How to Write for Humans (and Other SEO Copywriting Tips for Real Estate Pros)


Heat Level: Medium: These tips require some experience.

Bottom Line: Keywords aren’t a magic bullet, and writing for your audience is far more important than worrying about satisfying search engines.

Do This: Follow these key steps to optimize your site’s content SEO...

  1. Do some keyword research.

  2. Add your top keywords into your site content where appropriate.

  3. Format your text for skimming.

  4. Before publishing, have someone else read your content to make sure it sounds natural, not robotic.

Considering SEO when writing online is important...if you do it the right way.

As we mentioned in our last post, we’re big fans of well-crafted content. Writing is a major part of what we do, which means we know a lot about the value of high-quality content on and offline. Online content, in particular, is an area that seems to throw a lot of very smart people because of the dreaded, ever-confusing SEO factor.

Yes, considering SEO when writing online is important. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be an entire industry dedicated to improving your site’s content SEO. But for most of us, hearing SEO conjures ideas of writing to please the search gods’ ever-changing algorithms and praying that we used enough keywords to land on the “first page” (fun fact: there is no first page of Google...get the scoop here then come back). 

But does it have to be this way? Short answer: No!

Long answer: read on!

Know your keywords!

First up: keywords, AKA the core of content-SEO. Keywords refer to the words included in the body of your content, your headings, page titles, and meta descriptions that help your site come up for searches. 

In other words, keywords are the search phrases you want to be found for. Keywords don’t need to be an intimidating thing. In fact, it’s a good bet that some of your keywords would naturally end up on your site from writing general information about your business. 

If you run a real estate company in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Shadyside specializing in luxury properties, odds are you’d include information on your site about Pittsburgh real estate, Shadyside real estate, luxury homes in the area, etc. Guess what: that’s the start of your keyword strategy! 

When you’re considering your keywords, what you’re really asking is “how are people finding my site on Google (or other search engines)?” When a person types a query into Google, the engine looks for indexed content with keywords that matches their query to best answer to their question. 

So if a person is searching for “Pittsburgh real estate” you might come up...but there are probably a bunch of firms that could match that as well. If they search “Shadyside real estate” you’d probably come up faster since it’s a smaller area. A search for “high-end” or “luxury” Shadyside real estate would be even better.

Do some keyword research.

Before going totally keyword crazy, you need to do a little research. By finding out what users search for to get to your site, your competitors sites, and sites within the real estate industry at large, you’ll know the questions that your content should answer. Ahref’s blog has a great list of free tools you can use to learn about the search keywords that should inform your site content.

We also like a tool called Seed Keywords - it helps you survey friends, family, coworkers and clients to find out what they would type into the search bar. We like that it takes the human factor into keywords.

Once you know your keywords (we recommend starting with 3-5), you can make a conscious effort to include them in your site copy. But proceed with caution, because if you write solely focused on working in your top keywords you’ll fall into a major no-no: keyword stuffing.

Don’t keyword stuff!

We get a lot of questions and requests surrounding the need to add keywords “to the back end” of a website. So let’s start with this: there isn’t really a “back end” or “behind the scenes” of SEO. SEO has become much more transparent over the years.

Usually this kind of question is referring to a page’s meta description and title, which is the text that shows up for a search result. 

While adding keywords into the “back end” can help, most behind-the-scenes stuff is a minor piece of the content SEO puzzle. 

In the past, there were a lot of other back-end tricks people would use to fill their site with keywords, like adding text to a page that couldn’t be seen because it was too small or blended into the background. While hacks like this used to fly, Google’s bots have gotten a lot smarter. Today, text on your site isn’t just judged for the words it contains but also for its readability and quality. 

In other words, you can’t fill your page with random keywords to try to beat the system. Instead, focus on writing content that answers the important questions you identified in your keyword research. 

Don’t worry about needing specific words a set number of times on a page either. Just write something that answers the question(s) users are looking for!

Note: if you have control over your website’s H1s, title tags, and alt tags, these are important places to include keywords. We’ll teach you more about them soon.

Format for skimmers.

Once you’ve written your content, it’s important to format it in a way that both users and search engine bots will like. Online readers skim content. One study found that online users read at most 28% of the words on a page during an average visit, with 20% being the more likely estimate.

So how do you write for skimmers? Here are a few key ways:

  • Keep your sentences short.

  • Keep your paragraphs short.

  • Break your text up with headings and subheadings.

  • Include bullets and lists to keep people engaged (see what we did there?)

Using headings, lists and other elements to break the text up allows readers to scan/skim through your content to decide if they want to read more thoroughly. 

One trick you can use is to look only at your headings and subheadings, then see if you get a good idea of the main points you’re trying to make. Remember writing essay outlines in college? Dig those skills up!

In this piece, for instance, if you only look at the title and main headings you’ll know the important points of the whole article.

  • It’s about SEO writing, specifically for real estate pros.

  • You need to know your keywords.

  • You need to do keyword research. 

  • You shouldn’t keyword stuff.

  • Always format for skimmers.

  • Ask if you’re writing for robots.

If you scanned through this piece, you’d know pretty quickly if it’s covering a topic you’re interested in or not. By making it easy for people to make that judgement call, you help the right users know to stick around and read more.

Ask yourself: am I writing for robots?

Finally, even if you do everything right and have the perfect keyword balance, text breakup, and back-end setup with proper titles and meta descriptions...your content still might not work. 

Why? Because it’s boring, unoriginal, or not useful. How could that happen? You put all of your focus on pleasing the robots!

Yes, SEO is an important consideration for all online copy. But more importantly, you need to think about the actual living, breathing humans who will visit your site and read what you wrote. Do you answer their questions, provide new information, make them feel something, and make them want to come back? If those are all “no’s” then you need to backtrack. 

All of our tips from our last post can help with this - namely reading your content out loud to see if it sounds natural. 

Google also wants you to write for humans. Their bots nowadays judge sites by looking for quality content. How do they judge your content’s quality? Google calls it the E-A-T standard, which stands for: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

There are hundreds of articles that explore what each EAT category means and how you can play to them best. But the simplest answer is what Google’s search liaison Dan Sullivan tweeted when this update went into effect: “Want to do better with a broad change? Have great content.”

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, good SEO content is about solid writing. There’s no magic combination, no perfect formula to follow or exact strategy to employ. Like everything else SEO-related, it’s this ambiguity that makes people nervous. But like anything else in sales and marketing, if you work to put your customers first and strive to meet their needs above all else, you’ll be just fine.

Jess Clair self-portrait on Mount Washington
Jess Clair is the Marketing and Sales Project Manager at Joyce, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA.
Working with ListingManager allows Jess to explore an alternate reality where she could one day own a house instead of renting. When she’s not focused on her daily to-do lists, Jess enjoys HBO binges, gourmet lattes, and playing with her dog.

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