A No-Nonsense Guide for Marketing Real Estate Online
You don’t have to work at every marketing channel on the internet just because it is readily available. Because if you do, you may end up spreading yourself wide but too thin. And this can bring unwanted results which may be highly discouraging.
For the whole decade that I’ve been in the internet marketing industry, majority of my clients belong in the Real Estate business and most are in the United States. That being said, I have understood the things that could help a real estate agent succeed in online marketing.
In this blog, I want to share with you what you can add to your marketing agenda.
So, is there a formula for real estate internet marketing that rocks? Definitely!
First, let’s talk about the challenges in online real estate marketing.
Online real estate marketing can be extremely competitive. This is because every realtor or agent wants the keywords you have in Google. They aim to capture your audience’s attention via different social media platforms and they dream of acquiring your amazing contact list through newsletter subscriptions.
To top it off, zillow, homes, redfin and movoto are some of the big websites that aims to acquire the same thing!
Site Content and Accessibility
Updating and improving site content takes a lot of time and thought. For your site to give the ultimate user experience, it requires patience, empathy and copy writing skills. Furthermore, it’s important to routinely perform an analysis on site and browser/device compatibility. In line with this, it’s also a must to make sure site visitors are able to view your content easily so you won’t end up losing potential sales.
They say that you can learn business in college, but no one teaches students how to make a sale or close a deal. Remembering this, we know that sales and lead management is very unique to each individual. You may have the content, the visibility and the appeal but if your system is not setup correctly to convert these leads, your ROI will start leaking you dry.
Thankfully, these challenges are not unique to you. It applies to all, even to the people at Zillow. This means that literally scores of thousands have this problem. Many will give up, many will under-perform and only a few will get to where they want to be.
The good news is you can overcome all these challenges.
Let’s start by looking at some known knockout marketing ideas you should try in your website.
First, ask yourself this: Do you have the right frame-of-mind?
The very first advice I give my clients is that they are not in the “real estate” business, or whatever industry they are in. I remind them that on every decision they make, they should keep in mind that they are in the “relationship and communications” industry. But it just so happens that they specialize in real estate or whatever industry they are in.
Keeping our visitors’ utmost desires and wishes embedded in the epicenter of our hearts will help us make the right decisions. You can start by asking yourself these 3 basic questions:
- What purpose does it serve to my visitors?
- Am I doing this because it is good for me or am I doing what my customer wants?
- Am I influencing the decision too much by being a Realtor or Agent, or am I making this decision as someone who genuinely desires to have the right relationship with my visitors?
Tool #1: Let’s begin with the best tool you have – Your Real Estate Website
Why do you even want a website?
What is its purpose?
“To make me some money!”
“I just want to show everyone that I am the best. My competition has one and is killing it.”
Those answers aren’t really answers since they keep your interests at heart. Aside from this, it reveals that you’re clearly not in the “relationship” and “communications” industry. See how the “I” and “my” are italicized in those answers.
A more ideal answer would be “I want to give my customers the best possible information there is.” – This may be about a recent market activity, community information, or an online home search experience.
Before everything else, let’s begin by understanding the purpose of the site.
Give customers the best possible information there is.
Simply stating this means that you want to be found by your audience. If not, how can you be of use to them?
So the first question is where can you be found?
You can be on Google, classifieds and niche realtor sites like zillow, homes or redfin as well as on Facebook and other social sites. In line with this, offline ways to get found can be through calling cards, brochures, mail, events and other physical marketing paraphernalia.
Second, what information do they want?
Keep in mind that there are two kinds of visitors you will probably get in a real estate website: Buyers and Sellers of homes.
What do Sellers want?
They want buyers.
If you have an outstanding SEO ranking, a solid social presence as well as a good reputation, sellers would be more interested in working with you.
What do buyers want?
They want their ideal home.
There are a lot of primary factors to consider in an ideal home. This includes:
- land area
- bed and bath
- investment opportunities
- agent reputation
SEO Implications in MLS and Listings
In my experience, I have often come across some realtors and agents (let’s call them Agent X) that doesn’t want to show any MLS properties on their website. In some cases, they want the MLS to be less prominent making it seem like it’s not there at all. To put it simply, they only want to focus on their own 30 listings.
From the agent’s point of view we know this sounds like a smart decision. Of course it’s understandable that he/she wants to make his/her listing sell faster. However, this can also be a big mistake for some especially when it comes to targeting proper keywords.
If for example during a Google Search a potential lead expresses interest in finding real estate in New York. When he/she types in “New York Real Estate for Sale” in Google who do you think would rank if it shows every real estate for sale in New York? Probably the ones who display all results and not those who only focused on the 30+ listings on their site.
If the Google user had typed in “Agent X homes for sale in new York” then that query is a perfect match for the site. Branded keywords like the one above wouldn’t need a lot of SEO help. To put it simply, if your brand is already famous outside the web, might as well not do SEO altogether.
Let’s go back to the decision of not displaying the MLS or to overlook this database of information. Is it really a good idea?
