#156 Mail-Right Show We Discuss SEO (search engine optimization) Part 1
We Dive Deep On How Best An Agent Can Market Themselves in A Local Market With SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
We have a deep dive into what a real estate agent should do connected to having a marketing budget of $1,000 per month, what going to work the quickest and what should also should be done linked to a long term strategy connected to developing a strong local brand.
Here’s A Full Transcription Of Our Conversation
Jonathan Denwood of Mail-Right
Robert Newman of Inboundrem.com
Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the Mail-Right Show. This is episode 156. It’s going to be a discussion between me and my co-host Robert Newman and we’re going to delve into some detail about SEO, Search Engine Optimization and how to apply it to you, the Real Estate Agent. How to make you more visible in your local market and make your website a real lead generative platform. So, this is your bread and butter Robert. This is what you have done for a number of years. How do we start the conversation off for our listeners and viewers Robert?
Robert: Actually, I would like it the same way that you and I started it privately. I would like to say this. Today, Jon, I talked to a Luxury Real Estate Broker who has been in Mexico selling out a very large luxury resort. He finished that project and now he heads back to where he calls home which is a city very near Aspen called Basalt. So, Basalt is an average Real Estate market. It’s a small town up in the mountains and the home prices are about 300,000 to 500,000. Aspen, which is 5 miles down the road is $7 million dollars average and his question to me was, how do I get past the noise and the clutter of all these other Marketing systems that are focused on this really small high-value luxury marketplace?
That’s what he asked me and I just spent 2 and a half hours on the phone with him having that conversation. So, I’d like to kind of kick it off, if you don’t mind, by saying, I think like most Real Estate Agents and Brokers he had a very limited budget. His maximum budget for all Marketing combined was $1,000 a month and that’s at the tip top of his scale, which means that he’s not qualified to use BoomTown. He’s not qualified to use Real Estate Webmasters. He could get into one of the less expensive systems like RealGeeks and Easy Agent Pro or he can build a custom website.
Jonathan: Or Mail-Right?
Robert: Or Mail-Right. But his thing is he needs a lot of immediate lead generation from what is in Real Estate, honestly, for just being truthful about it, a smaller budget because $1,000 a month isn’t much when you want leads right now in a Luxury market and try to close the deal for a $7 million dollar home. Look at the math. It just doesn’t work that way. So, he was asking what’s my solution. So, what I told him and what we just started to discuss, because we’ve had guests on the show recently and I’m just going to go down your Facebook page and read off a couple of them, that have been talking about personal branding. We had Josh Elledge and he was amazing and we had somebody else on the show and I’m really sorry about forgetting their name but we’ve had two shows back to back where these guys were really great at talking about at a very high level.
Jonathan: We had Rick Cesari on last week, didn’t we?
Robert: Rick on, yeah and he was really good too. He had a lot of amazing things to say. What I’d like to talk about this show is making it a little bit more specific and using this analogy, this one client and of course, you chip in but I know in many ways we agree. But what I told him is that the way you get past the noise is your establish a personal brand. You, Jon, do that very well for Mail-Right and your other business as well.
Robert: And you do that through podcasts. Here’s what I believe these podcasts do. They introduce an audience to you personally, Jon. They let you see who you are as a guy because if you listen to enough of these shows, you actually get a measure of your personal character and your knowledge base on the topics that you’re talking about. You have a very inquisitive mind and you ask a lot of great questions. I think that a local Realtor, the advice that I gave this guy, so, his wife is a photography, that’s what she does as a hobby and I told them to leverage Instagram. And then, I sent them to Joyce Rey and Christophe Choo who are two Luxury Brokers here in Beverly Hills in Southern California which is a slightly different marketplace but they both are generating actual leads that convert into revenue for homes that have a value of anywhere between $5 million and $35 million.
So, to put that really succinctly for our audience now find somebody who is an example that is already doing that thing that you want to do. And how do Joyce Rey and Christophe Choo cut through the noise? They establish a really strong personal brand using social media to do it. They talk a lot about themselves and their love of Beverly Hills and luxury and the relationships they have with people who are buying Luxury property. They do things like I’m doing right now. They explain the relationships that they already have with their customers.
