Internet Bandit Signs – What Real Estate Investors Should Know About Local Search
Bandit signs are very popular advertising medium for real estate investors seeking motivated seller. But their days are numbered. Not only can they be expensive, but a laborious way to “get the word out”. Not only that, but in most municipalities there are strict laws governing the use of bandit signs. Are we now living in the age of internet bandit signs? Some say “YES”.
According to recent studies the average search engine user is more likely to use search engines to seek out local providers and retail outlets than ever before. More and more, offline purchases are being preceded by online searches. The trend is sharply skyrocketing as we close the decade.
Starting in 2004 major search engines like Google and Yahoo have developed solutions to help people find local vendors and providers. People want to do business with their neighbors, and search engines are catering to this need through technological advancements like geo-location of IP addresses and GPS enabled phones.
Of all the business verticals, real estate professionals should be paying close attention to these local search trends, considering how geo-centric real estate is. But what should real estate investors and agents know before diving into the world of internet bandit signs? The three key points of interest for real estate professionals should be the national lead broker market, hyper-local directories, and the relatively new local options within Pay Per Click platforms like Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing.
The national lead broker market is a virtual war where national aggregators of motivated seller leads sell off exclusive access to those lead by territory. The options to purchase such leads are countless and a bit of due diligence can go a long way before doing business with such lead brokers. The advantage of working with such lead brokers is that their business model forces them to keep top placement in the search engines at any cost. Since it is so highly competitive the cost to maintain top placement can be astronomical. Another advantage of working with national lead brokers is that their “internet bandit signs” usually send leads to your email address as opposed to some page on your site, this means you can do business without having a site of your own. As long as you have an email address you can receive leads. The main problem with adding these brokers to your portfolio is in knowing which companies really provide the most qualified leads and understanding each company’s dominance at a local level, which can vary drastically from market to market.
Hyper-local directories are sites developed to service specific areas only. Usually they rank very high in search engines for very specific locally targeted keywords. Many of them accept business submissions for free or a small fee for premium placement.
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising provides the most amount of control and accountability for any internet bandit signs initiative. Platforms like Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing now provide ways to tightly geo-target your advertising and track not only costs, but lead conversions. Using geo targeting within these platforms give advertisers valuable data on their local and surrounding markets. Entering the PPC game can be costly if not done properly. Effective PPC advertising requires knowledge of keyword research programs, copywriting, and at least a basic understanding of how a virtual lead generation funnel works.
Numerous studies show that local businesses are failing to keep up with local demand from internet savvy consumers, proving that local search can viable niche for real estate professionals since competition is lagging behind. As time goes on, major shifts in local search awareness will create an overt and obvious demand and possibly prompt local businesses with deep pockets to eliminate the “little guy”, unless the “little guy” gets there first.
Sites like InternetBanditSigns.com have been developed to shorten the learning curve on local search strategies as well as providing effective tactics for real estate investors to use to grow their business and expand their reach.