Real Estate Webmasters report on the industry.
Provider: Real Estate Webmasters
Feed Type: Informational
$en['out_link'] = (int)link_type == 0 ? constant('dir').'visit.php?id='.$en['l_id'] : $en['l_website']; ?>
Most recent items from this feed:
Last year was an exciting time for real estate marketing and we saw real estate agents embrace the power of digital technology like never before. We watched as Realtors ditched the mentality that their website is a business card, and saw them conquer new frontiers as they transformed their small territories on the World Wide Web into full-blown marketing machines.
We expect that 2018 will be just as intriguing, and expect to see some pretty awesome changes to the digital landscape. And while we can't tell you exactly what the future holds, here are our top 6 real estate marketing predictions for this year:
6. Realtors will invest more into social media advertising
Social media is a rising star in online marketing and Realtors are beginning to take notice. Facebook and other platforms allow real estate agents to create highly effective, hyper-targeted ad campaigns that bring in buyers and sellers. Realtors will start to take advantage of the opportunities that have been right in front of them for the past couple years.
Crowding in many of the traditional PPC spaces, like Google AdWords, is making them very competitive. Higher ad costs and lower lead generation than in years past is likely to drive Realtors in high-density cities towards alternative advertising methods, including social media.
We also expect Realtors to stop the shotgun spray approach to social media. Instead of posting a little bit of info on several platforms, they'll choose one or two platforms to focus their efforts and really start to dominate. Facebook is an excellent candidate for this approach, but we're also seeing big potential in LinkedIn and Instagram.
In addition, this week's changes to Facebook's algorithm will also make it harder for even the best content to be seen organically, and Realtors may find an increased need to "pay to play" as Facebook prioritizes family, friends, and groups content. Real estate agents will need to carefully monitor what is and isn't working to ensure their social media efforts are paying off.
All in all, it looks like 2018 will be the year that many Realtors step up and start investing more into social media advertising.
5. Big data will improve user experiences
Real estate is catching up to other industries that have already discovered the power of data. Smart Realtors will be looking at ways to combine data from multiple sources to set themselves apart by providing a stronger user experience.
Until now, real estate websites have been hyperfocused on IDX listings--and that makes sense, because it's the core of what buyers and sellers care about. But with so much competition in the market, it's time for Realtors to find ways to differentiate themselves.
Data presents this opportunity, letting Realtors improve the consumer experience by providing more information. The key is finding the right sets of data to complement real estate info, and then using clever integration methods. The people who do this right will hit a gold mine and we expect it's only a matter of time before Realtors start looking at combining data from multiple sources in a big way.
4. Content creation will focus more on sellers
Low inventory levels across Canada and the United States are expected to continue through to 2018, as builders simply can't keep up with the demand. Entry-level homes are particularly challenging to find and the demand significantly outweighs supply. Simply put, it's a seller's market.
With that in mind, Realtors are going to come up with creative and inventive ways to convince people in their community that it's the right time to sell. Convincing buyers with lower equity homes that it's the right time to sell will be a smart way to find new clients and close deals.
Due to the same market constraints, Realtors will also start finding innovative methods of targeting mid- to high-income ea rners and convincing them it's time for an upgrade to a better home.
3. AI will start taking on repetitive admin work
Artificial intelligence presents a huge opportunity for real estate agents to improve their marketing with very little effort. We expect 2018 to be the year that AI helps Realtors personalize the user experience while alleviating some of their work.
One of the best things about AI is that it does what you teach it to. You give a bot your existing knowledge and it can complete tasks that were previously wasting your time. For example, real estate chat bots could help people sort through listings and find their dream home, naturally collecting lead contact information along the way.
We expect AI to start taking on more of this repetitious work, freeing Realtors up for other activities.
2. Immersive experiences will become more popular & help Realtors stand out
Buyers want to get as close to a potential property as they can, without actually being there. As a result, media that provides immersive experiences, including video, 360 photos and virtual reality, is about to become a whole lot more popular.
360 photos and virtual reality already exist for real estate listings and we think this is the year that people start to integrate those options into their sites in a big way. Allowing potential buyers to get a genuine feel for a property from afar is an efficient and cost-effective way to determine which homes are worth checking out. By eliminating the "no ways" right off the bat, everyone's time is better optimized.