Jonathan: Can I remark on what you just said actually?
Robert: Of course.
Jonathan: The one thing I’ve learned by doing this podcast and also doing the things that we discuss through our guests and our conversation Robert is what I’m attempting to apply with Mail-Right and my other business. Yes, folks, I run two businesses. The other business pays the bills and Mail-Right consumes all my money.
Robert: So true.
Jonathan: Yeah. I just let it go now. One day it will pay off. Pretty soon. Now getting to be serious folks. I just lost my train of thought. Let’s get it back. Just focus Jonathan. What we’re trying to apply here is that you’re trying to build a brand but things have just tweeny got a little bit complicated because people like doing business with other people. You’ve got to have a logo and I’ve got the Mail-Right logo. I’ve my other business logo. It’s a company. Both are limited liability companies but people do business with people so they’re going to do business with the founders, the owners. People do business for your company.
I don’t what kind of entity you are. If you’re a limited liability company, they’re not doing business, they’re doing business because they trust you, Robert. They like you. They think you know what you’re talking about and you’re not a bullsh*tter. So they do business. And it’s the same with me. Hopefully, they don’t think I’m a bullsh*tter. I try not to be. I can waffle but I do it because I’m enthusiastic about the things that I’m talking about. That’s the dicey thing because people think, if you’re trying to build a brand in 2018, it’s going to be about you. And if you can’t put yourself out there and put a face to the brand, I think you’ve got problems.
Robert: Yeah. To capitalize on what you’re saying, I agree with you 100 percent. Also, what I’m trying to say is that I think that part of the way you cut through the noise is you use your authentic voice to do so. Gary Vaynerchuk and a lot of other people that I respect and admire inside the social media marketing space have all said basically, you know all that social media does, it allows us to speak with our authentic voice.
Jonathan: I’ve got a lot of respect for the old Vaynerchuk. When he was establishing his online wine business and when he really, through that great success, through his own sweat equity, he really got a voice in social media. The modern-day Vaynerchuk, I think some of what he talks about is just bullsh*t really Robert, to be quite truthful about it. But that’s my personal take on it.
Robert: Yeah. No, that’s fair. And the dude’s running a 500 person Marketing Agency and he’s become more like a motivational speaker at a very high level. So I get what you’re saying but I don’t want to get lost on that tangent. All I was saying is this, is that what he did, whether you like it or not, it’s doable and we can do it in Real Estate and that’s what Real Estate Agents should be doing to cut through the noise and this is the advice that, I’m going to boil a 3 hour conversation hopefully, into what will be 2 minutes. One, I told my client to figure out what they love doing, what they love about Basalt and what they love about Aspen. And then, two, take pictures and video of them doing it and then talk a lot about the lifestyle. I asked them questions. Why do people move there? And they had a huge, passionate response. They love hiking and they love going to the polo club. And I’m like, “What you’re saying to me, you need to figure out a way to say that on social media. And right now, because of your limited budget,” one of the things that makes me tear my hair out, don’t wait for tomorrow what you could do today in terms of your marketing. Start right now. Today. If you hear this podcast, you hear my voice, do not wait until next week. It takes 60 seconds to pick up your mobile phone and talk about something you’re passionate about.
Jonathan: You need to get on with it today and tomorrow really. You need to plan things out. If you don’t start with that first step, nothing’s going to happen. I won’t say I disagree with what you’ve just said. The other thing I think is really crucial is you had this conversation, he’s passionate when you asked him why he likes to live in that area. He’s also got to put his mind into what his clients want, his potential clients.
Jonathan: And I have been guilty of this. But I’m an old dog now and I have learned new tricks. And basically, you’ve really, really got to understand what is your target audience, have you got a target audience? If you haven’t got a target audience in this market where there’s so many voices out there, it’s going to be hard work for you. If you’ve got a target audience, a niche, a target audience is going to be a lot easier for you. What are their drivers? What are their wants? What are their pain points?
