Real estate on the internet has become an online phenomenon.
There is a generally accepted trend online, that people will "research globally, but shop locally". This is especially true for real estate. That's why it is important for your website to be seen. There is also a recognizable pattern online that, most real estate customers use the first realtor they contact. As a realtor I'm sure that you have said to yourself "hey, I know those people, why did they list with that realtor instead of me". Chances are, that is the first realtor that they came across.
Real estate online is so hot that Google is talking about creating a whole separate Google directory just for real estate. Yahoo already has a "lead buying" program just for realtors. HomeGain is reporting a record 5.5 million visitors to their website in the first part of 2006. Many of my clients have already gone through the process of buying leads at Yahoo and other real estate "lead capture" portals. Most of these lead buying programs can be expensive to join and the leads can also be pricey. I have spoken with many realtors all over the country that participate or, have participated in these programs. I hear good and bad things about these programs. However it is my opinion that you should spend your money on marketing your website and then all the leads that you get are yours to keep. Technology, especially the internet has forever changed the way people search for real estate and how they contact local realtors. The National Association of Realtors 2004 survey of home buyers tells us that 71% of home buyers used the internet to start the search for their new home. That is up from 62% in 2003.
Ok, so you know all of this. You have a website, now what?
How do your prospective customers find your real estate website and do business with you. There are two ways. One is "SEO" (search engine optimization) and the other is SEM (search engine marketing). Let's look at the differences between these two and how they affect you and your real estate business.
SEO, "search engine optimization" is the application of several techniques to help a website rank higher in the "natural" search results.
To begin with let's talk about "meta tags". Meta tags are the first things that the search engines will read when visiting your website. Here are the main meta tags that you need to improve if you want to "optimize" your website.
They are your "title tag", your "description tag" and your "keyword tag".
Ok, so how do you find the meta tags on your website? You can check your meta tags by going to your website, at the top of the internet explorer window click on "view" and scroll down to "view "source". A new window will open and you should see something like meta name="description" meta name="keywords".
Let's begin with your "title tag", is also known as your "page title". For example, on many websites if you click on the "about us" link or, the "contact us" link, that's what you will see displayed at the top of the browser window in the blue bar. It is also known as your "anchor text".
Search engines read like we do, from left to right and top to bottom of the page. Your "anchor text" is one of the first things that the search engine will read on your website. Your "anchor text" is what is displayed when your website is listed in the natural search results. It is the first thing your potential customers will read when they do a search. Your anchor text should include one or, two of your best keywords. For example: "Pittsford Real Estate 10 Years of Experience" or, "Professional Full Time Realtor, Pittsford".
So, your title tag is both your page title and your anchor text. Again this is the first thing that your customers will read when reading the title of your search listing.
It should not say "welcome to my website" or "Joe bob's website". This is the first thing that your customers will read. It is your first opportunity to catch their attention. Using keywords like "Real Estate" and "Realtor" will tell the search engines that your page is about real estate. Even better, if you are a realtor in Pittsford, it will see the keyword Pittsford and display your website to anyone typing in "Pittsford real estate".
Next, is your "description tag". This tag provides the description that you see right under the anchor text. Most search engines will display about two sentences as a description. Both your anchor text and your description should include several of your best keywords.
Speaking of keywords. The next tag that we will talk about is your "keyword Tag".
Keywords are important! Keywords are what describe your real estate services. Keywords are what people use to search for your website. And, keywords are what the search engines use to determine if they will display your website to someone searching for your real estate services. Including ten to fifteen of your best keywords into the meta tag keyword section of your website can help your page rank and can help people find your website.
So how do you know what keywords are searched for most often? There are many free keyword tools on the internet. Go to your favorite search engine and type in "keyword selector tool". When you find a free keyword tool that suites you, type in a keyword phrase to see how many times it was searched last month. All the results that you get using this tool are tabulated by the month. Play around with different combinations and you will find that there are specific keyword phrases that are searched more than others. Those are the keyword phrases that you want to use as keywords in the meta tag keyword section of your website. For example, try "Pittsford realtor" or "real estate Pittsford" or try misspelling the word real estate. For example try, "Pittsford real estate". Yes, misspellings count and can be used as a keyword in your meta tags.