Thursday, February 21, 2013

LinkedIn is the gold standard for online professional networking.  The social network is a great place for individuals, companies and organizations to network with industry contacts, Be-a-LinkedIn-Rockstar-social-media-marketingmake new connections, stay up-to-date on relevant news and trends, share content, create a following and increase brand awareness and lead conversions.  One of the most impressive facts about LinkedIn is that it has a visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 2.74% —almost three times higher than the conversion rates of Facebook and Twitter.  As the world’s largest and most influential professional network and a rich avenue for lead generation and conversion, you and your company should certainly start taking full advantage of all LinkedIn has to offer.  Sharing high-quality content, actively participating in industry discourse and building a following via LinkedIn could win you a reputation as a thought leader and increased publicity and reach for your company.

Garner Recommendations and Endorsements

To get the most from LinkedIn, you need dive right in and fully immerse yourself.  Fill out your profile completely—listing all your skills and full work history.  One of the most effective ways to generate new business is to get recommendations and endorsements from industry contacts and current and former clients.  LinkedIn allows you to request recommendations for each position in which you have worked and for your educational experience.  You should aim to garner as many recommendations and endorsements as possible.  The endorsements show up on your profile within the Skills & Expertise section.  Endorsements are fast and painless, as all you have to do is click on the + sign next to a particular skill on a user’s profile. 

Endorsements and recommendations are powerful word-of-mouth marketing tools.

Recommendations require a little more time and consideration than endorsements, since you actually need to write something about other users.  Collect more recommendations by writing them for others without being asked; some of your contacts will likely return the favor.  Recommendations are not just for individuals.  LinkedIn users can leave a recommendation for anything you feature within the Products & Services tab of your Company Page as well.  After clicking on an individual item on such a page, you will see all the user-generated reviews of that particular product or service.  

Create Engagement and Position Yourself as a Thought Leader

LinkedIn offers an ideal platform to position yourself as an industry thought leader.  People want to connect and work with experts in their fields.  Join relevant groups, and be a thoughtful, vocal member.  To foster credibility and gain influence, share your expertise and answer questions in LinkedIn’s “Question and Answer” section.  Each question you answer will become a permanent part of your profile, allowing you to demonstrate your wealth of knowledge to your connections and potential prospects.  Participating in relevant LinkedIn Groups can help you expand your professional network and keep your finger on the pulse of your industry.

You could even create your own LinkedIn Group based on a relevant industry topic and become a LinkedIn Group administrator.  You could use your group to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, increase your influence and credibility and discuss relevant trends and ideas.  You can also use LinkedIn to search for interesting in-person networking events.  LinkedIn has made networking on a global scale highly accessible, which is great.  However, meeting others face-to-face can be very valuable.  The Events application allows you to see what events your connections are attending and find places to engage in face-to-face professional networking.

Use LinkedIn Today to Maintain Real-Time Industry Knowledge

LinkedIn Today is a great news feature that provides you with the most popular stories shared on LinkedIn.  Use LinkedIn Today to stay on top of news occurring about marketing, the internet and other relevant industry news.  You can also have summaries of LinkedIn Today news sent straight to your inbox.  Having real-time industry knowledge is critical, especially if you are trying to produce highly shareable, engaging online content.    

Experiment with various ways to distinguish yourself and your company, and you may just become a LinkedIn rock star. 

Courtesy of Social Media Today:

Do you have an automated real estate lead distribution system?

When a lead comes in to your office or team website, you have several ways to distribute the leads to your agents.  You can either manually assign the lead by selecting the agent that you want to receive the lead, or you can assign the lead to an agent in a round-robin style format using automated tools.  Our automated lead distribution tool is called Virtual Floor Time.

How Does Virtual Floor Time work?

Virtual floor time distributes leads to agents in  "pools" based on your distribution "rules".  When a lead comes in off your real estate website, our system identifies and categorzes the lead using our properietary consumer tracking technology.  Based on the lead profile, it places that lead in the appropriate pool, and distributes it to the agents within that pool according to the rules of that pool.

What is a Pool?

A pool is a group of agents who have been designated to receive leads that match the lead profile of the pool.  For example, "buyer leads between $300k and $500K" is a pool where buyer leads looking for homes between $300K and $500K would be sent to agents assigned to work that pool

What is a Rule?

A rule is the instruction given to the system to distribute the lead to the pool.  For example, "round robin to agents - expire 15 minutes" would distribute a lead to the agent next in line to recieve a lead.  If the agent fails to accept the lead in 15 minutes, then the lead notifiation gets routed to the next agent in line.

Do you offer Lead Tracking tools?

Yes.  Each lead and each agent is tracked and a report is generated.

How are lead notifications sent to agents?

Lead notifications are sent via email and/or text messaging.

To find out how to have a real estate website with a lead distribution system, click here:

See Village Realty's new real estate website design!

Village Realty in Elk Grove Village recently redesigned their BIRDVIEW real estate website.  The site features a quick search box on the home page along with featured properties as well as our IDX Professional platform which features indexable listings pages, RSS feeds of area news and information and more.

Check out the design here:

6 Big Myths About SEO for your Real Estate Website

Your understanding of the way Google works is probably three or four years out of date--and that's an eternity in Web time.

Don't get stuck with old ideas about search engine optimization.

