In the hope of offering realtors some assistance, I’ve put together 8 useful tips that should help any realtor on the road to a vibrant and successful online presence.
There is a growing realization among real estate professionals that their web assets aren’t being fully utilized, and many are looking for ways to improve their online presence without breaking the bank.
They want to know how to attract more customers in this new age of digital marketing.
According to a National Association of REALTORS® research paper entitled “Real Estate in a Digital Age“, 53% of buyers’ first action when deciding to buy a home was to search online. It’s imperative that you take steps to improve your online presence and get your business in front of customers where they live. These days that means online.
These steps will improve your website’s visibility and your company’s ability to attract buyers.
Tip #1) Go local
The majority of buyers start their search with a local term like “Las Vegas homes for sale”. Be sure to include key phrases on your website such as the following (substitute your own city if you don’t happen to live in Vegas):
- Las Vegas real estate
- Las Vegas Realtor
- Las Vegas real estate agent
- Las Vegas real estate listings
- Las Vegas homes for sale
- Las Vegas best realtor
- Las Vegas top realtor
These terms should appear in your blog posts, descriptions, headers, titles, meta descriptions, and tags. If you’re not sure where some of these are, feel free to ask and I’ll be glad to help. Try to avoid coming across as being “too spammy”, as Google may penalize your site ranking. The best method is to include these terms in natural sentences as you would in normal conversation.
Tip #2) Make use of video and images
Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, but these days video is what sells. Incorporating more visual content on your site will increase the time buyers are engaged, and will hopefully encourage them to connect with you.
These days, all it takes is a decent mobile phone, a well-lit room, and some charm to create engaging content that will say more about you than any blog post will. Free online tools such as Adobe Spark make it easy to generate colorful and engaging content.
Stunning royalty-free graphics and photos are readily available on several sites. I take advantage of sites such as unsplash.com, pixabay.com, Pexels.com, and canva.com for some of my graphic content. I’m sure you’ll find these resources full of great visual ideas that will help you improve your site. You can also reach out to local professional photographers and/or graphic designers if your budget allows.
Tip #3) Optimize for voice search
With the advent of voice search technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant (now available in over 400 million devices), and Apple’s Siri, it’s more important to gear your web content towards natural conversational phrases.
Think about your customers’ questions when creating content for your site. Think in terms of longer phrases that your customers might be asking, such as “What is my home worth?” or “What homes are for sale in Henderson?”. By providing answers to questions like these, you’ll find your site climbing in the Google rankings for these phrases.
Tip #4) Make it mobile
Worldwide, the percentage of people who used mobile devices to access the web increased to 52.2% in 2018 – up from 50.3% the following year.
Starting this month, Google will penalize sites (even mobile sites) that are slow-loading. Be sure that your site loads quickly. Google offers free tools that you can use to test your site and gain insights into how you can improve things. First is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, which will give you an idea of where your site is currently. If you need some more answers, then use Google’s guide to mobile-friendly sites.
Tip #5) Get listed
Take the time to make sure that your information is optimized on sites such as Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, Homes.com, Realtor.com, and others. This means updating photos, ensuring that contact information is current and consistent, and providing links to your website and social media accounts. This gives buyers multiple ways to evaluate you and eventually reach out to you.
Another way to improve your local presence is with local online listings, starting with Google My Business. Not sure where to find your listing? Start by going to Google Maps and searching for your business location. Do you see your information come up on the map? If not, then it’s easy to add your listing by selecting your office location, and then claiming your business. If your business is not listed, select the button that says “Add a missing place”. You will then be instructed what to do in order to add your business location. Important note: Google has recently separated Google Place Pages from Business Map listings, so if you’ve had a Google Place page that you’ve been posting to make sure that it is still connected to your map listing. It is possible in some cases to re-link your map listing and your old place page.
Take note: Make sure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) are consistent across all of your listings.
There is an amazing tool called MozLocal that will use the information in your Google Business Listing to ensure that your listing appears correctly in over a dozen listing pages that affect your local visibility. The cost is about $99 for a year, but you can make most of the entries manually. Two caveats: Some online lists charge a fee (like Best of the Web), but offer a discount for Moz partners (i.e. subscribers). If you’re more of a DIY kind of business person, here’s a list of 50 free websites where you can list your business.
Tip #6) Use social media
You can’t simply throw up random posts and expect followers to come knocking. Conversely, you can create targeted and impactful content for use in advertising that will help you build an audience that can grow significantly over time.
