Getting backlinks need to be part of your estate agency’s marketing strategy if you want to rank well on Google (we all know the rewards ranking well on Google brings).
I got Rentround to rank on the first page of Google for the terms ‘landlord leads’, ‘letting agent marketing’ and letting agent fees’ in 6 months – feel free to check I’m not bullsh**ting, by running a search on Google.
As we get landlord leads, run marketing for letting agents and compare letting agent fees, ranking well for these terms is vital for us!
Below you can see we, or an article that talks about us, actually shows in the top 4 positions for the key term ‘landlord leads’.
There’s plenty of guides out there that cover the nice and pleasant parts of how to get backlinks.
They’ll talk about creating content and post on social media often… Meh!
I’m going to show you how to not only get backlinks, but (steal) take them from your competition.
(Disclaimer, there’s nothing illegal or dodgy about this, it’s a common practice done by sites that rank well)
This task will improve your estate agency’s organic Google ranking and at the same time, reduce the ranking of your competition.
WHAT IS A BACKLINK?
It’s when another site links to your site. Google sees links from other sites as a vote of confidence.
The more votes you have, the more Google sees you as someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Then when property sellers or landlords search estate agency terms in Google, you have a better chance of showing high up in results.
Showing higher in results equals more traffic, more leads and more revenue.
CHOOSING THE TERMS YOU WANT TO TARGET
Of course ranking for the term ‘estate agent’ or ‘letting agent’ is powerful. You’ll get thousands of leads a month and the money will come rolling in.
However ranking for these terms is near impossible, or will take years and cost you thousands of pounds.
It’s better to target niche keywords that are more achievable.
Let’s say you’re an estate agent in London, more suitable keywords to aim to rank for would be “guaranteed rent in London”, “find a tenant in London” or “estate agent in London”.
While these keywords are still difficult (actually, very difficult) to rank for due to the level of competition, it is achievable.
Longer key words like “cheapest estate agent in London” or “lowest fixed property selling fee” will be far more easily achieved.
However may not have enough searches on Google each month so may not be worth the effort.
For example sake, let’s say we’re targeting the key term “estate agent in London”.
STEP ONE, WHO IS RANKING WELL FOR THIS TERM CURRENTLY?
This is easy. Go to https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/ and type in the key word
The next page will show you the monthly search traffic for the key term
Scroll down and click the orange arrow
This will then show you who for that keyword is currently ranking well.
You can then easily see how many links the top ranking site, who in this case is Foxtons with 178 backlinks.
Click the number of links the site has and you’ll then see those broken down one by one. At this point, I’d advise exporting all this data into a CSV file.
Then, repeat this task for all the top 10-15 ranking sites for the keyword you’re targeting.
So let’s take stock of what we’ve done so far.
- We’ve picked a keyword you want your estate agency to rank for
- You’ve checked out who’s ranking for this term already
- Now you have a list of all the sites that are voting (backlinking to) the top ranking sites
Now we need to get some of these sites to link to your estate agency’s site instead.
KNOW WHO TO REACH OUT TO AND SITES TO IGNORE
Not all voting rights are equal.
This means if the BBC are linking to your site, that’s going to massively bump up your marketing results compared to a local blogger backlinking to your site.
“Domain Authority” (DA) is a common metric used to judge how powerful a vote is. The higher the better. A site with a DA 90 is going to help you rank better than a DA 20 sites backlink
But of course, DA 90 sites (BBC, Forbes, The Telegraph etc) are going to be difficult to get hold of when you eventually ask them to link to your site instead of your competitors.
The excel sheet you downloaded has a column that shows each backlinking site’s Domain Authority.
Keep sites that have a DA of 25-70.
Below 25 isn’t worth your time and getting responses for sites above 70 is going to be difficult
When you find these sites in the excel sheet, move them to a new sheet that will eventually hold a list of all the sites that link to your competitors that you’re going to reach out to.
KNOWING WHICH BACKLINKS TO TARGET
If a site has written a piece about Foxtons, how great they are, their prices, their offers and their awards, asking them to link to your site instead isn’t going to make sense.
The whole article is about Foxtons, your site has no relevance. But hold this thought, we’re going to come back to this later.
