Local Business Marketing

Local Link Building Strategies

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August 31  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

Local links for businesses are a coveted item and fulfilling an effective local link building campaign can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Since we do a lot of real estate SEO, we spend a lot of time in the local netherworlds and have a few great ways to generate some link gold (awwwwww yeaaaaaa). The great thing is that you can absolutely dominate your local niche if you do a few things right. Our ideas should absolutely be expanded upon and hopefully they help you find your local link gems with little effort. The basis though, as should be true of all campaigns, is about building relationships with those that matter!

Local link building also shouldn’t take up a huge amount of your time, something that’s quite refreshing; It’s not like you’re going after the keyword “credit cards” or something insane. If you’re in the bigger cities, then you do have an obvious challenge ahead, but that also means that there are more link targets to snipe! We’ll also make sure to take a look at the link bait options as well as what you can do to build links yourself straight away. I know Google doesn’t like the latter but you gotta do what you gotta do!

The local link building game is, in my humble opinion, about three different types of links. This mix involves hitting up all the usual suspects such as:

1) Regular nofollow/followed links
2) Social media links eg. bit.ly
3) Citations even if it’s only a business name or the url typed out without it being “hyper”

This is all natural “web doings” for any business, so we shouldn’t have a problem here. I’ll also talk about what we see trend-wise in the local link building arena and talk about how other local businesses can do most of your link building for you – Yes you did read that correctly!

Sniffing For Backlinks:

After 6 years of viewing link profiles in local markets, I can tell you two things that are still dominating for rankings. These two are pretty obvious and in the end, pretty sad:

1) Local business directories work well
2) Links from local bloggers are awesome

There are, however, two positives that come from these two things: You can take better tactics and build WAY BETTER links than those. The other positive? Building those links is relatively easy and you can make a lot of headway in just a few months time. I know a lot of local businesses don’t have a lot of spare time to market themselves, let alone build a few dozen links. So, for the first month you go at it all you’ll need to arm yourself with is a link analysis tool.

It’s pretty obvious I’m going to tell you to pull the links of every competitor in your vertical, true! But there’s more! You’re in a local market and there are tons of other places you’ll be able to get a link from. So sit down, break out a pen and pad (what’s that?) or your laptop, and write down a dozen other local business categories. I’ll bite and give a few examples such as plumbers, lawyers, mortgage brokers, local webmasters and even local SEO consultants. Sniffing their links out will always lead to other local link finds, I guarantee it!

Local Directories:

This is the easiest and first place you should look for links, even though I’m slightly embarrassed to be recommending directories in this day and age. The truth is, in the local scene they’re an asset. You also have a plethora of options to rock out with and it can keep your link building fingers going for a while. There are always the hyper local directories that have been around for years. As well, there are plenty of the big guys that serve the local market. I’ll only provide a small sample of links because everyone and their mother has lists for this already.

Hyper Local Link Directories:

- $cityname business directory
- $cityname web directory
- $cityname directory
- $cityname local business links

“Big Boy” Local Link Directories:

- Yelp.com
- Local.BOTW.org
- Google Places
- Bing Local business
- MerchantCircle.com
- MyCity.com
- YellowPages.com
- http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/10322/The-Ultimate-List-50-Local-Business-Directories.aspx

Because You’re a Business:

Since you’re a business there are a good amount of other link building opportunities to take advantage of. We’ll kick off the thought process for you, but you’ll really need to take what you learn here and dig deeper. The rabbit hole sometimes goes way down and you’ll really have to work at it.

Chamber Of Commerce - This can always lead to a really strong link and definitely comes with a fee… well usually anyway. You’ll also find that if you get linked here, other websites will use that data to fill out their link pages or if they happen to write about your market. It really can lead to good things!

Business Associations - Becoming a member of a local organisation is not only essential for a local business, it can provide one helluva link. Memberships usually come with a fee, but for the networking alone I’d recommend it. In fact, I demand you do it! (Good)Links are all about relationships and I almost can’t think of a better way to do it in a local market.

Meetup.com - I’m a huge fan of this social networking site and running an event not only leads to a great link, it leads to business.  If you’re speaking at your event or have a guest speaker, the chances are good that you’ll get attendees blogging about it and linking away.

Local Event Listings - If your business can put on a function, you best be making sure you’re getting links for it. For an example, my hometown’s local business site lists events and links to the homepage for whomever is putting it on. You can also list to the big event sites like Eventful.com for some great exposure as well as a link! Check out our old post on event link building for way more awesomness.

