This article discusses my experience with real estate agents and the way they typically do marketing, most often online. More importantly, I present a checklist of items any real estate agent can do to build an online pipeline of client leads to grow a business helping people buy and sell homes.
Here is the checklist. I will get into the details of each of these checklist items below.
Map-based, Business Location Activities
- Determine an official NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number for your real estate business).
- Ensure that your business is listed on your website using the exact NAP information you’ve chosen.
- Claim your business listing on Google MyBusiness using the NAP information you’ve selected to represent your business.
- Complete your Google MyBusiness listing, making sure that it shows as 100% complete in your dashboard.
- Add at least 10 pictures (more, if possible) of your business to your Google MyBusiness listing.
- Solicit at least 10 reviews of your business by your happy clients.
- Create 5 public Google Maps that include your business listing
- Create 5 driving directions requests to your business using Google Maps.
- Create a listing, and claim/optimize it in Yelp.
- Get 10 Yelp Reviews
- Create a Facebook Page for your listing, including your NAP information in the listing.
- Get 100 Likes on your Facebook page.
- Create a FourSquare listing, and claim/optimize your business listing there.
- Claim and optimize your listing on Bing Places.
- Create a listing in Manta.com and claim/optimize it.
- Create a thorough SuperPages listing.
- Create a thorough Infogroup listing.
- Create a thorough Factual listing.
- Create a thorough Acxiom listing.
- Create a thorough CitySearch listing.
General Content-Based Activities
- Publish a thorough About page (1,000 words or more) that describes your business in great detail.
- Publish a Contact page that lists your business using NAP details.
- Publish 10 or more pages (1,000) that describe the various services you provide (e.g. completing real estate purchase agreements) as a realtor, including the large and small details of your experience.
- Publish 20 articles (1,000+ words each) that address the interests of your potential clients.
How Real Estate Agents Often Do Marketing
I’ve had the opportunity recently to talk with several real estate agents about how they develop their personal businesses, especially how they acquire new clients. I’ve found that every one that I’ve talked to would love to have a more steady flow of business. Even for those who are already busy, they are eager to continue to build their business by expanding their staff and hiring people (or, alternatively, streamlining their processes) to handle any overflow beyond what’s currently occupying their time.
The difficulties I’ve seen real estate agents have with growing their businesses always have to do with lead generation: finding more clients who are ready to buy or sell a home, and who need help with that process.
The agents I’ve had these discussions with are very capable at their profession. Their clients are happy with them. Most of their existing and new clients usually come from word-of-mouth referrals from old ones. Many clients are repeat customers. A smaller portion of leads and clients come from relationships these realtors have with title companies, loan officers, and other professionals who tend to interact with agents on a regular basis.
But What About Effectively Using the Internet?
But they’re almost always missing out on a great opportunity for connecting with a large pipeline of prospects that exists in the form of people using the internet in their local area to essential search for exactly what they provide. These potential prospects may be ones who know they need to find a good real estate agent, so they’re looking for one who has good reviews on Google or Yelp. More often, they are people who are looking for information related to buying or selling their home. If they’re buying a home, they’re searching for information about schools in the area, employers in the area with job openings, local places of recreation, and lots of other “what’s life like here” information. They’re often researching local market reports and trying to find data about whether house prices are rising or falling, and they’re browsing through dozens of other topics that are of interest to the type of person who’s moving to a new home in the agent’s geographical market area.
For people who are looking to sell their home, there are also certain common and highly identifiable behaviors that can be used attract more home sellers via the internet.
An Internet Marketing Checklist for Real Estate Agents
As you can see above, I’ve put together a checklist for real estate agents to use to market their personal businesses. The items in this checklist equate to about 30-40 hours worth of work to create a solid foundation that will essentially configure the internet to be a sort of aqueduct for new leads, a pipeline for clients.
For those real estate agents who are willing to complete this entire checklist, this formula is guaranteed to bring results in the form of phone calls and other interactions that lead to new client relationships. I’ve written about this marketing strategy before in my article about how to do local SEO, but the checklist I’ll share here and the instructions I’ll provide below is more customized specifically towards the real estate industry.
After you complete the items in this checklist, you’ll likely be convinced enough of how well it works that you’ll want to continue doing more to boost your buyer and seller lead pipeline. There is always more that can be done. Once you’ve worked through this checklist
One piece of advice that I’ve given to all of the business owners I’ve consulted regarding the importance of using the internet as a significant part of their marketing efforts is that the learning curve is always worth the effort. As with most other professional jobs, being successful at real estate involves spending thousands of hours developing an expertise in real estate. If you are simply willing to add maybe 100 hours of education and experience (including the 40 hours of work I’m assigning to you through this checklist) to your resume as a real estate agent, it will serve as a catalyst for your business, making everything else run more smoothly as you get to the point where you can hand-pick the best clients from the steady stream of leads coming through your pipeline.
Some Notes About the Checklist
With this checklist I will include some additional learning material that will give you more context for the activities I’m suggesting that you do to build your business.
