RISMEDIA, Dec. 4, 2007-Some of the best stuff on the Web is free, especially if you know how to leverage hundreds of free options into a unified business strategy.
Almost every search engine has a free listing for various business categories. When you register your business on one site, you have to keep in mind that a strategy in how to coordinate those free listings back and forth across the Web. Whether you are a single agent working out of a home office, or a large regional broker with hundreds of agents in each office…understanding that every single city, neighborhood, and topical center has different free options is essential.
What does free really get you? On a small scale…not much. One can assume a free listing on any one search engine may only get a few visitors a month. If you have a good call to action, one of those visitors may convert into an actual interested lead.
When you combine them and establish dozens or even hundreds of valid local listings you gain many benefits. Each listing is a potential in-bound link on a relevant keyword from a well recognized site. Each link adds to the previous link, and with 25, 50, or 500 links…now your site shows up for competitive search terms in the most popular search engines.
Let us take an example and break down the math. Good marketing is often about repetitive and basic math:
You are a single agent. You establish 100 properly setup free local listings. Each one sends you one visitor a month. Your site converts 5% of your visitors into a lead who fills out a form and you contact. You close 20% of your leads. Free listings on multiple search sites = one closed transaction per month.
Out of 100 free local listings, a quarter of them give you valid in-bound links on search terms. Within a 30 to 180 day period your main site shows up for competitive keywords such as “my city real estate.” You get an additional 100 visitors a month looking for the keywords you selected. Your site converts 5% of your visitors into a lead who fills out a form and you contact. You close 20% of your leads. Free listings on multiple search sites fueling organic results in the search engines = another closed transaction each month.
Move the example up in the real estate industry: You are a broker with 100 agents who all utilize a proper local search campaign.
First off, we will be realistic and drop that number from 100 down to 10. In most offices only 10% of the agents are actually going to do what they are told to do, even when it is in their own best interest to do it. If 10% of the office follows the steps, there will be 1,000 new incoming local listing links that also represent 1,000 new local search visitors that are looking for exactly what you have to offer.
Utilizing the economy of scale and superior knowledge, your site actually converts 10% of those visitors into leads = 100 leads a month. Since they have additional support and help nurturing the prospects, they close 25% of the leads = 25 finished transactions.
As an agent or broker, how much do those closed transactions mean to you?
For a larger group of agents working together, those 1,000 incoming links can be tailored to target meaningful search phrases in the main engines that none of them as individuals could hope to attain without a much larger budget. The economy of scale is simple: leveraging a team allows the office to benefit from more exposure on Web, which in turn allows the company brand to grow stronger to help close those transactions.
A key benefit of both the single agent and broker scenarios is that a local search listing campaign and having a wide marketing strategy protects you from sudden changes in the online marketplace. By relying on dozens of smaller streams of visitors, no single site can impact your bottom line. Google or Yahoo can change something overnight, and you are protected from having your lead source dropping off the radar.
To help you on the beginning of your local search marketing strategy, here is a short list of a few standard local search sites that offer free local listings:
Google Local: (http://www.google.com/local/add)
Yahoo Local: at (http://edit2.ls.scd.yahoo.com/csubmit/)
Superpages.com: clicking the “add or edit a business” link at the bottom of the page. Be forewarned that you will receive a sales call for a follow-up to offer you many other services. Just let them know you’ll take all the free options they have.
The following two are a popular and growing form of social media local listing sites based on community models with voting. User can review and comment on your business. These have the added benefit that they also serve to protect your online reputation:
Yelp.com: perform a search for your business name to find out if you’re already in Yelp’s system. On the bottom of the search result page, click add business which leads to a simple form where you can add your business.
About the author:
Barry Hurd is president of Social Media Systems, an online marketing and advertising consultant group working with search engine marketing and leveraging social media communities. He has over 15 years of entrepreneurial Internet and online marketing experience. As an author and prolific blogger, he has reached online audiences around the world. Since the mid-1990s, Barry has been involved in numerous efforts to bring forth technical innovation through online business models. Past projects have included NIKE, REI, TMP Worldwide, Monster.com, Verizon Superpages, Intuit, and RISMedia.
For more information, visit 3net Search Engine Marketing Blog. (http://socialmediasystems.com/blog)