marketing tips orange

Voice search, an emerging mobile technology trend, is the future for digital marketers

Hey, Alexa! Hi, Siri! Hey, Google! “Can you tell me what the temperature is going to be today?”

There’s no question that voice search, which allows users to speak directly into a device in lieu of typing text into a search field to generate results, is gaining momentum.

And with the increasing popularity of voice search (also known as digital assistants), businesses would be wise to add it to their digital arsenal. 

Voice search improves the user experience of search engines—it’s faster and easier—and provides more accurate results. Bottom line: if your website content is effectively optimized, especially for mobile users, your business could be the first one that Google recommends.

That’s a big deal when you’re considering the ways that voice search affects SEO.

“Voice search trends are already making it clear that effective, customized SEO plays a vital role in getting your content featured. Optimizing your site and content for voice search is step one in the transformation to voice marketing. Consider all things audio and how they translate when broadcast on an audio channel,” writes Merilyn Pereira, a staff writer for martechadvisor.com.

Even more persuasive: Google claims that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be conducted using voice search. And even if you’re not a tech titan, it’s not difficult to optimize your website content with voice search technology.

There are, however, a few tips that make the optimization process easier, including creating content that keeps the conversation flowing, researching keywords that often appear in mobile searches and foregoing superfluous lingo and buzzwords.

“The expression “keep it simple” applies now more than ever before. From talk to text, voice prompt calling and more, we’re doing less typing and more talking. Companies can optimize both content and connection by keeping things simple. Skip the jargon. Use clear, succinct verbiage to improve your efficacy and amplify your message,” suggests the Forbes Communications Council, which outlines 14 other top tips to optimize your content for voice search.

Real Estate Corner:
Voters in Lakewood, a Denver suburb, approve cap on new housing construction

graphic - real estate, blue

Voters in Lakewood, a Denver suburb and Colorado’s fifth-largest city, approved a ballot initiative that caps new residential construction.

The Denver Post reports that almost 53 percent of the tally, or 18,771 votes, was in favor versus 47 percent, or 16,913 votes, against.

Mortgage Fraud Red Flag

Flagging Fraud (Part I): Know These Indicators of Transaction Fraud

Every year the U.S. government comes out with a growing list of warnings on cyber fraud, real estate fraud, email fraud – the list goes on.

on cyber fraud, real estate fraud, email fraud – the list goes on.

Some warnings are common sense: delete suspicious-looking emails, don’t give away banking information or social security numbers, never wire anyone money without triple checking – and then checking again.

We’re committed to ensuring that all independent agents have every new (and standard) information source available, even as the rules and the threats multiply and expand almost every month.

Download Our Fraud Detection Guide for Agents

In this first installment of a multi-part series on Flagging Fraud, we take a look at some of the red flags involving parties to a real estate transaction.

Red Flags

Learn or at least become familiar with red flags that could well indicate something is awry in any real estate transaction.

Some title fraud may be detected by agents before the transaction closes.

Rather than memorize, regularly reviewing this list will help you and all those involved in your transactions be aware of potential fraudulent components:

  1. Releases of prior mortgages recorded before or independently of the closing of a new loan with no source of payoff funds.
  2. Many recent transactions and/or re-recordings.
  3. Recent change in title, especially one without concurrent financing.
  4. Releases recorded out of sequence.
  5. Sale of property subsequent to or concurrent with a divorce.
  6. Quitclaim deeds with no consideration.
  7. “Intra-family” deeds.
  8. Parties to the transaction are affiliated.
  9. Document not prepared by an attorney or title company.
  10. Document looks non-standard.
  11. Power of attorney with Grantee signing as Attorney-in-Fact.
  12. Prior signatures indicate failing health or physical deterioration followed by a healthy, strong signature.
  13. Bargain purchases—policy amount much higher than purchase price.
  14. New mortgage amount much higher than purchase price.
  15. Property seller is an LLC/entity/corporation.
  16. Appraisal looks questionable (e.g. indicates recent sale/listing activity at significantly lower price; comparable sales are previously flipped properties).

Download Our Fraud Detection Guide for Agents

Congratulations to Tim Tillman

Meet Tim Tillman, Alliant National’s new Florida production manager

Answering Alliant National’s call to use title and management skills in the broader role of statewide Florida production manager.

Tim Tillman joined Alliant National six years ago as a vice president for Tallahassee and Northwest Florida agency manager where he was responsible for building Alliant National’s footprint.

As a testament to Tim’s hard work and dedication, he’s been promoted to Florida production manager.

Tim began his career as a courier and moved up the ladder to perform search, exam and mapping with an independent title agent in South Florida. Subsequently, he worked as senior examiner and assistant manager for American Pioneer. He was also a senior examiner for Attorneys Title Fund.

Just prior to joining Alliant National, Tim was the operations manager and business center manager of Fidelity National Title Group’s Tallahassee operation, where he managed the production and trained and managed other personnel.

Tim has done an excellent job of growing our footprint in his area, including managing examiners and our production system.

Now he’s agreed to answer our call to use his exemplary title and management skills in the broader role of statewide Florida production manager.

He will continue to reside in the Panhandle area while managing all our title production staff and processes.

“Joining the Alliant National Team presents me with some new challenges and opportunities, and I’m really looking forward to helping Alliant National’s independent agents serve their customers more fully and stand out from the competition,” Tim said, adding that throughout his career, he’s “grateful to have had the opportunity to foster excellent business relationships along some of the best beaches in the world and around the state capital.”

Tim’s mature, kind and experienced voice joins our statewide group of seasoned and compassionate searchers and examiners, all of whom pride themselves on delivering the best title products we can.