Jonathan: Can you offer a solution?
Robert: That was the second thing that I mentioned to him and maybe it should be first. To put that into professional Marketing parlance which, by the way, to our audience, I am self-taught. I’m not a pedigree Marketing person. I’ve learned everything the hard way which is through sweat and tears. But the technical detail of what you’re saying is you need to figure out the persona of your prospective client and that’s the very next thing that I mentioned to them. And there’s a different persona for Basalt and a different persona for Aspen which is what makes that very confusing for somebody like them whose literally 5 miles away from 2 incredibly different Real Estate marketplaces.
Jonathan: Two totally different markets though, isn’t it?
Robert: Right. Massively different and that’s, I think, where a lot of our audience gets lost because they’re listening and they’re going, “All right guys. Yeah, we’re with you.” Like persona. But what do I do when one persona’s here and this guy has a reputation. He knows everybody in Basalt but he doesn’t know everybody in Aspen, even though it is just 5 miles down the road.
Jonathan: Also, it’s not a problem because in his local market, he could use face to face Marketing. He could use the Buffini methodology quite effectively. [coughs] Sorry.
Robert: That’s okay. So, my co-host is dying everybody.
Jonathan: For the larger market which is going to be web-based, he can have a totally different Marketing strategy, couldn’t he?
Robert: Oh, he could, he could. And honestly, the same strategy applies for both areas. He developed a persona and he felt like he had that dialed in for Basalt but he didn’t have it dialed in for Aspen. And so, part of the homework that I gave him at the end of the call was go talk to the people that you know because he’s lived there for many, many, many years. So, actually, driving 5 miles down the road or talking to other people that he knows in Real Estate, is just something he hasn’t done. It’s not something he couldn’t do. He has the connections already. He just needs to talk to them and say, “Who is the average person and what do they talk to you about when they’re getting ready to buy a $7 million home in Aspen? Who is that? Is that a CEO, an innovative entrepreneur or celebrity, a little bit of all those things?
And if so, what’s the common thread that connects the persona?” In other words, do all of these people have a similar reason for wanting to by some property in Aspen. And if the answer is yes, you then connect that to what your personal passions are and you start talking about those things so that you can connect into those personas. And then, the last piece, Jon, before you immediately tell everybody what the last piece is before I get a chance to, is you find out where those people are. So, let’s say your persona is a CEO. Where do CEOs reside on the Internet? Because they’re there somewhere.
And the answer, of course, is LinkedIn. That’s where they are. So now you have the persona. You have part of your messaging figured out and you’ve got where the people reside. So now you know my CEOs are on LinkedIn. I know these are the things they are interested in. So what’s the final step? You produce the content and you create a LinkedIn profile and you go to groups where maybe the person that has your persona resides such as where do CEOs go. I can tell you were they go in Real Estate. I’m in a Mastermind with some of the top names in Real Estate. And what do we talk about? We talk about technology and how it’s impacting the industry. And so, there are places and groups, I promise you, where these top-flight executives exist because they need to go someplace to keep their edge. You just have to figure out where that is, develop a similar edge and get access to that group and then subtly start to talk about, again, it just hits all the points of your personal messaging. Like I always talk to people about Marketing and SEO and I’m evangelical all the time about owning your own website. You are too. That’s our messaging though because then people ask us questions about our companies because we’re passionate about our message and it connects into our audience. So that’s the advice I gave this Realtor in Basalt and Aspen.
Jonathan: I think that’s great. We need to go for our break Robert and we’ll be back and we’ll be continuing this great discussion. We’ll be back in a few moments folks.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back. We’re delving into some of the fundamentals of SEO but we’re really starting from the ground up because if you don’t get these fundamentals, you can do all the other stuff and it just won’t work out.
Jonathan: So, on we go Robert. What’s the next stage? You have the persona, the brand.
Robert: Finally, so what we’re really talking about, just to separate it for our audience and I am going to, not correct you but just add an element to the conversation which is we’re really talking about content marketing right now. That’s developing a content message. Now, SEO is building a platform, a destination where that goes and that’s where SEO, Search Engine Optimization starts to come in because you really need a website to even have the conversation about Search Engine Optimization. So, everything we’re talking about you can do on Instagram. You don’t need a website. You don’t need SEO.