In the world of online marketing, misinformation abounds--and it gets compounded exponentially by an incredibly dynamic and rapidly evolving world. Most of the things you think you know (but don't) about search-engine optimization, or SEO, may have been true a few years ago but have changed; one of the following was always a myth.

Here are some of the myths you need to move beyond to get smarter about SEO.

Myth 1: Metatag Descriptions Help Your Rankings
Not anymore; in fact, metatags are no longer even indexed by Google and Bing. But don't ignore them altogether: Your metatags form the text that is displayed along with your link in the search results--and a more compelling description will compel more users to click on your listing instead of on others.
Here's example of ours; the metatag is everything below the URL.

Myth 2: The More Inbound Links, the Better
False. In all the recent updates to Google's algorithm, the search giant has made it a core priority to have quality trump quantity. Gone are the days of having thousands of superlow-quality links driving up rankings; in fact, creating those links can look spammy and get your site penalized.

Focus on obtaining links from sites that are relevant to your products, services, or industry--and on having those links be surrounded by relevant text. A blog review about your "blue widget" that links to your site is far more valuable than a rogue link for "blue widget" stuck in the footer or sidebar of some site--even a highly ranked one.

Myth 3: PageRank Still Matters
Google's infamous PageRank (named after Google co-founder and now-CEO Larry Page, mind you) is a 1-to-10 ranking of the overall authority of every website; the bigger the number, the higher the rank. In years past, this seemingly all-powerful number dominated the attention of SEO experts.

But today, Google's algorithm has evolved well beyond any single indicator. The PageRank still exists, and if all things are equal, a higher PageRank trumps a lower one--but factors such as relevance and context matter, too.

As with inbound links: If you run a dental practice in Los Angeles, it's better to have a link from a site that reviews doctors and dentists in L.A., even if it has a PageRank of 4, than to have a paid link with no context in a huge site with a higher PageRank of 7.

Myth 4: Google Prefers Keyword-Rich Domains
In years past, Google seemed to put a disproportionate amount of emphasis on keywords in the domain name (what you may think of as the URL). For example, would almost certainly be ranked first in a search for vinyl house siding.

Not anymore, says Google. If is in fact the more relevant, authoritative site on the topic, it will probably still rank first--but not because of its domain name alone.

Myth 5: Websites Must Be 'Submitted' to Search Engines
In 2001, yes, this was the case--indeed, this was the first service that my company, Wpromote, ever provided. But in 2012? Not at all. At this point, if there is any connection from any site to yours, your site will be quickly discovered by Google.

Note that being indexed is a far cry from achieving high rankings--but that initial step of submission is no longer needed or helpful.

Myth 6: Good SEO Is Basically About Trickery
False, false, false. Although there are still some SEO experts out there who go about their business trying to "trick Google," this is absolutely not the way to provide good, lasting SEO.

Good SEO is about creating a relevant, informative website, with unique content and great user experience, and encouraging the sharing and distribution of great content to drive organic publicity and links back to your site.

In the end, this is exactly what Google explicitly wants to reward with high rankings--so it is anything but "tricking" the search engines.

I'm planning to dive into other online marketing topics in the future, to find the biggest myths--so if you've got suggestions, please weigh in below.

Courtesy of

Google Plus for Realtors: Who Needs It? You Do!

Google Plus For Real Estate

Google Plus For RealtorsNot long ago I was talking to a local real estate professional about her social media presence. Of course, she was active on Facebook, and had even made a reasonable stab at Twitter.
Then I asked her about Google+. She looked at me like I had just hatched a Twitter bird out of my forehead.
“Why would I bother with Google+? I need to be where potential customers can see me.”
I couldn’t agree with her more. That’s exactly why she needs to be on Google+.

Google+ is without a doubt the most misunderstood social network ever introduced. And in a strange twist, that gives you, the lucky readers of Bill Gassett’s blog, the opportunity to break ahead of your competition and get in front of more prospects they’ll never see.
But how can that happen with a network that so-called social media gurus have written off as a “ghost town”?

The Hidden Power of a Google+ Network

Most of you reading this blog are real estate professionals. Your lifeblood is in finding prospects and communicating to them, before any of your competitors can, just how awesome you are and why they need to engage you to buy or sell their next house. Let me ask you a question. If I gave you a choice between having a tiny booth in a huge exhibition hall full of other realtors all after the same prospects wandering around, or the ability to go right into the homes of every one of those prospects, which would you choose? You’d be crazy to not choose the latter. And I’m going to show you how to do just that.
The reason most business people and even social media consultants write off Google+ is that they don’t really understand how different what Google has created is from every other social network in existence. They assume that Google+ is just a too-late-to-the-game Facebook wannabe. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Very Lively Ghosts
First of all, the ghost town rumors couldn’t be more untrue. The last numbers Google released (in December 2012) claimed 135 million active users (users actually doing something on the Google+ interface). An independent global survey in January 2013 by Global Web Index claims over 300 million active users. Whatever number you believe, that’s a very impressive showing for a social network only 1-1/2 years old.
Those of us active on Google+ have always scratched our heads at the ghost town perception. In just 18 months I have over 30,000 followers on Google+ and more engagement than I can keep track of. I’ve been on Twitter (and worked it hard) for over 2 years, and have just under 2000 followers there.
I think much of the ghost town perception came from users who never quite got how to work Google+. Facebook made it easy to find and connect with your family and old friends. But people came to Google+, set up profiles, posted a few things, and then got discouraged when nobody followed them. Twitter had a similar problem in the beginning because it has a similar follower-following model. On both networks, you won’t see anyone until you follow them (“circle” them in G+-speak), and even if you do, they won’t see your stuff unless they follow/circle you. So on Google+ you can’t just put your shingle out and expect people to show up. You’ve got to go out and find them. More on why that’s an advantage later.
SEO Benefits
If people have heard anything positive at all about Google+, it’s usually the “SEO (Search Engine Optimization) benefits” that are being touted. Very early on people noticed that public Google+ posts were indexed for Google search. Then webmasters found that if they created a new site and submitted posts to Google+, their site could be indexed almost instantly (compared to the weeks to months it usually took).
Being a social media consultant in an SEO agency, I was intrigued. I began carrying out experiments of my own, seeing how far I could push this intriguing power to directly inject things into Google’s search results. Unlike other social media posts like tweets, I found that some of my Google+ posts could rank at the top of search results and stay there for months and months. For example. a G+ post I did about “Google+ Page Analytics” has been at #1 for that keyword in logged-out Google search for over a year now.
Google+ even helped my agency claim 8 of the 10 first page results for a few days for a new product we introduced!
But as impressive as those SEO tricks were, we hadn’t yet seen the real power of Google+ in Google search. Not until January of 2012.

