Why blogging can set you apart!

No matter whether you are a real estate agency or an individual agent, blogging has become a big differentiator between many offices (and eager staff) these days and in the coming years agents that demonstrate a deep understand of their market and may well set themselves apart, this is because vendors turn to agents that know their area of expertise and can prove it by displaying this for the world to see. Some blogs like Robert Simeon’s at www.rwm.com.au (full disclosure – we work with Robert on his technology) are fully integrated into his companies website, whilst others are separate entities that exist outside of the main domain.

Fully Integrated Solution
A full integrated solution basically means that your real estate website is also your blog and users of your website can both browse property listings read up on local issues, property news, taxation and get property advice. Some agents are also giving outside authors (lawyers, surveyors, builders etc) certain privileges to post directly to the agents website further enhancing the user experience and of course the authors profile).

To me, if given an option the fully integrated solution is the only true option for agencies – as you only need to promote one website and chances are, your real estate website already has a decent audience.

External Blog
This is a blog (website) which exists externally from your main website. It is not the most desirable entity, but if you are an individual agent that wants to make a name for yourself outside of your agency, then this is a decent solution. For real estate agencies that want to have a blog, talk to your developer about getting a fully integrated solution. There are a number of great platforms available to you from Drupal, Expression Engine, Movable Type, Text Pattern, WordPress and Joomla.

All of these have large development communities and are pretty simple for your developers to setup. If you want to dip your feet in – you can also get a free website at www.wordpress.com (different to the software www.wordpress.org). This is probably best for the individual agent and best of all – you can one day upgrade to wordpress.org for your own self hosted solution.

New Agency Website
If you are getting a new website talk to your developer about getting a fully integrated solution, they should have no issues doing this (unless they don’t want to) and make sure you choose a platform that best suits your needs from one of these great solutions – DrupalExpression EngineMovable TypeText PatternWordPress and Joomla.

If your web developer does not have the tools to do this – or informs you they are rolling something out in the future (almost always means never) then you may need to look for a new developer.

The great thing about all of these solutions about is that they are open and portable, so if your developer sucks you will never have any trouble finding a new one.

Be Mindful
One thing to be very wary of is companies that have their own in house CMS systems, some are half decent, most are deplorable and they nearly always end in tears (if you ever want to leave). Thankfully most developers have left those days behind them, but you still will find a few handing onto the old business model. To them it is more about trapping you into a solution, so you can never leave.

Flexible
All of the platforms mentioned here can do everything that any other CMS can do for your real estate website. All of them have tools that can easily add extra features and they all have large development communities to share ideas and code. So don’t be afraid to jump in.

Drupal, Expression Engine, Joomla, Movable Type, Text Pattern, WordPress

SEO For Real Estate
Listing Leads
Agentpoint Real estate

About Peter J Ricci

Peter Ricci is the Director of Agentpoint.com.au, Business2.com.au, Ginga.com.au and ZooProperty.com and has been involved in designing and developing real estate systems and websites since 1997. In July 2001 Peter founded Business2.com.au to help real estate agents better understand the power of the Internet and the real estate landscape in Australia and New Zealand. Since then he has penned over 300 articles on a variety of subjects in the real estate technology industry. Business2.com.au is now the leading real estate technology site in Australasia.

14 Responses to Why blogging can set you apart!

  1. Kelly Millar November 4, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    Excellent advice for agents Peter. Agree 100%. Agents need to evolve their marketing practices to embrace these new channels. As always those that lead the market and innovate stand to benefit the most.
    Our preference is the WordPress platform, which we find offers excellent functionality. We also offer a domain mapping service for our customers so they can have their blog integrated to their website. This provides a seamless experience for consumers and of course is highly valuable for SEO.

  2. Jeroen November 4, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Great article Peter,

    I often discuss blogging with my clients here in Perth. With Google recently changing the way we search It is fast becoming a must do strategy for agencies.

    I also use wordpress for my blog and find that the SEO plugins are fantastic and very easy to implement.

    With Googles Caffeine algorithm, blogged content is being picked up and indexed in the search results within a matter of minutes. Comunication with your audience these days has to be relevant and delivered immediately…….How will newspapers ever survive?

    Kelly,

    Does the agent/agency using your services still have ownership of the content when it is only mapped to their domain?

  3. Peter Ricci November 4, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Hi Kelly, thanks for that. FYI why do you do domain mapping? If it is inside the site, why does it need mapping? Just curious 🙂

  4. Peter Ricci November 4, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Jeroen, yes we also use WordPress, probably the best business decision I ever made after being trapped for too long in an out of date CMS system with rising prices and poor functionality.

    Even Google’s SEO Expert made mention of how WordPress provides 90% of SEO out of the box – not only for blogging, but also as a whole website.

    I am dubious of these websites that are outside of the main domain though.

  5. Greg Vincent November 4, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Peter, I totally agree. Agents can get so much extra leverage and engagement within their community if they start sharing some of their knowledge and expertise via a blog.

    Most agents have loads & loads of content that they could upload onto a blog but many of them are a bit unsure where to start and others give up too quickly.

    TIP for newbies: The best way to start is to post comments on other people’s blogs or on forums and get a feel for how to engage within the blogging community and then start posting yourself.