Company Directories - While these may not be local sites, they’re usually good because they’re listed by Country and area. Sites like Manta.com and Company.com are great business directories to get into. There are also a lot more sites out there like them so check that link and do some snooping of your own.

Local Media Networking:

Getting a mention in the local media requires not only some skill, but something worthy of a link/mention/citation. Getting mentioned the easy way requires you to do something horrific that they just can’t refuse talking about. Perhaps that’s not the best route, however. Getting links from this area requires networking, time and patience. If you’re not doing anything exceptional in business, then skip this part and move along.

Finding Your Connections:

It’s easier than ever to connect with people via social media so there’s no excuse not to try reaching out to local media influencers. This works the same for the local blogger as well as your newscaster. There are three obvious places to start and, while I’m reluctant to reiterate, I might as well for the increased word count.

Twitter – This is an obvious one and all you need to do is follow and get noticed. Start retweeting, asking questions and being interested in your targets. Make sure to utilise sites like WeFollow.com to easily find the most influential people in your area. I also like to check for the local new’s twitter account to scout of followers and lists they’re involved with. This always leads to finding the key people I need to associate with.

Facebook – Almost every news site has a Facebook page and it can be a great place to start networking. You also don’t want to come off as a spammer, so don’t sign up to just post your latest blog link. You’re going to have to be crafty, participate and perhaps find a way to cover a hot news topic on your blog.

LinkedIn – Here’s a great way to connect with local media types and build some trust levels up. You’re golden if they accept a friend request so just make sure your profile is professional, clear and appealing. I’d also check out any groups that person is in as it opens a door. Perhaps there’s even a local media group worth checking out.

Bloggers – All I an say about this is either try and get interviewed from a local business blog or podcast. If you can’t initially, why don’t you interview someone more prominent with your area who can push social followers your way? They’re going to promote the interview to their fans and this can only do good things for your marketing efforts.

Press Release Strategy:

Make a list of all the local news sites and see which ones are picking up on press releases, especially ones with links in them. While dupe PR may not be the best of links, you still might as well get all you can out of it. You’re going to have to whip out your backlink analyzer of choice and reverse engineer the press releases. I like to have every little bit of information so I can try and game my clients release getting on that news site. It’s not hard, just look for what service it was launched with. See if they have geo-targeting options and even what tags they used with the release.

Those in larger cities will have better luck with this. To give you all an example, The Miami Herald has an area for press releases and they do provide links within the release. Sometimes going this route is much easier and quicker than building connections up, but do both or I’ll be upset with you as a marketer!

Getting Legit .Gov/.EDU Links:

Everyone and their mother wants these links but most of you folks pay some shady link broker to sneak them in. When it comes to the local market it doesn’t require any money to snag these links, just good content, time and a little creativity. There are a few easy ways to score some local .edu and .gov links and I’ll drop a few methods. After that, you’ll have to scour their websites to see what they’re linking out to and how you can create linkable content. They’re definitely some of the hardest links to obtain, so don’t give up and do the best you can.

Links For Jobs – This is a great way to score some natural links from either your local government or university. A lot of .edu’s have local job boards and hiring local students to do work is great for everybody involved. Government sites tend to also have job boards so do your best to sniff things out. You’ll have to watch out for https job postings and weakly linked job pages that don’t index well. Also keep an eye out for job/career fairs because they usually provide links to the participants.

Guest Speaking @ School – This has worked for me personally and it’s a great way to not only score some links, but become a local business leader. Connect with the department heads that relate to your business and offer yourself out. You never know what’ll come of it!

Reciprocal Linking:

Yea I said it, so what? Google’s quite clear that recip linking for the purpose of passing PageRank is a no-no, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. A well designed, uniquely named links/resources page for your area can really do you some good and provide users with a piece of useful content. I’m talking about only one or two dozen links on the page backed with unique content, but most importantly, never game any anchor text.

A lot of people think that reciprocal linking is a waste of time and are dead wrong when it comes to ranking locally. I’m coming from years of experience as well and we have clients surviving and thriving thanks to this link profile diversification. Like any tactic, you don’t want to rely solely on it, you don’t want to game anchor text and you want to link to and from quality related sites only.