If that strategy is done there won’t be any display of good intention for the buyer and the property choices will be limited. This means that the visitors cannot make a real decision and will probably go to Zillow and other sites.
However, it is still understandable that some business models in real estate have very different or specific niche that will not require too much of the MLS feeds. This includes the luxury real estate industry.
Visitor Experience from Site-Loading to Conversion
This is what all agents want:
- Property listings to be visible on Google SERPs
- Easy and fast access to all important information
- Get leads to inquire for a few properties
- Convert leads to paying clients
And this is actually what is required to achieve the goal:
- Quality content will be the biggest key player to get your site ranking and attain referral visits.
- Site load speed, search functions and well-categorized lists can help potential clients navigate on your website with ease.
- Having save/compare property functions, market information as well as an overall careful attention to important details given to each page is crucial.
- The more listings you have available, the higher the chance of getting inquiries. Having an amazing lead-manager, a “reply-back” message, call-back and a closing process will help you earn more sales.
Tool #2: Site Content for Real Estate
The best content creator for a real estate website is really the agent.
I swear, the best person who knows about my internet marketing business is me. I have two amazing writers who works independently but they still need my guidance regularly.
What I’m trying to get here is why do the people who have the most amazing experience in their own fields and the one person who can truly make content as well as offer more than superficial value, not want to take part in the content generation and marketing process?
It is a must for every business owner to dedicate a few hours of their time a week in guiding their team. – Doing so can help your employees attain better output.
There are several strategies you can do to improve your website’s site content. One great idea is by profiling potential customers with specific interest and needs.
You can choose to group them into categories such as:
- First time home buyers
- Investment purposes
- Relocating to a new city
- Neighborhood and available amenities
- Local buyers
- Apartment listings
- Available condominiums
- National buyers
- International buyers
- Neighborhood tours and blogs
- Maintenance tips for homeowners
- Upcoming modern home technology
- Design trends
- Pet-friendly neighborhoods
- Properties for large families
- For those seeking advice on mortgage, finance and other related buying/selling processes
The list can go on and, as you can probably notice, each category can be broken down to smaller categories. Put yourself into your sub-niche customers and start writing to help them. As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done.
The beauty of generating such content is not just for beefing your blog and SEO. This same content can be revised, revisited and re-invented to fuel your social media. Your blog will soon be a library that will have your audience impressed by your knowledge on the subject.
And being impressive is something that we all want to be.
Tool #3: SEO – Real Estate Search Engine Optimization
Without SEO, you would not be fully utilizing the possibilities of the Internet. Being strong at search marketing can be a game-changer.
In SEO, the goals are to rank in the top 3 organic results for chosen keywords.
In Real Estate, common keywords are the city, communities, areas and properties that you want visibility in. Your website’s landing pages such as the homepage, your community page and area pages generally takes care of these.
Your site performance and site content value is all that is necessary to do well. – This is what we call the on-page criteria of SEO. For more rank boosting power, you will have to work outside the main website and get quality referral links from your industry specific sites like Zillow, homes.com and realtor.com – the off-page criteria of SEO.
Here are a few critical On-Page SEO elements to look for:
- Crawl of the site
- Indexing of the pages
- Page Content and Value
- In-links value (links coming to the page internally and externally)
- Out-links value (links coming out from the page internally and externally)
- Non duplicate pages
- Optimized pages
- Friendly URLs
Off-page Activities for SEO:
- Link building (try and get links from your popular industry websites)
- Directory Inclusions for better Local SEO.
- Content marketing (continual blogging inside and outside of your site)
- Outreach Programs (feature and communicate with others relevant to your industry for more possibilities of relationships and communications)
- Google Business Listing (Get listed for Local SEO)
Your best friends for SEO:
- Semrush or Ahrefs serves as rank trackers
- Google Keyword Planner helps you find the right keywords
- Google Analysis monitors how visitors are responding to your site, where they came from and how they navigate the site
- Search Console (or Google webmaster) monitors the health of the site
- Google alerts sends a notification via email if anyone has published content with your keywords in them
- Siteliner checks for duplicate content
- MajesticSEO or Ahrefs helps find linking opportunities
- ScreamingFrog allows you to run your site to view possible faults
- Page Speed Insights by Google checks page load speed
- Yext is a service that help you tune your Local SEO
Here are some common faux-pas that often happens in real estate SEO which you can use to your advantage since most configure their site inaccurately.
Here are two quick takeaways for you.
- MLS: If configured correctly, this can be a boon. Most real estate website do not have this fixed properly causing errors internally within the site. Cleaning up this process can be of a lot of use. These errors can create penalties by Google.
- Content: Most sites still do not take the time needed to make beautiful landing pages with content that has value in and out of the pages. Taking time and thinking of the content creatively will be a certain rank boost. And most do not continually update their blogs and pages regularly.
Tool #4: Utilizing your Social Media accounts wisely
If you know how to properly utilize social media for your business, it can be a great investment.
Real Estate Social Sites that work well for the time and money invested are:
Nobody likes being sold to. However, majority of agents post their listings online. Their posts are more about themselves without a whole lot of value to their social connections. Many marketers say they have Facebook figured out but I think they only know a little, and a little knowledge is always dangerous. Have I figured Facebook out? Definitely not, but since we are advocates of making decisions on building relationships and communications, we can surely use Facebook.
