I love to leave a trail of good blogging tips so whenever someone asks me how to start blogging, I can simply ask them to start reading my posts to see the tips all along the way. This is one of those posts that you read and reread!
If you've taken my SEO class, I try to convince you that writing about subdivisions and condo complexes in your market is a pretty solid strategy. Every month, tens of thousands of consumers are landing on blog posts written by ActiveRain members where the intent of their search is for information about a very particular area in anytown USA.
Some of these posts that ActiveRain members have written have received over 15,000 visits. In fact, there are a lot of them out there that have traffic numbers like this over the life of the post. This is traffic that could be meaningful to your business, especially if you take a cumulative approach and cover your market thoroughly with these kinds of posts.
But as I stumble around our Google analytics, I see wide variety in how much time someone will actually spend looking at one of these posts. I'm talking vast variations. In some cases, the average time on the page is less than 5 seconds. In some cases, the average time spent on the page is more than 2 minutes, or even longer.
So how do you make your post the kind of post that someone is going to spend enough time on, so that it makes a difference and they are convinced you are the expert on all things relevant to that area they queried on the search engine?
Let's talk about a few things that I consistently see in the posts that have a longer average time on the page. These are indications to me that the person searching found information that they deemed relevant to their search. Not only is this good for you in terms of having more of a chance to impress a potential client, it's an indication to the search engines that the content they served up to their searcher was relevant. This relevance will make you more likely to get served up to the next searcher as well.
The Content is Timeless
What do I mean by this? I mean that what you write about a neighborhood, subdivision or condo complex is as meaningful to someone finding it today as it was the day you wrote it. Of course, it would make sense that what you write today is meaningful today, but think about the fact your post has a LONG shelf life. If someone finds this post in 2 years, will it still be relevant? Now there are certain things that have a definitive shelf life. Market Reports would be a good example. But when writing about hyper local components of your market (from now on I will call posts about a neighborhood, subdivision or condo complex hyper-local posts) make them timeless. Your ability to show them listings will be done via a link back to your IDX site. You don't need to get a bunch of listings on the page right up front because for most of you, they will be outdated in a month, let alone two years. If you do have the ability to install some kind of widget or iFrame or something that displays current listings, you can go that route........but make sure the bulk of the content is timeless.
The Layout is Professional
How many pictures does any article in the Washington Post, NY Times or any other major publication give you on the page when you land there? One, maybe two. Sure, they have other avenues for you to get more pictures of a story, but when you land there, you see one maybe two pictures. And if you were ever to see more, they wouldn't be haphazardly strewn across the page. You have a very short amount of time to convince someone what they just landed on is valuable. Make sure those first precious seconds they land on your post are not spent discounting the professional appearance of the page.
(side note: This includes any banners or customization you may have done to your ActiveRain blog. A shoddy header image could be costing you business. It could be making people discount your content before they ever decide to jump in and read. Buck up, spend the $50-$100 to have someone who knows what they are doing design a header image for your blog. There are a few blogs around the rain where I cringe every time I see the header images and the customization. Don't be one of those. Have someone else look at if for you and give you their honest opinion. And by someone, I mean that friend that will ALWAYS tell you the truth no matter how much it hurts. We should all have one of those people in our life.)
If you are going to spend a ton of time creating content, it makes sense to figure out how to make your content look professional. Even if that means it takes you 3 hours to figure it out. Do it! Because the time you've spent creating content that doesn't look professional is all going to be wasted if someone landing on your blog posts hightails it out of there because things look like amateur hour.
The Content is Valuable
This is the most important BY FAR. Pay close attention! What did you actually write about that hyper-local area of your market? I would have you think about it like this. If someone was interested in living in that area of town; they were interested in living in that subdivision, that condo complex, would your post let them know everything they need to know about living there? I see a lot of posts where the person writing the post has obviously bought into the concept of writing these hyper-local posts, but it seems like maybe they are mailing it in. Many of these posts just don't quite seem to convince me the author is actually an expert in the area. When you realize that you can write a post of this nature and get it to rank well in the search engines, I think the tendency is to say "awesome, I can crank a ton of these out and cover everything". And that very well may be true, but ranking well is only half the battle. The harder part of the battle is convincing the person who lands on the content that you are the expert, that you are the person they should call or email, that you are the only one who can help them own a piece of property in this neighborhood or complex because you allowed them a glimpse of what it's like to live there through your writing.
So what kinds of things should we include in our posts to make this happen? How the heck should I know? You're suppose to be the expert!
Ok, Ok, that was somewhat tongue in cheek.......Let's think about this. What would you want to know about if you were thinking about moving to a new area, or even a new part of the same area? There are some things that jump out and are rather obvious. Here are a few for me.
How many homes in the area?
When were they built?
What's nearby? How long are commute times?
What's the deal with the homeowners association? How much does that cost? What do they cover?
Does the snow get removed in the winter?
Do the neighbors keep the lawns mowed?
What kind of floor plans are there in the condo complex?
Who was the builder of the subdivision?
How often do homes come up for sale?
Why do the people that live there like living there?
What schools do the kids attend?
How far is the grocery store and dry cleaner?
What kind of restrictions are there? Rental cap restrictions? Pet restrictions?
Where can I find out about crime statistics?
What kind of fun things are close by?
How do taxes compare to other areas?
There are probably 10 other things you could add to that list right off the bat. You guys get questions like this all day long once you finally have someone in your car and you are driving them to see a home in that complex, subdivision or neighborhood.
Again, I challenge you to ask that friend of yours that can not tell a lie. What does he/she think about the expertise you have imparted in your post? Does it make them think 'this person is obviously an expert'. Chances are you are going to have a very short amount of time to form a relationship with someone that you may never come across again. Make every post count with awesome information and don't let any chance to wow an online searcher go by without your best effort.
Clear Path to Find Homes for Sale Now
I don't care if it's a link or a button or a flashing neon light, you have to make it obvious to them how to find the homes for sale now. There are three reasons people go online as it relates to real estate; To find houses, to find home values and to find information. Information covers a lot. I get that. But think about it in terms of someone doing a search for '(name of subdivision) (name of city) (state abbreviation). Once they get to that information, and you convince them this is a great place to live....they want to see the homes for sale! Make it easy on them. And do it early. I encourage people to have a link above the fold that clearly shows me as the person landing on your information that if I just want to see the listings, all I need to do is click on that link.
You are in the information business. But you make money when people buy a house. I hope you see the connection.
At the End of the Day
When someone lands on your content, is there value? After reading your post, am I convinced you are the expert? It's infinitely more valuable to write 1 post that captures their imagination about living in that specific area than it is to write 4 half-assed posts about four different areas. Because the lesser post isn't going to prove anything to them. In fact, it's more likely to hurt their opinion of you than help. Who cares, they found you on the internet. Big deal! You would much rather they found you and you actually added value to their search. That's when your blog will become an invaluable part of your business.