#297 Mail-Right Show: SEO Aimed At The Real Estate Agent
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We Discuss The Basic Principles Connected To SEO Aimed at The Real Estate Industry
in this episode we do a deep dive into SEO (search engine optimization) aimed a the real estate industry. You won’t find this type of deep information on SEO that will really help you the real estate agents increase the effectiveness of your website. Basically, if nobody can find your website what is the point of having one!
Here’s The Show Notes
Robert Newman: Welcome back ladies, gentlemen, to episode number 297, Jonathan Denwood and I are going to be talking about, SEO today. And actually, Jonathan is going to lead the meeting. He’s going to ask me some questions about how I set up client websites and basically get everybody ready to perform in search engine optimization, which is a very big topic. But John and I were searching around for stuff to talk about, and this is actually a, with a little bit of John’s guidance. This is what we settled on, but before we get into it let’s introduce John and, yeah, let’s do that.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, sure. Thanks, Robert. You know, I just thought it’d be a great subject because, you know, you talk about your company inbound marketing, you know, but what is inbound marketing and precisely, how do you link inbound marketing to what you do for a client around SEO? you know, kind of feeling- I’ve just lost the metaphor. we’re going to look behind the curtain that’s it behind the curtain a little bit. So you’ve got a new client, they’ve rung you up. You’ve had one of your detailed discussions with them, and they’ve decided to go with one of your mid-level plans. You know, they’ve pulled the trigger, they’ve signed the contract and they got a mediocre website and they want you and your team’s magic. Robert, how does the process start?
Robert Newman: Well, first of all, if somebody is signed up with somebody else and they’ve got themselves a mediocre website, most likely I don’t do any business with them. If somebody is working with Sierra interactive website or a real estate webmasters’ website, there’s a chance that we could do business with them. Anybody else, we’re going to try it.
Jonathan Denwood: Let me ask you, and I’m sorry to interrupt. Why is that? Is that because they’re in a long-term contract or just, you think they got [Inaudible 02:35]
Robert Newman: No, no. So too much of SEO these days is user behavior and you can’t trick goo Google out anymore. There’s no way to do it. What that means would that is a fancy way of saying that, hey, listen, the website that somebody has to buy has to be so intuitively clickable and usable that you just have to stick with a certain number of providers. The only providers out there that really create intuitive clickable websites right out of the box are us real estate Webmasters and Sierra interactive. You do occasionally get somebody that’s done enough work on a real estate, a real geeks website that, that could also be intuitive and clickable. They’re not as cool to work with because their content management system is not very good. Sierra interactive, like on a scale of 1 to 10 is about a 6. real geeks is about a 3 WordPress being an 8 or 9 I still think this.
Jonathan Denwood: And you base your platform like you should do, which I totally cause I’m a WordPress geek. You base your platform on WordPress, don’t you?
Robert Newman: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s, that’s what I do because-
Jonathan Denwood: And by the way, Real estate listeners and viewers over 40% of websites are on WordPress, and just let that sink in folks 40%. There’s a reason why it drives 40%.
Robert Newman: Yeah. Yeah. It’s very tough for people with bigger development budgets after 10 years of open-source development with a team of a hundred people. I think it’s fast typer, whatever the company is, that is actually the –
Jonathan Denwood: Automatic.
Robert Newman: Automatic there we go, automatic that the parent company for WordPress has been doing so many upgrades and work compile
Jonathan Denwood: And by the way Robert They have a thousand people working for them there really.
Robert Newman: Okay. I didn’t know that. Well, they have a thousand people working for them now. So that makes it tough to compete with, like, even if you had the budget and the time and the energy to build your own system, you’re going to have a hard time catching up to WordPress in terms of features and functionality. And of course, the favorite thing for developers like me to talk about is integrations, which is really one of the things that superpowers that WordPress brings to the table is just how many different integrations does it do automatically right out of the box. And the answer is hundreds or thousands, and you can kind of turn WordPress into a customized platform for almost any vertical that you’re working in, which makes it a better decision and trying to develop one out of the box.
