Google + A good Tool for Real Estate Professionals

Recently Google released a beta version of its highly-anticipated social networking platform, Google+. So far the reaction as been good with praise for the app’s design and features. Having read several reviews it seems that Google + has several built in tools that can be highly advantagious to businesses.

Recently Google released a beta version of its highly-anticipated social networking platform, Google+. So far the reaction as been good with praise for the app’s design and features. Having read several reviews it seems that Google + has several built in tools that can be highly advantageous to Real Estate Professionals.

Google+ is similar to Facebook, offering to connect users, add status updates, share photos and links, etc.  But what Google + offers that Facebook does not is a tool they call “Circles”. Circles allows users to define contacts, and group them by type. This cool feature will allow Agents and Brokers to share information with a specific group or “circle”.

A good use of Circles in the Real Estate field is to separate your work colleagues, friends and clients. You can even break your clients into smaller circles. For example, Buyers, Sellers, Past Clients and so on.  The ability to control who you share specific information with is powerful, and very useful for Real Estate professionals.

Google+ also incorporates a built-in multi-user video chat tool called “Hangouts”. With Hangouts, users can chat with up to ten people at the same time. Whoever is Talks the loudest is highlighted in the large central window, with everyone else displayed in  strip of smaller windows underneath.

Hangouts can be useful for agents and broker in several different ways. First off, for the small virtual office, Hangouts is a great way to have a interactive office meeting. For large offices, this tool could be used to connect managers together for their weekly managers meeting. For agents who need to connect with an out of town client, or even to do a virtual listing presentation, Hangouts is perfect to facilitate just that. I am anxious to test this feature to see how well it works.

Another great feature that makes Google+ different from other social networks is “Sparks”. With Sparks, users can add interests and the system will crawl the web looking for articles related to that interest, making it easy for users to find relevant articles to share.

Can you think of any other ways Real Estate professionals can use Google + to help grow their business?

Real Estate Websites: Why SEO is Important

SEO, or search engine optimization, is important for any website, and this is true for real estate websites as well. Essentially, SEO helps to make sure that your website will be found on the Internet.

Optimizing your web site itself, or on-page optimization, is just part of your efforts to build a web presence, but it’s certainly a major part.

If a search engine bot crawls your web pages but your web pages don’t “tell” it what your site is all about, then the search engine will not be able to index your web site correctly, and people who search online for what you offer will not be able to find you.

For example, if you sell real estate in Austin, Texas, your site’s title tags and copy need to include related keywords such as “Austin real estate,” “homes for sale in Austin” etc.

Another important factor in determining whether your website will rank well for your main keywords is inbound links. Search engines show strong preference to websites who have links from other websites pointing at them. High quality agent site companies have tools in place to help your agent website get links.

Engaging in social media will also bring you links over time, because the people you connect with will learn about your site, and if you provide useful material, they may link to it.

Another important aspect of on-page search engine optimization is to add a blog to your real estate site. A blog, unlike a static site, tends to be rich in text. If you write it correctly and include your main keywords throughout the text, a blog can give your SEO efforts a significant boost.

Google Backlinks – Why Do I Need Them?

Over the years, Google has been fighting against spammers and their spam sites. It was almost like a game, but it was a high-stakes game: Google’s top priority was to only serve relevant, legitimate results to its users.

Over the years, Google has been fighting against spammers and their spam sites. It was almost like a game, but it was a high-stakes game: Google’s top priority was to only serve relevant, legitimate results to its users. Spammers had a different idea: their goal was to get their low-quality sites to the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs), even if for a short time, slap Adsense ads on those sites and earn nice amounts of money from all the traffic that would click on the ads to exit the disappointing site.

Determined to win this war, Google has tweaked its famous search algorithm, adding more and more tools and parameters that would make it nearly impossible for a spammy site to climb to the top of the SERPs. Google has pretty much won this war – and a big part of that is the insistence that sites have backlinks from other sites before they can get higher rankings (and in many cases, before they can be indexed at all).

What are Backlinks?

Backlinks are links that other sites are sending to your site, and they are essentially an indication of  your website’s reputation on the Web. A site that has no backliks is suspicious and won’t have good search engine rankings, because if other sites do not acknowledge its existence, then it could be a spam site, or it could simply be a low-quality site. Google doesn’t want to see either at the top of the SERPs.

You Need Quality Backlinks

But it’s not enough to get backlinks. They need to be quality backlinks.  When Google first added the backlinks parameter, spammers were quick to create “link farms” – sites whose sole purpose was to send links to other sites. Since this process can be automated, spammers were able to send tons of links to new sites. As soon as the folks at Google figured out this was going on, they tweaked their algorithm yet again, de-indexed link farms, and they also added the requirement that at least some of the links that a new site receives need to be quality links, from reputable sites.

