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Why Blogging is Good for Your Business

Twenty years ago, a solid marketing strategy for real estate involved putting ads in the newspaper and leaving signature FOR SALE posts on properties. Now, with the digital age among us, this type of marketing is just simply not enough. In order to stay on top, real estate businesses, as well as all types of businesses, have to learn how to get noticed online. One of the greatest tools for receiving online attention is blogging. And I’m going to spend the next few paragraphs telling you exactly why blogging is good for your business.

Twenty years ago, a solid marketing strategy for real estate involved putting ads in the newspaper and leaving signature FOR SALE posts on properties. Now, with the digital age among us, this type of marketing is just simply not enough. In order to stay on top, real estate businesses, as well as all types of businesses, have to learn how to get noticed online. One of the greatest tools for receiving online attention is blogging. And I’m going to spend the next few paragraphs telling you exactly why blogging is good for your business.

What is a Blog?

A blog is like an online, interactive journal. While they can be used for personal or public use, their function can often vary. Blogs are similar to articles, and can be found on designated websites to inform or entertain readers, who are often allowed to rate or comment on the material. For businesses, blogging is a great way to share knowledge, attract readers (or potential clients), gain credibility, advertise, and improve search engine page rank through better search engine optimization (SEO).

Making the Most Out of Blogs

In terms of improving business, blogs are an easy way to improve online popularity. When someone is searching for real estate agents online, you want your service to be the first to pop up on Google. Blogs have the power to make this happen and here’s how:

Search engines, like Google or Bing, rely on an intense algorithm to find websites when you search using a series of words. Websites that are frequently updated, well respected, contain large amounts of data, and are linked to other sites are typically the first websites to show up in a search. By posting blogs on your own site and by publishing more information, you are expanding the website and increasing its chance of hitting a lucky component in the search engine’s algorithm. When posting blogs on other sites, known as off-site optimization, it is important to include inbound links to your site and to write quality blogs. These components of blogging are targeted ingredients that a search engine look for and will make your site stand out from the rest.

Blog and Get Noticed

For real estate blogging, businesses tend to inform audiences on the housing market, quarterly reports, and events going on locally. This is an easy way to outreach readers (potential clients) and keep content current, all while improving your marketing strategy. When it comes down to it, a solid use of blogging not only makes your website look better, it can also improve your business’s SEO performance and land your website among the first pages in a search engine’s results.

Use Twitter to Build Your Brand Recognition

Don’t fool yourself. Even if you are a single agent, working for yourself, you still have a brand. Your brand is more than just your image – it is people’s perception of your image, of you, of your business, your credentials, your reputation – you get the idea. As social media takes a stronghold on the world of branding and marketing, we are learning newer and better ways to use it to our advantage. Let’s talk about how you can use Twitter to build your brand recognition.

You may want to sit down and map out a brand strategy. Do a bit of Google research or play around on HootSuite (after setting up a free account, of course), and work out ways other people are building brand awareness through social media. See what catches your eye and what you personally find attractive, endearing or smart. Twitter can also be a great platform to promote open houses and other home events.

Twitter can be instrumental in building brand recognition, because it operates in real time and has tremendous reach. You don’t have to be someone’s “friend” or “connection” to start a conversation. Using hashtags and Twitter Chat gives you – and anyone – the chance to be in on the conversation. This is where the real connections get made.

Make sure others will want to know you by updating your Twitter photo and bio. Be approachable, include an interesting fact or two about yourself or your business, say what you like to talk about, and use a great picture (don’t be the egg!).

Here a few tips to getting the most out of Twitter when you’re trying to build brand awareness:

Use photos and videos. Twitter stats show that tweets with images and videos get retweeted more often.

Use hashtags. Experts say to use three separate hashtags for each tweet to help your tweets rise above the masses. Mix them up, post the same content in different ways, using different hashtags. And absolutely use relevant trending hashtags – get involved in larger conversations for greater exposure.

Ride on the coattails of others. If you’re selling a fixer-upper with a ton of potential, try tweeting about it during episodes of Rehab Addict. Want to encourage buyers to use an agent? Tweet while they’re watching Love It or List It. Or use the Million Dollar Listing time slot to tweet about that gorgeous horse ranch you’ve just listed for a new client. Research shows that using relevant hashtags during a trending TV show can really boost your Twitter exposure.

Be yourself. As a real estate professional, your brand ultimately comes down to YOU. Make things personable and personal. Stick to what you know and what you like. Tweet things that interest or engage you. Retweet and comment often, when others tweet things that are important or interesting to you. Thank those who follow and retweet you.

Where Should You Focus Your Social Media Attention?

Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr … the list goes on. But there are only so many hours in the day, and the home buyers and sellers you want to target may not be everywhere. How do you determine the best social media approach? Where should you focus your social media attention?

You want to be where your target audience is, first and foremost. Your goal should be to build a community around your business, while you work to expand awareness of what you do, how you do it and the properties you’re selling.

Here are five social media sites you should look into when planning your social media strategy:

Facebook, as we’ve discussed in earlier posts, has a HUGE reach, of over 1 billion global users. The social networking site makes it easy to present yourself as an individual AND as a business, and is working continually to release features that keep it competitive in the social media market. Facebook is used by marketers to reach consumers in just about every industry imaginable, and it is very applicable to real estate professionals marketing properties.

