#157 Mail-Right Show SEO (search engine optimization) Part 2
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In this episode we go further on why you the real estate agent should care about SEO (search engine optimization) and why so many real estate agent’s website are so bad in this particular area. Robert gives some great examples connected to websites that are really working connected to getting quality leads. We also discuss is it really important to have a good quality property search on your website powered by IDX and choice that you need to make connected to having this property search freely available or have it semi locked down login gate?
Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the Mail-Right Show. This is episode 157. It’s going to be another discussion between me and my co-host, Robert Newman. It’s basically going to be part 2 of our conversation around SEO, Search Engine Optimization. Robert?
Jonathan: I’m going to just hand it over to you. Where do you want to go with this conversation Robert?
Robert: Actually, yesterday, we talked a little bit about content development. But before we dive anymore into SEO, there’s actually something that I really do want to talk about a lot which is what should you have happening before you tackle SEO? So, search engine optimization is a long-term endeavor, Jon. It takes a while. So, if you’re going to be successful at it, whether you hire somebody like me or you go and you decide to be a blogger and attempt it, it is incredibly likely and reasonable to say it’s going to be 6 months to a year before you generate any leads off your (search engine optimization) efforts and that is a conservative estimate, not an aggressive estimate. So, what should you have in place before you tackle SEO?
So I’m going to tick off a few things. Number 1. You should probably have been in Real Estate for a couple of years unless you have previous ownership experience. And then number 2. You should have a per-existing lead generation system in place already. SEO is a great replacement for existing Digital Marketing expenditures that you want to lessen or increase the value of the dollars that you’re spending. But if you don’t have any Digital Marketing in place, you need something to be creating consistent revenue for you before you tackle search engine optimization, in my opinion.
This is all just my opinion. And then, last but not least, you should have a very strong passion and opinion about your Real Estate career. If you’re a maybe as to whether or not you’re going to be in Real Estate for the next 3 to 5 years, you should not be considering search engine optimation and owning your own website, that’s negligible. I just want to throw those things out there because we talk about this stuff all the time when we put advice out there saying like, I feel like sometimes we sound like, “Oh, everybody should be doing this,” and it’s not true. Not everybody should be doing it.
There are a huge amount of Real Estate professionals that probably shouldn’t be doing SEO. But let’s just say for a moment that you qualify in every category that I just said. That you’re going to be in Real Estate, you do have some lead generation in place and now you want to take your Marketing to the next level. At that point, yes, I am resoundingly, evangelically here to say the next step is search engine optimization and now, as we started to talk yesterday, what does that entail? Well, first things first. It doesn’t make sense to build amazing content unless you own the website. Something you and I have almost beaten the drum into the ground with. But I do want to say this in a different way for our audience today. I want to say it in a slightly different way. This an analogy that, quite frankly, I use on the phone all the time and it works very well for Real Estate.
So when you’ve got a client that is building a home to move their family into and their intention is to raise two small children from Middle school to High school and then their financial plan says that they’re going to move out of that house at some point, your advice to them as a Real Estate investor and a professional is going to be, buy a home, make as many improvements on it as you possibly can, build up the value of the home and let the market value do the rest for you. SEO is completely and totally identical to this scenario I just said. You want to buy a website, build up your own value on it, whatever that is, creating videos, putting on content, hiring a guy like me, hiring a guy like you, it doesn’t matter, doing social media stuff that connects back into your site.
That’s when you want to do it. That’s the foundation of a good, like that person should be considering SEO or that Brokerage, like medium size and large Brokers. If they’re not doing SEO, I would question their sanity. Anybody that’s got a large Real Estate team that’s in it to win it and they’re not owning their own website along with maybe their BoomTown and their lead generation sites, that’s craziness. You’re throwing away money as you’re running your Brokerage. So those are my things about SEO.
So, now let’s just say, pretend for a moment because you propositioned this when we started the conversation. You said, “Robert, I’m a new client. I’m coming to you. What is the advice you’d give me?” So, first and foremost, it’s build a website specifically on WordPress.
I want to cover why though because we do mention these things often. But I want to give my take on why you build on WordPress. 28 percent of the websites in the world are built WordPress right now. That’s a huge number. Far larger than any other platform and there’s many that we could talk about, Wix, Squarespace or Square, sorry and the list goes on and on and on. The truth is that WordPress is one of the only platforms that number 1, has turned down many offers to sell out to larger conglomerates. The audience has to take my word for that. I know you know that. And then, number 2, because of the solidity of the platform and the founder’s dedication to the open source environment, there’s a larger development community by miles for WordPress. Now, what does that mean in layman’s terms to a Real Estate Agent?
