SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will happen naturally with correct code and proper content. When you build with the user in mind, correct SEO will be achieved naturally.
A pretty website is useless if no one can find it. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is a (huge) waste of a marketing dollars unless you create landing pages, research hundreds of keywords and segments, and target mobile and desktop separately. SEM is a business among itself. Be careful with SEM, you can burn through a lot of money quickly if you do it incorrectly, but you have to use it.
Online, perfect is the enemy of good. If you are waiting for site perfection…you will never launch your site. Your website is a constant work in progress. The medium allows for it and most people do not use it in this way. A pretty site with no useful features is worse than an ugly site with a great home search tool. Your site will never “be done” because it will always be getting better. The same is true for your online marketing. You can always make it better.
All marketing is track-able and metrics can be assigned to each items. You can see how much money, calls, leads, request, etc. came from each piece of online and offline marketing. You can then determine your ROI and adjust your ad spend. If you buy a newspaper ad, it will point to a landing page. If you send out a piece of direct mail, it will go to a landing page. The URL on your business card will go to a landing page. EVERYTHING GETS ITS OWN LANDING PAGE.
You need to establish, build, maintain, and interact with you social media contacts using the same tools they use. This large amount of work is often overlooked and is what kills 90% of the people who start in the space. In addition, you must keep up to date with emerging trends in the social media space and evaluate the usefulness before diving in. Example: tools like Pinterest could be useful in the real estate space, but it’s a closed beta at this time and there are copyright concerns for some people. However it would be a great way for people to save properties from your site.
One of the best ways to reach people is direct mail. Online, direct mail is email. You should send out a weekly newsletter with information about the market, new homes, recently sold’s, etc. The email does not need to be super fancy. Well formatted plain text works pretty well actually.
A real estate agents (brokers) website needs to be easy to use and easy to update. No one should be tied to a specific site builder. Instead, a site needs to be tied to an open-source platform. Available platforms include WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Tying your site to the platform allows you replace your site builder if (s)he can no longer maintain your website. The focus of your site is not the Agent (broker), but on the tools for buyers (MLS search) and sellers.
If you focus on buyers, your homepage needs to speak to first-time home buyers. If you focus to sellers, your homepage needs to focus on how you help the seller (technology, online/offline marketing, etc.). If your “focus” on both buyers and sellers, you need to separate you homepage into areas for both (example: microsoft.com).
Features for sellers
- Their property featured on a high traffic, well SEO’d website
- Property featured on a Adwords driven website
- Homepage presence with custom landing page for each property
- Google Adwords campaign for each property
- Microsoft ad center campaign for each property
Features for buyers
- Search by map (free form)
- Advanced search (free form)
- Predefined searches (neighborhood, prices breakdowns, property types)
- Save searches
- Auto send, drip sends
- Buyers resources (calculators, area reports, neighborhood guide, recommended properties)
- Open house finder
- Neighborhood sections with links to properties