Video is another immersive experience we expect to grow. Video has been around for quite some time but the vast majority of Realtors are still shy about using it to share with their communities. We suspect this is the year that changes. From live videos to simple recorded messages, there are a lot of ways we'll see Realtors using video this year.
The more success Realtors see from their digital marketing, the more efficient they need to become, while still creating strong, personal connections and proving their value to buyers and sellers. Immersive media is the simplest answer to this challenge, satisfying the need for better consumer experiences.
1. Mobile users will stop forgiving unfriendly websites
Up until now, real estate agents have managed to mostly get away with terrible website experiences on mobile devices because users were willing to accept a site that's a bit glitchy (or "janky" as the young kids say) on their smartphone. Those days are over.
First, Realtors have caught up with the rest of the web and have started to deliver phenomenal mobile experiences. From IDX apps to responsive designs, users now know that it is possible to find their dream home without switching to a desktop. They've seen sites that work flawlessly and they aren't going to want to settle for anything less.
Second, Google is going to talk more about dropping its mobile-first search index. We don't know exactly when this change is going to happen, but there will be a huge demand for better mobile experiences the moment a mobile-first announcement is made. That demand will result in better websites, once again showing users they don't have to compromise.
As more Realtors provide great mobile experiences, users are going to stop tolerating subpar experiences and will simply move on to the next real estate site instead.
There you have it! Those are our top 6 real estate technology predictions for 2018. If you have any predictions of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below!
01/19/2018 10:00 PM
Introducing the Guaranteed ROI Program
Ask any Realtor if they would like to increase their earnings and I can bet you none of them would say "no". However, if you ask the same group if they have invested into online advertising as a way to drive leads to increase revenue, most of them would also say "no" or that it didn't work for them.
Why is that?
Well it's not that online advertising doesn't work. We know it works, because much of our own consumer behaviour has been influenced with online advertising. The sponsored posts we see on Facebook show us brands we weren't aware before, search engine ads drive us to online stores that have exactly what we're looking for, the suggested items on Amazon make us buy more than we originally intended to… Online advertising definitely works.
The thing is, online advertising is tricky. It's not tricky because Google Adwords or Facebook or any other digital advertising channels are hard to get started. It's tricky because most Realtors don't have the time, capacity, or training to deploy the optimized advertising campaigns or follow up programs needed to convert those online leads in to actual sales.
Typically this results in a very poor (if any) return with lots of money and time wasted. What's worse is that it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Realtors who have tried this and are thus unwilling to re-invest.
We've seen this time and time again—even with our own customers. In fact only about 16% of our REW customers are actively using online advertising. And of those customers, only some have a solid follow up plan that turns leads into sales. The ones that don't have a follow up plan struggle to create a positive return; not due to the amount of leads generated, but because a follow up plan is the missing link required to turn those leads into actual sales and revenue.
This is why we at Real Estate Webmasters decided to make a better way:
Introducing the Guaranteed ROI Program.
The "Guaranteed ROI Program" provides existing Real Estate Webmasters clients with all the pieces you need to quickly generate and convert your leads into sales. And we're so confident our program will work, we will guarantee at least a 110% return on your digital investment or we'll make up the difference.
The Guaranteed ROI Program includes:
- REW lead generation that will provide a steady stream of incoming leads at an average of at least 1 per day
- Up to 50 monthly follow up calls by First Call Agent service
- 1 hour initial lead conversion consultation
- Monthly performance reporting
- and of course -
- Guaranteed 110% return on REW investment or REW will pay the difference
Simply put, this program tackles all of the difficult parts of lead generation and lead conversion:
REW's PPC team will identify people who are interested in real estate in your market, then create, maintain and optimize advertising to entice those people to come your REW website and convert into leads.
First Call Agent Service
The First Call Agent Service is designed to verify and validate details as well as start building a relationship for you with that lead. The First Call Agent service will call your leads within 10 minutes of a lead submission and will provide detailed notes regarding that lead directly into your REW CRM. Additionally, the service will email these notes to the assigned agent and will call the assigned agent if it's discovered that the lead is looking to buy within 30 days.
Lead conversion consultation
What do you do once you get a lead? Well, if you're like most Realtors, you don't really have a plan. REW has partnered with InsideSalesAgents.com to provide you with a 1 hour lead conversion consultation that will provide you with a strategic plan designed to convert those leads into sal es.
