The 2 Important Factors in Real Estate SEO

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Have you ever wondered how to make your real estate website rank higher? Speed and security are the two most important factors for Google ranking.

Speed is defined as the amount of time it takes for a webpage or site to load on a browser. You should optimize all pages on your website, not just content-heavy pages such as blog posts and videos. Content will be loaded faster if there's less of it. Speed is also important in SEO because people tend to bounce from sites that don't load fast enough.

Web security is very important on all sites, but WordPress websites tend to be more targeted by hackers and spammers because of how easy a website can be compromised if it's not kept up to date. So if you have a real estate website on WordPress, make sure it's updated! Hackers can add hidden scripts or malware which will slow down your site and may even bring it down completely if not properly recognized and patched up.

In this blog post, I'm going to cover some ways on how you can improve these two important factors for Google ranking on your real estate website.

Google prioritizes security for websites

Security is a huge factor in SEO rankings that Google wants to see. Google had set a deadline in October 2017 for website owners to have an SSL certificate installed on their site. The SSL certificate encrypts all data sent and received between the website owner and their customers.

Having an SSL is important for real estate websites because it increases the security of your site by making sure that information like passwords and personal information is kept safe.

For website owners that did not complete the move to HTTPS, Google extended the deadline to July 2018. At the time of writing this post, it's nearing December 2021 and your site is required to have SSL certification.

Check with your hosting or website agency for installation

If you have a website managed by a good agency, chances are they provide the SSL certificate for free since it's an important part of web security. Our clients at Hungry Ram are provided with free SSL installation and renewal every year upon expiration.

Check your web hosting. Most web hosting will provide free SSL certificates. If not, you can purchase them elsewhere.

So what happens after you make the switch to SSL

Once you establish that your website has SSL installed, you may need to make some changes to your resources on the website. This includes updating the linking structure to HTTPS instead of HTTP. If you have someone to manage your website, they'll take care of this for you so be sure that they know about making these changes.

You can use tools like Screaming Frog to check for any broken links and see the type of protocol that a certain page has.

If you do not update your links to HTTPS or are linking outside your website to an HTTP website, it will give your visitors the dreaded "Your connection is not private".

If you have external files that link to HTTP instead of HTTPS after installing SSL, then that means it's no longer referencing those files and needs to be updated.

Ways to improve your real estate website security

Some websites that are on Squarespace or Wix don't really have to be concerned with security since the websites are managed by the platform and not the website owner.

If you use one of those managed website platforms, I would check any external linking that isn't using HTTPS.

However, if you're on WordPress which is a free open-source blogging tool that's very popular for real estate agents to use for their websites - there are ways you can improve your security by using plugins like Wordfence or Sucuri.

WordFence provides protection against brute force attacks (which is when a hacker tries to access your website by trying different usernames and passwords over and over) as well as scans for malware.

Google recommends updating WordPress and plugins of your site regularly so they are kept up with the latest security patches needed for better SEO rankings. However, this should always be done, and if your website team is not keeping plugins and themes up-to-date, you risk having your website compromised so make sure that your sites are updated.

Move to dedicated hosting instead of shared hosting

Using a dedicated server for your real estate website can help improve security. Dedicated servers are not subject to the same attacks that affect shared hosts, since you have control over all software and how it's configured on your site.

Hungry Ram eliminated the need for traditional servers due to slower load time and increased security risk. We use a combination of CDN and load balancing to provide the same type of service as a dedicated server without having to maintain servers on our end, which allows us to pass those savings onto you.

Essentially all our websites are hackproof and do not have the same security vulnerabilities that traditional hosting has. So a big plus for us and our clients!

Always backup your website!

If you're using traditional hosting, we highly recommend backing up your website. Especially if you have a large site that manages many real estate listings. It would be terrible for your site to crash and lose all that work.

Prior to updating any themes and plugins, it's highly recommended that you do a full backup of your site (including theme files) and keep it stored safely. If anything goes wrong, restoring may be harder than simply starting over with an updated copy of your website- although no one wants to hear this!