Who follows our pages in the first place?
They may be:
- Site visitors
- Connections of the above
What would a business want to achieve in Facebook?
Ultimately every business is online for sales.
It doesn’t matter if you want to achieve this directly or indirectly by focusing more on branding. – The only way to attain this is to gain more followers and interactions.
The content you post is dictated by your existing followers. Hence, if your goal is to increase followers, why would posting listings be a great idea on Facebook? Getting shares from your followers doesn’t guarantee an increase in potential leads.
They say the primary competition in Facebook are the posts of the friends, family and relatives of your prospect. And the secondary competition are the posts from pages that they have specific interests in.
We know for a fact that we can’t outplay the connection of our prospects with their families and friends. So try to think outside of the box and publish other relevant things that people may be interested in.
This can be about:
- Home designs
- Do-It-Yourself things around the home
- Home repair
- Facts and information about the City
- Modern home technology
- Iconic people in the community
- Amazing places to visit
- Upcoming events
This kind of content will help you reach your goals faster.
Try to split your posts on 80% of the content above and 20% that features what you do. A single formula will not apply to all. You have to try to continually expand how you can improve your Facebook interaction as often as you can.
Keep in mind that Facebook content will not work the same way for Twitter and Instagram. Try organizing your thoughts together in the same way as we did on Facebook and it may help you create posts that will work well within those sites.
For these sites, make a list of who is actually following you and what would make them want to interact on your posts, images and other content.
Posts that work within the feed VS. Posts that are link-baited
Generally, people do not like to leave the comfort of their train of thought and prefer to consume content within the feed section.
However, some content cannot fit within the confines of the tiny space and posters sometimes add link to go to the original source of the information usually pages in another site. Link baited content is good for referral traffic to your site, if it actually works. Most link baited content only works if the content is 100% compelling.
Try some link-baited posts. You will notice that they do not perform as well as the other posts. But if you work harder at them, you can get its rewards of the site visit. Also link-bait posts work differently in different sites. Twitter is known to have tweets filled with link-baits.
Tool #5: Prospect and Lead Management
Ultimately what we are trying to do is supply all the information we can for the benefit of our customers in the best professional way possible.
Prospects will end up in your site, social accounts and other content you have published. If they see that what you are offering them has substantial value, they will want to connect and communicate with you.
Customers are much smarter than before. – They will not settle on a single realtor site and search for homes. Instead, they will go to a few other competitors and even go to the big sites like Zillow.
Since most buyers are on different spectrums in their buying decision, they are usually labelled as cold, warm, hot and very hot and so they will respond differently. Some may just like your Facebook Page, some may sign up for newsletters and others may call or email.
Since you definitely want to be in your customers mind during this decision making process, here are some popular activities and functions that can help you get to where you really want to be.
Newsletter Sign-ins are the first challenge. Having content that talks to your subscribers is a different story. These regular drips can keep you in the back of their minds during the decision process.
Good content ideas for these are:
- Updates on the market with personal professional input or interpretation.
- Local Community News and Events
- Recent blogs
Registration to website
Having tools such as save/compare homes or having exclusive homes that needs registration to access all information and resources can tell you which prospects are doing a lot of work, hence can be labelled as warm leads.
When a prospect signs in, you can track their activities. You can see what blogs they have read, what properties they like and since you do have their email and phone address, you can call someone and help with their search.
Offline or online events works especially well for being more visible.
Offline events involving your properties such as open house or organizing community activities tells your customers how devoted you can be and how real you truly are.
Online events such as Google Live Hangouts allows you to do things such as “I Am a New York High-rise Real Estate Expert, Ask Me Anything?”
Your social media posts will keep people remembering you. The posts may not be about real estate, they maybe about other relevant topics, this helps you be in front of your prospects.
Blogging is an essential activity. Not only will you get visits and help your SEO. You can use this content to fuel your social and newsletter posts.
People have questions, be the first to answer them. Sites like Quora and Reddit have people who need some answers. Even if it’s not always Real Estate related questions, you may still answer relevant queries like crime rate, schools and communities.
Some will just want to call and talk.
Contact Us Form
Some will prefer to use your site’s Contact Us form.
Inquire about Property Form
Some will inquire for specific properties.
Live Chat Options
If someone is online monitoring the site, live chats help a lot to start a conversation.
Free SMS or CALL
Some sites offer free SMS and CALL to prospects. Having one installed in your site can be of help to those who are on mobile.
A Google map of your location gives information on where you are located and how to get there.
Mobile apps are amazing since it can be stored in the phone of your potential clients. Making use of mobile apps is a great strategy to serve as a constant reminder about what you do.
Once again, we are in the “relationship and communications” industry. So when you do send emails, auto-replies or return a call, put their needs above yours and starting a conversation with them. Remember they are probably talking to the competition as well.
Simple things like being nice, cordial, having a sincere and genuine smile can make all the difference!