable budget.
Being a smaller player in a competitive market can seem like a daunting task, but by staying craft and savvy to the realities of online publishing, we can break through and outperform your larger competitors.
Following these simple tips laid out above, it’s possible to find a wide variety of smaller niches where you can gain exposure to a highly relevant demographic of customers, while at the same time circumventing the competitive advantage of the larger authority sites.
About the Author:
Michael Hayes is founder of Darby Hayes Consulting (http://www.darbyhayesconsulting.com), a full-service SEO agency based in NYC. He can be contacted at mike (at) darbyhayesconsulting.com.