Search Engine Marketing Implications for Real Estate

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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.

Patrick Kitano
Pat Kitano authors the Transparent Real Estate blog and is Managing Principal of the Domus Consulting Group, a management consulting firm working with real estate... Read Full Bio
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  • Vinny

    Some very good points Patrick! I deal with Real Estate agents on a daily basis and know first hand that more and more agents are becoming savvy to the importance of online marketing. They are also realizing that people are less and less willing to fill out registration forms online so they are forced to find supplemental ways to generate leads online. This is where real estate geo-specific blogging comes in. This is one of the first suggestions that I will make to my customers as blogging can produce great results. However, we have found that there is a very small portion of real estate agents that have or take the time to blog consistently enough for their blog to be effective or actually produce good enough content in their blogs for people to be interested in. I cannot tell you how many blogs I have helped people set up only to see them sit there with a “Coming Soon…” or empty post page on their blogs. I believe real estate networks like ActiveRain to be the most effective and continue to recommend activity to my customers in this network.

    Looking forward to the follow up article!

  • Richard V. Burckhardt

    I started out in web design and agree that real estate agents tend to see the web as a place where everything is free, including web design and marketing.

    They all want to rank #1 for “Plug-in-city-name real estate” but don’t have a clue how it is done. Of course, when there are 10,000 other agents trying for the same #1 position, well…

    Blogs are terrific and I highly recommend them to clients for traffic building. I author two myself.

    The problem I always had with agents was content. Pulling content out of them just to design a web site was like pulling teeth. They’d pull out a magazine and expect me to copy the text and pictures!

    Since a blog is all about content, it will be interesting to see how creative oday’s agents can get. The ones that can create content on a regular schedule that is good, original and not copied from another site/publication (or pure crap), will have the most success.

    I look forward to the next installment of your article.

  • Pat Kitano

    You confirm a lot about the relationship real estate professionals have with the internet. Inman’s Real Estate Connect ( is happening this week in San Francisco – the best conference for real estate technology.

  • WizardMan

    Dude… I could not agree you with you more…
    Let me tell you, I don’t think people realise the actual potential a GOOD BLOG can be for driving good traffic into leads…

    Start a BLOG, build a good regular customer base. Let people interact with you and interact with them. Your blog must be niche, there are too many generalistic(if that’s a word) blogs out there…

    Then use it to build and drive traffic to your site, or use it as your site. Either way, if you’re in Real Estate and you don’t have a blog, you’re WAY BEHIND and you will fall off the band wagon…

  • Fabio A. Rodriguez

    Nowadays, if you, as a Real Estate Pro, want to explore new search marketing opportunities, expand with growing economies, and reach young, Internet-savvy consumers, tapping into Networks as Active Rain and posting blogs, may prove to be one of the best strategies out there today, and the best part of it: many of them are free of charge, so as you mention in your article, i’m also still wondering why many agents still don’t understand that internet goes far beyond than just placing online ads for their listings¡¡¡¡¡

  • James

    One of the main problems is that most people are not writers – especially when it comes to a subject that people are familiar with, like real estate. Trying to a get a real estate agent to write a blog on a daily, or even weekly, basis is difficult at best. There are only so many subjects they can write about before they start repeating themselves, much to the chagrin of the reader(s).

    A proper blog should offer the reader a subject that is both unique and engaging. And let’s face it this is NOT the forte of most bloggers out there. As opposed to a blog that offers nothing more than a few random thoughts that does nothing more than string together a couple of poorly crafted sentences, it might behoove a web site owner to actually write content that is pertinent to both your site and the end user. In the end this will help your SERPs much more than a blog whose shelf life is slightly less than the local Betamax repair shop!

    Now don’t get me wrong there are some really good, well written blogs out there, but let’s be honest with each other how many people read the fifty-seven local real estate agents blogs?

  • John Schroeder – Waunakee RE/MAX Preferred Realtor

    A well written and semi consistent (a few posts a week) real estate blog will help improve your internet presence. Period. But it can take time. Our main blog I have been posting to a couple of times a week since May of 2006. Not only does our blog show up on the first page of Google, for 100’s if not 1000’s of our area’s keywords, it has also greatly helped the positioning of some of our other websites. Google Juice…gotta love it.

    The cool thing about creating a real estate blog is that

  • Pat Kitano

    Good to see you here John… I’m pleased to see that the commenters understand the benefits (Google juice) and detractions (borrrring) of real estate blogs.

  • Mary Crane

    I am just learning about online marketing and I recognize it’s value. I would greatly appreciate any blogging tips!
    Thank you!

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  • Loretta Davey

    I admit I am way behind on this blogging, not because I haven’t learned about it, but because it’s SCARY! I definitely want to learn more, especially because of the Google impact.