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Related Articles

Google Just Announced an Update About 'Helpful Content.' What Should Real Estate Agents Know?
When Google updates its algorithm, the effects ripple through the internet. In September, another Google update went live. Agents who want to succeed online need to know how to adjust to what's being called the "helpful content" update. In short, the helpful content algorithm update is a commitment to serve "people-first" content, and another indication that Google doesn't want its search pages clogged with spam. How can you ensure your online presence is considered helpful? What guidelines are important to follow while building out a real estate agent website, Google Business Profile, and other online content? 1. Stay Focused and On-Topic The first step to creating online content Google considers "helpful" is to stay focused and on-topic. As a real estate agent, being focused means targeting an audience of buyers and sellers with content that is related to real estate. Having an online presence is great, but will be less effective if it's cluttered with information about unrelated pursuits. After all, would a buyer or seller looking for real estate information find much use in an agent's website that was actually filled with cat photos? Of course not. That's why Google ranks content that is focused, on-topic, and relevant to searchers. 2. Show Expertise and Experience Once you've established your topic – in this case, being a real estate agent – Google wants to see that your online content demonstrates expertise and experience. Your expertise is in real estate, and specifically as being an agent in your local market. Make sure your agent website and Google Business Profile reflect your status as a go-to agent in your region. And take pains to explain how you specifically help people in your local region. If you've sold homes in certain neighborhoods or specialize in the west side of town, say so. Let Google know you have a relevant niche. Google also wants to see that you have experience. For an agent, this could mean maintaining a slideshow of current and past listings on your website. And for every agent, having helpful content that demonstrates experience requires a verified Google Business Profile with positive, plentiful reviews from past clients and respected colleagues. 3. Answer Searchers' Queries When Google talks about helpful content, what they're really talking about is: Does this answer the questions people are typing into the search bar? As an agent, you should endeavor for online content that answers searchers' queries. Those questions start simply. Who are real estate agents in my town? What is this agent's business hours? Do they have contact information? Examples of current listings? But some searchers are looking for more than just basic biographical details. They're asking questions about an agent's specific experiences. Who are this agent's past clients? Do they represent both buyers and sellers? What's their experience in my neighborhood? Do they have a marketing plan? Social media? References? A good reputation? Google wants you to preemptively answer those questions. After all, when consumers search for "real estate agents near me," what they're really asking is for Google to show them the best agents possible. The best agents can answer consumer questions on and offline, so have online content that helps address what buyers and sellers are searching for and wondering. 4. Stay Up-to-Date on Other Google Core Updates The "helpful content" update is a big one. But it's not the first Google update, it won't be the last, and it isn't the only update agents should consider. Just this year, Google has released: The "Vicinity Update," in which Google more heavily weights proximity when serving up local search results. This update hyper-focuses search results on local businesses and services consumers are likely to use or hire. The "May 2022 Core Update," in which Google dinged AI-generated content and reshuffled search results pages so that human-written content is more likely to appear at the top. Overall , Google updates in 2022 have advantaged real, live, local agents – particularly those who demonstrate the expertise, experience, and focus to help buyers and sellers accomplish their real estate goals. To view the original article, visit the Homesnap
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Establishing Digital Expertise, Authority, and Trust (EAT)
Before the evolution of real estate websites, smartphone apps, and multimedia messaging services, agents and brokers were the keepers and gatekeepers of listing data. Today, Realtors use real estate websites to share this information, generate leads, and communicate other useful information about their local communities and the home buying and selling processes. But how do you beat the competition when it comes to a Google search? It turns out, the experience you offer your clients can be easily transferred to your digital marketing strategy. As cliché as it may sound, remember the acronym EAT any time you add new information or make updates to your website or social media messaging. EAT stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust and strategy built out over time. Expertise Expertise is evaluated at the content-level. Google SEO rewards subject matter experts who write authentic, original content in their subject matter areas. You know the ins and outs of the real estate industry. Write about what you know. Authority Authority is reputation based. When people leave online reviews on sites like Google Business, G2, Capterra, you grow your authority. Authority can also be given in the form of inbound links from news stories and other high-authority sites within the same (or complementary) industry. Trust As in real life, trust is about legitimacy, transparency, and accuracy. Trusted sites are ones that strive to have up-to-date and accurate content, use SSL (secure) certificates, and provide contact information and disclosures when using affiliate links and cookies used for tracking user behavior. SEO The next step in the EAT strategy is to monitor your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts to monitor who is coming to your site, how long they are staying for, what they are reading, and how they are accessing the information (desktop, tablet, smartphone). You can review demographics such as age, gender, and location to better adjust your content and know what might be important to them. Match your content with the selling season and write ahead of time (so the information is there when the searching begins). And, of course, we recommend using a CRM to manage leads, keep-in-touch and stay organized to the needs and preferences of your customer base. To view the original article, visit the IXACT Contact
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Checklist: Is Your Website ADA Accessible?
