Web Marketing Expectations
Great Expectations: Understanding Online Real Estate Marketing
Before you decide to purchase a real estate web site, you need familiarize yourself with real estate marketing online as well as define your real estate internet marketing strategy. Once you understand these concepts and the investment that it takes to develop a quality, lead producing real estate web site, you will need to develop reasonable expectations, goals, and timeframes for executing your marketing plan.
The PT Barnum School of Real Estate Internet Marketing
"There's a sucker born every minute." - PT Barnum
The internet has been so over-hyped during the past five years that it has left a trail of thousands of disillusioned real estate agents. Countless web site design firms and web marketing "experts" have intentionally and unintentionally misled agents into believing that once they published their website on the internet that the money train would soon be rolling along.
The truth is that finding success with your virtual storefront is not much different than setting up a physical storefront. If you were opening a new real estate office, would you choose some out of the way cul-de-sac and wait for potential homebuyers to find you? More than likely you would find a location with decent roadside traffic and visibility, issue press releases, and at a minimum employ some form of print media advertising. These combined efforts will get your business moving in the right direction. Over time, word of mouth advertising would complement your efforts and help your business grow even more.
But when most real estate agents invest in a web site, they stick their web site at the end of some deserted virtual cul-de-sac and then complain that the entire effort was a waste of time and money because it did not produce any leads or sales.
The real problem was that without an investment in a fundamentally sound real estate internet marketing program the web site was destined to fail.
The "Field of Dreams" Real Estate Internet Marketing Strategy
The primary reason that most real estate web sites fail to produce leads and sales is because the agent is buys in to the hype touted by most design firms. Remember that famous line from the movie Field of Dreams - "If you build it, they will come."
Ask yourself this: "If I was building any brick and mortar business, would I just put up a building and hope that customers showed up?" Of course not! McDonald's advertises. Home Depot advertises. Coca Cola advertises. Why should your business be the exception to the rule?
The fact is that if you do not properly market your real estate web site, the only traffic you will receive is from friends and relatives, or the few times you visit the site to make sure the darn thing is still working! Trust us, you don't want to be the most frequent visitor to your web site.
Simply put, if you do not market your web site, the only people that will make money on your web site will be your web designer and your web hosting service.
Web Site Location: Avoiding the Cul-De-Sac
Like a physical storefront, you first need to choose the right location for your website. Not all web host providers are alike. For example, providers that also host gambling sites, adult sites or spammers may have their IP range banned from a particular search engine or hosting service. In some cases this means that some search engines will not index your site, and that some web host providers will block your emails from getting to your prospective customers. Ask potential web host sources if they allow these types of sites, and always search the internet for information and user ratings on potential web hosts. Our CORE360 Agent sites are hosted on our own servers leased through Rackspace, the industry leader in managed web hosting.
There are even a few web host providers that prevent search engine robots from indexing all or part of the sites that they host. By preventing these robots they hope to ease the load on their web servers. Unfortunately, this also prevents your website from being indexed and ranked in the search engines. No search engines = no web site traffic = no leads or sales.
Web Site Visibility: Getting Drive By Traffic, Window Shoppers, and Customers
Once your web site is up and running you need to begin advertising your new online business. Begin this task with registering your new web site with the both paid and free internet directory listings.
The next step is to determine other sources of real estate internet marketing including reciprocal links, paid links, pay per click services, and banner advertising. Not only is this a crucial step in bringing traffic to your web site, but it is also an important process in developing your search engine rankings.
Most do-it-yourself online businesses either omit this step or soon get bored with the endless hours of research that it takes to develop strong link program. To complicate matters, improper linking strategies can actually harm your search engine rankings or negate the other positive ranking factors of your web site. As part of our real estate search engine optimization services, The Kosloff Group will continuously build your links throughout the term of the contract, as well as qualify any potential link partners that you present for consideration.
Word of Mouth: The Best Web Marketing Strategy
One of the best ways to grow any business is by word of mouth advertising. Your web site can also employ its own form of word of mouth advertising. The key to building your online brand awareness and word of mouth recognition is to include interesting content to your real estate web site. You can accomplish this task by writing one or two short articles each month about topics in your market, your specific areas of expertise, your personal insights on local residential communities, or anything that would be of interest to someone living in or moving to your area. For our clients, The Kosloff Group will also submit selected articles from your site to other internet publications.
Soon you will find that many web surfers will pass along this information to friends and colleagues, bookmark your website, and link to your article from their own web site. Some will even contact you for permission to reprint the article. Then again, some may even plagiarize your article - but we'll save that for another discussion.
The most important benefit of writing your own articles is that they help to define you as an industry leader in your market - often an important factor in converting one of your web surfers into a buyer client.
Over the past few years blogging has been one of the best ways to syndicate your articles throughout the internet, and it should be a part of your weekly web marketing tasks. It has become so important that we have a separate article on blogging and syndication.
As a client of The Kosloff Group, we not only offer suggestions on potential topics (just in case you're having a brain cramp), but we also provide copy writing services to ensure that your message is delivered to your readers.
The Most Important Real Estate Internet Marketing Factor: Time
If you start your own small business and perform any amount of due diligence you will soon find that every expert and consultant gives you the same piece of advice: expect a 3-5 year period of hard work, sweat and perhaps frustration before you begin to turn a decent profit. The same principle holds true when developing a web site: expect a period of at least 6-12 months before you will receive sizeable, targeted traffic.
Why does it take so much time? First, your site needs to be found by the search engines. Once a search engine finds your site, it needs to index all of your pages and include them in their database. With billions of web pages to sort and index - and more and more pages being added every day - it can take a few days to a month just to get a few pages of your web site included in the index.
In general, it takes 1-2 months for MSN / Bing to fully index your web site and be included in the search engine rankings. For Yahoo, the same process takes 2-4 months. Google is a completely different animal than the rest. While they are quick to index all of your pages (1-2 months), beginning in 2004 there appears to be a "Sandbox" effect. What is the "Sandbox"? It is now generally accepted that Google applies some sort of waiting period before a new, properly optimized web site begins to appear at or near the top of the search engine rankings for competitive keywords. In our experience, this waiting period lasts between 6 and 9 months for real estate web sites.
I Need Web Site Traffic Now!
If you need immediate traffic to your web site consider enrolling in a pay per click program. Be aware that while this can bring traffic to your web site, it can be very cost prohibitive if not managed correctly.
There is no doubt that your email inbox has been deluged with spam mail that boasts of guaranteed top search engine rankings or search engine submission services. Before you even consider these services, do your homework on the subject and thoroughly read about internet web site marketing myths.
Great Expectations For Your Real Estate Web Site
There is absolutely no doubt that developing a strong internet presence is a major source of lead generation and sales for real estate agents. In some cases, it may be the key to your survival in this industry. The competition in your market gets tougher every day. How will you get and maintain your edge in the market? How can a new real estate agent level the playing field?
The answer to all of these questions is choosing The Kosloff Group for your real estate web design and real estate SEO needs.
Our knowledge in both real estate and marketing, combined with your expertise and local knowledge, hold the keys to success of your internet presence.