The Biggest Gamble of Your Life – When you Buy a House
If you’re selling your home in Vancouver or Toronto, the danger of losing your investment is minimal. Your Toronto realtor or Vancouver realtor has insurance, licensing, has accreditation from TREB or REBGV, and your bank will likely insure you don’t get victimized by a fraudster.
Your only concern is how much you’ll get and your realtor oddly enough is going to help you get all you can for your property. He or she will even give you advice on letting go of your old home emotionally and help you prepare for your new life.
The realtor/bank/buying agent represent a triangle of safety. Licensed TREB or REBGV Realtors don’t just handle the paperwork, they’re looking out for your best interests.
If you’re considering buying a property, there’s way more risk. The Toronto market is hot and its a buying frenzy via the MLS. You could be buying into something horrible with pitfalls you didn’t even know existed. And we’re talking way more than knob and tube wiring, wood rot, and cracked foundations.
You’re on Your Own – Hope it All Works Out Okay
You probably thought your “Honest Abe” home inspector was sufficient to cover an examination of the property and warn you of dangers, but there’s lots of stories of home inspectors that didn’t do their jobs or who countered that they can only do so much to assess a property (and they’re covered legally).
When you’re signing to purchase a house and sign a mortgage to boot, that’s a scary moment, especially if you’re a first time buyer and you’re involved in a bidding war in Vancouver or Toronto. Maybe your real estate investment is sound and almost fail-safe. What are the chances Vancouver or Toronto will drop into a recession? Even if they do, the values will recover in a few years. But no one can forecast about a specific property – except maybe a realtor.
9 Buyer Pitfalls that Could Ruin You When Buying
Here’s some of the major pitfalls your Vancouver or Toronto realtor (and San Diego, Los Angeles, or Boston realtor) could spare you from:
being too emotionally involved and nervous means you may lose your objectivity and the selling agent could exploit your situation (that could translate to 10’s of thousands of dollars)
you don’t know what the seller’s obligations are in disclosing the state of the property
selling agent knows you aren’t knowledgeable and takes advantage of your naivete
you don’t have someone with a strong residential real estate background to advise you about the real value of the house or what could happen with a duplex or fourplex
saves you from buying a money pit – you see it all the time on HGTV when they open up the walls of the houses they bought – in a sellers market you may even consider buying as is. You won’t have Mike Holmes around to “make it right.” The realtor focused on homes available on the MLS System.
you wander aimlessly looking at homes that don’t meet your criteria
you have no one to help you negotiate the best terms of a purchase – you end up getting kicked around because there are so many competing buyers
you aren’t sure what’s in store for the neighbourhood, what it’s really like, and what taxes might be looming in years ahead
you consider buying a pre-construction condo even they could go bankrupt taking all your money with them
Was the house a grow op, did the owners smoke, when will the roof need to be replaced, and are the neighbour’s unpleasant, and did the current owners meet all the zoning bylaws?
There’s more dangers than these 10 of course. I hope you keep your eye on the big picture when you’re spending $600k on a home. You could fall into a situation that could end your marriage, take your money and health, and push you into bankruptcy.
Buying a home is serious business. Don’t ever go it alone just because you can find info online. Yes, people are excited about the Uberization of real estate, but their enthusiasm will undergo some tempering when it actually happens. There will be some horror stories.
Old School branding gurus will tell you to keep your brand consistent and of course, that means not changing your website content frequently. Well, what if change was a powerful way of encouraging customers to return to your website and then converting them once they got there?
What if change in itself is part of your unique value proposition and the changes you make seem personally significant to your audience?
I’ve been doing some surfing lately and coming across sites that haven’t changed since I last visited. If they didn’t convert me to a customer then, they won’t convert me this time either with stale content and imagery.
Web Design is a Key Part of your Unique Value Proposition
I just visited Atomicmotion.com, a web design firm in Ottawa, Canada. I was immediately grabbed by the presentation of this site. It’s superb and really sets this agency apart from any other I’ve seen. Visit them now and you’ll see a comfortable, familiar WordPress layout complete with video background, motion graphics, and scrolling that presents their portfolio and achievements very well.
You’ll notice the web design also showcases graphic design excellence too. Graphic design expertise magnifies their web design value proposition and when you see the large design portfolio examples, it blows you away. And they’re all mobile responsive and clean and they do apps which conveys they know their programming.
The overall impression you get is that this web design company can create your dream website or new app. They appeal to your dreams, and your need for the perfect most impactful and current design.
So you might ask, who would want to change such an amazing web design if it carries that kind of impact? I would. Yet I wouldn’t alter the basic WordPress layout. Instead I’d freshen up the presentation of the items in the homepage. I’d feature different clients or alter how the featured clients and services are described and I’d insert new material that promotes additional services.
Visitors would get the same branded message of excellent, exciting and personalized value, yet they’d see it in a new way. If you’re going to reiterate your unique value proposition, you might want to create a different experience to surprise and delight your audience.
Web programmers can detect whether your visitor is returning, and present new fresh content that helps move them further along the conversion funnel.
The second time you visit a site, the less impact the original layout and experience has. That’s when you need to dig down to present some cool, fascinating, and activating content. In Atomic Motion’s case, a well designed and strategically relevant case study would be most appropriate. Case studies that are credible and informative have high sales converting power. If your content and copywriting are engaging and convincing then you’ll have even better results.
When anyone visits your site a second or third time, they’re very interested in your solution. However they’ll looking for justification and emotion building that’s going to activate their impulse. They actually want to be your client.
So keeping your website consistent won’t help you convert that returning prospect. Bringing some new, interesting, and fascinating content that helps build their impulse and activates them is vital. Freshen up your homepage content and you’ll convert more leads to customers.
Creating a powerful content strategy isn’t easy. It must satisfy branding, customer experience, value proposition, credibility, trust, and of course, SEO needs. Sometimes finding the best ideas for your company means spending time being open to exploring and appreciating the amazing things others do. Their spirit will launch you into a state of imagination and purpose that tells you what your next move is.
Gord Collins is a seasoned SEO/Digital Marketing Strategist. Author of a ground breaking book that explored concepts such as pagerank, Trustrank, keyword reputation, strategic linking, and semantics, Gord understands the intent of Google’s index. They want quality and Gord will employ brilliant innovative techniques. Gord never sits still when it comes to optimization and growth.
