Realtors have used a mix or traditional advertising, created websites, and used webmarketing/SEO and social media to raise their profile. Most have two challenges: meeting new clients who wish to buy or sell their homes, and maintaining content with former clients until they are ready to upsize/downsize their homes or relocate. What methods work, and which ones are past their prime (if not the kiss of death).
We’ve organized some helpful tips for realtors and their web marketers.
How are Realtors reaching their customers?
Realtors have a big challenge: they all have the same training, they all sell the same inventory from the MLS system, and most are selling for a big brand organization (like Re/max, Prudential, or Royal LePage).
How do you stand out?
Traditionally, realtors have bought a lot of newspaper ads, bus benches, as well as flyers to the neighbourhoods they “farm”. They (though typically, the office they work for) might also sponsor a local sports team. And of course if you are a “listing agent” your For Sale signs speak for you in many neighbourhoods.
Over the past decade, the internet has gotten more important. Its also made it easier for consumers to filter and select the neighbourhoods (through sites like MovingInCanada.com and FoundLocally.com) and homes (sites like MLS.ca). And every realtor has a webpage on their office’s website, and most have a website of their own, selling “the brand of YOU”, in an effort to stand out.
Can you really stand out? Most website are designed by realtor marketing specialists, who use template-ware to maximizes keywords with repetitive menus, stock “advice” content, neighbourhood names, and forms for pre-qualifying your leads of interested buyers and sellers.. These have been so over-used, that its even harder for an individual realtor to get ahead of the clutter (especially if the template-ware company has been successful in a city), even among clients of that realtor marketing specialist.
One good strategy is to show what makes you unique and special. Give people a number of reasons to like you and to connect with you. If you have kids in hockey (or any sport) mention it. Home shoppers will know you know where the arenas are and who the good coaches and teams are. If you are a member of a community group (like say, Rotary) or are a supporter of an important community cause (the Food Bank or Women’s Shelter) mention it, so like-minded people can reward your concerns. Even if you recently moved into the community, turn it into a strength by mentioning your hometown, and experiences settling in here.
Some Internet Strategies, and some Well Past Their Prime
A few years back, one approach that worked was creating “doorway pages” that have a profile on search engines and serve only to re-direct users to your website. This has lost favour as search engines clamped down on abuses. Another approach was having keyword rich domain names like “CalgaryRealtor” or “Vancouver Condos”, “OttawaHomes”, or “MuskokaCottages” (and any extension like dot-com, dot-ca, or dot-anything). The competition for domain names got so cluttered, there were names with hyphens and unusual domain extensions like “CC”. Many realtors had a domain for their own name (heaven forbid you have a common name!) as well as these other keyword-based domains. These days, search engines like Google are deleting any duplicate content on different domains, so you have to PICK ONE.
Search Engines & Directories
One nice thing is that top search engines like Google and Bing is, that they are giving better rankings and higher placement for sites that have lots of links TO them. It worthwhile getting listed in reputable directories and increase the link count. It’s also nice that directories don’t require re-submission, so its less work in the long run. Some directories have a listing fee (you’re realtors, so live with it) and some are free.
Here are links to Directory of Directories in your area: (If they are not in our directory, they are not serious or active web marketers). In addition, you should add yourself to the FoundLocally directory in your community. Its free, and your listing is automatically included in our sister site, http://MovingInCanada.com, and you can post news (anything from new listings, market information, or new associates), savings (house price reductions), and events (like your open houses). This site has some great web marketing tips specific for Realtors.
You need to watch out for “link exchanges” which offer to trade links. Everybody gets email offers like this on a daily or weekly basis. Two problems: 1) Google excludes abusive link exchange sites from their metrics, and 2) many link exchange sites are “link sluts” they try to get lots of links TO THEM, but offer poor quality links back. Google assigns points based on a website’s PageRank (if you install the Google Toolbar into your browser, you’ll see their score between 0 and 10) and gives a link from that page’s PageRank divided by the number of outbound links. Trading your low-PageRank site divided by 3 is a bad trade-off for their PageRank divided by a thousand is just bad math and bad business.
Social Media can also have a beneficial impact, using sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. These serve three functions: 1) they are a great way to communicate with people you already know, 2) they provide an alternate way for potential clients to “follow” you before committing to filling out a form on your website and 3) they have a favourable impact on your search engine rankings. The challenge is balancing sending out enough messages, that it looks like the Social Media re important to your strategy, while not so many that people un-follow, block, or unsubscribe from your communications. One other downside is, if you use your Facebook page for business, it loses its value as a way to interact with your family and your friends (and there is news or opinion that you’ll willingly share with them, but may not want to share with clients)