Introducing Search Plus Your World

In January of 2012 Google introduced a new version of Google Search: Search Plus Your World (S+YW). This was Google’s personalization of search taken to the next level. Now if you are searching on Google while logged in to Google (say, for using Gmail), your results by default are strongly affected by your Google network. Your Google network is all your Google contacts plus anyone you’ve circled on Google+. And there is almost certainly some influence from your “extended network” (people who have circled you and people in circles of people you’ve circled).
What does this look like in the search results?
Let’s say I’m searching for “top real estate agents on twitter.” Here’s what I see if I search logged-out of Google:
google-result-personalized-search-off (1)

Fine, but not exactly what I was hoping to find. Now let me do the same search logged in to my Google account:
google-result-personalized-search-on (1)

Hey look! It’s Bill Gassett, owner of this blog! Bill and I are friends on Google+. I’ve come to know and trust him, so his recommendations will be far more meaningful to me than those of some strange web site. Without S+YW, I might not have ever known that my trusted friend Bill had made a post relevant to my query, for it would have been much further down in the search results.
So here’s what really excites me: the larger your Google/Google+ network is, the more people whose search results your are influencing. And that’s how Google+ can help get you in front of more people who never would have found you otherwise.
Now most real estate agents work in a local market. Combined with localization, the S+YW effect becomes even more powerful. That’s because in most cases Google can see the general location of a searcher, or the location she is searching for. When localization is in play for your area, Google will boost your search result even more for in-network users.

Using Google Authorship

Did you notice in the screen captures above that both Bill and I have our handsome faces next to the search results? That didn’t happen just because Google likes showing off handsome men. (OK, that’s not even in play). It’s because both of us have hooked into something called Google Authorship.
Google Authorship allows content producers to connect all their content on the web with their Google+ profiles. This qualifies us to get the “author rich snippet” on our search results. Not only does this rich snippet show the author’s profile photo, but a series of important links are added as well.

Notice the line in the red box above. From left to right, the Authorship rich snippet result adds:
  1. A clickable byline that goes straight to the author’s profile.
  2. The number of people who follow the author on Google+ (a nice trust mark if you’ve built up a good following)
  3. A “More by…” link that leads to search results pages that show just that author’s content.
There’s more! If someone clicks through an Authorship result and stays on the content for at least two minutes, Google takes that as a sign that the searcher liked what she found. If the searcher hits the back button to return to the search results page, the original result has now expanded to show three more links to that author’s content:

Why would anyone turn down getting that much extra real estate in Google search? That’s something people pay SEO agencies like mine thousands of dollars to get, and Google is giving it out for free!
But as they say on late night TV, wait, there”s even more!

Google Author Rank: The Future of Search

Shortly after Google introduced Authorship, they released a YouTube video about it featuring Google “spam czar” Matt Cutts interviewing Authorship project head Othar Hansson. Hansson indicated that one of the things Google might do with Authorship is eventually use it as a ranking signal. Savvy Google followers immediately made the association of this idea back to a series of patents owned by Google going back to 2005 for something called “Agent Rank.” Agent Rank would be the ability of a search engine to track the social signals around a particular “entity” and score it by its authority in various topics. That score would be used to influence search results associated with the entity. Among the entities named were authors (individual online content producers). Google+ profiles and Google Authorship put in place what Google needed to move toward Author Rank.
While there is no indication that Author Rank is yet in play in any strong manner in search results, Hansson made clear in the 2011 video that Google would begin collecting data to be used toward Author rankings. So anyone who has their content hooked up to Authorship now is accumulating authority that will put them way ahead of their competition once Author Rank kicks in.
But there are benefits right now. Studies have shown that having an author photo next to a search result can increase click-through rate (CTR) on that result by up to 30%. That’s because the human eye is drawn to human faces. In addition, a face next to a search result probably triggers a subconscious trust in the result. We like things that we think come from real people. Those factors can significantly boost the CTR of a result down the page from the coveted #1 spot.
How do you get qualified for Google Authorship? Here’s Google’s basic instructions. If you need more help, I recommend joining the Google Authorship and Author Rank Community I started on Google+. There are lots of helpful people there who can answer your questions.