How Does 16,000 Visits/Month for a Realtor Site Sound?
If you ask the average business owner or realtor about how many visitors they could capture online, you’d get some pretty low estimates. The reality though is Google serves billions of searches for 1 billion people worldwide. They’re still the McDonald’s of customers served. People are searching on Google, especially when they’re hot to purchase. And they can be reached via Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter too.
At this point, you may have done a little SEO on your website and posted on your social media pages and then waited for the tidal wave of traffic. Weeeeelll, you could have a tidal wave if the right digital marketing strategist is doing the work. My realtor client in Mississauga enjoyed 16,000 visits per month for an extended period. For an agent, that’s massive traffic.
Curious about this blog’s traffic? It’s already massive and I’ just getting started. I can do this for you!
A Major National Hotel Chain Doubles Traffic from Google
It happens in other industries too. My major hotel client saw their website traffic grow from 1.2 Million visits per year to 2.5 Million visits per year. If 3% of those visits convert x $400 2 or 3 night booking, it translates to $28 Million dollars per year.
A Digital Marketing Agency in Boston
My branding agency client in Boston enjoyed almost a million visitors over 6 years from a variety of sources (mostly Google). They were the top performing digital marketing agency in Boston over that time period and the revenue and business results could have been much higher then if we’d known then what we know now. Even during the height of the recession, the site had 133,000 Google referrals per year, and 40,000 visitors per year from other sources. One client was worth a quarter million dollars.
Wisdom Takes Time
Often it seems, only time reveals the complete truth. That’s why in my recent post I spoke about vision and ambition as so vital to sustain business clientele, staff, partnerships and revenue over time. If you’ve always accepted the notion that conservative values/practices denote an ideal, successful, sustained business, I know that this isn’t the case. Continued success in marketing is the biggest predictor of future business health. I’d encourage you to investigate this concept more fully.
Never coast or stop growing. It’s poison to morale, ends relationships, deflates employee’s dream of a better life, and it’s a failure of the original vision of your business
Big successes do happen, but because we tend not to brag or even talk about client successes, no one knows about them. If no one can see your big successes, how can prospects understand your value proposition? Now you know and I have the proof in Google Analytics reports.
How Do You Build Such Massive Successes?
Here’s the keys to repeating these huge successes:
Develop your unique value proposition fully – understand it deeply and personalize it to your audience and make it very relevant to them
Develop plenty of original, useful, well-optimized content – that creates search engine traffic – understanding Google’s algorithm actually is important
Create an attractive website – that’s simple and catches people’s imagination
Do outreach and build links – to your site using engaging content such as infographics, blogs, stats, videos, and other things people like to share
Show thought leadership — do not be solely a follower — great creative thinkers with lots of connections are credible and powerful leaders in the digital realm
Do not do “best practices” – which is code word for mediocrity – do the right thing instead
Be very inventive and creative – in providing value to customers/clients because customers generally trust and respect providers that find ways to deliver value
Be transparent – trust is a big factor online and if people can’t see you and know you, how could they possibly trust you?
Be open to growth and new opportunities – because they’re the path to your goals — growth means following your original business plan in exciting new ways. The journey will be fun.
Be social – enjoy the banter and thoughts of your customers and colleagues as it shows you are genuinely interested in them and it makes your day a lot more fun.
There’s my top 10 list of big success habits you can use right away. The 1th tip, is that you should not go it alone. Digital marketing is too complex and challenging now. Stay active and find the right employees, contractors, consultants, business partners and investors for you. That normally happens as you go so this last one is vital. Chances are you have a good business or marketing idea yet you lack the funds to make it competitive today. Keep your equity and create value for all these people.
If you want ridiculously big traffic to your website, then I’m the person you need to know. If growth and ambition are a part of your vocabulary, we’ll work together spendidly. I’m looking forward to speaking with you soon.
Gord Collins is a Toronto digital strategist who engineers content to dominate Google rankings and engage prospects on social platforms. His clients come from every industry including real estate in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Phoenix, Chicago, Houston, and San Diego. Get him working for you and watch everything from your unique value proposition to your Google rankings and social engagement grow strong. There’s no time like now to prepare for the future. Speaking of positive outlooks, see the Toronto housing market outlook for 2017 post.
After you’ve grown tired of waiting for people to call you to sell their home, you may want to try something new, something that’ll create increasing, consistent touchpoints with home sellers.
Sellers, those ghostly inhabitants of your dream world. This is about creating a fat pipeline to your top selling prospects and enabling them to become sellers.
There’s big reasons why people can’t get over inertia and sell their old house: dreams and details. Normally you wait for the details to take care of things such as: growing family, empty nesters, trade ups, moving to new city, house needs too much repair, and moving to the burbs. These are all tell tale signs that big data realtors are looking at to get the jump on a potential sale.
The one no one talks about is people’s dreams. Goals aren’t dreams. Dreams are symbols of the emotional rewards that we all seek, and it’s why buyers are coming to you. They don’t call you because they have a goal of owning a home, instead, they’re thinking a new home will fulfill their dreams and provide a rewarding emotional life. They want to be happy. That same quest for happiness is why they sell.
It’s a Perfect Time to Sell a Home
As the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets tighten each month, realtors compete harder for housing stock as it comes available. The variety/number of realtors selling in my town is unbelievable. There’s 50 realtors for every homeowners that wants to sell. That’s crummy odds.
The waiting game: Too often, another brand or realtor gets the lucky call. I’ve got 10 tactics that can spare you the agony of waiting for sellers to get moving, and become their only realtor.
Homeowners Need a Nudge
Before sellers sell, they need clarity about their next move. They need a vision of the better life they desire. They’re just missing pieces of the dream and when the final piece clicks in, they get on the phone and call Remax, Sutton Group, Century21, Sothebys or Royal Lepage.
I’m sure that in your training, you discovered it may be easier to reach buyers who also have a house to sell. That does seem easier since buyers are active online where you can intercept them. Intercepting them is good. However, if you adjusted your realtor brand image to be the dream maker, the one who can help restless homeowners achieve mental clarity and draw them into a positive, happy and expectant frame of mind, you’ll be top of mind when they think about moving.
No One Wants to Sell, yet Some are Selling
No One Wants to Sell: Listings in Vancouver and Toronto have dropped precipitously. Yes, I’ve gotten lots of real estate agent paper flyers in my mailbox. There’s 50 agents who could list the house for sale. None of their messaging moved me at all. Entirely forgettable.