Keep a pulse on how the program is performing. The monthly Guaranteed ROI report will provide you with performance statistics on both lead generation and First Call Agent services.
Guaranteed 110% return
No more risk. If you do your follow up procedures, Real Estate Webmasters will guarantee you a positive ROI or we'll make up the difference.
We believe the more successful our clients are, the more successful REW becomes. By providing all the pieces you need to generate and follow up on your leads, we are confident you can achieve success with the Guaranteed ROI Program.
Learn more during our Guaranteed ROI Product Webinar!
01/17/2018 02:15 PM
Message extensions are a new feature in AdWords that allows users viewing your ads on mobile devices to send your business a text message. Users simply click the message icon on your ad and the messaging app in their mobile phone will be populated with a pre-scripted text that is ready to send!
In today’s mobile-first world, message extensions are a convenient and efficient way for users to initiate conversations with real estate agents on their own time. They can be used by individual agents, brokerages that have an ISA, or brokerages using a 3rd party messaging platform to connect with clients, share listing information, schedule appointments, and more.
Benefits of message extensions include:
- Receive leads who are ready to engage
- Connect with a younger audience
- Communicate with leads on their own time
- Capture accurate contact information
These extensions can be set up at either the campaign level or ad group level. For a more personalized approach, set up your extensions at the ad group level so that you can customize each extension specifically to that group (ie. Include the area name and property type in the scripted message). This will give you a leg-up by providing essential information about what the client is looking for and allow you to track the performance of individual extensions.
There is no additional cost for these extensions. Advertisers are charged just like a regular click on their ad.
How to set up an message extension:
1. Navigate to the Ad extension tab
2. Choose “Message extension” from the drop-down menu.
3. Click the “+ Extension” button
4. Click the “+ New message extension” button
5. Fill out the fields and click ”save”
6. Click “save” again
Google is not setup to track conversions from message extensions so leads will come directly to your phone. You can create your own tracking system, manually input leads into your CRM, or use a separate number exclusively for these extensions.
- Ensure you’ve chosen a cellular number as Message Extensions are mobile-exclusive.
- Setup text that populates the message app and customize for each ad group.
- Schedule extensions for days/times when you will be able to respond. If you schedule extensions to run 24/7 ensure you have an auto-responder setup for times you are unavailable.
- Setup a tracking system that works for you and your business.
Over the last 30 days, I’ve tracked the results of Message Extensions in 6 campaigns in markets across Canada and the USA. From this sample, the data indicates that the click through rate (CTR) is 60.70% higher than all other sitelinks. As well, the costs per lead are in-line with each campaigns lifetime average.
Try creating your own message extensions or ask your REW PPC Specialist to add them to your campaign!
*Google Consumer Surveys, US, Canada, UK, Australia, October 2016, Base: Respondents who own a smartphone and use it to access the Internet (n = 1,036 in US, n = 1,032 in UK, n = 489 in Canada, n = 485 in Australia)
01/15/2018 05:10 PM
Let's talk about a one-two punch that's practically guaranteed to be a knock-out strategy for your real estate team, and can easily quadruple your ROI.
The first punch is PPC, or pay-per-click, a form of advertising where you essentially pay for ads that drive traffic to your site. PPC lets you target your ads by demographic or by search term, ultimately narrowing down all the visitors on the web down to the ones who would most likely buy or sell from you and then driving them to your website.
Couple PPC with a few simple best practices, like smart landing page design and forced registration, and you'll get more leads to your site. We've literally never seen a case where PPC didn't result in more leads.
So, you've got leads. Now what?
You gotta call them. Or, at the very least, somebody has to call them and they need to do it while the lead is still hot. But most real estate agents aren't going to call their leads fast enough, if at all, and this is where the second punch comes in: an inside sales agent (ISA).
The role of the inside sale agent is primarily to contact newly registered leads and scrub them for quality and interest. They should introduce themselves as a member of your team and ask a few key questions. If a lead is warm, they should document all points and notify the agent that is assigned that lead (you do assign your leads to your agents, right?!) of all the details.
The value of an inside sales agent is simple: real estate agents never have to call uninterested leads and can focus on relationship building and closing. Imagine if every single lead you contacted was actually interested in buying or selling a home with you. It's a game-changer!
