FAQ About The Web And Realtor Websites


THE LEADERS POST - Issue #9 - February 11, 1999

from Results-net.com
By: Doug Towes, Editor

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About the Leaders Post
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The Leaders Post is the biweekly newsletter for real estate
professionals committed to Net Success - from Results-net.com, an
online community of real estate professionals dedicated to providing
excellent service to their clients. If you prefer the online version,
the current issue as well as previous issues can be viewed by clicking
Internet Marketing Tips For Real Estate Agents

You may pass this newsletter on to others, as long as it is sent
in it's entirety.

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Contents
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- Internet success in Halifax
- Answers to 15 FAQ
- New House and Home Page
- Contest winner!
- Tip of the day

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Net Success
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The purpose of this newsletter is to share experiences and ideas for
being successful in our online real estate endeavors. I always
appreciate it when someone drops me a line to let me know how they are
faring, and when someone sends me a note sharing what works for them.

I recently received the following note from Ron Hollett, Halifax NS
who wrote about how his web site
was generating business so far this year. If you don't have a web site
yet, think about what you are missing!

"In January I had 69 hits (requests for information). Of these, there
are 7 waiting for word of their transfer and 9 more I have sent
packages out to. In addition I am at present working with 6 couples
that came directly from the site.

I don't know how this stacks up with others but I am pleased. I am
always looking for ways to increase these numbers so if you can think
of things I should be doing let me know. I have learned a lot from our
news letters and the agents on line, but I think there is more
business out there to be had.

The amazing thing about this site is people are starting to think I
know a lot about computers! I am still a novice with so much to learn
but it's coming."

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I thought I would share my answers to some frequently asked questions
about the internet and web sites. For some it may be "old hat", but I
think it may be helpful for many. Please feel free to correct me and
add (or subtract) to my answers!


1. What do you believe most agents do wrong when designing a web
site?

- Most agents think of their web site as an advertisement - an
electronic personal brochure.

- The Internet started as, and still is a communication medium not
an advertising medium. Visitors to an internet site are looking
for information and want to interact. Most are new to the internet
and are interested in having a buying experience through the
internet. Property listings on your site are seen as
advertisements - and visitors may phone for more information much
like they will an ad in the print media. But when they are
looking for an agent, they really want to interact at least
initially thru email - to validate their own feelings that the
internet is an exciting and valuable place.

2. What browser do you recommend and why?

- I recommend recent versions of both Netscape and Internet
Explorer. Each has nice features, but display web pages
differently. If you have a web site, you should know what your
site looks like in each major browser. The latest stats show that
more than twice as many use Internet Explorer version or better
than use Netscape, so that is where I would want my site to
display the best.

3. What ISP do you recommend and why?

- ISP means Internet Service Provider - which provides a dial up
account to the internet - as opposed to a Web Hosting company
which hosts web sites but does not provide dial up services. Some
ISP's also will provide space for your web pages. Some stipulate
"personal web pages" and do not allow "business" oriented sites -
which would include real estate.

- Ideally you would want an ISP with a "no busy signal" policy,
with a fast connection to the internet (at least a T1 or a T3
would be nice to have). The availability of support services will
be a concern for some.

The ISP should have a history of little down time - which is a big
problem with some. If you choose an ISP that also provides space
for your web site, make sure business activities are allowed, that
a personal cgi-bin is provided, and that there are no charges for
traffic. Many hosts charge you extra if you have over a certain
amount of traffic.

- The biggest problem with the services that offer you free web
space like Geocities or Tripod (aside from the annoying pop up
ads!!) is that search engines do not spider them. Since search
engines will provide the bulk of your visitors this is important.

Search engines also do not spider larger hosts like AOL and
Compuserve. As with the free sites, you have to manually submit by
email - you can't use their submission forms online, and the
search engines list only the submitted pages - the other pages are
not spidered. Some search engines now ignore all but one submitted
page - so it is important to be "spidered" after the fact.

Why spend all the time and money on a site, and then not be able
to achieve good ranking in the search engines? By the way, this
also means if you use such web space any money spent on a
submission service is totally wasted!


4. What should a web site cost? (explain)

- People tend to choose ISP's and Webmasters based on cost. You
get what you pay for in most cases. You will find that the hardest
thing to find is a good webmaster - one who knows how to optimize
a site for search engine ranking, who can design a real estate
site with the visitor in mind, and who provides fast service with
updates.

