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2007-08-20 13:24:00

SEO - An Essential Vocabulary Addition to a REALTOR'S Lexicon

In the world of organized real estate these days we certainly talk a lot about real estate web sites. We know from various statistical studies that the Internet has become a primary source for buyers of property: at least three out of every four potential buyers begin their searches on the Internet.
And so, everybody is building a web site to advertise real estate listings — agents, brokers, franchises, MLSs, newspapers.  In many areas, the competition is fierce — so much so that a great deal of time is spent by local associations and MLSs , as well as NAR and other entities , trying to sort out the "rules" and eliminate what is seen as counterproductive competition for consumer "eyeballs." Should an MLS have a public web site? If it does, doesn’t this encourage competition between members and the MLS? Should salespeople have personal web sites? Aren’t they in competition with brokers? Can salespeople have web sites that have IDX feeds?
And so the industry spends a huge amount of time and resources on questions like these when the real issue lies elsewhere. To my mind, the real issue is search engine placement. If there are 90 real estate offices in a community, and half of them have a web site and another 30 salespeople have web sites, there is  a traffic jam! When a buyer goes to Google and types in “real estate Traverse City, MI," there are 76 potential responses (45 offices, 30 sales people, and one MLS — not to mention the FSBO sites and other third party vendors of listing information).
Now what we know is, if a site doesn’t make it to the first page of the Google search results, the visitation numbers drop dramatically. So the question becomes, how does a site make it into the top right or 10 responses? 
The answer is not easy, and is becoming rapidly more complex. It’s not enough to throw a web site out there with a couple of key words that the search engine is supposed to recognize and embrace. In fact, there are whole companies who do nothing but work to raise a web site into the top ten responses from a Google (or Internet Explorer, or AOL) search.
And certainly, we who own and/or manage web sites have a whole new body of knowledge to learn, and a new terminology including keywords, titles, meta tags, site architecture, and other items related to a site’s “spiderability.” As web marketers, we must also consider the explosion in social media sites and user-generated content such as blogs and podcasts as a legitimate marketing avenue. 

We must understand the importance of the launch of Google Universal Search, the rising impact of affiliate and associate marketing programs, the rise of vertical search engines that cater to niche audiences, and the dominance of Wikipedia. 

Not to know these things, or not to invest in good professional help from those who do, is to relegate our Internet marketing results to the possibility of being 99 out of 101 search engine results, and to the certainty of spending our resources in a futile attempt to attract attention from our search engine partners like Google and Yahoo. The bottom line is, Internet Search Engine Marketing does not follow the same rules as conventional offline marketing . I’ll explore some of those differences in future articles.

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