Why Does Craigslist Drive the Most Traffic?

The short answer: Because of its huge volume of traffic! Craigslist is a fascinating Internet phenomenon. It reminds us of Facebook: a site that started small, based on a simple, localized idea, but then ballooned into a huge site that everyone wants to use.

Ask any seasoned agent and they will tell you that Craigslist is an incredible tool for agents. There’s absolutely no comparison – when you place a listing on Craigslist, it gets you more traffic than any other listing.

Craigslist was started in 1995 by Craig Newmark with the modest goal of helping people find affordable housing in San Francisco. It is now the most popular online classifieds website in the world, with over 10 million monthly visitors. Agents can take advantage of this huge traffic by posting free ads and by scanning ads seeking homes and answering them.

In addition to its huge amounts of traffic, another useful feature of Craigslist is that it is divided by localities and categories. So as an agent, you can post to the areas that you service. In addition to cities, the real estate section of Craigslist is divided into specific sections, so there are separate sections for apartments/houses for rent, office & commercial, real estate for sale, vacation rentals and more.

In most locations, posting an ad on Craigslist is free. You can create single ads for specific properties, or an ad listing all your available properties for an area. Craigslist ads are easy to create and require no coding design or HTML knowledge. You should definitely include images in your ad – these have been shown to vastly improve response rates. Choosing a great title for your ad is also very important. Try to write a catchy title that includes the words people might search for when looking for the properties you sell.

Listing Syndication: a Good Idea?

Listing syndication makes a lot of sense for agents. You obviously want your listings to reach as wide an audience as possible, and placing the listing on your site and social media accounts and in the local newspaper, while definitely useful, will likely not reach a huge audience.

Benefits of Listing Syndication

Listing syndication allows you to reach a much wider audience, and spread your listing all over the Internet, including major search engines, and high-profile, high-traffic sites such as Zillow, Trulia, and of course Craigslist.

Zillow and Trulia: Supporting Agents or Potentially Undermining Them?

But while sites such as Zillow and Trulia are excellent for buyers and sellers, are they really that great for agents? We need to remember that these sites are focusing on increasing their own traffic, not necessarily on sending traffic to agent sites. Their goal is to keep visitors on their site. Which begs the question, are these sites great partners for agents – or are they a possible threat?

Recent features added to Zillow make it pretty clear that the site’s ultimate goal might be to become a real estate marketplace, independent of real estate agents, that charges a fee for transactions completed through the site. Zillow now enables homeowners to upload information about their homes, it has the “Make me an offer” feature where homeowners can get direct offers on their homes, and it has also added a Wiki where buyers and sellers can learn about the complexities of handling a real estate transaction.

Listing Syndication Still Useful

So, is listing syndication a good idea? We think it is. You should definitely syndicate to major search engines and to Craigslist. As for property website portals such as Zillow and Trulia, we believe you SHOULD take advantage of the huge traffic these sites receive. After all, you can post your listing on these sites along with your information and a link back to your agent website. But you also need to make it very clear to buyers and sellers that your knowledge and expertise are invaluable, and that going into such a huge, complex transaction without the help of an agent is extremely risky.

Spam Harvesters Are On Your Website!

“If it were possible to redirect the time and effort poured into antispam and antimalware code over the last 10 years, we’d already have colonies on Mars and probably a new form of renewable energy.”  (InfoWorld).

We have to agree! Spam now accounts for between 95-98 percent of all email and is not going away anytime soon. The main issue is that current solutions focus not on eliminating spam altogether, but on preventing it from getting into our inboxes. But this causes many legitimate emails to get buried in the spam folder, and also does not solve the issue of spam floating out there on the Internet, consuming bandwidth and resources.

We have recently installed a program called Honey Pot, which works to blacklist spam harvesters. We have been able to report hundreds of suspicious IPs to be blacklisted. While doing this we were SHOCKED at the number of suspicious bots out there crawling our websites.

We have become more aware than ever of the importance of protecting ourselves against spam. Never, ever just put your email address on the Internet, unless you’re willing to deal with an overwhelming amount of spam. If you need to place your email address online, you can either use a graphic that spam bots cannot read, or break the address so that it cannot be harvested by the bots. So, instead of me@mydomain.com you should type me (at) mydomain (dot) com.

