The Internet has become a force to be reckoned with, and has entirely changed the landscape of the real estate industry over the last couple decades. It’s challenging to know where to invest time and money when it comes to the Internet.
The strategic advice that applied in 2006, is not applicable today. Blogging, IDX (Internet Data Exchange) applications (displaying MLS listings on your website), and building content to rank high in the search engines – no longer makes sense for the practicing real estate agent. It could be argued that it never did, but it certainly got a lot of air time at conferences and with speakers.
So, if that no longer makes sense, where do you invest your resources online?
During the real estate downturn that began in 2007, finding buyers in some of the hardest hit markets was incredibly challenging. The blogging real estate agent was gaining popularity, and IDX was becoming increasingly common with an effort to capture that hard-to-come-by buyer prospect. Much attention was focused on various ways to rank high in the search engines.
In 2007, it was possible to have a custom site that could rank for some of the most sought search terms like, ‘The Woodlands real estate’. Today, the only ones that can really win at that game are websites that have been well established for years, brokerages, and the biggies – HAR, Zillow, Trulia, and possibly Realtor.com.
If you want to have your site attract people that you don’t know via search engines, it will require money for Google Ads, knowledge of SEO (search engine optimization), Google Analytics expertise, A/B testing skills, and site conversion strategies.
Sound like gibberish? That’s okay. You’re a Realtor, not a website manager.
So what is the best website strategy for most realtors?
Who Is Your Audience?
What is often forgotten is what happens prior to your phone ringing with that new prospect on the other line.
Imagine a member of your sphere is thinking of selling. They know more than one agent. You come to mind. What is the next thing they might do? You got it – they will likely Google you. (We’ll cover more about this later in this post.)
Imagine someone is viewing your listing on Zillow, and they go from there to your profile, and possibly on to your website.When these prospects go to your website, what do they find?
Here is the real purpose of your site. Does it look professional? Does it verify that yes, you are a Realtor, and you are in fact an expert in specific geographies. Is your contact information accurate?
The website simply acts as a validation point. For most real estate agents, their website needs to do little more than that.
Purpose of Content Creation
For example, rather than sharing news from the direct source (map of the Ironman route, for example) on Facebook as I described here, you could create content on your site and post that link on Facebook. When you share that way, you are driving your connections back to your website, reminding them that you are a local pro. They may even linger on your site and search for properties. Win!
If you are interested in exploring a strategy like this, definitely come see me.
Selecting Your Website
There is great news on the website front!
Option 1: Your free Gary Greene website can absolutely solve the validation goal. There are simple things that you can do to spruce up that site. For lots of ideas and details about managing your free Gary Greene website, login to Powerhouse. Go to Media ->Websites -> Gary Greene websites for lots of in depth explanation.
Option 2: If you’d like to upgrade the appearance of your website and increase some of the functionality, you can do that with a Gary Greene’s premium website for $35 per month. If you are interested in having a blogging portion to your site, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium.
If you are interested in the premium version, complete this authorization and forward it as instructed, but please cc me at email@example.com so that I can follow up and support you.
Option 3: There are a plethora of website vendors in our industry. Many of them I am personal friends with, and have known for years. I would encourage you to come see me, or Ken before investing in some of these expensive options. We can share with you about what we know about various vendors, potential ROI, and risks.
Real Estate Profiles
Remember the importance of knowing what people find when they Google you? What about when they further investigate after finding your listing on a portal? You can control what they find by managing your online profiles in various real estate websites. When was the last time you looked at these profiles? What do your potential prospects find in those profiles? Is it the kind of message you want them to get?
Here’s your chance to dig into each profile and make it as strong as you can. When I think of where Return on Investment comes from online, this is your most cost effective place to start. A $5k website can’t overcome weak profiles in the most trafficked websites in the nation. This is a GREAT place to start.
Block the time and chip away at it.
- GG Agent Webpage
- HAR.com Profile
- TAR.com Profile
- NAR Profile
- Zillow.com Profile
- REALTOR.com Profile
- SlideShare.net Profile
- Facebook Profile
- LinkedIn.com Profile
- BHG Greenhouse Profile
Do You Know What The Internet Says About You?
When was the last time you did a Google search around your name? What did you find? Ideally, use a browser you don’t usually use and one in which you are not logged into your Google account. You’ll be surprised by the difference in the results!
Examine the kinds of results that come up. If your website is not on the first page of those results, make a 30 minute appointment with me. We’ll work on it!
You’ll want to look at the results and make sure the Internet is telling a story about you that you are proud of. If you have a past job, are those results coming up first? Are you finding old flickr images from college days that aren’t showcasing your professionalism? Best that you discover these little online gems before your clients and prospects uncover them.
Once you have done some management of current search engine results, you’ll want a way to manage future occasions that you’ll show up on the Internet. The best way to do that is by setting up a Google Alert for your name.
