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Why real estate agents rarely rank highly in search engine results

As the listing syndication debate remains contentious, brokers are battling for consumer eyeballs. A new study reveals that it is a major challenge for real estate agents to be found in search engine results.

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listing syndication

Realtors and search engine results

The long running real estate listing syndication debate has been heated and resulted in brokers across America evaluating the final destination(s) for their company’s listings. It has been contentious for many reasons, but the underlying reason the industry remains in upheaval is search engine rankings, leaving real estate professionals to analyze whether syndicators are helpful or hurtful when it comes to connecting with consumers.

After reviewing results, brokers are coming to different conclusions to this same question, which is why Real Geeks IDX Provider studied the current state of real estate SERPS (search engine result pages) to examine how a real estate professional’s listing is showing up in search engines and why so that brokers can make more informed decisions.

In the first part of Real Geeks’ series on the topic, they point out that when consumers search for terms like “Tampa Real Estate,” it is no longer likely that an individual agent or even brokerage is at the top of the search engine results in the first, second, or third page, rather the results are dominated by large syndicators or national brands.

This is the very reason that some brokers have opted out of syndicating, as they don’t seek to help syndicators to outrank them individually, while others continue to syndicate as they continue to garner most of their business through the large sites.

Current state of real estate SERPS

When Real Geeks did a search with “[city] real estate” (while logged out of Google, of course) with the top 50 metro areas by population, they logged the first three pages of Google results. Of the 1691 individuals collected from the first three pages of the top 50 metros, 30 percent of page one listings were local sites, 8.0 percent of which were Google Plus pages.

Fully 58 percent of page one listings were traditional organic pages rather than paid listings or ads, 47 percent of which were root pages (homepages), and 53 percent of which were interior pages (not homepages). Further, 5.0 percent of all page one results were for news organizations.

Real Geeks offers that this is a challenge for individual real estate professionals, because when you consider the number of independent agents in a given city, of the three local listings on page one (results that are not syndicators, big brands, or news), the odds are stacked against a single agent making the cut to be one of those three on page one.

Graphic depicting full study results:
real estate SERPs

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    December 6, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Looking forward to more in this series.  Our own success has been more closely linked to focusing on the long tail than attacking the #1 keywards.
     
    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    • 904living

      December 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      @Joe Loomer I need some tips from you…  I do okay in the city/area level searches but would like to be generating more organic traffic from neighborhood and street address searches…

      • Joe Loomer

        December 10, 2012 at 10:36 am

        @904living  @Joe Loomer drop me a line at jloomer@kw.com and I’ll send you some info!  Thanks! 
         
        Navy Chief, Navy Pride

        • thejorygroup

          December 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm

          @Joe Loomer  Joe, would you mind sharing your info ,re: organic traffic?  
          Thanks in advance…..Jory Blake, jory@joryblake.com

  2. MattThomson

    December 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Will you be continuing their series or should we be following their page from here out?

  3. MTrewe

    December 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    We’ll be continuing the series @MattThomson . As for visiting them, go for it 🙂

  4. AgentGenius

    December 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Real Geeks did a great job 🙂

  5. drewmeyers

    December 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I really don’t believe syndication has much at all to do with brokers/agents getting outranked.

    • bobwilson

      December 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      @drewmeyers I dont think anyone said that.

    • maloney75

      December 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

      @drewmeyers Maybe not for the City real estate terms but it DEFINITELY does for all the long tail search results.

    • bdmanson

      December 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      @drewmeyers One of the ranking factors is content. The big portals are using the brokers/agents listings as a big part of their content. The brokers/agents have empowered them by letting them use their (content) listings plus are unknowingly building their authority to help them outrank for their own content.. The brokers that are pulling out are probably sick of empowering the portals so they can sell them traffic back to their sites… That’s something to think about..
       
      The next series will cover in more detail how the brokers/agents are helping the portals like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com outrank them… Stay tuned 🙂

  6. maloney75

    December 7, 2012 at 10:30 am

    @drewmeyers  Syndication may not affect brokers/agents being outranked for the [city] real estate terms but it definitely affects the serps for all the long tail stuff.

  7. TobyBarnett

    December 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I bet many have fallen to the syndicator’s suggestion of “let me help you ad our badge to your website” that conveniently includes a link back to the “city real estate” page of the syndicator. Also, the big money in which large syndicators have over the local broker is largely unrivaled. Individual brokers don’t have an in-house SEO department or the skill level to implement current and emerging SEO techniques. Why? Most brokers are doing what they know; selling homes.

    • drewmeyers

      December 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      @TobyBarnett You mean most agents are selling homes. Brokers are recruiting agents 😉

      • TobyBarnett

        December 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm

        @drewmeyers  Nope, in Washington State real estate agents are now referred to as brokers, associate brokers are now managing brokers with every firm still retaining a designated broker. Real estate brokerages recruit brokers. Technicalities 😛

  8. RobertaMurphy

    December 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Have wondered if SERP battle is with ZTR, Google–or our own lack of foresight?  Mostly the latter, I would guess. Kudos to RealGeeks for interesting infographic; looking forward to more.

  9. AndyPiper

    December 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Big players have gained and small players have lost ground with recent Google algorithm changes.

