Archive for the ‘Inbound Marketing’ Category
Rolled out of a 4 part blog edition, we’d like to breakdown what SEO really means and entails for Real Estate professionals trying to stay ahead of the game. Served up as digestible nuggets of information and tactics to employ, we’ll cover what we think should be top of mind as you consider an SEO strategy, the technology behind it, and the content production involved- all with end goal of increasing your web presence and remaining competitive online!
Last week, we kicked off with “The What & Why?” of SEO…
Now Let’s Talk Strategy
Getting found at the top of the search engines results is unfortunately not a black and white endeavor. While Google does use a mathematical algorithm to determine where certain search terms rank on a page, these equations are constantly changing in nature. It’s fair to say it would be impossible to keep up with all the calculations, particularly when you have a business to run. But there are some good places to start, and with due diligence and time, you can compete for a findable spot.
The most common mistake that SEO novices make is to assume that everyone types the same keywords into Google. That’s just not true! In fact, well-optimized websites see visitors who type in tens of thousands of different keywords.
Even though you’ll never be able to dream up every term that someone might search on, that’s ok, because you don’t have to. A properly optimized site will rank in the results for tens of thousands of terms. So, your site will be found by people who search on all sorts of keywords, not just the ones you can think of.
Focus, focus, focus!
Still your site should be focused on the markets you serve and the kinds of buyers and sellers you want to work with. For agents, we always recommend to focus, focus, focus! If you work in Los Angeles, for example, there are literally thousands of realtors who might try to rank on page 1 in Google for a term like ‘LA Homes.’ Why set yourself up for all that competition? Pick a few smaller towns and neighborhoods you know. Focus your efforts. Then, you’ll start seeing the leads come in for buyers and sellers who want to own or sell in the markets that you know best.
Now that you’ve done your research, and you’ve got a pretty good strategy mapped out- what’s next? Our next edition will focus on the technology component of SEO. A blueprint isn’t any good without a foundation- like a house built on cement, a good SEO strategy needs to be backed with the right technology.
We all know that publishing content on a regular basis is an important aspect of your online marketing campaign. Boston Logic recommends that our real estate SEO clients blog at least once per week, and that those new sites try to blog twice per week to generate content faster so Search Engines crawl your blog sooner – when a site has 100 posts, that’s the magic number when the search engines start to pay attention.
So you’ve been blogging once a week since your site has launched. Things are going good. But when is the optimal time or day of the week for your blog post to be published? When will it be most likely to capture the most readers? Be more likely to be shared on Facebook or Twitter? Unfortunately, there are just as many answers as there are businesses. Each business has a different customers: so how do you go about finding out what works best for you?
1) Experiment. As David Friedman mentioned in his “What is an Online Marketer?” article, it’s all about tracking, making educated changes, and then measuring for success. If you have Google Analytics installed in your website, (which you should!) tracking is easy.
If you blog 0nce per week, take the next few weeks to conduct an experiment: try publishing on each weekday to see which generates the most interest or traffic. For example, blog next Monday. Then write a blog the next week on Tuesday. Keep going until you have a full week days’ worth of posting so you can measure your results. You’ll always have variables such as high-traffic topics, but it’s a good place to start.
Finding the day your blog is most trafficked is a good start – a more advanced experiment, and ideal for those who blog every day, would be to find out what time of day would be best for you to be blogging. If you’ve found the best week day already in the previous experiment, start the process over again by blogging once during each time of day and measuring the results.
2) Tips and Data. Experimenting to find out what’s best for your personal blog is the best way for you to get the most accurate results. However, there have been studies conducted to help point you in the right direction when it comes to days and times to blog. Thanks to our good friends at Hubspot, we have some great findings to help point you in the right direction:
The best time of day to get shared on Facebook: 9am
The best day of the week to get shared on Facebook: Saturday
The best time to get your blog read: Morning
Also, take a look at this great image Hubspot created. Based on this data, we can see that most blog post views activity (people reading your blog) seems to take place in the late morning every day – Hubspot reported in a “When Do You Read Blogs?” survey that 80% of people who read blogs answered in the mornings. This also seems to be true for links to your blog and blogger comments.
