Today’s real estate news is all a-buzz because real estate giant Zillow is buying ad rival Trulia, including concerns that it’s going to drive the cost of advertising up for realtors, brokers and other industry pros.
Real estate pros who are looking for real estate marketing ideas that will help them move their listings up in home buyer’s search results can do so without either of these directory services —if they’re willing to carve out a little digital real estate of their own.
Giant Zillow Buying Trulia – and What it Means to Real Estate Pros
Real estate marketing managers who are concerned that advertising costs on both Trulia and Zillow will increase now that the two companies will be merged on the heels of Zillow’s announcement that they are buying ad rival Trulia.
I’m not a real estate agent but I did work as marketing director for a regional home builder for about a year. And the work that I did for them sold homes; it brought online search traffic to our website, produced leads for our selling agents, got home buyers into our new home communities and convinced them of our homes’ better features before they ever arrived. And I’m going to tell you how!
Real estate professionals (real estate agents, home loan lending agents, brokers, home appraisers, and others in the industry) should not be solely reliant on directory listings and ads placed in third-party sites to get found online.
Here are three reasons why:
- Relying on placing ads and listings in mass-directory sites is like placing a needle inside a haystack, hoping someone will find it.
For instance, I just typed “4 bedroom homes in Medford Oregon” into my browser. Zillow’s site comes up first in organic search results and offers me a list of more than 700 homes to sift through in order to identify those I would want to find out more about.
By the way – notice how none of the top listings in organic results feature individual homes, local realtor or local real estate offices or even regional home builders. None, zero, nada! The big reason for that is not because they’ve been outspent, but because they don’t have any digital real estate of their own for search engines to find!
Your real estate directory listing competes with hundreds (or even thousands) of other listings in your city, and most directory sites only allow you a limited ability to apply unique optimization to your pages. Entries are often cut and pasted from real estate flyers without a thought given to using terms that actual live real human being buyers would type into search engines.
In the case of sites like the MLS, your entries are almost guaranteed to disappear from search engines altogether. There is not enough text allowed to index and the web parts serving up content are likely not index-able as unique pages anyway.
- Populating mass directory sites diverts SEO (search engine optimization) to those sites and away from your own website as a real estate agent, new home builder, real estate broker, home loan agent, etc.
- Directory sites are not ideally set up to take advantage of today’s search engine algorithms.
Some directory sites serve up listings in web parts. While the “pages” the information displays upon looks like any other web page, in some cases the information contained in the web part itself – which has all the details about the house listed for sale – isn’t even “seen” by the search engine!
In other cases, it’s a matter of best practices. Google and Bing don’t always tell webmasters exactly what to do to rank higher in organic search results but they do give general guidelines, and here are some of the key factors that lead to higher placement in search engine results that directories are simply not set up to achieve (courtesy of SEO expert Rand Fishkin of MOZ – visit link for the whole list):
- Unique, optimized page title and page description
- Keywords appear first in page title, description and page URL
- Content loads on-page (not in iFrames or other post-load parts)
- Is uniquely valuable – not a cookie cutter replication of other online content
- Content quality stands apart from the crowd by a significant margin
- Text, images and multi-media are remarkable, sharable, and stimulating of shares
- Page would be described as unique by 8 out of 10 visitors
- Searchers not likely to hit “back” after visiting the page to choose a different result
- Page targets a single searcher intent and associated keyword phrase/s
- Keywords are highlighted in on-page headers, bold, italicized, etc.
That’s just 10 of the 50 best practices listed; there are many more on the list that directory listings are simply not going to answer. Search engines tend to favor sites that have new information and receive regular updates and additions.
2 Pieces of Good News for Realtors, Home Loan Agents, Real Estate Brokers and Other Pros Who Carve Out Digital Real Estate of their Own
The first piece of good news is this: You can quickly set up a website or blog on WordPress or use your existing website more strategically and get the traffic you need to sell homes, close home loans, broker real estate buys or grow your real estate related business.
Thanks to the digital publishing tools available to nearly everyone in the industry, it’s never been easier or less expensive to do so. Anyone with an internet connection can have a WordPress or similar site set up in minutes, so that it can begin working to attract search engine traffic.
The second piece of good news is this: Remember how there were no realtor, real estate office or regional home builders listed in organic search results when I typed “4 bedroom homes in Medford Oregon” into my Google search browser? It’s because few independent real estate agents, mortgage loan agents, real estate brokers or offices have gotten into the online content game – yet.
The realtors and other real estate pros who figure out how to give the search engines what they want on a regular basis are going to sell more homes, close more home loans, sell through new home communities faster and grow more quickly if you carve out some digital real estate of your own.
In subsequent articles I’ll provide more specific information and examples of how to create online content that is optimized for search and how to make your content irresistibly share-able online among members of your target markets so that its reach is extended for search engines as well as social networks.
Now that the housing market is hot again, more and more sales professionals will be moving into real estate selling and brokering professions. Get ahead of the pack using the real estate marketing ideas laid out in the 2015 Marketing Calendar for Real Estate Pros!