|This article was published on: 12/01/2007|
Maximize Your Marketing Reach ... for Free
Use the Web to expose your listings to a wider audience without spending a dime.
BY MIKE ANTONIAK
If you’ve got a Web site, you’ve likely spent time and money trying to drive more traffic to your site. Maybe you’ve tried different strategies for search engine optimization, which typically focus on clever use of keywords to increase the chances your site will place high in search results.
But there’s an even easier approach. Just give your buyers and sellers what they really want: listings, and lots of them. Make sure you’re marketing your listings on a wide array of Web sites that are popular with consumers, and in turn you’ll get a wide array of visitors linking back to you.
Some sites will charge you a fee to promote your listings, but many of the most popular sites are completely free. So what’s keeping you from adding your listings? Here are four popular and free sites to help you increase your listings’ exposure.
Google is the world’s most popular search engine, and also the place from where many people start their search for real estate. GoogleBase, still in Beta testing, provides the tools and technology for uploading information on any product or service, including property for sale, which then becomes part of Google’s searchable database.
For example, when a user enters “homes Atlanta” in Google, the search results include links to real estate companies in that market. At the top of the page, though, there’s another search bar for focusing on listing information. Refine the search there and listings that have been uploaded to GoogleBase appear in the results.
In populated areas, or where there are enough listings, the results include a Google map mash-up with landmarks linked to listing information, and tools to narrow the featured properties even further. (View an example.)
The company provides specific instructions on using GoogleBase for sales associates, brokers MLSs and IDX providers.
If newspapers in your area are experiencing a decline in classified ad sales, Craigslist could be the culprit. Its minimalist approach — straightforward information, no graphics, and easy site navigation — have made it a popular alternative to advertising in print.
Content is organized first by state and city or region, then by topic of interest, product, or service, including real estate. The Web site is free to use, except for brokered apartment rentals in New York City, which cost $10.
Users can upload listing information and photos into an ad database that constantly builds in chronological order, with the most recently uploaded ads appearing first (For more information on how it works, see the Craigslist help menu). Real estate search results can be restricted somewhat based on criteria like price range, number of bedrooms, and property photos available.
One in the new breed of real estate portals, Trulia aims to be consumers’ best friend in their search for property. Visitors can anonymously search its database for listings in their area, using a variety of search criteria.
That database is only as comprehensive as listings that have been added by sales associates and brokers. When those listings appear in search results, consumers can click through directly to the site of the company or associate who uploaded the property information.
There are other benefits for the real estate professional and consumer. Trulia also features updated information on local sales and demographic trends, right down to the cost per square foot of houses sold in an area. Visitors can search the site for comparable property and what recently sold to get a better idea of the current market.
There are also tools you can incorporate into your Web site, such as listing search results, and some fee-based marketing programs for agents and brokers to better position their listings.
Zillow is as much a promotional tool for yourself and services as well as your listings. Once enrolled for a free account, real estate professionals can use the site to market their own listings, as well as any property for sale in their area. If you upload the information, your profile is linked to that property in search results.
The site also includes several forums where members can demonstrate their expertise about their market area and any aspect of real estate transactions. Members can contribute to Zillow’s wiki-style Real Estate Guide, a growing user-driven encyclopedia of information. They also can choose to respond to questions posed by prospective buyers or sellers about their market area through the site’s Home Q&A forum.
Those are just four options for maximizing your listings’ exposure in real estate searches and capture consumers’ interest and introduce them to your services. All that’s required is a little initiative, and the time it takes to upload the listing information.
Mike Antoniak is a journalist and technology expert with a focus on real estate applications.
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