SEO Tips: Choosing The Right Domain Name

Having your own agent website is incredibly important. It’s a great way to build credibility, to demonstrate your expertise to prospects, and to help people find you online. A good agent website that is filled with content and photos and gets updated frequently will help set you apart from the crowd.

SEO

Having your own agent website is incredibly important. It’s a great way to build credibility, to demonstrate your expertise to prospects, and to help people find you online. A good agent website that is filled with content and photos and gets updated frequently will help set you apart from the crowd.

But before you start building your agent website, you will need to pick a good domain name for your site. A domain name is your website’s unique address on the Internet. Here are a few tips for picking a good domain name.

Keep it Short!

A good domain name is a name that would be friendly to both human visitors and search engines. When it comes to humans, you definitely want a short, memorable domain name – something that would be easy for people to remember and to type. You also want a name that you’ll be able to print on business cards – so a long domain name, again, is not a good idea.

Keywords Are Important

When it comes to search engines, you should include – if possible – your main keywords in your domain name. This would enable search engines to properly index your agent site. This often means that you want to include your location in your domain name. For example, if you’re a realtor in Austin, Texas, your ideal doman name would be:

AustinHomes.com or AustinRealEstate.com

While the inclusion of keywords often creates a slightly longer domain name, the SEO benefits are generally worth it, as long as the domain name isn’t too long. As a general rule, don’t include more than 2-3 keywords in your domain name.

Dot Com Is Still The Gold Standard

Of course, most good domain names are already taken – especially the .com names! So you’ll need to be creative and search for the best domain name still available to you.

If you absolutely can’t get a good .com domain name, .net and .info are acceptable alternatives.

Should You Use Your Own Name?

Probably not. Although using your name would help establish your personal brand and help clients find your site, it won’t do much in terms of search engine optimization. After all,  buyers who are starting their search for a home on the Internet will type keywords, not your name, into the search engine search box.

Finding A Name

The website NameBoy.com is a great tool for finding domain names based on keywords. Going back to our previous example, a quick search for the keywords “Austin Realty” shows that AustinRealty.info is available (at least at the time of writing this article).

Once you decide on a domain for your site, you will need to register it with a provider such as godaddy.com, and then renew your registration every year.

How to Be Social

So you have a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Great! You’re already doing better than the majority of agents, who have yet to leverage the power of social media to promote their real estate business. But now that you’re actively participating in social media, you should keep in mind that there’s a reason it’s called “social” media – you should be social! Even if in real life you’re an introvert and don’t particularly enjoy socializing, you should view social media as your opportunity to develop an alter ego and be much more social than you are in real life. Here are a few tips on how to be social.

So you have a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Great! You’re already doing better than the majority of agents, who have yet to leverage the power of social media to promote their real estate business. But now that you’re actively participating in social media, you should keep in mind that there’s a reason it’s called “social” media – you should be social! Even if in real life you’re an introvert and don’t particularly enjoy socializing, you should view social media as your opportunity to develop an alter ego and be much more social than you are in real life. Here are a few tips on how to be social.

Be Active

A blog, or a Twitter account that never gets updated could actually hurt your brand. If you have social media accounts, be social by being active on them and updating them frequently. Social media is not the place to be shy or quiet! Get yourself out there and TALK.

Listen to Others, then Respond

Another golden rule of being social that applies both to real life and to social media: listen to what others have to say – truly listen – then respond. To be social, it’s not enough to talk and spread your own agenda and ideas. You need to have real conversations with others.

Be Helpful

You could call it Karma, or you could call it “tit for tat,” but whatever you call it, it works. If you help others in social media, linking to them from your blog, retweeting their tweets on Twitter, sharing their facebook postings with your own network, in many cases (although not always) it will come back to you in the form of others promoting YOUR content. It’s a win-win, really, so be generous.

Be Polite

We’ve mentioned it before – one of the golden rules of social media is that you must respect others and treat them the way you would want to be treated. Sounds familiar? Yes it does, because this golden rule applies outside of social media too! The most important thing to remember is that even though you’re interacting via a computer screen, you are talking with real people who have very real emotions and reactions. Be mindful and respectful of that.

