Real Estate Marketing Academy

5 Steps to Demystifying SEO and Inbound Marketing for Real Estate

By Seth Price

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5-steps-to-decoding-SEO-placesterThe world of online marketing has undergone a dramatic shift. Consumers are now firmly at the center of the conversation and in control like never before. If you haven’t been off the grid for the last decade, you’re benefiting from this control on a day to day basis. You choose the music you want to hear, when you want to hear it, without commercials or annoying commentary. You bypass advertisements on TV–that is, if you actually use the TV to watch your favorite movies and shows. You voice your likes and dislikes across social channels in ways that alter business decisions and profit margins. All of this has forced traditional advertisers to embrace online marketing activities in an attempt to earn the awareness, trust, and business of today’s consumer.

At it’s core, online marketing is about listening and talking in the digital realm. There is a dialog that exists online, and your customers are thirsty for information.

As social media and mobile devices continue to reshape the way we communicate and do business online, we need to start thinking differently about how we reach our customers. Instead of buying and begging attention, we need to earn it. How? According to David Merriman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, “on the web, you are what you publish.” That is, the key to SEO is creating compelling online content, then optimizing it so it appears on the first page of your customers’ search results.

So where do you start? The first step in this process is to figure out not only who your customers are, but what types of questions they’re asking online. What problems do they have that you can help them solve? Be of service: no one wants to be sold.

Next, you need examine the online experience you are currently offering the world. How does it stack up, both from a customer’s perspective and from a search engine’s perspective? There is a direct correlation between many of the attributes that Google uses to calculate page rank and the value that a consumer experiences when they discover, digest, and share your content. Google didn’t come up with over 200 attributes to gauge a website’s value for nothing. Like all search engines, they’re trying to deliver relevant, trustworthy, timely results for the thousands of queries typed into their search bar every second.

Start this process by doing a series of audits of your online experience. While you can do this yourself, chances are a third-party SEO firm will be more thorough and objective. When searching for a firm, make sure they know your industry, that they understand content marketing, social, and all the inbound marketing tactics applicable to you niche. (For full disclosure, we perform all of the online audits mentioned for our customers. We wouldn’t be successful if we didn’t have a baseline from which to measure success.)

Once you’ve determined where you stand with your own site and with your competitors, you can start to focus on optimizing the inbound marketing activities that will best fill the gaps you’ve found in your strategies. Don’t try and do everything at once or by yourself: instead, be methodical and thorough, taking it step by step.

If the world we live in is super competitive, it’s also a bit like the Wild West. You don’t have to be the most well-funded business to be successful: it’s about being creative, understanding your audience, and being in the game. All you need to start playing is a good website. The costs are relatively low, and the systems are well developed.

Start with a good content management system (CMS), where the technology is easy to use and built for online marketing. At the moment, WordPress is king. Matt Cutts, the most outspoken associate at Google’s search quality team, says, “WordPress is a fantastic piece of software. It makes your site easily crawlable by search engines, solves some 80-90% of mechanics of SEO, and is the first big step anyone can take towards creating a popular online business.” Below are some notable WordPress builds.

What you get for your efforts is outstanding, and much more lasting than traditional advertising could ever offer. Ranking on the first page of Google can change your business drastically, and at the moment, it’s not something you can buy, like a spot at the Super Bowl. Higher clickthrough rates, lower customer acquisition costs, and more qualified customers are just some of the measurable results of successful inbound marketing. In fact, just being listed at the top of the search results on page one of Google increases your average clickthrough rate from 1 percent to over 18 percent. This means more people finding and engaging with your content, becoming aware of the products and services you have to offer, and showing interest in potentially becoming your customer.

Successful online marketing doesn’t happen by accident: it takes the ability the listen to your customers, build something of value, measure the impact, learn from from your results, and optimize everything to work together. This is the cycle of business both offline and online. Take the time to establish your baseline now, and it will become abundantly clear what your next steps should be. I’d love to hear about your personal experiences. What works best for you? You can comment below, send me an email or find me on Twitter at @sethstuff

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