By Ryan Ward | May 21, 2013
My newest test I’m doing is a community website to try and generate listings. I know, it isn’t new and I’ve done it before, but I’ve never really put the effort into it that needs to be made to create a successful endeavor. To do this properly, effectively and professionally, you are going to have to start by doing some research and take the time to write enough content on the site to make it valuable to buyer AND sellers because it is going to be part of your listing presentation that should set you apart from other agents who might be competing against you. If you do this correctly, I think there is a great opportunity to generate listings consistently. Like a farm, but virtual!
So to begin with, you need to find the right neighborhood. It needs to have significant turnover so the neighborhood needs to be large. I would say anything less than 1000 homes and you will be wasting your time. My chosen neighborhood for this project has about 3000 homes. It also has 2-3 dominant agents who have the majority of listings and I’m not one of them. I don’t shy away from a good challenge though and this seems like one that is right up my alley. I wouldn’t try this if you are relatively new or overly inexperienced as there are probably easier ways to farm an area than trying to take on 3 big agents at once.
What Your Website Should Do
Once you have your neighborhood, you need a website. Here is mine that I am using to try and target terms like Windward real estate agent and terms associated with sellers. I am also going to target buyer terms such as “Windward homes for sale”, “Windward homes” and “homes for sale in Windward” because part of the listing presentation will be that I will use this website to bring highly targeted buyers because we will be found easily for these very specific search terms. We’ll complement search traffic with paid ads on places like Facebook where you can create mad-accurate ads for very specific things. If your website can’t be found, it really isn’t there, right?
Content for Your Site
Ok, so you have your neighborhood and you have your website so now you need to build your content. The website needs to have some general information on the homepage with a way to search homes for sale, a search page, a video of the neighborhood with information about it, school information, a page with detailed information about the neighborhood, a contact form, an easily found phone number and some information about the lifestyle associated with living there. This could be shopping and dining, neighborhood amenities, etc…
Here is my video on the site. Click on the image and it will pop over on your screen:
It seems there should be no shortage of topics to blog about, but when you narrow down to a neighborhood, it could get more difficult. Your blog is your personality and where people will hear what you have to say about the community. I’m going to do video blog posts every other week on market statistics, sold listings and other things I’ve yet to think of. I’m only planning on posting to it once week or so. I’m not going to kill myself and I don’t think you have to. One week a blog post with a couple of pictures or a nearby restaurant or something and the next week a video. Simple. Don’t make it hard.
Show Good Faith – Give Something Back
Back when I first started selling real estate, I used to hand deliver a monthly newsletter to the neighborhood where I lived. In this newsletter, I gave a quarter page ad to any homeowner who wanted to advertise their business to other people in the neighborhood. Before long, I had a waiting list of people who wanted that spot. I did not charge them for it. After all, I wanted to give them something of value and that helped. Use your community website to do something similar – maybe even create a directory where homeowners can add their business. People like to work with neighbors and this is a great way to build trust.
If you have a greta site that you are proud, use it in mailers to the neighborhood as well. There is no rule that says you are only allowed to market online. Get people to find it online and in print. It will just help to reinforce the brand you are trying to create.
Let’s Get Started!
Ok, I have some content to add to my site and I need to find some other places to start marketing it to.
Did I forget anything? Have some suggestions? If so, leave a comment below…
By Ryan Ward | May 19, 2013
This is a question that many people have answered and the answers vary quite a bit. To look at this more technically, you might want to do a search for this topic without “real estate” in your search. There are great responses that will help give you a better idea of what will work for you and the readers of your blog. Here is some excellent information from Neil Patel on the how and why blog posts should be long. He makes the point that the content being longer (if it is good quality) may help to attract more links which will help it rank better and his conversion was higher with a longer page when A/B tested against a shorter page. Here is something else from 37signals where they tested and a shorter page gave them better conversions, but it’s what was on that page that made a difference. One more from remarkablogger that takes a different angle altogether and one I think we as real estate bloggers need to think about. Finally, I wanted to get to a point that we as real estate professionals get caught up in because we are always looking for the fast answer and it usually isn’t the best. See what my friend Eric Blackwell did here and this is what I will talk about in more detail below.
First of all, there is a lot of mediocre information about SEO from real estate professionals and those who seek to help us. I’ve recently seen people on FB and in a few videos that speak to us seeking advice as if they are the be-all-know-all on the subject of SEO. That, to me, is a sure sign you are getting information from a source that probably should not be fully trusted.
The truth is, there is no “right” length of a blog post for a reader or from an SEO perspective. Of course content will help, but long content with no real value is, well, of no value. So don’t write long copy for the search engines. It isn’t necessary. Right good content. Even an infographic with no text can be excellent content that will get indexed and rank well in Google and the other search engines. If you don’t believe me, see where my friend Eric ranks for his infographic with no content on Google for “Can a Blog Post Rank with Less Than 300 Words?”
So Then, How Long Should it Be?