- A web site should have an initial production charge based on the
complexity of the site, and then a monthly maintenance fee as well
that varies again depending on the services rendered.

- Many real estate agents are paying between $1200 and $4000 USD
for decent sites. That is for the initial production and setup.
There is usually a monthly maintenance fee as well of between $50
and $150 USD.

5. What can an agent do to help customers find their site?

- Ensure good search engine positioning. This is an ongoing
process, and if you do not have the inclination to learn how to do
this - then pay your webmaster to do it. With the potential for
hundreds of local real estate sites, those in the top twenty of
rankings in the most search engines will receive 80% of the
traffic.

- Put your email address and URL on all your marketing material,
letterhead, cards etc.

- If an agent has a compelling reason to visit his or her site,
advertising the site in conventional media as a destination works
well.

- Agents can exchange reciprocal links with other real estate
sites.

- Agents can develop a signature that includes all their contact
info, and append it to all their email correspondence.

- Agents can increase the activity to their site and also
referrals from other agents by getting involved in Usenet
Discussions and various discussion forums in the net.

- Agents can sign up for ICQ and make their number public to
increase their availability. ICQ is an instant messaging service
and chat server that can also be used to network with other agents
to increase the chance of referrals.

- Agents can list themselves in the various real estate
directories found on the net.

- Opt in email lists (as opposed to spam) are popular as a way of
"pushing" your message, but with the amount of junk email or spam
out there, agents may think it is a better idea than the public.

- The networking possibilities on the internet are endless. The
more involved an agent becomes with the internet, the more
business is generated.

6. Some authorities have suggested Meta Tags are no longer important.
Is this true? Why?

- Meta Tags are important, but were never as important as some
made them out to be. The description Meta Tag is used by many
search engines for the description of the site displayed in their
database. Without this tag, some search engines will just take
some random text from you page and display that as a description.
Sometimes that includes some code which is not too appealing to
someone trying to decide on whether they should click on your link
or not.

The keywords Meta Tag is used to include keywords on your site -
especially useful if your main page has a lot of graphics and
little text.

This tag only gives your site an increase in ranking in two main
search engines - HotBot and Infoseek. If this tag is used
incorrectly, it will cause you to be penalized in your ranking not
only in HotBot and Infoseek, but in AltaVista as well.


7. What are E-Mail aliases and how are they used?

- E mail aliases are email addresses that forward to your email
account.

One use is to have mail sent from various response forms or web
pages addressed to different aliases. You can then have your email
program automatically sort the incoming mail by recipient to
various folders. This helps keep you organized.

8. What should an agent expect their office to do or provide to
facilitate Internet or E-Mail business?

- Extra electrical outlets and phone lines. I would have said a
scanner a year or two ago, but they are cheap enough now to buy
your own.

Success on the internet demands some personal involvement by the
agent - so I don't see a big role for office staff. As I said
earlier, most visitors to an internet site want to interact, and
develop a relationship online.

9. What search engines do you use and why?

- When searching for something online, I generally check two or
three of the major search engines. I never use just one, because
experience shows the results are different with each engine, and I
don't want to miss anything good.

I think when someone is searching for an agent they do the same
thing, so if you show up well in at least 2 or 3 of the major
search engines, you will likely be found in most searches.

The engines I will use are AltaVista, HotBot, Excite, and
Infoseek. I do not use Yahoo, as it is not a search engine, but a
directory. Yahoo lists very little new content - so it's
information is thin and very dated. I do not use Lycos - their
results are also very dated - takes 6 months for them to list a
submitted site.

10. Which real estate sites do you recommend agents view?

- The International Real Estate Directory has been around since
the beginning and is one of the sites most visited by agents.

- For real estate discussion groups, check out the Agents Online
Real Estate Forums

- Inman News - for current news stories about real estate issues.

- Real Times - Agent News - for more current real estate stories
and "how to" articles.

- HomeFair.com - to give you an idea of what kinds of services are
available to buyers and sellers on the internet.

11. Some ISP's offer up to 15 mail I.D.'s. Why are they needed?

- Handy to have if you have a partner and/or assistants, so they
can each have their own email address. Your spouse and kids can
have one too.

12. Some sites provide detailed info, others make you request it; what
info should be provided versus requested?

- Content is one of the secrets to a successful web site. On the
Internet you have to give in order to get. The more content you
provide the better. Even if most of the content on your site is
rarely read by visitors, those extra web pages help with your
search engine positioning that will lead people to your site.