Agents need to discuss the change in lifestyle, not just selling a house. Maybe the homeowner has a new job, needs a bigger house, needs to downsize, get out of the city, wants to retire on Vancouver Island or Kelowna BC, work in the US, or settle in Phoenix or Panama. Just selling the house doesn’t make you relevant, but being a facilitator, coach, supporter, friend in their lifestyle change does make you relevant — even after the sale. If you become part of the dream, the action, and the result, how can they not pick you over those other 49 agents?
“The Only Reason they Sell is because of the Big Price”
Prices are pushing some to finally sell and they’re getting an extra $50k or $200k on the sale. For those selling in Vancouver or Toronto, the price is just the last straw that gets them to pull the sell trigger. If they were really committed to that location, they wouldn’t leave for any price. You can’t buy happiness right? Okay, getting an extra $200k is a big nudge out the door.
However, the same voice that urged them to sell because of price could also tell them to sell to go live in a more exciting location, or to travel, or just revitalize their stale, stressed lives. You could sell in Toronto and move to San Diego, Costa Rica, Kelowna, Belize, Panama, Spain, or maybe Haliburton. There’s enough land there to accommodate them all and the lifestyles are amazing.
Let’s open your imagination beyond dull. What if you evolved your approach to introduce home sellers to the solution they wnat? What if your website and social content wove a particularly delightful introduction to a better lifestyle? You’ll plant the seed and then get them to return weekly to build their interest and then utilize the opportunities it creates.
Realtor/Travel/Investment sites are a great combo. These sites have a full dimension of interesting, engaging lifestyle content that creates a focus for these vague, anxious feelings they endure daily. The more content you have, the more touchpoints you have with prospects, the more reason for them to interact, and more opportunity to close the deal later. Patience is needed, but the payoff should be huge. In fact, there’s no reason why you won’t get responses soon.
10 Tactics to Connect with Homeowners and Get them to Sell!
Knock on their door and ask them if they know how much their home is worth. Ask them to do a free appraisal, and give them your business card which will beckon them to your Facebook page. Why Facebook? Because Facebook is more personal, connected, and interactive — they use Facebook more frequently.
Give prospects/homeowners a flyer that has a travel/lifestyles theme. This is more interesting and relevant. The flyer will have the URL of your lifestyles section where they will begin clarifying their need to move on with their lives. The content will take them from merely travelling to actually moving to be immersed in the new lifestyle at their dream location (Try to be sure about their dream destinations. I dream about San Diego, but they may not).
Build a lifestyles section in your Website and fuse it with Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. See these 4 sites as one interconnected Web magazine. Build sections on each dream destination and have a writer fill it with excellent content about homes, activities, health, food, and happiness.
Create a new realtor brand image for this website/social pages above. This image is somewhere between a stiff collared professional realtor and cruiseship social coordinator. The content must be entertaining, informative, and create a need to react, such as asking questions and getting direction to more specific content elsewhere. The whole point is to create a touchpoint with your new customer, to begin the conversation, one they believe is leading to something fantastic.
Get that lawn sign up. Do door to door and tell people you’ll give them a fantastic bonus for listing their home — if you sell it. A free ecotour adventure trip to Costa Rica is one example of a rare enticing benefit they’ll find hard to resist. They’ll get the full details on your Facebook page, which is why they’ll share it with their FB network. Getting a lawn sign up on a street is gold. Do what you have to to get one.
Build a travel section on your website. Travel and moving are indirectly related. Just the word travel is both soothing and agitating for restless homeowners. Talk about places like Florida, California, Australia, Costa Rica and other places where there’s plenty of ex pats. If they know there are plenty of Canadians or Americans already there, it takes a lot of anxiety about those locations (even if it’s Victoria BC, or Kelowna BC). If they get hooked on moving to Kelowna or Costa Rica, it may addictive for them. I have friends who moved from Calgary to the Okanagan to retire. They had no idea they would end up in that area, but most Calgary people like the Okanagan. It’s the same anywhere. San Diegans love Hawaii and Mexico.
Build a sports section on your website. You can cover any type of sports, but mostly those your prospects are into, but a sport that will take them away from where they are. Your goal isn’t to cover sports to make them feel better about staying in their community and learning to love it again. Cover golf in Arizona and Texas, or fishing off the California coast, or hiking in Costa Rica. Anywhere but here.
Build a big renovation to sell section on your Website. The focus is all the things you can do to upgrade their house and get it sold for maximum price. It’s just one more topic that gives them the confidence that their vague dream is doable.
Hire a really good content and SEO guy to get all your content ranking high on Google and visible via social platforms. Right now, you have no touchpoints with your prospects. Hiring an expert gives you first class access to these people online. There’s nothing better than top rankings on Google’s search results. An SEO pro will get your posts placed on top travel, retirement, and lifestyle sites and connect you with 10 million mommy bloggers!
There’s your top 10 tactics. Sounds like a big project but once you get going on it, it’ll get easier and you’ll get better. If you’ve got some funds, you could outsource all the above to someone like me. That is excellent overall value. And remember, that I can help you rank for phrases such as “homes for sale Vancouver” ‘condos for sale Toronto, or “luxury homes San Diego, etc. There’s more value than you can imagine with SEO and social outreach.
Work less on sales, and more on being a dream maker — the type of prospecting that attracts excited, interested prospects and creates endless touchpoints with them. Your digital marketing content strategy should revolve around helping them find their dream life. With this material backing up your personal face-to-face meetings, you create a picture of integrity, that you really believe in what’s best for them. You’re not just a salesperson anymore, you’re now a friend who understands their greatest dreams.
They’ll be calling you to find out how you can help create their new dream life. Guaranteed, they will be selling the house and you will be their realtor.
How Skilled should a Digital Marketing Specialist be?
If you’re on Linkedin or Indeed looking to fill a digital marketing specialist role in your company, there’s a wide range of skills you might hire for.
This post may open your eyes to a wide range of skills from copywriting to marketing automation management to predictive intelligence with AI Marketing software. At this point, firms are looking to reduce staffing costs while improving performance. One way to achieve that is to look for a specialist who can be a strategist, and who can contribute in a wide variety of ways from campaing testing to copywriting to SEO and social engagement.
