Last time, I gave an overview of the concept of localization for real estate agents with a list of basics to employ to make it all happen, and then discussed how to select a website and IDX for success.
But how do you localize the content on your website?
About five years ago, I had a unique opportunity to sit down with Google’s second tier of management at Domain Fest in Santa Monica, California. RealtyTech had recently sold its 10,000th real estate domain name, and I was invited (along with the many other “domaineers,” as we are called) to speak and to learn from my peers.
Having a second-tier management title means you are not one of the big three at Google, but you are close. Second-tier managers makes a lot of decisions and communicate those decisions as they see fit; these people are also multibillionaires, which is nice. So what did they have to say? Wait for it …
“If you write high-quality, appropriate and unique content for your website that truly reflects what you do and what you offer, then we will eventually post your website in a strong position on Google.”
That was it. They finished their lattes, jumped into their limos and headed to Santa Monica Airport to climb aboard their G5 corporate jets and head to the Alps for the holidays. And we just all sat there to let that sink in.
Five years later, we see the fruits of labor on some sites, with high SEO placement and lots of leads, and closed doors on others. Companies that created unique, important content have flourished, while those that use replicated cookie-cutter content have been pushed many pages deep in the Google results, never to be found by a prospect.
Google staff members want their search engine to be used by as many people as possible; it is how they make money. To ensure that, they want sites with great content that corresponds with the search term to show high in the results.
Your visitors want the same thing. If they search for “Calabasas California condo,” they want results on that specific type of property from a real estate site that specializes in that geographic area.
If you already have a highly functional website with a great IDX system and the ability to create listing alerts, direct search results links and other extra features, you have a nice start. Now you need to select an area or “virtual farm” to assign to that website and IDX.
Make sure it is an area you are committed to marketing to for years to come. Make sure the selection of properties in the farm will satisfy the buyers you want to work with and that the sellers in that area are the ones you want to work with, too. (There are some basic metrics, such as the number of homes, the average commission value per property type, the number of sales per year and others that should be taken into account before you commit to an area.)
To help your cause, it is best to get a geospecific domain name for your area. For example, if you want to specialize in real estate in Manhattan Beach, search for a domain name that helps your goals like www.Manhattan-Beach-RealEstate.com. Google does not “see” the dashes in this name; the algorithm considers only the words in the URL when it ranks websites. This name on a website with the proper content will eventually do very well online if you follow these principles.
We’re finally ready to look at content! Let’s say you have decided upon an area and you are 100 percent committed to driving your company flag into that soil and claiming it as yours! You are now welcomed into the ranks of 5-10 percent of all agents who will ever make such a commitment. Assuming you live and work in the area, you already know more about the neighborhood than most, so let’s share that information with your clients, prospects and visitors.
First, add a page with IDX links directly to submarkets within your market, such as Mandalay Bay estates, Mandalay Bay condos, Mandalay Bay waterfront, Mandalay Bay homes, and other similar submarkets. Google seems to like these live links a lot. And there’s an added benefit to committing to an area: Have you noticed a lack of results for Zillow, realtor.com, Trulia and other portals on the Google search results page of this page? These mammoth multibillion-dollar sites don’t commit to smaller areas like this, even though agents who master these areas can be very successful. This is opportunity knocking for the agents who are willing to commit.
Next, add as much unique content about your area as you can — but it must be content that will interest homebuyers and sellers. Add demographic information, school information, area history, area event information, sales history, data about new construction and other pertinent topics. Take photos of your area with you in them and post them on your site. Share the excitement you have for your virtual farm — it is contagious.
If you do this and commit to spending an hour or two to add new content every week for at least a year, you will get great results. And remember, the smaller the area you pick, the faster you will rank.
Next time, we’ll cover how to optimize your content for success.