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"Agent Strategies for Top Internet Performance"


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Karen Stefani Photo
8/7/98 Interview with Karen Stefani

Sold By Design
PO Box 1937
Sandwich, MA 02563
Biography

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Quick Start in RE via the Internet

  1. Researching the Internet before she re-entered the RE arena enabled Stefani to develop an effective web site; its key attributes are ease of use and follow-up; service is stressed over sales.
  2. Besides her involvement in Real Estate sales, Stefani works with agents through her company Sold by Design to help them improve their web site business; she gives tips and submits sites to search engines for clients.
  3. Stefani stresses the value of her on-going service to web site clients because an effective page requires continual monitoring and updating - too time-consuming and costly for many Realtors to handle personally.
Strategies to Draw Visitors to Your Site

  1. Make your site service oriented rather than a billboard for yourself personally.
  2. Don't waste time and money trying to break into the "TopTen" listings of search engines because in most cases, the Top Ten have paid for the positioning.
  3. Take advantage of free links to other Real Estate sites; doing so can also boost your standing with search engines, which often consider the number of links a site has.
  4. There is no comprehensive listing of free RE-related links, but doing your own search will uncover many.
Registering with Search Engines

  1. Stefani prefers to register sites manually rather than use registration services; the most popular engines and indexes change frequently; hot search engines right now include GoTo.com and Search King.
  2. Paying for service from the new site RealNames.com can provide a positioning advantage; sites listed with RealNames will come up first with some search engines.
  3. A risk of registering your site to a multitude of search engines via "free service" providers is that you open yourself to an onslaught of spam; for the same reason, be cautious about announcing your site in the news groups.
  4. Focus your efforts on the Real Estate industry in general or your RE specialty within your own geographical region.
  5. The frequency to resubmit depends on the search engine; once is sufficient for Yahoo!, but resubmission is advisable to others whenever you change your pages or metatags - quarterly is typical.
  6. Metatags is the language behind what you see on a web page; many programs allow you to see the html language by going to "View/Source."
Checking Your Web Site Positioning

  1. A number of free programs on the Internet are helpful for assessing your own site - e.g., WebSite Garage and Position Agent.
  2. Web Position is a good software product for analysis; it runs automatically and can comparatively search your site and your competitors' sites.
Web Site Optimization

  1. A number of techniques, such as metatags, can be used to boost positioning with search engines; get assistance from a web master to employ background techniques, but nothing can guarantee your placement with a search engine except paying the search engine directly.
  2. Maintaining more than one site is a way to augment traffic; Stefani has two main sites for her Cape Cod Real Estate business plus a number of single pages through subscription at other sites; she registers all of them with the search engines.
  3. Effective cross-linking can be achieved; some hosting services charge a reasonable, one-time fee to re-direct another domain to your own.
  4. Subscribe to some of the free mailing lists that cover changes to search engines; time and energy are required to do the necessary research to keep up, but doing so is worth it for a Realtor committed to doing business on the web.
Checking Out Domain Names

  1. Among several sites that can search availability of a potential domain name and register it for you is WhoIs.net.
  2. Cost of registering is inexpensive compared to conventional newspaper advertising; for the cost of one weekend ad, you could register a second domain name and have it point to your main site for a year or two.
Tracking Your Web Site Activity

  1. Check your web site statistics regularly - once a week; you can analyze where inquiries are coming from, what key words they've searched and which pages they've searched to tailor your site to potential business.
  2. Host providers often provide statistical services; ask for a report or information about where to retrieve the stats online.
  3. Software packages to check statistics can be purchased (e.g., webtrends); freeware and shareware should also be available.
Promoting Your Personality through Email

  1. Make email messages you send appear as professional as possible; take the position of offering service rather than making a hard sell.
  2. Use the subject line to convey a warm feeling, such as "Greetings from...."
  3. Thank people for inquiring, respond to what they've asked, provide additional information and ask if and how they would like you to follow up; people who are truly interested in staying in touch will respond.
Tips for Expanding Links to Your Page

  1. Offering reciprocal links to RE professionals outside your area and to businesses within your area is the easiest, quickest and one of the most effective strategies.
  2. Visit sites that offer free links or purchase a bold link from them; good sources are Irelocal sites that draw in visitors are worth paying for.
Favorite Sites

  1. Well-established sites that continue to be valuable include Inman.com, Agent News and Realtor.com.
  2. Mailing lists are a great way to learn what is going on in the industry and in the world: Real Talk and Ted Kraus' Residential Sales.
Society Recognition

Members are asked to send Jack Peckham a short email message attesting to personal Internet successes; the Society will highlight these achievements and give members exposure. Society members are offered a $75 discount good for the month of August on a 6-month package to power-up your web site. For details, visit Stefani's site, www.soldbydesign.com.

Contact Information for Karen Stefani:

(v) 508-888-0707
(f) 508-833-6655
(e) karen@soldbydesign.com
(w)www.soldbydesign.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Hot search engines:
www.goto.com
Searchking.com

For positioning advantage:
www.realnames.com
www.positionagent.com
www.searchenginehelp.com

Page for Web site evaluation:
www.websitegarage.com

Web Position Analyzer (software):
www.webposition.com

Search & register domains:
www.whois.net

To check web site statistics:
www.webtrends.com
www.watchwise.net

Free links:
www.ired.com
www.realtylocator.com

MOTD: Marketing Tip of the Day:
Subscribe @ www.clearlyinternet.com

Guerilla Marketing: www.gmarketing.com

Ted Kraus' Residential Sales discussion group at: www.property.com

Other favorites:
Inman.com
www.agentnews.com
www.realtalk.net