Search engines are now the marketplace where it makes the most sense to invest most of your real estate marketing budget, be it through pay-per-click (PPC) or search engine optimization (SEO). That’s because marketers have realized that almost all real estate searches begin with search engines.

But why have search engines become so popular for real estate marketing, outshining social media and other outlets? Because leads generated through search engines lead to sales more frequently — because the intent of the leads generated by search engines is clear and precise.

Even big brands like, Zillow and Redfin owe their vast real estate marketing success to search engine marketing.

You can imagine what would happen if you were ranked No. 1 on the first page of Google results for the keywords “your town” and “real estate.” That ranking will translate to more unique visits, more leads and ultimately more monthly sales — as long as you stay on the first page of results.

Of course, the effectiveness of search engine marketing has created an atmosphere of stiff competition from agents and brokerages fighting to dominate the first page of Google, either through PPC or SEO.

And this competitiveness has, in turn, resulted in an ugly trend whereby other agents or brokers who are ranking lower on search engine result pages may try to destroy the reputations of those above them through negative SEO or publicity.

Here are a couple of free, easy ways to locate, intercept and destroy any negative SEO or publicity that’s targeted against your name, website or brand.

Set up a Google search alert for your name, brand name and website URL.

You want to catch any malicious publicity as soon as it’s posted, and the best tool to identify it is a Google search alert for your brand name, your website URL and your name.

Adverse publicity against your brand, name or URL may not necessarily link to your site. It could come in the form of a discussion on a forum in which somebody who is not satisfied is complaining about your poor services. Using this method, you can discover the discussion and make peace with the complainant before your reputation gets soured.

Install the Google and Bing webmasters’ tools.

The often-unseen downside of Google’s algorithm is that it can’t identify when the backlinks your site is generating are caused by negative SEO.

If your website is under a negative SEO attack, Google won’t see it that way. Google will view it as using black-hat SEO to influence rankings — and it will penalize your website.

Google’s and Bing’s webmaster tools will enable you to track and identify any low-quality websites or negative SEO attacks on your website and to quickly disavow them before they pile up and cause harm to your site’s rankings.

Ibemere Obinna is a Realtor and an Internet marketing expert. He blogs about real estate Internet marketing and SEO on his blog, Realtor Guide.

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