By Gabriel Gross and Zoltan Szendro
Part I of II
RISMEDIA, June 12, 2008-In this two-part article I will argue that with free, easy to use, and widely available tools like single property websites, social networks, blogs and widgets you can position yourself on the web as a neighborhood real estate expert, which is one of the reasons why consumers want to work with a Realtor.
At the same time this will help you gain “Google juice” which improves your search engine rankings and also become more productive. Other suggestions in this article may enable you to better connect with potential homebuyers within their short – less than one minute – attention span when they find your profile or listing on the Internet. All this is important for your business because it increases your ability to reach first time homebuyers, who today account for almost 40% of real estate sales and to improve lead conversion rates.
Agents often ask us if the Single Property Websites they syndicate through our RealBird service are “search engine optimized (SEO).” And while our answer is absolutely yes, since search engine traffic is a very important part of the traffic, the question leads to a larger set of issues. The real question that agents want to get answered is how they can achieve better exposure to consumers and generate leads. The sense of confusion among agents seems to have grown lately as the number of products for websites, virtual tours and single property websites has grown. Agents receive these days a continuous stream of SEO marketing material, which makes it often sound like SEO has to be expensive because it requires sophisticated tools and lots of experience, without which any websites becomes relegated into some dusty corner of the Internet.
As is often the case, stepping back and looking at the basics will reveal a few simple, basic principles of Internet marketing that are effective and do not cost a lot either. Those who learn quickly and implement what works well will have an advantage over those who are stuck in their old ways of doing things. This is what’s called the “first-mover’s advantage.” And, perhaps not surprisingly, a good part of the “secret” lies less in technology and spending money – and more in your creativity and your real estate know-how. All you have to do is learn how to publish your expertise and knowledge to the right crowd, in the right form, and “they will come”.
First, it is useful to understand why a “traditional” agent or broker website might be no longer very effective for most agents to generate leads, no matter how pretty the design or how powerful the MLS search engine it uses. This is so because all your competitors also have websites and to get noticed you’d have to make it on the first pages of the search engine results. In a way, agent websites have become like business cards – your clients expect that you have a decent looking one, but unless you proactively go out and hand them out to clients they will be quite useless.
Luckily, Internet technology now includes several tools that you can use to add a proactive “push” marketing component to your Web strategy. One of these tools is commonly in use already – e-mail. The newer ones are: single property websites, blogs, social networking and widgets. These are not any more difficult to master than any other tool – and you shouldn’t believe those who tell you that knowing about social networks or RSS is useless. Knowledge is power. You may decide that Facebook or LinkedIn are not for you, but you owe it to yourself to learn about how they work.
Consider for a moment the reasons why potential homebuyers (or sellers) would possibly want to work with you:
a) they see one of your listings and they are interested to find out details
b) they are considering to sell their homes and they think that you have successfully sold similar properties in the same neighborhood
c) they feel that you are an expert in your specialized field (like condos, investment properties, exchanges, etc) and they need someone with your knowledge
d) they might be looking to buy homes in a particular neighborhood and they see that you know that neighborhood well.
e) Somebody they trust referred you to them – during a conversation at the dinner table or through online social networks
As you can see, your value to a client is essentially because of the expertise you have. In addition, for a client to work with you, they will have to like you. Therefore, the question is how can you best advertise and promote your skills and qualifications – and your charisma and charm – more proactively to reach the maximum possible number of potential clients.
Next Thursday in Part II, we will offer a list of a dozen ideas on how to do just this for a low-cost or free.
Gabriel Gross, CEO and Zoltan Szendro are executives with RealBird.com. For more information, visit www.realbird.com or call (866) 551-2934.