Many of my colleagues in the industry struggle with generating additional leads for their real estate business as well as marketing to clients properties effectively. There is little disputing that the most effective vehicle for generating additional buyer and seller leads (particularly buyer leads) is by using the Internet. The most recent statistics show that 87% of buyers of real estate begin their search in the Internet (I think it is really even higher than that). In particular they start their search using search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. Of those, the one that is the most critical by far is Google.
Currently, Google owns the vast majority of the search engine traffic. Facebook is making a play to take away some of that market share. The king of the hill is still Google in terms of true consumer buying power in the real estate market.
So, where should we place our efforts? Google of course. The others are just sidelights and will fall into place as you build your presence on Google.
Now the question for many real estate agents in the business of marketing to property buyers and sellers is which to use, search engine optimization (SEO for short) or per click ads with google? Here some of the pros and cons to bother methods and I will leave you to decide which you like better.
Per click advertising with Google:
1. Instant access - while SEO can take months the cost for per click ads is fairly minimal. This process takes minutes and can be very simple if you follow Google's instructions. They will often even give coupons to first time users. More on Internet real estate marketing at this site.
2. Low initial cost- you can get started for a lot less money than organic SEO (search engine optimization). Make sure you make your keywords very geo-specific for buyer leads and geo-target your more general keywords for seller leads.
3. Ultimate tracking and control- you can set up tracking codes in your site to determine where your leads came from. Which keywords were effective at which time and for which ads
4. Top of the heap- with a reasonable budget you can find yourself at the top of the search results almost instantly
1. Lower long term costs- once you have your organic SEO established you retain those results for a long time as long as you don't commit any major Google sins or they change the secret sauce unexpectedly. That said this process in time consuming, expensive initially if you hire others to do it and cumbersome and unpredictable.
2. Better click-ability?- The verdict is still out on the quality of the click through on paid ads vs. organic results. Many pundits argue that the consumers that click on the ads are looking to buy vs. the consumers clicking the organic results are looking for information. That argument will rage on.
3. Credibility- when the consumer clicks on an organic ad I would argue that the trust factor is far higher than in the instance of paid ads.
4. Staying power- Once you are on the top of the heap you can stay for months and years with tons of exposure at no additional costs other than maintaining the practices that got you there.
There is obviously substantially more to Internet marketing for real estate agents than this but this is the start of what can be a business building practice for brokers and agents. We have built our main real estate website to a organic juggernaut and still use paid ads to supplement our weaknesses. In the end its up to you. If you want to learn more stay tuned or feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help in a consulting role.
Happy Google hunting!