If you’ve been on the fence about building your own real estate site, this thought likely crossed your mind: why should small sites bother trying to compete for search engine rankings against industry giants such as Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com (ZTR)? With their obvious advantages in resources, staff, and name-brand recognition, this might seem an endeavor not worth the time and effort to pursue.
The Little Real Estate Site That Could
Achieving a first page search engine ranking not only can be done, but happens quite often, because these real estate sites have succeeded where ZTR do not: by providing area-specific content that speaks directly to their particular markets, and responding quickly to shifting trends and hot topics in said markets. In this Google video that’s just shy of three minutes, Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s Webspam team) persuasively makes the case for The Little Real Estate Site That Could. Though larger sites certainly have money and manpower in spades, their massive scope prevents them from giving adequate and timely attention to local trends.
Inspirational advice straight from Google’s Matt Cutts
As this idea applies to real estate, think of ZTR as the equivalents of big box stores; they offer a huge selection, but wholly lack the welcoming and personalized feel of your favorite specialty shop. Whether you’re looking for a cozy home on the coast of Maine, or a condo in downtown Des Plaines, their interfaces look exactly the same. This is where your own expertise and experience as a realtor can give you the edge you need to bring your site to the top of search rankings:
Find your niche: think about the types of properties and clients that you specialize in. Perhaps you’ve spent the last ten years selling colonial homes or waterfront properties, you know a fair bit about eco-friendly homes, or you work primarily with first-time home buyers. Cater your site’s content to your target market, and establish yourself as the go-to realtor for your key demographic. What sets you apart? Focus on your niche, then consider other real estate topics that educate and engage your visitors. I recommend reading our series on Real Estate Blog Ideas – Your Resource Guide to get your creative juices started.
Respond quickly: react to hot topics: one of the advantages of having a smaller site is that you can quickly change its focus to adapt to shifting market trends. For example, if the local market for single-family homes has bottomed out, it’s quite possible that the market for residential rental properties is simultaneously picking up. By staying flexible, you can stay several steps ahead of much larger competitors’ sites.
Offer hyper-local content: show off what makes your area special! Whether you’re a realtor on the Gulf Coast or the Great Lakes, use eye-catching photos to showcase the natural splendor, recreation, cuisine, and home styles that are unique to your market. Create neighborhood profile pages to make prospective buyers feel right at home, and provide links to local resources and organizations to help put your name out in the community.
Do it better: no one knows your clients better than you do. Think about the demographics you deal with the most: retiring baby boomers, recent college graduates, working families, etc. Consider what factors are the key selling points to these groups, and what content and visual flair would speak directly to their interests. If you speak a second language in common with many of your clients, be sure to display this prominently on your site (though also be careful not to go overboard, and alienate other prospective buyers).
In short, the sky is the limit for savvy and ambitious realtors looking to establish themselves on the web. Starting out small gives you the capability to easily roll with the punches, and carefully build your brand image at the same time. Search engines are concerned with providing the best relevant resource for the search terms; if you can establish your site as a frequently-updated, relevant source of information on “single-family homes, Anytown, USA”, you’ll organically draw the traffic and leads that you deserve.
Real Estate Website Services
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