Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ten Twitter Tools Real Estate Agents Can't Live Without

I have been working with Twitter quite a bit lately, and I thought I would list those that I have found most useful for real estate agents to attract leads. These tools have been great in helping me promote both the discounts on the RedX listing lead service, and single property sites.

Here are the top ten Twitter Tools

EasyTweets: Get notified if someone tweets you, your blog, or any brand you want to engage with

Twellow: If you haven’t registered your Real Estate Twitter account on Twollow, it is time to do so.

Twollow: Take some of the hassle out of searching for your prospects. Twollow automatically follows your prospects based upon your target keywords Would’t you like to know the instant a prospect needs your services? lets you know by chat, SMS, or email when a prospect raises their hand.

TweetLater: Would’t it be great if you had an autoresponder on your account, or could schedule your tweets in advance? Oh yeah, you can…. VacaTweet can be uses for an autoresponder as well

BubbleTweet: Add a personalized video to your twitter account.

PeopleBrowser: The only application that I have found where you can geo-target a keyword search

Twitter Karma: To bulk follow or unfollow your followers

TweetLister: Now you can post your full listings

TweetDeck: Useful desktop management of your twitter followers

Friday, June 12, 2009

Create A Wordpress Blog

I have been reading different posts on this and other real estate related sites for the past few years as I promote 4MySales and the RedX lead generation service. There has been a lot of discussion regarding the different blog technologies, but and a niche industry has grown up in helping real estate agents create their own custom blogs. I have been working in this medium for a while, and while this may be old information for many of you, I did wan to share the exact process to creating your own Real Estate Blog on your own URL, without the need to hire a consultant. The blog platform that I will be describing is Wordpress, and it is quite user friendly to use.

With that as the background information, let’s begin.

1) Register for your URL. Pick one that has contains your primary target keyword.

2) Register for a hosted account on a Linux platform. Choose a host that has a cPanel interface, which is just a type of control panel. I use resellerzoom’s budget hosting site. It is six bucks per month and you can host multiple sites in one account.

3) On your hosting confirmation, there will be two DNS (Nameserver) addresses that look something like These are the nameserver addresses that you need your URL to point to. You can update your nameserver with your domain name registrar, either through their website, or by requesting help from the.

4) Now that you have a hosted account with a URL pointing to it, login to the cPanel account that was set up through your host. One of the buttons on the cPanel control panel should be Fantastico or fantastico deluxe. This is a tool that automatically installs blogs, forums or sites to your account. Click it it, and off to the right site, click on Wordpress. Fantastico will ask you for the name you wish to call your blog, the username and the password that you wish to use to access it. Fill out the form and click install. It is just that easy!

5) Fantastic sets up your blog, so now you just need to login and start customizing. Login to your new blog’s adim page, it is usually your blog directory / wp-admin. From your login dashboard area, you can access all of the tools available to customize wordpress. If you are new to Wordpress, my recommendation would be to first choose a theme. Click Appearance area and choose themes. There should only be two on your first install, but at the bottom of the page is a link to the theme directory. Go down, click it and start looking for a theme that will best exemplify your brand. You can also jump on Google or Bing and start searching for wordpless templates.

Depending on where you find your template, you can add it one of two ways. The first is through an automatic install if it is available. The second is to download the template to your website. Use an unzip utility to unzip it to a folder, then use an ftp client (I use filezilla) to upload the template to your website. If you need to upload a template using this approach, save your unzipped template folder to the Themes folder which is a sub-folder of one of the three main folders.

6) Once you have chosen and loaded your theme, go back to the Appearances/ Themes link and your new theme should show up. Click on it and in the top right corner there should be a link to make the theme active.

7) Now that you have chosen your theme, you can add some plugins which add video, social tools, links, pictures, news feeds, and any other resource that you would ever want. Go to the plugins tab. At the bottom of the page are links to get more plugins. Just like the theme, click on the link and go shopping. Install the plugins using the same methods as you used to install the theme. Either use the auto install if it is present, or if not, download the zipped file, unzip it and upload it to the subdirectory entitled Plugins. There is a way to automatically unzip the files in your directory, but it is beyond the scope of this article.

8) Once you have chosen and uploaded your plugins, activate them on the plugins page. Most of the admin functions for these various plugins will be found under the Settings link. Also, once you have activated your plugins, you can make them show up on your blog by clicking the Appearance link and clicking Widgets. Adding them to your blog is simply a matter of choosing and saving them.

That’s about it. Now all that you need to do is add pictures, update text and make your blog look pretty. It is a very straightforward process if you are looking to host a blog on your own URL instead of relying on your Blogger or account.

TAGS: Wordpress, blogs, fantastico, resellerzoom, web host, web registrar, URL, plugins, wordpress themes

Monday, June 08, 2009

Getting Real Estate Leads With Twitter

I was looking at this approach to promote our discount offer for the RedX listing lead system, but it’s possibilities are so much greater. The advantage of Twitter for real estate and mortgage professionals is that prospective clients post their needs online all day long. Thanks to this fantastic new technology, you get instant visibility to a prospective client’s needs, the second that he mentions them. It is then just a matter of making contact, offering your services, and working the relationship.

So how would you use this new technology to attract listing or selling clients? Well, getting a new lead is a simple as using one of the many available Twitter mashups that notify you when someone posts a target keyphrase. Combine that with a basic geo-targeted mashup and you have a system that will tell you when someone in your area posts text that could be considered a lead.