    Sometimes expressing your opinion around an article can actually provide the inspiration for an entire article that you can then post onto your own blog.

    Peter I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience…but I am amazed at the number of doors that have opened up for me and the people that I’ve met since I’ve started blogging. I can’t understand why so few agents in Australia blog.

    Blogging is one of the best vehicles that I’ve found for building trust online and generating discussion, yet I see some agents that have blogs with the comments switched off. I find that part really bizarre.

  6. Kelly Millar November 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    Hi Peter and Jeroen
    To provide further clarity, as our customer blogs are on a WPMU platform hosted by SOBOX, we provide domain mapping so their blog can be mapped to their website domain.
    Hope that’s clearer?
    Kelly

  7. Charlie November 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm #

    Blogging – yes great idea – it’s how the local real estate agent can get LOCAL info out to their marketplace. I am amazed more don’t do it. But some do, and really well.

    Not for everyone (such command and control freaks or boring people or people who can’t write), but also fantastic for SEO as Google reads text and blogs are full of lovely updateable text. It’s worth making comments too and never miss an opportunity to leave a comment and a link to your web site.

    Agree with Greg – if too shy, start by reading loads of them, then pluck up the courage to make some comments and learn how to do that, then maybe think ‘if I had a soapboax, what would I stand up and talk about?’- that’s the title of your blog. Start one. And it need not even be real estate related. It could just be some local passion you have.

  8. Peter Ricci November 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    Thanks Kelly, MU is a nice little package, although it does fall into the second category, it is a great solution for independent/individual agents.

    Charlie and Greg are spot on. Get in there and get involved. You can even post a comment here, it’s pretty easy.

    Also, dont worry about people making comments you do not agree with, they are your best bloggers, the make the arguments interesting, but always respect their point of view, counter it, but respect it.

    All packages allow for filters and control over comments. As an example we have had thousands and thousands of comments on this site and only a handful (less than 5 times) I have had to intervene – usually because of going a little too far.

    Especially about my looks, I am very touchy about having a big nose 🙂

  9. Vic November 5, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    Peter, great article, eliciting technical, marketing and human interest comments.

    Being new to this game I am taking it all on board. There is no doubt that being involved opens the doors to lots of people that genuinely want to further the aims of internet marketing. I have been fortunate enough, through this blogg to have spoken to a few people who have offered to enlighten me, and without exception my knowledge has been enhanced.

    Just a couple of observations that have stood out to me.

    – Technical articles seem to generate only a few responses and then generally from other techies or those technically inclined. My contribution to these discussions is zilch but I go away checking info and disseminating it to see whether my business can benefit. On a number of occasions I have changed a track we were on as a consequence of a tech article posted,
    – business models/business goals etc; these I find really interesting as they do go to the core of what makes you money and sustains a path to ongoing success. These seem to have a reasonable commentary,
    – Personal interest- as with the article by Greg Vincent on Peter Merrick’s tribulations, these seem to get the most commentary. Everybody has an opinion and can express it. 165 comments were posted. However, except for the fun generate, nothing much was gained to take my business to another level.

    So, Peter, do you have a mechanism to test the reach of each post done on business2, that is, do you know how many people read the posts, or can you only determine each posts reach by the commentary?

    ps If you don’t want people to comment on your nose, don’t post your picture 🙂

  10. Robert Simeon November 5, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    Great article Pete,

    Having written our blog Virtual Realty News for just over ten years now (and it is sent out weekly) it delievers so much to our business that we not never consider ceasing its publication.

    Yes – a blog can be a hard slog. However, the benefits far out weigh the negatives (time). If you want to smash your competitors with SEO and SEM then this is best tool. Not to forget that it organically grows your position on Google where we have occupied number one position for many years now for our demographic market.

    When we moved to WordPress we certainly raised the bar given it offers us so many publishing alternatives ie graphs, photographs, videos etc (all of which consumers love).

    Writing a blog is definitely a learning curve where with ease I have managed to upset/annoy many readers over the years. Everyone has a different writing style so after consideration select the voice that best suits your demographic area.

    One note of advice – if you are going to attack governments and politicians (as I do) be prepared for extra scrutiny from respective government departments ie Taxation! 🙂

    Gotta run – sending this week’s edition out in two hours.

  11. Ryan O'Grady November 7, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    Hey Kelly, what are agents looking at (cost wise) for hosted SOBOX solution?

  12. Kelly Millar November 8, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    Hi Ryan
    Would rather not turn this into a sales pitch (as tempting as it is). If you want to call me happy to share $ with you. Our product provides a customised blog and integrated social media accounts, along with content package if required.
    Cheers
    Kelly

  13. Peter Ricci November 8, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Hi People, I know some people are a little timid to post comments, but you can do it anonymously. So to the people who sent me direct emails. If you want to get into it blogging with quite a few little bells and whistles you can do it for free at http://www.wordpress.com it’s very easy to setup and best of all it is FREE to get started. You can also have your domain mapped for a nominal monthly fee.

    Regards Peter Ricci – Editor B2

  14. Mac November 12, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Hi Peter,
    If we already have a website (non-Wordpress), can a WordPress blog still be ‘fully’ integrated? (This interests me as I know there is much greater SEO value if the blog and other content pages can be considered part of the same site).

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