Building a Powerful Google+ Network

By now I hope I’ve convinced you that there is much more to Google+ and its effects on Google than most people know. But what can you do to put that to work for you and your real estate business?
Here’s a brief action plan to get you started:
  1. Start with a completely filled out Google+ profile, including a good, clear face photo. People will decide whether you’re worth following by the appearance and info on your profile. Use your main keywords throughout your profile, as those will make your profile more likely to be ranked for those things in both Google+ search and Google search.
  2. Use the powerful search in Google+ to find people, pages, and communities talking about your specialties. Use the drop down filter after you initiate a keyword search. Google+ allows you to add anyone to your circles, whether or not they follow you back.
  3. Begin to enter into conversations where you can contribute. This will start to get your name recognized as a helpful authority, and people will start to follow you.
  4. At the same time, make sure to keep good content regularly posted to your profile. Do this even if you have few followers and not much engagement yet. Not only are you building up posts that can be found in search, you make a better impression on potential followers who are scanning your profile.
  5. Join Communities relevant to your field and become a valued contributor there. Communities are the best way on Google+ for people who like discussing the same topic to discover each other. Certainly join Bill Gassett’s Real Estate Community at a minimum!
  6. Use to find influential, engaging people in your area and target demographics. As Bill Gassett pointed out in a recent post, in Author Rank it is likely Google will judge you by how influential the people who engage with you are in your topic areas, so you want to try to build relationships with key influencers.
  7. And of course, implement Google Authorship as indicated above.
There is so much more to do than those steps, but those should get you started toward establishing a valuable Google+ network.

Courtesy of Maximum Exposure Real Estate:

Getting Indexed by Google Using Only PPC: It Could Happen to You

A lot of people write about the difference between SEO and PPC, and how pay per click advertising can come in to strategically boost traffic. When a previous SEO’s efforts have run amok because of shady tactics, PPC can keep a business running while Penguin and Panda recovery efforts are advanced. Nonetheless, the two strategies are often framed in opposition, as if PPC vs. SEO were a championship fight with an ultimate winner.
Hybrid Strategy
Metrics driven agencies have long realized that the ideal client is knowledgeable about the importance of both SEO and PPC. Clients who are open to trying a hybrid strategy to build traffic over time can often move faster than their competitors on the web. But linking PPC and SEO together can also create great things on the agency’s side as well. Recently I have been talking a lot about breaking down silos, and fully integrating teamwork across departments. Having your PPC team do keyword research and build natural language terms without having your SEO team gain from that knowledge is simply a waste of time.
Beyond the no-brainer combination of the two channels, there is a more complex relationship between PPC and SEO, one that Google is reluctant to confirm or deny. There is supposedly no connection between a paid AdWords placement and Google’s organic rankings—admitting otherwise would be like saying the game of search engine results is rigged. However, I recently experienced a case where it appears that there is a deeper synergy.
The Client
A travel industry client created a fully-fledged booking site that was part of a larger portfolio of brands. Though other sites in the portfolio were indexed and had historically performed well in organic search, this particular brand had not been launched. It hadn’t been announced to the public in any way. There were no inbound links or sitemap, though crawling was allowed in robots.txt. I launched PPC campaigns to a specific targeted audience in mid-August, which continued throughout the fall. PPC remained the only promotion of the site, with no efforts made to announce or publicize the brand. The booking site existed as a PPC microsite as the parent company focused most of their attention on other brands.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

On October 23, Google crawled the site, indexing 135 pages.  Thereafter the site began ranking for brand terms, as well as other relevant competitive terms. The only source of traffic at that point was PPC, and direct returning visitors.
I saw the organic traffic begin and thought little of it. Someone must have linked to the site, submitted a sitemap, or shared it on social somewhere—but no. After a lot of digging, I found only a single, no-followed link to the site which was an image credit from a low credibility, low traffic blog.
The only other information relating to the brand terms or site URL that was indexed were on scraper sites like SpyFu which aggregated PPC campaign data but did not link back. So while the full URL was mentioned in the text on the page, there was no actual link returning to the site. It could be that the booking site was crawled after citations scraped from PPC ads appeared on indexed sites, but it is impossible to tell if that is the case.
In the months that followed, organic search traffic increased, as visitors returning to complete bookings started clicking on organic results for brand terms. Competitive non-brand search terms and long-tail keywords also gained impressions and rose in placement, still with no external links. The only measure of relevancy Google could glean other than AdWords-driven Google Analytics data was contextual references.

Top 3 Takeaways

  • If you are driving traffic to a PPC landing page, make sure it is tagged for noindex, nofollow or there remains a possibility that it will become indexed. This is doubly true if your landing pages are on an indexed domain with non-PPC content which could automatically add your pages to a sitemap.
  • This case could be a serious indication that the importance of citations is on the rise. Even if PPC was not the factor that caused the crawl, the citations from over 20 AdWords competitive keyword research sites were indexed.
  • If you are launching a new site and want to gain traction fast, it may be advantageous to run PPC to accelerate the process, to compliment SEO as well as the increased visits.

