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Faster, easier and more cost-effective than print advertising

By Bruce Crair

RISMEDIA, May 27, 2008-It used to be that all you had to do to get noticed and drive potential clients to your door was to advertise in the local newspaper, community magazine or on a city billboard. Year after year, you would place what was often a costly print ad, and then wait for new clients to call or come knocking on your door – assuming, of course, the ad was actually viewed or found by potential clients in the first place.

Today, the Internet has changed everything.

That’s because today the Internet is the medium of choice for consumers seeking out products and services they can buy in their local, geographic region. And let’s face it, as a local real estate professional, you service certain areas and neighborhoods and want to attract most of your new clients from that region. One of the best ways to do this is through “local search,” which allows you to target potential clients in a desired area or region.

For clients searching online for a real estate professional who is an expert in a particular area, they get highly relevant search results – specific to their search inquiry – and not a lot of irrelevant listings from outside that area. According to global Internet information provider, comScore, Inc., 47 percent of local searchers contacted or visited a local merchant as a result of their online search.

Connecting with Potential Clients

Although real estate is among the top 5 topics consumers search for on the Internet every single day, the trick to connecting with these potential clients involves a successful online marketing strategy that helps improve your chances of being found online. Using local search, you can target your message using the right keywords and search phrases to pull potential clients to your website. With local search, it’s also about relevancy – that is – delivering highly relevant search results to the client. In other words, local search can deliver consumers who are looking right now to purchase or rent in a particular area directly to your website.

For the Local Search provider, facilitating local search involves providing efficient search algorithms and solid local web indexing technologies that can help “connect” the searching customer to the right company that can meet that customer’s needs. Here’s how it all breaks down:

1) Determine who your target client is and what type of property they are looking for.

2) Determine the key words these potential clients use when trying to find a real estate professional in their area. Add these keywords to your website and make them part of your core marketing blueprint.

3) Add fresh content to your website regularly. This can include: information on services offered; properties for sale or rent; resources such as mortgage lenders, landscapers or general contractors; the current state of the housing market in your community; community events or sponsorships you may be participating in; media coverage; or newsletters. You could also add blogs or educational discussion forums that may open the lines of communication with potential clients who may be reviewing your website and considering your services.

4) Make it easy to be found online. Whether you have a website or not, you can leverage the marketing tools offered by your Local Search engine provider to improve your online marketing presence and be found by prospective clients. One way is to sign up for online listing services that offer flexibility and cost effective marketing. These services will allow you to:

– Create a personalized landing page which can be instantly updated as services or listings change.
– Build back-links to assist with your search engine marketing efforts (in other words, links from the Local Search engine to your website).
– Cost effectively reach prospective clients already searching for a real estate professional on the Internet.

Some of the local online advertising programs also guarantee that your business’s listing will appear at the top of the search results page in a specified category and region to gain higher visibility. It is less expensive to advertise using local search than traditional national search engines because the ROI is much higher when you are able to target your advertising dollars with the category and geographic location. Some providers now also offer advanced call tracking capabilities that allow local businesses to further measure the success of their online advertising campaigns by linking their online ad to phone calls received. This provides an audit trail to effectively measure the results of your marketing campaign.

As a result, real estate professionals seeking effective ways to get noticed should consider getting involved with local search and implementing an online local search marketing strategy. There are a variety of opportunities that can help deliver local clients to you and through your front door.

Bruce Crair is president and COO for Local.com, a leading U.S. local search site and network attracting approximately 15 million visitors each month seeking information on local businesses, products and services. Local.com offers “Local PromoteTM,” a subscription based online advertising service that enables local businesses – with or without a website – to quickly and easily target local consumers online.

For information call 888-857-6734 or visit www.local.com.

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