While I might get some flack for what I’m about to say, I’d even recommend buying links on related, local businesses resource pages. If you just stick to getting a site/brand name link, mix some up with nofollow and pick really quality sites, you’ll do just fine. Sometimes you’ve got to get your hands dirty and if you do, be damn sneaky about it! There’s no way Google’s going to be able to tell it’s a paid link unless the webmaster rats you out. But even in that case, nothing is likely to happen because they might get penalized for selling links. As long as your link profile is diverse, clean and not too spammy, you’ll be fine. If worse comes to worst, Google just devalues those links.

Guest Blogging & Blog Commenting:

Local blogs are a great place to build relationships, get some links and build up your brands awareness. This can be done by guest blogging, commenting like a boss on a really good post or doing an interview on your blog with someone influential. I recommend doing all of those tactics because they work great and add a good link diversity to your profile. Not only that but you start to really build your brand within the community, make friends and have fun all at the same time.

Do’s:

- link to other local influential bloggers a lot
- write as much as you can and contribute somthing to the discussion when commenting
- use link bait such as infographics and widgets to score links from local blogs
- blog about local hot topics to attract social traffic
- build a good local Twitter and Google+ follower set to influence the SERPs
- do crowdsourced content locally when possible

Do Not:

- use keyword anchor text for your “name” when commenting
- steal copyrighted images for your posts
- slander another business as this never works out well
- comment on lousy obvious spam blog posts
- syndicate content from other sources in your area

Build It And They Will Come:

This is some of the best web advice out there! Keep blogging, networking and inspiring and the links will follow along with the business. These core tactics and fundamentals should be enough to dominate any local marketing effort within 6-12 months. Don’t give up and once you find your groove, there’s no stopping you; Only you can get in the way at that point. If anyone has any specific local link building tips then you know what to do, drop them in the comments below!

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Starbucks Does Local Marketing Just Fine

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June 13  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

I get flack for enjoying Starbucks because it’s not considered “cool”, but for a large corporation, they sure do a great job of keeping customers happy. I’ll also gladly admit I like some of the roasts they offer, and sorry to the other coffee shops out there. I just sometimes don’t have pants skinny/tight enough, nor a Macbook to enter your store with to fit in. While getting my fix this morning at the Mayfair Starbucks, I was rewarded with a gift card and some discounts for other purchases. While they certainly do some wrong, I thought I’d just show-off something they’re doing right when it come to local marketing. However, I’m glad I’m off the latte train because $5 for a drink that costs $.25 or less to make is such a scam.

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Zillow iPad App

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June 1  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

Real estate agents who want to take advantage of Zillow’s viewer base now have an even better reason to jump on board. The Zillow iPad application is one of the slickest real estate apps I’ve seen to date, and it’s a powerhouse of a marketing tool. Besides showcasing your listing, the viewer gets a plethora of data on the surrounding area which makes it ideal for home buyers on the go.

 

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Google Place Pages Keynote @ SMX West

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March 19  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

While I’m not seeing too many videos hit Youtube for SMX West, the few that have hit the digital streets have been enjoyable thus far. I just finished my morning medium roast at Starbucks here in my parents hometown, and during that I managed to take in this video by Brian Fitzgerald. Local search for local businesses is un-ignorable although we see that most businesses are doing just that, so hopefully this keynote by Brian gets you thinking and gets you using Google Places. Even for this small town called Tsawwassen I can see just how powerful being listed here would do for the local florist, or mortgage broker. Soak it in folks and start getting those local target leads that will do only great things for your business.

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Smarter Classifieds Marketing For Real Estate Agents

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February 11  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

I wanted to get into an older form of marketing agents either do a lot of, or stopped after getting discouraged from poor results. Classified sites are still a great way to bring in leads, I just think agents need to do it a little smarter. I’ll do my best to keep this post brief because once you get the gist of what I’m saying, the ideas will be a flowing! Remember to check in every day as we’re having Real Estate Marketing Month here and on many guest blogs.

While it doesn’t hurt to just list your latest property listings, you’ll still be see in front of a lot of eyes. As of late, I’ve noticed one really key feature about Craigslist, Kijiji, Oodle.com and others is that their listings can rank really easily for long tail keywords. How often have you noticed this but never thought to take advantage of it?

They key of course is just as simple as titling and making the first sentence right on top with what you want to rank for. This tactic is great for targeting the long tail, especially for new developments, communities and local specific real estate.