Jonathan Denwood: Can we get back to the reason why, the SEO webmasters and the other company, Sierra interactive, why you wouldn’t is it because, you couldn’t get the kind of result, you know, the kind of return on investment, because they are already doing something similar to what you do, is that why you won’t want to engage if they’ve already got a website using those two platforms?
Robert Newman: Well, essentially, so, no. So real estate webmasters and Sierra interactive make the fastest search-based like search system-based websites that are out there. They’re also the only people that intuitively build the UX or the internal linking in such a way that the websites are going to be really, really good for SEO. there’s a lot that goes into like trying to explain internal linking, but the best way that I can explain it is that Google is reading websites, using a program, which you know, and I know .and the program isn’t very sophisticated that hasn’t actually increased it sophistication over the years. It’s basically a very small program that is euphemistically called the spider. The spider reads 3 pages deep, that’s it doesn’t read 10 pages deep, doesn’t read 50 pages deep. It reads three pages deep. So any page in your website needs to be three crawlable links from any other page in your website, effectively.
Most web developers don’t get this very, very simple concept done correctly. That is usually right there. That’s something that most people are getting wrong, which means that no matter how brilliant your website is, oftentimes it’s not very readable and for a search engine. And if it’s not readable all the other metrics of SEO such as usability, or, backlinking, it doesn’t really matter if Google can’t see the page or see the page easily, you’re not going to get very good SEO for your site. So the people that consistently make really readable websites are Sierra interactive and real estate webmasters. Now real geeks do usually, but real geeks are letting their customers dictate a lot of their user navigation. And that’s where they fail occasionally. is that clients, their clients don’t understand how to build the site. They’re using one or two or three vendors that that real geek is recommending. And those vendors don’t necessarily know how to read the site correctly.
And then all the other vendors that are out there, like all of them, agent image, luxury presence, anybody that’s big, that you guys have probably heard of who are listening to the show. No, they don’t focus track nor pay attention to most of this stuff. They’re instead focused on branding or visual elements on the site that look really cool to you, but you’re not looking at what is the most fundamental or foundational things of building a real estate website, which is, is it readable? Can I understand it? Does it work well on a cell phone? Those are basically three of the primary drivers for website performance in the real estate space right now. And many, if not, most real estate web providers are skipping through them. You’re not getting those things really properly touched, which means that if you call me John and I look at your website, it’s going to take me about two minutes to turn around and tell you, I can’t SEO this.
Jonathan Denwood: So you can’t do the existing site, but would you take on that client if they are going to utilize- basically going to rebuild?
Robert Newman: Yeah. And they’ll rebuild the site. Yes, I would. If they can take on another site if they can do another contract. Yes, I would. Yep.
Jonathan Denwood: So let’s clear also, I’m only surmising this, that the other really top area is linked to what you’ve just said is that these sites really have to be top-notch when it comes to mobile. Does, you know, in showing up when you know, a geo search is done, when, when somebody’s searching in the area that the agent operates in, that it shows up in search and really performs really fantastic on mobile. Am I right about that?
Robert Newman: Oh, good Lord. Yes. So when it comes to mobile phones, there are a few statistics that we’ve watched that started to change in the real estate marketing industry. And there are probably other marketers out there that have access to bigger data pools than I do, but there’s not many at this point because I have like 150 live clients. And what I’m noticing happening is that the more mobile-friendly our websites get, the more leads that we’re generating off the mobile. My clients that are doing a direct advertising campaign, we’re getting 30, 40% of our leads off mobile phones like off people using their cell phones. This is a number that’s increasing considerably and it’s increasing every day. In other words, people are getting more and more comfortable registering on mobile phones a lot. And so that’s a conversion metric.
So here’s, what’s really important. Google can’t see the conversion metric and they don’t care about the conversion rate metrics. So I’m telling you the listeners and you, my co-host John that from, from a conversion standpoint, from an I own a website standpoint, it’s really important that you think about mobile because that’s how you’re going to get a certain percentage of your leads. But on top of that, what Google is looking at is they’re looking at performance on mobile, which they can see very clearly, they can see how long somebody stays on your site. And how many pages did they look at? And they’re starting to treat it as a separate performance metric. The higher, the performance metric is the better that you’re going to do in SEO. So in other words, if you have a website that does really, really well on mobile phones and okay on desktop, you’re probably going to do better in SEO right now than if you have a site that’s doing really, really good on desktop and not very good on mobile.