Courtesy of Search Engine Journal:

8 Great Ways to Strengthen Your Branding on YouTube

Image Credit: bloomua /

Branding is Very Important

As a brand marketing yourself online, you understand that branding your messages is very important; how else would someone know they were your messages if they were not branded appropriately?
Branding your messages makes them easy to recognize as belonging to you. Your brand can make sure that each message makes the right impression by making sure that each message you publish carries an easily recognizable, consistent, and appropriate reminder that your brand owns the content. Logos are a very important part of branding – but don’t stop there!

Video: Customizing Your YouTube Channel

Make Your Mark on YouTube With These Tips

You might be surprised to learn that there are several different opportunities available to brand your YouTube activities in such a way that they will be quite obviously and unforgettably yours!
  1. Remove any ads from your channel page – Removing the ads from your channel page will help ensure that the focus of your visitors remains on you. Otherwise, when visiting your channel page a visitor might be distracted and/or confused by the presence of unrelated advertisements.
  2. Make sure that you have branded your channel page – You have a limited ability to customize your YouTube channel page; make sure that you have your brand’s logo as a part of your background image. You can also add some of your social media profile links to your channel page’s sidebar area, don’t miss out on that! Last, don’t neglect to add a solid, short-and-sweet description of your brand and what your videos are all about.
  3. “Own” your avatar – As with most social media, almost all of your activity on YouTube will be accompanied by your avatar. Your avatar is an image that you will choose to represent your brand all around the site; from large to pretty darn small, this image should look good and clearly represent your brand. It is an easy to secure opportunity to assert your brand and help people recognize your content.
  4. Brand your video tags – When tagging your video, you cannot forget to add a “brand tag” to the end of your tag list. While the last tag that a video has is not given a great deal of influence, having your brand name as a part of this list will help to ensure that any videos that appear along with yours in the suggested / related videos areas will be more likely to be your videos as opposed to someone else’s.
  5. Watermark your videos – A watermark is a small, unobtrusive reminder that your videos belong to you. It does not have to be large or glaringly obvious, it actually works better if it is not either of these things. Instead, place it in the corner of your video so it does not get in the way of your content, and rest assured that no matter where your video appears, it will be obvious to the viewer who is behind the content they have just consumed.
  6. Introduce your video with a branded segment – Even something as simple as your logo, accompanied by a few special effects and a 5 second sound clip can serve as a great brand awareness reinforcement.
  7. Include the name of your channel in your video – If at all possible, include the name of your YouTube chanel in the introduction of your video. This is a great way to make sure that a viewer can find your channel when they view your video somewhere else, for example on someone’s blog.
  8. Brand your video endings – Send your viewers off in style with a branded ending clip. If you are on a tight budget, you may be able to use the same clip that you used in the introduction of your video. Just a little something to remind people who you are and where they can find you!

Courtesy of Social Media Today:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Real Estate videos a growing trend

The Internet has changed the way real estate companies and residential and commercial developments promote the properties they have for sale or rent. The hottest trend regarding real estate marketing on the Web is the use of videos.

The cover story for the November/December issue of FloridaRealtors magazine was about using videos to market properties. The title of the article, "The Big Camera Conundrum," concluded: "YouTube video with analytics is changing the way real estate professionals do business. It's cheap, efficient and powerful."

A recent article in BusinessWeek regarding real estate videos read, "Videos can convey more essential data in a shorter time. The viewer does not have to read long texts or jump between pages. Instead he or she gets fed exactly the data you want to deliver."

And statistics released by Arbitron/Edison Media Research concluded, "7 of 10 Web visitors say websites would be more enjoyable if sound and video were included more often."

All of this comes as no surprise to Duane Sulk, president of Sulk Mullin Global Media. Sulk, who spent 11 years in the television news industry and 20 years marketing real estate in Southwest Florida, has experienced the power the placing real estate videos on the Internet as the marketing director for The Chang Group, a real estate investment firm located in Fort Myers.

"For the past 16 months, the marketing department for The Chang Group has produced more than 120 videos which give prospective renters and buyers a room-by-room tour of the home, condominium or apartment," said Sulk. "In that time frame the videos have garnered nearly 30,000 views with the majority of the properties being rented or sold within days of downloading the videos on YouTube, the company's website and other real estate-based Internet sites."

In early December Sulk, along with business partner Dan Mullin, launched Sulk Mullin Global Media, a company that focuses on producing Web videos for the real estate and business community.

"All signs point to the fact the real estate market is beginning to come back in Southwest Florida and we want to assist in accelerating that positive market movement," said Mullin, a former Army soldier who was deployed to Egypt and Afghanistan.

According to Sulk, the main focus of the company will be real estate developments that have models and Realtors with For Sale homes.

"In most instances, if we can shoot the digital video and take the necessary photographs of the model or home in the morning, we can have the 4- to 6-minute completed video written, edited and ready to be placed on the Internet by the next day," said Sulk, who not only writes the copy for the video but is the on-camera host and voice-over talent. "Think of the video tours as mini-documentaries with the home being the star."

Sulk explained Realtors are encouraged to co-host since they represent the property. Kim Maloney of Florida Fidelity Realty Corp. of Bonita Springs was one of the first to take advantage of the marketing trend. Maloney was looking for a new way to promote a four-bedroom plus den/three-and-a-half-bath home priced at $1,099,000 in Bonita Bay.

"Within a month of placing the video link on our website, the MLS and other real estate-based sites we recorded more than 160 unique views," said Maloney. "I've received phone inquiries regarding the property after prospective buyers viewed the video and have had several showings — once again, a direct result of the video. Buyers find them very informative."

