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2007-01-30 09:29:00

Search Engine Marketing for Real Estate Agents

by Andy Steuer, CEO & Founder of Fidelity Asset

Why Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search engine marketing gives you exposure on the leading search engines -- Google, Yahoo!, AOL, Netscape, Ask.com, and others, in an efficient and powerful way.  Buying sponsored listings puts your advertisement at the very top of a search results page.

While it's true that much of your business relies on personal connections and face-to-face communication, real estate agents - like all business-savvy professionals - know that personal connections only get you so far. And in today's increasingly competitive market, you need to go very far. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can help you expand your reach by promoting your business and expanding your sales pipeline across the Internet.

Using search engines has become one of the most popular activities on the Internet, second only to email. But with millions of web sites and billions of web pages, potential homebuyers need a tool that can sift through this clutter to find the Realtor web sites relevant to their needs. Thanks mostly to the techniques pioneered by Google and Yahoo, search engines have become remarkably effective at providing results that are highly relevant to the term or phrase the user searches on. But to be relevant, you have to be found. 

The importance of being found

You may have great inventory, a fantastic local clientele, and a snazzy new web site, but if your web site doesn't show up on the first two pages of Google (or Yahoo, MSN, AOL, etc.), you're not getting the exposure you need to remain competitive.  With over 77% of homebuyers initiating their home search on the Internet (according to the National Assn. of REALTORS), you can't afford to ignore this huge audience of active homebuyers and sellers.

Purchasing sponsored listings is a surefire way to get your web site to the top of the results page quickly.

What are sponsored (paid) listings? 

Sponsored, or paid listings, is a great way to get fast visibility on the major search engines. Also called pay-per-click, (PPC) sponsored listings are those that show up at the top of search engines such as Google in a blue box or in a column along the right side of the page. These results are clearly labeled "Sponsored listings." The more popular the keyword, the more paid listings come up.

Google AdWords and Yahoo's Overture software are by far the most popular sponsored listings programs due to the popularity of their search engines. They both allow you to create your own ads based upon the keywords most relevant to your business. Not only will your ads show up on their search results page, but they will also show up on other sites in the Google Network, such as AOL, Lycos, CNN, Time Magazine, USA Today, The New York Times, and HowStuffWorks. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay Google and Yahoo a pre-determined fee.

How does it work?

Here's how AdWords and other similar programs work: 

1.      You build a list of thousands of keywords relevant to your business (e.g., "Brentwood real estate" "Full service mortgage brokerage" "Buy and Hold properties").

2.      Decide how much you want to bid "per click" - which is the amount you pay when someone clicks on your ad, after typing in one of your keywords.

3.      Your ads start running within minutes after you submit your billing information. You can easily keep track of your ad performance online to see how certain words are performing against others.

4.      You are responsible for managing your campaigns - when to pause and activate, adjusting your bids, refining your keyword list, and calculating ROI.

Sponsored listings are a great way to get prominent visibility in front of a huge audience, quickly.

Interested in starting now? Fidelity Assets specializes in creating, managing, and optimizing high-performance SEM campaigns to help agents and brokers connect with buyers and sellers who are actively searching for real estate in their market.

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