Once the Alert is set up, anytime your name is mentioned on the Internet, you will get an email. This post walks you through the very easy process of setting up an alert.
Online reviews are a new reality in our industry. The best way to handle it is to take the initiative to build a strategy that both protects and promotes you. Understanding the pros/cons of the various solutions is crucial to devising the right strategy. For a detailed analysis of of those options, go here.
One skill that is tough in this new landscape is how to respond to negative public feedback. First, don’t panic. Handling a negative review well can actually be a opportunity to show your professionalism. Negative reviews can also make your online profile (regardless of the format) seem more believable and authentic.
Additionally, take a deep breath before you bang out a response on that keyboard. Come see me, or Ken to develop a response that let’s you shine despite this one comment.
Check out this article for more insight on responding.
Social media has gone through an incredible evolution in the last decade. But, after the dust settles, there are some clear winners when you look at the cost of your time versus the return. And, in this business everything has to be looked at the way. Whether it’s dollars spent or your time, we have to evaluate return.
This is my take on the Social Media Winners and Losers.
LinkedIn can be valuable to maintain professional connections, or to initiate a social media connection. It may be a valuable place to post links, as well.
At this point, it seems to have evolved into an online resume. It’s important to keep updated for the search engine value, and client vetting, but once your profile is set up, there is nothing wrong with a set-it-and-forget-it strategy here. People simply don’t ‘hang out’ in that environment as they do on Facebook.
Ken and I have been on Twitter since Twitter was a wee baby of a thing. I secured my first name on Twitter – a testament to how early I was on it – and I never gained a shred of business from it. I built tremendous business relationships, (actually how I met Ken), but that was a very different time. Today, Twitter is broadcasting, not the conversation opportunity that it once was. I’m not sure that works in real estate.
One of my Realtor friends, famous/prominent early adopter on Twitter, Jay Thompson, told me he’d never had a transaction that he could say came directly from Twitter. He established relationships on Twitter that ultimately resulted in group meetups, and that resulted in business, but never Twitter alone. Of course, that is networking. That isn’t Twitter. And, today Twitter is very different.
You may find occasional instances where I am wrong and business is won there, but I don’t have much confidence in this being a reliable strategy for ongoing business. If you are involved because of your love of the platform, God Bless. But, I wouldn’t plan on this as a cornerstone of your online strategy.
If you have been having anxiety, ‘I have to be on Twitter or my business won’t be a success’, I release you. Go forth and prosper without it. You’ll be just fine.
Facebook Business Pages
There was a day where FB business pages were touted with such great promise. I’ve never been much of a fan, and am even less so in recent years.
To understand FB business pages you must understand the FB algorithm. FB fills the news feed with content that they believe the audience will engage with and find interesting. This make sense; they want to keep people on their website.
Most real estate business pages are filled with agent listings, agent open houses, statistics, agent humble bragging, and occasional community info. zzzzzzzzz
Unless someone is actually selling or buying, this simply isn’t interesting.
Once FB figures out no one is liking or commenting on that content, they simply quit showing it in your ‘likers’ newsfeed. It doesn’t matter if you have 500 ‘likers’. If FB finds that people aren’t engaging, they won’t show your content. Simple as that.
Hence the abundance of dying real estate business pages all over Facebook.
Note: If you want to do FB advertising, it will require a business page. If you really want to employ this strategy, post community interest updates. Focus on your audience, their everyday interests in your community, and not on self promotion.
But, there is a WIN on Facebook, and it’s a HUGE win. It’s in your personal profile …
Facebook Personal Profiles
There is no question, Facebook is the clear winner. I don’t think I’m am overstating the value of Facebook when I say if you aren’t on Facebook, you are likely missing out on opportunities, and income.
You don’t have to be salesy on Facebook. You don’t have to share personal information with people you don’t want to have it. You don’t have to post what you had for dinner. I’ve heard many of these concerns before, and I get it, but I also can assure you that none of that is necessary. 30 minutes with me can assuage many of those concerns.
Consider these two cases in my own personal business:
1. I sold a home to a young family – growing family – and when they posted their sonogram photo of the fourth child, it didn’t take much for me to recognize the clock was ticking on their three bedroom townhouse that I’d sold them. I knew to reach out, congratulate the on FB and with a card. I might never have know that had it not been for effective listening strategies on Facebook.
2. Seller moves to Park City, Utah. His email no longer worked and the only real consistent communication I had with Joel over nearly 4 years was Facebook. Wasn’t hard to like those Park City pics. Wasn’t hard to comment and like their new baby pics. Would have been easy to write him off in terms of future business … who would move back to OC from Park City? But, after they had their daughter, they wanted to be closed to family. Interestingly, Joel did not call me. He didn’t email me. He messaged me through Facebook. He knows he can find me there quickly, and I have remained connected.
This stuff happens all the time if you are paying attention and know how to work Facebook. I still do referrals based out of my old practice, and nearly all of them have come through a message on Facebook.