It’s just content marketing. But now, let’s just say that you want a single focal point for all, because you can post the same piece of content on Facebook, on Instagram, 100 different places but let’s say you want to drive all those people to a single destination and then convert them into a name and number that you can use. That’s where SEO comes in. That’s when you build a website and you own the website, which is what we’ve talked about. But I prefer and would suggest to everybody that you be in the habit of developing good content and understanding who the persona of the person is that you’re trying to attract, which now makes building a website and doing keyword optimization and all the stuff that impacts SEO.
Jonathan: There’s even hybrids, isn’t there? Because fundamentally, I was talking one, you might not agree with this, well, I don’t know. It’s a hybrid solution. With the Mail-Right, we offer some WordPress websites. We offer two levels and then we use paid traffic to drive people to those sites, right? It’s a classical model. Your model’s different. You build custom websites and you help your clients with content that ranks. Well, I’m talking to one client. They’ve got a great blog on WordPress. They want to use my system. I’m talking to them on Friday. Hopefully, they’re going to sign up. We’re going to have our site with a search, with our leads and we’re just going to add a link to their blog because they’re getting good traffic to their blog and they’ve actually got some decent content. And I said, “You continue with that.” And they host that themselves with a hosting company and it’s a great blog. So that’s a possibility, isn’t it?
Robert: Yeah. Once you have good content, you can absolutely, there’s many, many, many, many ways to drive traffic. The way that I get evangelical about what I’m known for is the organic method, the inbound method where you kind of wait a long time and you get ranked in Google and you drive traffic that way. But honestly, you can pay traffic and send it to content that you’ve got already.
Jonathan: What I wouldn’t go and you agree with this and I agree with you is I wouldn’t rent a site off somebody and spend a load of time building great content on somebody else’s lease. If I’m going to do that, I want to own it.
Robert: Right. I agree. I agree passionately and I’m going to leave it at that because I’ve said this so many times. You’ve said it so many times. But no, no way. Why would you create something that you own, the only examples of that where you should put your content on sites is social media sites like Facebook because you don’t own those sites but you can re purpose the same content. Whereas, when you put it on a website and using it for SEO, you can’t really re purpose it a whole a bunch of different times. You have to leave it there. And since you have these restrictions, look at me, I’m gone off the question.
Jonathan: It’s all my fault. I apologize.
Robert: I’m off to the races. I can’t stop myself.
Jonathan: It’s all my fault.
Robert: I can’t stop myself. Anyway, I do agree. Own your site if you’re going to build great content. There’s no doubt about that. And then, the next things are promoting that content can absolutely mean what you said, the hybrid method, paying to get some traffic to it and then also waiting for the search engines to kick in and recognize it. I have no problems with that. So I do agree with what you have. I agree with any method that’s going to give a good return for the value to a Real Estate Agent for their advertising dollars. The reason that I so constantly hammer home organic and SEO is I am in the unbelievably blessed position that I even have access to one of the top Realtors like marketing data in Tallahassee and he has just done a year long analysis. And he uses everything, Zillow, Trulia. He has four websites. The amount of Marketing he has is insane. But guess what gives him the best return for the investment by miles? Not even a close comparison. SEO. The return on value.
Jonathan: If can get it set up, if you can look to the medium long-term and you’ve got enough money to allow you to do that, the return you’re going to get from what Robert’s just said is going to be mind-bending return but not for 1 month, not for 6 months, for year after year after year, the return, those who can keep it up.
