• Save your money -- do all the free stuff first, and double-down on what is already working.

When agents don’t produce, they often look for the next thing to get their numbers up, but SEO isn’t the answer for an underperforming agent.

I had a title rep reach out to me this week because she was getting inquiries from agents about SEO classes and resources. She reached out to me because she thought I would have some recommendations.

My main SEO recommendation is this: for many agents, spending money on SEO is misguided and simply something they think they are supposed to do.

I get at least a couple emails a week, Facebook ads and (before I installed a cold-call blocking app on my phone — hallelujah!) cold calls from some company wanting me to purchase some sort of SEO service to “make my business stand out online” and show up higher on Google search results.

We all get those, right?

Here’s the thing with SEO; in my opinion, most agents should not spend a dime on it.

Unless they have good cash flow, a super solid business, systems in place to really drive online traffic, immediate response to leads and have a super reliable and a consistent five- to eight-step follow-up touch system, they should not spend the money.

Most agents get most of their business from sphere, referrals, face-to-face and simply talking to people. Double-down on that.

Always double-down on what is working versus throwing money at something new.

Want to improve your presence online? Start here:

  • Update all your profiles.
  • Google yourself (your name, your website, your email, your phone number, your old phone numbers, etc.) and update everything. You must pass the Facebook profile and LinkedIn profile test — even your sphere is checking you out here, and you better look current and professional.
  • Get reviews on Zillow.
  • Up your Facebook game.
  • Run Facebook ads, at least be top-of-mind with your sphere.
  • If so inclined, post good content on your blog (we call this organic content — and then make sure it lands on Facebook, Google-Plus and LinkedIn).

All of these techniques will help you get more leverage online.

Here are some basic rules:

  • If you want more hits online, then you either need more reviews or you need to be posting your website often — and in an authentic manner.
  • Remember that online leads have a much lower conversion rate than in-person leads and conversations. Unless you are an amazing follow-up pro, you’re most likely better off getting toe-to-toe with folks.
  • Double-down on what is already working in your business. Where did you last 10-20 leads come from? Go back, and do more of that.
  • Wake up every day and ask yourself the question: what is my fastest route to a solid lead, a quality real estate conversation, today? (I am going to guess that the answer is not an online lead.) Do this first every day.

If you are considering spending any kind of money on this (or are really focused on getting better online results), take an hour and read a minimum of three online articles (Google search something like “Inman SEO for Realtors”).

After doing this, you’ll most likely realize that there are free things you should be doing that you are not.

Always start with free. And then go out there, and be more purposeful talking to the people you already know to get solid “have-met” leads versus online leads that have super low conversion.

Make sense?

Julie Nelson is the chief success officer at The Nelson Project, Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas. You can follow her on YouTube or Twitter

Email Julie Nelson

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