A whopping 72 per cent of Australians go online to research real estate and 56 per cent of consumers research local businesses online every week. Put these two statistics together and real estate agents nationally need to own their local search engine presence.
The real estate business is a local business: your role as an agent or local real estate agency is to know and service your immediate area. To successfully dominate your patch, factors such as developing and maintaining a large client database, strong sales results and a good reputation come into play.
Local marketing is key to achieving these business objectives, and while print collateral is a core foundation, you need to back this up with online marketing.
Statistics to consider
Google has provided us with some interesting real estate data based on 2014 Australian research:
- 57 per cent of real estate businesses have an online presence
- 19 per cent are currently promoting their business via search engine marketing (SEM)
- 21 per cent are looking to increase their investment in online marketing
The above statistics show that now is a good time for those working in the Australian real estate industry to consider their online strategies and decide just how they want to tackle the digital realm of real estate marketing.
Year on year, consumers searching for agents and brokers online have grown by 14 per cent and those searching for commercial and investment real estate have risen by 34 per cent. It makes sense to be where your clients are.
There are some immediate steps you can take to improve your online presence, as well as some other strategies that require greater time and investment. Both are outlined below:
Verify your local business listing on Google
This is a free service that does not require your local business to have a website. Simply head to the Google My Business page and either claim and update your business listing or add it to Google.
Your business listing will then show up in Search, Maps and Google+ and include information like your address (and map), directions, contact number, website (if applicable), opening hours, product and service descriptions and reviews. All of this will help customers when they’re on the go and searching for information on their mobile or at home.
You may wonder why Google provides this free service. It’s because Google knows what users want, and it’s local information. According to Google research, 87 per cent of Australian consumers consider search results with local information more relevant. So having up-to-date local business listings appear in search results helps all involved.
It is possible to manage up to 10 locations (if your business has multiple offices), add images and respond to online reviews, comments and ratings.
Organic and paid search engine results
It can be difficult competing for a high search engine ranking when major real estate players such as realestate.com.au and domain.com.au take up considerable bandwidth. But there are strategies that will help you have a visible impact and get you ahead of local competitors.
A quality business website
Whether it is organic search results (which appear in the centre of the results page) or “paid for” results (which appear at the top or to the side of the organic results), having a quality website to link to is key.
Whatever type of website you have, or are considering, it is important to have plenty of content geared towards words and phrases (keywords) that relate to your business and local area.
Improving organic rankings
Some mystery surrounds how organic search results are determined, especially as major search engines like Google constantly update their search algorithms. What we do know is that you will receive a higher search ranking for specific terms consumers search if you create quality, in-depth content around those terms on your website.
Additional factors like how trustworthy your website is rated as will also have an impact. This is determined by things like the amount of traffic your site receives, the amount of time people spend on your site and whether your site receives backlinks from other reputable sites.
This is an under-utilised marketing tool in the industry, and with only 19 per cent of real estate businesses currently employing SEM (paid-for) tactics, advertising can kickstart your search engine results.
Using products like Google Adwords allows you to tailor ads that will appear when specific keywords or phrases are searched, for example, “houses for sale SUBURB X”. After setting a budget, you only pay when someone clicks on the ad and visits your website, which is great for assessing return on investment.
Two factors will impact where your ad ranks for that search term – the amount you bid (how much you spend) and your quality score (how relevant and useful the information on your ad and website is to the user).