Robert: And the added because I’ve got to throw this in because people don’t realize this. Like if this client was able to sell his website, he would be able to sell it, the website, not the business, just the website, you would be able to sell it for probably $1 million or $2 million. So he would get back every dollar he ever spent times 10. So SEO is the only thing that we can talk about where it’s an investment, it’s not an expense. Done right, done long enough term, yes, it’s an expense up front but long-term, during the scope of the business, it’s just the same thing as building a house versus renting a room. You build a house. You do improvements. You change the pool. You improve the kitchen. You do all these things. But guess what? And yeah, it’s horribly expensive when you’re doing those things and you have problems with the contractors and goes sideways and everything’s wrong. But when you sell the house, you get $250,000 extra that you wouldn’t have gotten if you didn’t make all those improvements and go through all those things.
Jonathan: So let’s back to Aspen and let’s get back to this example. So, we’ve agreed he’s local market. He’s okay staying with the Buffini methodology, as I call it. But Aspen, what can he do tomorrow to start getting, let’s say he’s got a website and he wants to get people that are looking at Aspen.
Robert: One, he doesn’t have a website. But what he can start doing tomorrow and what I told him to do today is he can copy Joyce Rey’s Instagram strategy. She’s one of the legends in Luxury Real Estate. She was the first woman in history to sell over $100 million in Residential Real Estate ever and she did that back in the 70s. So she is legendary and she is on Instagram marketing properties on Instagram. So what do you do today? You copy her. You look at her content. You see how she’s hashtagging,
what she’s taking pictures of, what she’s posting and when is she posting it in relation, like a week in front of an open house. You look at everything she’s doing and you calculate it and then you just copy it. And yes, you can do that today. Right now, ahead of the Aspen market. And do you know what the funny thing is I love about Real Estate? This guy does not need to have the listing. You can find any listing that’s available right now in Aspen, go with a camera because he’s a licensed Agent, he has access to the property. He can then film the property and copy the content, do it all legitimately and then immediately, like today, tomorrow, he has a Marketing strategy for a $7 million property. So that’s what I told them to do and that’s what I would do.
Jonathan: The two hottest properties at the present moment, I feel if you’re going to do the things that Robert is Instagram and YouTube. They are growing networks. People love Instagram and they freaking love YouTube videos of houses in Aspen. They would just gobble it up, won’t they?
Robert: Oh good Lord, yes. And you know what? The traffic increases the ranking of the videos so it doesn’t matter than 99 percent of these people are not buyers. It doesn’t matter at all. You’re creating something that people want to see which then makes YouTube rank those videos higher which increases the traffic, which increases your audience, which get you a better and better chance to get in front of that one person that does have $7 million and the desire to buy a house in Aspen. And because you’ve positioned yourself as somebody doing a good piece of content who is passionate about the area, you at least get the introduction and that’s all that we as marketers can hope for.
Jonathan: If you can’t afford to a really great website, what about getting a blog up and what’s the difference between a blog and the kind of websites that you probably build for clients. How can you describe it to our listeners really?
Robert: So you touched on a couple points. You can go to a website called ThemeForest. Buy a Real Estate theme that has a blog connected to it and set it up and get it online in about 6 or 7 hours. Maybe.
Jonathan: If you’ve got some experience with it.
Robert: Okay. So maybe I’m over embellishing. But you can do it in X amount of time.
Jonathan: Because you’re experienced.
Robert: Right. But you could do it. Even if you had to hire somebody, you could probably hire somebody for a couple hundred bucks. They won’t do a great job but get it set up. Get it online. Let’s just agree that you could probably do it for $300 in week.
Jonathan: I think you could get somebody to knock something up, get it up for $500 that probably knows what they’re doing.
Robert: Okay. $500, whatever it is. So, the answer is one, you could do that and now you’re hosting the site, you put content on the website. That’s one option. You could go to BlogSpot, the Google blogging platform which is still around, and start a blog right away. I don’t know that I would recommend it.
Jonathan: I wouldn’t.
Robert: You can also go to WordPress.org which is also free blogs and do that immediately. I would probably say that there’s a space for that though it’s not as good by far as owning your own WordPress site but you could do it and it is plug and play. You could get it up immediately. You can do the same thing with Squarespace and a number of other inexpensive areas.
Jonathan: To be quite honest, I would get a blog site up on Squarespace.
Robert: There you go.