Simple. As long as it needs to be. If it is of value, share it on social media, tell your friends, send it in your newsletter and it will garner links and it will rank. I’ve had blog posts that were an image and a sentence/statement that rank. They will rank if they are of value to someone. Stop looking for a silver bullet, write from your heart about something that is important to you and mean it. That will be a much better way for you to plan your posts than worrying about filling it with a bunch of junk content just to make it be 300 or 400 words or more. More importantly, you will be writing about something that matters. That’s a much better way to write than worrying about a word count.
You do not have to write The Odyssey or War and Peace 3 times a week for your posts to rank well.
By Ryan Ward | March 6, 2013
My main website is premieratlantarealestate.com and I’ve branded our business to reflect this and it has been a very successful marketing effort. I had thought I bought all of the important versions of the domain a couple of years ago, but for some reason, I didn’t. I can’t remember why…
Anyway, I received a google alert for “premier atlanta real estate” last week and found that someone else bought the domain with the .org ending to it and they are planning on using it to lease to another agent in our market. While I know it will be difficult for them to rank for anything significant in Atlanta for most terms, the exact match in the domain name will have them ranking on the first page for “Premier Atlanta Real Estate” and I find this to be a problem. We have people who simply use the search engine who are looking specifically for us and they don’t remember the website name so they google it.
The last thing I want is someone going to some random agent’s website when they are looking for us. This could mean lost business for us and I want to avoid this at all cost. Since the domain with the .org has been taken, I did go back and buy the .net domain and now have a website on it that will reflect Premier Atlanta Real Estate as our company.
The point of this post is that when you buy a domain and that domain is also your brand, make sure you are leasr buy the .net and the .org extensions at the very least. If you don’t and it is a good brand or has good exact match keywords someone else will buy it and you will end up competing against someone for this when you could have owned them instead. It’s not exepnsive to own the extra domains, but it might be worth it for you to keep someone else from trying to compete against you for something you are working hard to build.
By Ryan Ward | August 23, 2011
If you aren’t making videos work for you yet, you should be! It’s out of its infancy and into mainstream and if you’re like most of the agents who come across my blog here researching video, you are probably at least somewhat of a DIYer. You are in the right place.
Here is one I love from some guys in Australia:
I’ve been tinkering with video for years and I’m pretty confident it’s here to stay. My videos started off
really bad terrible and has evolved to semi-professional level. That means better than a lot of the professional options available. I’ve talked about how to capture your screen video here, what to talk about in a video here and some basics on how to get started here.
Now it’s time to get specific
The first thing you will need is a decent budget. $1,250 – $1,500 should get you everything you need provided you have a computer (Mac or PC) purchased no earlier than about summer of 2010. Video requires processing power!
If you’re willing to invest the money, the learning curve is not too bad. Here is what you need:
- A camera with minimum specs of 720p @ 30 frames per second (FPS) or 1080 @ 24FPS (technically it’s not 24 or 30 frames per second, but we don’t need to get overwhelmingly technical for this) – I use a Nikon DSLR for video, but some of the newest Panasonic, Sony, Nikon and Canon dedicated camcorders will work. I would stay away from point and shoot cameras for good video as the actual image sensor is very small and does not yield really high quality video. Expect to spend $700-$800 for something that is going to take really good video.
- Lights – You can get by with 3 of these lights from a home improvement store like these.
- A green screen – One can be found here.
- Editing software – If you use a Mac, get Final Cut Pro X. It costs $299 and worth every penny. If you are on a PC, Sony Vegas gets great reviews.
- A teleprompter – You will look very silly if you don’t have your thoughts prewritten for you. There just is no easy way to make this work. If you have an iPad, there are several apps to choose from. My first ‘teleprompter’ was sheets of paper with large font behind the camera that I read. Now I use my iPad as a real teleprompter.
- Independent audio recording – If you use a DSLR, you might be able to find a shotgun mic that goes on top of your camera or you can find something that is separate from the camera completely. It’s very easy to sync audio and video in a good editing program.
Putting it all Together
If you are going to use a green screen (I think you should), the diagram below is the basic setup you will need:
Now, got out and shoot a quick video. There are video tutorials to help you learn how to use the green screen and whichever video editing software you you have. Below are a few videos for real estate I have dome recently. Enjoy!
By Ryan Ward | November 12, 2010
These are great! I have a Mac and I use a program called ScreenFlow. What these do is record what you see on your screen. You can create tutorial videos for how to use certain parts of your website. Here is one I made last night. It took me 10 minutes to make and edit it and 15 minutes to upload it to Youtube:
ScreenFlow is just an amazing and easy to use program. It cost about $100, but it does everything you need it to. It can create picture in picture from your computers camera so you can have a picture of you. It has some basic, but very adequate editing tools and transition effects and it just works.
Other Ideas For Screen Capture Videos
A local real estate agent and friend, Joshua Keen uses the same program. Here are some of the ideas he is putting to use on his YouTube Channel. I think it’s important to remember here that vide allows you to connect with people on the internet who would otherwise not see you as a person. It removes some of the anonymity and for business, this is critical.
Since most people still use Windows based computers, you will need to find a program that you can create screen capture videos. You might start with a Google search here for screen capture video software.