As we move into the end of the year, here are some ways to start thinking ahead to your 2020 content. New or revised content now can help you rise in the search engine rankings by the time the spring market heats up.

In this monthly advice column, Marketing Mastermind Christy Murdock Edgar answers three burning questions from the real estate industry at large. This month’s topic: content creation. 

Based on inquiries I’ve received over the past few months, 2019 has been the year when many people discovered the importance of content for building their brand identity online. My normally slow summer months were filled with inquiries from people remaking their digital footprint and planning their ongoing content needs.

I chose the most frequently asked questions around the content that people are asking about most often right now — websites, blogs and email — to help you think ahead to the changes you might want to make before 2020. New or revised content now can help you rise in the search engine rankings by the time the spring market heats up.

1. What kind of content do I need to include on my website?

This is a question I hear all of the time. One of the main things people consider when designing or updating a website is the need for an IDX search function.

Opinions vary, but most experts feel that an IDX search is not a necessity for your individual real estate website. You’re not going to compete with Zillow or realtor.com, so though it might be a “nice-to-have” feature, it is by no means a requirement.

What do you need? Solid, original, organic content and plenty of it with keywords optimized for your local market, niche and services. You’re not going to rank for the words “real estate,” but you might rank for specific neighborhoods, specific and unusual services, areas of specialization, professional designations, and local landmarks, schools and other areas of interest.

Ask your website developer to run a keyword analysis before creating content, along with a competitor keyword analysis to find out what the top producers in your market are (and are not) optimized for. It will help to guide you and ensure that your website’s language aligns with the way local buyers and sellers are searching.

In addition, you need to incorporate a blog or other content offering and update it on a consistent basis. This gives you the ability to continue to add specific information to your website over time, grow its search engine optimization (SEO), and outrank the competition.

If you choose to create video content or a podcast, consider posting the transcripts to your blog along with the link or embed for the video or podcast. That way you’ll continue to add additional content without duplicating your efforts. A service like Rev.com is eminently affordable and surprisingly accurate for this type of purpose.

2. How long should a blog post be? How many do I need to post each month?

This is probably the most frequently asked question for any content creator or consultant, and the answer, of course, varies. In part, we just don’t know exactly how Google’s algorithm works, so it’s hard to give a definitive answer.

In general, the following guidelines should suffice:

  • Blog posts should be at least 300 words, though more is better. The way that Google appears to evaluate posts is that they should be original and useful for the search query they are meant to respond to. It’s hard to provide a great deal of information for homebuyers and sellers in a few hundred words. That’s why most posts range from 650-1,000 words.
  • Long-form blog posts have been favored for a couple of years and tend to be somewhere in the range of 2,000-3,000 words. These are usually the “Ultimate Guide”-type posts that you see at the top of many rankings. There’s no need to have all of your blog posts this long — choose a few evergreen posts and continue to revisit and expand them over time.
  • Of course, more is better when it comes to the question of how many posts to publish each month. In general, you’ll probably see some movement with a couple of posts a month and much more with several posts.

The real answer is, of course, “How many posts can you reasonably get done on a consistent basis?” That’s the number you should aim for. There’s no point in blowing your blog up with 10 posts the first month, then none after that.

3. What should I include in my email blasts?

An email blast is a great way to share all of that beautiful content you’ve been working on.

Include any or all of the following:

  • An item or feature from your website
  • Your last two or three blog posts along with images
  • A market update and brief analysis for the past month
  • Any special news: awards, honors, certifications, designations
  • A Q&A section with your most frequently asked questions
  • Announcements for upcoming events like workshops or social opportunities
  • A calendar of local events
  • Testimonials and reviews
  • Featured listings
  • Buyer needs
  • A personal word from you

When you create your email, make sure you are optimizing it for ideal send times. Take a look at your audience to determine this — older adults might prefer an early morning email while young professionals might enjoy receiving your email during the post-lunch slump.

Email providers like MailChimp provide an option to resend to non-openers in the days following your initial email blast. If your provider allows this, it’s a great way to offer a second chance for people to check out your email when they have a bit more time. Consider sending that second email on the weekend to catch those people who were too busy to open it during the week.

Do you have questions for the Marketing Mastermind? Send them here.

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on  FacebookTwitterInstagram  and YouTube.

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