Websites are not dead. In fact, it’s a mistaken belief that a blog is not a website. It is just another way of organizing, updating and presenting content. A blog can be a part of your website, or it can stand alone and link to it. The key is to understand what a blog is all about, and how it changes the way in which your site visitors perceive you and interact with you.
What are you trying to accomplish with your Internet presence? Many would say that it is to showcase your services, expertise and listings. That’s correct, but it doesn’t go far enough, nor does it really address the importance of the Web to the average Realtor. What should we be trying to accomplish with our web presence?
- We want to be considered the “go-to” expert on local area real estate.
- We want our Internet presence to start a process that eventually creates a phone or in-person relationship with a visitor who wants to buy or sell real estate.
- We want our site to help us in the generation of listings by impressing listing prospects.
When visitors first arrive at your site, they are rarely ready for the “go-to.” They want information about the area, real estate processes, and lots of listings to search (give them IDX). On these early visits, they do not want a phone call or email unless they ask for it. You need to give them the information they want, and gradually build trust for a relationship.
So, what’s it going to take to get the first two goals realized? This is where the power of the blog comes in. What is so different about the weblog (blog) platform or structure that makes this possible?
1. The content is easily entered by the real estate agent without any HTML or special web programming knowledge at all.
2. The setup and structure places the content properly, requiring no page design for each entry, article or “post” as they are called.
3. Search engines like regular fresh new content, which is the way blogs are posted. Search engines love the way blogs are structured and the way that they present fresh new content regularly.
4. Web visitors aren’t patient, and they are on a quest for information. So, several smaller posts about topics like “What’s a Title Binder” or “What’s Covered by Title Insurance” will be precisely on target for their search, and they’ll read it.
5. You can keep the information fresh when things change, so content is easy to keep updated.
6. The “Comments” function of a blog makes it easy for your site visitors to interact with you and other visitors.
7. The RSS feed function puts out an update of your content as you place it … a kind of press release. The world is informed every time you post new content.
8. Visitors who like what you write can subscribe to your RSS feed and receive every new item as it is released. This keeps them around until they are actually ready to contact you in a more direct and personal way.
9. Blogs and add-ons for features are set up to automatically work with social networking like Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn.
The major difference with Internet marketing has to do with differences in the way web consumers locate information and the ways in which they prefer to be contacted.
Basically, they don’t want a phone call early in their real estate research process. They want to be anonymous, gathering information at their pace until they want to talk to a Realtor. Any effort to hold back information to force a phone or other direct contact is going to cost you prospects. Give them information they respect, and they’ll contact you.
The reason blogs work so well is that they PULL the visitors into doing business with you instead of PUSHing them to contact you on your terms. They allow the prospect to learn about you, even the personality you show in your posts and content selection. They learn who you are and how much you know by keeping up with your content. They WANT to contact you at some point.
Blogs don’t change the basics. IDX should be in the site, and it’s just as easy to integrate into a blog as it is into any other site. IDX is what your visitors want when they first arrive in 90+% of cases. They may get there on a search for “YourTown real estate sold data”, but they will go from there to the listings search. They’ll also learn that you know what you’re talking about, because they found statistics about sold properties when they needed them.