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Revamp Your Real Estate Marketing by Optimizing for Local Search

Local Search Marketing

If someone did a search for “moving into {Your City Name}”, would you be on the first page? Would you show up at all?

According to a recent study done by the National Association of Realtors, approximately 69% of those shopping for homes online began their search with a local search term.

So what is it about local search that’s so great?

And more importantly, how can you apply it to your real estate marketing plan?

Let’s take a closer look.

The Power of Real Estate Marketing and Local Search

Local search is simple – it’s just optimizing your online presence (whether that be on your website, blog, social media, etc.) for a specific location. A lot of local marketing is based on direct mail – like EDDM, for instance – but local search is about optimizing your online presence for a specific neighborhood or city.

For example, as a realtor, basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) principles would tell you to optimize your website for search terms such as “Real Estate” or “Real Estate for Sale,” and while this is great, it really only just skims the surface. If you want to get real, localized result, you’re going to need to be more specific with the keywords that you choose to target. So instead of just targeting “Real Estate,” try “Real Estate in (your local area),” or even more specifically, “Luxury Homes for Sale in (specific neighborhood) in (your local area).

The general rule of thumb here is that the more specific your target keyword, the smaller your target audience. And while this may seem a bit counterintuitive, remember that someone who is searching for a specific home type in a certain neighborhood is much closer to being ready to make a purchase than someone who is broadly searching for “Real Estate for Sale,” which in turn shortens the length of the sale for you. Focus on small, targeted audiences in order to achieve bigger, quicker results.

How Can You Improve Your Local Search?

So now that you know about local search, what can you do to make your real estate business better in that regard?

  1. Location Specific Blog Posts – Blogging is one of the best ways to target specific keywords for SEO purposes, and the same technique applies to local search. Try writing about your local community, recent homes you’ve sold, or even market trends – just remember to target a specific local keyword.
  2. Write About Community Events – Know about a cool upcoming event in your community? Write about it on your website and share it on social media. Remember to mention the specific neighborhood/location.
  3. Optimize Your Social Media – Speaking of social media, make sure that you list your location on your social media homepages (like Facebook and Twitter). This way, if someone is searching for real estate in your area, they’ll be more likely to end up on your page.
  4. Start a Google My Business Page – Listing your real estate business with Google is practically a must in local search. Doing so allows your business info to pop up when someone searches for your company name or more generally, real estate agents in your area. It’s easy to set up, too, so definitely do this one ASAP.
  5. Ask for Local Reviews – Reviews are always good, but if you can get local customers to review you on sites such as Yelp, new potential clients will be much more likely to find you when searching the web for real estate agents in your area.
  6. Create an Account on Various Real Estate Sites – If you haven’t tried sites such as Trulia and Zillow, you should definitely look into them. Sites like this give you the opportunity to list location specific details, which is always a bonus for bettering your local search.
  7. Try Google AdWords or Facebook Ads – The great thing about both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads is that you can target your ads to reach specific demographics and locations. So if you’re looking to try out some advertising, try creating an ad through one of these services and remember to target your specific location.

As with any real estate marketing plan, the state of local search is always evolving. But with these strategies under your belt, you’ll be well on your way to knocking your local search results out of the park!

How Does Google’s Upcoming Update Affect Your Site?

How Google's Update Impacts RealtorsGoogle has announced that there will be a significant update in its search-ranking algorithm that will go into effect on April 21, 2015. While Google never releases the specifics of an update, the general idea is that mobile-friendly sites will be ranked more highly in search results. In contrast, non-mobile-friendly sites will be ranked lower.

Mobile Friendly Sites and Real Estate

What does this mean to you, as a real estate professional? Primarily, it means that if your site is not optimized for mobile, you will no longer rank highly for the keywords you desire. That will directly impact the web traffic you get from search.

For instance, if you’ve done work to become highly ranked for “Minneapolis real estate” or some other term, you could lose all of that hard work if your site doesn’t show up well on a mobile device.

You are probably wondering how to know if Google considers your site “mobile friendly”. Fortunately, Google has provided a tool that will help you know. On the Google Mobile Friendly Test page, enter your website’s domain and click “Analyze”. Within a couple of minutes, Google will let you know what they think.

Keep in mind that Google is planning to test every page of your site separately. You’ll need to make sure that your whole site is mobile-friendly, not just the homepage.

How to Make Your Site More Mobile-Friendly

Here are some steps you can take to update your website to make it mobile-responsive.

  • Don’t Panic. You want to make sure your updates are done correctly – definitely don’t pay a shady “update your website now” company that you found through a pop-up or unsolicited email.
  • Test Your Site. Use the Google Mobile Test linked above. If you thought your site was mobile-friendly but it failed the test, go to Google Webmaster Tools to see what the issue is. There are step-by-step instructions on setting up Google Webmaster Tools here, and the mobile usability errors will be noted on the dashboard. By clicking them, you will be taken to the trouble spot and told what to do to fix the issue.
  • Change Website Providers if Needed. If you have someone else administering your website, check with them if you fail the Google Mobile test. If they cannot update your site to a mobile-responsive version, change website providers to someone who can. Make sure your provider provides mobile responsive design, not just a separate site for mobile devices. Google doesn’t like separate sites.
  • Test Your Site After Any Changes. Once you’ve updated your site or made needed changes from the Google Webmaster Tools, go back through your site and make sure it looks good on multiple browsers and devices. Check links to make sure they still work correctly, especially links from one page to another.
  • Relax and Get Back to Real Estate! After your site passes the Google Mobile test, relax! Your site should be safe from being negatively impacted by Google’s update – and if your Google Mobile Updatecompetitors don’t make these changes, you may even move up the search results.

As Realtors®, it’s frustrating to have to think about things like web design and Google updates. However, many of our customers find us through search, and so it cannot be overlooked. If you haven’t updated your site to be mobile-responsive yet, be sure to do so before April 21, 2015.

How do you handle needed web design updates? Do you do them yourself or hire it out? Share in the comments!