If we go back to our excel list of all the sites that link to Foxtons, there’s a possible good one to target:
The article is hosted on www.expatica.com and talks about “Guide to buying a home in the UK”
The article links to Foxtons in reference to an estate agent that operates in London. It could really link to any estate agent in London.
This is exactly what we want. If you’re an estate agent in London, this could be a chance to grab a link.
There will be circumstances where Foxtons and other sites you’re targeting get a link to their site because of specific data they’ve produced.
We created an article on rental yields, this got linked to by The Metro & The Sun which gave us a great boost to our rankings.
If someone targeted our backlinks from these publications, they’d need to have content about rental yields on their site that they can propose to the publication to switch to.
Therefore some links you may plan to ‘steal’ may require you to have content on data on your site.
If you are needing to create content in the aim to get a backlink, you’d need to make sure your content is better than your competitors. We’ll come back to this later.
HOW TO CONTACT THE SITE
This is the boring part… (well, this is all quite boring in a way, but this is THE MOST boring part)
You’ve now got a list of sites you’re planning to approach, asking ever so kindly to kick out your competitors link and use your instead.
But for each site, you need to know their email address.
There’s two ways to do this.
The first option is to go to each website, scan the site and capture the email in your excel sheet.
The second option, which is far more effective for someone as busy as yourself, is pay someone to do this.
I’d advise going to Upwork.com and hire a freelancer abroad. This is a fairly common practice and you’ll get someone for $5-$10 per hour to go to each site and capture the site’s contact details.
You’ll get experienced backlink outreach managers on the platform. They’ll also have email scrapers, which automatically scan the sites you want to reach out to for listed emails.
I forgot to mention the 3rd option, hire us to do it for you. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (note: we aren’t cheap).
REACHING OUT TO ASK FOR BACKLINKS
Reaching out to all these sites is the next step. There are multiple thoughts on the best ways to reach out to site owners and what to say.
My thoughts? Just be blunt.
I prefer to say and I’m paraphrasing here….
“I want your article to link to my site, ideally replacing xyz. Please let me know your fee?”
Other marketing people I speak to prefer a more subtle approach:
“I have created an article that talks about [insert your article topic that is related to the link you want to replace]. I think it would be a great resource for your blog post [insert name].
Would you be open to adding a reference to my data (or article) in your post?
I am happy to compensate you for your time”
Either way, you have to mention you’re willing to pay for the privilege to get a backlink.
A tiny percentage of website owners may be happy to link to your site because you’ve got some amazing content. But the majority want a fee in return.
If you’re going to rely on how good your content is to get links that come at no cost, it needs to be amazing. You need to produce something better than the article your competitor is getting links for.
Is your competitors article about what an estate agent does on a daily basis?
Then create an article based on that and upgrade it. Add in sections about how to pick the best estate agent, how much estate agent charges, what regulatory bodies an estate agent needs to comply with etc.
I will say it again though, expecting to get backlinks just on content and without paying, will severely impact your efforts.
SEND EMAILS MANUALLY OR USE AUTOMATION?
Sending emails manually can be a drag. There’s a lot of copy and pasting to do.
But if you are sending them manually, it gives you the chance to customise the emails. The more you can customise the email, the more likely it is to get read.
If in the email you specifically said something like “I love your article on rental yields in Ealing. I live near there so it was very helpful…” it helps get attention from the recipient as it has the personal feel.
Whereas if you’re planning on sending a mass email via something like Mailchimp, you can’t tweak the email to that extent.
But of course using email services like Mailchimp will save a lot of time, even though the reaction rate to your emails will be lower.
I tend to separate the important vs less important emails. If there is a certain backlink I want as it’s from a high ranking site which can provide a lot of ranking juice, I’ll send this manually so I can add a personalised message.
Everything else goes into an automated mail sender. I know the response rate will be lower, but the time saved is substantial.
In your spreadsheet of targeted backlinks, make sure you keep track of all replies.
Some sites will come back with their fee, some will say they’ll get back to you and others will tell you to stop bothering them (your emails should include an ‘unsubscribe’ link so you don’t have to remove these responses manually).
Either way, hundreds or thousands of responses need to be tracked. Make sure you’re taking good notes on all the replies.
Oh! And don’t forget to mark off your successes. You want to avoid following up on emails where you’ve managed to successfully get the backlink already!