Best of all, this method is tried and true. According to Mitch "the grandfather of lead conversion" Ribak, his brokerage Tropical Reality, has found that an average of 48% of raw real estate leads plan to buy or sell real estate within 3 months. That's a huge opportunity for any real estate agent who is willing to reach out a few times to convert those leads.
Let's break it down with some numbers
At the end of the day, is PPC and an ISA worth it? I know it is, but let's take a look at some stats from a presentation our CEO recently gave to help you decide for yourself.
After 12 months of our PPC services, the average REW client will have 600 to 1200 raw leads in their database. Results vary by budget and location, and exactly what these leads will do for your business depend on your follow-up actions, but here's a reality we've seen time and time again:
0.5 - 1%
Deals From 600 Leads
3 - 6
Revenue (Average GCI = $10,000)
$30,000 - $60,000
$6,000 - $24,000
Net Positive ROI
$6,000 - $54,000
Not bad. But when we add in our First Call Agent (FCA) ISA services and proper follow-up, those results become downright awesome:
PPC + FCA
1 - 3%
Deals From 600 Leads
6 - 18
Revenue (Average GCI = $10,000)
$60,000 - $180,000
$13,500 - $31,500
Net Positive ROI
$28,500 - $166,500
No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you're practically guaranteed to make a profit off your website if you combine PPC with FCA. It's a winning strategy that most real estate agents don't even know about—but now you do.
01/11/2018 03:15 PM
If you're looking for ways to supplement your SEO strategy, it's time to consider image optimization! Images are a vital addition to any page, but not everyone is aware that they present often untapped opportunities for SEO. Taking advantage of the extensive possibilities that image optimization delivers can boost an already strong SEO strategy. Not sure where to start? We've consolidated some of the most important ways to make your images as search engine and user-friendly as possible!
To begin explaining why image optimization is important, it's necessary to look at your website from a search engine's point of view. You may have a visually rich design loaded with eye-catching photos, but search engines aren't able to process these well (yet). To enlighten the search engine to the presence of relevant images, we use the alt tag, which serves as a text-based alternative to an image.
This alternate text comes in handy in a couple situations:
- It's shown when, for whatever reason, the image can't be displayed.
- It can be read by screen-readers for users with impaired vision.
Plus, alt tags can aid a search engine in crawling the page and in creating associations between photos and keywords. This is where the SEO benefit really comes into play, allowing you to leverage your photos to reinforce target keywords.
Ensure your alt tags are less than 125 characters and that they contain pertinent, optimized sentences that include target keywords. But don't overuse alt text. Since alt text is a descriptor, it should only be used on images relevant to the page's content. If you start padding all your graphics with keywords, your site could be penalized. Instead, simply leave your alt tag blank (alt="") on decorative images. Decorative images include spacers, bullets, ornate lines, or any graphic that exists simply for design. As always with SEO, there is a happy medium.
Title tags are another way to enhance your image. While they don't have any direct SEO benefits, they can make a site look more technical and polished. Plus, since visitors often expect these, they ultimately contribute to overall user experience—the cornerstone of every SEO strategy. Title tags consist of the text you see when you hover your mouse over an image. They should also contain descriptive text to expand on the contents of the photo. Like alt tags, title tags should remain short and sweet. In fact, they're very similar to alt tags; the only difference is that alt-tags benefit crawlers, while title tags are simply a "plus" for users.
Naming your image file appropriately is another way to emphasize what the content on your page is about and show that the image is relevant. When you upload an image from your camera or from another source, there's a good chance that its current filename comprises a slew of muddled numbers and letters. Clean this up by renaming your file for relevancy. For example, if your photo is of your team, you might rename it to springfield-realty-team.jpg. Ensure that you forego spaces, underscores, and upper case letters when naming files. Instead, use lower case letters and connect words with hyphens.
Image size is a huge factor because image size correlates with page speed, and page speed can affect your rankings. Rankings aside, a page with slow-loading images can often be enough to cause fickle users to exit your page. In a notable experiment, Google discovered that they could lose up to 8 million searches per day by displaying their results four-tenths of a second more slowly than usual.
