In the past 10 years, I’ve given literally thousands of presentations in real estate offices discussing and offering online agent products and marketing. This has offered me a unique insight into who wins the online marketing and branding wars and who loses.
One key element to your online and offline success (or failure) is your resolve to commit to one specific geo-targeted market, localization or online farm. This change alone will make your site, and you, stand out from your competition.
I can hear you thinking, “I can sell a house anywhere! I don’t want to get pigeonholed into one area!” That’s true – you can always sell and list homes anywhere you choose. However, if you don’t commit to a specific area online, your website will be consigned to the lonely triple-digit pages of “Google forever” along with the hundreds of thousands of other non-geo-targeted agent websites. Or, if your site miraculously ranks high on Google, your users will lose interest once they see a generic, non-specific agent site that offers no special information and insight into the area they are interested in. Either way, your site has failed you.
Let’s go over the basics of targeting a specific geographic market.
You will need:
1. A customized business website: Yes, you actually must open up your website and edit it. It needs to be able to accept standard SEO techniques. (It’s okay. We’ll get through this together!)
A good website is one that you own or license yourself. If you are committed to real estate and want to remain in it for years, it is best for you to get and control your own template website, not the free one your broker or association offers you to keep you attached to them. You do not want to build a website that ultimately is owned by your broker. When it comes time to move to a new broker or start your own brokerage (and, newbie, this happens a lot), you’ve lost everything online because your previous broker owns that site and it goes away if you leave. And don’t get me started on the evils of company emails.
Your site needs to have easy editing functionality so that you or your assistant can make changes as needed. Most quality sites allow for sufficient editing and customization to localize the site directly to your market. Your site should allow you to easily customize your keywords, titles and descriptions for Google placement (SEO) results.
Get a quality site with text and photo editing; it shouldn’t be more than $50 per month or so for a highly functional website with a premium IDX real estate search. If you are going to commit to localization, you should get something that can deliver on functionality, not a cheap site that can’t.
2. A premium IDX: Your IDX system must have these three functions:
– Custom link generator
Your IDX must allow you to create direct links that you can add to the homepage of your website, such as: “Calabasas estates,” “Calabasas homes,” “Calabasas condos.” If a user interested in “Calabasas estates” clicks on that link, an instant MLS search is run and all estates in Calabasas are automatically displayed on the resulting page with photos and a map. The links, pages, photos and content all help your SEO and let users know you are an expert for your geo-targeted market.
– Automatic listing alerts
It has been said that a website without IDX is basically worthless. I would add that an IDX without a strong listing alert program is worthless. No other online feature has consistently generated more online leads than an engaged listing alert system.
– Automated listing and sold information
News plays very well with clients, because they want to know what’s happening in the market. Your site needs to lead with recent sales and listing data for your geo-targeted market. Use these functionalities from a good IDX to show real-time market data. This alone will further show you to be an expert in the area with a fingertip on the pulse of the market.
Those are only the first two steps to localizing your business. In the next installment, I’ll talk about adding unique content to your website and how to optimize that content for better SEO and increased site engagement.