Archive for September, 2010

Twitter To Launch Real Time Web Analytics

After talks of website analytics being offered since December 2009, Twitter is finally jumping on the Analytics train. Twitter, one of the top social media sites in real estate marketing, recently announced at a company conference earlier this week that the popular social media site plans to offer up free, real-time  analytics in the fourth quarter. There will be a phased roll out of the analytics dashboard to show users valuable information (specifically those using Twitter for their real estate business) on how their tweets are being spread, and who is of significant influence in their network.

Fortunately, following the Google Analytics example, Twitter will not be charging for its analytics feature, which was a concern as the company’s execs had alluded to the feature’s potential revenue as a possible business model in the past. Ross Hoffman of Twitter’s development team commented that Twitter would also incorporate the technology it’s using to measure tweet “Resonance” for search results and other similar features.

When the idea was first broached in December, the announcement of the Website Analytics feature was in reference to use of commercial Twitter accounts, which you would have to pay for, that contain premium features like multiple Twitter authors and an Analytics Dashboard – similar to LinkedIn’s premium accounts. However, this notion was also born out of the idea that Twitter would one day be a paid service, and as of yet there doesn’t seem to be any indication that there will be a Twitter business model.

Since that late 2009, Twitter has also matured significantly. It has been steadily competing with third party developers, and the company has consistently grown by purchasing and launching new software, such as mobile products. As for the Analytics offering, the Twitter App lists 151 applications to better understand the Twitter component of your real estate internet marketing campaign. This is great news for those of us in real estate marketing to help manage and understand Twitter presences.

Source Article: Twitter Analytics

Simple SEO for Your Blog

Optimizing your blog for search engines is similar to optimizing your website.  With a little planning and effort, your blog will give your SEO efforts a big boost!  It will take some time to establish yourself as a reliable information source in the blogosphere, and the more relevant blogs you post with valuable content, the sooner this will happen.  We try to encourage clients to blog twice each week.

SEO your blogHOW TO START:

You want each blog post (or web page) to focus on one subject or topic.  Your topic should be fairly focused because you want to keep your readers engaged and make sure you leave yourself topics to cover in future blogs, too!  This will also help you determine which keywords each blog post should try to incorporate.

Much like writing a research paper in school, you should develop an ‘Introduction’, ‘Body’, and a ‘Conclusion’ or ‘Call to Action’ to get the reader to engage in your site further, and become a Lead.

Read our blog on developing subjects to blog about if you’re stumped on what to write about.

KEYWORD STRATEGY:

If you want to optimize your blog, you’re most likely also optimizing your website as well, and you are using your blog as a way to increase traffic to your website and get new leads.  When developing your website/ blog optimization strategy, you need to determine your list of ‘keywords’ (or phrases) that you will focus your optimization campaign around.

Your keywords will be terms you think potential clients you’d like to reach would type into a search engine while looking for your services.  For example, if you are a broker focusing on student apartments in the Fenway neighborhood, you might choose a keyword like ‘Fenway apartments’ or ‘Fenway student apartments’.

There are a variety of free online tools you can use to learn about the popularity of the terms you are considering using and also to get suggestions for new terms.  You can also view the presentation from our Logic Classroom about Long Tail Keywords and Keyword Strategy to learn more.

I’VE GOT MY KEYWORD LIST, NOW WHAT?

It’s important to try to keep these terms in mind when writing your blogs, and develop blog topics that incorporate these words to help improve your site’s organic search engine ranking for them.  As a result, more visitors interested in what you’re selling (Fenway student apartments) will find your blog, and therefore your services, more easily.

You want to use your keywords in as many places as possible, such as in the URL of the page, in the Title of the Page, in the Header, etc. without being ‘spammy.’  If you want to learn more about keyword placement on your website, please read this blog about optimizing your website with keywords.

PRACTICAL TIPS FROM THE PROS:

Meta Titles:  It’s always good to add your company name to the end of your Meta Titles, such as ‘Extremely Relevant Meta Title Here | My Company Name’ to help increase your brand awareness.  You always want the Meta Title to be in ‘Title Case’ (instead of all lower case) so it looks good to a reader because they do see your Meta Titles in search engine results and at the top of the page in the browser tab.  Search Engines typically only index the first 65-70 characters or so (including spaces) of your title, so make sure the important keywords are towards the beginning.

