Search Engine Optimization ("SEO")
Otherwise known as: "How can my website work for me 24/7 so I don't have to do anything and it will make me rich?"
I like to educate real estate agents on what a website can do for you. And what it can't.
If you think a website is going to make you wealthy while you sleep, put that notion out of your head now. You heard about some real estate agent who gets 20 deals a year from her website and you think, "wow, wouldn't that be great!" Sleep all day while your website works for you, right?
Not so fast. The days where people stumble across your website randomly and call you are long gone. Those days ended 15 years ago!
Nowadays, you are one of BILLIONS of websites out there, and even one of MILLIONS of real estate websites in your region. Now, you have to have a website because everyone else does, not because it's going to make you magically rich.
"One transaction that is a result of you having a website covers the cost of your website for 3 to 5 years!"
But don't despair, there are many ways to use your site to grow your business. And yes, even random searches CAN result in business coming your way. Just be realistic. Think of it this way: if having a website results in ONE transaction - directly or indirectly - you've paid for your website for 3 to 5 years!
Another way to look at it: do you send out a mailing and expect it to result in 10 deals? No. Instead, you do repeated mailings and hope it results in business at some point down the line. It is but one piece of the marketing puzzle. Put all the pieces together to grow your business. Marketing - it's an effort to reach people that need your services. You market with flyers, postcards, business cards, Facebook and other social media, talk to people, tell your friends and family, other word of mouth….and, have a website.
In many ways, your website is the most important marketing tool you have. It is your hung shingle: "I'm in business." It's now an expectation for all businesses, big and small, to have a website. Agents that have websites are saying "I am serious about this business and I can help you with your needs." Agents without give the perception that they are unsure, not tech savvy, and maybe only have one toe dipped in the real estate pool. What successful real estate agent does not have a website?
It is also your referral destination. People who already know what you do can send people they know to your website to learn about you and to search the active listings.
So, you say, if I cannot expect to get random business from my website, how can I use it to grow my business? First of all, I did NOT say you cannot get random business from your site. You can! Just be realistic. MRIS XactSites are built to be search engine friendly. But it does depend on what people are searching for, and what competition there is in that area. If someone knows me by name, for example, they could search "Darren Kipfer" in Google and would find my website(www.DarrenKipfer.com) in the #1 space. If they search "Washington DC real estate", however, that's a different story! (When I created this, I tested it - click the link to see - and I got 357,000,000 results!)
If you want to move your site up in search engine rankings, there are some things you can do:
- Add content
- Update frequently
Many agents are too busy or not interested in adding content or updating their site. Many agents want the website to be used solely as a resource. And that's fine. But, if you want to increase your ranking and enjoy working on your website, here are some suggestions:
- Edit the text on your homepage
- Be sure to include names of cities, towns, neighborhoods, and local areas
- Hyperlink the names of those areas to pages within your website
- Add additional pages of content - bio, testimonials, community pages, local partners pages
- Add videos to your website
- Make sure you've added keywords and descriptions to your website
And naturally, over time, your site will increase in ranking. The longer you have it (and your domain name) the more it will rise in rankings.
Through it all, remember to drive your own traffic to your website. Make sure you clients, prospects, family and friends all know about it. Put it on all your marketing and advertising, including your business cards, email signature, and mention it in your voicemail.
MOST importantly, make sure you current clients know you have a website and show them how to use it to search. They can get new listing and updates automatically from your website by creating an account (you can create it for them), and they can view all kinds of information about the listings and the neighborhoods and schools in the areas they are interested. And make sure they pull up your website on their mobile devices - that's a really cool way to search!