In writing that paragraph, it sounds a bit more complicated then it really is. Therefore, I’ll use an example. Suppose you are an agent that specializes in short sales or foreclosure. You would set up a notification service like Easy Tweets to notify you when someone posts the terms “short sale” “list of foreclosures” “home shopping” “looking at neighborhoods” “bidding on foreclosure” “looking for realtor” etc. When any twitter user posts these terms, you will get notified. The next step is to simply Follow these prospects in your own Twitter account and use a geo-targeting twitter mashup (there are a number of them out there) to determine if the poster is local to you. For those posters that are in your vicinity, simply reply by direct message to their post and courting them as an active prospect.

I have been looking for a geo-targeted system that combines the easy tweet notification system with geo targeting so that you only get notified about people in your area. However, I have yet to find that service. Because of that, you may need to sift through potential leads from across the US. If you do know of a system that combines the geo targeting with the keyword notification, let us all know.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Maximize Your Social Real Estate Marketing Online

I received an email this morning from a company that teaches best practices in marketing. The offer was your standard lead generation tool offering a complimentary e-book download in exchange for an email registration. I have been using a similar method to promote our discount offer on the listing lead and FSBO lead service. There was nothing exciting about the offer, but what was interesting was the use of Twitter and social marketing tools to expand the reach of the offer. Just under the call to action and download button were the following phrases with associated graphics and links:

(I have changed the original links to those of the RedX for demonstration purposes. Try them to see how they interact with each social site. I hope to share how to create each of these links in futue posts.)

Have a Twitter Account? Tweet about this download!

Twitter_tn.gif Follow Barrett On Twitter @Leads4Realtors

Twitter_tn.gif Follow (company name) On Twitter @(company name)

Blog_tn.gif Read Barrett’s Blog

facebook_tn.gif Share on Facebook

The value in including these types of links into any of your real estate agent online marketing campaigns is obvious. It allows the recipients not only to spread your message, but also create a closer relationship to you. The tweet about this download link actually has a script that inputs the text directly into your twitter text box so you just need to click update after logging in. Overall, this is a nice, unobtrusive way to expand the reach of your word of mouth marketing programs and generate a few more leads.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Real Estate Blog SEO

If you are using a Wordpress blog, there are a number of steps that you can take to better optimize it for search engines. In fact, for those of you who host your own real estate blog using the wordpress scripts, these optimization steps can be very easy and yield great results. For those of you who are familiar with these techniques, I apologize for re-presenting the basics, but I have found that many real estate bloggers have not taken these step in their own blogs. With that in mind, here is and introduction wordpress blog SEO 101.

Step 1. Under your settings / permalinks tab, be sure to change the URL structure to “custom structure” and include only the string /%postname%/ in the text box. This essentially makes the extended URL of your post the title of the post. If you include keywords in your posts, they end up in the actual URL. For example, in posting on the topic of prenatal vitamin (my wife’s blog) and using the post title Prenatal Vitamins, the blog URL becomes which is about as keyword targeted as you can get with sub-directories.

Step 2. Under your settings / general tab, update the Blog address and Wordpress Address URL to include the www as opposed to the straight

Step 3. Find the wordpress AutoSocialPoster plugin. This tool allows you to automatically post a link to your new blog entries to many of your online bookmaking accounts. The plugin is not free, but is well worth the money. However, please be sure to check that it is compatible with the version of Wordpress that you are using.

Step 4. For the next step, increase the number of sites that announce / ping your new entries when you add a new post. Go to the settings / writing tab. At the bottom there is a text box with the URL In this area add any other pinging services that you can find. A good list, and a great pinging tool, can be found at

Hopefully for those of you who are actively blogging, this post provides a little help. Separately, to provide an update on our Agents Online lead system for realtors project, the site pops up as number eleven on Google for the Agents Online term and number four for the same term in quotations. The real time SEO demonstration is progressing.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Working on Real Estate SEO on Bing

I haven’t quite formed my opinion about Microsoft’s new release of their Bing search engine. In reading the reviews, I am not alone. I have spent a little time this afternoon trying to get a feel for what where my real estate listing lead site and associated links lay in the ranking. What I found is that this “because it’s not google” search alternative has a completely different algorithm which will likely require a completely different SEO strategy for your real estate website.

I am not sure if this new search engine will give google a run for its money in search engine terms. As Seth Godin put it, “Bing is trying to be the new Google. Unfortunately Google is the new Google.” However, it does have some interesting features.

Now for those of us who are trying to get our real estate website to the top of the ranking, optimizing for bing may require a different strategy. In fact, in looking up the search terms that index my site well on google, I there is little success on bing. The Expired Listing Lead term did return back my link to the RedX as the top link, but the multitude of other sites that typically show up in reference to me did not. For my Agent Online experiment, the site was not even indexed, and similar to google, real estate country did not return a link to my page, even when I typed in the exact URL. Even my wife’s’ “prenatal vitamins” page did not get indexed.

From what I can determine with the very limited experience that I have had with the site, it uses an algorithm similar to google’s but puts a high weight on sites that have been around a while along with those that are well linked. Unfortunately from an SEO standpoint there is not much that you can do to age your real estate URL.