A few weeks ago I conducted a test to see if I could get a home listing ranked on Google with a Facebook post. The short answer is I could, but it wasn’t the Facebook post that got ranked, it was the tweet I have automatically sent from Facebook. Right now, I’m super excited about the search ranking capabilities Twitter has.
This is especially true for real estate agents. Agents have many challenges getting their sites to show up in search results. First off, many broker sites aren’t SEO friendly. Secondly, agents tend to move brokerages. If they managed to build any search rankings at their previous employer, it all goes away…unless the agent is personally branding instead of brokerage branding. Third, they lack time. Uploading a full real estate listing is time consuming. If they don’t have an IDX feed on their website, it doesn’t typically get done.
Let’s shift gears for a minute and think from the consumer side of things. Home buyers are much more savvy about searching than ever before. Realtor.org says 42% begin their search online. Over the course of their search 92% of home buyers will use the Internet.
Consider this scenario – A couple decides to buy a house. They do their research and identify say six properties to drive by. While at a location they see another house they like that wasn’t on their list. For whatever reason, there’s no pricing information. And they don’t want to call the agent on the sign because they don’t know the price. A quick Google search should bring up the listing and the price. Right? What if it doesn’t? How about that other search engine people use on their phones…Twitter? 2.1 BILLION searches are done on Twitter every day. That’s what I would do. The average age of first time home buyers right now is 31. They are connected wirelessly and they use Twitter.
Remember that address I used for my test? Here’s what the search of it looks like on Twitter –
My Twitter account is the top result. One real estate agent tweeted that listing and they’re not even the listing agent. Do you see the opportunity?
Let me demonstrate further. Here’s what Google looks like for this listing at the time of this post –
My test tweet is on page one…ahead of the MLS. The listing agent at Coldwell Banker holds the top spot, Trulia is second and a handful of other Realtors fill in the middle. Agents relying solely on their MLS listings to sell homes are going to be disappointed. The WFRMLS is out of touch with their technology and their strategy.
This is why real estate agents should be using Twitter.
In my last article, I wrote my biggest Twitter regret was using auto-follow tools to follow a bunch of people I didn’t know. If I had to do it again, I’d rather do it organically. Well, now I have that opportunity! I’ve started a new business and Twitter is a key part of how I’m going to build traffic for the site.
Since I’ve been racing to add all the pieces I want to the site, I haven’t been promoting it very much. However, I have been using Twitter. These are my techniques.
Use keywords – My new site is about starting a business. Its geography is Utah for now. Business startups have their own set of jargon, so I’m using those keywords. For example, my first article was about the minimum viable product. I sent out a tweet and got a follower. I retweeted a different article about growth hacking from my Swaby Media account and got a dozen new followers from it.
Interact with others – The Twitter interface and ecosystem are pretty simple to interact with others. When you publicly interact with an account, that user can see it as well as their followers. Activities like replying, retweeting and favoriting are all of benefit. If people are doing that with your content it’s a good thing. Even without creating content yourself, you can build a following by sharing others’ content.
Following others – If you follow someone, there’s a good chance they will follow you back. Don’t auto-follow otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed. It’s also a terrific idea to put people you follow in lists by subject matter. Those lists can be publicly followed and they’re another good reason people will want to follow you.
Use hashtags – Hashtags are searchable. If your subject matter is popular, it’s a good idea to use a trending hashtag. Be careful that you know what the hashtag is about. Companies have made serious errors with hashtags on Twitter.
Use tools and repeat yourself – On Twitter, it’s ok to repeat yourself. It’s also ok to send out the same content with a different description and different hashtags. Tools like Hootsuite make it easy to shrink URLs, write tweets and schedule them throughout the day.
Place a twitter feed on your website – It’s another way to share content, get indexed by Google and pick up new followers.
Remember that Twitter is a real-time search engine. Except for the portion of users who automate their activity, an activity on Twitter can be significant. If someone follows you and you think they have value, follow back!. Follow people who retweet your content. The whole goal of your Twitter strategy should be to make contact with people who are interested in your subject matter.
Back in the day, when Twitter was still a hatchling, and before it had wide-spread acceptance, there was only one metric anyone cared about – the number of followers. And, back in the day, before anyone had a clue what Twitter was to become, some very smart people created automatic follow programs.
One of the key tactics to growing followers on Twitter is to simply follow other people. It’s the first step Twitter has people take when they register a new account. It works off the law of reciprocation. If I follow you, you’re likely to follow me. This is especially true if users interact by following, retweeting or favoriting a tweet and Twitter sends an email notification. It’s just easy to follow, particularly if the user’s bio resonates.
Twitter began with an open API and developers quickly made programs that would autofollow users based on any number of criteria. I used some of those programs and it’s my biggest regret. Even though I used a set of keywords to find users I wanted to follow, I still got plenty of people not worth being connected to.
It also screwed up my follow/follower ratio. Twitter and Klout look at that ratio to determine how much influence you actually have. It’s better to have more followers than you’re following. As you can see in the screen grab, I don’t have a good ratio. This is even after spending hours using tools and manually unfollowing every spammer, scammer and network marketer I’d inadvertently followed using software. I’ve given up on getting rid of them and just spend my time providing content which is attracting quality followers.
Twitter caught onto the follow tools, banned users and changed their API so it could never happen again. Unlike Facebook business pages, I haven’t created a lot of Twitter accounts. My personal Twitter account is private, so I don’t care about growth there. I am using Twitter for my newest venture and am enjoying the process of growing a follower base organically. In my next article I’ll tell you how.
