You have a brilliant development, pound for pound one of the best in its class. But the buyers just aren't rolling in the door. The money spent on print advertising has been a huge waste of time and you have no means of measuring the return in any event (more on this later). You may well be surprised to learn that the bulk of our target market have searched for a development such as yours on the Internet, but never found your website and still are not aware that you exist. Conservative estimates indicate that nearly 80% of new home buyers turn to the Web before they approach an agent for assistance. There are a number of ingenious strategies to engage a serious buyer once he or she has begun to browse your site, but even the most sterling effort will come to nothing if you remain a needle amidst a pile of, well, other needles. Rising above the competition and distinguishing yourself as a stand-out development demands intention, an experienced team and follow through beyond the initial website development phase.
Setting and forgetting your website does not work
What is required is a real estate specific approach to making your website as visible as possible, combined with listings on a few selected property search portals, professional engagement within social networks and the like. And I'm not talking about the web designer who adds a few tags to your home page before listing you with Google! This exercise is a lot more targeted than a stereotypical Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) process, and yields real results as opposed to hollow traffic. It is not uncommon to see enquiries double within two weeks of implementation and in some cases increase ten or twenty fold within the first two months.
The following list of practical steps will assist you in formulating a website development, promotion and growth strategy:
- Research : The same tried and tested planning that accompanies a good business strategy is applicable here. Who are your ideal clients? Which geographical areas are you targeting? A good SEO strategy will rely heavily upon these fundamental questions, long before technical considerations come into play.
- Niche : In a marketplace crowded with competitors, the unique and stand-out elements of your offering deserve centre stage. Keyword choices will be informed by the terms your clients are currently searching for, but you may well find that targeting words or phrases that set your properties apart from the pack yields the best ROI.
- Budget : Allocate a budget to optimising and promoting your website. More often than not an elaborate website is built, requiring significant investment and time, yet the SEO budget is tiny or non-existent The belief that building it is enough has been thoroughly debunked. The bottom line -- without a budget to promote it, no one will find it. A general rule of thumb is to allocate a first year budget equal to the website build costs in order to professionally develop the reach and accessibility of your online investment.
- People : A good designer or website developer does not necessarily understand the dynamics of turbulent real estate market. Ensure that the team building your site has a track record within the industry; even better, assign someone from your organisation to work closely with the design team. In this way you will not only blend a good dose of property marketing genius with your SEO efforts, but also align your online presence with your organisational culture
- Time : Content is still king. Good content of course, stuff that you know people will want to read and adds value to the target market you want to attract. But just as important is the regularity with which you provide the information. "Setting and forgetting" your website does not work -- it requires consistency in the knowledge that time, combined with good content, will yield the search ranking rewards you desire.Look out for strategy two next week, when we will explore how to engage your clients more effectively.