Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How Buyers Search for Real Estate Online

To capture real estate buyers, you must think like a real estate buyer. What do buyer want most? Well, it's going to depend on what type of buyer you're dealing with. It's best to target all in different ways with different pages or landing sites on your website.

First Time Buyers

First time buyers are not sure what to do. They may start to search for "real estate" in general and quickly learn that it opens to broad of a field. But in doing this they may come across popular sites like Realtor.com Homes.com and some of the other big dogs like Trulia, Yahoo and Zillow. From there they can check into homes and find an agent but most likely they are going to find the listing agent, not a buyers agent and we all know how that can go down.

Sometimes you will get the lone buyer that will search for "First time buyer in .... whatever town" but that's pretty rare. Many buyers may search a phrase they have heard from the media such as buyers incentives or cash back at closing. The biggest was the tax credit first time home buyers got a couple years ago, but that time is passed and you need to keep up with the changing lingo.

Most first time buyers will search for homes since they are typically looking for exactly that; a home. Not a house, or property or investment means, but a home. Somewhere they can call their own and start a family. If you are in a large city try suburbs or communities around the area and use titles and phrases such as Battle Ground homes or Riverfront homes in Vancouver. You can add the state abbreviation if there are other cities of similar names that may be bigger.

Second Time buyers or beyond

Those that have bought and sold before typically know a little more of the playing field and may be searching for an actual agent rather then homes. They know that a buyers agent will work for free for them and to let them do all the work and show them the houses. But this is also a mixed bag because those that are selling and buying at the same time may want an agent or Realtor that really knows both. They may want to look for homes on their own and use the basic terms such as Fairbanks real estate or Enterprise AL real estate agent.  These buyers will want experience and knowledge of not only their current area but the one they are moving to.

Real Estate Investors

Real estate investors are those that know what they want and how they want it. They are either looking at simple homes to rent out or multi-plexes to invest in.  These buyers are probably looking for an investment Realtor or foreclosures homes in which cases you can use terms like "Auction" "Foreclosure" "REO" " HUD Homes" and "Short Sales". You may want to create a page on your site such as this: "Santa Fe short sales"

Buyers look for different things at different times. The trick is knowing when to post, how to post and what to write about. Write for your audience, optimize to be found and capture that lead.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Choose the Best Page Titles for Real Estate Sites

Finding the right keywords and phrases for your page titles

Google changes all the time and we change with it. We change how we search and what we search for. In the beginning real estate was the biggest search phrase. People would use it no matter where they were in the world. And you could use it because there were very few sites online so "real estate" was a fine term. But in the 90s when individual brokerages were getting their own sites and SEO became the big thing, you had to add your city to that phrase so people were now searching for the city plus the term real estate such as "Abilene real estate".

Then about 5 years ago the term "homes" became the catch phrase. The media was all over the term talking about homes in foreclosure, homes in distress, short sale homes, etc.. The term real estate was not on the radar except for the phrase, "real estate agent or broker". Homes was the key so agencies started updating their meta data to include "homes" in the keywords and then adding the city later such as "Yakima Homes" etc...

Other key phrases could include "homes for sale" or even "House for sale" with the addition of the city in front or behind the term. This quickly took off and many agents, brokers and companies were scrambling to be first for these phrases.

Then just a couple years ago, the term "long-tail search" was coined meaning a longer title or question that someone would search for. This led to individual blog posts about a specific neighborhood or community. It worked perfectly for larger areas that have dozens of smaller neighborhoods and districts such as Whidbey Island real estate - smaller communities were used like Clinton homes, Langley houses, and Oak Harbor condos for sale... etc... These individual pages create much more content per quantity on the site itself and they were being found for that specific title rather than trying to get the homepage to show up for every keyword in an area.

Titles also became more specific to an area and a type of home such as "foreclosure properties in Enterprise Alabama" or "short sales in Sierra Vista Arizona". While the brokerage may handle all types of real estate listings in the entire county these titles were proving to capture the more solid lead. If someone typed these phrases in the search engines, they were pretty specific in what they wanted making the author of that page the one that gets the lead.

Recently, the terms are changing again and the role of SEO professionals for real estate marketing have the challenge of jumping on these changes before the rest of the planet does. A new term that's sweeping the area with very little competition is "where to live in...." Fill in the ... with the city, state or county the brokerage is in. If its a large city in a smaller state consider using the entire state as the main focus, such as "Where to live in Tennessee" even though you only focus on the Clarksville TN real estate market.

These changes are something that must be on the radar for anyone that wants to get a jump on their competition. The one who catches the search term first is typically the one that gets the lead. Learn to change and evolve to find the best keywords and phrases for your titles. Google is watching closely.