If you don't have backups on hand - consider using something like CodeGuard which provides automatic backup services. You can even schedule your backups to run daily, weekly or monthly so you always have a recent backup on hand in case something goes wrong with your website.

WordPress regularly updates its software by releasing security patches for each version so ensuring your site is updated is important.

Luckily all our client's website files are updated automatically every time your website has any changes made to it. So you can rest easy knowing that updates are done proactively.

If you're using WordPress and haven't updated the core files recently then update it now!

The importance of page speed

Page speed is very important for your real estate website, or just any website. So why is speed so important?

Speed is important because it tells Google how fast your website loads and if the user will get frustrated with waiting for a page to load. Speed also affects time on site, which means people may not stay on your real estate website as long if it takes forever to open. This increases your bounce rate, telling Google that your website is slow, or not providing the information visitors want.

For real estate websites, it's very hard to optimize your website for speed because so many factors are involved in real estate. Your website can be heavily bogged down by additional resources your site may need, like an IDX.

Load external scripts only on pages that need it

IDX is third-party software that integrates with your real estate website. This allows the real estate website to have access to listings that are not their own and allows searching throughout the entire MLS. This can slow down your load speed because of all the additional resources it needs.

One recommended way is to only load the third-party scripts only on the page that needs it. For example, if you don't display any listings on the home page, you can choose to not load the IDX script on your home page, which increases your page speed for the home page.

It can be tough to do this if you're not familiar with how your website is built. So I recommend contacting your website manager.

Get a better host

The server that hosts your website needs to be reliable. Not only does web hosting play a role in security, but also in the load time of your website. A better web host means faster load times, which will help your real estate website rank higher in Google.

Since the direction was changed from using traditional servers with Hungry Ram, the best hosting we recommend that never disappointed us is A2 Hosting. We remain a loyal affiliate to only them due to their outstanding support and reliable hosting. We've gone through several hosting such as HostGator and Bluehost, none could compete to the speed of A2 Hosting and their support.

Now, we host all our websites through Netlify, which is used by huge companies like Nike and Verizon. Netlify only hosts full static websites and jamstack type websites, which is what we use to power our real estate website and give our clients the edge they need over websites with traditional servers.

So why is it so important? Well, a static site means it doesn't need to run on a server. This means it loads extremely fast and security is very tight because you can't install scripts on the website, which protects your real estate data. Speed is everything when it comes to ranking higher in search engines like Google, so having one of our sites will give you an edge over any competition.

Optimize your website content

Your images, files, and videos all play a role in website speed. So what can you do to increase the speed of your website?

The most important is to make sure that your images are optimized for web use. Meaning that they are compressed to the smallest file size as possible, without losing any resolution.

Images are an important part of your real estate website because you want to show off what's available in the area. So if you have a slow-loading image, it may lead people to leave your site due to frustration or boredom.

You have to factor in the device that your visitors are coming from. Mobile will take longer to load than desktop, so you have to make sure that the images are optimized for all devices.

Another way to optimize for speed is by minifying your documents. There are some plugins in WordPress that offer image optimization and minifying of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. This means that you will have a smaller file size for your website which will increase the speed tremendously.

WP Super Minify may be a good way to minify based on reviews.

Since our websites are not built on WordPress anymore, we may have fallen off on what is the best plugins to use. So I highly recommend doing some research!

Final thoughts

The speed and security of your real estate website are the two most important factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking websites. Speed means a faster load time, which increases your conversion rates because people will be less likely to leave after waiting too long for a page to load.

Security plays an even bigger role in whether or not you rank high on Google because that is Google's number one concern. They don't want their users to get hacked and have private information stolen, so they only rank the websites with security as a priority on top of search engines like Google.

With these two factors in mind, you will be able to outrank your competition and increase conversions rates. Speed and security will help you make your real estate business more successful!

If you are looking to switch to a more reliable real estate website that focuses on speed and security, contact our team and we'll show you how well your site will perform.