13 Oct / Real Estate Branding: How to Build a Strong Presence Online
Why Real Estate Branding?
Image is (nearly) everything to a realtor—your image is your brand, which is your integrity. But you know that. But how do you build a strong online presence that conveys trust and integrity?
Real Estate Branding: How Realtors Can Build a Strong Presence Online
Foreshadowing: real estate branding isn’t all sunshine and roses—you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and get virtually dirty. Or of course you can pay someone else to do it (coincidentally—we’re available). Building an online brand, without getting Mafia-level complex, involves the following elements:
Think of your website as your central system of your online real estate branding strategy. It is the hub and the other elements below are the spokes. This is because all the other elements need a central place to send traffic to—a central place that has multiple methods of communication, technology and realtor-specific information. Your website’s job is to get your visitors to call you, and then become customers—and everything else’s job is to get traffic to your website.
So, what kind of website do you need? You need a custom-branded website, that portrays professionalism while offering them all the information they need to make an informed decision on you as a realtor. It also needs to showcase your listings and offer the user multiple methods of communication—our favourites being click-to-call buttons and a LiveChat tool.
If you’re thinking how much business you’d have to write to pay for all this—not much! Our websites, with all the bells and whistles—are just $2500.
Mobile websites are important for everyone—because 2/5ths of all internet searches are now done on mobile devices, and that number is growing quickly. That number however is already larger for real estate agents because most people see your marketing, advertising and meet you outside of their homes or offices—so they look you up on their smartphone. But you knew that already. Did you know that 80% of all mobile users will bounce from a website that isn’t ‘mobile-friendly’?
So, what is mobile-friendly? A mobile-friendly website will show up well on mobile devices. The little-bit-more in-depth look is that it easily displays on mobile devices without having to adjust the size of the picture (commonly accomplished by pinching and expanding the area). They also don’t have massive images or video that will take long to load or eat up a data plan. What they do is allow your visitors to navigate your site easily, finding the information they want with a few clicks of the button.
A step beyond mobile-friendly is ‘responsive’ which means they ‘respond’ to the device you are using b recognizing it and displaying in a way that is friendly to that device and its screen size. If you’re wondering if you want mobile-friendly or responsive—the truth is either one will do. Responsive is better—but even having a mobile-friendly website will put you above most of your competitors.
The good news after all this confusion is that the price of mobile-friendly and responsive websites have come down in price significantly, while the qualities have improved. We provide all our customers who purchase a website with a responsive design, which means they have a mobile website that displays beautifully on all devices. Curious which one your website is capable of? Just give us a shout—we’ll tell you.
Once you’ve got a mobile-enabled website you’re a hop-skip-and-a-jump from offering your public click-of-the-button-access to your website via QR codes. If your eyes are glazing over thinking that this is all getting too far ahead for you then know this—all of this can be done for you. A website and mobile version, we can do for ya! We also create all our customers free QR codes. We can also install a tool where you click one button on any page on your website and it instantly creates a QR code that you can add to your business cards, ads and marketing materials.
So QR codes—easy and free! A definite addition to assist your online presence.
Social Media (Who are we kiddin’–we mean Facebook)
You’ve likely heard all about how you should be using social media, and it likely sounds time-consuming and confusing—but let us simplify it for you. Choose one social media platform and spend your time on that instead of spreading yourself thin on several.
One exception to the one-social-network rule: sign up for a LinkedIn page. A LinkedIn page is like an online resume, and you can use it to get endorsements from real people you’ve worked with—which lends legitimacy to the platform. It will take you 10-15 minutes to sign up and then it is pretty much a set-it-and-forget it solution (in our opinion). Check your messages that you receive but other than that don’t waste too much time on it—it doesn’t work as well for Realtors as it can for industries that rely on B2B networking, and you’re B2C.