Congratulations Tim!

SEO

The best Google marketing tools for businesses

Whether you’re a new business or one that’s been a part of the landscape for years, you want to take advantage of every tool that has the potential to increase your online visibility.

To that end, Google offers a multitude of free (and paid) services that businesses can use to their benefit. From designing a more intuitive website that also tracks site traffic to improving your website’s SEO rank, these Google services should be part of your company’s marketing arsenal.

Google Trends
Google Trends isn’t your everyday SEO tool. The search feature is all about products and topics that are currently trending, and a large part of your marketing strategy should be focused on understanding how your target audience can find you.

With Google Trends, businesses can monitor industry trends and test specific words, terms and phrases in their marketing vernacular to see how well they hold up.

Updated in real time, this tool enables businesses to evaluate the popularity of their marketing language and compare them against other keyword variations, a feature that can be helpful in getting new keyword suggestions.

Think with Google
Full of industry insights, helpful articles, case studies, research documents, data reports, innovative ad campaigns, videos, digital trends, infographics and interviews with top industry leaders, Think with Google is a one-stop shop digital newsletter that takes a deep dive into consumer trends, marketing insights and industry research.

The site is frequently updated with useful and inspirational content to help drive business growth and reach.

Google My Business
More than 100 billion searches are performed on Google every month, which means that if your business isn’t discoverable in a search, you’re losing out.

Google My Business generates free business profiles that pop up when consumers search for related terms through Google Search and Maps.

By default, Google includes what it knows about a local business, including customer reviews from across the Web. But you can tweak your listing – and attract more customers – by submitting your own information, including photos, offers, promotions, news and text edits to Google Places.

As well, businesses can respond to reviews, message with their customers and see who follows you.

Google Alerts
To stay updated about industry news – and news about your own company – take advantage of this useful free service from Google that sends you email alerts whenever there’s news about a topic that you’re following.

Signing up is free, and after adding a topic or search phrase, you’ll be notified whenever there’s a mention of your company, products, people or your competition.

Google Keyword Planner
If you want to tun paid ads on Google, Keyword Planner is a must-have tool for your search network campaigns.

Aside from giving businesses estimates on search traffic, the free tool also shares the most relevant and successful keywords, URLs and phrases that people are searching for most often.

The tool even allows you to input your own list of keywords to see how they might perform.

businessman punching and breaking the word RISK

Increased Risk Means We Need to Increase Training

Threats are constantly evolving and your training and testing must also evolve to counter these threats and keep your defense robust.

A cyberattack is a malicious and deliberate attempt by and individual or an organization to breach the information system of another individual or company, seeking benefit from the disruption, ransom, or theft of data.

This electronic threat is increasing in frequency and complexity and has become very expensive to remediate or to recover from.

Here’s the surprise – almost 90 percent of cyberattacks are caused or allowed by human error from the internal staff of the entity attacked.

This includes failure to follow security rules and protocols, sharing passwords, using weak or default settings, and falling victim to social engineering.

Even the large events such as the hacking at Equifax and Target, were caused by failure to follow the rules regarding administrative password settings, human error.

So whether your business is large or small, you need ongoing, strong training and testing to counter the threats.

Recent survey results of a survey of title insurance professionals by the American Land Title Association show a surprisingly small amount of agents are conducting ongoing staff training, and most do it once when they hire an employee.

This is a recipe for eventually becoming a victim of electronic fraud.

There are simple yet effective steps to take to counter the increasing threats by taking a strong defense, and it starts with regular training and testing to remove or reduce the human error element.

Here is what to do to put a training and test plan into action:

  • Ensure new hires are introduced to and educated on information and data security policies and procedures as well as how to protect nonpublic personal information (NPI) and sensitive information. Emphasize to them the “why” so they fully understand the shared responsibility nature. This should be a core part of their orientation and on-boarding.
  • Set and schedule ongoing training for all employees at every level commensurate with the size of the staff and complexity of your business. This should be monthly, quarterly or semiannually.
  • At a minimum, cover controls over access (passwords; pass phrases; multi-factor authentication), network and data distribution (including never using non-secured networks for conducting business such as those in cafes/hotels/airports), phishing and spear-phishing, and never use a general email service like Yahoo or Gmail when sending NPI or sensitive information; social media and social engineering.
  • Require security measures for smart devices (smart phones, and in particular Androids, account for a large percentage of data breaches).
  • Explain the implications of data loss, which includes reputational hits and potential fines and penalties and law suits.
  • Focus on all media forms – hardcopy as well as electronic – and include proper handling and protection from receipt through handling to secured destruction.  
  • Training may be done with internal documents or you may use a third party to conduct the training (i.e. Data Shield; KnowBe4).

  • After the training, use a quiz to gauge how well your employees understood the material.
  • Develop or use a third party to conduct ongoing, regular internal testing such as phishing or spear phishing testing (i.e. KnowBe4 is one vendor who can provide you this tool). Depending on the results, you may then make appropriate changes and re-focus your training to deal with any weak or weaker topics or areas.
  • Provide a single point of contact the employee may turn to with questions or to report any suspected suspicious attempts to obtain information or data (electronic or by phone).
  • Keep records of the training and attendees and testing results. This will be needed to demonstrate good faith, to meet many state requirements – and it’s a best practice.

Last, keep up-to-date on emerging threats and vulnerabilities and provide updated training to employees to be sure they understand new risks or new controls and why they are important; employees must know how to recognize and report threats to stay vigilant.

This will keep your training and testing current and fresh and serve as a continual reminder to your staff. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Threats are constantly evolving and your training and testing must also evolve to counter these threats and keep your defense robust.

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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