Meta Descriptions should also include your keywords.  Your descriptions should be a brief summary (approx. 160 characters) of what your blog post or page is about.  You should write it using proper punctuation and grammar because the descriptions are seen by visitors using search engines and by search engines to understand what your page is about.  Here is an example of a description I might use for this blog post:

“Learn how to optimize your blog using these helpful tips on keyword strategy, meta data, and more to help increase your website traffic and capture more leads.”

A screen shot of search engine results for keywords

Links: When you add a Hyperlink leading to another page from your blog, especially in the beginning or middle of your blog post, I prefer to have the link open a new window or tab in the visitor’s browser instead of replacing the page they are on (your extremely interesting and informative blog).  This is easy to do with a Boston Logic Sequoia real estate website.

When you create your hyperlink, be sure to click onto the ‘Target’ tab when you are entering the Link information in the Link popup window.  This tab will allow you to choose if you want the link to appear in a new window, and also provides the opportunity to name the link- which is great for SEO.  I’ve attached screen shots to help walk you through it.  Making the links bold is a good idea, too, because search engines know to considered words in bold to be highly relevant to the content of the page.  Just don’t go making everything bold or it will lose its effectiveness (and annoy readers).

It is better for your SEO (and human visitors) if the links are using relevant keywords, not just ‘click here’, and if the link leads to a page that has those words or something similar in the URL and page title.  For example, if you were writing a blog about the amenities of the Fenway neighborhood you could mention ‘ living in an apartment in Fenway’ and make ‘apartment in Fenway’ an internal link to your ‘Fenway Apartments’ Town Page.

Categories: Blog categories are not as important to SEO as some of the other elements mentioned, but they are VERY important to your visitor’s experience.  If you have relevant blog categories that are well-organized (you can have ‘parent’ and ‘sub’ categories) and make it easy for readers to find what they are looking for, they will be more likely to read several of your blog posts and return for more information in the future.

You want to make sure you make a category for each of your keywords, and that you are putting blog posts into every category they are related to.  Visitors will see and use these categories when searching your blog, so don’t just add your posts to categories for the sake of trying to increase ranking on certain keywords because it will actually hurt your SEO if visitors are regularly bouncing from your blog when they find that it’s unrelated to the keywords they typed into their search engine.

Meta Tags, again, are not as important to SEO as the content, Titles, Descriptions, and Links, but they are still worth putting effort into.  You want to make sure you’re not wasting your meta tag space with extremely broad, single word keywords such as ‘luxury’ or ‘Boston’, however, because they will not help your SEO.  Instead, try to be creative and use more targeted keywords, such as ‘Boston luxury apartment’.  You want to make your tags as specific and relevant to the post/ page as possible.

Also, be careful with where you place the commas in your list of meta keywords.  For example, if you entered ‘Mandarin, Oriental’ into your keyword list, that’s actually telling the search engines that you are using the two words separately ‘mandarin’ and ‘oriental’.  Instead, you should keep the name of a building as one key-phrase by not putting a comma between the words you want to be seen as together, like ‘Mandarin Oriental’.

Calls to Action improve user conversionCalls to Action: One final suggestion is to leave the reader with some sort of internal link and a call to action to keep them engaged.  Each blog should strive to do this in some way, even just ‘Contact a trusted advisor for more information’ with a link to the blogger’s email or a link to the Contact Page.

IN CONCLUSION:

Having a blog is a great way to add fresh and informative content to your website to help potential clients find your website and see that you are a knowledgeable leader in your industry.  You need to create a list of relevant keywords (or phrases) to help you focus and organize your blogging strategy and bring you the type of readers you are hoping to find and convert to leads.

If you take the effort and time to optimize your blog, and consistently blog at least twice each week, you will begin to see an increase in your search engine ranking and site traffic as a result.

If you have any questions regarding optimizing your website and blog, or wish to learn more about the services we provide, please feel free to contact the Boston Logic Marketing Department.

Do you have a Content Strategy?

Website “content” has shifted from being not as important as the website design to now front and center for digital marketing. So what does having a “Content Strategy” mean for your website and how can you use it?
Engage Through Conversation
Brands now seem to be attracted to the latest format or platform (“There’s an app for that”, anyone?) whereas a few years ago brands wanted nothing more than to have something of theirs go “viral”. But content shouldn’t be overlooked: great content creates conversations, conversations help you engage with people, and in this Social Media World, engaging with people is the only hope for brands to survive.