If you're using a Mac, you can easily resize images using Preview. In Windows, utilize Photo Gallery or Microsoft Paint. You can also browse online and take advantage of the many web-based editing tools at your disposal.
When considering size, it's important to not forget about shareability. For important images on blog posts or highly shared pages, ensure that your photo will look good across social platforms. While the different size recommendations for each outlet can be confusing, you can find a sweet spot that will render well across the board—simply test your image on each site while you work with it.
Image compression serves to retain the dimensions of your photo while minimizing the storage size. Compressing your images can save bytes of data and smoothen loading. There are plenty of (free) tools across the web which can resize and compress your photos without compromising their quality—try TinyPNG.org or compressor.io to start. You can also use Google PageSpeed Insights to identify problem images and uncover the items causing your page to load slowly.
As a general rule of thumb, stick to JPEG and PNG file types only. JPEGs are generally a superior file format due to their capability for substantial compression while retaining resolution. Typically, GIFs are meant for animated or moving images, while PNGs support transparency best. Each file format has its respective strengths and weaknesses. However, make sure to assess file formats on a case-by-case basis.
Image optimization is a great way to enhance your site's overall SEO and loading speed. But the best thing about image optimization is that it's fast and easy way to improve. Once you get the hang of it, all of the above steps should only take a few minutes to complete. Happy optimizing!
01/04/2018 09:55 PM
We’ve all heard the old adage, “Content is King.” But how your content is structured on each page is just as important as the content itself. Internet users are a fickle breed, so you want to make sure you present the most important, interesting and valuable content prominently, at the top of the page.
In terms of a page that is highly optimized for search engines, there are specific places you should make sure you feature your main targeted keywords. This is, of course, an important step in ensuring that search engine crawlers understand the intent of your page, but it also helps orient human users as well.
The meta information is the content that will be displayed at the top of your web page browser window and in the search results themselves. The page title is among the most important places to prominently feature your main targeted keyword.
The title tag is the main title that appears as a blue link in search results and its total character count is extremely important. Google has some pretty specific guidelines for the number of characters they will display in their search results. The title tag should be no longer than 55 characters.
The meta description is the short description of your web page that appears just under the page title and page URL. The meta description should be a maximum of 320 characters. The meta description doesn’t provide any SEO value in and of itself, but it’s often your first chance to persuade users to click through to your page.
- The title tag is among the most important ranking signals
- Title tag should prominently feature your top 2 or 3 keywords
- The meta description carries no inherent SEO value
- Meta description acts as first & best chance to convince users to click through
- Both meta descriptions & title tags should be written primarily for human users & easily understandable
As I’ve said before, web users are notoriously fickle. It’s essential that all content be concise, to the point and written at a level that can be easily understood. It also helps to organize content into digestible chunks, under headings that accurately reflect the subject matter of the paragraph that follows. Shorter paragraphs also translate better for those accessing your content through phones or tablets.
Headings are also a great place to feature some of the primary keywords you’re targeting on the page. Again, you want to keep the user in mind and ensure the headings are related to the content that follows, and not just stuffed with unnecessary keywords.
Page relevance is something to think about too. By including terms that are closely related to the subject of the page and terms you’re trying to rank for, you help search engine crawlers understand your page’s intent. For example, if your main targeted keyword is “Nanaimo real estate”, it helps to have several terms closely related to the sale of real estate, such as “home buyer”, “neighborhood”, “community”, “sell”, etc.
- Keep your listings snippets near the top of your community pages, so they're visible as the page loads.
- Keep the text above the listings snippet brief, and try to cover your most important points.
- You can include more content, but create a CTA with a jum p link to more content below the snippet.
- Listings set to thumbnail view tend to convert better than list view, as more properties are visible at a glance.
A Few Words About Keywords
There was a time when ranking in search engine results was all about keywords. The meta keywords field is a now-defunct section that once could be used by content creators to highlight the main keywords featured on a page. Naturally, this section was abused and stuffed with every conceivable iteration of the terms webmasters wanted to rank for, so this section now holds no value whatsoever as a ranking signal
Now, keywords are still important, but Google’s Penguin algorithm has made it essential to use them naturally and sparingly throughout your content. Again, the mantra of creating content first for users and then search engines second should be at the forefront of your thought process. “Keyword stuffing” is when the keywords featured disrupt the readability of your content. Aside from looking quite “spammy” and unprofessional, it can also result in a penalty from Google, lowering the rank of that page in search results.
