Editor’s note: This is the second part of a three-part series.
One of the consistent problems I hear about from real estate professionals is supplying a steady stream of content for their websites. Last week I put forth one pretty straightforward solution: Hire someone to make the content and put it on your website.
This week, I’ll look at a do-it-yourself method to help get content on your site that is relatively less time-consuming than the usual "What do I blog about today?" approach.
In the course of doing your work each day, you probably find several Web pages, online videos and so on that are relevant to your audience. These might be local newspaper articles about things that affect your market.
They might be national news stories that are similar or have an impact in your region. Maybe it’s something that a local blogger wrote about a neighborhood you work in.
The point is: You’re reading and consuming a bunch of online stuff already. You’re also probably consuming it for a reason or developing an opinion about this stuff.
You can provide your thoughts, briefly, about this online stuff on your own website and then link to the original. This gets relevant content onto your site with a fairly small amount of effort on your part. It’s called curation.
Curation is going to be a useful tactic for getting new content on your site if the following are true, in no particular order:
- You read or watch relevant content online;
- You can distill or summarize that content in words;
- You can identify a good short quote from that content;
- You know how to copy/paste URLs and make links in pages on your own website;
- You’re not afraid to show good content to your potential customers, even if it’s on someone else’s website.
How to curate the real estate Web
So those bullets above fit the bill and you want to start curating the real estate Web on your own website. First thing you’ll need to do is find the content you’re going to be curating.
One of the best ways of finding content that is ripe for curation is to think like your customer. If you primarily help buyers, what websites do buyers in your region visit to learn about buying a house?
Go to those websites, find a few good articles, summarize them on your website, and put links to the original articles there as well. If you primarily help listers, do the same thing but from their perspective.
What you will end up with is a page on your website that has some short bits of text written by you and some links to other websites that your visitors find useful. That’s if you decide to keep all of your curation on a single page — something that makes sense if you want to build it up as a resource kind of page.
If you want to focus more on current events or timely information, then putting your curation efforts into a blog format might make more sense.
You can group your curated links together in any way really. Just like a curator for a museum or art gallery, how you arrange and present the content should help make something more clear for your readers.
Three common approaches are to do something topic-focused (e.g., "Six Articles About ‘Custom Plumbing’ "), time-focused ("Four Columns on the State of Ontario Real Estate"), or geography-focused ("Three Great Articles About Redcliffe").
Curation works for you on several fronts. First off, it demonstrates to real human beings that you are actively learning about and participating in real estate-related issues in your area.
Secondly, it gets relevant content on your site with a minimum of effort. Third, if your potential customers are typically visiting four or five sites every day, they may find your site valuable enough to start with yours in order to "skim the headlines."
That’s one of the real advantages once you get some experience with curating.
Ummm wait a minute … you’re saying I put links to someone else’s website on my website?!
There’s a common stigma among all business website owners when it comes to linking to someone else’s website. The fear is that if you make a link to some other website the visitor will follow it and never come back. I’m sure this happens.
But when it does, I bet it has more to do with the visitor not really being in the market for what you offer in the first place.
If your website is useful and you’re honestly trying to build a relationship of some sort with your site visitors, someone has to start sharing first. Curating is a way to do that. That’s the touchy-feely version.
You can also test whether it’s working or not by trying out curating for a month and using Web analytics reports to see if it’s helping or hurting.
There’s also a suspected search engine optimization benefit in linking out to other sites that are relevant in your market. I say "suspected" because there are no formal statements from Google or other search engines about the value of outbound links.
What I’m going to talk about may be as mythical as "BadRank" (the antithesis of Google’s "PageRank"). But I think it’s worth considering.
Search engines want to see that your website is connected to other websites of the same topic. One of the main challenges of a search engine is figuring out how one site relates to others.
If your website does not link out to any other website, then how does it relate to other websites? It’s sort of like someone with no credit history asking for a loan: Are they a good risk or a poor risk? It’s much easier to decide for someone who has some sort of credit history.
There’s also a misconception that linking to other websites will "leak" your PageRank and also hurt your own Web rankings. This isn’t true. PageRank of your website is valuable only to sites you link to — it isn’t valuable to your own site.
That’s why sites with high PageRank don’t necessarily have high positions on search engine results pages.
So use curation as a way to get content on your site efficiently. Use curation to show search engines how you fit into the larger conversations about your market and your specialties.
Use curation to let human visitors know that you’re engaged in those conversations.