What makes being a real estate agent fun is the number of hats you have to wear while running the business.
Since I have been the Chief Content Creator here on the blog and PR Director for dougfrancis.com , I was the obvious choice to handle an interview with Verisign to discuss using the Internet as part of my business strategy.
So, who the heck is Verisign? Essentially they are the authoritative registry of .com, .net and other top-level domains. They are based in Reston, Virginia which is kind of where the huge trunk line for much of the world’s web traffic is buried.
They contacted me to discuss how I use dougfrancis.com in my business.
The answer was pretty simple because my site is the main reason that I am still in the real estate business today ~ in essence… the redesign of dougfrancis.com into an active blog during the late 2008 and 2009 economic crisis (which crushed the real estate business) was the pivotal moment for my business.
Maybe it was dumb luck to register dougfrancis.com way back in 1999 and, even back then, I knew that people understood that .com was the top level for domains… if that makes any sense to you. And today, search results still seem to list .com domains first and that’s what consumers will click on.
Your .com will top search results
Although you can get some good geeky insight on my FAQ page, for anyone with a small business who is reading this please understand that my idea or philosophy in 2009 was to create a site that could be a local information resource for real estate consumers wanting to know more about Vienna Virginia. Yes the primary objective is still real estate, but I learned early on that someone who will click on my site wants to know about my area of specialized knowledge. The goal remains to serve their need for an answer.
For example, people relocate to Vienna from all over the world and I want to make sure that I end up in their search results. What I did not want to create in 2009 was a keyword stuffed
piece of crap static web site like every other Realtor seemed to have plastered up on the InterWeb! I wanted to provide something totally different with information people would appreciate, read, study, watch, and eventually decide that they wanted to talk with me about local real estate.
What I did not realize in 2009 was that this angle had a name: Content Marketing.
There are a lot of reasons why having a web site full of information can help your business, but when I chatted with a friend over the weekend about the groovy interview and how I write about my business in a way that helps convey my professional experience to readers, he told me an interesting story.
His business helps customers comply with the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972, the EPA and the state EPA. For example, they collect products like waste oil, filter it and then supply it to companies that can burn it as fuel.
It is a highly specialized business that requires hazardous waste vehicles, elaborate EPA containment protocols and lots of paper documentation.
He told me about losing a big job to a small company that had a great web site but was only “two guys in an office with no trucks of their own, and then everything is going to be subcontractors” he explained.
Now here is a sales guy who know the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 better than most lawyers who has seen a slick website win a million dollar deal away from a super experienced company. That slick web site was a sales tool, but the reality six months from now will unveil the real truth.
So I took a look at my friend’s company site. It had stock photos, read like a boring brochure, and really needed to be overhauled to come into this century. The take-away: search results are powerful.
What Google results do people find about your business?
The ad agency folks asked me about my site and if I worked on it often?
The answer: YES!
It is essential that anyone putting together a web site for their business keep it current, use original photographs and understand some basic principals about internet search results and consumer behavior.
Having a .com site, in my opinion, is critical and may require some creative thinking if your company’s name has already been registered. You don’t want to go too far out there but keep it as close as possible – and most registrars will give you suggestions if your name has been taken. It may take days, but understand that your business is likely to depend on your .com to survive in the future.