I will give you a specific example from my current place of residence here in beautiful Victoria BC. But before I do that, let’s quickly talk about links in your ads. While most classified sites expire after a certain period of time, I still think (keyword being think) that they’ll have a chance at temporarily passing some link juice. At the very least, make sure you fill out your profile on the sites that let you have one. A lot of them will have a place for a link and a followed links, so make your profile write up good and unique!

Example Of Classified Long Tail Domination!:

Keyword: sidney adult community condos (very popular retirement area here)

As you can see, this is a really interesting set of listings completely dominated by classified sites. This also tells me, that a well established local agent could get a page up targeting these keywords. That eventually should easily be able to out rank these classified listings, so make sure to do both! I recommend using your real estate blog to also tackle long tail terms like this. The advantage here with the classified sites though is the ability to rank top 5 within 12-24 hours!

List Of Classified Sites:

Keep in mind there are WAY more  classified sites out there, just do your best to determine the quality of them before wasting your time. I’ll list the top ones here of course, but don’t exclude sites that are built for your local area only. These will not only be great for ranking, you know that most of the traffic on that site is for your area only. Simply brilliant!

- Craigslist
- Oodle
- iList
- BackPage

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If you’re competing in a tough real estate market then why not get out help and focus on your core business. Link building, social media marketing and all the bits in between is a full time job and that’s what our team is for. We not only have a vast real estate marketing skill set, we have a passion for the industry and take pride in building up your brand.

Services: http://www.linkbuildr.com/real-estate-marketing-seo/

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Real Estate Social Media, Real Time and Location Based Marketing Tactics

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November 23  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

I imagine the last thing real estate agents want to hear is that there are more marketing strategies to implement this year. I know how much time I put into my online and offline marketing efforts, so I feel for other agents out there trying to keep up. I’ll do my best to not overwhelm you folks, but instead help build a solid foundation towards your social media strategies.

It’s no secret by now that real time search and marketing are going to be very important factors in the coming year and beyond, so let’s see what’s going to be worth our time and effort. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time marketing into something that brings in little to no ROI. On the other hand, you don’t want to miss out or be too late or your competitors will snap that opportunity up…and the business that goes with it.

All these tactics go hand in hand with obtaining high quality links that are related to your business. This is a great way to diversify your link portfolio in a natural, white hat strategy that will make it hard for your competitors to copy. Not only that, but you will be building a platform to launch viral content to readers that are location based and already following your business. I cannot think of a better method of marketing to have in this day and age, so hopefully this paper helps you bring in more sales!


Twitter Came and Conquered:

I imagine the last thing real estate agents want to hear is that there are more marketing strategies to implement this year. I know how much time I put into my online and offline marketing efforts, so I feel for other agents out there trying to keep up. I’ll do my best not to overwhelm you folks, but instead help build a solid foundation towards your social media strategies.

It’s no secret by now that real time search and marketing are going to be very important factors in the coming year and beyond, so let’s see what’s going to be worth our time and effort. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time marketing into something that brings in little to no ROI. On the other hand, you don’t want to miss out or be too late or your competitors will snap that opportunity up…and the business that goes with it.

All these tactics go hand in hand with obtaining high quality links that are related to your business. This is a great way to diversify your link portfolio in a natural, white hat strategy that will make it hard for your competitors to copy. Not only that, but you will be building a platform to launch viral content to readers that are geographically targeted and already following your business. I cannot think of a better method of marketing to have in this day and age, so hopefully this paper helps you bring in more sales!

Real Time Marketing Strategies:

The age of real time is upon us, and it has been for a couple years now. Twitter was the first break-through; a tool which most thought would die out as a fad. While it is of course still a web application that may die out in the long run, it is something that has changed the way we search. You still may be thinking about skipping to the next section, but let me go over a few things that might change your mind.

While a lot of folks will never jump on the Twitter bandwagon, real estate agents shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. There is a young generation out there that has obviously adopted this into their everyday lives, so the young home-buyer demographic is heavily represented there. This is why Twitter and the future of real time marketing shouldn’t be ignored. The chance to interact in real time with local people is very easy with Twitter, and building relationships can be done by the thousands. I like to think of Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages as the new frontier of newsletters.

I can tell you now that the twenty to thirty something’s are not signing up for newsletters, and if they have, it was most likely by mistake. Don’t worry though, because it really has never been easier to build up a local, targeted following that will bring in leads. I won’t get into it here, so wait for part four to get all the nitty gritty details.


