In this case study we share how a US-based homebuilder was able to leverage search engine optimization and strategic Local SEO to improve their online performance. These improvements drove new sales resulting in an increase of yearly revenue from $838M to $2,368M in four years, and a rise in position from #15 to #10 on the Builder 100 list.
All of the statistical and yearly revenue information is publicly available online, and we share links to sources whenever stats or numbers are used. Some examples of keyword and ranking reports have been included to help demonstrate certain points, but with sensitive information blurred out.
LGI Homes is a Texas-based home builder that specializes in building affordable new construction home communities that are located just outside populated cities for first time buyers that average in the mid 200s. Below is a screenshot from their 2021 Builder 100 profile showing their progression from 2009 through 2020.
This sounds obvious, but we always recommend starting from the beginning. By this we mean defining your Main Objective and KPIs (key performance indicators).
An example of a Main Objective would be to:
(Hint: It’s NOT to get more website traffic! That’s a KPI not a Main Objective.)
Examples of some KPIs are:
It’s common for businesses these days to confuse their KPIs with their primary business goals. As an example, your business goal should not be to improve your search engine optimization. That’s important, but that’s a KPI!
The business goal (Main Objective) could be to increase your yearly revenue, or you can take it a step further and say your business goal is to increase your yearly revenue by getting more qualified new home buyer leads from online.
That’s a great high level goal with a clear objective.
In the example of LGI Homes, their main objective, like most homebuilders (or any business for that matter) was to increase yearly revenue. One of the main KPIs we began focusing on was increasing new home tours. LGI has a great customer service process and sales team so it became apparent that increasing new home tours —-> increased sales —-> which increased yearly revenue.
Each of the following categories are essential to improving a homebuilder’s or any business’s online performance. You can read through, or click or tap any one to learn more about that category specifically.
Ok, your Main Objective has been defined, now let’s get some data.
A great place to start is identifying common searched phrases and terms that your customers are typing into Google’s search bar. In this case, our target customer is potential homebuyers, so what are homebuyers searching online to fine new houses for sale? Are more people searching for, “new houses for sale”, or “new homes for sale”, AND does this matter?
(Hint: the answer is “homes“, and yes, this matters).
There are both free and paid tools to accomplish this. For the purpose of this case study, and to ensure you are able to obtain your own reports, we are using examples from the free tools and including links as well. (Click or tap a report to see full size. Screenshots taken June 2021.)
The following are reports from Google Trends examining “new construction homes near me” and “homes for sale near me”. Studying search history is a great way to anticipate the future based on past or present trends.
These next reports show interest by state. As a homebuilder, studying these maps might serve you well if you were deciding whether or not to build in a certain state. Of course you want to combine this with other sources of information, but as an example, Georgia has more searches for “new construction homes near me” than any other state in the US and might be worth looking into more.
Many business owners fail to realize this because it’s not common knowlege, but your company’s website influences many search engine optimization factors affecting how high your business shows up in search. Google and other search engines (and even social media platforms) refer to your website as one if its primary sources of information to understand who you are, what you offer, and who you serve.
In summary, when your website is properly optimized, you can meet both your customers’ needs AND Google’s standards, which will in turn allow your homebuilder business to be easily found online, and be the obvious choice for poential homebuyers looking to buy a new house.
We will get into “Off-page SEO” more later, but at this stage your two main priorities are technical and On-page.
Technical is what the user doesn’t see, but is the part that makes your website work and a large determining factor to how Google reads and ranks your business.
Content is what the user does see, and is also a high influencing factor or how Google “sees” and ranks your business. Content is also expecially important for communicating your value to potential customers and converting leads.
Regional City Pages: The regional page is the top level city page that the new construction neighborhood is in. This page welcomes in new interested home buyers with information about that particular city and a map with links to the new construction communities available in those areas. In some cases, LGI would have five or more new construction neighborhoods in one city
These pages were great “Entrance” pages, and consistantly brought in new visitors from Google searching for, “new homes for sale in [city name]”
Community & Neighborhood Pages: The Community Pages list the available neighborhoods and master planned communities with homes for sale in those specific neighborhoods.
Valuable information on these pages included: Parks and playgrounds within that community, activity centers, if there was a community pool, any sports fields or courts, clubhouses, and any parks, sites or amenities close by.
From this page, the new home buyer could view pictures of the available new homes and click through to a specific floor plan.
Floor Plan & Model Home Page: This page spotlights the new home model (floor plan), and includes importnat info to homebuyers like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, how many levels, any appliances, any energy efficiency considerations, amenities, sites close by, and other relevant information about the home.
The best way to reach local customers is with a Google My Business Page. Also referred to as a GMB page, this is the Google maps listing that appears at the top of search results known as the Google Local 3-Pack.
(See screenshot example below)
Depending on your new construction neighborhood process, what we have found works well is to make the first completed floor plan the sales office. The steps are as follows:
Here are some real stats showing leads that a homebuilder was able to achieve in a 3-month period by creating GMB listings for their new construction neighborhoods.
(*All communities combined)
Marketing has come a long way in recent years. We have access to so much information these days with tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console that we can make data-driven decisions based on facts and not guesses.
If you work with us, one of the first things we do is set up all of the analytics and reporting tools that will allow us and you to make informed decisions and measure the results.
We have many examples of how this has worked wonders with many clients, but using a homebuilder as an example, we were able to increase search visibility in all search engines by +23% by following the data. In this case it was addressing a few pages on the website that had an unusually high bounce rate. Without the analytic and reporting tools we would have never been aware of this.
Online reviews are a great way of turning happy homebuyers into advocates for your company. Did you know that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation? Another very effective strategy are video testimonials like the example below. People expect the company to say good things about themselves, but hearing from a real customer will always hold more weight.
Right this second you're competing with other homebuilders whether you realize it or not.
As you are reading this and evaluating your current position and marketing, so are your competitors with their digital marketing agencies and teams.
Each month the web gets more congested with direct competition and directories. EATABLISHING your position NOW is the best possible way to FUTURE PROOF your homebuilder business. Lock in your spot before someone else does.
If you are ready to see what steps can be taken to increase your current sales, and "Future Proof" your Homebuilder business, click below!