Category Archives: General Real Estate

Using SEO to Strengthen Your Brand

real-estate-websites-seo

Seth Godin writes another incredible post explaining how utilizing SEO can be much more than trying to own mainstream keywords and delves into the territory that I live in, the territory that I have used to grow BlueRoof.com for three years now. Utilizing SEO as a way to strengthen your brand and help people find you when they are trying to.

When someone is looking for a good real estate buying experience in our area, many of them have heard of BlueRoof.com and the BlueRoof experience from their friends or family members. And when they Google us I want them to find us- and that is the only way I care about SEO for my particular website. I don’t pack keywords and links into my site because people don’t want to use websites that are pack with keywords and links- they want a great experience that is all about THEM, not about getting people to ME…

So, I have to pay for my Google ranking with Pay Per Click. And that’s okay because most of the traffic that comes to our site now is referred traffic- traffic that we have very worked hard to earn by offering the best experience we can to our clients. Helping them find the right home and negotiating and educating and working for the client above all else.

I want to own the keyword BlueRoof and the keyword BlueRoof.com and even Blue Roof (with a space), but not because I want to get any traffic, because I want to help those who are already looking for us to be able to find us easily. That is the best traffic because they already want to work with us  and we want to help them.

Utilizing SEO to get new business can obviously be a good thing, but landing on the front page of Google for any good keywords can be very difficult. It’s important to build your own brand and putting some focus into that might be the best strategy you can take- it’s worked well for us.

BlueRoof360 Launches Mobile Search and Much More…

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In February we launched our new mobile search feature which work on any mobile device with internet. Every BlueRoof360 website has mobile search now by simply adding the suffix of /mobile or/m after the URL (prusantafe.com/m)

Every listed home on the MLS is in the search and each listing includes all the photos directly pulled from the MLS.

Also on the home page of the mobile search there is Quick House Number Lookup which allows someone sitting in front of a house to simply type in the house number and easily find that property. If there are more than one result for that particular house number, our clients listings sort to the top (since those will be the properties with sign riders telling people to type in the house number.)

So, by going to prudentialfloridarealty.com/m on my mobile phone and typing  [a listed house number] into the Quick House Number Lookup it takes me directly to that Prudential Florida Realty listing.

Properties can be saved to your account, just as if you were on the website, and it’s easy to schedule a showing or contact the agent.

But our mobile system is much more than search- agents can access their contacts, see the showings and feedback on their listings, access documents associated with each client, and send documents, all form their mobile account.

And, even better, the agents clients can access all of their listing and escrow information, checklists of items that have been accomplished and deadlines that have been met, or are still pending, they can see all their showings and feedback from their showings, and the clients can also access all of their documents and send them from their mobile device.

BlueRoof360 gives our clients, and their clients, a true mobile “hub” where all the contract, listing, and escrow information is accessed and shared from a central place on the agent’s website.

Inman, showing signs of slipping in their reporting of new technologies first, wrote a too-late article April 10th about a new innovation that we launched along with our mobile hub over a month ago, allowing people to find homes quickly by typing in a house number while they are in front of the house or wherever. Just another innovation we came up with before they even noticed.

Watch for new features we will be launching soon that continue to innovate and lead the industry…

Most Active Online Home Shoppers

People Searching Online

The real estate industry has reluctantly been pulled online during the last three years and today most agents and brokers know that people are searching for homes online.

Hopefully this will be the year that brokerages start building great websites- and hopefully they will hire a great website design company like BlueRoof360 to do it.

But which areas are people most actively looking online for homes? Using Google Trends we can see which states and cities are the most active searching for different terms. Let’s look and see where people are really looking online…

Real Estate For Sale

For the term “homes for sale” Salt lake City ranks at the top, followed by Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa, Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver.

sell-my-home

For the term “Sell my home” the top states are Arizona, Florida and Utah, followed by Missouri, SC, Georgia, Tennessee, Colorado, NC, Texas.

The term “Search for Homes” ranked like this;

1. South Carolina, United States
2. Arizona, United States
3. Nevada, United States
4. North Carolina, United States
5. Georgia, United States
6. Florida, United States
7. Oklahoma, United States
8. Tennessee, United States
9. Maryland, United States
10. Colorado, United States

Since I’ve posted about  this before, let’s look at where people are most actively searching for other popular terms;

Term                                        Area most searching for that term

Family Activities                          Salt Lake (and Utah) by a landslide

God                                             Tennessee

Jesus                                          Alabama (and Tennessee is #2)

Hell                                              Kansas

Porn                                            Kentucky

Foreclosure                               Miami, Vegas, Tampa

I am afraid                                Philly, Boston, Orlando

Self improvement                      Salt Lake (and Utah) by a landslide

Teen problems                           Iowa

Politics                                       D.C. (surprise), followed by Maryland, NY, Connecticut

Singles                                        Salt Lake (and Utah). followed by Denver, Phoenix, Tampa

Go to Google Trends and try for yourself- you might be surprised at what people are searching for in your area…

New BlueRoof Website Includes Phoenix and Denver Markets

BlueRoof expands to Denver and Phoenix markets

Since BlueRoof first launched three years ago we have accomplished a lot- we’ve been voted “Best Real Estate Website” three years in a row, we’ve won the W3 Award (Silver in 2007, Gold in 2008 ) for Best Homepage, Visual Appeal and Navigation, we’ve sold hundreds of homes/year with only a few people, and we’ve built a strong brand in the Utah market with very devoted clients.