If you’re using an email service like Mailchimp, you can see stats on how many emails you sent were opened etc. which is useful.
SEND FOLLOW UP EMAILS
A good step to add to your process is send follow up emails to non-responders.
The first follow-up email is very effective. It brings the highest reply rate — even about 40% higher comparing to the initial email. Definitely worth the effort.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU PAY FOR BACKLINKS?
There is no correct answer.
You may get a site that has a high DA, but has so many outgoing links it lessens the benefit of them linking to your site.
You may also come across sites that have a high DA but the look and feel of the site is extremely spammy. They’re most likely accepting links across any topic and therefore degrading their own platform. It’s best to stay clear of these sites.
Check out the below, one post is about trading and another how to choose the right padlock!
Go with the principle (and before you read it, yes it’s very wishy washy): Do you like the site?
If it’s designed well, isn’t cluttered with ads and swaying from topic to topic, that’s a good sign.
Alternatively, you may have a lower DA site, but the amount of outgoing links is so low, it provides more ‘link juice’ than a higher ranking site.
In addition, as you’re an estate agent, getting a website that talks about space travel to link to you isn’t a massive benefit, even if it has a high DA.
Property sites are what you want. Construction, interior design, property news etc are going to provide you the highest benefit.
Anyway, to get back to the point, I usually pay for sites to link to Rentround in the following brackets
0-20 DA: No thanks
21-30 DA: £40-£60
31-50 DA: £60-£90
50-70 DA: £80-£150
70+ DA: It’s gonna hurt
WHAT TO DO WHEN THEY SAY YES
You need to tell the website where you want your backlink to be placed. This is important!
The first course of action is to ask to replace your competitors link. After all, your competitor is ranking well, this backlink is providing them with link juice, so you want to take over that and get the benefit while impacting the competition.
This request will likely get rejected if your competitor paid in the first place to get a link from the site.
In which case the site will ask you to suggest an alternative link placement. So the obvious choice is somewhere else on the same article.
If the article contains the words you’re trying to rank for, “estate agent in London”, then get that key term linked to your site for more link juice.
Or, ask them to update the article to include your agency name and link to you via that text.
Google likes sites that have a mixture of anchor text links, so a mix of brand links and keyword links is useful.
WHAT IF THE ARTICLE IS OUT OF BOUNDS?
The website might say the whole article isn’t available for your link, so you’ll need to choose somewhere else on their site to host your backlink.
If the website has an existing article that is ranking well and has a lot of traffic related to the property world, ask for your link to be placed there.
This is even more important if the article is relevant for the keyword you’re trying to rank for.
If there’s nowhere on their site that stands out as a good place to host your link, provide your own article.
Create an article, over 2,000 words that’s rambles on and on about something relevant to your business.
Why 2,000 words? You want Google to notice the article. Over 2,000 words is usually the minimum to get some recognition, allowing the article to have enough content to provide better link juice.
Sticking to your example target keyword, estate agent in London, the article should be all about that.
Give insights about rental prices in London, property prices in London, who the best estate agent in London is, Where can you buy property in London (you get the point).
WHEN DO YOU SEE THE BENEFITS OF YOUR BACKLINK WORK?
6 months, minimum!
This isn’t a short term strategy. Google doesn’t work on a whim, it takes time to assess backlinks and subsequently provide sites with better rankings.
This is why it’s annoying when I see marketing firms offer to get you better Google rankings in 2 months. It’s nonsense. Any short term measures, will only provide short term benefits when it comes to Google rankings.
To track progress, I recommend whatsmyserp. You tell the site what keywords you want to rank for then it’ll show you where you rank and your weekly progress.
Below is our journey to becoming ranked for the keyword ‘letting agent fees’
You can see that there’s a lot of ups and downs while Google works out if we’re useless or not.
But the benefit of the strategy is now our placement on the first page is stable and we get hundreds of leads per month, for free, from landlords searching this key term.
Give me a shout at Raj@rentround.com if you need help. We’re great at getting estate & letting agent leads. Plus we’re launching a service to help agents with search engine optimisation, creating content, backlink outreach, social media… Basically we offering to take over you’re entire estate agent marketing strategy.
We’re creating some fancy marketing pages to plug this service, but in the meantime hit me up to learn more.