Why the real estate industry hasn’t embraced search engine marketing
The internet has become an indispensable consumer tool for researching real estate, one of the most highly charged personal purchasing decisions. Intuitively, most people would think the real estate industry would note the fact that all their clients are online doing this research… Online Marketing Blog conducted a recent poll in which its readers concluded that real estate was the #2 internet marketing savvy industry after the internet industry itself… however, the real truth is very few brokers and agents understand internet marketing beyond placing online ads for their listings. Why?
In general, real estate brokers and agents have historically always associated the internet as providers of freebie real estate data that devalue, even disintermediate their roles in the transaction. Finally accepting the internet as a fact of life, some real estate agents are beginning to understand that they can leverage the lead generation functionality that Web 2.0 interactivity provides by establishing direct dialogue with potential clients. And the internet, more specifically the search engine, is perfect for directing local leads to the agent, provided the agent has a “Google juiced” online presence to be recognized by search engines.
Blogging is the best way for an agent to build a local online presence
Real estate agents already have a name for it – “farming” – the tactic of mass marketing to a specific locale where their potential clients live. They’ve used post card mailing, open house sign-ins, and local supermarket cart ads, but they don’t realize that they can leverage search engines to attain local visibility. Remember it’s all about lead generation… agents often have huge contact databases of potential clients and will wait for years for one of them to suddenly decide to buy or sell. The search engine shortens the process… 56% of internet based leads will choose the first agent to respond to them.
The current best way for an agent to attain search engine visibility is through blogging and participating in social networks that specialize in real estate like Active Rain. At Transparent Real Estate, I’ve been advocating how effective real estate blogging builds Google page rank and traffic because local long tail searches, like “San Francisco Potrero Hill homes for sale”, are more apt to be queried by a “lead” specifically interest in that neighborhood. To rank high on localized long tail searches, most agents adopt a hyperlocal content strategy that builds local keyword content for search engine recognition.
In my next article on Search Engine Journal, I’ll explain why real estate agents have a hard time starting a blog, even when shown evidence that showing up on the Google top page is tantamount to being the next generation Yellow Pages ad.
Pat Kitano authors the Transparent Real Estate blog and is the co-Founder, Managing Principal of Domus Consulting Group, a management consulting firm working with real estate brokerages, title insurance companies and Web 2.0 companies to develop technology marketing strategies.