by Rich Schiffer, REALTOR, e-PRO
(This article is part of a training series presented for real estate professionals, whether new to the industry or experienced, to help them discover, understand, and benefit from the tools that are available on-line. For access to the full series, join the ActiveRain Technology Toolkit Training group. If you have not yet joined the ActiveRain Real Estate Network, you may do so here.).
Search engines look for words that match the search terms. Without going into the complexities of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), simply understand this: The more words in an article that match the search terms, the better it will score in terms of relevance. Blogs are basically long strings of text woven into a web which the "spiders" of the search engines examine for searches. The more relevant to the search, the higher up on the list of "organic results" the article will be. Some vendors will boast of their ability to improve your rank on Google's searches -- for a price. In my opinion, this is simply not a necessary expense, since many consumers trust "organic results" even if sponsored results appear ahead of them on the list. I dont mean to imply that all SEO companies are not worth their fee -- in fact, Active Rain member Mary Mcnight's company, RSS Pieces provides an outstanding service, tailored to the specific needs of REALTORS that is the best I have seen in a long time.
There are many blogging resources available. Some platforms can be added to agents existing websites, others are stand-alone websites, and still others are third-party platforms that allow for publication to their membership base, as well as "syndication" across other websites. Here are a few of the resources I recommend:
I highly recommend the book "Realty Blogging"
by Richard Nacht and Paul Cheney
This book explains many of the reasons that blogging is such an effective way to reach real estate consumers, and offers many guidelines for getting started effectively and efficiently. Some tips on how to write to optimize your search engine results are included as well.
ActiveRain combines a free blogging platform with an on-line social network specific to the Real Estate Industry. With over 60,000 members, and an easy to use system that is free to all Real Estate Professionals. All you need to invest is your time to write. How much time? That will be determined by your specific blogging plan -- part of your complete marketing plan.
Localism is the consumer portal to all the local content produced by ActiveRain members. Consumers can search for local area information, and ask questions of local professionals. Anytime you post a blog on Active Rain that is specific to a local region, the post will automatically be populated out to the localism.com website. What type of articles should you write? That will be dictated by your goals, and the coverage area(s) your are targeting.
This site provides a "widget" (a special mini-computer program) that you can add to any blog. This allows you to track who reads your articles, and tells you what search terms they used to find your article in the first place. Knowing how consumers find you can help you write articles that will get even more of them to come to you.
There are groups of extremely helpful bloggers out there that have a lot of valuable things to contribute as you explore the world of blogging. A few groups on Active Rain I can recommend are:
Curiosity and Confusion are your friend...
One of the greatest resources you have is your own curiosity, coupled with the human capacity to learn. If you are confused or have any questions don't hold them inside. Ask your questions -- even if all you do is enter your questions into the search feature -- you may find the answer and more in the results. One great way to ask your question, and increase your blogging skills simultaneously is to ask the question in the form of a blog post. Your answers may come from the least expected places...
Rich Schiffer is a REALTOR, a certified e-PRO, and a Technology Coach, Consultant, and Trainer.
For information on his consulting services click here.