Maybe I’m becoming a blog snob, but I’m seeing more and more BAD marketing advice about blogs as they relate to real estate agents. A lot of people simply don’t understand the marketing potential of blogs and rather than giving useful advice, a lot of marketing “gurus” are stepping up to deliver advice designed to keep them in business. A good real estate blog is extremely cheap and costs much more in time than money. If someone is trying to sell you a blogging service that replaces time with money, they are likely trying to sell you a website with blog-like features. If your goal is to increase your presence on the web, then a website with blog-like features will get you about the same benefits of a typical website except you’ll end up with all the formatting restrictions inherent in a blog.
What got me started thinking about bad marketing (at least today) was when I read a comment on my 8 Mistakes article from an internet marketing expert who completely misses the marketing potential of blogs:
Some of the things this blogger wrote about were insightful and probably very appropriate guidelines for creating a typical blog. But on the other hand, there were a couple points that I just couldn’t look past:
* Don’t put your real estate listings on your blog
* Don’t “spam” your own blog with self promotion
Now, I’ve experienced a good deal of success in the real estate marketing business by executing a blog strategy that is not focused on being a “typical blog”. I’m not terribly concerned with creating a forum for discussion about Chicago real estate, nor am I terribly concerned with generating a loyal readership who will return to my site over and over.
If you keep reading his post, you’ll notice that the writer goes on to say that many people want to see homes when they search the internet for real estate information. He is right on that point, which would help explain the current bubble in new home search tools. However, even if people do want to look for homes on the internet, designing a blog around this is missing out on a large slice of potential home buyers who are looking to learn about neighborhoods, find appropriate real estate professionals, and research home-purchase advice.
However, the real kicker is that while there are some great ways to display a home listing on the internet, a blog entry is not one of them. Compared with the stuff you can do with a simple website creation tool like Microsoft Frontpage, let alone more advanced website creation tools, a blog post is down-right ugly. Blog posts are really geared toward text and they simply have limited graphic capabilities (while my blog software is top-notch, I have to dive into HTML code just to change the color or size of the font within the post!)
The author mentions the great success he’s had blogging about home listings. But does this typical listing on his blog come anywhere close to comparing to this beautiful listing that Joe put together? If your aim is to advertise a listing, then a webpage (or an entire website for that matter) is a much better way to accomplish this task than a blog entry!
However, I suspect that the author (who consults as an internet marketing expert) is under the assumption that because the home listing is in a “blog”, there is some type of search engine optimization benefit over a standard website. Not only that, but I’ve heard this logic said enough that I suspect this notion is prevalent in the real estate community (i.e. blogs show up better than websites in search results!). But this is a myth. Search engines do not even try to tell the difference between a blog and a typical website (after all, they both just appear to be a collection of HTML code to a search engine).
The REASON blogs tend to perform better in search engine results than typical webpages is a direct result of the community that has created them. When done right, a community of bloggers share links with each other and not just any links, but deep links associated with quality content. To create a blog without the intention of creating community (or loyal readers for that matter) is to completely misunderstand the marketing potential of blogs.
I also believe the authenticity of the author when he says that he has had success marketing homes through his blog. However, I think the success has a lot more to do with the fact that the author has created a community around providing interesting advice for buyers despite his lack of care for these readers. When I said it was a mistake to put listing information on a blog, this is because there are better ways to display listings than in a blog post and too much self-promotion inhibits creating a community.
I actually remember noticing, and then unsubscribing, to the author’s blog a long time ago because of all the self-promotional stuff. Interestingly, I would never have even found out about his post or linked to him had he not linked to me! By linking to me and taking part in the larger real estate blogging community, he has earned some backlinks to his site that will help him score better in search engines! A blog without community is simply a website that is organized chronologically and will be treated as such by the search engines.
If you want to see this bad idea taken a step further, check Ubertor’s latest product where they sell a self-updating blog of featured listings. What could possibly be the benefit of a blog (with all it’s ugly formatting restrictions) if it is self-updating? If an agent doesn’t think it is worth their time to select a few featured listings for their blog, do they really think it will be worth anyone’s time to read it? Let alone comment and link to these posts? Sometimes understanding whether or not an idea is a good marketing strategy takes little more than common sense.
Talking about common sense marketing… In putting together this post, I came across this great video featuring Seth Godin where he discusses with Google employees how much of their amazing success is related to how they have marketed their products (Thank you Grow-a-Brain!). The 48 minute video is so darn instructive for understanding how marketing should be done (and I believe that real estate agents are either in marketing or broke) that I’m going to experiment with including the video below so you can watch it directly from this site: