The real estate industry has been one of the hardest hit by the Great Recession. After all, in America, so much relies on all things surrounding the home and property development. And online, real estate concerns across America vie for precious digital property rights - the deed to success on the world's most powerful marketing stage. Let's look at some examples these next few weeks, and see if we can determine the right and wrong way to engage in the social sphere of the web.
Investigating cities, and agencies across the US for news here at RealtyBizNews is uncovering interesting facts in every area of realty too - and most pointedly areas where the physical business intersects with the digital aspect. And the agencies that walk these "digital streets" - some flourish while others flounder. Here are five selected cities and their top "Invisible" Realtors online via Google search.
Denver's Kentwood Company spent one heck of a lot of money on their website. Let's not make any bones about it either, these guys knew what they wanted to show, and obviously got the right people to design it. The website is striking - classy - with just the right amount of "Hollywood" to entice visitors to click those buttons. But wait a minute Houston, there is a problem - Kentwood Company is all but a ghost town in the digital landscape!
When I first saw Kentwood's site, just hitting the top link in a Google search, I was sure this company ruled Denver like Alexander the Great - but 4,500 visitors a month is sad. It's also a shame for this company that did almost everything right. Facebook integration, Twitter, graphics, user interface, just about everything is perfect - an almost no one sees this extraordinary company? Maybe Denver's housing woes just translated into dead space? Here are some indicators outside economic woes (See summary on this)
Twitter engagement - @kentwood account is stagnant, basically lip service to the social crowd 128 followers
Facebook - Underutilization here costs this company no telling how much in final conversions - 94 fans
Blog - The last post on this blog was two weeks ago. This is a waste of time actually - no one sees this information
Evaluation - Jim Theye, the Owner of this company has wasted valuable resources in our view. Either engage or stick to brick and mortar salesmanship - this is our motto. Clearly the company has the resources to push - but has not.
The David Brownell Team Las Vegas Real Estate and Relocation Website - Whew, what a mouth and brain full! We need not get into why David's website is all but invisible, it's actually a good thing Las Vegas real estate is in the toilet (sorry guys, we know you're hurting but..). This dot com era nasty offers the unfortunate visitor a naturally "SPAMmy" and sensationalist sales offering. I expected a huge red banner to pop up any moment proclaiming; "YOU HAVE JUST WON A DREAM HOME!"
For those in the know, the 12,000 or so who do land here come because of the catchy domain name (almost 31 % search derived traffic) David bought - nothing more. And it's probably a good thing most visitors take off (bounce rate almost 50%) and head for the hills away from this site too? David Brownell looks like a nice guy. Dollars to donuts though, he lives and breathes in the car and on the cell phone. This is actually the worst top result site for Google I have seen in years. Ugh.
Twitter Engagement - Invisible
Facebook - Invisible
Blog or other? Invisible
Evaluation - Get some expert help to utilize an already powerful domain - what a waste.
Sandy Koza, owner of Atlanta Real Estate Pros, Inc., has to know her website looks and performs like the worst foreclosure in her listings - in fact her web "master" has already put of the "coming soon" sign announcing something that is hopefully better. Another 12,000 peeps wandered by this turkey only to leap back in horror - okay, sorry Sandy, but it has to be true.
Let's just call Atlanta's top Google searched site invisible "thank goodness" and wait until the new site is launched (mail or tweet me). There's no wonder Realtors in Atlanta are in the soup lines - I could take over this field in a month. Wow!
Twitter Engagement - Invisible
Facebook - Invisible
Blog - Invisible
LinkedIn - Sandy has a profile there
Evaluation - Reserved for coming web engagement - get social media and all around marketing help look at BlueGlass Interactive
Looking at another city for a potential "Invisibility Super Hero" I stumbled on San Diego. All I can say about this market, digitally, is that almost everyone there is asleep at the wheel - LOOK OUT FOR THAT TREE! The top sites in San Diego do not even have the courtesy to tell Google searchers who the hell they are! Lead generators and old dilapidated SPAMMY sites?
HomeSalesSanDiego finally got my attention out of either boredom or growing weary surfing for a legitimate agent in Cali's sunny Mecca. I hate to sound curt, but these are fairly random searches here. In third or fourth position, depending no your keywords, Home Sales San Diego is not the worst website in the world, the problem is their intentions - all credibility is lost when a visitor cannot figure out who you are, and then you make those who dig deeper "opt in" to email SPAM just to see a listing.
I will not go into all the "no-no's" these guys perform. As far as I can tell this site is a lead generator. Someone tell me if I am wrong? (but send someone who knows their stuff). San Diego must not have any real estate brokers? This is amazing, anyone searching for a home in this city will be directed at a bunch of faceless sites! Wow! (note: please don't come comment if you are Neuman & Neuman - your site is so far down the list). The image below is what a person finds when they look for San Diego Real Estate - Alexa 2 million something!
Twitter Engagement - Nil
Facebook - ?
Blog - Well, there is one.
Evaluation - Can someone please push this site off the top?
Last on the list of "Invisibles" today is Pensacola Real Estate. I heard you gasp. Yes, even Floridians can be obtuse about digital feet prints - and all that sand in Pensacola beckons bare footed home buyers. I was a bit brutal on some of the others, so in fairness... Web 1.0, this pitiful site touts its Homes.com heritage like a brand of honor. In reality the Alexa is 3 million, so I think Agent Advantage has ceased to be a digital lever at all - if it ever was one.
If you are wondering how such web mediocrity can even exist in the marketplace, you are not alone. In fact our aspirations here at RealtyBiz grow almost daily. (Contact me to take over Pensacola online realty). Terry Gaston is reportedly one of the leading real estate brokers in Pensacola, but his antique website is not optimized for Opera, so I could not read his blog posts. As for Twitter and any other form of digital awareness? There is a Twitter account under the alias "oil patch" - and a dead account under his name here. This is another case of a qualified real estate professional with a huge opportunity to engage via the web - squandering it.
Twitter Engagement - none
Facebook - Invisible
Blog or other - negligible
LinkedIn - Adequate profile for Keeler Williams involvement
Evaluation - The 1700 people per month who visit this agent's website come via almost pure search activity - imagine someone active in engagement. Of those 1700 poor devils tossed at this entity, it is certain 99.9 percent leave. Terry, make use of this tool - it costs a bit of money but your brand is invisible man.
I know these rather scathing reviews may seem a bit mercenary, but believe me our critiques come with a strong does of amazement. I am personally shocked that this industry, across so far - so many markets, is so weak marketing wise and branding wise. It must be true that brokers are the biggest cheap skates in the world, or either their adherence to failed newspaper ad strategies is valid. I never want to hear another agent whine about no sales. These people need to get to work, tough love brothers and sisters, is the only way out of this predicament.
We will cover more markets in the weeks to come, and not only the losers in the field, but winners that we can all emulate. We welcome your comments and advice. Maybe together we can help one another taking the industry to a new level. Ignorance is our only real enemy you know? I leave you with the official trailer from the film.