Digital marketers can extend their digital marketing prowess significantly through software. As long as they have the basic creative and strategic capabilities, the digital marketing specialist could inded contribute significantly to the company’s bottom line.
The overall sentiment? There has been a significant increase in demand for both specialist skills and more general digital marketing roles across the board. When asked about the digital marketing jobs landscape, Jane Creaner Glen, Head of Recruitment and HR at the Digital Marketing Institute said, “I would say it is evolving all the time. A lot of companies are still looking for broad digital marketing skills at Manager and Executive level. Although, as the industry matures it is separating out more into specific skills areas, such as Content, SEO/SEM, Analytics and Social Media.” — from Digitalmarketinginstitute.com.
Needed Skills for a Digital Marketer Manager/Specialist
If you don’t actually do these things, you should at least have a good knowledge of or sensitivity to them.
It’d be nice to be a pro at everything and it’s a great stretch goal to have. As a current candidate, trying to land a job as a DMM, I’m pushed to get the essentials nailed, and then develop into someone who will be a powerful producer for the company at a macro and micro level. The pain I’m going through now will be yours too if you’re looking to find a great job in digital marketing.
You’re on the right track here though as the digital marketing specialist is a key role, although resting on any one skill won’t suffice. Stick to these specific strengths? You need at least one outstanding go-to skill, however you should be versatile since you need to be on top of everything.
Overall, it’s the ability to orchestrate or bring tools, channels, and customer experience together online.
Big companies can hire a specialist to manage the digital marketing process, however smaller companies need someone with broader skills. In smaller companies, we may actually need to create content, do SEO, conduct monthly or quarterly email campaigns, as well as engage customers on social media.
You Have to Figure it Out
As a SMB digital marketing specialist, you’d want to be ready to do anything and be anything they require. For that reason, it’s important for a digital marketing specialist, automated marketing specialist, or online marketing manager to have a wide range of skills and be ready to upgrade skills soon. Even after you’ve mastered the educational, experiential, and team fit requirements, there’s the need for more software mastery.
Marketing Automation Software
That’s where marketing automation software arrives. It’s a suite of services that allow you to automate common digital marketing tasks such as email, social posting, blogging, traffic and lead scoring, track the lifecycle of customers in your marketing funnel.
The names Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua, and Pardot are the heavy hitters for large scale automation. Smaller companies can use more cost effective solutions such as Canterras Engage, Brand Maker, Act-on, Wishpond or Active Demand. If you’re not with a larger agency, you won’t be using Hubspot or Eloqua.
Active Demand Marketing Automation Software
I’m learning Active Demand currently, which is a fairly new marketing automation offering. It’s presented nicely and might be a good software for you to cut your marketing automation teeth on.
There’s plenty of services modules as you can see in the graphic below. It’s pretty exciting to think you can do almost every marketing task from email campaigns to multi-variant testing. It’s intimidating at first, but once you learn the software, you’ve got some impressive marketing power.
If you’re interested in the other marketing automation software available, try these reviews.
Real Estate SEO has been affected by a number of new technologies and by the growing use of social media to hone in on people’s conversations and online habits. New technologies help discover potential deals, but it’s good old high quality content and Professional Grade SEO that generates lead conversion.
From Los Angeles to San Diego, providers rely on automated messaging because it’s cheap. I’ve worked with 4 digital marketing agencies and I’m very familiar with the “cheap” formula. But it never works and it discourages clients. This is when they give up on SEO and go back to traditional marketing alone. Thorough, professional SEO strategies can actually work well with traditional channels. Given how long it takes to convert prospects, you need good exposure on Google combine with a good drip email campaign to nurture them.
Real Estate SEO advantage today is to get personal with readers – to make a connection that automated marketing can’t make
What is it that we focus on to make your site soar in the rankings? I’ve authored a ground breaking book on SEO and continue studies of Google algorithm changes including RankBrain, Trustrank, Mobile, and engagement factors. And I’ve provided San Diego, Los Angeles, Oceanside, San Francisco firms with high ranking and high traffic results. Big traffic and big reach makes things interesting.
Is Automated Messaging Killing Internet Marketing?
My quick answer to that question is yes. From obtrusive persistent ads, to autoplay video, to content that visitors aren’t even interested in, automated messaging is turning everyone off and threatening the viability of digital marketing. Digital marketing is heading for a crash.
If you’ve read automated social media posts, automated email you receive, and waited for ads to download on your smartphone, you’ve seen this blight first hand.
The Solution is Personalization and Emotional Connection
Automated marketing is rarely personal or engaging. What is effective now, are topics of interest written and presented in a unique way that adds value to your prospect’s experience. And those messages are person to person so they can be sent at odd times.
The key to all of this is whether you’ve chosen the right topic for the right audience — the topic they need to know about and a topic that gives you a special top of mind presence in their life. It’s a crowded, congested, and over-competitive environment online and you must target the right people. By taking your time with a good content, keyword, and SEO strategy, you’re going to take seriously. That’s when your prospects are eager to hear from you.
What Does Google Want in a Real Estate Website?
Google wants lots of high quality, original content that is on topic and written in a flexible way that makes them think it is natural and not written for search engines.
Trust is important which is why the TrustRank algorithm was created. Google’s system checks for spam, and other misrepresenting, poor quality content and links. You won’t see much spam via Google anymore so they’ve cleaned it up. However, if you have thin content that looks like everyone else’s — Google thinks that spam. When you have high TrustRank, Google will trust the links and words on your site more.
Google wants to see lots of incoming links to your site. If you have quality content, are active on social media and do a good job of marketing your marketing, you’ll likely get those links (maybe some extra help here too).
Here’s Rand Fishkin of Moz in his video speaking about basic page SEO which is some of the work an SEO specialist must do. Rand’s an interesting guy and I don’t know how he remembers all that!
Ignore the Ill-informed Myths Floating Around out There
Pagerank is not dead. Google stills needs a number to rate importance and popularity of websites and webpages. An algorithm is simply a complex equation that generates or results in a numeric value. To rank things you need numbers. However, Pagerank is much more filtered now. The new Pagerank is closely tied to Trustrank and keyword relevance (for instance, if you get a link from a site that is not related to your specific topical area such as a blog on a music site, there may not be much ranking juice awarded to your real estate site.
Instead if you get a link from a major, popular and trusted real estate portal such as Realtor.com or Remax, it may give you more Pagerank and Trustrank factor than you ever dreamed of. Almost inappropriately!