How Does One Get Backlinks?

So How do you get those coveted backlinks? The best way is to create a truly interesting, high-quality agent site; write an interesting blog; and connect with others in your space using social media tools. When you write your blog posts, link to other blogs (make sure they are reputable), and leave comments on those blogs. Sooner or later, one or more of the people whose blogs you frequent and the people you interact with using social media, is likely to link back to your own blog or site. If you get links from reputable sites or blogs, all you need is a handful of those links to convince Google that you are for real.

High Quality is Key

Another way to get backlinks is to submit real estate articles to article directories such as EzineArticles, including a link back to your site in those articles (follow each directory’s linking rules). But whatever you do to get backlinks, remember that gaming the system is pretty much impossible these days. Your material, whether submitted to a directory or published on your own blog or site, absolutely must be of high quality.

Social Media Do’s and Don’ts

If you’re using social media to promote your real estate business, that’s great! Congrats on being sophisticated enough to use a widely available marketing tool that can make a real difference in terms of building your brand and connecting with prospects and clients.

If you’re using social media to promote your real estate business, that’s great! Congrats on being sophisticated enough to use a widely available marketing tool that can make a real difference in terms of building your brand and connecting with prospects and clients. You should however realize that when it comes to social media, there are definitely a few unspoken rules that you should be aware of. Here’s a list of social media Do’s and Don’ts:

DO Use Social Media to Interact

Social media is, above all, about interacting. If all you do on your social media channels is broadcasting, meaning you just broadcast your own links and opinions but never interact with others, then you are missing out on the most important aspect of social media, and your social media campaign will be significantly less effective. It’s called social media for a reason – it’s all about socializing.

DON’T Spam!

One of the most annoying uses of social media by inexperienced users is to use social media to spam other people. For example, there are countless Twitter accounts who are created for the sole purpose of following the maximum amount of people Twitter allows at a time (2000) and spamming them with the message “Check out our website!” We always wonder about the people who do this – do they really believe that anyone would actually go and check out their website? This type of “social” media activity is in fact anti-social and is a waste of time for everyone, including the spammer.

DO Follow People of Interest

When you create a Facebook account or a Twitter page, do follow people and businesses who are of true interest to you and are related to your area of expertise. For example, on Twitter it’s perfectly fine to follow people from your immediate area, or to set up a search for people who mention that they’re looking for a house in your area and follow them.

DON’T Play the Numbers Game

Lots of social media users get caught up in a “numbers game,” where they feel pressured to have as many followers as possible. But a lean social media account, where you have a handful of followers who are truly interested in what you have to say, is far superior to an inflated social media account where you’ve used automatic following tools to follow thousands of people, got thousands of follow-backs, but none of these followers listens to what you have to say, becuase all they’re interested in is having lots of followers.

DO Be Polite

The number one rule of social media: even though you’re on the Internet, you are interacting with real people. Be as courteous and polite as you would be if you were interacting with those people face to face.

New Photosynth Mobile App – Awesome for Real Estate Pros

With the app, you can process, view, and store your panoramas directly on your device. Then, share them in a variety of ways, including to Facebook as images or as interactive panoramas (hosted for free) on Photosynth.net. Imagine walking through a prospects home and creating a panoramic virtual tour during your listing presentation.

Photosynth Screen Shot

I was first introduced to Photosynth at Inman Connect a few years ago. It was very impresive at the time and it was obviously a great tool for real estate professionals. Yesterday MSN introduced the official Photosynth app which lets you capture panoramas of your favorite places and share them with your friends and even the world with Bing Maps. (The app is currently available via iTunes and will be available on iOS devices later today.) Photosynth’s interactive panoramas allow you to look left, right, up and down, letting you capture and view more of the places you visit.

With the app, you can process, view, and store your panoramas directly on your device. Then, share them in a variety of ways, including to Facebook as images or as interactive panoramas (hosted for free) on Photosynth.net. Imagine walking through a prospects home and creating a panoramic virtual tour during your listing presentation.

What is pretty cool is the way the app works with Bing Maps. After capturing a panorama of a public place (like a historical building or park) you can choose to publish to Bing Maps and it could be seen by the world. From the map, “dive in” and see your panorama next to that park or building.

With the Photosynth app you can:

  • See your panorama take shape with each picture you take
  • Get high-resolution results in all directions with advanced, on-device stitching
  • See most panoramas within seconds of taking your last picture
  • Zoom, pan, stretch, and view your panorama in landscape or portrait mode
  • Save and view your panoramas on your device and view them online at Photosynth.net

Get the App