- Content keeps people on your site, encourages them to come back,
and makes them want to work with you.

- I think you will find that sites that provide detailed
information do more business than sites that make you request it.
Anything that can be provided should be. The only limitations are
set by the real estate boards.

The internet is a communications network that was set up as a
means of exchanging information. If someone does not find the
information on one site, they usually go where they can find it -
they don't ask - or they may ask, but by the time you answer they
have already found it somewhere else. People come to my site
because they do not find what they are looking for at the major
MLS sites.

- In the very near future, large MLS sites may become less
important, as the technology is apparently now being developed to
allow a person to search all web sites for property listings that
match their specific criteria. This includes not just REALTOR's
sites, but FSBOs as well. The whole idea behind the MLS online, of
having the lions share of homes for sale available in one place,
may no longer be a benefit to the consumer - who will be able to
search all web sites simultaneously and not have to search
individual site's databases.

13. Why do some sites let you go back to the one you came from and
others do not? Should I avoid linking to ones that don't?

- I am not sure I understand the question. If you click on a link
and go to another site, there is not usually a link to take you
back. You can use your browser's back button of course.

- Sites use two strategies to keep visitors on their site. The
first is with the use of frames. When a visitor to your site
clicks on a link leading to an external site, that site is
displayed in a framed window on your site. They never actually
leave your site. This is great, except that it can get you sued.
Displaying someone elses content on your site as if it was your
own is a definite no no.

- The second strategy is to have the external site open into a new
browser window. This will not get you sued, and to the visitor it
is obvious that to get back to your site they simply have to close
the new browser window and your site is still being displayed in
the original browser window.

- As for linking, you should link to as many other sites as
possible - as long as they are appropriate sites. Linking also
helps drive traffic in a way that is not so obvious - some search
engines use link popularity as one of their ranking criteria, so
having lots of sites linked to you will help in your search engine
ranking.


14. Some sites on the web are quite large. Does it matter how large a
site you have?

- I mentioned before about the importance of content, so I do
believe a large site is better. It must be easy to navigate as
well though, or visitors become discouraged quickly.

15. Some agents don't have the inclination or resources to have a web
site. What is the minimum they should do?

- If agents don't have the inclination they should probably not do
anything.

- Getting involved on the internet is precisely that - being
involved. Without involvement, there will not be much of a return.

If you feel the pressure to have an email address, It will not do
much good unless you respond to your email everyday. Nowadays the
negative view of non responders far outweighs any benefit of
merely having an email address on your card.

Before you can attract business, you have to sell yourself.
By not responding to your email, you are saying in effect that you
are not prepared to provide good service to your clients and
associates. It is a pretty tough sell after you have sent that
message!

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What works for you? Your suggestions and submissions are gratefully
accepted, and if used you will receive credit along with a link to
your web site or (e mail address if you don't have a web site yet.)
Send submissions to - suggestions may
also be left at the Agents Online Real Estate Idea Center in the
Newsletter Suggestions Forum. http://www.agentsonline.net

One of the most popular forums there is the Business Brokers forum. There are
always lots of interesting and informative discussions going on with a minimum
of spam and solicitations to wade through - check it out!

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This And That
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Contest!

This week's lucky winner is Juilia Deans, Barnsville GA
who wins a photo listing in the Real Estate Directory at
Results-net.com! http://www.results-net.com

For the next while, we will be choosing one posting a week from the
Idea Center, and awarding the lucky participant with a FREE 6 month
enhanced listing (which includes the agent's photo) in the Real
Estate Directories! The lucky participants will also be mentioned
with a link back to their web sites in this newsletter which goes out
to several hundred real estate professionals.

Join us at the Agents Online Real Estate Idea Center at
http://www.agentsonline.net - it's free! We still need moderators for
a couple of the forums, so if you are interested let me know at
and I will set it up.

Moderators have the ability to post announcements, edit and remove
messages, and are notified by email each time someone posts to their
forum. They are often viewed as a leader and/or expert in their forum.
As well, the moderators name appears on every page in their forum.

There is now a colorful new logo suitable for members to place on
their web sites and linking to the Idea Center. The logo is just 6kb,
and a transparent gif, so it will work whatever your page background.
Have a look at http://www.agentsonline.net/home.html , where you can
see the logo and cut and paste the code for linking.

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Tip Of The Day
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Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is. - Will Rogers

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their clients.

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