Jonathan: But I wouldn’t build my full website on that. You’re leasing off somebody again. I would do it on my own hosting and I would look at WordPress. But if I was doing a blog, to get something up quick that looked professional, that first step, I would look at Squarespace.
Robert: I would look at Squarespace or Wix. Two systems that I would use. Now, Wix isn’t as good.
Jonathan: I’m not a great fan of Wix. I prefer Squarespace.
Robert: Right. I feel like you could do it slightly more visually, slightly easier with Wix but it’s not as good for SEO. That’s what I would say. But you know what? If we’re having the conversation about somebody going down and dirty already, they’re not SEO experts. A guy like me and a guy like you, we’re not going to cut that particular corner because we understand.
Jonathan: I’m no SEO, you’re the SEO expert.
Robert: You know enough to say, “Hey. I’m not going to cut that corner.” You know that much. That would be my answer, those inexpensive solutions and then I would start publishing content.
Jonathan: People pay you money and you get results. They pay me Facebook results.
Robert: Very similar to you, I’m blessed that they do because if they didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do this podcast with you. My clients are paying me to have this chat. As you’ve pointed out, so, you said something earlier and I do want to touch base on this, to be a true expert inside the technology space, because Jon and I were talking earlier and he was saying to me, “No offense Robert but SEO is really not that complicated.” And I agree with him. It’s not. But there is a very long list of things that you need to do and it is a long list.
Jonathan: And it’s a changing list, isn’t it?
Robert: You’re right. And it’s a changing list. And when you start saying, “Well, how long did it take you to get relatively comfortable with that list?” The honest answer, no bullsh*t to anybody, is 7 years. So, 7 years of doing and talking about it daily, focusing mostly on Real Estate, not entirely but mostly. Yeah, it took a long time because it gave me a historical reference for all the changes that Google does make and the core set of changes that they don’t seem to touch all that often, which then allows me to focus on what I feel like is the most important thing.
Jonathan: Robert, I’ve worked with loads of SEO people. I’ve got another friend that really knows his SEO. He joins me on another podcast occasionally. He knows his stuff and you definitely know your stuff. I’ve worked with loads of people that said they knew SEO. They didn’t. They had no freaking clue because you can have all the principles folks but actually doing A, B and then getting a result of some kind is a totally different ball game, isn’t it?
Robert: Yes, it is.
Jonathan: It’s totally different.
Robert: But my advice, which is why guys or everybody or people who may or may not be listening, it could just be me and you talking to ourselves right now and forever forward, I will say this. This reason that I keep saying this and you keep saying it and everybody keeps saying it. You know what you don’t need a lot of expertise for, is just creating a good message and putting it online somewhere, doing a post or doing a video. Because if you create a lot of stuff with a really good message, honestly, at some point, you might have enough money to hire somebody to give you some consulting. And when that happens, what guys like me look for, what we’re going to look at first is how good is your content. And if the content is great and all I’ve got to do is make a few technical changes or whatever to get Google to receive the content differently, that’s the easier SEO puzzle in the world. So, what should you be doing guys? Because we’re probably going to close here soon. You should be figuring out how to produce great content that cuts through the noise, that circles back around to the way we open the dialogue. That’s how you’re going to do it. Create your messaging. Figure out who your clients are, figure out what their interests are, figure out if you personally things that you’re passionate about that match their interests and then talk about those things.
Jonathan: Well, let’s wrap it up because fundamentally, what Robert’s just said, he can use all his skills but he’s not a magician. If there’s no real meat, real content that your target audience would be interested in, he’s not a magician. He can’t do magic. If those fundamentals aren’t there, he can’t help you really. So, let’s wrap it up. We’re going to have some more of these internal discussions. The half-hour just flew by, didn’t it?
Jonathan: Me waffling. You trying to get back on point Robert. But there we go. Hopefully, our listeners know us now. The audience is growing. I looked at the figures. Somebody’s listening to us. The figures are growing. Everything’s great and we’ll see you next week folks where we’ll have either an expert or we’ll be discussing some of the basic online principles to develop your Real Estate business and for you to be a great success. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.
Robert: Bye guys.