Another interesting visual is that the most heavy commenting activity seems to take place on the weekend, and a bit on Mondays.
If you take these tips as a starting point and then experiment to find out what works best for you, you will be able to improve your own real estate online marketing presence. Don’t have time to worry about blogging or real estate SEO for your website? Contact Boston Logic today to find out what we can do for you!
- Over 70% of online consumers start their search for products, services, and information by typing in what they need on a search engine. You probably can’t afford not introducing your company and yourself to this process (AND an enormous new audience!)
- Most internet users don’t bother clicking past the first couple search results pages (many don’t even bother reading past the first one!) so it’s clear why a good position on the first page is paramount to your success.
- Unlike paying for a banner advertisement or a sponsored listing on a search page, you can’t buy a good position in the search engines. What you can do is invest in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to target visitors, provide publicity, exposure and revenue.
- While you cannot actually buy the keywords that will optimize your website, it helps to imagine that you are in fact paying for them. This will help you narrow down your list until you have the ones that will most effectively drive traffic to your site and provide the most return on investment.– For example, “BC apartments” might have a TON of global searches that aren’t relevant to a Boston
broker because they could be searches for apartments in British Colombia rather that Boston College.
- When choosing a keyword, you must understand that the more popular the keyword is, the more competitive it will be to achieve a high ranking for it. Typically, very general keywords tend to be more competitive. For instance, “Apartments” is extremely hard to rank for, but “South End Apartments” is much easier to achieve a high ranking for. Take advantage of the free Google Keywords Tool to determine a keyword’s difficulty rating in Local and Global Search Volumes. If you are a local company, place your focus on ranking high in your Local Search Volume and don’t worry about how you rank globally.
- Don’t be afraid to use specific keywords. With the advent of Google Instant, online consumers are naturally becoming more intelligent searchers. The search results morph in real time for each letter typed into the Google search box, so often consumers end up typing in very specific search terms. Search results now will appear and change almost instantly as the keyword phrase in the search box is edited. This will start getting rid of the need to scroll through pages of results; rather consumers will just refine their search and focus on Long Tail Keywords.
- After you determine how competitive a keyword is, you have to figure out how much traffic it will drive to your site. Luckily, there is no need to hire a psychic to predict the success of each keyword.There are two ways to predict the traffic from a keyword:
- Use industry standard keyword research tools such as Overture or WordTracker. These won’t be 100% accurate, but they offer a basic estimation of traffic flow.
- Set up a Google Adwords (pay-per-click) campaign that ties into web analytics. While Pay-Per-Click advertising is not the same as SEO because it is paid for, you can use Adwords to see the exact keywords that were typed in the search engine by a visitor. To start out, make sure to check the setting “broad match” so that you allow a variety of keywords to prompt your advertisement. While you have to pay for this service (you can rank for the first paid advertisement slot within 24 hours) it will help you learn about the keywords that will benefit your website.
- After you pick your keywords, it is important to make sure you aren’t just shoving keywords into your site without good content. Even if your site is easily found by search engine robots, you must have unique, correct, specific, and appealing content in order to entice online consumers to actually stay on your site. Updating your content often is also important; if you regularly update your website, you are giving consumers more reason to return. One of the best ways to ensure new content is to blog. We recommend blogging at least twice a week to keep a constant stream of content flowing. Search engine robots will also visit your site more often as it is updated, leading to a quicker index in the future.
- One of the hardest parts of SEO is acquiring incoming links. The only way you can make sure that other people link your website is to have good content. This is something that is sort of out of your hands, but by networking and blogging, you can often acquire incoming links. It is important to create social media accounts on popular websites and add links to your website on your profiles. Good websites to make accounts on are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It is also helpful to add your website to directories like Yelp, Google Places, Yp.com and industry-specific directories like Angieslist.com. You should also register your website’s blog on blog directories like Blogcatalogue.com.
