Archive for the ‘MLS’ Category

Blog Post Formatting

While working with one of our real estate marketing clients earlier this week, we were trying to get them on a consistent blogging schedule. As a brokerage, the contact I was working with was going to assign agents to blog for the main company at least twice a week – which is exactly what we recommend for new real estate SEO clients.

real estate seo

In doing this, the client wanted to pass along information on blogging without overwhelming the agents. She was wondering if there was some sort of “blogging format” to follow while writing, and I composed one for her and thought it made great content for a blog post of our own!

Blogging is easy to do, but if you are not experienced with it, it can be helpful to have some sort of simple structure to follow as you get started. I’ve made this outline that you can reference for the next time you blog for your company: and for you veteran bloggers, it may be helpful to check this out and make sure you are following these blogging best-practices!

Simple Blog Post Format

1. Title of Blog Post. This should be accurately reflecting the text to follow, and you should try to use one of your SEO keywords if possible.

2. Intro Paragraph. This is where you introduce the topic of your post. If you are writing about an article you’ve read, cite the reference here, write the reason you are writing the post, or why the content is relevant to your expertise or market.

3. Blog Content: 2-3 Paragraphs. This is the meat of your blog post. Here is where you elaborate more about the topic that you’ve introduced with your blog title and intro paragraph. Optimize the content with your  SEO keywords wherever possible, create internal links to other places on your website, and include relevant information and facts to assert yourself an expert in your field of real estate. Also include links if your reader needs to go somewhere else to read more information, such as an MLS listing on your website to read more.


Important:
DO NOT copy and paste anything from the internet! Google punishes duplicate content on websites – you must re-purpose the content to make it unique in your blog post. Wikipedia articles are not your friend.

real estate seo blog4. Add an image to break up your text. All blog posts should contain at least one image to help break up your text content and make it appealing to readers. Pull an image related to your text: for example, if you are writing about a featured property, pull an attractive picture from its MLS listing. It is also great for SEO to optimize your images: place keywords in the image title, alt text, and description of your image – bonus points if you can make the image a clickable link to a relevant page on your website.

5.    Conclusion. Here is where you add a personal note of conclusion to the content you have written. Here is a great place to write your opinion on your topic…why did you write this blog post? What does the reader have to learn from it? How does this content relate back to you and your business?


6.    Call-To-Action
. Now that you have written this great blog post and have credited yourself as an expert in your field, give yourself the credit and include your contact information. Back to the featured property blog post example, a sample call to action would be: “Interested in finding your next home in Boston, Massachusetts? Contact John Smith of Boston Logic Realty today!” Here you can include a link to your direct email address so that potential leads may contact you.

And that’s it!

Ready for a sample call-to-action?

As a real estate web design and online internet marketing company, Boston Logic can assist you in all aspects of running and maintaining your real estate business. Contact Boston Logic today to find out how to make the most out of your online presence with our real estate SEO services and cutting-edge real estate website technology.

Joomla isn’t for Real Estate

Let’s get something clear here. Joomla is not the right platform for building real estate websites.

For our readers who aren’t familiar with the system, Joomla is an open source content management platform. It was built to make building a generic website easier. It was not built for real estate offices or agents.

If you’re going to build a real estate website, you need to use something that was designed for the real estate industry.  At Boston Logic, we’ve developed the ONE System Real Estate Website Platform, but I’m not going to write about that today. Before we invested the thousands of hours that we’ve put into building this system, we did use Joomla to build some sites. So, I’m speaking (writing) from experience here. Let me tell you about some of what we learned:joomla-logo

  1. Joomla is not built to integrate with an MLS. This is critical. Your real estate website should be built with an integrated MLS search. The search should not be on another website or in an iFrame. You should be building on a platform that has the search, search results, and property details pages right on your site. In addition the interactive user tools should be part of the site and so should your lead management system. Obviously, joomla doesn’t have a real estate lead management system for you to leverage.
  2. Joomla’s content management system is overcomplicated for real estate. When you design software, you start with requirements. Joomla was built to do a lot of things. Most of these things, real estate agents and offices will never ever do. Advanced content management requires a lot of user access levels and controls. Realtors require a simple and easy to use interface for managing their content. Joomla, we found, confused our clients more than it enabled them.
  3. magnifying glassJoomla is relatively laborious to style. Our team has worked with Joomla plenty of times. It’s still a bear to make the pages all look good. If you think you’re saving money, think again.
  4. Customization is harder. When you get down to it, working with open source systems can get you a lot of functionality for no money. That said, going beyond what the system includes and/or what the plugins you find can do is a challenge. So, if Joomla will do 80% of what you want for your real estate website and then you think it’ll be easy or cheap to hire a developer or web development shop to take you the rest of the way home, think again. Customizing Joomla gets expensive quickly. As a point of reference the last Joomla site that we worked on required about $75,000 in work to get to what the client wanted.
  5. Joomla is hard to turn into an effective real estate website. Great real estate websites have lots of features that are not part of the Joomla platform. I’ve already mentioned the MLS search above. Agent profiles linked to their listings. Pages on developments and/or buildings with available listings right on the pages. Live Chat. Lead distribution and management. Featured property pages. Maps. And many of the other features that make for a great real estate website are missing.

Here’s the all important conclusion. Joomla should not be used for real estate websites. It’s unlikely that the cost benefit will outweigh the poor end product that you’re going to see.

Position yourself as the authority

Don’t just say that you have the knowledge, show it.

How many times have you seen a website that says something like, “We have the knowledge and the experience to…” or “Our experienced and knowledgeable team is here to serve you.” Or something similar. Sound familiar?

Yes, our clients provide the same empty language from time to time and yes we do populate this type of content onto the sites we built on a frequent basis. I’m sorry to say it.

