Blogging by REALTORS® was introduced a few years back as a way for real estate agents to boost their business. Industry pundits and vendors have portrayed blogging as some kind of “magic bullet”. The reality for those of you who have tried blogging is vastly different. A recent survey that iHOUSEweb conducted of over 500 REALTORS® who blog regularly showed that less than 5 percent could cite any measurable benefit to their blogging efforts!
So should you blog? We say YES, but only if you do it right! And for the right reason! The fundamental fallacy is that REALTORS® blog because they think visitors have bookmarked their blog page, and come back regularly to read and comment on your posts. Sorry, but almost no one does that. We believe that the only reason you should be blogging is to get high on Google and Yahoo! search results ie. Search Engine Optimization.
This White Paper gives you 10 important Do’s and Don’ts on Real Estate blogging that will get you meaningful positive results for your business.
10 REAL ESTATE BLOGGING DO’s
- Do brainstorm the key words you want to be found under and create short relevant posts that pertain to those terms. E.g. let’s say you practice real estate in Bonita Springs FL. Relevant key words are likely to be “Bonita springs real estate”, “Naples Florida real estate”, “Cape Coral real estate”, “real estate Naples”.
- Do use tools like Raven Tools, SEOMoz and Google Adwords Keyword Tool to help you figure out what people are searching for. These tools will help you figure out how many people are searching for your keywords and how much competition you have for each search phrase.
- DO optimize your page for the search engines. It is critical to you being found for the right keywords. Make sure that the words in your post match up with your Post Title and Post Tags. Make effective use of headlines by adding the heavy weight keywords you want to be found under to the headlines of your post.
- Do publish content frequently, but don’t spend hours on each post. Google knows when your site has been recently updated. The more you update it, the more likely your website will be revisited and re-indexed. We recommend using FeedReader software, joining Facebook Pages, and following people on Twitter who will provide you with industry news and stories on a daily basis. Reading an article from another blog and then writing a short summary of what you read (in your own words) is an excellent way to generate content for your blog.
- Do create posts with lists. People love lists and they make great blog articles and are good for SEO. They make engaging headlines, are easy to write and easy to read. E.g. “10 Reasons to Buy a Home in Bonita Springs”, “As a Seller, 5 Things to Look for in a Real Estate Agent”, ”How To Find Your Dream Rental in Naples Florida”
- Do start your blog post title with your best keywords. Page titles carry the most weight. In the first three or four words in your title, should be your most important terms. E.g. ”Buying Real Estate in Naples, Florida? Use This Checklist To Avoid Surprises”. The weight of having Naples, Florida, and Real Estate in the post Title will help this post rank well for those terms.
- Do use your keyword phrase throughout the body of your post. Try using your phrase in the first sentence or two and then a few more times lower down in the post. Make sure you put the keywords in your meta description, meta tags and post tags. The information contained in these meta tags will dictate how your page appears in a search result.
- Do write descriptive text for your links. If you’re blogging about Buying a Home in Chicago, make sure that the link you create has descriptive text like “Buying a Home in Chicago”. This will help increase your search visibility. Creating a link that says “Click here” does nothing to help your SEO efforts.
- Do try to get people to link to your blog and comment on it. Search engines see inbound links to your site as a vote of confidence. The best way to do that is to participate in Facebook and LinkedIn blog groups. Creating posts that link out to other popular bloggers pages that pertain to your post creates good “link juice”. Use tools like Google Analytics to give you an indication of how many back links you have already and where your traffic is coming from. A back link is an inbound link to your website from an external website. Part of the formula Search Engines use to rank how popular websites are, is by determining how many back links they have.
- Do tag your content. Creating a tag is kind of like putting a label on it. They function almost exactly like keywords and allow search engines and other services to index your content much faster. That’s where the similarity to keywords ends. Creating tags for your content actually creates additional web pages that are indexable, searchable, and rankable.
10 REAL ESTATE BLOGGING DONT’s
- Don’t give up too quickly! Your blog will not generate measurable SEO benefits over night. In this case, slow and steady really does win the race. Many people are gung ho with their blog the first few weeks, and when they don’t notice an immediate spike in traffic or leads, they abandon their blog because they assume their efforts are in vain.
- Don’t aim to build tons of links. Instead build relevant links as they will improve your rankings much faster. Getting link traffic from sources that don’t pertain to your content will cause a high bounce rate, which will have an adverse effect on your SEO efforts.
- Don’t use a FREE Blog at WordPress.com or Blogger.com. While they provide a valuable service, they lack the one thing that is essential to any Realtor® with a blog, lead capture tools and IDX. Your blog has to be seen within the context of a real estate website which showcases you and provides visitors with valuable tools.
- Don’t copy other Realtors®’ content. It’s one thing to read an article, digest it and write an article pertaining to what you read, written from your own viewpoint. It’s another to copy and paste the article and call it your own. DO write a short summation of what you read, and post a link to the original source. That is great for SEO.
- Don’t write duplicate content. Creating an exact duplicate or slightly different version of the same content is considered “spam” by Google and could result in getting penalized by Google or having your site banned altogether. Instead, make sure that if you have similar content on two posts, that there are unique elements in each page, such as differences in the Title, Headlines, links and context of the page.
- Don’t buy back links from EBay or Craigslist. These are all scams and pretty worthless attempts to help boost your blog’s popularity. There are thousands of people selling back links from Google PR7 sites that will do absolutely nothing to help your SEO efforts. If a back link to your site does not come from a good source, this can have a negative effect on your ranking.
- Don’t keyword stuff. Jamming a bunch of keywords into your page will not help your cause. Google is very smart and will be able to tell if you are trying to keyword stuff or use other “black hat” SEO tactics to try and beat the system. It’s better to write real content that is keyword focused.
- Don’t write just for the search engines. Remember that the goal is to get found, but what happens once they click on your link is equally important. If the content of your blog post does not engage the reader, they are out of there. A high bounce rate will have a negative impact on your rank.
- Don’t forget to tell the search engines to visit your site. Using a pinging service like Ping-O-Matic or Feedshark will tell the search engines that you have new content and that they should re-index your site.
- Don’t use “black hat” SEO techniques. Things like cloaking your URL, hiding text (using the same color font as the background color of your site), link exchanges, and other ploys will get you banned by Google. It happened to JC Penney when the SEO firm they hired (and subsequently fired) created an artificial web of links.
We hope that these Do’s and Don’ts give you better insight on how to use your Real Estate Blog as an SEO Tool. Try putting some of these helpful hints to use in your own blog.
Remember, iHOUSE Elite website now come with a built-in blog. Effectively using these tried and true SEO techniques can help propel your search effort with a minimum amount of effort. Don’t have an iHOUSE Elite website? Test drive one today FREE for 2 weeks. No obligation, no credit card required! Or if you have a current Real Estate Website, see what it would look like on ELITE in Minutes.