I started a new twitter account today and I don’t care if you follow me on it. In fact, I don’t care if I get any followers on it…ever. Why open one then? Because Google’s little spider bots will follow me. They’ll follow my tweets. They’ll put my tweets on their little search engine that everyone uses. And they’ll put those tweets on that search engine pretty quickly. Then I’ll get followers…that care about my content.
“Findability precedes usability. In the alphabet and on the Web. You can’t use what you can’t find.” – Ambient Findability by Peter Morville
Over the past few years I’ve been thinking if I were a new business I’d start with a Facebook page. Since I ran my ranking experiment, that thought has changed. I’ve been using Twitter more for this site and business and been getting new followers, retweets and all the signals reflecting my content has traction.
I’ll still create a Facebook page for my startup. But with limited time and resources Twitter brings a marvelous bang for the buck. First of all, my blog posts get published to Twitter automatically. There is no extra time taken to post content.
By displaying my Twitter feed on my blog, I don’t have to write full posts to bring value to my site. Twitter does that for me in 140 characters or less.
When I retweet others, I get the benefit of sharing content I think my audience would find useful, I add relevant subject matter to my website through the Twitter feed and I get the opportunity to grow my followers on Twitter.
Since I’ve returned to creating content on a regular basis here, my followers on Twitter have increased both in number and in engagement. Because Google indexes those tweets which link back to here, I’m improving my search engine optimization as well!
Returning to my original statement, I don’t care if I don’t have followers on Twitter. I know if I post content there it will improve my search rankings which will lead to more qualified followers on Twitter.
The recent announcement of the merger between Zillow and Trulia has a lot of real estate agents concerned. So I did a little research to see if real estate agents could compete post merger. The short answer is they can. You can find the long answer and ways how here.
While I was researching the guide, I decided to do a little test. Could I make a real estate listing post on a Facebook business page and have it show up in a Google search result? My hypothesis was it would get ranked. A few days ago I checked Google to find out. Here’s what I found.
I was a little surprised this site showed up. I have feeds set so when I publish something to Facebook, it also goes to Twitter. My Twitter feed shows up here on my right sidebar.
The entire Twitter post showed up as well. So did another page from this site. That one post on Facebook got three search results on Google.
But I haven’t found the Facebook post itself to be ranked…and it was the source for the content.
My takeaways from this experiment follow-
1. My hypothesis was the Facebook post would get ranked. It didn’t…yet. (I’ll provide an update if that changes.)
2. Social media posts do get ranked. Even if I had no followers on Twitter, a thoughtfully written tweet would get ranked.
3. There is so much power in syndication. I made one post that went multiple places and got ranked at least three times. Every serious online business should be doing this! It’s one of the reasons I said in my guide that every real estate agent should be using an IDX feed.
People who don’t “get” Twitter often ask me what it’s really good for. Charlie Sheen isn’t the only one getting some mileage out of the microblogging service. I tell people it’s a real-time search engine. If there’s one takeaway from this article for you, I want that to be it.
In the example above, I asked a question about something I didn’t know about. Within minutes I had an answer…from somebody I trust. While I don’t know this person in real life, I do know their expertise and found it to be trustworthy. I also received responses from two other people I didn’t know with a few other suggestions.
My biggest concern was finding a host with easy WordPress installation. I know what’s a competitive price for hosting and Dreamhost was slightly higher than what I’d been paying. I checked out Dreamhost’s site from a link in their Twitter profile and everything looked good. When I went to sign up, it asked for a discount code. I didn’t have one, so I Googled it. Within seconds I found one that discounted the price $97. For $22, I got a year of hosting with a one click WordPress install.
It’s not all the way up yet, but my new SEO website is at least presentable. That is the value of Twitter.
Last week Chrysler made a social media faux pas. They accidentally dropped the “F” bomb. Well…the social media company they hired dropped the bomb. Actually somebody at the social media company did.
What was the offensive tweet? (Fair warning, adult conversation with adult words is about to happen.)
@ChryslerAutos – “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive.”
As a result of one word, the employee lost their job and a few days later, the entire agency was fired. Meanwhile at the Academy Awards, everyone thinks Melissa Leo’s passionate blurting of the F bomb was no big deal.
Ironically Chrysler’s new spokesman is Eminem, a Detroit rapper famous for his profanity laden rhymes. But the social media person is the one that got fired. They’re the one that didn’t meet the standard of
Chrysler Group and its brands do not tolerate inappropriate language or behavior, and apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this communication.
I don’t care. Most adults don’t. That’s the reality of social media. We now see things transparently. The stereotypical 50’s families like Ozzy and Harriet never existed. Clever Hollywood types presented this illusion of perfection as reality, but it’s not. Reality is full of curse words, alcohol, sex and all sorts of other things adults have proven over and over to be able to handle.
Chrysler is making a bigger ass of themselves by making an issue of this. If you’re going to fire this company, fire Eminem too. Transparency shines a light on everything good and bad.
In the transparent age, we need to be more forgiving. Not only is Chrysler hypocritical for firing their social media company, they’re hypocritical for firing them for a genuine mistake. How many cars does Chrysler recall each year for mistakes? I’ll bet it’s more than one!
We no longer live in a sanitized world. If we crave transparency, we have to accept everything that light illuminates. America elected a President with a DUI. We tolerated Dick Cheney’s off mic profanity. We’ll just have to accept an accidental F bomb from the car company Eminem reps.
Oh the humanity…
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