The tension remains between so-called “Great content” or “awesome content” and old school SEO metrics like domain authority, page rank and inbound external links.
In my next update, I’ll more fully address my recent observations about a post on one of the Realtor.com websites about real estate SEO. It is a perfect example of how a website with a lot of links and domain authority is able to totally blow off anything remotely close to valuable content and still rank. It ranks on links and domain authority alone. The content is 100% borrowed and condensed like canned milk from another website- complete with attribution. It shows up high in Google for the search “real estate SEO” despite the worthless and plagiarized and frankly lazy nature of its content. Its advice could not be more elementary even with great effort to be less than it already is, and its information is already well known by the vast majority of the audience.
It is pure unabashed drivel.
Nonetheless, it achieves the goal of ranking high. Almost as if to say, “see? We can beat you anytime we want to.”
None of that matters to people in my industry or to me. The flip side of awesome content is that it is not really about awesome content at all. It is about value in the mind of the reader. That value can be entertainment or it may be about something monetary but above all, it must be motivating enough for the reader to take a desired action or it doesn’t really matter to a business.
My own website for this topic of real estate SEO gets relatively low traffic but when people arrive, the conversion rate is extremely high. About 15% to 25% of the people who consume my “content” contact me. This is an astronomical conversion rate by industry standards. It is because of how I write and how targeted the focus of my so-called “content” is.
There is a balance between ranking in Google and selling the right thing to the right people but is achieved by a few real estate agents online. Many real estate agents do a fair to bang up job in their other marketing efforts but it’s almost as if though they are paralyzed when it comes to online marketing. They somehow are lured into thinking they have to compete directly, head-to-head with Realtor, Trulia and Zillow by offering a website that calls the visitor to engage in real estate searches, looking at property after property until they grow bored with the process and leave the website.
I know an agent with a beautiful website and after some back-and-forth we finally took a serious look at the analytics. This agent complained that no one was calling and no new business was coming in. They had business back in the summer and it dried-up. Their perception was that something happened on the website that caused that drop in business so we began to examine what the difference was between then and now. Peeling back the layers, we determined that the website had never delivered any business to this real estate agent at all. All of the business in the summer had come from direct referral and none of it had come from the website. Almost unbelievably, the agent just hadn’t seen the reality of the situation. Even looking at the evidence square on, it was difficult for the agent to accept that the website had never been a source of business since it was created.
The analytics data held an even bigger surprise. The website was receiving just over 100 visits per day! 65% of those visits were first-time visitors. That was a really confounding revelation because not one website visitor was contacting the agent in any way. The website and its content were aligned and designed to encourage visitors to search properties, following the strategy and feel of an aggregator website. It was not selling the agent in any way that encouraged people to make a personal one to one connection with the agent.
People may want to peruse and search homes but that doesn’t persuade them to work with an agent. In this case, giving visitors exactly what they want delivers nothing to the agent who puts so much time and expense into providing it.
People in my industry and many others too, do the same thing- being like everyone else and claiming to be oh so much better than every one else while saying the same thing as everyone else. I easily bring in all the business I can handle to the point of choosing who I will accept and setting my own terms for engagement from website platform to the message that goes on that website because I’m very different from my competition and my visitors understand that as soon as they arrive.
Most real estate agents have a journey ahead of them to sort out how to differentiate themselves from their competitors. “I’m more dedicated”, “I provide better service”, “I spend more time with the client” and a dozen other real estate agent platitudes are all commoditized approaches and non-unique propositions. The background noise of a thousand local competing agents drowns out this kind of boilerplate sales talk.
The opportunity to win hands down against every aggregator website and nearly every other real estate agent and brokerage in the local market is there for any agent in virtually every market.
But it does take creativity, hard thought and imagination to break out of the mold of real estate boilerplate talk. Some agents are so conditioned to obey and so eager to comply with marketing status quo messaging pre-determined by associations, corporations and even brokerages that they will never break free and light the spark needed to turn a casual visitor into an engaged and eager prospect who has just decided “This is most definitely the agent for me.“
Well, you have some of the meat and bones of my next article here as I’ve been wanting to address this topic in light of the worth-less Realtor.org post that has moved to the top of search on the force of 12 million domain links.
The local real estate agent still rules, especially if they are just willing to exert the thought and creativity it takes to become different and more valuable in the eyes of a visitor than any and every other option available. That’s a tough call to create that message, but once done, but it pays off forever.