How Google is Incorporating Real Time Search:

By now I’m sure you’ve either read or seen Twitter results showing up in Google. This is a very interesting feature. Sadly, however, it has been quite selective on which search terms it’s showing up for. I highly suggest you start Googling around for keywords within your target business area and from there make a list of them that show results. I cannot say much for the other search engines in regards to real time search, but always keep your ear to the ground, and never stop searching.

I certainly found myself using Twitter’s search engine quite a bit after I discovered it, and I’m sure Google took notice to this trend. The big G quickly rolled out Google Buzz which, for the most part, has not really caught on. I wouldn’t shrug it off completely though because if Twitter manages to annoy Google, you could very well see only Google Buzz showing up for those real time results.

But what about my Buzz network?

Good question! If you rely on Google for a huge chunk of your referrals, you may want to keep an eye on the new social platform they’ve been quietly rolling out. While it looks like it’s mainly their answer to Twitter, it differs quite a bit due to it being tied into the entire Google network. I’m sure you’ve noticed how a lot of social networks and web apps allow you to log in with Twitter only. This, I imagine, worries the big G a bit as they see how traditional user accounts are dying a slow death.

The most important factor to watch out for is how Google is rolling out news and updates from your social circle. You can see by the picture below how I can see myself and friends when I do a Google search for Hawaii Real Estate. While not everyone sees this, it is still another way to get you within the top 10 SERPs.

Now ask yourself this: How many people and potential clients are using Gmail? The answer is too large to even guess! Regardless, there is huge potential for social networking within the Google network. The more friends you have in your social circle, the more often your Buzz will show up within the Google results. It’s still quite early to say if this is going to be worth the time and effort, but I like to remember the old saying, “It is better to be safe than sorry”.

There have been a lot of side projects the Google Labs has come out with, and many of them have been flops. The social media game is moving at an incredible pace, so it is essential that you test new avenues of marketing before it’s too late. I highly recommend you start seeding your content through your Buzz network, as well make use of the free tools out there.


Up And Coming Real Time Search Engines:

I have noticed a few interesting attempts at a real time search engine, so I wanted to go over those in case you wanted to have a look. I have not had the time to do any marketing on these, nor have I really thought about it. For the most part, the Twitter search engine is good enough for me to find real time results for just about anything. For the sake of this article, as well as some free promotion for the creators of these, we might as well cover the good ones.

DuckDuckGo.com

This was first noticed by me for their advertising on Reddit. I gave Duck Duck Go an hour of playing around and really liked the format. They are not at all heavy on the ads, and specifically they do not have ads above the search results like the other guys. You’d think that a new search engine like this wouldn’t have much traffic, but a quick glance at their Alexa Ranking(http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/duckduckgo.com) shows some serious growth is underway.

Search.Twitter.com:

I almost don’t need to bring this up, but for the sake of the masses I might as well remind everyone to keep an eye on this source. Obviously this is the most active real time search, and unlike other real time search engines, you can follow the target Twitter user right away. You’re almost always going to find the most active real time search results here and this can be a powerful tool for finding clients.

Collecta.com:

This is a real time search engine that has been growing for a year now and is well worth the bookmark. With this real time search engine you can monitor a whole host of social platforms for the latest, up to the minute results. I find myself using this search a lot when writing blog posts on current events, especially when I need the content from all over for my post.


Don’t Forget About Location Based Marketing:

With all this other marketing madness going on already within social media and real time, why not throw in location based into the mix? Whether you like it or not, this is a trend that is already hot but not even close to peaking. All the big players are currently fighting for dominance, and it looks as if Foursquare has done quite the job thus far.

Throw in Gowalla, Google Places, Facebook’s upcoming location based tool and a whole whack of niche location based services and you’ve got yourself a headache. This is another area of social marketing you’ll need to keep a keen eye on. The big players are in for a battle, and you’ll want to of course only focus your business energy on the ones that will bring in the best ROI.

Foursquare, I can safely say, is ready for your marketing efforts. This could not be truer within the real estate industry. The business options readily available for free within this location based app are plentiful and robust. If you have a programmer in your Rolodex, I highly suggest integrating all your open house check-ins through a custom made app on your agent website. Imagine updating your clients in real time via Foursquare that your open house is well…open for business. This also gets shot off directly to your Facebook page as well as Twitter. These tools were meant for each other!

