While most home buyers and sellers start their journey with a Google search, many real estate professionals continue to miss out on business by not optimizing their content and websites.
According to Google Trends, people search online for phrases like, “how long does it take to sell a house?” between 1,000 and 10,000 times every month. If your website appears at the top of the Google search, many people will consider you a reputable source and could consider using you as their agent.
That’s great, but how do you get your website to appear at the top of the results page?
You could start with search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).
Let’s take a closer look at each.
SEO: Search engine optimization
The wonderful thing about SEO is it costs very little. SEO involves writing or formatting website content in a way that is preferred by Google’s search algorithms.
Once you are on the top of the search engine results page, no additional investment is required to stay there. However, it can take consistent effort before you see results.
It’s a high risk, high reward strategy. A piece of content that’s perfectly optimized may not reach the top of the search engine results page. And it could take up to six months for the page to climb the ranks.
Previously, you could have inserted keywords in a webpage’s metadata and repeated keywords in the content to exploit the search’s algorithms. These tactics don’t work anymore.
Google’s algorithm now relies on how satisfied a user is with the search result. Helpful content on your website is the only way to reach the top of Google’s search results.
SEM: Search engine marketing
To instantly appear high up on a search, websites can place ads above the search results in Google. You only pay when customers click the link on the ad and visits the webpage. Those ads can attract new clients and might be useful in selling certain types of property.
SEM can cost anywhere from 30¢ to $30 for every click, depending on how competitive the ad market for search term is.
Not all of those potential customers you have paid to get on your website will contact you; in fact, you can only expect between 1% to 5% of landing page visitors to convert. It could cost tens to hundreds of dollars per lead; that price is called Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).
Factors that affect Cost Per Acquisition are continually changing, so what makes sense now may not make sense in the future. It could cost $50 to acquire a lead this month but $100 next month. You must continually re-evaluate your investment.
What’s the difference between SEO and SEM?
It can be easy to get SEO and SEM confused. While both get your brand in front of people searching online for specific search terms, they utilize very different tactics.
SEO/SEM is worthless if your websites isn’t generating leads
SEO or SEM may direct thousands of potential clients to your website, but it’s your website’s job to convert visitors into leads.
If your website is not in top shape, then invest in improving it before investing in SEO or SEM. Your website should look presentable, load quickly, work well on a mobile device, and ask visitors to call or email you.
The secret to SEO and SEM: Give the people what they’re looking for
When someone searches a phrase, they have signaled they want to take action towards a goal. The only way to reach them is to help them with that goal. Selfishly sticking your semi-irrelevant ad or website in the middle of their process is not going to do anything.
So, if you want to reach someone who searches, “best paint colours for selling a house,” then you need to ask: what is this person looking to achieve? What do they value? How do I best serve them?
Someone who searches, “best paint colours for selling a house” is trying to paint their house and make smart preparations to improve their property before listing it. They value selling their home for top dollar and moving into another house that fits their needs better. An article from a real estate agent about their observations of what wall colours present to buyers would be very helpful and help you move up the search results page.
Learning SEO or SEM can be much like flipping houses. There’s no shortage of books and advice on the topic, but you will not truly understand it until you try for yourself.
You should start with as little money as possible and move up from there. You will learn by making mistakes and be ready for big investments in time.