Fact is that we’re in a time when it’s pretty easy to build a website. It’s free to put up a blog on someone else’s website (like wordpress or blogspot, for example).  And just about anyone can write a sentence that says they have the knowledge and the experience to do whatever. The consumer has grown impervious to such language. Today’s consumer wants more.

We want to feel like we’re getting great information from the fountain of knowledge. We want to feel like we’re making informed decisions. We know that with a few keywords in Google, we can access lots of information sources, but we want to quickly and efficiently access the best. We want an authority.

How do I become an authority? Well, an authority is an “Accepted source of information.” At least, that’s one of the ways that dictionary.com defines the word. Well, this is where your website really can be a powerful tool in a few ways.

  1. If your website includes vast amounts of information and it answers the user’s first question, whatever that may be, then they’re likely to come back again for another answer. Basic questions asked of a real estate website might be:
    1. How much does a 1 bedroom home cost in Boston? or
    2. What does it mean to be pre-approved?
  2. To show that you have more than information, you have knowledge, you’re going to want to have a blog. Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis and/or already have a blog, will agree. Your blog is where you flaunt your stuff. You show what you’ve got. If you feel like you’re giving away the store, don’t worry. Give away as much information as you’re willing to type. The more you post, the more you’ll look like the authority you are.

The reality of real estate is that there are just too many realtors out there. It’s not like Coke and Pepsi who have been trying to take market share from one another for decades. You’re trying to take a few more deals from a large pool. You’re trying to rise above the crowd. Do this by showing the visitors to your site just how much knowledge you have and what all those years of experience have taught you.

I’d like to conclude by mentioning someone who embodies authority. Paul Krugman is a NYTimes columnist and Nobel Lauriate in economics. Not only does he have the years of experience and the accolades to prove his prowess, but he also writes with authority. I recommend checking out his columns and examining his writing style. Also, he’s pretty smart and insightful, you’ll probably learn something about our economy while you’re at it.

Real Estate SEO and IDX how to make it work

Let’s start with this, your site should have a property search on it. Many of you out there refer to this is an IDX. At Boston Logic, we simply call this a property search. Your search should include all of the properties in your MLS, if the bylaws allow this. This is because you want to show a user as many listings as you possibly can.

Now, the problem is that most “IDX” solutions don’t help your real estate seo. This is because lots of these search interfaces are placed into an iframe on your site. This means that the search is actually hosted on the vendor’s website and the search engines will not give your site the credit for this content. This will hurt your real estate SEO.

The other poor way of implementing a property search on your real estate website is to have the search be an external link. This happens as either a popup or a link to another site altogether. I’ve seen some real estate searches that create a “customized” page for you with the search underneath a header. This is all hosted at a sub domain such as yourcompanyname.vendorwebsite.com. The problem here is that again, the content is all on the vendor’s site and not yours. This isn’t helping your SEO.

The proper way to implement a property search on your real estate website is to have the data right on your site, in your pages, and implemented in a unique, effective, interactive way. You should also make sure that your site has an SEO friendly linking structure so that the search engines can spider the search results and property details pages. This is critical for good real estate SEO.

Even if you don’t have an IDX search on your site, you should make sure that the search engines are able to spider all of your pages. If you’re not sure whether or not the spiders are getting to your pages, look at the Google webmaster tools for your site. That’ll tell you how many unique pages Google has spidered on your site.

Your Real Estate SEO campaign will be vastly improved by investing in a real property search right on your site. If you’re unsure whether or not your property search is helping your seo, just post a comment and we’ll respond shortly. If you have any other questions about Real Estate SEO, send them along too. We love getting your questions and they make it easy for us to come up with tomorrow’s post!

Thanks.

Pyramid Structure – It’s easier in real estate

It’s no secret that linking is very important for good SEO. This is true whether you’re in real estate or not.

2 types of linking are important:

  1. Internal link structures – these are the links that are a part of your site. I’m talking about the links from one page of your site to another.
  2. Inbound linking – These are links from other sites on the web to your website.

The internal links on your website are often referred to as your internal linking structure. In other words, if you draw a schematic of the pages of your site and how they link to one another. The pages should start to form some kind of a logical structure. That’s your website’s internal linking structure.

Now, most of us are SEOing around multiple terms. We’ve written before about the fact that good SEO usually focuses on many terms, not just a few. In order for your site to rank well for a term, the search engines need to know that your site has information that is relevant to that term. So, your site needs to contain pages with information on that term. In other words, the content on those pages needs to be about the search term of interest.

Now, let’s say you do have a number of pages on your real estate website and they are all about the real estate market in a specific town. You might have a page that lists all of the currently available real estate listings in that town. You would also have a details page for each listing. You might also have a page of market data and another page of recent sales and details pages for each of those recently sold properties.

What you really want to do is create a pyramid structure using your internal links. So, first make sure that all of these many pages which all contain some content related to the town in question are well constructed and optimized pages. Pick the page that is the most important or the best for your business and make sure that all of these pages with unique content on listings, the market, sold data, etc, all point back to that one page that is your main page for the term.

Now, your linking structure, were you to draw it out on a piece of paper, should probably look like a pyramid. All of these many pages with great content are all pointing to the top of the pyramid. This sends a strong message to the search engines that this is the very important page with information that is relevant to your SEO term.

To conclude, I’ll tell you why this is easier for real estate seo campaigns. If your real estate website is built well, you should have lots of great dynamic pages that are generated from your MLS database. These pages, if they are optimized, should include relevant content and links back to that page at the top of the pyramid. In other words, much of the work will be done for you, simply by having a site that is constructed properly for real estate SEO.

Thanks for reading. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to submit a comment.

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