Producing hosted video tours of models and For Sale homes is only one of the offerings available at Sulk Mullin Global Media. The company is also pioneering the concept of community video newscasts.
"It's the 60 Minutes format but done in 10 minutes," said Mullin. "Incorporated within that 10 minutes would be 4 to 5 segments on a variety of topics including, for example, a model tour, a conversation with the golf professional regarding changes to the course, a profile of a Preferred Builder and end with a profile of a resident."

According to Mullin, every month the lineup would change. And every month current residents and prospective buyers, who had visited the sales center, would be sent the link to the video via email so they can keep up with the community's latest news and happenings.

"Consider it an entertaining, innovative and paperless way to communicate directly with those crucial to the overall success of the sales effort," added Sulk.

The price of a hosted model video, which currently ranges from $500 to $1,500, is based on the size of the home under air. Monthly community newscasts are priced at $2,500 and include one model video with no size constraints.

Commercial properties are also prime material for a video. Sulk Mullin Global Media recently completed a 6-minute video for Paradise Center, a small plaza located on Bonita Beach Road.

"With so much commercial space available throughout Southwest Florida, a video about a shopping center, its location, current tenants and a quick tour of the retail or office space available — and then placed on the Internet — will garner more attention to prospective businesses and commercial ventures," said Sulk.

All videos for Sulk Mullin Global Media are shot with the latest HD digital video cameras and produced and edited at KnowDibs Studio/Rental located at 4445 Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs.

 Article courtesy of: Naples Daily News:

Mobile Real Estate Websites

The world is mobile. Is your real estate website mobile-friendly? See BIRDVIEW's new mobile websites:

Fundamental Do's & Don'ts of Real Estate Websites

With an estimated 90 percent of homebuyers conducting home searches online, you’d be smart to use the beginning of 2013 to beef up your Web presence. Take a minute to discover the six things you absolutely must include on your real estate website (and which three things to avoid). Is your site up to snuff?

6 Must-Haves

Contact Information: Your name, phone number, email or contact form, and links to your social media accounts should be visible on every page. Left or right margins are great for this.

“About” Page: This should let your prospects know what you’re about, as an agent or brokerage. Why did you get into the real estate business? Do you specialize in certain types of sales? Include anything that distinguishes you from other professionals in your area.

Listings: Visitors to your site primarily want to see listings. Make sure they are prominent and easily accessible from your home page. You may even consider integrating IDX into your home page.

Seller Information: Sellers want to know what you will do for them if they choose you as their agent. This is an excellent opportunity to include your list of seller services so prospective clients can see the value you will bring to the transaction.

Buyer Information: Same as above, except specific to buyers. Tell them how you will go above and beyond when finding them their dream house.

Photos: Make sure to include high quality photos of yourself and your listings. Studies have shown that listings with 16 or more photos perform better than listings with fewer images.

Bonus Points

Niche Information: This is the stuff that makes you memorable. Don’t miss an opportunity to establish yourself as an expert on a specific neighborhood or style of home.

Testimonials: If sites like Yelp and Amazon have taught us anything, it’s that people love to read testimonials and reviews. What do your past clients say about you? Extra credit if you can include photos of your customers in front of their new homes.

3 Things to Avoid

Auto-Play Anything: Don’t bombard your visitors with noise or visuals when they first come to your site. Let them choose when to engage with your media.

Long (or wide) Pages: You’ve heard it before, keep important content above the fold—the portion of the webpage visible without scrolling vertically or horizontally. People will scroll, but only if the material they can see at a glance is interesting and relevant.

Broken Links: Check your site every six months for expired links. Nothing is more frustrating to users than broken links. They are also detrimental to your search engine rankings.

Article courtesy of: RIS Media

Friday, February 8, 2013

Create Your Real Estate Marketing Plan in 6 Steps

Create Your Real Estate Marketing Plan in 6 Steps

A marketing plan is your road map to get from where you are to where you want to be. If you haven’t taken the time to put one together for your real estate business, consider taking a few minutes today to draw one up. A marketing plan will help you focus on your most critical tasks to grow your business while saving you time and money. Here are six easy steps for creating your marketing strategy.

1) Review your business. What were your key metrics for last year (sales commissions, listings taken, listings sold, number of clients, etc)? What were your successes? What do you want to improve?

2) Decide where you want to be. What do you want to accomplish over the next year? Based on last year’s performance, what key metrics do you want to hit? Be specific. How much will you make? How often will you work? What types of clients do you want to attract?

3) Review your performance. Which marketing activities are bringing in business? Which are a waste of money and can be cut out? What marketing activities should you invest in, such as publishing a monthly newsletter, developing your online marketing strategy, or doing more business networking?

4) Select your marketing tactics. It can take seven to ten contacts with someone before they hire you. Plan for it. What is the step-by-step process you will implement to convert a complete stranger into a paying client? What marketing tactics will you use to:

* Market to strangers: How will you attract the attention of those people who have never heard of you?
* Market to suspects: How will you follow up with people who have opted in to receive more information but you haven’t yet talked with one-on-one?
* Market to prospects: How will you sell your services to those who contact you?
* Market to clients and past clients: How will you keep in touch with clients, deliver excellent client service, and ask for referrals?
* Market to referral partners: How will you find and partner with professionals and community influencers to cultivate referrals?

