What should you as a real estate brokerage or agent do following the news of the Trulia buyout by Zillow?
That depends on your real estate presence online. If you’ve been relying on the traditional means of marketing–mailings, print advertising and open houses, and maybe your own Website or page on your brokerage’s site–then, sadly, you have little to no Web Presence, and are way behind the curve in online marketing. Additionally, you are in no way able to compete with real estate agents and brokerages who’ve been utilizing online real estate portals like Trulia and Zillow.
However, if your online assets include only these portals, your Web Presence is still limited.
Realtors and brokerages on these sites are competing against hundreds of others in the same space. To gain advantage on these sites you must advertise — a great deal — if you want your profile to show up alongside your listings. If you don’t pay, a number of other agents’ profiles who did advertise will show up next to your listing.
What can you do to stay ahead of the curve?
One, you cannot ignore the online real estate portals. They’re here, and to stay. What’s more, now that two of the biggest are combined, they have the ability to entice real estate shoppers even more.
“Consumers will certainly benefit from the combined entity,” writes real estate brokerage owner Kevin Lisota on the subject for GeekWire. “By pooling development resources and knowledge, it is not hard to see the combined site being even more compelling for the real estate consumer.”
So if you’ve got a profile on one or both of these sites, make sure it’s completely filled out, and get former clients to leave you reviews and recommendations. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up now and fill out as much info as possible.
If you can squeeze a budget for advertising on any of the sites, you might want to consider doing so. A real estate agent from Florida told the Wall Street Journal she pays about $600 a month to make sure her profile is shown with her listings. She said she’s had good results so far. What the future holds as far as cost increases to use the sites is unknown.
Beyond playing the online real estate portal game, the next important step involves creating a Web Presence with your own online assets. Namely a Website and a blog, and a strong social media network. It’s the only way for any business to stay relevant in this Internet-saturated world. The majority of your competition is marketing themselves online–you need to be there as well.
I’ve outlined below the important steps to take to increase your real estate business presence online, and ways to keep up ahead of the competition and get your listings–and you–found online.
No. 1: Build a Website–and Optimize It
This might seem like a no-brainer, but surprisingly some agents don’t have their own sites, or if they do, they are sadly outdated and not optimized to be found in search engines.
If you’re tech savvy, even moderately so, then a WordPress or a Blogger site is easy to set up and manage. The bonus of building a Web site with either of these two platforms is they are SEO (search engine optimized) friendly, and you can publish a blog directly from them. If you choose WordPress, make sure you self-host it with a unique domain.
If the task of creating your own site is too much to handle, then hiring an individual or an agency to build it is the other option. Hiring your nephew or next-door neighbor is not recommended unless they build web sites professionally.
No. 2: Start a Blog
Providing hyper-local insight and data is a role that local agents can continue to fill.
–Kevin Lisota, CEO of real estate startup findwell, former product manager at Microsoft
A blog is a way for you to publish your own unique content that will establish you as an authority in your market. Neighborhood traits, schools, types of homes, checklists for homebuyers and sellers, financial checklists, new listings, real estate trends and news are all pertinent topics that you can write about. I recommend publishing one new post per week. If you don’t have the time to write all articles yourself, then hire a writer or agency to write SEO content for you.
For a blogging platform, if you go with Blogger or WordPress for a Web site, then you’re set. If not, I still recommend using either platform for your blog–again for the reason that they are SEO friendly.
No. 3: Build a Social Media Network
You should have at least two to three social pages set up and optimized. If you can only manage one social media page, at least it’s a start.This article Best Social Media Sites for Real Estate gives an in-depth look at the top options for social media sites for real estate. It also gives tips on how to get started, and optimize your pages for maximum discovery and sharing.
No. 4: Connect Your Online Assets
If your Web site is separate from your blog, have your blog embedded into a page on your site. Or at least put a link on your site to your blog. Link your social media sites to your blog and Website as well. And link all your online assets to your profile page on the real estate portals like Zillow and Trulia.
Use apps such as ifttt to auto-publish your newest blog posts to your social network. WordPress has great plugins, like Jetpack’s Sharing feature, that will post your blog updates to your social media network automatically. Blogger will auto-post to your Google Plus page and personal profile. Keep in mind, you have to do more than just hit publish once to market your content. It takes constant unique promotion to get your content out there to be found in searches and on social networks.
No. 5: Update Consistently
Keep your blog and social media sites updated with fresh, useful and educational content that will provide homebuyers/sellers with all the information they need about the area you serve. You don’t have to always write the content, but you can curate it from other sources such as NAR or your local Realtors Association to share to your social media network.
As noted earlier, post at least one new blog post per week, and post updates to your social network at least three days per week / three times per day — minimum. Social sites like Twitter demand a higher post rate, as the posts on its feed go by in the blink of an eye.
While it may seem overwhelming to have a site, a blog and several social media pages, if you’re going for success, building these online branding and marketing assets is a necessity