One of the hardest and most complicated industries that you can market online is real estate. You’re not just dealing here with small ticket items, but on life-changing transactions that involve a great deal of investment on the part of the buyer.
Currently, there are approximately 2 million real estate licensees that are active in the United States according to the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO). Competing against that number means engaging in innovative ways to market your listings that will deliver results.
During its relatively short life, digital marketing has proven to be one of the most effective tactics available to gain an edge over other agents and realtors who have not yet effectively done so. Among the most cost-effective digital marketing tactics is Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
If used effectively, SEO can drive your real estate website or listings to the first pages of search results, which is all that matters, and the following reasons should convince you of this.
Th infographic (click to zoom):
1. Because Real Estate Buyers Search Online
9 out of 10 potential home buyers begin their quest for new real estate by searching for it online, according the National Association of Realtors in its Digital House Hunt report. Among these home buyers, 43% would directly search for properties to buy while 12% first make some online research on how they can go through the home buying process.
The higher your website ranks in the search results, the better your chances are of generating sales. For many, if not all digital marketers, landing on the very first page of Google is all that matters for this is where 95% of search users put their attention and focus on. To get even better results, landing on the top three spots in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) is what every real estate marketer should be targeting: with 32% of clicks aimed at the #1 spot, 17% of clicks goes to #2 spot, and the #3 of third spots gets 11% of the clicks.
2. Because MLS IDX Services are Not Optimized for Search
Many realtors and real estate brokers make use of Internet Data Exchange (IDX) services for marketing their Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listings and have them publicly available for posting in their websites. The problem with most MLS IDX solutions however is that many are not fully configured for SEO. With such configurations, search engines like Google will not be able to index the listing as part of the main site, practically affecting how it will be ranked in search results.
This is different from having your listings presented in your websites as separate directories as these can be further optimized for better search rankings as part of the main site. With MLS listing changing every so often, focusing on your directories will provide your listing with a more permanent page that can be properly ranked in search results.
3. Because SEO Offers Better Targeted Marketing
The chart above that highlights online channels as the top source of where home buyers are coming from is a clear indication of how powerful digital marketing like SEO is, surpassing even direct person-to-person engagement with real estate agents.
Using the tools available from the Webmaster Tools as well as Google Analytics, real estate agents can streamline their marketing efforts to a more targeted audience and increase the lead quality.
By using and streamlining your real estate SEO, you can more efficiently and effectively control who can and should find you online through their search queries.
4. Because SEO Can Help You Attract More Potential Buyers
With advances in internet technologies, it is now faster and more efficient for consumers to look for whatever they need online. They just make a query on their favorite search engines and voila, pages of listings of websites that could provide the information they need are returned for them to choose from.
Up to 83% of Realtors surveyed by WebsiteBox.com believe that SEO can be their No.1 lead generation source online. Right now, their primary lead generation source is through direct referrals but these Realtors foresee that eventually leads generated by SEO will come out as their primary source of potential new home buyers.
5. Because People Are Going Mobile
People are going crazy with their mobile devices, and when it says people it means everyone including new home buyers. It’s very rare nowadays to see a person not having a smart phone or any other mobile gadget. 2014 is closing and it is expected that this year up to 1.76 billion people are using their smartphones, with figures expected to rise continuously and have the potential to reach 2.73 billion by 2018.
This trend has impacted several aspects of how people communicate and do business. More prominent however is how people are doing local searches, with mobile search expected to surpass desktop local search by the year 2015. But what’s most interesting is that up to 78% of these local searches eventually end up with a purchase. That is why it is important to gear up and ramp your marketing strategies to include SEO as this can be your main channel for harnessing the power of mobile search.
6. Because SEO Is More Cost-Effective than Traditional Marketing
This year, it was expected that the real estate industry will surpass the $16 billion mark for online ad spending. This is a high 210% increase compared to the same periods back in 2009 where online advertising for the industry was just slowly peaking up. Right now, 56% of overall real estate advertising goes to online ads, with only 14% allocated for traditional advertising channels like print and direct mail.
The main reason why this is so is the cost-effectiveness of digital marketing channels like SEO which is far less expensive while getting a wider reach and better results. Even paid search marketing is less cost-prohibitive than traditional advertising, with solo ads usually costing only an average of $3 per thousand impressions.
With such figures, real estate agents can already reach millions with only a $100 budget per week – which is way too cheaper than print and other traditional advertising means.
7. Because SEO Leads to Higher Closure Rates
One of the more important things in real estate marketing is getting closure from the leads their marketing and advertising efforts are generating. Closing a sale is not instantaneous and it would take several more engagements with potential customers before an agent can make headway in eventually closing the sale.
Leads generated through SEO however shows better rates particularly in terms of closing a sale. Up to 45% of those who searched for a property online will actually walk through a home they have looked up online, while 21% will actually drive by for viewing. This just show how effective SEO and search marketing can be in drawing in highly targeted prospects that have better chances for closing a sales which can go as high as 14% close rate.
8. Because SEO Delivers Better Credibility and Awareness for Your Brand
In an interview with Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land, Matt Cutts mentioned that “Over time, Google will care more about identity and social reputation.” Danny then added his insights, saying that “Search engines don’t favor ‘big’ brands, they favor information and authority that can stand on its own”
What these statements imply is that search engines like Google will focus more and encourage how businesses, including real estate companies, build better awareness for their brands in terms of identity, authority and popularity. This is achieved through SEO particularly in how they utilize creative and relevant content to develop such awareness.
Marketing and advertising is an integral part of the real estate industry for it is through these channels where real estate professionals generate their leads and close home sales. Using digital marketing methods like Search Engine Optimization however can streamline their marketing to an easier, more cost-effective and more efficient process – which eventually will deliver better results for their real estate business.
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