The following is a guest post by Jared Seeger, Founder and CEO of Knightsbridge Park Real Estate Marketing. KB Park is a full-service real estate marketing company, specializing in search engine optimization (SEO) and digital strategy.
Are the apartment hunters becoming the apartment hunted?
Yes, but not in the predatory sense, and it’s probably a good thing.
As would-be purchasers search for properties online—89 percent of buyers do, according to the National Association of Realtors—the canniest real estate developers and brokers are gunning to be the first to reach them, even as prospective buyers are trying to divine what they themselves want.
Begin with someone typing the phrase “condos in New York City,” into Google. Which properties are listed at or near the top of search results? The difference isn’t academic, and can translate into a huge spike in web traffic, foot traffic and sales for digital-savvy real estate developers and brokerage firms.
Accordingly, more and more developers and brokers are refusing to give in to a fatalistic attitude. The clamor for effective digital strategy has created a new micro-industry of which we are a part: digital strategists for real estate developers and brokerage firms. Sorting through the noise, and harnessing emerging technologies to develop a thorough and creative digital marketing strategy can be a full-time job—literally. The biggest firms hire advisors to guide them through the process, and sometimes execute each individual step.
The key to a successful digital campaign frequently starts with search engine optimization, commonly referred to as SEO. As mentioned above, SEO refers to favorable positioning on search engines—i.e. making it easier for buyers (or renters) to find you.
A successful SEO campaign is based on maintaining a dynamic website with rich, strategic descriptions that are designed to match the queries buyers enter into a search engine. If it sounds simple, it is less so in practice. SEO requires a deft balance of web coding and careful deployment of terminology on-site. But, when implemented properly, it leads to impressive surges in website traffic and, eventually, sales.
For example, a new condominium on the Upper East Side may contain adroitly placed references to “apartments on UES” or “Central Park penthouses”—both in the text of its website and in the site’s invisible coding.
And when international buyers are involved, the equation becomes more complex. The developer may choose to target buyers in their native language, using local idiom. This requires the efforts of translators working in tandem with digital strategists to make sure that, for example, Mandarin or Portuguese speakers can readily find a building when seeking out “condos in Manhattan.”
If SEO is Step One, overseeing a dynamic blog is Step Two. Maintaining a neighborhood blog as part of a website is increasingly important; a prospective buyer cares as much about a newly renovated neighborhood park, or award-winning school district as they do about marble countertops. And blog content also factors strongly into search engine results.
Then there is importance of online advertising for real estate. Paid services, like Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Ads, are yet another way real estate professionals drive traffic to a website. These services allow a unprecedented degree of microtargeting. Marketers can direct advertisements to prospective clients based on their query, and only pay for the people who click through to visit their website.
A search-optimized website, a thoughtful blog, and online advertising work together as a cohesive brand management operation, with constant oversight and tweaking in order to lead to increased traffic. In addition, real estate professionals use online video marketing, mobile apps, and social media platforms to get new buyers in the door.
It may be labor-intensive, but the new wave of real estate marketing is upon us, and we might as well ride it.