5 Tips for Building an Effective Online Presence

by James F. McClister

More and more buyers and sellers are starting their home search online, which means having an effective online presence is more important than ever.

Marketing has always been a crucial part of establishing an effective real estate business, especially for agents not bolstered by the resources of a large, wealthy brokerage, but recently, real estate marketing has meant less billboards and yard signs, and more tweets and Facebook posts.

Technology has evolved as a valuable advertising medium in nearly every industry, and real estate is no exception, which is why building and further maintaining an online presence is imperative for long-term viability.

For those unfamiliar with technology, the idea of building a significant online profile can be daunting, so we’ve put together the following five tips to help improve your Web presence:

1. Don’t ignore mobile. In a 2013 study, the product of a collaborative effort from the National Association of Realtors and Google, researchers discovered that 89 percent of new buyers will use a mobile search engine at the onset and later throughout their home search, and 68 percent will use a mobile application. Smartphone and tablet ownership is reaching critical mass, and more and more it’s helping to defining the customer experience.

Designing your own app might be a bit of a financial stretch if you’re working without the backing of a major brokerage, but at the very least, agents should make sure their websites are mobile friendly.

2. Advertise your locale. Search engine optimization has become a significant consideration for businesses trying to drive more traffic to their sites, but what words are worth the moniker “keywords”? According to the joint study, agents hoping to boost the searchability of their listings and websites should incorporate local terms, as nearly three-fourths of buyers begin their query with something local, like “Chicago homes for sale.”

3. Give online visitors a reason for coming to your site. It’s no secret that people visiting real estate websites are most likely either wanting to buy or sell a home. When you post content, it’s not because you want drive traffic, even though quality content helps boost your SEO standing, it’s because you want to convince visitors to come back. There are literally hundreds and thousands of real estate websites out there, each with just as qualified agents running them, which is why quality content, like linking to a popular news feed or writing a digestible but still informative blog, will help you stand out among the minutia.

4. Establish metrics. An effective, longitudinal online strategy isn’t birthed overnight. As much planning as it takes to get a website up and running, it takes just as much, if not more, to keep it running successfully, which means attracting new visitors and generating viable leads. There are a number of ways to measure the success of your campaigns and overall efforts. Google Analytics, for one, is a free service that helps to track online traffic to your site, including who’s visiting, how they’re getting there and, most importantly, how long they’re staying.

Additionally, monitor your social media pages closely to determine which posts are generating traffic and leads, and which are falling flat. This will also help you to determine the most effective social media platforms.

Once you’ve established your metrics, continue adjusting your campaigns to maximize their effectiveness.

5. Be an authority. Lastly, real estate is, by and large, a business based on referrals, but every referral has to eventually begin with a customer who walked in off the street or responded to an online ad. Building a great online presence is about not only capturing that traffic, but also convincing them that you are an authority in your industry. No one wants to referral their friends or family members to someone who seems unprofessional and out of touch.

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  • Teri Allen, Online Staging Pro says:

    Love that NAR/Google study, report called “The Digital House Hunt, Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate”. I have one tip to add: Market your “Online” expertise in your listing presentations. When you demonstrate to potential clients how well your listings show online compared to some of the crap that’s out there, you are instantly seen as an authority in online real estate marketing.

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