Gowalla is the only other large contender at the moment although their growth has been stagnant to say the least. This platform was rolled out by one of the founders of Digg, so I imagine the potential for growth is still there. I personally don’t see a need for it, and its only better factor is the way the deals are laid out. All Foursquare would need to do is make some tweaks and they’ll just keep on blasting by this social application.

As for Facebook, Google and the smaller niche location based apps, those I’ll leave up to you to keep an eye on. The only advice I could give you now is to watch how Google and Bing roll out location based results into their universal listings. I imagine by the year’s end, we’ll see something along these lines being implemented in Google. This will either be a blessing or a curse for some webmasters.


Combining Real Time and Social Media Marketing Tactics

I always keep on point about what new marketing strategies could take me outside the normal routine. While you should always be making use of the largest social applications out there, you should also be testing the next “it” thing. So how does an agent keep up with all this? I can only offer this advice: Write your goals down somewhere and then do your best to work towards them. Finding those few hidden hours a week can really make a difference for your online presence and organization is the only way to find them.

I also like to keep the mindset of not keeping all my eggs in one basket. There is a ton of social media traffic to pick up, so make use of a few of my tips to spot a winner. I always do one of two things: first, you can browse 2.0 news sites and directories like Feedmyapp.com for new social apps. I personally would much rather see which sites Google is ranking well, as well perhaps an Alexa Rank check for good measure.

I’m sure a lot of you remember how well Squidoo used to rank for a good long while. Google was giving quite a lot of importance to a well done Lens. You may also remember that it started to slip once affiliate marketing and other businesses pretty much took it over. This is another important aspect of utilizing social media for leads. This form of marketing also still relies on the search engines, and when they don’t like the host site, there is a very good chance your leads might come to an end.

The other half of all this doesn’t rely on Google, Bing or any other search giant. There are plenty of users just on Youtube and Facebook to keep your business running strong. What I really like about that is you’re able to collect new and future clients and keep them in a list. You’ve heard it before, and that is social network connections are the lifeblood of the whole plan. So let’s move on from my ramblings and get into a few key social marketing areas that I’ve found have been worth the time and effort lately.

Youtube.com

While Youtube is obviously no new name on the block, it is still really neglected by a lot of agents. Youtube is used by just about every web user on the planet, and those people are potential clients. Youtube is great because there is enough video traffic to be wrangled up from just within the site. Since it is Google owned, you also can make your property videos rank within the SERPs.

The key here of course is quality content. I know that people’s attention spans are lower and lower these days, so you need to do something to stick out from the rest. While I’m the first to admit I don’t like going on video all that often, I do find property picture slideshows were a great way to start out video marketing. I highly recommend Animoto.com for those of you without video editing skills like myself.

I also don’t see very many people making the proper connections within Youtube. If you play around with it enough, you can easily find and connect with people from all over your town. I obviously cannot guarantee anything, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Most often you’ll find that a connection here will also lead to a Twitter or Facebook Page follow.

Last but not least. Think about all the social news, mash up and web applications out there that embed Youtube videos. I didn’t realize this aspect of video marketing until it started happening to my videos. Sites like Squidoo and Hubpages started automatically picking up my Hawaii videos on numerous lens’. There are obviously more sites out there like this, and more to come, so who knows what links your videos might bring in.

Scribd.com

Scribd was a website I didn’t notice until Google started ranking their content quite high for a lot of lovely long tail keywords. This is exactly the type of situation I mentioned earlier, and with the little amount of time it takes to utilize it, well, it’s a no brainer.
Scribd allows for easy document sharing via its website, as well as a handy embed feature for your content. I recommend putting up unique content of course, and I have a few real estate statistic reports up there which have gotten a fairly substantial amount of views. I did do a search to see if PDF content would count as duplicate, but most of my findings came up negative. Google must have something in their algorithm to detect it, but to be safe I recommend the proper way with unique content.

The type of content you’d want to put up as a real estate agent should be targeted to the consumer though. I always put a call to action at the beginning and the end of my content just to make sure. This very cool and free social network has a heavy set business crowd which can also help with your networking efforts. If you’re really interested in trying it out, I’d also set a special set of rules within Google Analytics to track the quality of the traffic coming in.

Ning.com

Ning is one of my favourite social network platforms because there is usually one good local network somewhere. It has been so good for me that I actually hold it in a close second with Twitter for finding real, local people to connect with. I usually let my business mindset at the door and come in for a good time. There is a place and a time to push sales onto people, and a local Ning network is usually not that place. I find that being myself, answering questions and being involved in the community is good enough to draw people in.