President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA in July 1990. The law forbids discrimination against people with different forms of disabilities and provides equal opportunities and access that covers all aspects of life. But ADA did not specifically cover online accommodations because the law was created before the widespread use of the internet. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) emerged to provide guidance, relating solely to providing online accessibility, as an accumulation of case law asserts that it is a business's obligation to include website accessibility. In 2021, more than 2,895 ADA website accessibility-related lawsuits were filed in federal court, an increase of 14% over 2020. New York, Florida and California are the busiest states. Major real estate brokerages have been sued, as have individual real estate agents. While some cases have been dismissed, these lawsuits generate negative publicity and take significant legal resources to defend. Individuals with disabilities are suing to gain access to information online that a non-accessible site can give them. For example, blind or other visually impaired people use screen reading software to describe pictures. But if the website doesn't have "alt-text" for every image, the user won't know what the photo is. One lawsuit noted the plaintiff could not find the hours of operations on the brokerage's website, and that prevented them from visiting their physical offices. Making sure your website meets ADA requirements can do more than protect you from potential liability. An ADA accessible website also offers agents and brokerages market advantages that we detailed in the past ("Why Making Your Website ADA Compliant Is a Double Win"). With one in four American adults living with a disability, providing website access is smart business. As a group, they spend $15 billion online annually. Avoiding penalties that can run in the tens of thousands of dollars is another huge benefit when websites are ADA accessible. The good news is there is plenty of online help to guide agents, brokers, and the folks they contract with for their website technology to become ADA accessible. Online tools AccessiBe and Monsido offer a free analysis of your website's ADA compliance, breaking down the areas where you are accessible and providing a list of areas that need improvement to become accessible. Staying up to date is also important because as recently as March, the Department of Justice provided additional guidance on website accessibility. Fortunately, because ADA compliance for websites can be confusing, even for the most tech-savvy real estate agents, the National Association of Realtors created a short video for members: Window to the Law: ADA and Website Accessibility Update The NAR recommends that members should identify and address accessibility deficiencies on their websites. Other tools available online that can help include ADA website compliance checklists. While these are not intended to be legal advice or guidance – always consult a professional for these services – these lists can help you better understand what is required for a website to achieve ADA compliance. Here are summary checklists that help highlight what you need to know about websites and ADA compliance, according to internet developer, WishDesk: Level A compliance (lowest level): Alt text for images Alternatives for pre-recorded audio/video No auto-playing audio Use of color and other indicators Instructions for search boxes, web forms, captchas, and other input fields Add input error explanations Navigation fully accessible via a keyboard Allow users to extend the time for time-limited content Give users the option to control blinking, moving, or scrolling content Add "Skip to" to allow users to bypass repetitive content Level AA compliance (sufficient level): Add captions for live audio/video Provide audio descriptions for pre-recorded video Set your contrast ratio to at least 4.5:1 (stronger contrast makes text more readable) Allow text to be resizable up to 200% Avoid using text over images (can be misinterpreted by screen readers) Use clear headings and labels Provide users with instructions on how to correct an input error Offer sensitive data input error prevention, allowing users to review/edit errors on a submitted form Use consistent menus and buttons Identify the same elements the same way Use clearly visible keyboard focus indicators to assist with navigation For multilingual websites, languages should be identified in code to assist screen reader technology. Level AAA compliance (highest level): Offer sign language for pre-recorded audio/video Set your contrast ratio to at least 7:1 (stronger contrast makes text more readable) Eliminate or dramatically reduce (20dB or lower) background sounds in an audio recording Remove time-limited content, except for live streams or online auctions No interruptions – no popups or other intrusive content except for safety warnings Restore user data after re-authentication so users can pick up where they left off Avoid any flashing content Provide explanations of abbreviations, idioms, or business jargon Add explanations for hard to produce words and use a phonetic transcription or audio recording. As you can see from these checklists, many of ADA's compliance guidelines can make the user experience for everyone better. You can learn more about ADA website compliance at ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap5toolkit.htm. You also may be interested in: Why Making Your Website ADA Compliant Is a Double Win, October 26, 2017 5 Things Every Agent Needs to Know About 5G, August 18, 2022 Do you know these 10 real estate and tech acronyms? Test your knowledge, August 8, 2022 Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates Tech Helpline and Form
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