That means there’s more guys out there, entrepreneurs and coders, trying to figure out little widgets and things to make that are going to make your website better than any other platform. Many of these guys who are trying to break into the development industry are forced to do this work for free while they build their reputation. In other words, they build something called a plugin and in many cases, they don’t even charge you for it. They allow you free functionality on your website. Now, everywhere else you go including all these guys that are trying to sell you websites like Real Estate Webmasters, Real Geeks, they recover their development costs for new add-ons by charging that money directly to you. Only in WordPress do you have the chance to take advantage of free development that’s being done by just a massive community of developers.
Another thing about WordPress is the work that’s already been done. The stuff that we can do with WordPress. You can come to me and almost ask me anything. It’s incredible what the options are. We can turn it into an E-Commerce site. We do pop-ups. We do content magnets which is where you acquire somebody to give you their information and then you send them like a Digital Marketing asset and the list goes on and on and on and on. We can do digital display ads. All of that’s possible with WordPress.
That is the only platform that has that much functionality. Now, most of the Real Estate world will not need everything that I’ve just described. As a matter of fact, the vast majority won’t need a single element of it but every once in a while, you’re going to come across somebody who’s making big moves inside Real Estate and they do need to pivot often and at that point, WordPress is the only place that they should be. So build a Real Estate website on WordPress. That would be my second piece of advice Jon and making sure that you should be doing it to start with, like really give that a lot of thought because, again, the SEO road, it is an investment of time and money.
Jonathan: I’ve got a question.
Jonathan: But be direct, well, you’re normally are direct Robert but be totally direct if you want to leave it to the second half or you think it will send us in the wrong direction, right?
Jonathan: All the things we’ve talked about, you know, evergreen content, making sure you’ve got community-based content, all the things we’ve discussed over the weeks Robert, when it comes to a Real Estate website, how important is search? How important is having your MLS data on that website, utilizing IDX, how important is the quality of search around that connected to the success of a particular website?
Robert: Well, that is a somewhat tricky question because the answer is subjective.
Jonathan: Is it an answer that you want to answer now or do you want to leave it to the second part of the show, Robert?
Robert: We can answer it in the second part of the show but I want to break format for those people that are watching on video and I want to show a good search experience. For those people listening to the show, you can go to Phoenix Condo Mania and I’m just going to look it up on my own screen here and make sure that I’ve got.
Jonathan: We do show this on our YouTube channel folks and on the Mail-Right website. So, if you want to see this, go to either of those and I’ll make sure it’s in the show notes.
Robert: So, Phoenix Condo Mania is actually a website that’s been developed or the information that I’ve been given is that this website has been developed by a couple Google Engineers.
Jonathan: You need to share your screen with us, Robert.
Robert: Can you see it?
Robert: Okay. So this site is developed by a couple of Google Engineers and here’s what I find fascinating about it. The people that developed this site have made what’s called the Custom IDX feed. They’ve made their own. But instead of complicating the feed or trying to provide all the data like Trulia and Zillow did, they simplified the feed and they just simply did a whole bunch of, what I would refer to as, quick searches, condos, city, area. They took away all the graphics, all of them. There’s nothing pretty about this site at all and they turned this site basically into a data portal site and again, the reports that I have to say that this site has an amazing conversion rate. In other words, we’re looking at a site that feeds probably 20 salespeople leads which means they’re generating hundreds of leads off this site which is what I think that many people, in terms of Real Estate, but I think the more important thing that that says, I think it says that people are overwhelmed with the search experiences that we’ve been trying to build for them for years.
I think the simplicity of a simple thing that’s nothing but menus and lists and then listings, I think that a lot of sites used to look like this and I don’t think very many do anymore and I think that the simplicity of the site is refreshing to the people using the site and I think that they respond to it. I think that they trust the site because the information is easy to find and back in the day, because this type of visuals or these graphics were so outdated, you wouldn’t be seeing a site like this provide a big return. This site probably gets about 10,000 people to it and it’s doing a 3 percent conversion rate at least. So that means that 3 percent of the visitors convert to leads. It’s an amazing example of something that’s working right now today and what’s more, it’s working so well that these Brokers have had a chance to build sites like this all over the country and it’s exactly the same site. There’s nothing different about it. It’s the same template, every single area, 100 percent the same with the same results.
Jonathan: Can you repeat the URL again?
Robert: Sure. Well, there’s 20 of them but the one that I started with, which is the home site is Phoenix Condo Mania and the one that we’re looking at right now is Austin Condo Mania.
Jonathan: And to kind of recap before we go for our break Robert is that you’re saying that when it comes to search is that your feeling is a lot of people are over complicating it and it’s become, you know, design is important but there’s a balance between usability and design considerations and you think that maybe it’s swung too much on the side of design and the actual look rather than functionality. Would that be fair Robert?
Robert: That would be fair. So, another thing and let’s go on the break because I want to add something to this.