Agent Safety

Internet Safety Tips: How To Avoid Phishing

I don’t know if it’s the recession, but spammers seem to be getting more and more aggressive recently. I’ve been getting lots of spam email and – even worse – phishing email. The problem: many of those emails seem completely legitimate at first, and can be sent out from email addresses that you trust.

Agent Safety

I don’t know if it’s the recession, but spammers seem to be getting more and more aggressive recently. I’ve been getting lots of spam email and – even worse – phishing email. The problem: many of those emails seem completely legitimate at first, and can be sent out from email addresses that you trust.

Spam is the unlawful, unsolicited sending of bulk email for commercial purposes. Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as user names, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Many phishing emails masquerade as being sent from your bank, and ask you to click on a link. Once you click on the link, you arrive at a site that looks like your bank’s site, where you are asked to enter your user name and password, but in fact this is a phishing site that will use the information you enter to gain entry into your bank account.

So how do you protect yourself from Internet based fraud? Follow these simple tips:

Never Click on Links Embedded in Emails

It used to be that you could trust email from people you know, but these days, hackers can get into your friends’ emails and use them to send out spam and phishing emails that would bypass your spam filter. Click on links within emails only if you are 100% sure they are legitimate.

Guard Your Sensitive Information

Your bank, the IRS or any other reputable institution will never embed a link in an email that leads you to a page where you’re asked to provide sensitive information such as a user name, a password, your social security number, date of birth or any other information that can be used to break into your accounts or steal your identity. The phishing sites will do their best to scare you into giving out those details (“Or your account will be deactivated.”) Ignore these threats. You can always call the bank to ask if they had sent that email.

Make Sure The Site is Secure

Legitimate financial sites use the encrypted https instead of the regular http, and will have a lock symbol on the bottom right of your browser window. Phishing sites don’t.

Learn to Recognize Spam

Spam and phishing emails are often filled with spelling and grammatical errors and generally are not as sleek and professional as real emails from legitimate institutions.

Protect Your Computer

Protect your computer with effective anti-virus and anti-spam software, and set up firewalls. ZoneAlarm is a good free firewall and AVG is a good, free anti-virus software.  Make sure your operating system and browsers are updated  regularly. Always install security patches.

Use Passwords of At Least 12 Characters

Brute-force attacks are now much more of a threat to short passwords, given the increasing computational prowess of computers. According to researchers, length is a major factor to protect against brute force approaches.

If You’re A Victim, Act Immediately

If you provided account numbers or passwords to a phisher, notify the companies with whom you have the accounts right away. Place a fraud alert on your files at the credit reporting bureaus and file a police report with your local police station. Even if you didn’t fall for the phishing scam, it’s important to report phishing to the company  that the phisher was impersonating.

Internet fraud is a real threat that can wreak havoc on your life. “Better safe than sorry” has never been more true. It’s sad that we can’t be trusting anymore, not even when we get an email from a friend, but the reality is, we just can’t. It’s better to accept this and to act accordingly than to become a victim.

Why Twitter?

Twitter is a fascinating phenomenon. When it just started, many were wondering, “What’s the appeal?” You’re basically limited to posting VERY short messages (140 characters including spaces is NOT a lot!) and it’s not as rich as Facebook – you can only post text, although there are tools that enable posting richer media such as photos to Twitter.

Twitter is a fascinating phenomenon. When it just started, many were wondering, “What’s the appeal?” You’re basically limited to posting VERY short messages (140 characters including spaces is NOT a lot!) and it’s not as rich as Facebook – you can only post text, although there are tools that enable posting richer media such as photos to Twitter.

Twitter’s Power: Its Simplicity

But Twitter has become a hugely popular social media service, and people LOVE it. We think that the ultra-short messages are actually part of the appeal – people today have a very short attention span, especially on the Internet, and the way Twitter is built is just perfect for that. It’s a constant stream of information and messages, and you just dip in and out of the Twitter stream throughout your day, posting short updates and responding to tweets made by others.

In other words, Twitter’s power is in its simplicity. While other social media channels are rich and complex, Twitter is such a bare bone service , that it really brings the focus into the content of what people are saying – there are no annoying apps or silly games like you have in Facebook, for example.

