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Managing Your Personal Online Presence: A Guide For Real Estate Agents

by | Apr 08, 2014

ManagingProfile_LonewolfAs a real estate professional, how you present yourself is paramount to your success in the industry. While you often hear about employers doing background checks on potential job applicants, your real estate clients are doing the same to you. They want to know that you're a good person to do business with and are doing their homework on who you are, using search engines. When someone looks you up online, do you know what they will find?

Spring Cleaning For Your Online Presence

Google Yourself

Try running a simple search in Google and Bing search engines and see what shows up. Maybe you're fortunate and have a unique name that makes it easy to find you. If you're like me and have a really common name use a search query, like Jane Jones + Columbus OH or Jane Jones + Awesome Realty + Columbus OH to specifically target you and your real estate business. Do you get search results that pertain to you? If you do have a common name, you may find there there are online twins that share your name and live in the same area as you.

Take Notes

Make a spreadsheet of what you find, categorizing the Good (leave as is),Neutral (ignore or not worth bothering with) and Bad (action required), among the search results you find. The goal here is to create an actionable list to address any blemishes you might find when you search your name.

Minimize The Bad

When searching yourself, if you find negative information, take action to mitigate. Here are a few steps you can take to try and diminish these negative sources of information:

  1. Once you've identified the negative stuff, start by targeting the stuff that you can control. Are there social media posts you created that reflect on you poorly? Delete them. Tighten up your Facebook and Google+ settings, removing public and friend-of-friends posts, unless they fall into the Good or Neutral classifications. If a friend has tagged an unflattering picture of you, untag yourself from the image or ask them to remove the image for you. If you're not comfortable with using Facebook as a means to connect with clients, consider locking down your profile so that nothing is indexable by search engines and only allow people you know into your social presence.
  2. Are there old blogs associated with your name that are no longer reflect your image or opinions? Get in contact with the webmaster to eliminate the content or at very least, remove the author association with your name.
  3. Sites like Zillow have real estate agent reviews. Sign up and claim your account. This will enable you to respond to feedback left on the site. While you may not be able to 100% mitigate a negative review, at least you can position yourself as proactive in dealing with that negativity. When dealing with this kind of feedback, don't ever be drawn into being negative. Separate the people leaving constructive criticism from those just looking to pick a fight online. As the saying goes online, "don't feed the trolls."
  4. For things that you might want to obscure about your online profile, don't use your real name and just use an alias. Everyone has interests and hobbies that might not 100% align with their professional image. Separating those from your professional image is what's key. As we've seen lately with Republican Congressional Candidate Jake Rush, having an easily associated hobby that ties to your name may not be the most desirable thing in the world. While it's said nothing goes away online, things that you control can be changed and reindexed by search engines. Sure that info may be out there in Google Cache, but the reality is most average users aren't savvy enough to dig into the past of online content.
  5. Are there comments on blogs and forums that are attached to your name that reflect poorly on you? Comment modules like Disqus andLivefyre have unified profiles. So, it's possible, if you have an account with that service, that you'd be able to login and remove the comments that appear on blogs anywhere on the web.

Build Up The Positive

If you can't get rid of the negative information, then the next best thing is to bury it so it doesn't show up on the first page of Google results. The goal here is to use some SEO to drown out some of the cruft that is showing up when someone searches for you.

  1. Flesh out the profile pages on your agent and brokerage sites.Major real estate firms like RE/MAX have profiles on their main brand website--make sure this profile is filled out to the utmost. Make it a resource that reinforces your connection to the local area and where you do business as a real estate agent. Providing more information gives search engines more to weigh when ranking these pages, so the more info rich you make them the better.
  2. Make sure you have a quality URL for your website. Having a URL like JaneJonesColumbus.com orJaneJonesRealEstate.com can go a long way towards helping you outrank competition for your name since search engines can rank multiple pages from a single domain.
  3. Remember that online twin that I mentioned earlier? The goal is to bump that person out of the picture, or at least to the second page. Here, we can try the quantity approach by using the various personal profile websites out there that will all create searchable pages that will reinforce your personal information.About.meFlavors.meEnthuse.me (among others) all offer professional landing pages. Be sure to link up your website, blog, and social accounts to each of these profiles.

Reinforce The Good

In some cases, the stuff that you have ranking on the first page you might be able to improve.

  1. If you don't have one already, make sure to create and beef up your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn profiles rank quite well, so make sure your linkedin profile is completed to the utmost. Since clients are looking to deal with you professionally, having a fully fleshed profile on the most popular professional social network is a given.
  2. If you're using social media, make sure to clearly and concisely put your full name and location into that profile. Use the same language that you'd expect someone to use to search for you. By doing this, you reinforce to the search engines that you are the same person that the searcher is looking for. Social media domains hold extra clout when it comes to search engine rankings, so these pages will typically be ranked highly by the search engines and bump out weaker content.

While this isn't going to be an overnight process, this is something that can enact a fair amount of change in your online representation with a little bit of work. While the goal here is to essentially shape your digital profile in your favor, it doesn't mean you'll be able to obscure everything. If a potential client asks about a bad review, make sure to address it as neutrally as possible and don't throw the person making the critique under the bus. Assume your portion of blame in the deterioration of that business relationship. Speaking poorly of past clients is just bad form and could leave your new client thinking you may be badmouthing them in future, if things don't go smoothly.

This post comes to us from the Lone Wolf blog.

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