Looking for some great ideas for your business? Today’s column covers eight simple, common-sense "gems" from Real Estate Connect that can help build your real estate business in 2010.

1. Avoid this simple mistake many agents make
Have you ever visited an agent Web site with great community information, but with no reference to the city or the state? For example, if you reference "Sunny Hills" in Paris, are you referencing the "Paris" in California, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee or Texas?

When you describe the market areas you serve on your site, be sure to also reference the city, state and ZIP code(s) where they’re located. Failure to provide this information means that search engines cannot accurately match your Web site with visitors who are searching in your area. If Google can’t find you, future customers probably can’t find you either.

Editor’s note: This is Part 3 of a three-part series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Looking for some great ideas for your business? Today’s column covers eight simple, common-sense "gems" from Real Estate Connect that can help build your real estate business in 2010.

1. Avoid this simple mistake many agents make
Have you ever visited an agent Web site with great community information, but with no reference to the city or the state? For example, if you reference "Sunny Hills" in Paris, are you referencing the "Paris" in California, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee or Texas?

When you describe the market areas you serve on your site, be sure to also reference the city, state and ZIP code(s) where they’re located. Failure to provide this information means that search engines cannot accurately match your Web site with visitors who are searching in your area. If Google can’t find you, future customers probably can’t find you either.

2. Where’s your number?
Most agent Web sites have their phone number posted on their home page. Few, however, post their phone number on every page of their site. Here’s the rub: After a Web site visitor views a listing, including a virtual tour and multiple pictures, it can take a substantial amount of time to scroll back to the agent’s home page to find the agent’s phone number.

Consequently, make sure that you post your phone number on every other page of your site, preferably in the upper right-hand corner. If you don’t, that great Web site lead will probably go somewhere else.

3. Become an interesting person
In broker Paul Zweben’s session at Real Estate Connect NYC, he recommended that agents become experts on where to eat and what to do in their local area. Your goal is to stay top of mind in your potential clients’ thoughts by being an interesting person, not just a Realtor. Zweben recommends that the best way to do this is to identify with your Web visitor as a person. Be the resource that helps them find what matters to them.

4. Avoid becoming tone-deaf
The problem with much that is going on in social media is that most people are speaking without regard to who is listening. Agents need to engage with their client base to determine the challenges they’re facing. Rather than a monologue, it’s better to create a conversation based upon what people in your local market area are saying. …CONTINUED

5. Tag your photos
Many agents post photos and videos online to market their listings. Regardless of the type of photo or video you post, be sure that you include the location, your name and address, as well as several descriptions of what the video/picture contains. A search engine cannot "read" the visual content of a picture or a photo. (Google’s search engine can convert the audio portion of a video into searchable text.)

Providing this additional data helps you to obtain better search-engine ranking. It also allows people who may be searching for your listings in your neighborhood to find your listing videos and photos more easily.

6. Include your contact information on your videos
If someone finds your listing video on a site other than your Web site, how will they know how to contact you? Approximately 40 to 50 percent of all listing videos lack the listing agent’s contact information. Regardless of whether you shoot the video yourself or hire a videographer, be sure to include your contact information in the actual video in addition to the property’s street address, city, state and ZIP code. Using this approach in conjunction with tagging will help you to improve your search results.

7. Apps are hot; Are you using the ones you already have?
Many agents feel they need to purchase new applications (apps) for their phones or computers. There are so many that it can be completely overwhelming. A great place to start is to use the built-in apps that come with your phone and/or your computer. This includes using the tools that allow you to sync your calendar, address book and other important information from your computer to your smart phone. Many associations and multiple listing services have also tailored apps to fit the needs of both agents and consumers. Take advantage of them.

8. Keep your Web site simple
People who visit your Web site are searching for three primary categories of information. They want to know what is for sale, how much their home is worth, and what’s happening in their local market. Make sure these links are prominently displayed on your home page. You can add other data, but avoid cluttering your home page with too much irrelevant content.

Dealing with all the technology changes can be overwhelming. The key point to remember is to take it one step at a time. Make the changes that are easiest for you to implement. Experiment with new technologies that attract your attention and feel like a good match for your business. Using this simple process is the best way to stay competitive and to keep your business on the cutting edge.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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