I’m far from having any answers on what might make compelling content for a real estate blog, maybe this is a post full of questions. Was spending time reading old posts on the REW forum last night – the search function on the forum is like a reference library for me – easier to get solid information on how to build an internet based real estate business there than any other place on the net. I like reading the old posts now that I have a more solid base because there are great nuggets of information that I completely missed when they were first discussed.
One of the more interesting discussions I re-read last night talked about getting traffic to your site through blogging – ok that seems like a pretty basic concept – blog about local topics, market reports, go for mid-tail traffic in your titles and once consumers find you, try to get them interested in your real estate content (i.e. IDX/Listing data).
There was one lone voice advocating this might not be the best strategy – Halfdeck an SEO (not an agent) argued blogging soley for the sake of rankings is short sided – most of the time agent’s market updates and neighborhood events do not generate discussion either with the community or other real estate agents. He said:
Blogging is about reaching a target audience and gaining mindshare by engaging them in a conversation. It’s not about capturing leads off the SERPs; its about gaining authority in your vertical.
Read Halfdeck’s blog - it’s good. I don’t know him- commented on some of the same threads at REW but I was not really a part of these types of discussions last year and he hasn’t commented on the forum for quite some time. I think he is right in that blogging simply for backlinks or search engine placement gets boring – if it’s boring for me to write it, most likely not very engaging to someone who’s reading it.
The question becomes, how do you engage a local readership? Although this blog, It Keeps You Running, is new, it is already in the micro stages of building a community. However, this is not a blog for consumers and was never meant to be. My Davis real estate blog on my main site has probably never had enough consistency or nearly enouugh posts to gain a following. I have never thought of it as a place to build community either. Although that blog has decent authority I don’t take full advantage of it, even from the blogging for rankings standpoint. In a short time I’ll have a second blog to keep up on my Sacramento site so this is a great time for me to think about this.
One of my main objectives for my real estate sites is to create something compelling – that users want to visit multiple times and hopefully find value and feel like they want to work with me to buy or sell a house because of that value or trust I have created with them online. I don’t think that canned market statistics cut it from the blog standpoint. Maybe there need to be something more interactive on the site that is not as formal as blog posts. Most of the time when consumers fill out forms on the site – all they do is leave their name and email address – most often they do not fill in the comments section so I’m usually left guessing what information that they are looking for.
I’ve seen people argue that people in the home buying/selling market do not make for good community building because they lose interest once they are done with the process. However, even if these people are transitory, still might be worth trying to pull them in.
Back to finding ways to encourage visitors to leave questions on the site – consumers certainly will ask questions on sites like Trulia and Zillow – so why not have this information on a local site? Maybe the real question becomes how to create a space where consumers feel comfortable enough to ask questions and feel as if they will get a response they can trust.