What is search engine marketing (SEM)? And why is it important for getting ahead of your competition in real estate marketing?
- Sponsored (paid) listings are a great way to get fast visibility on the major search engines. Also called pay-per-click, (PPC) sponsored listings are those that show up at the top of search engines such as Google in a blue box or in a column along the right side of the page. These results are clearly labeled “Sponsored listings.” The more popular the keyword, the more paid listings come up.
- Lead tracking can help your real estate business become stronger by attracting quality leads. Lead tracking brings both short- and long-term benefits to your company – giving you instant access to information about each sales prospect while also helping to streamline and manage the sales process.
- Email marketing is the icing on the SEM cake – it impresses your prospects by allowing you to send them valuable information on the market and it helps you to stay fresh in their minds.
- Third-party SEM providers can take the mystery and work out of effective marketing. If you do not have the time to do a comprehensive SEM campaign, or you simply want to spend less time on the Internet and more time with your customers, you can go through a third-party provider to run your SEM campaign for you.
Most likely, you know yourself and your business pretty well. But have you ever sat down and wrote out lists of words and phrases that other people might use to describe you? Probably not – but now is the time to do it.
Even if you’re using a third-party provider, you need to know who your potential customers are to a T. What are they looking for and why would they want to use you to help them buy or sell their home?
All aspects of real estate search engine marketing – sponsored listings, lead tracking, and email marketing – rely on keywords in one way or another to work.
What are keywords, and where should they go in your site? Keywords are simply, well, key words that determine which category your site will be listed under in search engines and directories. In terms of sponsored listings, the keywords you choose to bid on will determine where your ads show up.
You have to figure out what words and phrases home buyers and sellers are potentially going to use to find you, determine which are the most important to your business, then use them accordingly.
Your website will attract more hits if you spend some time doing this seemingly mundane, but extremely important, job. There are just a few simple guidelines for an effective keyword plan, but they do take some time to do well.
Take an hour or so to sit down and write every single imaginable word that someone might use to find your real estate service. For example, if you specialize in high-end new constructions in the Los Angeles area, you may come up with the following:
However, not everyone who is looking for “upscale Los Angeles real estate” will come up with that phrase. So you need to think about every conceivable term that they might use to describe the same thing. Such as..
The important thing to remember in brainstorming is that you should try to think of what you would look for, and branch out from there. The more specific your keywords are – the better. It’s best to come up with 40-50 keywords and phrases, and then narrow them down to the top 20 absolute most effective. The more specific you are, the better your chances are of having words that differ from your competition. Remember, in Pay-per-click, the more popular a keyword is, the more expensive it is.
If you really are at a loss for relevant keywords, try using Wordtracker a site that suggests and evaluates the keywords most relevant to your business.
Once you have a solid list of keywords and keyword phrases, you can use that information to build other aspects of your SEM campaign, including lead tracking.
Aside from drawing traffic to your sponsored listings and real estate lead tracking efforts, brainstorming keywords has an added benefit – giving you more focus in your real estate business.
Times are changing in the real estate business. Models that worked for you in 2003 may not work in 2006. The more you can specialize your services and differentiate yourself from the herd, the better. Creating keyword lists can lead to all kinds of unexpected new ideas for selling your services. You might come up with a new idea for an email marketing campaign, or a better way of attracting hard-to-reach leads and thus bring more real estate traffic to your real estate website.
For example, say you come up with the keyword phrase “retirement homes.” You then do a little research and discover that many baby boomers are looking for homes that are smaller, but still have luxurious details. You could then use that information to write an email about how smaller homes are fast becoming the size of choice for many retirees. You never know what keywords will spark a new idea, so be open-minded.. The Atelier