I’ve got a few SEO techniques here that might help a real estate agent understand what to look for in a Real Estate SEO specialist provider. There’s skills, tactics, creative innovation, semantics, and an understanding of what a good user experience is. SEO isn’t simple when you want to be the number one ranking site. If you want to optimize like the rest of the common SEO herd, you’ll find yourself down the results page where searchers don’t go.
There are a lot of ranking factors (Google still says 200) however these are the big factors you need to understand:
Rich content that includes video, bulleted text, graphics, statistics, and other visuals that make it a more complete experience for visitors
Long form content – pages over 1000 words in length such as what you’ll see on my site (content that offers chances to link out and is what people like to share socially)
Long form content with more to read increases engagement and is more well shared on social media — Google is watching whether visitors stay on your pages
Content that uses synonyms, related words and stemmed variations of words in an intelligent way that Google reads as on topic and relevant
Websites with lots of content pages that have inbound links coming to them (not just to your homepage)
Keywords near linked items
Keywords within anchor text
Keywords in title tag of page
Content that is segmented or siloed to produce more power to capture high volume competitive phrases and long tail phrases (e.g., real estate agents in Los Angeles would have separate silos for real estate, real estate agents, and los angeles. Google even processes the word “in” so you work that into your page linking structure)
Google likes original, unique copywriting and linking – this is customized, personalized content generation that does well
Content that uses related words in links and text which helps Google determine precisely what your content is about (e.g., homes for sale 90210 or houses for sale in Beverly Hills, tells them with more precision than if you plastered your site with LA homes for sale). The words in your other page’s content will affect what Google believes about your page.
That’s the subtlety and complexity that applies to every word, link, and page on your site. And Google is much more page-centric and on topic than ever. In the past, if you had a popular, authoritative, and trusted website, then all of your pages were given a golden halo. Not anymore, Google has increased its damping factor which means ranking juice doesn’t go very far through the links. Sort of like the Colorado river. By the time it gets to the mouth, there’s nothing left.
Do You Need an SEO Specialist to Review Your Site? Call me at 416 998 6246 and let’s talk
You Crafty Devil You! You Did that On Purpose!
An SEO Specialist is very crafty, sneaky, strategy-minded copywriter who wants to write some beautiful prose on your website and social media pages to hypnotize and capture your visiting prospects. Yet, we speak to Google in a way you won’t understand in how we read between the lines of Google’s stated algorithm to romance Googlebot and all of Google’s database filters. We run a gauntlet of nasty algorithm demons who doubt our every word, action and even our identity.
Google says it wants only the best stuff and a highly skilled SEO content writer is the one to make sure Google’s receives with wrapping paper and a bow on top. A good specialist will be an expert on content strategy too. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have specialized expert contributors on staff creating copy. It may be best to let these writers research and create their in-depth expert pieces and to focus on what their content needs to express — the unique value proposition and benefits. A content strategist needs to ensure the content experience is fun and gets the brand message delivered.
Getting “On Brand” Means Having the Right Content Strategy
Yet these expert contributors will often not be “on brand” and true to the value proposition, meaning they’re not creating copy that sells you. In the end, all of your content has to create a customer for you, not for the top earning agents such as Merrily Hackett, Josh and Matt Altman, Jade Mills, Donald Trump, Melissa Wu, or Jason Soprovich, or for some cliche real estate agent image.
Your SEO copy and inter-page linking are all part of a branded experience in content. Your content is you. Reader’s weigh your content’s promise of value vs the benefits they want. Your content constantly speaks about the value you promise to deliver. It’s not enough to be pretty, you have to be effective in getting your significant, personalized, unique value proposition (your brand) across to visitors. But visitors love keywords and related words so they’ll be gobbling up our copywriting and calls to action.
I like what Dave Keys says about creating real leads via Real Estate SEO. We have to keep in mind that any exposure to buyer/sellers at any stage of their search is good. If they see you on Google in November, and then they see you again in May, they may feel comfortable enough now to call you. Visibility at any time is good.
If all those visitors don’t call you, it’s because your content doesn’t get your UVP across laser clear that you offer what they’re looking for. In fact, your SEO copywriter can make it look like you do, when in fact you’re not the best agent around.
With a great real estate SEO specialist writing your web and social media content, you’re creating a weave of powerful content they can’t resist. It speaks to what they want with the words they love to see, and the wording that Google respects.
Competition in real estate sales is intense. There’s one sale for every agent. So how do you separate yourself from the hoards and avoid anything that pushes you back into the pool of unknown agents – the realty clones? If you think it’s sexy to be one of the clones, well, it may actually be killing your personal brand image — the thing customers are buying.
Buyers and sellers make a lot of assumptions based on what they believe about you — that’s your Realtor Brand Image. It’s time to create a unique significant professional brand image for you only.
You are special, you are the most significant and a brand guided by your Realtor marketing strategy leads to creating that special feeling about. Check out my new book which is about creating a laser clear brand, one that creates one single emotion in your audience – feeling good. And that’s when they call you.
There’s one thing as important than all those tactics, techniques and strategies — branding and how to build your own personal brand image.
It’s possible to have tons of traffic coming from Google, Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, and even more from email to read your fantastic content, and still get no clients. If that’s happening, it’s almost certain your professional brand image is the killer. It could be poor or confusing.
This epic post should alter and modernize your views about branding. Hopefully, it’ll culminate with you understanding good things about yourself professionally and enjoying sharing them with your audience. They’ll love it because ironically, it’s all about them.
Do You Know What a Brand Image Is?
Your brand image is the message or promise of value and relevance you give to your visitors and clients. Upon arriving at your pages, they make an immediate judgement of your ability/promise to create value for them based on the impressions they receive.
Brand Image = Brand Promise = Unique Value Proposition
If your website site sucks, is ugly, has no listings, is tough to read and navigate, offers dull, trite or cliche info, and doesn’t offer anything relevant to them, they’ll make this decision — you are irrelevant. And if your content is confusing, then this is where you discover how to align it with your professional brand image.
Your website is a key element in your personal branding and you get to build your brand on your personal/professional strengths on that living document. You can identify the images, words, topics, and layout that tells them you are the most relevant real estate advisor. And they’ll believe it because collectively, you’ve made sure all of your online content is sincere and speaks to their beliefs and values.