  10. AnitaKoppens

    December 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Top competition keywords are good but long tail still means targeted and more serious buyers. I know lots of consumers will still click on the 1st result for head keywords but the user experience on many of the portals leave something to be desired. I haven’t seen any of our more authoritative sites suffer profoundly despite Penguin and Panda so there is still a lot of opportunity out there.

  11. thejorygroup

    December 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Either way, this is great information for local agents hoping to promote their online presence / lead capture abilities. Since efficiency is part of our program, knowing where to focus our efforts helps avoid wasted personnel hours.
     
    Jory Blake
    Riverside,CA Home Sales

  12. bdmanson

    December 17, 2012 at 1:14 am

    The 2nd infographic should be posted here on Monday… Stay tuned and get ready to spread the word. The more agents that become aware of how they are unknowingly helping the competitors (Z,T & R) out rank them the better.

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Business Marketing

7 Low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses [sponsored]

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.

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The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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Business Marketing

Yelp listings now show companies’ COVID-19 policies

(BUSINESS) Yelp has updated their settings to allow business owners to make their COVID-19 policies public, so consumers are aware in advance.

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yelp covid policies

Yelp recently added tools to help businesses share their COVID-19 restrictions and policies with consumers, focusing for now on vaccinations. This is the latest in a series of attempts to combat misinformation and illegitimate reviews plaguing the platform.

Yelp has rolled out two new attributes for businesses to add to their profiles last week.

One option, a tag that reads “Proof of vaccination required,” communicates clearly the need to carry one’s vaccination card (or, presumably, wear a face covering) to gain entry. The other – ”Staff fully vaccinated” – speaks for itself.

These attributes stand to increase customer awareness of the circumstances facing them before visiting a business, thereby cutting down on frustrations – at least in theory.

The general public’s dearth in understanding regarding social distancing protocols and business restrictions certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that different states had different responses to COVID-19 – and that’s not even taking into account the microcosmic changes cities found themselves making.

For example, while the state of New York may not require proof of vaccinations to enter restaurants, New York City certainly does.

Rumors are that San Francisco may be implementing similar legislation, positing that other cities may very well go in the same direction.

To compound on this lack of uniform response, small businesses are finding themselves having to make their own policies as the cities around them ease up on restrictions. It isn’t out of the norm for a restaurant staffed by at-risk employees to ask customers to wear masks, so as Delta surges in places with low vaccination rates, it isn’t terribly surprising that those same establishments would ask to see proof of vaccination.

Yelp looks to make this process as transparent as possible with their profile attributes, but they’re aware that there was a general uptick in frustrated customers leaving poor reviews for restaurants that required masking or other social distancing actions.

“Yelp says the practice [of review bombing] has gotten worse in recent months,” reports TechCrunch.

In response, Yelp will be employing both automated and human moderation measures to ensure that businesses aren’t unfairly targeted for their protocols. This is actually something the company did after adding the “Black-owned” attribute (and subsequent identity attributes) last summer as well.

If you’re interested in adding either of the new attributes to your business profile, you can find them on the “Yelp for Business” page.

As the pandemic continues to develop, we may see additional COVID-19 attributes from Yelp.

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Business Marketing

Society has changed – no one wants help in a store anymore

(CUSTOMER SERVICE) Times are changing in the retail environment: a once customer-service driven experience is evolving into a minimalistic customer service approach.

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retail store help

Once upon a time, good retail management meant good customer service skills – asking customers if they needed assistance, helping them decide what looked best on them, and politely stalking customers to insure a sale was completed.

As technology evolves and become more prevalent and pervasive in our lives, these skills are no longer needed or wanted. A new study suggest that shoppers want to be left alone while browsing in stores, rather than be stalked, questioned, and coaxed into buying items they may not explicitly want due to persistent pressure from sales associates.

An HRC survey found that a whopping 95% of shoppers would prefer to be left completely alone while navigating the retail environment, rather than shopping under a constant barrage of questions: “Can I help you find anything?” “How are you today?” “What brought you in?” and the seemingly endless stream of inquiries, not to mention the sales pressure from those employees working on commission, can simply be too much for consumers looking to relax, browse in peace, or simply get in and out of a store quickly.

While the greater majority of shoppers may prefer to be left alone, this should not come as too much of a surprise, considering how much technology has supplemented the shopping experience. With enhanced apps and self-checkout lines it’s not hard to understand why most shoppers prefer to browse solo.

Smartphones have given us the ability to check prices, order goods, and check stock all without interacting with another human.

For many shoppers, this is an efficient way to save both time and money while shopping. For other shoppers, like myself, smartphones offer another way to shop without triggering my anxiety. Asking for help, or a price is nearly impossible – I’d rather go without an item than have to ask someone for help.

Sounds ridiculous? Believe me, it feels ridiculous too, but nevertheless, having alternative ways to shop without interacting, is a blessing for many people, for a variety of reasons.

What does this mean for stores? It’s time to take another look at your apps and/or mobile presence (and in-store wifi availability). Since customers are shying away from human interaction, is your app allowing people to scan for prices? Can your customers check stock and order things online to be picked up in store? Can customers use your app to enhance their shopping experience in-store? If not, you may lose customers to stores that offer these enhanced apps.

Times are changing.

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