The network we recommend is Facebook—especially if you’re already on it. You can sign up for a service to manage it, or you can do it yourself. In our opinion it is relatively easy to handle yourself, and you can schedule posts for a week at one time by using their timing tool (so sit down for 30 minutes once a week and plan your whole social strategy). Then answer comments and likes to drive interaction. To build your list add all your offline contacts, friends, current and former customers, and then engage them with relevant-to-them, funny or intriguing content (this will take some time to get the hang of). Unfortunately social media marketing—even just Facebook—is too difficult to encapsulate here, and the above is only ‘the gist’ of it. You’ll have to keep researching for specific ideas.
An SEO strategy is how you get people to get to your website from Google searches, without paying for it with Pay Per Click advertising. SEO is an extremely complex field—but the ‘gist’ of it (while this article is over 1,000 words it still can’t come close to encapsulating the technology behind any of these sub topics) is that you do certain things to your website that attracts Google’s attention. Google then analyzes your website based on its proprietary (and shrouded in mystery) ever-changing algorithm to assess its credibility. Now, there are thousands of elements that Google analyzes, but what we know so far is that a large percentage looks at two things: your content and how many people and websites link to your content.
In terms of content Google looks for pages that are 100% original. They, ideally, want pages with at least 300 words of content that uses—naturally–keywords in your industry.
The good news about SEO is that there are technologies that can tell you if you’re doing it right. The industry favourite is a WordPress plugin called Yoast. Yoast gives you a red light (bad), orange light (less bad), yellow light (a little better) or green light (green for go—and green for money!). Green is good. If you haven’t reached green it will tell you what to do in order to get it.
The other element is links. Inbound links are links that are aimed at your website. They tell Google that your content must be good—because other people like it enough to post a link from their content to your content. They can be hard to get organically which is why many people buy links. This can work, although it can go badly too. Instead I recommend speaking to other people in your area with businesses about linking to you, because the quality of the link matters. So, Mr. Responsible Local Mortgage Broker’s website is worth more ‘link juice’ than Bobcaygeon’s Bob’s Bait and Tackle Shop’s link. Don’t just trade links though because Google assigns a lower value to links if you link to each other (Google figured out pretty quick that people will easily trade links for ‘link juice’).
So, you can write original content and get links, you can pay someone (like us) to do it for you—or you can pay for click with Google’s Pay Per Click.
Video is our favourite online branding tool for Realtors. It is a phenomenal way to, literally, get your face out there. It is also extremely easy now, since every iPhone has a built-in video camera. Recording an introduction video, listing walk-through and virtual tours is a great way to promote yourself and your listing. And it costs nothing.
Once you’ve taken a video you can upload it to YouTube (free) and then add it to your social media page(s) and your website. You can even tag it a QR code and add it to ads and marketing content. Video has tons of opportunities and it costs nothing if you’ve got a smartphone with a decent camera (although be sure to have some decent lighting when you take the video so it doesn’t come out too dark).
You’re still reading? Phenomenal. Let’s end this off with an easy one—and yes we’re still talking about a branding strategy. Creating a simplified branding strategy isn’t difficult. In real estate it generally involves picking a ‘look’ and a motto and then multiplying that across all your marketing and advertising. An easy way to do this is to have a custom-banner made for your website—as you can then use that same banner on your Facebook and other marketing documents like materials for open houses and other client-facing handouts. If it doesn’t fit exactly you can always have it altered slightly to fit whatever document you’re using. You should also use it in your business cards. This will create a branding strategy that clients will automatically relate to you.
Real Estate Branding–Sounds complex–but hopefully a little easier now. To get your toes wet in real estate branding for realtors, just give us a call or click the LiveChat button below. We can help you choose a good place to start. And we’re seriously honest–if you haven’t looked at our pricing yet you can see that we don’t gouge our clients for $50 a month for our websites, we don’t charge for LiveChat when its free through Zopim (they’re seriously great!)–and we offer honest, clear advice about real estate technology. While we may not be real estate branding professionals, we have the technology to get you there.