March 30, 2007
The search engine local advertising market is booming, and it is only going to get larger and more important in the future as search engines learn how to better organize local listings, and 10 lb. phone books go the way of the dodo.
So, what can you do about this boom in local searches? Get listed of course! I will start with Google as it is by far the most important, and serves more searches than any other service combined.
Get Listed on Google Local
1. First, you will need to get a Google account.
2. Second, login to your new account and go the Google Local Business Center Page.
3. After you Type in all the information for your business, you will need to wait until you get a card in the mail from Google. This will confirm that your business is physically at the address you listed.
As this post is primarily for individual real estate agents, you will probably run into your first roadblock when it comes to the address. Assuming you work for a broker and a larger company… for our example we’ll use Re/Max. If your Re/Max office is already listed in local.google.com, you will not be able to use that office address again for a personal business listing. This presents an immediate problem. You are trying to get your personal service listed under your office’s address, but your office is already listed… There are a couple work arounds for this problem:
1. Use your home address. Many agents work from home these days anyway… but if you don’t like the idea of your home address popping up on local searches… there is another alternative:
2. Since P.O. Boxes are not allowed, you can still get a mail box from a company like the UPS Store. They allow you to rent a physical address with a suite number, so it appears to be just another local address, when in reality, it is only a mail box. I haven’t tried this personally, but I’ll bet it would work as a physical mailing address in Google’s eyes.
In my research, I found that most real estate offices are NOT listed in Google local… and in that case you can use just the office address. As of now there are no rules against this, but as the search engines get smarter, this option may go away, as a listing for an individual real estate agent isn’t as valuable as an office listing for the same address in the eyes of the Search Engine.
I hope those suggestions were helpful. Your number one priority for Google is to get listed a physical address listed with them. This will give you a foot in the door for the other hints I’m going to give you now:
* Once you’ve been listed, you should be able to find your local listing in a search. For example: “castle rock, CO real estate” or “real estate agent castle rock, CO” You can either search directly on local.google.com, maps.google.com, or just Google.com * Depending on the competition in your area, you may have to browse through a couple pages of competing listings to find yours… but don’t fret! You can change that…
Now, here is the fun part. In order to set yourself apart from the compeition in your local market, you will probably want to pay for a sponsored listing. (note: as an individual agent, you will already stick out, since most of the listings will probably be for entire offices, not individual agents)
Here is how to get a sponsored Listing:
1. You will probably notice that there are already some sponsored listings in your area. It would take too long to explain why, but those will probably all disapear when you create your listing since they are just keyword text ads and not local listings.
2. Go to Adwords.com. You may be able to use your Google login to signup, but may have to register a new account (Google is wierd about that sometimes).
3. Once you sign up and login, go to “Create New Campaign – Keyword Targeted”
4. Complete the steps, and make sure to choose “Regions and Cities” in the location area.
5. Now, choose your cities. Don’t use the pre listed cities. Type in your own. This way you can get as detailed as possible. List every possible town/city in your market area.
6. Create your text ad. (I highly recommend having a property search tool that is easily accessible on the URL destination page that you choose.)
7. Choose your keywords. I suggest basic words like: real estate, real estate agent, realtor, realtors, etc. (remember, this is for local search. It works differently than a normal adwords ad.)
8. Enter your daily budget, and CPC(cost per click). I suggest $0.10 or higher. You may need to adjust it later depending on the competion, and desired results.
9. That’s all! You should be able to see your listing appear higher than the others on local searches.
10. BONUS TIP: You also now have the option of adding extra flare to your ad. Navigate to the adgroup you just created. Then click on “ad variations”. From there click on “local business ad”. Search for your local listing, and then choose an icon, picture, and list any other information you like. Now when you search for your listing, you will see the special icon you chose on the map, your enhanced information, and top ad placement, which should truly set you apart from the competition.
I really hope that this guide will produce some solid clients for you. Studies have shown that specific local searches have a very high conversion rate.
The reason I was so excited about this is because I took some serious time searching about 3 large markets, and didn’t find any local sponsored results with enhanced listings. For only $0.10/click… it’s a no brainer.
That’s all for now… I’m going to break this into 2 parts. The next part will be how to get listed in MSN(Live.com), and Yahoo’s local search results.
Author: Justin Smith is the president of the Christian Real Estate Network. You can read his other work on his blog at: www.hismove.com/blog