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Introduction To SEO For Real Estate Agents

Jun 20, 2008
These days most businesses understand that a website is a necessary tool for their business. The first mistake they make however, is that following the initial investment in getting the website set up, they fail to do what is necessary to make it a profitable addition to their marketing arsenal.

Yes they add the website address (URL) to their business cards and letterheads and even include it in their conventional media advertising in newspapers and magazines. But what the vast majority then fail to do, is promote it through the one medium that it was originally designed to be of use in - the internet.

After spending what may amount to several thousand Euros or dollars they sit and they wait. And they wait some more, wondering why their investment in new technology isn't producing any returns. At this point some will start to look into the matter, many though will just avoid the issue believing that as it is not a core function of their busines, it has already taken up too much time and effort to be worth pursueing and relogate the subject to an expensive 'must have' expense that produced no returns.

One fact is true. A website is not a one off expense. To produce a viable return it needs to have time and investment continually allocated to it. Like a child, it must be nurtured until maturity, at which point it will become a productive addition to the business. Even if this responsibilty is out-sourced to a specialist, in line with the analogy of appointing a nanny to a child, a member of the business should be appointed to oversee the specialist and learn the basic principles of what is needed so that the specialist can be monitored for their success. You wouldn't leave a child in the care of a nanny until its 18th birthday without some kind of supervisory role. In the same way, do not pass off the responsibilty for your website and be surprised if at the end of the contract with the specialist it has produced no results.

The occupation of promoting a website is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. It is a time intensive, multi-faceted role that is forever changing as Search Engines modify and alter the algorithms they use to decide who should appear on the pages of their search results. The simple fact that the likes of Google and Yahoo do not release the rules they apply in their decision making process means that by definition it is not an exact science. If you don't know whether you must shoot under, or over the bar to score points, means that the best results are usually achieved if you have someone who has played the game for a while on your side. Their knowledge of what has worked in the past and continual emersion in the game is your best chance of predicting where the shots should be placed.

The alternative is to spend the time necessary playing the game yourself. Whilst this can be done, it should be remembered that you still have a business to run and to achieve a reasonable level of success, it would not be viable, nor a wise allocation of resources to do this yourself.

SEO is time and knowledge intensive, so appoint someone in the office who has a basic understanding of the internet and allocate them some time each week to work with and learn from the professional you appoint. Meet with them on a regularly scheduled basis so that progress can be monitored and their knowledge can be absorbed. Do not be afraid to ask the questions that your lack of knowledge may throw up. A professional SEO who doesn't want to answer your questions is not someone you want to employ!

Finding your SEO professional can be a task in itself. How do you appoint someone to a job for which you have little or no insight yourself? The answer is to absorb some of the basics relating to SEO and then apply the general rules of success in your business to them.

The first of these seems simple enough. What is it that you want to achieve from your website? This may sound simple but is in fact the hardest question to answer. Many companies see a website as an extension of their corporate identity. These are usually larger companies with an extensive marketing budget. They are more interested in the style and design of the site than its productivity and can afford to pay the ever increasing cost of Pay per Click advertising on the Search Engines to attract visitors to their site.

If you fall into this category then you will be looking for a completely different type of help and should search for someone with skills in Search Engine Marketing or SEM. An SEO on the other hand is someone who deals with the natural search enginge results. These tend to produce more productive visitors than pay per click and once positions in the natural results are achieved, the flow of visitors will not cost you a fee for each visitor to your site.

The end result for most businesses is a sale. In Real Estate, this can be measured by several different things. In the US for an example there is a distinction made between the buyer agent and the sellers agent. A listing or sellers agent maybe more interested in attracting sellers than buyers to their website, which may be geared more towards their marketing experience.

A buyers agent will have very different goals. And many will want to attract both buyers and sellers. Here again, establishing the goals and markets you wish to attract as visitors to your website before you employ someone to achieve them is paramount. If you do not know what you wish to achieve, you can hardly expect your SEO to outline a strategy to achieve it!

Once set, you are ready to find your SEO. So what do you need to know about achieving your goals and how your SEO can help?
About the Author
Neil Ebsworth is co-founder of AMLAspain.com, TheSpanish property MLS. Read Real Estate articles on the AMLA Blog.
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