The benefits of Ning do include a search engine friendly user profile, as well as a whole host of tools including blogs, photo and video sharing. This in turn makes it quite easy to become an active and visible member of the community. Sadly this also makes it an attractive target for spammers, so if you notice a Ning network that’s quite overrun, perhaps it’s best to leave it alone.

The only other advice I can give you is that the Ning network search on their site is done in a very annoying way. I suggest just doing a custom Google search using their site command to find something local for yourself. I always make friends with the network owner and the most active users first and foremost. It doesn’t hurt to thank the administrator upon signing up for putting in the time and effort to run the site.

Podomatic.com

I’ll stop after this, but I felt that bringing up podcasting was a very important aspect of marketing online. If you’re already making Youtube videos on a regular basis, you’re basically already podcasting via video. You can take it a step further with dedicated podcasting sites like Podomatic which is an amazing as well as free tool. If you are still wondering what exactly a podcast is, just think about a series of content, audio or video, that is syndicated via RSS.

Podomatic is as easy to use as Youtube, it just takes it one step further and turns your content into a downloadable show. The site is great because it automatically creates the necessary RSS feeds, and most importantly, it creates an iTunes specific feed you can submit to their podcast directory. Being accepted there will only do good things for your business.

This media rich podcast site also is great for another form of SEO, and that is of course link acquisition. Podomatic allows a link to your website as well as your various social media accounts you may have like Twitter or Youtube. To top it all off, you can also provide quality content in text form (links included) with each post. This is something I recommend because having a unique, quality write up for each episode will dramatically increase your indexing within the search engines.

Location Location Location!

I definitely wanted to squeeze some location based marketing tips and tricks within this article. I’ve found myself really enjoying Foursquare, and I’ve dabbled with the alternatives enough to write on them. I’m really excited to see where location based applications take us, especially when it comes to marketing. Let’s take a quick look at the few big players and some free tools out there to help with all this madness.

Foursquare:

For the readers of Linkbuildr, I am going to assume you’ve all at least heard about it, or read enough. This was one of the first location based apps to make it big and because it was done properly, it has continued to dominate. Foursquare has an amazing suite of free tools for business owners, and real estate agents should jump right in. If you’re feeling really frisky, then take a look at the open API which opens up a whole can of possibilities including;

- Custom open house apps for your listings
- Integration into your custom cms
- Making server side listing maps mashed with Google Maps API

Gowalla:
The second location based network on our list doesn’t vary much from Foursquare except for a few different aspects. For one, it’s user base isn’t even close to the size of Foursquare’s. Secondly, the features for businesses are not as robust as Foursquare’s. While this location based app is no slouch, I do recommend getting the best possible, and SEO friendly username relating to your business.
The business features are not quite there yet but the app is enough to warrant a sign up. I realize that agents cannot really offer location deals, although with Gowalla you don’t have to be a “mayor” to get perks. This feature alone is enough to make it keep on growing, although Foursquare could adapt this at anytime and crush them.

Facebook Check In:
There isn’t too much publicly known about Facebook’s attempt at getting in on the location based business(http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/09/facebook-places-check-in/). Since the playing field has plenty of room for competitors for the aforementioned apps, Facebook might as well take a huge chunk of it. It goes hand in hand with Facebook in my opinion, and I can see them getting a very large market share without much effort.

Google Places:

Google has caught on to the location based craze late as usual. They’ve recently dropped Google Wave which was supposed to revolutionize social communication…it didn’t. Do we need yet another location based application? Most likely not! With all that money I would have just made a bid for Gowalla or Foursquare and called it a day.

For now I’d just keep Google Places in your notes and mind and keep an eye on its progress. I don’t expect much, but they do have the search power to make a serious dent in the competition. You can read about the call for developers to bring it to life from the Google Blog. (http://googlegeodevelopers.blogspot.com/2010/07/checking-in-with-places-api.html)


Networking is King:

I wanted to briefly go over the importance of actually networking on social networks, as well as the location based apps. I really want to stress the importance of building up a list of followers that are actually interested in your business, and that’s what makes this so powerful. The whole concept is basically a newsletter gone web 2.0 because email is a dying tool. I might receive some flak for that comment, but it is true that its applications are becoming fewer and fewer, just as with any other technology.

