Serprise agency

Prefab homes website SEO case study – 100.000 clicks in less than a year

Reaching the top of Google, in an unknown niche, with a newly created website. Out of the question? Guess again!

The main goal of SEO is to get as much organic traffic as possible. And to achieve that, ranking high on Google is a MUST! Sounds easy, right? Not quite, because you’re not depending only on your own skills. There is Google (of course) + countless other websites trying to do the same thing as you.

It gets even harder if you’re trying to rank a website in an industry you’re totally unfamiliar with. This is one of those examples – a niche with solid potential, but not-so-scary competition. A real SEO goldmine! This is how we managed to reach the top of the mountain, using a brand-new website, in a niche we knew nothing about.

What is the website about?

Prefabricated homes, or simply prefabs, are the types of buildings manufactured off-site in advance, and later easily assembled and shipped to the site. The prefab houses market in Europe is estimated to reach $32 Billion by 2026. However, our focus area was and is Croatia – a much smaller market, but thriving with untapped potential.

The website was created in 2020, totally spontaneously. The idea for a website came after doing some basic keyword research for an unrelated topic. We’ve accidentally stumbled upon the keyword “montažne kućice” (eng. prefabricated houses). The keyword had 15.500 monthly searches, but some websites that ranked in the top 5 were second-class, to say the least:

morntazne kucice serp

The competition occupying the third and fourth positions is undoubtedly bad. Non-existing backlinks, not using SSL and XML sitemap, or structured data. All in all, the websites were poorly optimized, and clear frontrunners for overtaking the SERP! 

As for the business side of the project, there were 2 options: The pay-Per-Lead model, or finding partners that will pay us a commission once the house is sold. We’ve decided on the latter, but the problem was with keeping track of all made purchases. 

First of all, there was no way of knowing how many actual buyers we sent to our partners. 

At one point in time, we forwarded over 40 inquiries to them and we never heard back if any of those were closed. We just couldn’t know for sure if the payment for the house was made. A certain trust level had to exist, which is problematic when you’re new to the business and don’t know someone.

Therefore, we’re currently sending potential customers only to a known (local) construction company, in addition to running AdSense on the page.

SEO goal – rank the website in the top 3 for a popular keyword

Our main goal was simple – rank the website in the top 3 Google results for the keyword “montažne kućice”. We firmly believed that our SEO knowledge and capabilities would lead to Montažne kućice being ranked in those spots. 

At the time, we did not get deep into competition analysis. There were some websites covering the prefab houses market, but our main driving force is to get started immediately and see what’s gonna come out of it. The starting (financial) costs were insignificant, as we only had to purchase the domain and hosting, and have the content for a few monthly articles written.

Regarding the competition and keyword difficulty, we got pretty lucky. The monthly volume for “montažne kućice” was pretty high at the time, and the average number of searches actually increased from 15.500 to 18.100 in less than two years. The keyword difficulty was stated as low on all SEO tools. And here is the overview of our 2 main competitors in positions three and four:

prefab homes competition
prefab homes keyword difficulty

Both competitors actually BUILD the prefab houses, so they are the authorities on the subject. However, their websites were so poor SEO-wise, that things were looking pretty good for us!

How did we intend to achieve the goal?

The whole SEO strategy was pretty simple and mostly focused on the content. And since this started as a cheap and fun side-project, the fear of failing was basically non-existent. The worst-case scenario is we fail, but at least learn something from it. Our marketing efforts to achieve the top 3 rankings could be divided into the following:

  • Focus on the content and on-page optimization
  • Use local SEO
  • Get backlinks (if possible)
  • Promote on social media 
  • Implement the newsletter

The execution of our SEO plans

After that, we just started working. The first thing to do was to buy a domain. We’ve decided to register the exact match domain (EDM) It was available at the time and could get us some starting advantage since the main keyword is in the URL itself.

Next up – is the content. Naturally, we started with the homepage which was planned to be the page ranking in the top 3 results. We did the basic keyword research for “montažne kućice”, and created an excel file containing the page structure – headings, long-tail keywords, metadata, and so on:

page structure
notes and FAQ structure

On-page optimization was extremely important. More important keywords were put to H2-H3 headings, images were compressed and tagged with appropriate ALT text, plus the structured data was added to the page. In the end, the homepage had about 2000 words and was put online shortly after the purchase of the domain. The idea was to publish at least 2-3 blog posts each month, to raise brand awareness and get more authority to the site. However, apart from the homepage, we’ve published only 2 articles (at that time) but still managed to receive organic traffic. But more on that later!

Local SEO was done in the simplest way possible. A New Google My Business account was created, and basic NAP (name, address, phone) info was added. Nothing fancy, but it still counted, as our GMB property got listed in the Search & Maps area for local searches. Pretty good for an hour’s work!

Google My Business account

Link-building efforts consisted mostly of generating backlinks from directories and forums. We’ve also got 2 backlinks from the PR articles we arranged. Once again, nothing too complex, just the basics to get things started. 

Social media promotion was done by creating Facebook and Instagram profiles. The following is steady right now, but the main goal here is brand awareness and user engagement anyway. Just a bonus to our main SEO efforts.

social media promotion

So what was happening over time?

Two to three months after the launch, we’ve noticed an increase in traffic (about 10-15 clicks per day). We’ve also started ranking in the top 15 results for most of the keywords. At this point in time, no link-building efforts were done. The content did the majority of the work. Technical SEO also needed improvements, as our site had some broken links, and in general, provided a pretty slow loading time. Nevertheless, we considered this to be a great start!

total clicks and impressions

Shortly after, we started receiving our first inquiries. We opened our social media accounts and partnered with a local construction company, for whom we previously created a website. And then in December 2020, a tragedy struck that unexpectedly boosted our organic traffic.

organic traffic boost

After the earthquake shattered the town of Petrinja, people’s interest in prefab houses and shipping container homes increased. Our website started trending for all queries regarding prefabricated and modular homes.

trending website

After that, we’ve decided to put more effort into regularly publishing blog posts, and started with 2 articles per month, with zero backlinks earned. The traffic started to increase and has been steady ever since.

steady website traffic

The results – traffic increase and top 3 ranking achieved

In the end, we managed to exceed our initial expectations. Right now, our website is ranked #2 in SERP for the desired keyword “montažne kućice”. The only website above us is Njuškalo, the Croatian version of eBay, so outranking them might be a bit of a difficult task. But never say never!

high position on Google search

As for the traffic and the general SEO results, this is what we’ve accomplished so far:

  • Almost 100.000 clicks since the launch of the website
  • 26.000 clicks generated by the homepage
  • Over 1000 different keywords website is ranking for

And this is how the ranking of the homepage was moving over time, for our desired keyword “montažne kućice”:

So what’s the next step?

ranking of the homepage

The problem from the beginning is still here – how do we monetize the website? The organic traffic is there, and so are the inquiries for prefab houses. The core of the problem might be in the product itself.

Just think about it. The process of buying a house, be it a “traditional” one, or a prefab, takes time. People contacting us might be near or at the beginning of the purchase funnel, and they’re not ready to buy straight away,  which is normal. We’ve considered the Cost-Per-Lead approach, but the construction companies don’t like it, as they want to pay us once they get paid. Which is a problem, since we can’t be sure the payment between them and customers actually happened.

Other monetization options we’re considering:

  • Sponsored placements → Not scalable
  • Ad network → CPM is so low for the Croatian traffic)
  • EU funds → Building our own eco-homes
  • Building another German website and transforming it into a real estate agency

The last option seems like the best solution because we are the deal closers in this scheme.

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