With approximately 90 percent of all potential clients starting their home search online, according to 2011 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, many real estate agents understand the need for building their online presence, but often don’t know where to start. Through these five steps, agents can easily start building an effective web presence for themselves. The result? More connections, more clients, and eventually, more business.
My approach to search engine “domination” is to avoid trying to dominate for generic terms, and instead focus on dominating the results in Google for your name. Many people will Google potential agents before ever meeting them or signing any kind of contract. With a complete domination of the search results for your name, you will definitely stand out. Being perceived as a local expert is a great way to kick off a new client relationship.
Follow through with the steps below and you’ll find search engine domination can be yours.
1. Stay LinkedIn to your Professional Network
LinkedIn is the first place I send an agent with no web presence, and for good reason. LinkedIn has a huge presence in the search engines, and is often found in the first results that come up when a potential client searches your name. With a user base that consists of professionals with higher-level education and an average household income of $100,000-plus, this is an excellent place to start building a strong network of both potential clients and good business referrals.
The key to a strong LinkedIn profile is the completeness of your profile – fill out your contact information, bio and work history, and create a strong description of who your ideal client is and how you work with them. Get in the habit of regularly asking for recommendations from those you’ve worked with, and leave recommendations for others. Finally, make it a point to visit and interact consistently to fill out your profile and stay top of mind with your connections.
2. Don’t Just Say it…BLOG it!
Creating a blog is the second step. Google loves blogs, and will reward you with search results showcasing your blog. The key with blogging is to post frequently, provide good content and use your name and your local neighborhood and surroundings as keywords. You don’t need to be a professional writer; just create short articles or videos talking about what you know and how you can help clients. Done consistently, this will also have a big impact on your online presence. There are many blogging platforms out there, but I always recommend WordPress to agents I work with; it is user-friendly and has a variety of different plugins and themes that can add additional features and functionality to your website.
3. Social Media PROFILE-ing
A Facebook page and a Google+ profile are two more platforms that can help you rank highly for your name. Facebook pages usually rank pretty well in the search engines on their own, but by creating an active Neighborhood Page for a neighborhood that you do business in, you can become your local neighborhood expert. Google+ is a fairly new social network, but is growing quickly because, well, it’s Google. And it makes sense that they will rank one of their products highly in the search engines. Create a profile for yourself, fill it with good content from your blog and Facebook, and you’ll generate more links to your own online properties. Links pointing to your website are almost like currency – the more incoming links you have from quality sites (like Facebook and Google+), the better you’ll do in ranking highly in the search engines for your name. So I recommend using your name for your Google+ profile, including your name frequently when posting on your Facebook page and using your name as a tag (like a keyword) on your blog.
4. Make People See it AND Believe it
YouTube is our last stop. When you combine the fact that YouTube is the second most frequented search engine (what company purchased YouTube in 2006? If you said Google, you are correct), it’s easy to see why YouTube videos can help you get ranked higher in the search engines. Videos featuring neighborhood tours; your expert opinion or tips on real estate topics; interviews with other professionals your clients might deal with during a transaction; homemade virtual tours; and testimonials from past clients are just a few ideas to start with. Video is a great tool as it gives people the ability to see you, and helps them make that personal connection with you that is so important online. Add your name as a tag and your website URL in the video description, and you have another way to generate more inbound links to your website that will help your rank in the search engines.
How does this help you get more clients? Quality content gives your potential client the info they’re looking for while establishing you as an expert, and personal posts let them connect with you as a real person. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with this list, remember that you can create content once, and post it to different sites. Or write an article, and then create a video to go with it. Setting up your profiles doesn’t take long, and with a few hours a week working on content and interacting with those in your network, you’ll quickly be on your way to a strong online presence.
Want a little more information about these ideas? Email email@example.com.