I recently interviewed SEO Expert, Julien Brandt, CEO of a successful Digital Agency, Organik SEO, a firm specializing in local search. What got me interested in Julien's perspective is that he has real estate experience. His knowledge about the intersection of Real Estate and Digital Strategy informs his thinking about how Homebuilders can get the best results from their SEO efforts. Here's what he had to say during our interview: Leslie: What would you suggest a Home Builder marketer should expect from their SEO Partner? Julien: What you should NOT expect are immediate results. SEO is a time intensive process that takes a lot of factors into account. Anyone who guarantees top rankings or offers immediate results is not interested in a long-term relationship! People making these claims are often trying to game the system which may create a short-term result and almost certainly have longterm negative effects. A successful partnership should be based on long-term goals and the company should focus on educating you about their process and how you can all work together to accomplish your goals. Make sure to have in-depth conversations with the SEO team to identify the most valuable goals and establish KPI’s to measure them. A good SEO company will create a timeline that incorporates all the moving parts into a meaningful strategy. Leslie: What do you see has the biggest challenges for Home Builders in their SEO efforts? Julien: Some industries are an “immediate need” with a very short sales cycle. As an example, someone looking for a plumber will likely conduct a Google search, call the top result and buy the service. In contrast, the sales cycle for home builders is much more in-depth, typically lasting 12+ months. For this reason there needs to be a well thought out sales and conversion funnel. People in different stages of the sales process are looking to consume different information. It's not simply enough to rank for “new homes” and expect that your prospects are not going to research all other possible options. A solid strategy should focus on having a great website to showcase your product. You should also create great content that can answer questions at every stage of the buying cycle, establish strong “calls to action” that entice people to join your email list or inquire about your product, and build a solid online presence with PR, social media, and great back links. Leslie: What is Pigeon and how can Builders navigate this and other changes that rewrite ranking rules? Julien: Pigeon is a recent and the first Google “local” ranking-centric algorithm update. The industry that was impacted most heavily with this algorithm update was real estate. In the past we had seen a lot of terms like “San Diego real estate” or “homes in San Diego” display local map based results but with this recent update Google no longer displays local results for most real estate related phrases. In addition, builders can no longer use virtual offices/PO Boxes to rank in the local results section of a google result page. Additionally the ranking factors for local are looked at more closely which means citations must be uniform, the “Google My business” page must be claimed, and it needs to be verified and managed appropriately as part of a strategic campaign. The local results are a lot more competitive now, and the ranking factors look more like traditional organic rankings factors than in the past. Leslie: Top 3 DIY tactics Marketing teams can implement to increase in-bound traffic?
- Being active on social media and publishing unique informative and strategic content on your blog can significantly help increase organic traffic and social media traffic.
- Continuing to analyze your existing website traffic will help a great deal. By understanding how people find your site, where they are located, what they are interested in and how they interact with your website you can make ongoing improvements. Refining and improving your overall UX (User experience) will help increase conversions.
- Getting active offline will also reward you online. Activities such as sponsoring little league teams, 5ks and school functions are the best way to naturally earn links to your website - which is ultimately one of the best ways to improve rank, show transparency/credibility and convert more business.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things, just make sure to utilize landing pages and A/B testing.
- Pay-Per-Click can be a great way to get instant traffic to specific pages of your website from people typing in specific keyword phrases. You can then track and analyze this data to make ongoing improvements to your website.
- Make sure to spell out the entire home buying process for searchers. Tell them to fill-out the form or offer a call-to-action, along with offering an explanation of what to expect after they act.
- Don’t expect leads to come through online sources without a funnel to make it as easy as possible to navigate next steps.
- Continuously test and improve your website.