The title tag and main headings are essential places to feature keywords naturally, as is the content itself. But don’t overdo it. One mention of a complete keyword phrase is plenty per paragraph, e.g. “Nanaimo Real Estate.” You can also feature keyword fragments (your main keywords broken up) throughout the text, in order to reinforce and support the intention of the page.
Anchor Text Best Practices:
Anchor text is the clickable text that is displayed as part of a link. This text can be an important place to feature important keywords, but it’s a best practice to create anchor text content that is as descriptive as possible.
Non-Descriptive Anchor Text:
- "click here" or "read more", anchor text that doesn't describe what's being linked to
- Targeted keywords alone, i.e. "Nanaimo Real Estate or "Downtown Nanaimo Condos"
Descriptive Anchor Text:
- Try to incorporate keywords into a longer, more descriptive phrase
- A phrase should be readable independently of surrounding text, and provide a good indication of the content behind the link.
- i.e. "learn more about what makes Downtown Nanaimo condos so convenient"
Summing it all up
Your web page content is your primary tool for converting users into viable leads, and providing valuable information to them about buying or selling real estate. It’s also your best chance to set yourself apart from the competition and position yourself as a leader and expert in your field.
Creating great content should always be the primary goal, but structuring it well can help search engine crawlers better categorize your content, helping you reach a larger audience.
01/02/2018 06:15 PM
Launching a brand new website is exciting, but ensuring it's SEO-ready can often seem like a daunting task. To help you get started, we've provided a simple overview of how to plan your site and start building out content!
Start Small: Choose Your Focus Communities
When working with a brand new site, it's best to start small and expand realistically. Begin by identifying your primary target areas and choose five focus communities to start with. Set your IDX settings in the backend of your site to only display the cities you plan to start with. We want to focus on starting small and building up from there.
Often we'll see brand new sites launched with numerous skeleton pages - pages with IDX snippets but no content. This isn't ideal for SEO, so we recommend starting with only a few area pages that you can realistically fill with quality content, and once those are complete, begin to create additional pages with content.
Plan Your Site Layout
It's important to develop a plan for your site's layout, and a strategy for adding future pages. Make a list of all the pages you want to eventually have on your site, including city pages, community and neighborhood pages, property type pages, areas of specialization, etc. It can also help to create a list of blog topics you'd like to write about, so you're fully prepared to blog once your new site is launched.
When planning your site layout, it can help to create an organizational chart to put the pages in a hierarchy and determine the main pages and sub-pages. Start at the top with your home page, and begin to narrow down to more specific pages. Check out our blog post on Information Architecture to learn more about structuring your site.
Build Your Home Page
When writing a home page, introduce the company and the area, and most importantly, demonstrate to the user how the website will benefit them. Think about who your target audience is and what they'll be looking for, and provide them with that information. Make sure your home page is easy to navigate, and users can quickly find other pages they may want.
One of the most important functions of a home page is to tell users where to go next. Ensure your content guides your visitors to the next step, whether that's a link to another page, or a Call-To-Action (CTA) such as a contact form, to get more information.
Write An About Page
There are a few things that can really help make your About page a success. First of all, make sure your About page not only introduces your company, but also creates solutions for your users. Start with the reason they visited your website in the first place, and demonstrate that you have their needs in mind.
Let your users know what makes your company unique, and why they should choose you over other real estate companies. This can include information about specialty areas you work in, awards you've won, the company's core values, and the services you provide.
Finally, it's nice to add a personal touch to help users get to know and trust you. A short biography, photos, or a video can help to give your About page a friendly, approachable touch.
Write Unique Content For Focus Communities
When you're ready to start filling in your primary area pages with content, you'll want to ensure the content is 100% unique (meaning not found anywhere else on the web), relevant to the page, and informative to the user.
Keep your content primarily real estate related, and include information such as location, characteristics of the area, and property types available. You can also include information about amenities such as nearby schools, commercial areas, and recreation facilities, but this should only make up a small portion of your content. A real estate website should talk about real estate first and foremost.
Be sure to include a CTA on your community page so that visitors have a way to contact you for more information, and you have the opportunity to capture a lead.
12/29/2017 04:30 PM