Many commercial brokers focus entirely on old-school methods of marketing themselves. They often use mailers, cold calling, signage, and other types of traditional marketing. Some people would probably say this describes the average broker and the extent of their personal marketing. But for the broker who wants to be more than average, what should the do and how important is SEO for a commercial broker? Consider this statistic by Union: “Leads from organic search results are 750% more likely to close compared to leads from traditional media.”
In reality, there are many benefits that come to a commercial broker who uses SEO. In this post, we present some of the obvious primary and secondary benefits that come from investing in SEO. It is our hope that, after reading this post, commercial brokers will have a better understanding of how to leverage the power of SEO and become more than just an average broker.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
In order to explain the benefits of SEO for a commercial broker, we should start by explaining what SEO is. SEO is the practice of improving the way a website ranks in search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Just because a website was developed and went live, it doesn’t mean the website will suddenly start getting traffic from search engines. There are only 10 organic (non-paid) results on the first page of Google. In order to make your website rank on the first page, you will want to set aside a portion of your marketing budget for SEO.
Primary SEO Benefits
There are many benefits of SEO for a commercial broker. In fact, we would say there are four primary benefits that come with optimizing your website. In the next paragraphs, we will talk about these four benefits.
1. Increase Website Traffic
If you ask someone why they do SEO, they will probably say because they want to increase their website traffic. Now, the amount of time needed to see an increase in website traffic will vary, depending on the difficulty of the market. For example, a commercial broker in the middle of nowhere will see MUCH quicker results than a commercial broker in a major city that is highly competitive. However, the general rule of thumb is that you can expect to see results in about three to six months from when you start implementing SEO. It’s also important to keep in mind that the average monthly budget, spent on SEO, is $750-1,500. If a budget is significantly less, or more, then there is a good chance the amount of time needed could be greater or less than three to six months.
2. Increase Leads
The first logical benefit of SEO for a CRE broker is to increase website traffic. But increased website traffic will only be worth the effort if it results in increased leads. The broker will need to make sure his or her website follows best practices to convert a visitor into a prospective listing client, tenant or buyer. Within the commercial real estate industry, the general rule is that 3% of website visitors will end up becoming a “hot lead.”
3. Increased Revenue
Although increasing website traffic and leads are the first two benefits of SEO, the ultimate goal of SEO is to increase revenue. After all, why would any commercial broker spend money on SEO if they don’t expect to make money in return? Obviously, any marketing tactic should result in a positive return on investment (ROI). Depending on how well it’s done, SEO can bring in an estimated ROI of 50-5,000%. More specifically, the average website for a CRE broker will generate around $7,200 for every 1,000 visitors to the website. More website visitors results in greater revenue for the CRE broker.
Bonus Tip: Make sure to have Google Analytics installed on your website. This way, you can keep track of how many website visitors you are getting from your SEO efforts.
4. On-Going Results
Some forms of marketing are only effective as long as you’re spending money on them. For example, if you stop using social media, many people will stop seeing you. If you stop doing email marketing, people will cease to receive your emails. If you run paid ads through Google AdWords, or some other pay-per-click (PPC) advertising channel, those ads will stop as soon as you stop paying for them. However, SEO is different. When a commercial broker uses SEO to improve their rankings on Google, they are essentially improving the way Google thinks of them. This can result in them getting more traffic than their competition. If they stop spending money on SEO, once they reach the top, then they should hypothetically be able to cruise with on-going great traffic for a long time, as long as their competitors don’t push them down.
If someone stops paying for SEO, they will almost always continue to still get great results, at least for a while. Although, most commercial brokers, and other types of professionals, will continue to invest in SEO, even after they see great results.
How SEO Works
We talked about the primary benefits of using SEO for a commercial broker, but there are other benefits as well. Before explaining these other benefits, we should first explain how SEO works. There are two main elements that should be included in almost all SEO plans. These are on-site SEO and off-site SEO.
On-site SEO has to do with improving the actual website itself. There are various ways to do this. One way is to make sure the page content is properly coded so Google likes what it sees. Another way is to implement a strategic blogging campaign. Taking measures to improve the user experience for a website visitor is another way to do on-site SEO. To learn more, read our blog post titled, “What’s the Difference Between On-Site & Off-Site SEO?”
Whereas making edits to the website itself is on-site SEO, making edits to other websites, to improve your own rankings, will result in off-site SEO. Most off-site SEO is comprised of creating backlinks from third-party websites to your own. When we talk about doing off-site SEO for a commercial broker, it’s not uncommon for them to ask how we manage to make other websites give links to our clients’ websites. That’s a great question. We published a blog post called “Where to Get Off-Site SEO Backlinks From?” to help answer that question.
Secondary SEO Benefits
When a commercial broker uses SEO, they do more than just increase website traffic, which trickles into leads and revenue. The process of implementing a quality SEO strategy will automatically bring other benefits. Here are some of them:
- Increased credibility because of exposure on Google. What happens if a potential client looks you up on Google? If you don’t do SEO, that potential client might not like what they see. A good SEO campaign will fix this. Adding to your credibility is a great benefit that comes from on-site and off-site SEO.
- Become an established thought leader. Demonstrate your expert-level knowledge through blogging. This is a form of on-site SEO. It helps your rankings, but it also lets people know that you know the type of commercial real estate you specialize in. Some commercial brokers publish content about what’s going on in their market for retail space, office space or some other type of local market news. Others don’t focus on their local market, but they do focus on their specific area of interest, such as blogging about tenant representation and best practices for tenants and landlords. If we were a CRE brokerage, instead of a digital marketing company, we would focus on both our market and content that centers around the types of CRE services we offer.
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- Boost brand exposure through third-party websites like tBL and CRE Radio. This is a form of off-site SEO, and may also come from blogging. Although your goal is to increase website traffic, leads, and revenue from SEO, it doesn’t hurt to get extra exposure on relevant third-party websites. It may be that one of these websites will end up sending additional business your way.
- Refine your understanding of what your target audience is looking for. When you do keyword research, which is the foundation of your SEO initiative, you will likely gain a much better understanding of what your target audience is looking for. For example, is your target audience searching for “commercial brokers near me,” “commercial advisors near me,” “commercial realtors near me,” or something else completely? And, which terms are searched most often. This is one example of what is learned from keyword research. How much better will you understand your audience as a result of this SEO step? This can certainly become a valuable secondary benefit of SEO for a commercial broker.
How Important is SEO for a Commercial Broker?
SEO is incredibly beneficial for any commercial broker who doesn’t want to be stuck at a desk, making cold-calls all day. Not that cold-calling is bad, per se. We have heard professional CRE coaches say it’s a necessity and we’ve heard other CRE coaches say the opposite. But consider this, would you rather generate business by spending hours making calls every day, or would you rather have Google send people to your website, and then let them call you?
SEO is incredibly powerful and brings many benefits. But it will only be effective if you start doing it. Assuming you do decide to invest in SEO, one of the first steps you should take is to do keyword research. For further reading, check out our post titled, “What Exactly Are Keywords for SEO?” And, if you decide you would rather hire someone to handle the SEO for you, let us know. We would be happy to assist you!