Catch Customers on Your Web Site

By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine

Internet Marketing in Real Estate By Barbara Cox and William Koelzer (Prentice Hall) 245 pp., $29.95
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“In a handful of years… very few agents will fall into the top producer category unless they have learned effective marketing on the World Wide Web. Web marketing will soon be an absolute necessity, ” write the authors of Internet Marketing in Real Estate. This book teaches you how to do just that, with techniques and strategies to market real estate effectively on the Internet.

The book provides guidelines for building a Web presence, including what features and information to include on your site. It provides screen shots of actual real estate sites to demonstrate these suggestions. It shows how to make your site appear high on prospects’ search engine results, which is critical to having busy consumers find you. It also provides sample timelines and budgets for Internet marketing, so that you can establish concrete goals.

The authors are experienced in fusing real estate and Internet marketing. Cox, principal of Cox Marketing Services, helped to establish the Technology Education Center at the Orange County Association of REALTORS® in California. She was director of technology for the association for three years. In addition, she also co-wrote The Language of Real Estate and The Prentice-Hall Dictionary of Real Estate. Koezler is a 30-year marketing veteran and owns Koelzer & Associates, a marketing consulting and promotional firm. He has written for Realty Times and Broker/Agent Magazine, among other publications.

Tips for Real Estate Professionals

  • Use your site’s content to communicate your expertise. Your Web site should “clearly demonstrate that you are knowledgeable, helpful, experienced, well-connected in your community,” the authors write. You need to provide resources, or links to resources, that assist your customers in dealing with problems they might encounter when buying or selling a home. Some common concerns listed in the book include finding good schools or jobs, finding financing with the most favorable terms, and knowing local market conditions. Include similar content in your e-mail correspondence. For instance, send current market statistics for sellers, and send buyers URLs of sites where they can find homes, research local schools, or learn about the homebuying process. (A good place to start is REALTOR® Magazine Online’s “ Handouts for Consumers.
  • Make your site visible to search engines. The greatest Web site in the world isn’t going to build your business if nobody can find it. Portals, search engines, and directories can help make your site more visible. According to the book, most search engines allow you to register your site, often for free. Using the right keywords is essential to landing your site high in search engine results. The book cites a real estate industry Web site that studied the keywords used most in consumers’ real estate-related keyword searches. It found that the most common words in real estate-related Web searches are (city) + “real estate,” as well as “realty.” The authors advise that you add the name of your county, general real estate terms related to the type of properties you sell, and nicknames for your area (e.g., “Twin Cities” or “Big Apple”), and possible misspellings for your city or state.
  • Form alliances with other real estate professionals. Reciprocal links can help get the word out about your Web site. According to research from the Georgia Institute of Technology, links from other sites are the most valuable method to bring people to your site. Establish relationships with salespeople in key cities that might provide a steady flow of relocation clients. Send these salespeople an e-mail stating the following: “Perhaps we can set up a win-win situation. Would you be willing to put a link to me on your Web site if I put up a similar one for you on my site? In this way, we could each enjoy increased statewide exposure.”

Editor’s Note: Market research shows the growing need for having an Internet presence and being able to effectively market through the Web. In the first quarter of 2003, 71 percent of buyers used the Internet in their search, up from 41 percent in 2002, according to research by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. In addition, homebuyers who search for a home on the Internet are both more likely to use a real estate professional and to purchase more expensive homes than other homebuyers, according to the NAR’s 2003 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

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