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Online REALTORS® need to grasp Web visitor's behavior

by John Alexander

One of the questions I am asked most often by those who are learning search engine marketing is this question:

"What is the single most important aspect of the optimization process?"

Many professional search engine optimizers might reply by explaining that "choosing the best keywords" is the number one most important step and they'd be right.

But while this is true, it is still only just part of the process. Sure you must find excellent keywords that are in high demand for your product or service, but I encourage search engine marketing students to set their objectives just a little bit higher.

Here is what I mean. Don't make your overall objective a hunt for keywords, but make your number one objective, a hunt to find your target audiences real-time behaviour! This is the most valuable aspect of studying to prepare a search engine optimization strategy and one of the most fascinating along the way.

What you are seeking then, is not limited to finding just the hottest words and phrases being used, but you are seeking to understand how the Internet "is being used" by a specific audience.

For our article today, let's choose one of the most highly competitive arenas there is....Real Estate. Now if you are a realtor, you already know this. You may wonder why your Website is having challenges, why you feel like your return on investment has not rendered as much as you originally hoped. Well, if you've been discouraged by millions of competing sites, listen up because in the next few minutes I'll explain why there is GREAT news ahead.

Hot News for REALTORS® : 2002 NEVER looked better for Realtors!

First a few recent facts for 2002 as compiled by a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey. The survey was conducted between March 1 through May 19 of 2002. The margin of error is plus or minus two percentage points.

This recent survey found that 36% of the nation's 111 million Internet users had done housing searches online. That compared to a previous survey done back in March 2000, demonstrated that only 27% of the nation's 89 million online adults had done such a search.

The report went on to say that Internet house hunters are diverse and are distributed relatively equally along racial, gender, and income lines. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the entire U.S. population, (about 40 million Americans) have moved each year within just the last decade.

So who is looking online for housing information?

Apparently many Internet house hunters are:

(More facts from the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey)

  • Young Internet users between the ages of 18 and 29.
  • Some 47% of those between ages 18 and 29 with Internet access have looked for houses or apartments online, compared with 37% of those ages 30-49 and 25% of those ages 50-64.
  • Those with higher education levels, but in all income groups. While those with college and graduate degrees are more likely to have ventured into the online real estate world, Internet house hunters are relatively evenly spread throughout all income groups.
  • Experienced users. 62% of Internet house hunters have been online for over three years. Unattached but well connected. Some 58% of those who look for housing information online are unmarried. Some 46% of broadband users have house-hunted online, compared with 35% of those with slower connections. And 58% of Internet house hunters are daily Internet users.

A recent study by the National Association of Realtors found that 41% of all homebuyers used the Internet as a search and research tool. In 2001, there were 6.2 million single-family home sales. Our findings suggest that online house hunting is a more widespread activity that extends beyond active buyers, sellers, and renters.

What does this mean to today's REALTORS® ?

Top visibility is more important than EVER!

The challenge with many Web sites, is that they were developed by Web firms that may often have solid skills in coding and superb skills as graphic artists, but not too many have understood the importance of building a solid search engine marketing strategy.

Few have ever been professionally trained in search engine marketing and fewer still, have been certified in these skills. The common fallacy persists that all you need is a few keywords in your Meta tags and your site will magically get top placement. This is totally inaccurate.

Another fallacy is that if your register with "thousands" of search engines, you'll be over run with traffic. The truth is that the largest body of traffic comes only from a handful of major search engines. It is on these engines you must be found by your "target audience".

Solutions for REALTORS®

Instead of building your Web site first and then researching a high traffic strategy later, like many of today's web developers do, you need to research your target audience FIRST to find out about your audiences behaviour and then build strategies into your web site that will appeal to those behaviours. Find out what your target audience wants and give it too them right up front.

To achieve this genuine high visibility within the Top ranks of major search engines, you have two options:

1. Hire a certified SEO (search engine optimizer) to do the research and consult with you.

2. Study search engine optimization yourself (it's NEVER been easier to learn)It's actually never been easier or faster to learn SEO thanks now to the new hands-on, LIVE SEO Mastery workshop where you are taught everything you need to know in a step by step process. Read what people are saying about this course:

Check out the full Pew Internet & American Life Project survey here:

Would you like to be trained by John Alexander and Robin Nobles together in person? Now is a GREAT time to register. Join us for one-on-one, personal instruction at the Ultimate SEO Mastery Workshop with full SEO certification

About John Alexander

John has taught onsite search engine marketing workshops to people from over 80 different countries, and he's worked as a professional in the search engine industry for years. John operates a Web site for professional search engine optimizers, John has partnered with Robin Nobles last year and together, John and Robin teach a LIVE 36 hour hands-on program called the Ultimate SEO Mastery Workshop.

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