Jonathan: Yeah. We need to go for our break folks and when we come back, we’ll be delving more into this. Be back in a few moments folks.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back. Hopefully, I haven’t kind of thrown another spanner in the works as I did last week a little bit but it’s something I wanted to ask Robert about how important search is. Obviously, you’re a Real Estate Agent. When people come to your website, they will expect to be able to find houses are see the latest, what’s on the market at the present moment. Another thing around this and tell me if I’m kind of guiding this but it’s another thing I wanted to ask you, Robert. You get a lot of these kind of in the can website solutions and you do one search and then you’ve got to give them some information, you’ve got to give them your email address or you’ve got to click a button and it uses your Facebook details or your Google details to be able. So, basically, they’ve got a gate on the search. You get one free search and then if you want to use the Agent’s website and they use that to gather leads. You go to other websites that have no gate. They might have a pop-up that’s got a lead magnet but they don’t lock the search. Have you got any kind of which way you think is best or do both work in different ways?
Robert: Well, they both work in different ways but first, I’m going to circle back around and continue on the train of conversation that we had before the break and the final thought that I have is this.
Jonathan: That’s Robert being very nice and saying that I’m going off topic. There we go Robert, off you go.
Robert: I’m going to say that, so, user experience is widely believed, at this point in the SEO world, to be 30 percent of the metrics that Google is using to evaluate the quality of a website and the quality of the answers that you’re providing for the questions that people are asking. I believe that the user experience on these condominium sites is extremely high. They’re niche sites. They have information only pertaining to a certain city and condominiums. The information is served up very well, very fast, in a very easy way. I think this site’s 10 times better if you’re looking for condos over houses and I think that’s why this particular vertical of site is so successful. So quality of search in some circumstances is extraordinarily important. However, in some other circumstances, where you just simply have no choice but to wade in, like if you’re not a vertical like player, if you don’t have an extremely specific niche that you’re trying to focus on, if you’re forced to go up against the big website, then, actually, I don’t think that the quality of the search experience is all that important.
It’s going to be the information that you provide that surrounds the search experience. So, really it just depends. You have two separate circumstances, one in which search experience would be very important and another in which your information experience is going to be very important. So that’s my answer to the first part of our question. Now, the answer to the second one which you just asked, do I feel like gateway works or doesn’t it work? Well, this site right here is not using a gateway.
Robert: They are just allowing you to request information. Most of the time, we don’t have that luxury. Most of the time inside Real Estate, on most of my client’s websites, I do have to request that users register with the site.
Jonathan: If you don’t want to, for those that are watching this on the Mail-Right site or YouTube channel, do you want to show one of your websites?
Robert: Sure. I was just about ready to show one of my older ones. I might as well do one of my slightly newer ones. Oh no, I don’t want to do this one. See, you’ve got me like in creative quandaries because then it becomes, I’ve built like 30 sites recently and it becomes which one do I want to show. But anyway, here’s a standard one. It’s in Oklahoma. We’ve got the map on the homepage but here’s what’s really important. We’ve got gateway requests early on in the search process which is what we’re talking about. The reason that we have them early on in the process, bang, that’s a gateway, is because this particular customer was using this site for PPC and if you’re going to use this site for PPC, your gateway needs to be
Jonathan: Can you just quickly explain to the listeners and viewers what PPC is?
Robert: PPC is pay per click. It’s a type of Google advertising and we’re going to drive somebody to a landing page.
Jonathan: It’s paid advertising.
Robert: Paid advertising. Correct.
Jonathan: They’re using money to get traffic to their website folks and then like I say, if you want to do searches on the website, there’s a gateway that gets information from you.
Robert: Right. Sorry, go ahead.
Jonathan: And Robert’s going through is this, it’s a very nice layout actually. If you go to the Mail-Right website with all the show notes, you’ll be able to see this folks and it’s got local areas, it gives you local information and yeah, it’s really nice. A lot of work though.
Robert: Here’s the thing that I want to point out and thank you, Jon, I really appreciate that. I am never happy with my own product, very similar to anybody that’s building anything that has like an artistic mindset, we’re in the process of improving them. It’s a good site. It’s clean. It will load fast. It does all the things it’s supposed to do. It is starting to rank in search.
Jonathan: You’ve just touched something that been discussed. There’s an article on it. I forgot where the article is, unfortunately. It will be in the show notes folks. In the Web Development world folks, there was an article that’s caused a lot of discussion that went out a couple of weeks ago and it just said, Internet speed, you know, your smartphone has got a lot quicker, the Internet and your laptop, your desktop, it’s all quicker. If you go to a lot of websites, it’s like going to trickle. They’re dead slow and that’s because you’ve got a lot more. You’ve got video. You’ve got pop-ups. You’ve got all sorts of stuff, tracking, code on the website. Just a load of stuff on a lot of websites. Basically, the user experience is very frustrating because they’re dead slow and they’re definitely dead slow on mobile and this article has caused a lot of discussion. Would you agree with that? The actual user experience on a lot of websites and on a lot of Real Estate websites when it comes to speed isn’t’ satisfactory, is it?
