The “Big Data” trend is entering into just about every industry these days and real estate is no exception. We’re going to tackle the topic over the coming months from various angles, but to start things off we’re looking at one of the most important elements of a real estate agent’s job: how clients find agents and their listings. Search data is a veritable gold mine of information that can help determine the most effective ways to market properties, brokerages, and agents and some of the best practices coming from the Big Data camp are a good fit for our industry.
Most website services provide a list of the keywords that people use to find that site, but if you don’t have direct access to the list ask your IT person to provide it for you periodically.
Here are three lesser-known tips for how to get the most out of search data.
1. Predict trends, then pounce.
As the region makes gains in population size, developers are taking full advantage of previously neglected neighborhoods to create places for people to live. Plus, the stretches of land between longstanding neighborhoods are turning into livable communities with their own new names—or are often considered part of the two different neighborhoods that border each other. Since so many buyers begin their online searches with the name of the neighborhood agents should keep an eye on the ones they haven’t heard of—in case it could be the new “informal” name for a location—and incorporate them into the the language they use to describe the property. If a listing could be part of more than one neighborhood, then list all of them but make sure the one that appears first is the one that shows up most frequently in the search terms.
Agents can also attract potential clients by using these neighborhood names on their website or in their bio (if it lists the neighborhoods where the agent specializes). It is all about location when it comes to real estate, so let Big Data tell you where the next wave is going to be.
2. Get specific, then advertise
The value of analyzing search data applies to amenities as well. Are more people looking for driveways? Or front yards? Do more searches come in via keywords such as kitchen, master bedroom, storage or do the terms stunning, large, spacious come up more often? If you’re seeing more nouns (such as the first list) then make sure to include more of those in future descriptions. Since there is a limited amount of space to write about a property every word is precious, but an agent can make the most use of the available space by filling it with the search terms that people use the most.
3. Tweak, then test
Once you have a familiarity with the search terms you can take it a step further with what they call A/B testing. In simple terms this means comparing two nearly identical products to see if there is a change in the outcome when there are only subtle differences between them. For example, you could see if more people find your listing by searching for phrases with the keyword “entertaining spaces” versus “entertainment spaces.” Or perhaps changing the landing page photo from an exterior shot to one of the main open plan living room will generate more interest. There are, of course, some fancy software programs that will provide a sophisticated analysis for you but they are usually far more extensive than what a real estate agent really needs to do the job. An agent can glean all they need just by comparing the number of visits to a specific page before and after they have made some subtle tweaks.