RISMEDIA, April 1, 2011—Developing relationships with new clients is a huge priority in real estate. Most of you will undoubtedly agree, but as many home buyers and sellers look progressively more to the Internet to answer questions and search for products, an increase in Internet based leads would be expected, right? Online factors will determine how successful or unsuccessful your web presence will be in capturing new business. Let’s take a look at some of the major issues that may be impacting your ability to capture quality leads from the web.
1. Are you on the Web? That sounds like a ridiculous question but many agents don’t realize that simply having an electronic business card on their broker’s site—otherwise known as an agent roster—is not going to open the Internet floodgates. Let’s be realistic: Most people looking to buy and sell real estate are not looking for a specific brokerage or your name personally. They are searching by using real estate keywords specific to their needs. If you can’t be found by keywords related to property types and geo-specific locations, don’t expect to get a lead. Get an independent website and be proactive in finding a real estate website provider that really understands how to get their clients visible for thousands of keywords.
2. Your website’s structure does not allow search engines to crawl pages. Okay, I’m going to get a little technical but I promise it will be worth your while. If web pages can’t be crawled, they cannot be indexed. The content, (real estate keywords) on non-indexed pages will not be found by people searching on the web using real estate keywords as their search criteria.
3. You require people to register to see listings. Registration pages—unless developed properly—are not search engine friendly. Think about it: Search engines do not create profiles, or come up with user names and passwords to see what’s behind the curtain. When you create these kinds of obstacles for search engines, pages do not get indexed. There are other methods to capture customer information, like offering a free relocation guide—a client initiated exchange of information. If they wish to receive the relocation guide, they must give up some contact details, and then you have a reason to begin a relationship with them. No more Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck leads.
4. Your Web pages do not offer matches to keywords being searched on. This is a biggie. To capture Internet customers, your web pages simply must have real estate listing data that is visible and indexable. Older website technologies keep listings hidden from the search engines because the listings don’t actually exist on your site. They live in the MLS database. Even if you are using a product that makes listings visible to the search engines, that does not go far enough. Your website technology must be able to manipulate those listings into the thousands of themed topical categories that capture 85 percent of the available traffic for real estate search. Compare products; make sure that you don’t use an IDX solution that simply makes listing visible or you’re missing out on the point. You’re also stuck competing against everyone else who is using that product in your market and you’re all driving at the same speed.
5. Searching for property on your site is difficult. Assuming that you’ve conquered the Web and have plenty of visitors coming to your site that can turn into clients, don’t blow it at the end by making it hard for people to navigate your site. Properties should be themed and categorized according to property features and types like homes with pools, luxury property, affordable homes, golf course property and even specific neighborhood names. People love this type of organization, it doesn’t require them to think too hard and it keeps them coming back. This is exactly what you want and that kind of user engagement will help website visitors turn into Internet leads.
There is tremendous potential for marketing on the Internet as people from all generations become more Web savvy. People using the Internet are concerned with simplicity, intuitive navigation and unfettered access to information. If your Web presence is nonexistent, or your web visibility consists of a profile page on your broker’s site, it’s time to take charge of your future and make educated decisions. Internet leads are a product of search engine visibility. Make sure you can be found based upon what you are trying to sell, which is real estate, not your picture, not your broker….but real estate.
Anita Koppens is a SEO Writer, Educator and Marketing Representative.