Robert: I do agree. What we should do Jon is one of our internal shows because what you just touched on is a vast topic.
Robert: So Google is doing mobile-first SEO now which just means that they look at the mobile experience before they look at the experience on desktops because more traffic is using the Web on mobile devices than not. And so, Google, because they’re a good technology company, simply switched over to saying, what is the search experience on the mobile phone first? Which means that if you have a slow site or a big site or a site that doesn’t translate well, you’re hurting your search engine optimization and the concept of how much is still up for debate but there is no doubt, none, that you’re hurting it. And one of the things that Google has done is released AMP pages which I use for my clients which is Accelerated Mobile Pages.
They ask your mission to create a saved version of a page that they serve up only on mobile devices called an AMP page. If you give it, in theory, these pages get served up. I want to close this chapter and save it for an entire show but here’s what I want to leave with. When I did this, the data that I was being given from Google is they said, “Oh, this should affect 2 percent of your search.” So, really, it’s just like, I was thinking to myself, “Oh, this is just for techno files but I’m going to do it anyway.” So, I did it on my site and I’ve discovered that my AMP pages are now accounting for close to 30 percent of my mobile traffic. So the number that Google gave was wildly inaccurate, wildly inaccurate. So, AMP pages can affect your mobile search a lot which probably affects your SEO as a whole.
Jonathan: As a broad tip, I’ll see if you agree with this before we wrap up the show, is that people tend, clients, people, in general, tend to get obsessed with the desktop, how it looks on a desktop. When you build a site and the client sees it the first time, they tend to see it on a desktop and they want that moved, they want that slight change, blah, blah, blah. They really shouldn’t care. It’s really fundamental, well, have some care but what I really mean, in my rough way, is you want to look at it on a mobile device and really concentrate on how it works on a mobile device because a lot of the people that come to your website, as a Real Estate Agent, are going to be using mobile. Would you agree with that Robert?
Robert: I would agree. I would. Yes.
Jonathan: Just to wrap up Robert. Obviously, I don’t know. Are most of your sites that you’re doing with clients now, are they HTTPS now?
Robert: All of them.
Jonathan: All of them. That’s a tip. If you’re running your website yourself folks or you’ve got one of these platforms is that Google recently, if you’re using Chrome, at the beginning of your URL address to your website, it will normally be HTTP. There’s what is called Secure Socket Layer Certificate and that turns the address to HTTPS. And you know when you go to an E-Commerce website, you normally see that little green folks, that means that when you order something and you put your credit card details in, it’s all been transferred, it’s been encrypted and sent over the Internet securely. Well, Google wants all data to be secure. It stops spammer sites. It makes it much harder for spoof websites to some extent. So, in July, if you go to Chrome and your website isn’t HTTPS, it comes up with a little warning in the URL bar and you think, “Why bother really?” But in October, the warning is going to be a lot more ugly. It’s basically going to be in the whole browser and it’s going to basically say that your website is not secure and Google’s going to advise people not to go to your website. So you really need to get this sorted out in the next couple of months. Would you agree with that Robert?
Robert: I would.
Jonathan: Right. I just thought I would give that little thing to our listeners and viewers because we’ve been doing that on my other business, sorting all that out for clients. So, we’re going to wrap it up. It’s amazing where the time goes really, doesn’t it Robert?
Robert: Yeah. It really does fly by.
Jonathan: How can people get a hold of you and learn more about what you’re up to Robert?
Robert: If any my listeners really do pay attention to this part of the show, guys, I post this content that we’re doing in the University section of my website. The content that’s not related to the show is under the Blog of my website. I also have close to 100 videos posted in my YouTube channel that have nothing to do with this podcast. So, if you really want to learn something about SEO or Real Estate Marketing or more importantly, the companies that I’ve reviewed inside those spaces, please check out my YouTube channel. It’s probably the best and that’s just under InboundREM or you can just go to InboundREM.com and figure it out from there.
Jonathan: And if you want to learn more about Mail-Right and what we do, go to the Mail-Right website. We’ve got a platform that generates leads for you. It’s a fantastic platform. It uses Facebook advertising to generate leads there but it’s a whole solution. And if you want to find more, you can book a 30-minute consultation with me on the website and we can have a chat and I can show you how it works personally and I think it’s a great product. And we’ll be back next week folks. I think we’ve got a guest next week and it’s going to be a great show. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.