Twitter may not be the ideal place to market a listing (think Facebook and Craigslist for that), but it is a great way to make connections online, boost your SEO, generate conversations, and learn more about your industry, market or potential clients. Twitter has more than half a billion users, and it’s a great site for monitoring trends.

LinkedIn provides good professional networking opportunities, thought leadership, business promotion options. The majority of LinkedIn users are college educated, and involve themselves in the social network for professional advancement, rather than personal socialization. Professionals earning more than $150,000 annually make up the largest bracket of LinkedIn users.

Google+ has been booming, and its user numbers rival Twitter. With its connection to YouTube, the introduction of Google Authorship and the popularity of Google Hangouts, Google+ has a lot of potential for reach, for SEO benefits and brand building. Google+ has a higher than average number of well-educated professional males in its demographic.

Pinterest has exploded in the last couple of years. While it originally caused a lot of people to scratch their heads, its relevance grows more and more clear every day, and it holds a lot of potential for real estate professionals. It’s a great way to showcase images, build links and drive traffic to your site. Remember: pin from your own site if that’s where you want people to end up! Nearly three-quarters of Pinterest users are female, and the majority are college educated. Home décor and home design are two of the most popular topics – this is great if you can showcase beautiful properties (linking back to your single property websites), home staging tips and more.

4 Things Every Real Estate Agent Should Know About SEO

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by SEO (search engine optimization). Good SEO is what helps a website rank on the first page of Google, for instance. You want good SEO. High quality content, good, easy to navigate design – these things are in your control, and they are crucial to the SEO of your real estate websites. So today, I’ve pulled together four things that every real estate agent should know about SEO.

1. Content is the cream that rises to the top. Content should answer a need. It should tell a story. It should solve a problem. Content should be applicable, usable, shareable. It should resonate with your users. As a real estate professional, you know your market. You know the buyers and sellers you want to attract as clients. What do they need? How can you give it to them? This applies to your agent and single property websites and to your social media efforts. Before you throw up your hands in defeat, know this: none of this means you have to have tons of content or writing on your sites. But it does mean that what you do say and post needs to be relevant. This is one area where using a dedicated service like RealEsateSites.com or Listings Unlimited can be a huge help – your website will start with tested, high quality content, keywords and built-in SEO. You can build on a solid foundation put together by experts.

2. SEO is steadiest on a tripod. To have a solid SEO strategy, you need to focus on three separate areas – content, links and social media. They are separate, but also incredibly interconnected. And they’re all important. Link exchange is a great way to get legitimate links from other websites pointing to your site. Links increase your site’s authority and, therefore, its visibility in the search engines. Link building can be arduous to the inexperienced, but is often built in to quality website services. Social media is the vehicle that can take your site to the next level, by giving it the exposure it needs to appear valuable to search engines. At the end of the day, link building and social media connectedness and moot, without great content. Your content is incredibly important and must focus with precision on your visitors’ needs and your call to action.

3. Social media puts the ‘S’ in SEO (well, not literally). Google, in particular, gives more and more credit to social media when it comes to ranking. Likes, shares, comments, @mentions, etc. have become an incredibly important part of strong SEO. You want to make it easy for people to share and like your content. This, in turn, makes it easy for other people to find your content. Built-in social networking tools will save you time and money when it comes to this critical aspect of your real estate site or single property website’s SEO.

4. You must know your brand before you can optimize it. SEO is step two, after good branding. And the connection between good branding and SEO has been made easier and stronger since Google release Google Authorship. Google Authorship connects your content to your Google author profile, and the search engine gives more credit to recognized authors’ content. This is by no means an overnight fix, but it is a very worthy recipient of your time and strategy, with regard to SEO.

4 Key Features of Effective Real Estate Sites

There are 4 key features of effective real estate sites that every agent should start with.

Creating a real estate site is an important step in establishing yourself as a savvy, experienced real estate professional that can add lots of value to their clients. But not all real estate sites are created equal. There are 4 key features of effective real estate sites that every agent should start with.

To be truly effective, a real estate site should include the following features:

1. An effective agent site should be optimized for Search Engines
To make the most of search engine traffic, you need to have control over your meta tags. Ideally, the company who hosts your website should submit it to major search engines to make sure it is indexed quickly and properly.

2. An effective real estate website should include built-in social networking tools
These tools enable you, and your website visitors, to easily add your website to social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. The best websites also enable you to build widgets that get automatically updated whenever you add or remove a listing. These widgets can be posted to social media outlets including a blog if you have one.

3. An effective agent site should include real-time lead alerts
Immediate follow up on website visits is extremely important. The best agent websites include tools that send your website leads, in real time, to your text enabled cell phone.

4. An effective real estate site gives you easy access to the website’s statistics
Websites are live creatures that require constant tweaking and monitoring. But the only way you can improve your website’s performance and its appeal to prospects is by having access to statistics that show you how people behave on your site. Quality agent sites include live stats that allow you to track where your visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your site. This enables you to tell if a marketing campaign is working.

In addition, your agent site should have a built-in Google Analytics tool that enables you to easily install Google Analytics on your website. This is an invaluable tool that can provide you with lots of info on your site’s performance.

Remember: it’s not enough to have an agent website. Make sure you sign up with a company that provides high quality, professional looking, effective websites.