Writing Your Real Estate Blog Primarily to Google is a Squandered Opportunity.

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Thanks to the recent frequency and quality of guest posts, I’ve had the pleasure of taking a little time off from shouldering the content on the Tomato.  Keeping in stride, we have another treat for you.  Todd Carpenter, ubiquitous RE.net participant, and owner and author of the globally appreciated mariah.com (a web 2.0 real estate network of websites), just emailed over this solid piece weighing the value of blogging for Search Engine exposure.

Writing Your Real Estate Blog Primarily to Google is a Squandered Opportunity.

By Todd Carpenter

What’s the difference between a blogging expert and a real estate expert?

Blogging experts may or may not understand how the real estate industry operates. Take, for example the theory forwarded that, for the sake of superior Google search results, bloggers should not write about their community. That instead, they should stick to posts that are only about real estate itself.

You’ll get no argument from me that a real estate blogger should blog about real estate. Blog about your listings. Blog about your open houses. Blog about market conditions. Blog about foreclosures. You’re a real estate agent, of course you should write about real estate.

Blogging this way and you’ll get search engine traffic. However, blogging only about real estate means leaving much of a blog’s marketing power at the table.

Some experts scoff at the idea of blogging about the community, or local businesses, or even writing a restaurant review. These topics may not drive in large numbers of web driven leads, but let’s face it, you can BUY Internet leads. You’re not in the Internet leads business. You’re in the real estate business.

Step away from blogging for a minute and think about how successful real estate agents market in the real world.

Referrals are key to driving a successful real estate business. I’ll take one referral from a real live human over a hundred from Google. Referrals from past clients are very powerful, but you can use you’re blog to create a referral stream from people you’ve never worked with before.

Referrals from other local businesses.

Blogging is as much about closing leads as it is about generating them.

Writing a review of a restaurant has very limited SEO value. It’s a value to you’re readers, but that’s not the best reason for doing it. Any time you put someone’s name in lights, there gonna be impressed, and they’ll want to return the favor. Writing a restaurant review endears you to the owner of that business. You’ve just grown your sphere of influence, and all it took was a few kind words on your blog.

On lenderama, I let mortgage vendors write their own reviews. On Denver Modern, I feature the listings of local real estate agents, and feature local businesses. All of this is useful to my readers, but I also do it to connect with my peers in the industry. You can just as easily do this at the local level with restaurants, dry cleaners or even skateboard shops.

Proving that you’re a community expert.

For the longest time, most real estate web sites allowed agents to TELL consumers they are experts for a certain location. Blogs let them PROVE it. I could write a blog about Houston real estate (I live in Denver). I could get it to rank in the search engines. What I can’t do is prove that I’m an expert on Houston.

Blogging is as much about closing leads as it is about generating them. Proving that you ‘re the expert on this community is how you set yourself apart from the competition that merely states it.

Developing a regular readership.

While some experts will tell you that hardly anyone will regularly read a real estate blog, they’re basing this opinion on the feedback they get from real estate bloggers who only blog about real estate.

Why do you send out community newsletters? Why do you send out football schedules and refrigerator magnets?  Communicating to your client and prospect base is the cornerstone of real estate marketing. Blogging is the ideal tool to take this proven marketing technique to the web. But for the same reason you include football schedules in your marketing mailers, you have to include interesting topics in your blog. If you create an interesting place to visit, readers will follow suite.

Tying it all together.

When it comes time for an avid reader to list their home, where do you think they will look first? When it comes time for an out of town buyer to choose a relocation agent, will they choose the one who said they knew the community, or the one who proved it? When a local business owner has the opportunity to refer an agent to one of his own customers, don’t you think the agent who featured them on their real estate blog might be at the top of their list?

When it comes to structuring your blog, look to the way you market in the real world. The key to building a successful blog is mixing lead generation, business referrals and avid readers into one big marketing monster. There’s simply no reason to leave half the upside a blog can offer at the table while chasing search results that will probably come to you anyway.

Thanks for your contribution to the Vine, Todd.

Todd Carpenter is a Realty Tech Consultant and creator of a network of Real Estate Sites at mariah.com.