Laurie Weston Davis of The Geeky Girls offers a general explanation of how real estate agents should create a unique value proposition online to establish their brand. As you’ll learn though, in the rest of this post, is that there are actually 14 key benefits you need to touch on to create your brand promise and big idea. Branding is very complex and the end goal is to simplify all the details you’re about to discover.
One Goal: To Make them Feel Happy, Satisfied, and Secure
In my last post, I talked about 18 benefits buyers and sellers want and that they can be congealed into a key emotional benefit — a feeling of satisfaction, happiness and security. All of your experience, skills, connections, and strength mean nothing unless you can register an emotional impact that reassures them they will be satisfied, happy and secure. It’s the same for a job hunter, home renovator, or a guy asking a girl to marry him. Each had their chance to get their “value proposition” across.
Trust is a big component of a great realtor brand image. Debbie Murray of Dallas created an excellent video that focuses on building trust, relevance and her capabilities.
Your Unique Value Proposition is the same as your Brand Image
Your UVP is a compact statement of words and imagery that tell them how your services are relevant to them. The UVP or brand promise is your guarantee of value, results, customer experience, and a good relationship.
To make the best impact, your brand image needs to be consistent. In fact, it should be laser clear. If visitors aren’t contacting you, they may be confused. That’s why the “less is more” mantra became popular. Marketers felt they were better off saying and doing less so they’d avoid confusing customers.
However, if you can’t create longer, dynamic content, covering important benefits, it will be tough to prove you’re better than 40,000 other realtors in your city. How can you make your value proposition stand out if you don’t go into some detail? If your value proposition is well thought out, simplified and expressed creatively and with laser clarity, you could vaporize your competition. You’ll create such a connection with your audience that they’ll believe no one else exists. You are the one — the only one.
How To Create Your Compelling Significant Brand Image
The benefit they want: a feeling of satisfaction, happiness and security. Simply list all of your strengths, assets, experience, style, attitudes, energy and knowledge and for each, make a statement of how that helps your target clients. Clients seek a realtor who is meaningfully different to them. That’s what we call significance. You have to convince prospects of your significance.
And if they feel you’re irrelevant or not significant because of some criteria such as age, gender, race, or your website colors, your brand image must overcome that challenge. The realtor market is crowded yet you’ll create a brand image that’ll launch you ahead of all of thm. Whoever does branding best, wins.
Just like your prospects on your website, you’re in a learning mode. You’re in between “I don’t know anything about this branding stuff” and “Can Gord realistically make my brand promise crystal clear.” After, you read this article, you’ll know more about personal/professional branding than 99.5% of the population.
Who’s Doing a Good Job of Branding in the Realty World?
Here’s one real estate guy’s brand image that’s easy to comprehend and looks like he’s having fun. Ian Brett looks like a safari guide as he helps buyers wade through condo jungle. He’s converting your anxiety into a fun and painless adventure. Fits the type of service perfectly. That’s fun!
Jason Soprovich greets you right away on his homepage. He communicates very quickly that he is all you need to buy or sell a luxury home in Vancouver. He’s almost larger than life, looking confident, experienced and belonging in the world of luxury, so much so that you forget all about details and nagging doubts. He’s going to make it happen, in style too.
The house in the background too, helps convey uniqueness. The curved glass, the roof, and the hedge along with driveway are all excellent visuals, as is the muted cloudy blue sky background. Here, less is more. There’s no pressure, only a simple statement that he’s available should you have some questions. Elegant, understated, and credible. Of course, that’s the first impression. The job of communicating the value proposition or promise, continues in your main pages, blog, social media, and listings, and then in emails. It never ends.
Jade Mills is a top Los Angeles realtor. In this video she speaks of integrity, customer service and a passion for helping buyers/sellers and building good relationships through networking. She’s likable, hard working, down to earth, gets results, and takes away the pain, even for other realtors.
The 14 Key Elements of Your Personal Unique Value Proposition or Brand Promise
Value that is clearly differentiated from your competitors
Understanding of their aspirations/values
A sense of familiarity/comfort
All of these attributes should be fused together with laser focus to move prospects to believe in you and hire you. If you thought your brand image was your photo and a few brags about sales, and your media appearances, you now know that clients are looking for something else.
The Final Piece: Do Your Homework — It’s Fun
What hampers most people in building a great brand image is themselves. We all need to monitor our thoughts about ourselves and counter our own negativity and others attitudes about us, and just enjoy being us. You don’t need permission or props. You deserve to feel good. Like the the 3 people you just met, you can be whoever you want to be. Create the image that represents your passions and values.
1. Discover your passion. I’ve written about passion extensively in this blog – about knowing why you do what you do (It’s the thing that makes you fascinating to other people. Believe you are fascinating). What is that hope that gets you out of bed every morning? Who are you really doing it for? What is it you will do for them? The things we do most passionately, we do for other people (even though we behave like it’s for ourselves). What is the feeling you want? What is the lifestyle that will give you the social, material and personal things you crave?
What is it about real estate and helping others that drives you? If it’s money alone, you won’t last long. You may want personal warmth, a sense of connection to your community, being a contributor to a better economy, making friends, a commitment to supporting and protecting others, or achieving an important role expected by others. If you know why you do what you do, and you commit to your passion for doing it, your customers will love you. There’s no doubt. I’ve seen it with numerous professionals who display their passion in how they celebrate every part of their lives. They started with little (unemployed, bankrupt, uneducated), followed their passion and life just kept getting better. Their journey was interesting and colourful.
My favourite example is from Myhang Gibson a mortgage agent. She nails the social and celebration element of branding. Community, friendship, family, fun, and a full life are powerful images. Her brand is personal, helpful, knowledgeable, and she reflects beliefs and values that most people share.
2. Be Bold. When you feel committed and certain about your passions, it’s easier to be bold and brave. You develop a powerful urge, belief, and magnetism toward your goal. It’s not a hunger or deservingness either. It’s an internal, natural, personal direction that compels you to do things. There’s an inner intelligence that tells you to keep going even though you don’t know why.
Do something new at home and work. Talk about yourself, promote yourself, and tell people who you are and what you’ve accomplished. It’s not to brag, it’s just to tell them who you are. If they’re real, they’ll appreciate your honesty and they can be certain about what you’re capable of and will likely do. If your brand image is a good one, they’ll develop tremendous confidence in you. If you back up your brand image with appropriate action, you’ll soon get a reputation as someone who fulfills people’s needs and wishes.
