While participating in a realtor’s forum recently, I came across a new thread that boldly asked, “Blogs, are they a waste of time?” I recognized his question as one being contemplated on a daily basis by many brokers and that reflects a tension between what most online real estate marketing experts say (that a blog is essential) and the real-world experience of real estate blog owners who see little in the way of new leads coming from them.
At the time of encountering the question I was in the process of researching good examples of realtor blogs. Well, this was certainly easier said than done because around 80% to 90% of the realtor blogs I found are indeed wasting their time with their blogging efforts. This is not because blogging itself is a waste of time, it is because realtors themselves are not applying best practice principles.
Now that may sound harsh, but it would be more cruel to watch hard working agents squander their limited time building a real estate blog that doesn’t meet their objectives – and may, in fact, turn off those few people that stumble upon it because it doesn’t measure up to their expectations. Here are the biggest and most frequent mistakes I’ve seen in realtor blogs:
There is an unclear understanding of a blog’s purpose or the expectations of the intended audience. I have ranked this as the number one mistake because so many of the other errors stem from this basic misunderstanding. Most realtor blogs I have seen use their blogs to explicitly promote their services or attempt to get a low-value SEO bounce to their website. Instead, what should happen are genuine attempts to answer questions or solve problems posed by people in, or about to enter the housing market. Do this, and the key objectives of a blog will be achieved. These are: to enhance recognition, build trust, and develop expert status.
Blog posts that include new listings or open houses. Neither of these post “topics” answer questions or solve problems, which is the main purpose of blogs – they belong on your website or email list. However, by simply “re-packaging” the new listing as a “lesson” then you make these sorts of posts serve your audience – instead of just promoting yourself. For example, you can explain how a new listing’s well-established garden helps the marketability the property.
Blogs that are difficult to navigate. Visitors to your blog will often find their way to it by a search engine pointing to a post that may answer their question or solve a problem they have. You want them to stay on your blog site as long as possible, but too many realtor sites lack basic navigational tools that will help your new visitor to find more information on what concerns them. A well thought-out category list and search box are essential. Internal links to other posts within your website are also good for navigation and SEO.
Blog titles, headings and images are not search engine optimized. Titles need to have keywords and clearly reveal the topic of the post. Break posts up into sections and use Heading tags to help readers and search engines understand the nature of your posts.
Blogs that are part of a realtor website instead of linked to it. As you go about answering your visitors’ questions and solving their problems, your blog is uniquely positioned to establish you as a credible, reliable and trustworthy expert. Visitors are more likely to establish this perception via a detached, impartial blog than they would through a business website. Blogs that are merely an extension of a corporate website loses this advantage of being impartial.
So, back to the original question: Are real estate blogs a waste of time? Quite possibly, if 3 to 5 of the errors listed can be identified. Luckily, most of the above errors can be fixed, although some more easily than others. But get these issues corrected and your blog can be a rich source of leads.