Here’s my advice on writing your real estate blog primarily to Google is a squandered opportunity.
If you don’t read SEO Book, you really should. It’s a read and repeat blog. Bloggers read Aaron’s post, and then repeat these concepts as their own all over the blogosphere. Why not get this advice straight from the horses mouth?
Aaron speaks largely on search engine optimization, but my favorite posts are the one where he talks about viral marketing and the new media in general. When he offered up the chance for his readers to interview him, I knew this was a perfect opportunity to bring in an outside the RE.net perspective.
Hi Aaron, thank you so much for participating. As you may know, the real estate blogging community (we call it RE.net) is by far, one of the largest, and still fastest growing small business verticals for social media. It’s a close knit group, but with differing opinions as to what makes the best real estate blog strategies. Here’s three hot topics that I’d like to get an outsider’s opinion on.
Blog Rolls– Many RE.neters maintain a blogroll on their real estate blogs. Sometimes the links are local, other times, they’re other real estate blogs from around the country. From the standpoint of SEO, how important do you think it is for real estate bloggers to maintain or avoid a blogroll?
Well when you create a blogroll if you link to it sitewide you are passing out PageRank sitewide. What I do if I use blogrolls is either just link to the blogroll from the homepage OR link to a page I call blogroll where I list blogs I read often. The nice things about making the blogroll an actual blog post are that more people will end up seeing it when they do link searches on sites like Technorati, and you are passing out less link equity while still getting all the benefits of a traditional blogroll.
You still want to link to some of your core sales pages sitewide though such that they get maximum benefit from your site’s link authority.
Listings – Unlike ad driven revenue model blogs, real estate bloggers are generally trying to generate business for their own company. A popular school of thought is to avoid “selling” on the blog. This means that writing about a new listing is frowned upon. However, other bloggers report great success in blogging about their listings. What are the pro’s and cons with regard to search engines when blogging about your own product? In addition, as a consumer how would you react to a real estate blog that wrote about it’s listings?
If you want to write a blatant advertisement but do not want your core audience to suffer through reading it, consider backdating the post a week or month. 😉
People buy auto trader and it is nothing but ads. And few people would want to go to the million dollar homepage everyday because aesthetically it looks like crap. The key is to editorialize any sales information as well. Do you offer me tips on why I should stay in neighborhood x or the type of people who should avoid neighborhood y? Do you offer any unique ratings of areas? Have you visited the house you are pitching? Can you talk about your experience from an informing standpoint rather than using hard sales tactics? Those are the types of questions to ask. If you are teaching and informing it doesn’t feel like a sales pitch, even though Teaching Sells .
Keywords – Real estate bloggers are always striveing to own localized keyword search results. We all know it’s important to include these words in our posts, but at what point (from the perspective of SEO, or the blog’s readers) does keyword rich turn into keyword stuffing?
If you were your prospective client or prospective reader is the content you are writing something you would want to read or subscribe to? If not, then you need to fix it. Nobody is going to buy from or be impressed by poor reading content even if they do stumble upon it from a search.
Some people who keep adding keywords to try to match an arbitrary keyword density level end up stripping out important modifiers. Use a keyword tool to find modifiers that you can sprinkle in the copy… concentrate on fitting them in the page copy in a logical way more than concentrating on repeating the core keywords. Also it may make sense to use a few core keywords in your site template to help the pages be relevant for related queries.
Some WordPress plugins allow you to make your h1 headings different than your page titles. Using these sorts of tools allows you to get added keyword diversity without making the content sound bad.
Also in many cases if your site is structured well you have sales pages ranking for the most important target queries. Make sure to link to the pages you want to rank where it makes sense.
Besides SEO Book, what resources would you recommend for small business bloggers?
Study and learn your own industry inside out. Become the person reporters call when legal changes change your field.
Read Don’t Make Me Think to learn usability. And read the Cluetrain Manifesto and The Purple Cow to get a grasp of online marketing.
Finally, do you have any parting advice for real estate or small business professionals who are interested in starting a blog?
Sooner is better than later. Get launched. No big deal if you are not perfect off the start…it takes a lot of time and effort to become a good writer. Subscribe to a lot of other blogs you find useful and learn from them while you develop your own unique style. Plus tracking your industry and seeing what ideas spread and why they spread teaches you how to create and launch similar ideas.
And this will seem a bit self promotional, but I would also read the Blogger’s Guide to SEO. It is probably the best blog marketing guide on the web…and it is available in more than a dozen languages. 🙂
Thanks Aaron, I really appreciate your perspectives here on our corner of the blogosphere.
Who knew? Sacrifice dead goats for your blog. I always heard the best way to get a PR6 was to accidentally step on horse dung while blogging. Haven’t figured out how to do it yet.
Mary McKnight, of RSS Peices set off on a mission to improve the PR of several of her clients by starting PR5 Club:
“The club, which meets once a week for the 5 weeks following a PageRank Update focuses heavily on high level SEO strategies that WILL ensure that these bloggers hit a PR5 within the next two PageRank updates.”
With one reset down, they’re all in need of a strong finish. I don’t pretend to be an expert on improving PR, but I do like to watch.
Here are some observations concerning my blogs:
Blog Fiesta maintained it’s rank. I don’t even try to promote this blog. Frankly, I’m surprised it ranks as well as it does.
Brainious went from 0-2. I’m happy it made some progress, I’m just now getting around to focusing on this blog. Podcasts are coming in the next week!
Denver Modern is still a 4 & Lenderama is still a 5. They both made some progress though. Both sites are now displaying “Site Links” in limited circumstances. Dave is extremely jealous (see comments), so I guess that’s progress.
The Secret Diary of Greg Swann is still a 4. You might remember, Fake Greg Swann attained a PR4 in less than one month. That’s insanely fast. Much of the conjecture was that Google took a snapshot of FGS during all the commotion it stirred. Here’s the interesting thing though, the blog has been dead since the last reset. It’s still a 4.
So what does it all mean? I don’t know, but I’m happy to guess. I think Google’s trust in a domain name is more important for PR than all the little things that bloggers attempt in trying to boost it. I think lenderama, Blog Fiesta and Denver Modern are benefiting from the Google’s trust of mariah.com. Fake Gregg is getting the same traction from wordpress.com. I think there’s an opportunity here for new bloggers to jump start their PR. Here’s what I’d do if I was starting a real estate blog from scratch.
1. Start with a free WordPress.com blog. It think FGS has proven that Google trusts wordpress.com as a URL.
2. At the very same time, register your domain name for at least a few years.
3. Set up your domain name to forward to your WordPress blog. Go Daddy calls this Domain Forwarding. It’s like call forwarding. Now you can use the new domain name for your cards and stuff, but the blog’s true address is still yourblog.wordpress.com. For an example, try lenderama.com.
4. Blog your heart out. The great thing about this is that your total cost is just a few bucks for the domain name registration. Obviously, all the things you will want to do here are not covered in this post. Here’s a list to help you with that.
5. Once your PR hits 3 or 4, map your domain name to your blog. This is a guess on my part, but I think you’ll maintain your PR. I did something similar for Loan Bark before I sold it, and the PR was maintained. Domain Mapping only costs ten bucks a year.
6. After everything is all up and running, you could then consider leaving WordPress.com for more flexibility.
Will it work? I don’t know. Mary ensured her methods would work. So if your looking for guaranties, PR5 Club might be a better bet.