Of course, as we said above, any measures we take to protect against spam are costly and limited. For each IP we report, another one will pop out in its place. The real solution needs to come from IT companies. SOMEONE needs to find a way to kill spam before it is ever sent out. Just imagine how much faster and more efficient the Internet will be without spam!

Real Estate Websites: Choosing the Best Keywords

You probably already know that having a real estate website is a necessity rather than a luxury. We simply can’t imagine not having a website these days! Any business that doesn’t have a website seems dated and unprofessional – and this is true for the business of real estate too.

But having a website is not enough. Your realtor website should be optimized for search engines, to make it easier for prospects to find you. While the vast majority of clients still find their realtor via referrals from friends, a growing number of people start their search for a home online, typing certain keywords into the search engine search box. If their search results include your real estate site, and if your site is professional and filled with relevant information, they just might contact you and turn into leads, and maybe clients.

That’s why it’s important to choose a few main keywords for your site, and to optimize your site for those keywords. Optimizing means that ideally, your main keyword should appear in your realtor website URL, in your site’s title tags, and sprinkled generously into your website copy. Don’t overdo it though! Just write naturally, as you would write for a human reader. Writing for search engine bots is never a good idea.

For example, if you specialize in San Francisco real estate, a wonderful URL for your site would be SanFranciscoHomes.com (keep in mind that the best URLs are already taken, so you might need to compromise); your homepage’s title tag should say something like “San Francisco Real Estate | San Francisco Homes For Sale | Your Name” and your website copy should include these keywords too.

Optimizing your real estate website for search engines is pretty straightforward. Take the time to learn the basics of search engine optimization and do it. It could bring you clients down the road and will certainly help you to establish yourself as an expert in your area.

Why You Need a Mobile Website

Why Do You Need a Mobile Website? The short answer: Because more and more people are accessing the Web via their mobile devices, and your desktop Website is likely not providing them with a very good user experience.

Why Do You Need a Mobile Website? The short answer: Because more and more people are accessing the Web via their mobile devices, and your desktop Website is likely not providing them with a very good user experience.

What is Mobile Web?

The Mobile Web is defined as the use of Internet-connected applications, or browser-based access to the Internet from a mobile device such as a smartphone, connected to a wireless network. In plain English, it means accessing everything that the Internet has to offer anywhere, anytime, from your smartphone.

Mobile is Hot

Not that long ago, people used to access the Internet through their PC or laptop, from home. But current research shows that this is changing fast. Mobile is a hot trend, and in fact, it’s more than a trend – it looks as if it is the next generation of Internet usage.

Mobile Access to Traditional Sites

As more and more Internet users expect to get the information they need using their mobile device, you as an agent and as a website owner should start paying attention to how your site looks in a mobile device. Your desktop website probably doesn’t look very good when accessed from a mobile device. If you want to make mobile user experience better, you have a few options.

Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

You can hire a software developer to make a few coding changes to your site that will  make it more mobile-friendly. The advantage to taking this route is that you keep everything in one place but make access to your site easy to both desktop and mobile users.

Develop a Mobile Site

More and more companies are offering their services as developers of mobile sites. In fact, the .mobi top level domain was launched specifically for the mobile Internet and is used to make sure sites comply with mobile web standards to ensure visitors a consistent and optimized experience on their mobile device.

Develop a Mobile App

The same developer who can  build you a mobile site, or make your desktop site more mobile friendly, can also build you a mobile app. Mobile Applications enable users of mobile devices to access the Internet directly through the application, without accessing a browser first. Since apps are built for mobile devices, they ensure an optimal Internet experience for mobile Web users.

If you consider going this route, remember that data shows that apps with practical use work best at long term, continued usage. So while a “cool” or “fun” aspect is great, the most important thing is to come up with an app that adds value to home buyers and home sellers.

RealEstateSites.com includes a free mobile version with every standard website! Check it out from  your iphone at www.KimAgent.com.