And Google is starting to weight that performance criteria more and more. So we personally, about two years ago, we took a leap and we stopped doing these old Boomtown types of sites that have hundreds and hundreds of links on the homepage and went to something that is called like a funnel navigation, which is where you only have guided navigation from the time that you opened the site. There’s not all these dropdown menus that somebody can select from. We drive the experience the same way that Apple does with its products because we were noticing that that is the only way to build a really solid mobile product is to send somebody down a guided path. And that’s what we do. And it ended actually inherently goes against my personal philosophies, but from a performance standpoint, I thought that was the way to go. And what we’re seeing in terms of our results is saying that it was a good guess.
Jonathan Denwood: So I, would be correct in saying that when it comes to people utilizing visiting agent’s website, it’s almost totally dominated by mobile. Would I be correct in that?
Robert Newman: Yes. It’s getting there. Yes. It’s getting there.
Jonathan Denwood: Now we know, I know and you know what we mean by mobile-friendly. Can you just touch on the navigation aspects of that? Are there any other aspects that you want to point out before we go for our break that is important when it comes to being mobile-friendly?
Robert Newman: Yeah. I think that people have to get rid of, you know, you know, mobile-friendly is a very tricky subject because there is a lot of things that, that I don’t like understanding like really deeply fundamentally the big boys, the YouTubes, and the Googles they’re really dominating when they say you have to be mobile-friendly because to make all, like, if you’re a video like a provider, as an example, like Tik TOK to say that you’re going to do all of your videos in a super-friendly compressed format is a big requirement for a technology provider. You’re spending a lot of extra money to deliver video that way to a consumer on their cell phone. which kind of means that these big guys are raising the bar in terms of how much money that you need to develop a new technology product as an entrepreneur and somebody who’s never been like, I don’t do, investment capital. What are those guys called?
Jonathan Denwood: VCs.
Robert Newman: Yeah VCs, things like that. I don’t do that. And a lot of entrepreneurs, I know don’t want to do that because you don’t want to give up control of your business. So it’s really frustrating for us to say, oh, if I wanted to start a tech company that did the video, I need 10 million easy, no problem. You know, it’s like, so that kind of mobile-first thinking is a little bit frustrating. however, what I’m going to, what I’m going to say to everybody is that despite that frustration, that’s kind of what you have to do with your mobile-friendly first websites is you have to plug in things like YouTube. And if you’ve got to do video, you do YouTube and you make sure that you’re using one of the main WordPress image compressors. If you’re going to do images on your site, it’s weird because on the one hand, having good images and unique images is even more important than ever John from a content perspective, but on the other side of the coin, making sure that those images are easily digestible in mobile formats is another really big-
Jonathan Denwood: Well, in a way It’s going back to the early days because you know, maybe this will change when 5g is. but, in some ways, you’re going back to the diaries of web design where, really, compressing your image size and really, being religious on the page size is of key pages. You used to spend a lot of time on that. but then that didn’t become so important, but because of the dominance of mobile, especially when it comes to real estate websites is literally you have to go back in time because, the bandwidth restrictions that these devices have, but like saying, in the next few years, that might change a bit because you got, not technologies like 5g, haven’t you?
Robert Newman: Yeah, very much so. And I’m going to, add on to, for you personally at the very tail end, before we go to the break. So we’ve been doing this for three years where the summer of 2018 was the first one.
Jonathan Denwood: Oh dear there, you go time flies, we got to go for a break, we’ll be back in a few moments to discuss this whole area of SEO back in a few moments.
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Jonathan Denwood: We are coming Robert is we’ve been doing this show for 3 years together, he puts up with me there. We, go I think we’ve come to an understanding. so we talked about mobile now, like with the Mail-Right product, you know, we use Facebook, we drive traffic to the website, but we provide a WordPress website, but we don’t spend any kind of the resources and the time and energy that you and your team do when it comes. So to convert people, you’ve got to get them to your website. So what are some of the key SEO, inbound marketing things that you and your team do to get traffic to your client’s websites to convert them?
