July 2014 | By Jona Jone
If you’re trying to recognize the value of putting in the time and effort to optimize your website for Google search results, consider this: A joint study by Google and the National Association of REALTORS® in January 2013 found that 90 percent of home buyers search for homes online, with real estate–related searches on Google up 253 percent in the four years prior to the study.
You can bet there are even more people combing the Internet for homes since this study was done. Overall, pending home sales surged 6.1 percent in May of this year, the largest month-over-month gain since April 2010, according to NAR. At the same time, new-home sales shot up 18.6 percent to its highest rate since May 2008.
What all this means is that, with sales activity rebounding at a healthy pace as the market continues its recovery, there are a lot of people surfing the Web for your services. With home shoppers performing an average of 11 searches before taking action on a real estate site, the NAR/Google study found, it’s important that you get yourself front-and-center on the Internet. Here are five things you should be doing to get your website at the top of Google search results and win the digital marketing game.
Use Local Terms in Your Marketing
House hunters are searching for local terms when they’re perusing the Web for a property for sale. Sixty-nine percent of shoppers who took action on a real estate site began their search with a local term, such as “Houston homes for sale,” according to the NAR/Google study. Furthermore, 52 percent of actions taken on a real estate site came directly from a local search on a search engine.
This should tell you that you need to make as many local references as possible on your website and in your marketing. This will improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website, and your brand will appear higher in the results when people search for those terms.
Provide Relevant Content
Once someone lands on your website from a search engine, you want to give them a reason to come back. This is where quality content comes in. Link to your favorite magazine articles and news websites. Make your website visitors want to come back because they know they will find fresh and relevant content there.
“Deep linking” is also a solid SEO technique and a way to add more content. For example, if you’re blogging about houses for sale in Houston, you can link to other blogs talking about related topics, such as shopping malls or events in the area.
In addition, consider using internal links and site maps for more activity on your website.
Make Your Blog Say More
Stop posting blog entries on your website that say “Buy a condo now. Limited promo.” Your blog shouldn’t be an advertisement. (You already have a section for your listings, right?) It should be a source of relevant and interesting information. Publish articles and blog posts with a unique angle, clever headlines, and good photos with witty captions.
If you want to write a post about condos — maybe that’s your specialty — then write about interesting data, research, tips, or related features that speak to the experience of living in a condo. Don’t just write about the features of your listings over and over again.
Eighty-nine percent of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine when house hunting on the Internet, and 68 percent use mobile apps, according to the NAR/Google study. That’s why it’s necessary to have a mobile presence for your business. Does that mean you should have your own app or a mobile-optimized website? Here’s a guide on how to choose one or the other.
Because consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices, it also makes sense for you to operate with more mobility. Try these apps designed for the real estate business as a starter. They’ll help you manage documents and keep in contact with your customers no matter where you are. These items will help you to conduct business in the digital age and better market yourself to more mobile and tech-savvy clients.
Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online, July 2014, with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright July 2014. All rights reserved.