Commentary by Pierre A. Calzadilla
RISMEDIA, Dec. 12, 2007-The typical real estate professional today considers a Web site part of his or her basic online marketing plan-as important to business as their computer, PDA or digital camera. Yet, like many marketing tools of the past (e.g., the Polaroid and the newspaper), the typical Web site is becoming obsolete.
Confused? As the Web has quickly matured to its proverbial adolescence, many sites created in recent years have outdated technology, rendering them non-functional. With today’s Web 2.0 connectivity, data sharing, and the “mega-presence” available to real estate professionals via the Internet, personal Web sites are now optional.
Since the advent of Google and Yahoo!, the race was quickly on to get “page one” ranking and results for keywords. We competed broker to broker, agent to agent, broker to agent and all against the lead farms for those coveted 10 spots on page one-a painful, costly endeavor. But without top placement in the search engines, your efforts to reach more online consumers can be minimal.
Enter the blog-a new way to differentiate, connect and speak with clients online. At first, real estate blogging produced a smorgasbord of good writing and appeared to be an easy way to market. Similar to keyword buying, the battle for supremacy raged again as thousands of consumers, brokers, agents, mortgage bankers and lawyers embraced blogging. For many, blogs have replaced Web sites as the online marketing medium of choice.
Fast forward to today’s Web 2.0 world. YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp, Squidoo, Trulia Voices and ActiveRain offer something new that no one considered: the potential to not need a Web site because you can now establish a mega-presence no one site could provide on its own. This is the true power of the Internet “Web.”
By leveraging your name, broker brand, and knowledge across multiple sites that receive millions of consumers every day, you are no longer limited by the degree of marketing and SEO investments made with a single URL-except for that URL to act as your own “sun” in this solar system of sites.
Your broker site can play a major role in this strategy, in addition to your own Web site. Establish links to all those great posts from last year-on inspections, the closing process and negotiating a deal-simply by answering a question on a Q&A site. Link to anything and become the information provider, drawing the consumer into your site through your interaction on these other sites. Brokers can provide all of their agents with community profiles, closed transactions, listings, etc., allow you to link to them and then host them on your own site. This linking strategy with your broker’s site can boost your SEO, without you having to devote time to SEO strategy.
If you don’t have your own Web site or are rethinking your strategy about your site, consider new exposure avenues to reach mega-presence status online. For example, if your broker is marketing your property listings on national sites like Trulia, you can now take advantage of Trulia Agent Featured Listings to include your own contact information and open the door for serious real estate consumers to contact you directly by e-mail. Similarly, you can write and post neighborhood info on Localism, or promote your open homes through Facebook. Many times, the most experienced agents are the last to take advantage of these new technologies.
If that is you, it is not too late to get involved in Web 2.0. This new strategy may sound a bit daring, or even complicated, however, involving yourself in established online communities is as easy as writing a short e-mail-and you pick how involved you get.
Consider the possibilities: next time you’re speaking with a prospective client, tell them, “Google me.” Instead of one site coming up somewhere on page one, 300+ posts, comments, etc., could appear with your name, your knowledge and your mega-presence on the most popular Web sites in the world. And this doesn’t have to cost a thing.
Simply provide creative, quality comments on the sites that will drive consumers back to you. Leverage the content you have been creating for years, or reference the excellent sources on your broker site to prove your expertise. And if you really want to realize the incremental SEO effect, link your comments back to your profile page on your broker’s Web site.
Pierre A. Calzadilla is manager of strategic partnerships for Trulia.com.
For more information, visit www.Trulia.com.