The Future Of Internet Marketing: Social Proof, Local SEO, and Content
When you see a title like the Future of Internet Marketing you think flying cars and robots, not reviews, SEO, and content. I know I wish I had something way cooler to share but I think you will see that this stuff you have probably heard before can be pretty cool.
This is the future of internet marketing as it concerns Real Estate Brokers and Small Business Owners.
I was recently talking with a VP of a large Real Estate brokerage about real estate websites, leads, CRM, and Email Marketing and learning about this companies new solutions. As we were talking this VP shared with me, with no offense of course, that with a system like this there is no need for people like me. That got me to thinking.
What is right around the corner? You see the one thing I have learned about helping real estate brokers and small business owners with their marketing for the last 10 years is that nothing stays the same. There is always something new.
What is going to happen when everyone has their own website, their own blog, everyone is doing social media, all brokers have an IDX feed, all sites have a lead capture system, and an Email Marketing lead incubation system? What is the next step to set us apart?
While I’m sure there are incredibly wonderful things that we could theorize on or dream of, I want to take a look at a few things that very few Real Estate Brokers and Small Business Owners are doing well right now that can still have a big impact on our immediate business.
I recently sat down with a mortgage broker who was Jacked to share his success story that he was having with customer reviews. He was showing me emails of clients he had never met that were sending in applications, and financial records, with perfect credit scores and 50% down payments. He was getting so much business that HE had requirements on who he would work with.
Where were the majority of these leads coming from? Yelp. That’s right, the smartphone App that we use to find a good sushi joint. He showed me his weekly Yelp statistics and 18 clients contacted him that week from Yelp. He also uses a special phone number on Yelp so he can track how many phone calls, that was 8, in a week.
It is important to note that they do not pay for higher placement. They do however, have 17 reviews and a 5 star rating.
This particular Real Estate Professional also had 12 perfect reviews on his Google Places profile. I can not stress how important it is now to have your business set up on Google places and connected to your Google+ account through a Google + Page.
This combination is Deadly!
Over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase. – source: PowerReviews
Google and Bing are aware of this fact, and they are making their search algorithm to favor businesses that have a lot of social proof and or customer reviews.
Don’t believe me, search for Roofers, Pizza, Real Estate Agent (or virtually any Small Business) Seattle and look at the top results. What do you see? Yelp, Google Places, Zagat, almost all the top spots are review sites or are reviewed.
You Can Not Manipulate This System… Please do not try. It will only result in your site being removed from the search engine.
- Give a 101% effort to your clients and in return will be blessed with a high number of positive reviews.
- Remind your clients that your business depends on their positive reviews (how many times do you finish a business transaction these days and the Representative educates you on the survey you will be receiving and how important it is that they get 5 stars?).
- Make it is easy for your clients to find you on Yelp, Google Places, Bing Places, and Zagat for you restauranteurs.
Local SEO is the difference of searching for “Plumber” and searching for “Plumber Seattle” or “Plumber Downtown Seattle”. When I am looking for a plumber, I do not care if there is a 5 star rated 50% off plumber in New York. I need a Plumber in Seattle, or even Downtown Seattle.
This is especially important for any industry that has multi-million dollar corporations that are competing for the top spots. Take Real Estate for example. If you search “Real Estate Seattle” the first results are Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, or Redfin. The only way you are going to show up, is with Local SEO.
If you are still reading I am sure you can assume by now the first place to start to work on your Local SEO…. That’s right Google Places, preferably linked to your Google + account using a Google + page.
How Do You Do It?
Register your business information on high profile websites that display business listings (Business Name, Phone Number, Address) these are called your “Citations”. These are universal signals that help the search engines to know where “Local is” for your business.
Such as: Google Places, Bing Places, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Local.com, Mapquest, etc…
I have noticed that the top Local SEO options on Google Places generally have a larger amount of positive Customer Reviews or Social Proof.
This only makes sense. As a customer searching for a local business wouldn’t you want to get the highest rated results first?
You can read about 7 Local SEO Tools that can help you build your local SEO.
In addition to setting up your business citations on sites like Google, Bing and Yelp. You need to add your business citations to your website.
Here is the code snippet:
<div class=”fn org”>Business Name</div>
<div class=”street-address”>12345 Main St.</div>
<span class=”locality”>City</span>, <span class=”region”>State</span> <span class=”postal-code”>Zip Code</span></div>
<div class=”tel”>(555) 555-1212</div>
In addition make sure that you use Localized Keywords in the content on your website!
I cover Content Marketing and content in-depth in the linked post. The reason I add content to this list is because:
Content is the part of the Internet Marketing system that can not be automated or systemized or simplified without comprising your integrity.
Let’s take the system that the VP was talking about earlier. It will have a nice looking website, blog, IDX, CRM, Social Media, and an Email Incubation system. That is awesome! It was only 5 years ago that, that was not even a thought.
The problem is that sooner than later that will be the norm, and what will set those kinds of “Systems” apart then? Content!
Creating unique, timely, educational or motivational content is not easy and the search engines know that. You see if you can be the one that does create it… you will be rewarded.
Not to mention that Content fuels the inbound marketing engine from Blog Posts, Social Media Status Updates, Email Newsletters, SEO, SEM, and everything in between.
Please share your comments on these ideas… Does the idea of relying on Social Proof worry you? Does the thought of creating content scare you? Is Local SEO just a fad? Don’t think this is the Future of Internet Marketing? Let me know what you think.