Robert Newman: So I think that one of the big things that we do is, well, we do a lot of things. There’s not a couple of things. There’s a huge amount of things. One of the things that we do is we do, maps. We leverage maps heavily. the maps that we leverage are, we do something called a zip code map, which drives a lot of traffic. always, we’re almost always on the first page for searches that relate to maps of areas that we do that we’re doing in. So like Los Angeles, zip code map, or Los Angeles map, that kind of thing, is something that we do. And then in terms of other traffic tips that we do, it’s always like most of my sites, we’re doing blog posts.
And the funny thing about blog posts is you saying, what is it that you do to drive traffic? Well, unfortunately for the world at large. And fortunately for me, SEO is not simple. So what we have to do before we do anything is we have to do a lot of what’s called link building. And even though most of SEO, these days is user behavior. There is still a lot of SEO from like, when you’re talking about an out-of-the-box website, like brand new, you do have to have five, 10 good links. You have to have some kind of social shares going on. You essentially effectively have to have like a few hundred links from various places in order to get the initial user-based traffic into the site and start building a site, or
Jonathan Denwood: As a follow-through question to what you’ve just said, would I be correct then that your focus is really because these are local businesses that are tied normally to geo. So would I be correct in that your focus is on the principles of local search, which is different from regional, to some extent, different from regional and national SEO? And what I mean by that is that like, when it comes my understanding of effective local SEO is that directories, they mean nothing when it comes to the national SEO, but they’re you know, making sure that the address, the name of the business, the address is consistently passed around all the kind of trade directories. Moz has a tool that you can buy that helps you with that. Plus your Google page and another kind of local SEO factors are the things that you’re focused on as well. Am I correct in some of that?
Robert Newman: Some of it, so we do focus on hyper-local is not a primary focus, something that we do as, because effective local marketing and effective, like traditional SEO kind of go hand in hand. And so we do absolutely focus on both. We do both. but to say that we focused more on one than the other would be false because unfortunately, local SEO really requires our client’s participation a lot for them to be like successful reviews, quantity reviews, quality reviews, impact very much where you’re going to stand in your hyperlocal search rankings. So I can do the directories that you mentioned. And I do the directories and the video stuff that we push is also a huge local SEO signal because Google looks at the geotag metadata and attaches it, that, that metric to your overall Google log-in and your Google account. So what we hammer on or drum on here all the time that, that local video impacts your local search rankings as well. So all those things, but you know what most of my clients are not reliable when it comes to gathering reviews and getting them on their Google profile. So
Jonathan Denwood: They need the Mail-Right platform that would help them generate reviews, wouldn’t they?
Robert Newman: Well done, sir. So-
Jonathan Denwood: Wow. It’s a really nice platform where it all works. So it’s up to you, you know, but there we go. but so to get serious, though, what you’re saying is that reviews and having some form of plan, having some form of process that still happens even when the agent is really busy, it will help enormously. And it’s something that a lot of agents struggle with. Is that the crux of what we’ve just said?
Robert Newman: Yeah. I mean, essentially yes., I think that, yes, there, there that, yes, I’ll just never mind. Well, stay there. There’s always more to say more to explain, but basically yes, you got it. Right.
Jonathan Denwood: So [inaudible24:25] but there are, you know, we’ve discussed this with various experts and our internal shows. There are various mythologies. There’s plenty of coaching out there that tells you when is the right time, you know, normally at the end of the transaction, when the client has a lot of Goodwill to the agent if the process has gone correctly and there hasn’t been a lot of ill between the agent and the client, but if it’s gone through the normal process, that’s when the client is the happiest to give reviews. You know, if you can get a video review from the client, normally, you know, if you can, but you need a plan of action to religiously get those and then push them out on the website. And to the various platforms that will give you the biggest signals, would you agree with that?
Robert Newman: yes. That will give you the biggest hyper- local signals so and it won’t necessarily say it’s the biggest, listen, here’s, here’s the thing about signals and all the things that Google does. And I think it’s kind of funny because, everybody who’s listening, John just had infinite pleasure. and I’m assuming that because I would have literally given my left arm to be John this morning, he just had the pleasure of interviewing Rand Fishkin. Who’s one of the biggest, most respected notable voices that have ever come out of the SEO community. And he started a company called SEO, Moz, which turned into Moz.
