There are some big Web sites that consumers can use to search for homes or read blog posts written by real estate agents. They can ask questions, rate answers, rate agents, find property values and get information about specific neighborhoods.
There is a lot of user-generated content on the sites generated and donated by agents across the county who believe that the content will result in business for them. It is the agent content that makes the sites work — without it there is no site.
The sites continue to attract agent bloggers by publishing success stories. It works, and the sites have a cult-like following of agents who swear by them but who have never tried having a blog of their own, and believe that they are only successful because of the site, when it could be that they are successful because of the great content they provide for consumers.
Are big national real estate Web sites really the best place to have a blog or other content? Are agents getting the most out of their content when they contribute it to a large site?
I checked out some of the agent blogs that are a part of big Web sites. Most individual agent blogs don’t have any page rank. I used Google to search for real estate information for a few towns and wasn’t able to find the agent blogs that I was looking for.
Maybe the idea is that consumers will visit the Web sites and find the agents that way instead of finding them through Google. To test that theory I went on some of the Web sites and did searches for agents and cities.
I started seeing the smiling faces of the agents — so many of them all down the page. I am not sure which one I would choose if I were a consumer or if I would take the time to read them all and compare. I also noticed the information was spotty. There was too much redundant information for some locations and none for others.
On one national real estate site I searched for information about St. Paul, Minn., and found a great article about Scottsdale, Ariz., halfway down the page.
Searching for homes on most of the sites is a better experience than searching for homes on Realtor Web sites, but the data isn’t there. Some of the sites have 20 percent of the available local listings, leading me to believe that they are not the best destination for consumers looking for information about properties for sale.
I am not convinced that the local content I produce that drives my business would be more effective or as effective on a national site where agents write posts on pages that all look the same.
The companies that make the sites call or write and ask me to participate. I go to the sites, look at them, set up a profile and leave. I don’t have time for all of the sites.
If I did choose to start a blog on a national real estate Web site, which one would I choose? If I were a consumer looking for information, which site would I choose?
There is a lot of real estate content on the Internet but no numbers to tell us how much content a Realtor needs to generate to win business or where the content has the most impact. When consumers come to my site they don’t have to search for agents. There is only one agent listed in the contact information, and no posts about Scottsdale.
I see that as an advantage to putting the same content on a bigger site.
I haven’t seen any evidence that agent-generated real estate content works better or gets more traffic if it is on a national real estate site.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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