3. Tell a Story. When you have lots of connections, experience, and knowledge, you don’t have to tell people everything explicitly often. You communicate your personal brand image and your brand promise through your stories. Your stories relate to how you help other people and the value they received. and stories are about your daily experience, passions, doubts, insecurities, and pursuits. It’s the real you, but expressed in a way that is relevant and valuable to your prospects and clients.
Richard Branson has plenty of stories to tell and everyone one of them tends to be compelling. Just a picture of him makes you expect a story. Just as he does, you need to grow your experiences so you have more stories to tell. Strive for those experiences that give you the best stories to tell and ways to tell them.
Richard Branson for instance tells his stories using his entrepreneurial and travel experiences. It’s nice to have extensive experience and a colourful imagination, but even if you don’t, you can work with what you have.
Stories are powerful anecdotes, stuffed with rich messages about behaviours, values and intentions. Stories speak strongly about our highest principles and best results.
Good storytellers can be persuasive, especially when their message is backed up with explicit material on a website, blog, etc. When the stories match the statistical type stuff and other evidence, prospects will see you as being very credible. The stories and pictures will make you desirable. And when you hit on the very things they believe, you create a powerful bond with them.
4. Create Relationships. By networking and talking about things others believe in and want to know more about, you create new contacts. Meet people with genuine interest in knowing them, and know that they have connections too. These are people you can help. And you want to find ways to help them first. In business, it’s very important to be a go giver. Prospects do see your intent, your generosity of spirit and communication, your transparency, and the amount of value you can deliver to them. By shaping your personal brand image, you’re presenting an optimized value package to them. When your image and value is clear to them and they trust you, you’ve got a new client.
5. Take Action. When you’re clear about yourself, your skills, passions, and your market opportunities, and you’ve done your networking, taking action is not so hard. If you miss out on the previous steps, then action will be difficult. Nevertheless, no one is perfect and you just need to feed your passion and build an unstoppable belief in your mission. The “Faith” everyone talks about is actually a faith in yourself. With that belief and confidence, there’s not much that can stop you. The first action, you’ve already taken. You’ve begun tackling the difficult process of finding your unique personal brand image and expressing it to your customers.
Discover and Focus to Find Your Main Idea
Once you figure out what types of digital content will work for you, and how you’ll present that to prospects, you need to find one main idea that becomes the focus of your branding. This one thing will help you stay aligned in your content and present yourself consistently with laser like focus. Your audience needs simplicity and you need to make an impact.
It’s the focus of your value proposition and image which etches you in their brain. When your significant, compelling UVP is clear in their minds, that’s when they call you. Your main idea/theme is the subject of my next post! Make sure you return for more useful, significant, relevant ideas 🙂
If all this is too complicated for you, hire someone to help you. It’s just a simple process. You can do it.
Agent Branding Resources
If you’re in Vancouver, you’ll be delighted to know Agent Makeover is in Vancouver. Lori Wiens can help you visualize and build your personal brand image. Check out the excellent work she’s done for her realtor clients.
And, check out Tonya Eberhart for Brandface Real Estate. Here’s what Tonya highlights with respect to important traits for realtors in personal professional branding:
Character – being authentic and having a personality
Confidence – knowing you believe in what you’re doing
Although the US markets such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Charlotte, and Miami are glowing brighter these days, Toronto and Vancouver are actually the hottest markets in the world right now. The Forecast for housing sales and combined with higher condo and home prices means realtors can raise their earnings considerably.
Both Toronto and Vancouver are keeping pace for new sales records this year. And it’s a great time to be selling a $1Million+ home in these 2 cities. Excellent for those who have positioned themselves to sell these properties. Take a look at the sales Jason Soprovich is enjoying in Vancouver.
US and foreign investors are keeping their eye on the Canadian market as the Canadian loonie stays down at 75 cents US. There’s still time to get onboard the rising tide.
The globe and mail reports that in the first two months of the year sales of Vancouver homes valued at more than $1-million increased 23 % year over year. Toronto luxury homes were up an unbelievable 63% year over year. Overall in the GTA, home prices rose to about $720,000 on average.
Depicted at right are the world rankings of property prices around the world. Knight Frank’s most recent world wealth report shows “prime” property prices in Canada are rising at a rate that’s 4 to 14 times faster than the average of the rest of the world.
“Luxury home sales in Toronto and Vancouver will continue to defy gravity this spring. Both markets have the potential for significant gains and we expect heightened demand and insufficient inventory to drive price escalation and sellers’ market conditions.” — from a statement by Brad Henderson, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, reported by the Globe and Mail.
TREB reported 7,621 home sales in February, up from 6,294 — a rise of 21%. That’s despite the fact supply is actually very limited. More homes are sneaking above the $1 million mark thus giving them the tag of luxury homes, when in fact, some of them aren’t really luxury homes at all. Is it time to refer to luxury homes as those above $4 Million? The forecast for 2017 sales and new construction are positive. It’s been record growth recently.
Sales of detached homes rose by 37% year over year and the average price of a detached home in Vancouver has also risen 37% to $1.3 million. Most luxury home sales in Vancouver are from 2 to 5 Million dollars. New listings in Greater Vancouver increased 7% so clearly homeowners are starting to get the itch to sell. Ironically, the total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 7,299, a 38.7% drop compared to February 2015.
It’s common knowledge that few Vancouverites can afford to buy a home. We have to ask who buyers are now in both Vancouver and Toronto? Clearly, Millennials can only afford lower end condos in most areas of greater Toronto and Vancouver. The desperation of the market has increased the use of shadow flipping, which the BC premier says she intends to clamp down on. However, she also stated she will not do anything to affect homeowner’s equity– clearly signalling a “hands off” attitude that will appeal to luxury home and condo investors around the world.
As the white line above shows, Vancouver condos still haven’t taken off in price. Maybe this will be your investment opportunity? (Call me if you need a tenant — me. Don’t let that luxury condo sit empty when I could be minding it for you:)
With migration into Vancouver on the rise, the government will have to act fast to promote new home development. With low interest rates, investors and developers are eager to get into these fantastic market opportunites.
Luxury Home Realtors Having a Great Time
Vancouver area luxury real estate agents are enjoying a rare period of exceptional sales and income. It could be another record year in 2016 for Sutton Group West Coast Realty who are clearly enjoying the fruits of being top dog in the current residential and commercial property boom.