And so here’s the thing you’re talking about. These, these huge voices inside the SEO community. And I’m trying to be one of myself. I’m trying to be one that starts and focuses on real estate. Here’s what I’ve noticed. It is a bad idea to talk about or get mixed up in looking at individual signals overly much because Google changes the weight of these individual signals all the time. They’ve just done it again in the middle of the summer, with something that they’re calling a core web vitals update, which just means that they’re, once again, moving along, making things like, is your website adjustable? How long do people stay on the page? How fast is the page? They’re just increasing the value of those ranking signals that’s it? But here’s the thing of the 200 things that Google looks at on a website. They really have never changed them. Not ever. That’s one thing that people don’t understand. They still measure the same all the time.
If you want to know what a standard consistent, no bullshit don’t have to change it. Every five minutes kind of principle is about SEO. This is the part where we opened up the show. Think about SEO instead as inbound marketing, if you and I do a really good article that we spend a lot of time on John and we talk about opening running, and starting 2 independent, like small real estate marketing companies, there is a very good chance that we’re going to create an article that a lot of people are going to want to read because we are experts in that field coming from different parts of that conversation. You, from your end there, with what you’ve done with Mail-Right me from my end here, with what I’ve done with inbound REM. And guess what people will read that article and they’ll find it valuable. Now, let’s just say that we update that article once a year, every year we get together, we put our heads together and we make sure that the information is fresh, that it reflects our viewpoints.
There’s an incredibly good chance that that article is going to rank for something like you know, a real estate marketing company start-up, let’s just call it right that, that keyword and many other keywords associated with it will rank for.
the concept of inbound marketing is creating a piece of information that is so good that people are going to get answers from it. They’re going to learn from it. That anybody that has the question roll off their lips that looks at your article is going to see something valuable there. And that is something that most people don’t do inside the SEO space. They hire $15, you know, for article writers off Upwork or wherever they find them. And they, they go, oh, but I’m doing blog posts. No, you’re not. You’re hiring somebody to regurgitate things that they’re reading on blogs like mine, like where-
Jonathan Denwood: Sorry to interrupt as we need to wrap up. Hopefully, you can do it, we still got time to do some bonus content I’ve got a really interesting question to ask Robert during the bonus content Listeners and viewers. But just to comment on what you just said, you know, I found it with my, other business and you could fault me with Mail-Right. But we’re going to change that pretty soon is there’s no point in writing articles or getting somebody to write articles. If you don’t do the best basic SEO research, or if you hire somebody that can do it for you or you to learn the basics yourself because to use the metaphor, it’s just pissing in the rain otherwise, isn’t it?
Robert Newman: Yeah, I think so, I think that just like any other skilled marketing endeavor, SEO is definitely one of those things. There are just too many details for the average person to put together and learn. I try really hard to, to just get my client. Like, what I do for my clients really is they still have to do some work. My clients still have to do videos and things. And that’s what confuses people. It’s like, well, what am I hiring you for? It’s like, well, you’re hiring me to manage the 200 signals that you don’t understand that Google is looking for because I’ll take that video and I’ll make it successful. If you produce that video on your own and posted somewhere nobody’s ever going to see it.
Jonathan Denwood: All right, then I’m going to do the wrap up the sound in interviewing Robert actually. but I thought, hopefully, if you enjoyed this now, can you do us a favor listeners and viewers. Because if you’ve been with us and some of you have been with us for over 3 years, two things, one thing is to give us a bloody review on iTunes. I know it’s a plain little post area, but if you could do that, it really helps the show. And if you’ve got any questions or feedback, please either leave them on our Facebook page or our YouTube channel. We’re easy to find. And we love to get more engagement from the people that regularly listen to this show. So there are only two really easy things to do. So we’ll be back next week. We’ve got some great guests for the whole of July. Actually, I’m really looking forward to the views, and please join us on our bonus content, which we’re going to do after we finish with the podcast, which you’d be able to see on the Mail-Right. YouTube channel, and please subscribe to the channel that really helps the show we’ll see you next week. Folks. Bye