- Do not try to fool the search engines. While it may seem appealing and easy just to stuff your website full of keywords to up your traffic, it is the easiest way to get your website penalized or even banned from search engines completely. Search engines need their results to reflect accurately on content, not on link farms, alt text spamming, cloaking or keyword stuffing.
The vitals of success for inbound marketing are (1) well-written and relevant content, (2) in-bound links, and (3) fans, friends, and/or subscribers. The first two figures are largely covered by SEO, but once you throw blogging and social marketing networks into the mix you open up a whole new realm of possibilities. We already know that Google is looking more closely to see if your efforts incorporate all of these things, and so good marketing practices should incorporate all three.
We recommend using social networks like stumblepon.com, twitter.com, linkedin.com, facebook.com, etc. Stepping into the social media realm also means making yourself more public via the use of online videos, webinars (online video training or web seminar) and podcasts (like a radio broadcast), and don’t forget to go Mobile (stay tuned for more on this).
Social media really isn’t the next big thing anymore, but it’s not too late. Like with all good things it’s best to get started later in the game than not at all. What is new, however, is the way that it’s being used in conjunction with the tried and true search engine marketing practices.
Ever curious about what people are saying about your business? When you become part of these larger networking communities you’ll start to get more of a sense as to what is being said, and in the event that someone has a negative review about you (she said what?)… now you have a means by which you can counter and respectfully disagree. Of course you’ll also want to promote yourself in a more flattering way any chance that you get. And, don’t forget, all those fans and/or friends that you are gathering will help you promote your content as well.
Ultimately, you want to become more engaged with others, and in turn engage others in your community. Beside publishing good content you will want to monitor not only what people are saying about you but also what is being said about your field (hint: your key words). Sure you can use Google Alerts, but why not give Twitter a try. Hubspot recently published a good article on “how to use Twitter for marketing“… so use it. Through Twitter’s search application you can actually see what people are saying about things and/or you, and then you can subscribe to a feed for your query. It just might be your next lead!
As Twitter and other social media services evolve, they are becoming a key part of search engine optimization strategies. All of your efforts should work together; (1) SEO (plus PPC), (2) your blog, and (3) your social marketing network. These efforts, combined, help to increase the number of inbound links and spread your content through more and more channels … all of which makes for a highly efficient inbound marketing strategy as you head into the new year.
Let’s call it what it is … we’re in an economic recession, with real estate market trends an obvious reflection of the larger problem. The image below shows the trend of the search term – recession. Note the search spikes in 2008, clearly this is what is on consumers’ minds.
So what should you expect in terms of marketing during a real estate recession? The obvious would be a lower lead volume, and probably marketing budget cuts.
Honestly, I’m not here to put a damper on your day. No, in fact there is hope.
So, your budget has been cut for marketing. Now what? Standard outbound marketing media like newsletters, paper or TV ads etc are without a doubt too costly for this economy and offer diminishing ROI. Don’t get me wrong, they do offer some return but at a higher cost.
Here’s the glimmer, ready … switch to online marketing. “But I have a limited budget!” you say. The good news is that most online marketing strategies out there cost a lot less than your standard/outbound marketing strategies. This shift will boost your ROI.
For starters, let’s talk about your trusted Real Estate Blog, Real Estate SEO, and the use of social media networks. We’ve already covered the basics of your Real Estate Blog, as well as some Real Estate SEO fundamentals … and we will go into the need for social media in an upcoming post … so stay tuned.
During tough times it’s important to rethink your strategies. Inbound marketing offers all of the opportunities you are looking for. While search engine marketing is always a good choice, it’s even more relevant now. It brings people to you rather than having you chase leads as you often do with outbound marketing and sales. SEO promises to bring in more qualified leads. It will be up to you to engage those that are interested and close the deal.