So while forming a “Content Strategy” can be difficult due to differences and individual factors, here’s a more streamlined 10-step process for you to check out.
1. Principles

Setting principles for your personal brand is a pretty basic branding idea: having these established will allow for discussion to take place centered around your authenticity, humility, and transparency. Now’s also the time to define your “client-engagement” policy. Set some principles. Doing so allow the brand to have a healthy and robust discussion around authenticity, transparency, and humility, as well as an opportunity to define the engagement policy. You need to be aware that brands cannot control when conversations end, so brands must make a continual investment in this ongoing endeavor.

2. Business Objectives
So…why are you doing this? State your objectives and link them to metrics where you can set targets and define a budget.
3. Brand Purpose

Here you delve a bit more into what your brand stands for within its “substance”. Focus on the topics that are important to you, and identify your position on certain subjects. What is your point of view? What’s your story? What’s your purpose? And most importantly, why should people care about you and your brand?

The best brands often identify an “ideal”, which can be an interesting direction to go into: for example, Fanta believes the world would be better if we grew up less and played more. How can you apply this thinking to your real estate brand? What would you like to see? This is a great way to give your brand a purpose and give you something to anchor your future content to – and remember to continuously back up your brand ideal with evidence!


4. Content Value
(Social Currency)

This “social currency” determines what value that your content delivers directly to people. The direct value of content can be broken down into four types:

- Entertainment value. Currently, advertising has taken a huge focus on this type of content value “currency”. People like to be entertained, and ideas that can be parodied spurs much conversation.

- Knowledge value. Business to business knowledge provides much content value within select industries.

- Monetary value. Actual monetary value can be applied through PR via promotions and competitions.

- Utility value. Phone apps and the latest in real estate website features fall into this category, and with the increase in intuitive real estate websites, apps may be a viable option to look into.
5. Sources
So who will produce all this great content for you? If you are a brokerage, you may have more choices than you may realize.

- Your Agents can be an effective choice for content creation. The US online shoe retailer Zappos.com encourages all staff to use Twitter and adds a competitive element: a leaderboard that ranks Zappos staff according to their Twitter following.
- Industry Peers by simply sign-posting people to relevant, interesting stuff: this goes for websites for both brokers and real estate agents.
- User-generated content (UGC), crowdsourcing, and co-creation is pretty self-explanatory and can also be a viable option.

6. Spaces
Whats the distribution strategy for your content?

- Brand media: your real estate website, email, and events (i.e., open houses?)

- Earned media: influencer networks, communities, or the media
- Paid media: I think we can guess how to get this.

strategy
It’s important to control the balance of these spaces, and experiential and social spaces work really well together. Another aspect of consideration is the question of social destination: not a lot of brands can pull this off. If you don’t have enough support, it may be difficult to get this going – and you’ll be spending on generating useless traffic. It may be more beneficial to your brand to get involved with communities that already exist, so do your research!

7. Formats
Formats that are appropriate to use include pictures, blog posts, videos, presentations, tweets, or Facebook. You can also repurpose your content into different formats:  if you have an upcoming open house, use the same topic in a series of  blog posts, announcement on your Facebook, Tweet it, and maybe make a video out of the Open House itself to throw up on YouTube. Make sure that your content is in a format for people to easily share!

8. Schedule
Conversations aren’t campaigns: they can’t be turned off. You should have a consistent content schedule (i.e., blog 2x per week) and keep it rolling. Take into account ad hoc and reactive content to what is going on around you to your pre-planning. Setting up a schedule will also ensure a constant stream of content. Be creative: experiment with different content and build on peaks of interest with similar material.
9. Social Agents
You’ll need someone to manage your brand outposts. Someone needs to be responsible for managing your brand outposts and managing your conversations. They should also be able to build relationships, redirect questions and suggestions, and ultimately be responsible for your social brand. This “person” can be a team of real estate agents for your brokerage, an intern, all agents, on an outsourced real estate SEO company.

10. Active Listening
It’s not enough to simply produce content, you need to be an active listener with your brand to gauge the reaction to your content. Track the conversations that you start, which ones you want to join, and create a metric to track your progress in regards to your objectives, targets, and budgets.

Questions, thoughts or strong feelings? Feel free to comment with your feedback!

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