The key word is “audience”. Know who your audience is, know who your competitor’s audience is, know who isn’t in your audience, and know which groups mirror your audience’s interests. This is the information you will need to target your advertising effectively. If you are somewhat tech-savvy, I recommend using a service such as SEMrush, which offers powerful tools to help you evaluate keywords, competitors, media mentions, traffic analysis, and much more.
Figure out which platform they gravitate towards, what issues matter most to them, how to speak to them in a way that isn’t stiff or condescending. Also, try to avoid over-familiarity. There is a subreddit called r/fellowkids that regularly skewers businesses who try (and fail) to incorporate memes and current slang in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience. Many of these are cringe-worthy examples of companies not being true to their brand and offer a potent lesson in the value of audience research.
There are some companies who often get it right because they have a clear idea about what personality they want to project in their online presence. One of the best examples is Wendy’s. Their social feeds incorporate animated GIFs, video, clever use of memes, reposts, content links, audience engagement, and a self-awareness that imbues all of their posts with a fun personality that knows they may not be number one, but we all know who makes the best burgers (wink, wink). Oh, and they are also not afraid to publicly handle customer complaints as well.
No matter where you spend your summer, that 4 for $4 is coming in clutch for lunch. pic.twitter.com/bY3mVqdpX3
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) July 31, 2018
Some of the wonderful content you might consider as a realtor would be home improvement tips, market updates, cooking and entertaining ideas, or testimonials.
Another option for content is social media automation. If you’d rather just focus on selling and not on what content to post, you can sign up for a service such as RISMedia’s ACE (Automated Content Engagement). They have monthly plans starting as low as $19.95 per month. I’m happy to work with you to get up and running should you need some help.
There is also the issue of using hashtags on social media. I’ll elaborate on that in a future post, but for those of you who want some useful info now, I highly recommend this article from AdWeek.
Be sure to include some quick video testimonials from recent buyers (perhaps when you give them the key to their new home?), which is always a great way to earn the trust of potential clients. Speaking of which…
Tip #7) Client Reviews / Testimonials
According to BrightLocal, “In 2017, 68% of US consumers said that positive reviews made them more likely to use a business”. Earning and receiving positive reviews are essential to building your business online.
Be sure to include several key testimonials that represent a targeted cross-section of your desired audience and front-load them at the top of your reviews section. Once you have permission from your customers to use their comments, make sure that you share their kind words with your followers on social media and your website. If you have photos to go with them, all the better.
You might want to take it a step farther by sending them a follow-up email asking them to share a review on any one or more of the following sites: Facebook, Zillow, Google Reviews, and Yelp. These go a long way towards building acceptance from potential buyers or sellers. Be sure to include direct links to your review pages so the process is as easy for them as possible. Be sure to also include social links so they can share their joy with their friends (i.e. your next clients).
Lastly, be sure to respond to negative reviews. While they can hurt your business, what can hurt more is when potential buyers see no responses to negative reviews. This tells them that you don’t really care all that much about your past clients and that is an impression you want to avoid. If you have a larger online presence and don’t have time to spend searching online, there are services such as Mention (https://mention.com/en/) which can give you regular reports when your company or brand is mentioned online. Plans are reasonable (starting at $29/month) and can save you tons of time.
Tip #8) Optimize your listing featured on your broker’s website
Most brokerages offer their agents a web page on the main company site. Unfortunately, these pages are often low-performing lead generators. Every little bit counts though, so you should take steps to optimize your information with keywords, updated photos, links to your own site and social accounts, as well as your current listings.
While it may not always be possible, you should look into incorporating some of the above ideas into your broker’s page. This may require some effort to reach out to the company’s IT manager in order to see what settings can be tweaked. Any improvements would be well worth it since your broker has already put considerable capital into advertising their presence and it would be a shame to not take advantage of any residual marketing exposure they have to offer.
Again, make sure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) are consistent across all of your listings.
Bonus Tip) Hire me!
I have a very special set of skills that I can bring to the table. Whether you need to update your bio, freshen up your profile image, redesign a logo, or create a multi-channel campaign, I can help. Take a moment to contact me and we can get started right away.
In all seriousness, I hope these tips prove to be valuable as you navigate today’s highly-competitive digital landscape. Be sure to do some additional research on any of the above topics, or feel free to reach out to me via my contact page. I am happy to chat about how to put some of these ideas to work for your growing business.
By Mark Miller
I must take a moment to thank Bruce Clay and Tyler Zey for their wonderful and informative posts. They really got my curiosity piqued and gave me a great starting point while doing research for this piece.