Following People

Another big advantage of Twitter over other social networks is how easy it is to find and follow new people on Twitter. There are several tools available to find new people to follow based on their bio, keywords they use in their tweets, and there are also thousands of Twitter Lists, created by users, that make it very easy to follow people in a particular space. Not everyone you follow will follow you back, but you can periodically clean out your account from people who haven’t followed you back using tools such as buzzom.com.

Finding Local People

As an agent, it’s important to you to find people on Twitter who are from your own city. This is easy with Twitter advanced Search – you can search for tweets from a specific location, mentioning specific keywords, and you can also subscribe to this search and get daily results into your inbox.

Will Twitter Last?

While most in the social media space are fairly certain that Facebook is here to stay, some feel less comfortable with investing a lot of time into Twitter, saying that they’re not sure Twitter will still be here 5 years from now. Perhaps, but it’s here now, and can be very useful to agents.  Just make sure you don’t spend more than 10-15 minutes per day on Twitter – that’s all it takes to create a vibrant, effective Twitter account. Give it 6 months, and if you decide that Twitter is not working for you after all,  then just delete your account – at least you’ll know you gave it a try.

Find Us On Twitter!

Here’s our own Twitter account – would love to have you follow us!

Real Inventive on Twitter

How Can People Trust You As Their Agent When They’ve Never Met You?

“Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, your motive, your intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, your results, your track record. And both are vital.”

Being able to build trust with clients has always been an important skill-set for agents because we normally start on the back foot due to the perception that we are only one step above used cars salespeople.

Every time an agent meets or speaks with a new client they generally have to focus a certain amount of their efforts on building rapport quickly and doing what they can to build likeability and trustworthiness to help overcome those pre-conceived ideas people have about real estate agents.

Over the internet, real estate agents don’t have the benefit of seeing non-verbal communication or hearing the tone in a voice. They also don’t have the luxury of being able to demonstrate some of their well rehearsed scripts & dialogues and put their negotiation skills to full use.

The nature of the internet has also changed the way agents show property. It’s now extremely rare to have clients in the car traveling around for hours at a time seeing the homes the agent decides to show them. Nowadays, most people simply meet the agent at one property at a scheduled time or they attend an Open For Inspection.

The whole demographic of client interaction has been changed forever.

What can you do about it?

I recently read this book ‘The Speed of Trust – The One Thing That Changes Everything’ and in it Steven M. R. Covey said:-

“Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, your motive, your intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, your results, your track record. And both are vital.”

With the internet providing transparency and insights into the marketing framework of most agencies, your Character can be interpreted in the way you present your listings for sale and the script within your website, articles, etc.

Plus, when it comes to Competence, it has now become a lot easier for consumers to identify the IT savvy agencies over the pretenders. A real estate agencies competency or lack of competency online can have a resounding impact on their overall success.

People are now making decisions about you and your company over the web. That’s the transparent nature of the web.

Are lots of clients calling you in for an appraisal because they like what you’re doing over the internet? OR on the other hand are the vast majority of them not calling you and are you losing business to your competitors because the potential clients don’t think your online marketing is up to scratch?

Does your online marketing need to be looked at professionally, from a different point of view?

Let’s face it, you can be the greatest agent at scripts and dialogues or be the best negotiator in the business but if the potential client doesn’t like what they see about you over the internet then in the majority of circumstances you won’t even get the chance to present to them.

As the internet keeps evolving and expanding into new, exciting areas, for some the changes to the web will act like an accelerator for their business BUT for others it will act like ‘the brake’.

Is the internet working effectively for you or not? Do you get many people subscribing automatically to receive information from you or are you still manually entering in most of your customers into your database?

Are you getting called into enough market appraisals? Have you implemented an effective online lead generation strategy? Are you embracing the online world and using the power of Social Media to help build trust faster through online recommendations?

Finally, within the heading of this article, I posed the following question “How Can People Trust You As Their Agent When They’ve Never Met You?”

Please take some time to think about some answers to that question because if you can come up with a few answers to it, you’ll be well on your way to achieving some incredible success in your real estate career.

Please feel welcome to ask any questions or share your thoughts and ideas within the comments section below.