5) Schedule your activities. Now that you know what needs to be done, schedule your activities in your calendar. What activities will you do each week? For instance:

* Strangers – Run weekly classified ads.
* Suspects – Publish a weekly email newsletter.
* Prospects – Follow up with phone calls, mailed letters and emails.
* Clients/Past Clients – Take a past client out for coffee each week.
* Referral Network – Subscribe to blogs, newsletters, and social media channels where colleagues interact. Each day, post a new comment on someone’s blog or engage with them on Twitter/Facebook.

6) Schedule a monthly review. Block off a few hours each month to review your marketing calendar and your goals. Are you hitting your targets? What is or isn’t working? What do you need to modify to achieve your goals?

By following these six steps, you can create a marketing plan for your real estate business if just a few hours.
Looking for more ways to market your real estate services? Download your free 43-page Real Estate Marketing Plan today at This hands-on workbook covers the 6 steps for creating your marketing strategy and includes a fill-in-the-blank marketing plan template you can use to craft your monthly marketing plan.

Krista is founder of, which provides marketing tips and advice for real estate agents. She is the author of the course, Differentiate & Dominate: Niche Marketing for Real Estate Agents, which shows agents how to specialize for a real estate niche.

Courtesy of ECommission Blog:

How to Dramatically Improve SEO for your real estate website!

How to Dramatically Improve SEO

Here's an easy way to determine what your customers want--and how to best meet their needs.
Google search
First it was keyword stuffing. Then link building. Then cloaking and alt tags and text links in footers. And now videos and infographics...

It's no wonder that most small-business owners are skeptical of the latest and greatest SEO and SEM strategies.

Here's another in my series in which I pick a topic and connect with someone a lot smarter than me.

This time, I talked about search engine optimization and marketing with Wil Reynolds, founder of SEER Interactive, an SEO, SEM, and analytics consulting firm. 

Let's start at the beginning. What does real company sh*t mean?

Here's what happens with SEO and SEM. Most firms think about what SEO does instead of thinking about what the small-business owner needs and what marketing can do to meet those needs.

Potential customers are out there searching. I need to be found by those customers.

But more important, I have to determine how to best connect with my target audience. I can either play games with links and keywords and fancy "strategies" or I can think like an effective marketer: I can engage, I can stand for something, I can share my expertise and my data. In other words, I can do real company sh*t.

But all that takes time. It's tempting to go for the "we can get you on Page One in a matter of days" pitch when I'm desperate for sales.

I prefer to think of it this way: The real goal is to achieve the searcher's mission.

But most people only focus on how they rank. That's how 90% of the SEO world thinks. Most SEO firms say, "Hey, we'll get you the eyeballs, but it's your job to convert them."

From the time I started my company, we tracked leads all the way to conversions. Smart companies realize they don't pay their bills with rankings. You can't pay the rent by ranking No. 3 for the keyword lighting.
You aren't doing your job unless the traffic you generate, either for your clients or for yourself, leads to a purchase.

That's not what a business that worked hard to hit the first page of Google wants to hear.

Look, many people took major shortcuts. Say I sell furniture. My SEO firm may have hired someone to write a lot of low-quality content so my business could "rank" well for living room furniture.

That ranking then drove people to a crappy website. When you look at the page, there's only one photo, and it's not even of a living room. If I'm looking for a living room, I might have landed there, but if the content doesn't connect, who will actually use it, much less share it?

No one. It's useless.

But a ranking is easy to understand, which makes it a popular measurement tool.

And maybe that's why for the past 10 to 15 years, SEO firms have gotten away with delivering high rankings instead of results. With recent Google updates, some firms are going out of business because their "performance" was built on a house of cards.

I look at them and think, How long did you think you would be smarter than the hundreds of Ph.D.'s Google can throw at this? Why would you base your livelihood on the premise that you would be able to outsmart the very smartest people in the industry?

OK. So where do I start?

First, don't try to change customer behavior.

When I was 22, I sat across from the VP of marketing for Mercedes. Tons of people were searching for used luxury convertibles. He said, "I'm not going to use that term on my site. I'm going to use the term pre-owned, and I'll spend millions to change that behavior."

And Mercedes did. Nobody searched for pre-owned back then. Now they do.

Most small businesses don't have the budget or the patience to change search behavior. Start by finding out what people are searching for, and write content and develop assets for those terms.

That means spending quality time with the keyword tool.

There's a much easier way.

Just stop hitting Enter when you search on Google and let autocomplete show you what people search for. That lets you think in terms of how customers seek answers to their problems--not how you want to present what you do.

For example, type hardwood flooring and don't hit Enter. You'll find that people search for types, installation, cost, prices, options, nailer, tools--that's a quick guide to developing the content people want.
You'll be surprised by what you learn. Say I type our brand name; I see people are looking for job postings, for reviews. So why wouldn't I put those out there?

Go where cows are already grazing. Why create content people don't want to read or consume?

I tried that with a couple of keywords, and sometimes the results look odd.

The autocomplete results should appear in the order of search volume. But there are caveats. If I type running shoes, the fourth result is running shoes Philadelphia.

I know there aren't more people searching in Philadelphia than in, say, New York. Google throws in local results from time to time, so use some common sense.

Also, your previous searches can sometimes show up at the top, so be careful that what appears is not just what you've typed before.

And here's a little trick: Usually Google only shows four results, but it will show up to 10 if you turn off Google Instant in your Preferences.

That's pretty slick. But I can still run out of ideas pretty quickly.