Luxury home realtors may have to shift their marketing to the International investor and buying audience of Saudis, Chinese, Hong Kong, Australian, US and European buyers whose currency exchange rates given them a decided boost in purchasing power. Asian investors are buying globally, but nowhere do they feel more comfortable and welcomed as in Vancouver.
We’re getting close to the 2017 spring selling season where 60% of your sales happen. It’s crunch time! Try these Top 8 Lead Generation tactics to grow your contacts and build a buzz about working with you. Ramp it up and one day you may be running your own brokerage.
Any luxury realtor, whether selling presale condominiums or million dollar mansions, can amp up their sales prowess by strategically adding on sales tactics and honing them within a more skilled strategy. The payoff for some might be millions in new commissions.
2016 is already off to a near record breaking start. There’s plenty of economic factors in the Canada and US markets that will drive sales this year. And a surprising amount of demand is coming from China. It turns out that only a small number of realtors are pursuing Asian buyers. That leads us to tactic #1.
Offer to pay Asian and Arab investors travel expenses if they visit and buy a property with you. You can set up a travel itinerary for them using Air Canada. They pay the airlines fee and a hotel room in your town. You pick them up at the airport. Ensure the accommodations look good online. You can dress this invitation up as a wonderful vacation of a lifetime. Many Asians would love to visit cities in the US or Canada. Places such as San Diego, Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto have drawing power. You can leverage that.
Treat the prospects trip like a vacation and let them know they have an opportunity to park their investment dollars into something with potential. San Diego is becoming a hot market, and Vancouver, BC, and Alberta properties are a bargain because of the 40% exchange rate.
A few realtors have gone to China to arrange visits by the plane load. It’s not hard to see the potential in 300 Asian investors landing in your city. They’ll be buying something. If they don’t buy, they have to pay their $5000 bill themselves.
Because the Yuan is depreciating, Chinese investors need to buy a property or something here as soon as possible. Build a new website in Mandarin and make your special offer. Add investment advice, and a little about how wonderful it is to live in a free country with lots of room. A firm can make your site visible in Baidoo and Google.cn and other popular Chinese websites. These investors are often looking for big luxury properties.
Use Google Adwords. Really? Yes, Adwords has incredible reach to people who are hunting for real estate or selling. Can’t beat it. But you need to do it well. What I’ve learned about Adwords is that you must test, test, test. Your quest is to find the best ad wording, landing pages and value proposition. Even after you optimize your ads and have amazing landing pages, you must have the best value offer.Analyze your UVP and your hook, and ask others what’s weak about them. Get lots of feedback. If you optimize your lead funnel, it will pay off despite the cost. Marketers are discovering that even with PPC, content marketing tactics are necessary to build prospect’s interest. Buying real estate is a high involvement purchase and good content is something that increase comfort and and increase desire.
Use all Digital Channels. Yes, it is a lot of work, but one or two channels doesn’t cut it. When you increase touchpoints with customers, you give them more emotional justification for working with you. And the repeated exposure is good. Omnichannel digital marketing works best with lots of content – infographics, long and short blogs, downloadables, whitepapers, case studies, videos, persuasive emails, and PPC advertising. Keep throwing value at the prospect and eventually they’ll break and give in. Persistence.
Improve your unique value proposition. Are your tactics, brand and value proposition the same as thousands of others? That’s not good. You can run a fantastic marketing campaign, but if your UVP sucks it will bring everything to a halt. Every agent has a UVP. It’s what your prospect believes about you and your ability to make things happen.You must be compelling, relevant, and unique. Your UVP is you and your offer of professional help. What can you add to your UVP to push you by your competitors. What will the others not do? Do that. Tell prospects they are going to get some special, wonderful treatment, other than hellos and smiles. That’s not enough.
Create new original interesting types of content and optimize them for Google search rankings. Don’t say you know how to do this. I’m an SEO guy. I know how to do it. I see agent’s blog and pulse posts all the time and they get no traffic and don’t generate value. People don’t have time to read unless you get it into an exciting format such as a video, infographic, downloadable pdf charts, graphs, or photos. It’s not easy but it does set you out as someone to remember. Part of your content should be for use on other people’s websites, which creates inbound links to your website.
Blog about, network with, and even promote other agents/brokers. Other agents can bring business to you. Coopetition has been a good tactic for a while. Link with as many other agents as you can on Linkedin, and retweet their tweets on Twitter. Create a friend as they will last longer than any other relationship. Work together like sheep dogs! Linkedin is a great tool. I’m linked with thousands of real estate agents.
Build your email list and do direct marketing. A lot of agents don’t nurture their email lists. Build unique, valuable, and entertaining content to stay top of mind. email is still a powerful lead conversion tool. Set up an account with Constant Contact or MailChimp. Within your email campaign, run a contest for a 4K TV for men or a new wardrobe for women — use it to grow your contacts.
Setup multiple Twitter accounts and a Facebook account to reach diverse local audiences on topics they’re interested in. Most people don’t want to talk real estate. It’s boring, stressful, and they’re so distracted today. Create accounts or even websites on interesting topics such as investment, travel, retirement, health, local sports, and health and wellness.Hire a great copywriter like me to fill these sites with relevant, engaging content. How about a site that is constantly updated with local sporting and events activities? Whenever they wonder about what’s happening in town, they’ll go to your site where it’s all laid out.
There’s other services such as Follow Rocket that can help you get more followers and reach more people.
That’s 8 of the most powerful tactics you can use within your superb digital marketing strategy. As you get into this, even more opportunities will appear. They don’t appear until you get into it. Winners and leaders are more nervy and creative. Don’t be ultraconservative, old school, or burdened under the weight of your own skepticism. Get started.
Your future in business is completely in your hands. You decide right now what direction your business, income, and lifestyle will take. Make a good decision.
Please take this survey on buyer attitudes toward digital marketing services. I will send a report to each participant if you include your email address in the comments box.
It will be fascinating to discover the prevailing beliefs of online marketing from professional Realtors, Mortgage Brokers and Agents, Dentists, Realty Developers, Insurance Agents, Small Manufacturers, and other small to mid size business owners who are facing big decisions about how they’ll be doing their marketing in 2016.
Here are the 11 Questions:
Thank you for your participation and I hope the results help you make better decisions!