And although I have been offered (over two dozen times) to expand into new markets, I haven’t. Don’t get me wrong, the plan has always been to grow, but so far I have not had the chance for a few reasons- first of all Prudential bought the BlueRoof brokerage (but not the website or technology)  just 5 months after I started it, back in 2006, and I had to sign a contract stipulating a few things that prevented me from doing anything else. Then we started BlueRoof360 (in April of 2008 ) and in the last 8 months have built over 1200 websites for agents and brokers around the country, which has obviously taken my focus.

BlueRoof Agents

But the most important reason I did not expand BlueRoof sooner was that I needed to decide what was the best way for me to grow the brand while ensuring the client experience would not suffer. I’ve watched as other brands have grown to other areas but I didn’t want to grow in the same ways.

Roost partners with a company in each area, meaning the leads are going to any of the company agents, some of whom will do a good job for the clients and some will not (every company has good and bad agents) so they are basically selling leads. Redfin hires their own agents in each market, but that would require me raising capitol and they hire agents who are relatively inexperienced (top agents don’t want to be a desk jockey for another company). Estately refers leads out to other agents and although I like that they have say in the quality of service these agents provide, these agents don’t have an investment in the brand so they aren’t going to promote the brand or be dedicated to it.

I did not want to franchise the name because that would risk the brand being diluted by bad agents/brokers or not being marketed properly and I would have no control over it. I did not want to open my own brokerages in other markets because I would have to bring in investors to raise the necessary capitol and then have other people who do not know the brand, or the real estate business, telling me how to run it. And I didn’t want the website to simply be a lead generator. .  I wanted BlueRoof to be represented by people in each market that were invested in the promotion and growth of the brand and the overall experience the client receives working with the BlueRoof team.

I needed to find good, strong, established Realtor teams to work with. Teams who have a lot of experience and can handle the new business that will come, would be dedicated to growing the brand, and also offer excellent service to their clients. People who shared the same vision I have that technology should not only be used to get new business, but to improve the home buying/selling experience of our clients.

Today, I am excited to announce that I have found these teams to partner with in the Denver and Phoenix markets. Teams that I am proud to have represent the BlueRoof brand. And today we are all together  launching a new version of the website with some  cool new features and upgrades, but have maintained the overall look and feel of the original, award-winning, design.

Bob Maiocco

Our Denver, Colorado team is led by Bob Maiocco with Keller Williams. Bob got into the business in 1992 and he and his team have a lot of experience working with online web visitors, in fact has been a speaker at Keller Williams technology events discussing best practices in utilizing technology. Bob’s team averages $12-$15 Million/year in sales.

Nate Green

In the Phoenix market our team is led by Nate Green, also with Keller Williams. Nate was named the agent recruit of the year in 2004, Rookie of the Year in 2005, was ranked #10 in the nation for volume at Keller Williams November 2005,  in 2006 he was named “Cultural Icon” , in 2008 his team were spotlighted in Residential Executive magazine, and the last two years they have been the top agent and team in their office of 120+ agents and have consistently closed $12-$15 Million in sales.

BlueRoof Client Area

Our new backend system gives our clients tools that are unlike anything else in the industry, including the ability to follow their entire transaction as it happens and see showings and feedback on their listings immediately as it is left. Our new search is, in my opinion, the best in the industry- with the most visual and fun home searching experience online.

I believe that design is the most important element in a website. And by design I don’t just mean looks. At BlueRoof360 our philosophy can be summed up by a quote by Steve Jobs,

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like, design is how it works.”

We still have a lot of cool social and mobile features we’ll be adding soon, but we wanted to get the new site launched so we can begin promoting it for the spring season and using the cool new back end system for our clients. By the way, I realize that having a landing page that is a map is so… Web1.0, but I wanted the actual site to be able to represent each area separately, but also allow the web visitor to select which area they are interested in.

If you have a few minutes to spare, stop by and look around. I’m always interested to hear what people think.

Here’s to the economy stabilizing, a new presidential administration that actually cares about people who don’t give them money, the Utah Utes crashing the BCS party again, and to a fun and prosperous 2009!

Greg

Business Card Design Makes an Impact (or not)

Good Business Card Design

Many real estate people will be traveling to conventions this year- big ones, small ones, technology, real estate, blogging, design, etc. I really enjoy these conferences because they give me a chance to get away, meet some interesting people with interesting ideas, and enjoy a tax-deductible vacation. Sweet!

