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Editor’s Note: Many appraisers miss out on orders by not having a website that ranks on search engines. Appraiser Bryan Knowlton explains why having a website that ranks and attracts non-lender work is so good for business.
So You Want to Increase Business…
by Bryan Knowlton
Before I became a real estate appraiser in 2001, I was a search-engine consultant and built websites for small businesses. This was a huge industry back then. Everyone wanted a website prior to the Internet bubble bursting and the stock market crashing. Once the bubble burst, most of my work went away and since I was investing in real estate, I decided to become a real estate appraiser.
Luckily for me, I had an edge above all the other trainees who were looking for work at that time. I quickly built a website for my business and focused on getting on to the first page results in all the top search engines. Over the years I’ve added more websites to target different cities and communities within San Diego County. Soon I had a number of websites getting top rankings in all the search engines and have generated close to $750,000 worth of appraisal orders from the Internet since 2001.
If you don’t have a website, or a website that shows up on the first page of Google- for your primary search keywords, you are passing up a huge opportunity and lots of full fee work.
What do most attorneys say to their clients when they need an appraisal for divorce, bankruptcy, tax or estate purposes? “Find a local appraiser on Google and get me the report as soon as possible.”
There are many additional benefits of having a website. For example, you can link to your website and promote your business on all of your social profiles to include Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. You can also promote your website on the local sections of the main search engines. A properly optimized Google+ local profile will get your business and website to show up in the little map to the right of Google’s search results when searching for appraisal services in your area.
For example, try doing a search in Google for “San Diego Appraiser” and you will see “Appraise All Real Estate” always returning in the top five listings, with my phone number, address and location on the map. This really stands out and helps me get more orders. If you search for “La Jolla Appraiser,” you will always find one of my local websites, LaJollaAppraisal.com, in the number one or two position of the search results. This area is full of multi-million dollar homes for which I charge between $600-$2,000 per appraisal.
If I didn’t have a website that shows up for my primary keywords I would never get that work.
How to Determine Primary Keywords?
The keywords that your customers use include a city or county name, followed by appraiser or appraisal, in most cases. I would use these primary keywords in your domain name, title tags, meta tags (inside of the actual code used to build the website) and throughout the text on each page. You want everything to sound natural, so make sure it sounds good when you read it and not like you are forcing your keywords in places where they don’t belong.
Another huge problem with certain websites is that they include a lot of information and data that your customers don’t need. These are things like mortgage rates or the stock prices. Even text that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the appraisal process can hurt your website rankings. The big thing to avoid is duplicate content. This is when website-building software uses the same text and information across a bunch of different websites. This is very common in the industry even though it is well documented that Google WILL NOT rank a website with duplicate content.
Do Not Copy Text from Other Websites
Take the time and write up original information that has not been published online before. You can cut some corners by rewriting existing content but you don’t need a bunch of information for a website to rank, you just need relevant, informative content that your customers are looking for.
When I build a website for an appraiser, it has around eight pages – Home, Appraisal Services, Request Appraisal, Service Area, Price List, Contact Us, About and Appraisal Resources. Sometimes I will add a blog if the area has a lot of competition and is difficult to rank highly in. You can post more appraisal information there from time to time to increase your rankings.
There are also plenty of tips and techniques I use to further increase the website visibility so I can keep working on my goal of getting it within the top five results on the first page of Google. Usually if you are ranking in the top on Google, you will also rank in the top results on Yahoo, Bing and other search directories. As part of a service to my clients, I send out an Appraiser Website newsletter full of all the tips and techniques I use to increase my rankings with the search engines and get more non-lender orders.
About the Author
Appraiser Bryan Knowlton is author of the 2014 AMC Resource Guide, with nearly 300 of the best AMCs listed, and the Full-Fee Directory and Marketing Guide, which includes over 3,500 credit unions, correspondent lenders, and bail bonds companies. . Partnering with Working RE/OREP, Bryan has created a streamlined system to build your website with the information you provide for less than half the market cost. There are currently 10 styles to choose from and the sites are very easy to update and make changes to if needed. Click here to learn about how to get an SEO-Enhanced Website.
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