If you’d like to just work through the checklist itself without all the “extra” background from the training links, your efforts will still be beneficial. However, your work can be much more effective, and you will understand how to build a much more complete long-term strategy if you take some time to learn the principles behind local SEO, content marketing, and the other essential components involved in teaching the internet to bring you customers.
With that explanation, I’m going to provide for you my curating list of the best places to learn how to do the kind of lead generation I’m describing in my checklist.
Moz Local: Moz has long been probably the most recognized authority on internet marketing, especially search engine optimization. The local SEO section of their knowledge center has the information and workflow that will help you go from beginner to having the basic background you need to understand how all of this works in just a matter of a few hours of reading.
Whitespark.ca: The US Local Search Ecosystem: Once you have understood the basics of how Google (and other search engines as well, most of whom follow Google’s lead) does local search, this article (and similar articles on Whitespark.ca’s website that are linked to from that article and on their blog) will show you how citations and other elements of the online maps ecosystem relate to each other.
HubSpot’s Guide to Local SEO: HubSpot produces great, actionable training on many different aspects of internet marketing. Their guide to local SEO is easy to understand, and does a good job of bridging from the maps (local oriented search) elements of internet marketing to content writing, social media promotion, and lead generation, which together comprise a holistic approach to teaching the internet to bring your clients to you.
What This Checklist Does for Your Real Estate Business
Working through the items in this checklist will essentially introduce your business to Google in a couple different ways. You will teach Google the essentials about your business, including its name, location, contact information, the categories it fits in, and the types of services it provides. You will provide location-based or maps related information to Google so that it understands your business from a maps perspective, which allows it to figure out which searchers to show your business listing to based on the geographical area for which Google thinks your business is relevant. This maps related information you’ll provide includes the name, address, and phone number for your listing. You’ll also be asked about the area that your business covers. For real estate agents, this service area is typically larger than for other local businesses like restaurants or
The other type of information you will provide has a local element to it, but it will focus on writing articles that allow Google to connect your business with topics that apply to the local personas
The Checklist in Detail
Now it’s time to dig into the details of the checklist. Let’s dig in more.
Determine an official NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number for your real estate business)
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Those pieces of information are used together to represent your business online (like a combination index to your specific business), and they should be consistent. I suggest simplifying your business name as much as possible, and I don’t recommend including things that might change, such as the brokerage you currently work with.
Ensure that your business is listed on your website using the exact NAP information you’ve chosen.
You website should have your business listing information published on it, including the official name, address, and phone number you’ve chosen. There is a certain format found on Schema.org for real estate agents that has been created by Google and other search engines to make it easier for you to communicate that information about your business to them when you publish your website.
Claim your business listing on Google MyBusiness using the NAP information you’ve selected to represent your business.
Claiming your business in the Google MyBusiness portal is a huge step forward (the most important of these) in having your business show up on the Google map system. If your real estate business is new or there has been no information available (such as through YellowPages.com or some other business directory) for Google to learn anything about your real estate business, then you’ll have to add and claim your business at the same time.
Follow the instructions provided at the Google.com/MyBusiness portal to get started.
Complete your Google MyBusiness listing, making sure that it shows as 100% complete in your dashboard.
In addition to claiming your business with Google, you’re given the opportunity to provide information about your business so that Google can match you up with their audience whose search intent matches what you do. You’ll want to fill out every detail of your business for Google, even things that may not seem to be so pertinent to real estate buying and selling. You should see that your listing is 100% complete in your Google MyBusiness account.
Solicit at least 10 reviews of your business by your happy clients.
Reviews are critical for your business. Google weighs the number of reviews along with review score in its algorithm. Find 10 people (ones you’ve worked with before, or simply people who know you and can give you a recommendation) who will leave a review on your business listing. It’s helpful if you give them a link directly to your Google MyBusiness map listing where they can easily find and click on the “Write a review” button.
Based on my experience, you’ll need to make it as easy as possible when you ask people to write a review for your listing. If they have to do any work on their own, most of them won’t bother (except those who want to gripe about something). If you send them a link to your listing directly and provide some motivation for leaving a review, that’s the most effective method.
Add at least 10 pictures (more, if possible) of your business to your Google MyBusiness listing.
Part of having a complete listing is to have pictures that represent your business. I recommend adding at least 10 pictures, including ones of yourself, your office, your staff (if you have people who work for you) and possibly some homes that you’ve listed or sold in the past.
Create 5 public Google Maps
I recommend saving your business listing to a public Google map that is associated with other real estate themed locations, such as title companies, mortgage brokers, and similar businesses and organizations. You can also create a public map that has your location in it and includes other real estate brokerages so that Google tends to associate your listing topically with that industry.
Create 5 driving directions requests to your business using Google Maps.
Google pays a lot of attention to user signals. Similar to the map creation step listed above, I recommend having people request driving directions to your office. Similar to maps, directions requested from places that are related to real estate will help Google get a better sense of the real estate nature of your business. For anyone who’s coming to your office, you might consider sending a Google maps link. You could text them a Google maps of directions to your office from the mortgage broker office, or from your office to the title company where the real estate closing is scheduled to take place. These driving directions signals show Google that there is some popularity and activity associated with your real estate office.
Create a listing, and claim/optimize it in Yelp.
