Why Blogging is Still the Key to Real Estate Lead Generation
You might think that blogging is totally passé, now only something that only raging nerds do as they fight over which superhero would win in a fight in some darkened corner of the internet, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Ready to know why?
In September 2013, Google put a new search algorithm in their engine, the first major change they had done in over a decade. This algorithm was called “Hummingbird” due to what they hoped would be its speed and precision. Sounds good, right?
It was. Still is, actually. Hummingbird allowed searches done on Google to do something no searches had ever done before—parse the actual question being asked based on the words typed into the search bar. Meaning that when you type something like “where is pizza close to my home?” assuming that you’ve given Google your address, it will immediately provide you with a list of pizza places close to your address. Before the release, it would have giving you search results of places named “Home Pizza” and when they were closed.
So how could Hummingbird help you as a real estate blogger?
Because Google is now understanding questions, if someone asks for specific information –information you have and have taken the time to blog about—they’re going to be more likely dropped on your site via your blog than dropped on the website with the highest domain authority who happens to have search terms scattered throughout their site that don’t actually answer the question.
In simpler terms: if you answer a question better than any other site, the view is yours. No matter how small you are.
Is that not good enough of a reason for you? Well, let’s toss some statistics your way.
Technorati released a survey that showed blogs are the third most influential digital resource when it comes to people’s purchase decisions.
According to a Hubspot report, 46% of people read blogs more than once a day.
And according to yet another Hubspot report, websites that have active blogs are thirteen times more likely to have positive ROI.
This infographic from Hubspot shows the number of bloggers who acquired a customer through their blog based on the number of times a monthly they updated said blog. Not bad, right?
How to Start a Blogging Regime
Great, so you’re on board with this blogging concept! How couldn’t you be, after such great information on Hummingbird and such stellar statistics about how blogging can help you generate customers? Exactly.
But now you’re wondering where to start. I totally get that, and I’m here to help you design a blogging regime. Don’t worry, it’ll be painless.
First, you have to think of what you’re going to blog about. What do you think your customers-to-be will be most likely to search for when they’re digging around online trying to get information on your particular part of the market? What do you think people who land on your site through other means will find interesting enough to click on and read?
Think on this hard—they’re your customers after all, and this is your business and brand. But, in the meantime, here are some generic ideas that certainly will get the ball rolling:
• Post your mission statement and code of ethics for your business, if you have one. If you don’t, get on that! How better for buyers to learn about you than through those two items?
• List your top five or ten favorite restaurants in the area, but make sure that they’re locally run—no one needs to hear about the five dollar margaritas at Chili’s on Monday nights.
• Create a slideshow of the most (or least!) expensive properties in your neighborhood and post great photos of each house or condo.
• Write a piece discussing current market standards or practices and why you disagree with how things are done, especially by challenging a well-known individual in the industry and their beliefs.
Once you have a solid collection of blog ideas –about twenty or thirty—it’s time to plan your blogging schedule. Easy, you say, I’ll do it every Monday. Like clockwork! Slow down there, speedy, it’s not that easy. Not if you want to do it right.
This means you need to look at things like how much time you’re going to be spending on each post. How fast do you write? Or are you going to be hiring someone to write your blogs for you who has a bit more of a silver keyboard? Are you going to be including photos or graphics? If so, are you going to be taking the photos and/or making the graphics yourself, getting a professional photographer or graphic designer, or are you going to be downloading free stock images and graphics?
Each of these items lets you know how much time you’ll be spending. What might be a three-hour investment to one blogger may be a ten-hour ordeal to another. And if you’re doing it yourself and hitting that ten hour mark, you might want to hire some outside help.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to hire outside help, you need to sit down and examine how much time you’re willing to spend on your blog. If you spend five hours on one blog, you could technically spend one week writing eight blogs so you can have two blogs a week for a month… but do you want to?
And while you’re considering all of this, realize that you have social media that you’ll need to post on each time you add a new blog entry. So now there’s that to add into your schedule.
I suggest posting no more than twice a month when you first start out, if that much. A safer bet would be once a month, but I know you’re raring to get your content out there and your site traffic kicking. This awesome info graphic from Co-schedule shows a great schedule to get you into the game:
Each time you update your blog, while you’re doing the writing, the graphics, the posting itself, and the social media, make sure to time yourself to see how much effort you’re putting into each post on average. You have a business to run and at some point, you’re likely going to need to hire help to keep your blog on track as your business grows from it. If two posts a month is your max until that happens, don’t worry about pushing yourself. Everyone works at their own pace and as long as you are consistent with your posting habits, your traffic will continue to grow.
A final note in your blog creation journey— length is key. According to Forbes, ideal blog length for SEO is at least 2,000 words. Why? Because the more words you have on a page discussing a specific topic, the more flexibility you have with your keywords. Because there are more words and with that many words, you can spread around and start touching on topics related to the one you’re focusing on. Google will hone in on that and drive your article up the search results accordingly. You can also expect more back-links to your article with increased length, and that’s pretty neat too!
What type of blog should I start?
Obviously, there are a lot of choices when you blog. WordPress.org and wordpress.com essentailly two versions of the same platform. I won’t keep you in suspense. Active Rain or WordPress.com blogs are the best places to blog if your a real estate agent.
I’m so convinced of that I did a long for expose on the two blogging platforms comparing each.
Obviously there are pros and cons to each platform. This article is meant to illistrate the importance of blogging if your a real estate agent or broker. My blog post comparing WordPress and Active Rain is meant to help you chose WHERE to blog.
More Tips for Optimizing Your Real Estate Blog
You have your list of blog ideas. You have your writer, your graphic artist, your photographer, and you know how much time it’s going to take you or them to produce your content. You’re not going to try to cut corners by dismissing the impact that images have on your blog, right? Right?
Do not underestimate the power of pictures when it comes to getting and keeping eyes on your blog. Jeff Bullas reports that articles with images get 94% more views than articles without. Pretty impressive, right?
Not only that, but whenever your article is shared on image-friendly sites like Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, instead of pulling up an image from another article on your site or no image at all (which is even worse!), they put the intended, eye-catching image right where it’s supposed to be, which drives the right type of traffic to your blog.
And don’t underestimate the power of Google Image Search. Potential customers are not just doing regular Google searches for “beautiful houses in Denver,” they’re also going to be doing image searches. So if you’re selling houses in Colorado’s capital and you have a post listing the ten most beautiful houses in the Denver, an image search will draw that customer right to your page.
As a final note, don’t forget your social media and all the other places in which you can promote your content. I’m not just talking about Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and all the other usual suspects that will crop up as social media continues to develop.
No, you need to also think about building up your email subscriber list, being active on real estate and house-hunting forums, engaging with other real estate professionals on their blogs, answering questions about the real estate market or how to buy a house on Q&A sites… making sure, of course, to have plenty of backlinks to your website and any related blogs you wrote on the topic.
It’s a lot of work to maintain an active blog and even more work to promote it enough to build a following, but with time, you (and your subscribers!) will be happy you did so.
I hope you enjoyed this fourth installment of “The Ten Commandments of Real Estate Websites.” There are six remaining commandments, which will be rolled out over the next few weeks.
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