According the National Association of REALTORS ® over 90% (9 out of 10) of homebuyers begin their home search online. As a savvy business person I am sure you will agree that you need to have an online marketing plan as part of your overall business plan if you are to be discovered by the online consumer. In addition to your own personal website there are a few key real estate profiles that you will want to setup.
So as the song says, let’s start from the very beginning…
How do you decide which profiles are the most important? That’s an easy one. Where do people look for real estate online? This list with the hyperlinks to the setup page for each of the recommended sites should help you get started.
Online profiles to establish
CB Bain.com or CB Seal.com profiles will give you an online presence to display your, bio, client testimonials, listings (current or sold), videos (profile, property, and community) as well as co-brand you with your brand which has a strong local presence.
The Coldwell Banker National profile will give you an increased presence with one of the most trusted brands world-wide. Many consumers around the country recognize and choose the Coldwell Banker brand and they may not know to search for Coldwell Banker Bain or Coldwell Banker Seal. In addition, Coldwell Banker brokers globally use the national site as a resource for referrals when they have clients relocating or looking to buy a second home.
Google profiles are important because we know that everyone is Googling everyone these days. Don’t you Google a new client after you meet them? Well buyers and sellers are online searching too and in many cases are forming opinions about who they perceive to be the local real estate experts based on the search results. As of July 31, 2011 Google will require that all profiles be public (only your name and gender are required to show). They want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to find what and whom they are searching for. If you already have a Google profile and it is set to private, you will need to change it to publicly viewable or it will be deleted as of July 31.
Google Places allows you to claim your business listing online. I suspect with the recent addition of Google + this will be the way the online business profiles will be established. When you claim your Google Places profile, you can add enhanced information about your business services that you are not able to add on your personal Google personal profile. Note: Google only allows one business per location which should be the CB Bain or CB Seal branch office listing. As you create your profile, you will be offered the choice to indicate “Service Area” which does not require a physical address. I would not recommend that you use your home address for your business listing.
Realtor.com is a must because it remains the number one most searched site by consumers searching for real estate. For the listing broker you have the ability to showcase your listings and when you have a profile, potential buyers/sellers can contact you directly, if you don’t have a profile with contact information setup then the inquiry goes to the office number. Go to Realtor.com and search for your name under search for an Agent, click on your name and you will see “Login” to Control Panel to update your profile (it’s free).
Trulia.com and Zillow.com are the number 2 (Zillow) and 3 (Trulia) ranked real estate search sites just after Realtor.com. Zillow has formed an alliance with Yahoo.com to provide the listings data for the real estate search on Yahoo. Both offer information and many services for both home buyers and sellers. The Zillow “Advice” and Trulia “Voices” forums allow consumers to ask questions and you as a knowledgeable broker have the opportunity to answer questions and share your expertise with potential clients. In addition to the search and information capabilities of Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Zillow.com and Yahoo real estate, all of these powerhouses offer a way for consumers to write reviews about the service they have received from the real estate agent/broker.
Setting up your online profiles as part of your online marketing strategy will enhance your online presence. This is of course is by no means a complete list of all the places you can establish a profile or participate online.
Tip: To make the process of filling out the profile information go more quickly I would recommend that you create a document containing all of your information so that you can cut and past into the various profiles. Please use a current photograph and make sure the information is timeless. Instead of saying “20 years in real estate” say “in real estate since 1991”, this will eliminate having to go back and change the number of years on all your profiles.
It’s not too late to claim your profiles and get started with your online marketing plan.