Yelp is a powerful directory that us considered a big data provider to Google (who crawls Yelp listings), and can also be a big source of leads directly. In a similar way to what you did to add, claim, and optimize your business through Google MyBusiness, do the same thing with Yelp. Optimizing your Yelp listing also includes adding as much detail about your business as possible, and making sure that Yelp considers your listing to be 10% complete.
Get 10 Yelp Reviews
Similar to Google reviews, getting Yelp reviews will build the authority of your listing in Yelp, which will help you get leads directly from Yelp as well as to build the authority of your Google listing. Having at least 10 Yelp reviews contribute to higher chances of being seen on Google too.
Create a Facebook Page for your listing, including your NAP information in the listing.
I’ve seen Facebook alone be used as a constant fountain of leads for real estate professionals. Details on how to do that will be in one of my coming blog posts. For now, your business needs to have a Facebook page that has your name, address, and phone number listed the same way you submitted it to Google MyBusiness.
Get 100 Likes on your Facebook page
Building authority for your Facebook page will translate into authority for your business listing. As quickly as possible, work to get 100 likes on your Facebook page. You can do that by asking friends and family to like your page, or you can run a quick sponsored campaign through Facebook targeted at attracting likes from people in your market area.
Create a FourSquare listing, and claim/optimize your business listing there.
FourSquare is a social media website and accompanying apps that are dedicated to maps related activities. The intent of the site is to let people check-in and socialize with each other based on being able to see where friends and others are and what they’re up to. You can add your listing to FourSquare using their FourSquare for Business portal.
Claim and optimize your listing on Bing Places
Bing is a much smaller search engine than Google, but lots of people use it. Also, Google crawls (like it does every flippin’ thing it can find on the internet) Bing local listings. Having your business listed on Bing Places will bring you leads from that search engine, but more importantly will increase your chances of being found on Google.
Create a listing in Manta.com and claimed/optimize it.
I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself, but Manta is another place where you want to have your business listed. Again, data from Manta.com is crawled by Google and used to take a look at your business from yet another angle.
The directories that follow all provide similar value. They are data providers that Google uses to get a better picture of the businesses that exist out there. They all have different formats for inputting and processing data, including variations in their categorization strategies and other elements of how they represent the businesses that are in their databases.
Be thorough in the creation of your business listing for all of these databases. The more thorough you are in your business description, pictures, chosen categories, and other details about your business, the more it will help you build authority and relevance for Google, which broadens the number of searches you’ll show up for.
You might find yourself getting bored entering in your business details in all of these directories, but I highly recommend that you endure to the end to give your business the advantage it needs to attract local searchers.
Here’s the list of some of the major data providers for Google:
Publishing Content On Your Website
One of the mistakes I see real estate agents and other business owners make is publishing one short page of services they offer. Because of how Google indexes and ranks information, it’s best if you publish lots of long-form, highly informative (even seemingly overly informative) pages that target specific services you offer as a real estate agent.
Publish a thorough About page (1,000 words or more) that describes your business in great detail
This About page allows people to get to know you, and can be used to help Google know what areas you service. Write and publish an extensive About page that goes into depth into the details about you, your experience, your credentials, your staff, and other things that help Google and your potential audience become familiar and comfortable with you.
Publish a Contact page that lists your business using NAP details.
As I described above, it’s important for you to have a page on your website that lists your business using the authoritative name, address, and phone number format you’ve chosen to represent your business online. Your Contact page is a good place to do this. You should also consider your Contact page to be a place where people can get in touch with you through their preferred method of contact, whether it be text, phone call, chat through your website, or through one of your social media channels.
Publish 10 or more pages (1,000) that describe the various services you provide (e.g. completing real estate purchase agreements) as a realtor, including the large and small details of your experience
If you consider all that you do as a real estate agent, it can be broken into several different useful activities, any number of which might be interesting to any individual potential client. Those services could include things like relocation, moving help, market data analysis, investment consulting, and a long list of other things.
Write at least 10 pages of content that describe your business from the angle of those things you’re best at. I recommend that you have pages that at least attract what you consider to be your “gravy” clients, the type of client you’d love to work with all day. If your gravy client is an investor who likes to flip homes, write content that describes how you help people do that.
Publish 20 articles (1,000+ words each) that address the interests of your potential clients.
Lastly, publish 20 or more articles that address things that you’re clients would be interested in when they’re looking for the services you provide. If you’ve been in the industry for any length of time, you should have an email inbox or text chains that contain traces of those topics from people you’ve interacted with in the past.
If you’re newer in the industry, get a feel from other agents about what concerns and interests people have that they’re researching when they’re going through the buyer’s journey that ultimately leads to hiring you. As you think through what those topics are, you are likely to come across some that are highly indicative of the needs of dozens, if not more, of people who would hire you today if they had a chance to read your content as an introduction to your business.
This checklist for marketing a real estate business on the internet may seem like it will take a lot of time, but I promise it will be worth the effort. Once you’re done with the entire list, you’ll see measured growth in your client pipeline.
I’d love to know how this worked for you. Feel free to let me know what successes or challenges you have with this.