Try adding how do I or how to to your search terms. Maybe it's how do I fix or repair or delete or add or purchase--play with practical terms that let you get into the mind of the searcher. The key isn't to decide what content you want to create; the key is to figure out what your audience wants and create content to meet its needs.

Take what you do. Type how do ghostwriters in Google and don't hit Enter. A number of results concern the cost of ghostwriters, how ghostwriters get paid, etc. If you want to meet the needs of a large number of potential customers, you should provide content that addresses those issues.

OK. So I know what customers are looking for. Now I have to create the actual content. For most small businesses, that's easier said than done.

Find people who are experts--and who really care.

Some of those people hang out on message boards. (If you don't know about the message boards in your industry, try searching powered by and top posters and your keywords.)

Or check out social media sites. Maybe someone on Flickr posted a number of related photos. Contact them and say, "I saw your awesome photos. Would you be interested in creating content for us?" You'll be surprised by how many incredible people will jump at the chance to share their knowledge.

They already love to talk about your industry. Let them help you truly connect with your audience.

How do I know what type of content to create?

Again, it's common sense. If I want to learn how to tie a tie, I'd rather watch a video. I don't want to read 15 paragraphs of instructions. But if I'm searching for B2B software, then video is definitely not the right tool.
To find out what works for what you want to accomplish, see what Google says. If two of the top seven results are videos for how to tie a tie, then video might be the place to be. See what's already working.

The key is never to get pigeonholed. Don't automatically think, We need more infographics or We need more tweets or We need more videos.

Think about the best medium to solve the searcher's mission. In this case, their needs matter--not yours.

Courtesy of

ERA Tucker has a new real estate website design!

ERA Tucker in Nanuet, NY recently redesigned their BIRDVIEW real estate website.  The website features direct links to their social media accounts, our new IDX professional property search platform that features individual, indexable, optimized pages for every MLS listing, RSS feeds, school pages and more.  All that and it looks great too! 

Check it out here:

Improve Your Real Estate Website Rankings

6 SEO Essentials that Google & Bing Look For 
Courtesy of Social Media Today:

There’s one dangerous misconception that’s tied to search engine optimization (SEO): Many believe they need to be an IT or coding master to achieve any meaningful improvement in their blog or website’s ranking on search engine results pages.

The truth is, the best things you can do to improve your search rankings organically have nothing to do with your site’s coding.

Here’s a checklist some of the best SEO practices you can start doing today to boost your blog/site’s rankings:

1. Focus on content quality
Search engines have gotten a lot smarter the past few years. You can no longer fool them into giving your site a good ranking simply by stuffing a bunch of keywords onto them.

For pages to rank well, they now have to be readable, generate backlinks and have a very low bounce rate. All of those things come from creating quality content.

For search engines like Google and Bing to label your blog/site as “high-quality” it must also:
  • Produce articles that are 300 words or longer the majority of the time. An abundance of short posts carries little weight with search engines.
  • Use proper grammar and spelling. Sites with lots of misspellings are highly penalized.
  • Generate links from – and links to – authoritative sites.
2. Use keywords properly
When it comes to keywords, there are a few places Google and Bing want to see them used:
  • Page titles. How else would a search engine – or a reader – know what your page is about?
  • URLs. This, too, tells search engines what topic the page covers.
  • Anchor text. When linking to other sites that cover the same keywords, use the keyword(s) themselves as the anchor for those links.
  • Image titles. Rather than having an image title like “image 1,” rename the file the keyword(s) you’re using on the page.
Another common misconception is that pages need to have an ideal keyword density to rank well. This is no longer the case. However, the keyword(s) should at least be mentioned two to three times for every 300 words written. It’s also a good idea to use synonyms and variations of the keyword(s) as often as possible.

Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice readability for the sake of keyword cramming. It’ll hurt more than it helps.

3. Cross-link your posts
If you’ve created multiple pages of content focusing on the same keyword(s), link them together.

If your bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who enter your site and leave before viewing other pages) is high, your search engine rank will be low.

One way to reduce your bounce rate is to link visitors to other pages of your site. In other words, point them to other relevant content you’ve posted (again, using keywords as anchor text).

4. Generate links
A major indicator that your site is an authority on a subject is to have lots of other sites/individuals linking to your content.

Of course, the best way to generate links is to provide high-quality content that educates or entertains, and that others will want to share.

Some ways to speed up the link-building process:
  • Ask a well-respected company in your industry to endorse your content on its site by creating a link to your material. As an enticement, you can offer to return the favor.
  • Find a company sending an e-newsletter and suggest it link to your content as a value-added supplement for its customers.
5. Make sure it loads quickly
Search engines love sites that load quickly – preferably in less than three seconds.

To speed up your site’s load time:
  • Reduce/compress the size of your images.
  • Reduce the number of images you use.
  • Remove plugins.
  • Eliminate Flash animations.
  • Make sure it’s stable (crashes lead to big SEO penalties).
6. Be social media friendly
The world is going social – and so are search engines.

The more your content is “liked” and “shared” on social media sites, the more weight it’ll be given in search engine results pages.

So it’s time to add Facebook’s “Like” button, Twitter’s “Tweet” button, Google+’s “+1” button and LinkedIn’s “Share” button.

After that, you’ll want to make a list of the keywords you want to rank highly for and make sure you’re including those keywords in the content you post on social media sites.