What’s so amazing about this form of networking is the that fact you can so easily target local people. With a newsletter you’d have to sit and wait, or at the worst, nag people to sign up for your distributed information. With social networks and location based applications you can go out and connect with people at will. Not only that, but the chances that you will get followed back are quite good.

So how do you go about this? Well, I’ll explain a few different methods for the various social applications, and from there you’ll be able to figure out the rest. I would, of course, encourage your comments below with anymore tools that you folks think are crucial to this form of marketing success.

Using API’s:

If you have a programmer at your disposal, or the funds to hire one for a bit then I suggest looking at the multitude of API’s out there. I don’t want to give away too many good ideas, but if you play around with these sites enough you’ll figure out a use. For example, you could use the Foursquare API to hook into a widget on your site that alerts people when you’ve checked into an open house of yours. This of course could automatically update that status directly to your Facebook and Twitter profiles, and then to your followers.


Handy Apps for Location Based Marketing:

Check.in:

This is one handy little application that lets location based addicts cover all their favorite apps in one go. If you’re getting tired of handling Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and others all in one go then I highly recommend Check.in. It’s really easy to use(http://vimeo.com/11852264) and this app is currently supported on the iPhone, iPad and Android. I’m sorry to say they don’t have a Blackberry hack yet, but we all know those phones are not the future for consumers.

GeoToko.com:

Let the location based marketing app war begin! Geotoko is an application just like Check.in with a few more features. I really like the fact that it handles the Yelp check-in service, and throws in Twitter management as well, just in case. This app is geared towards any size business but I really see big brands and marketing agencies loving it.

Final Thoughts & Links:

 

I hope you managed to get through all my rambling with ease, and I hope you learned something! The marketing tools and platforms coming out are definitely enough to make ones head spin, so make sure you nail down the ones that bring you the best ROI. While location based and real time marketing is in its infancy, and I have no clue as to where we’re headed next. Just make sure you spend enough time on whichever platform you choose to utilize. This will make sure you’ve got enough traffic and data to see if it’s a profitable marketing strategy. Here are a few links to further you down the rabbit hole and, of course, I encourage readers to comment on what I left out.

- http://mashable.com/2010/03/15/location-based-marketing/
- http://realtimemarketer.com/real-time-web-marketing-strategies-you-should-be-using/
- http://my.bkv.com/blog/comments/43-tips-on-how-to-use-foursquare-for-your-business/
- http://moconews.net/article/419-zillow-says-house-hunting-is-the-ultimate-location-based-service/
- http://mobile.venturebeat.com/2010/08/12/location-based-check-in-data-on-its-way-to-becoming-a-commodity/
- http://stuff.techwhack.com/9391-neer
- http://propertyadguru.com/2010/07/location-based-marketing-from-homefinder-com/


About The Guest Author:

I met Tony Kawaguchi on the Real Estate Webmaster Forum and have had the pleasure of becoming good friends over many long chats on Skype and REW. He is a Honolulu Based Real Estate Agent who could have been an Internet Marketer if he had the time. He’s done an impeccable job marketing his brand throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and is definitely someone you should get to know. I’d like to thank him for taking the time to put this all down for the blog here and remind everyone that we’d be more than happy to have you guest blog here on Linkbuildr.

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Check.in For The Location Based App Freaks

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June 14  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

I had thought with the advent of Twitter that my time was now doomed. Not only did I have to blog, handle clients, make videos and write reports. But, now I have to manage my location based apps to make sure I have a decent following. There’s no doubt that Foursquare, Facebook, Gowalla and Yelp are seeing huge growth from location based check-in apps. Businesses of any size should have already started marketing any of these platforms because local search domination will be mainly achieved through these means…well, that’s what I think anyway. I would not want to miss out on the shift that is taking place right now, so check out Check.in to handle multiple check in logins on location based apps.

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Starbucks + Foursquare = Win

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June 10  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

So I’m sure you’ve all ready by now the success Starbucks has recently had with Foursquare…well let’s just say social media in general. While I believe the numbers don’t really match up, and they’re most likely over playing Foursquare’s role, but still there is a wake-you-up lesson to be learned here. The discounts they offered to the Mayor’s has affected me personally…why? Well I’ve been getting crazy discounts from not only my local Starbucks, but many other restaurants in the area. I’m seeing my non marketing friends embracing Foursquare just for the deals, so it’s safe to say you can no longer avoid Foursquare.

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