When I return home I will surely have piles of business cards from all sorts of people from different companies and positions. Some I will want to keep in contact with, and some I will want to remember the conversations we had. And while I am perusing the assortment of cards I will, no doubt, be impressed by some of them and disappointed by others.

I offer my suggestions…

Use a high quality paper- flimsy cards just suck. Spend the extra ten dollars and get good paper.

Use the standard size- when you use a card that is larger or smaller (especially) than normal, people cannot stack or organize it with the others. Smaller cards get lost and become a pain in the ass. Be different by using good imagery or design, not by having an odd shape or size.

No standard clip art- Using images that come from standard clip art makes your card look generic, but even worse, it makes it look like you were trying to not be generic and failed.

Have a credible email address- If your business email is lizzydizzy@hotmail.com or disneylover@gmail.com or even jennifersmith3245@yahoo.com you really need to get with a company that will provide you with a company account.

Watch for typos- If you can’t spell your name right you need to go back to school. Pre-school.

businesscard51

Use Color- A bit of color makes the card much more pleasant. Tie-die or rainbows aren’t necessary, but some color can really give your card some punch, or at the very least it won’t be as boring as monochrome.

Have a blank back- When people receive your card they’ll want to write notes on the back about you or your company or your conversation. Or maybe you can write the address to a great local bar so if that person ever makes it to your city they’ll know where to go.

Have a URL- In today’s business world you should have a website to send people to. Whether your business is plumbing or software, have your URL on your card. If you are embarrassed about your current website, or you aren’t totally excited about it, go here.

Business Card Design- Tear Off

No fold-overs or tear-offs- Cards that fold over get caught on things and take up extra space in my pants pocket. And if you do some clever thing like a pop-up or tear off tab, once that cute feature has been done, the card now has a flap hanging off of it and it doesn’t fit anywhere. Remember the first rule in marketing, which is my next thought…

Keep it simple- We don’t need to name call here, but keep your message simple and clear. Have a clean design that is easy to understand and makes a statement.

Readable Fonts- Lettering should be easy to read and, with the possible exception of the heading or logo, consistent throughout the card.

Have an actual designer create your card- Don’t jump on to Publisher and draw up a design. You want it to be polished and look good.

Funny Business Card Titles

Silly Business Card Titles

No stupid titles- We’ve all seen the start-ups where every employee has some “cool”  title like “VP of Fun” or “Director of Computer Stuff”. Having something clever to say is good, lame titles are just lame. And besides, I’m not going to remember every person so if you are the head of technology but your card says “Emperor of Digital Awareness” I won’t know your function and will most likely toss the card.

Simple Business Card Design

Think it through. Many of us have heard of Matt (creator of WordPress) Mullenweg’s business cards that simply say: “1. Go to Google. 2. Type ‘Matt.’ 3. Click ‘I feel lucky.’ ” That’s pretty cool until your google ranking crashes, like Matt’s did and now it goes to another Matt.

Good, Simple Business Card Design

Have a card that shows your image and has some fun. Good design makes an impact. Well, so does bad design, but good design makes the impact you’ll want.

It is good to get creative with images and show your personality, just remember after the novelty wears off your business card needs to serve its purpose so it is prudent to put good design and imagery over novelty.

Now let’s go have a great year!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

very-merry-christmas

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C.  This wasn’t for any religious reasons.  They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.”

Jay Leno

Top Ten Suburbs to Sell A Home

best-markets-to-sell-a-home

MSN today posted an article about a Forbes.com article that lists the Top Ten Suburbs to Sell a Home right now. To make the determination of which cities were the top, they took data from Altos Research. They took suburbs in the country’s 75 largest Census-defined metro areas based on the last 90 days of sales activity, then narrowed it to those cities with an inventory of at least 75 homes on the market.

They then eliminated suburbs where it currently takes more than 125 days to sell the average home and eliminated any suburb where year-over-year price declines were steeper than 10% or where more than 50% of sellers had reduced their asking price to sell their home.

Cities that make the cut include;

10. Montclair, N.J.

Location: 13 miles west of New York City

9. Waltham, Mass.

Location: 26 miles west of Boston

8. Encinitas, Calif.

Location: 28 miles north of San Diego

7. Matthews, N.C.

Location: 12 miles southeast of Charlotte

6. Midvale, Utah

Location: 13 miles south of Salt Lake City

5. Sugar Land, Texas

Location: 20 miles southwest of Houston

4. Kennesaw, Ga.

Location: 28 miles northwest of Atlanta

3. Venice, Calif.

Location: 16 miles west of Los Angeles

2. Bedford, Texas

Location: 22 miles west of Dallas

1. Berkeley, Calif.

Location: 14 miles northeast of San Francisco

The article says what was left wasn’t a set of awe-inspiring hidden gems where sellers are awash in bidding wars. Nationwide, low-interest rates and low prices caused existing home sales to rise 5.5% in September, but in many areas of the country, sellers are finding relatively few buyers. But, “If you have to sell a house, sell in these places,” says Michael Simonsen, chief executive of Altos Research.