Real Estate Mogul and Billionaire,Donald Trump says, “the image of success is important, but even more important is the ability to focus on solutions instead of on problems. That way, you’ll never be thinking like a loser, and you probably won’t look like one either.”
In the competitive world of residential real estate sales, a brilliant SEO and social media strategy are critical to securing leads. Nine out of ten buyers use the Internet to search for homes, according to the Digital House Hunt, a 2014 report on real estate consumer trends from the National Association of Realtors.
This is especially true for second homes and vacation homes in cities away from where buyers currently live. Unable to pop in and out of open houses at whim or easily drive through neighborhoods, second homes buyers rely on websites to research information on their target communities, browse listings, and view virtual home tours on YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram.
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You don’t have to be selling luxury penthouses in Manhattan or beachfront condos in Costa Rica to take a page out of a real estate agent’s digital playbook, however. As your business prepares its digital strategy for 2016, here are three key lessons to keep in mind:
Lesson #1: Be Mobile-Friendly
Real estate brokers understand that the typical buyer is increasingly likely to use mobile search over desktop searches, especially during the preliminary research phase. “Searchers may casually browse listings via mobile apps or conduct preliminary mobile searches,” says David Walker, Director at Spot Blue International Property. “Having a mobile-friendly website that make mobile search easy is an absolute must so would-be buyers continually come back to your site.”
What your business can do: Mobile search is huge and only getting bigger. Just because your business survived Google’s “MobileGeddon” earlier this year doesn’t mean you’re in the clear, however. Take steps now to speed up mobile load time, simplify the mobile search process, and streamline mobile eCommerce check-out options.
Lesson #2: Get Visual
From Instagram to Vine, social media has officially gone visual. There’s a good reason for the success of these image-centric networks. An estimated 65 percent of the world’s population are visual learners, reports Marketing Land, making mobile video especially critical for capturing consumer’s attention. Real estate agents know that virtual property tours are key for capturing a would-be buyer’s attention. Professional real estate videos are moving beyond just the focal points in a specific home and including the surrounding community. For vacation destinations, this could include community amenities like a private pool or tennis court access, distance to the beach or other attractions, and security features for when homeowners are away, says David.
What your business can do: From product images on your website to Instagram ads, visual content matters. For B2B companies, this means increasing your presence on visual networks like Instagram (GE is one of the best) and using infographics rather than lengthy white papers to connect with potential buyers early in the buying cycle.
Lesson #3: Don’t Discount Local Search
When it comes to SEO, it’s all about location, location, location. Real estate agents know to optimize everything from their website pages to the hashtags used on their social media accounts. “When posting on social media, it’s critical to include relevant hashtags for a property’s location,” says David. “We sell a lot of vacation property on the coast in Turkey, so that’s where we’re focused. By using relevant location hashtags, an Instagram user can simply click on a hashtag and see all the relevant properties for that specific region. This level of specificity ensures we target the right buyers in the right place.”
What your business can do: Be where your customers are! Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to identify the most relevant search terms for your products, including geo-search terms, and naturally integrate these terms into your website content. For a list of popular geocentric hashtag terms, simply search for relevant products or services in your community and note which hashtags come up most frequently.
With SEO and social media search trends constantly evolving, the competitive world of real estate is a great reminder that it’s absolutely critical to stay up-to-date on the latest digital trends. Knowing which social media tools and keyword terms your customers prefer to use is integral to a building an effective digital media strategy.
At the moment, Snapchat and Vine have a younger demographic, while Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn continue to be popular standbys for older Millennials and Gen Xers. Instagram is popular across multiple generations. Trends can change fast, however. Do your research and continually refine your strategy!