With Zillow.com and Trulia.com merging, and Realtor.com being acquired by News Corp, you might be thinking… how will anyone find me in this gigantic sea of web search results? Well one way is to pay for ad space on those portals. You may also be sharing on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. That’s all well and good, but there is one thing to keep in mind. These sites are not owned by you or controlled by you. I believe that depending on them solely for your online presence is a huge mistake.
I recently read a post from Brian Clark of Copyblogger media on digital sharecropping. It’s a great analogy on what not to do when creating content.
What’s digital sharecropping, anyway?
Digital sharecropping is a term coined by Nicholas Carr to describe a peculiar phenomenon of Web 2.0.
One of the fundamental economic characteristics of Web 2.0 is the distribution of production into the hands of the many and the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few.
In essence digital sharecropping happens when you don’t own the place where your content lives – you’re just renting. Someone else is in control of the land you’ve built your digital house on. They reap the rewards. They can change pricing, policies or even remove your content at will. You’re just renting.
How can you protect your valuable content and build a web presence that is owned by you?
Be the landlord.
I recommend using WordPress to create your website. Own your domain name and make sure your website is self-hosted. Choose a managed host or shared host where you can freely move your site and your domain name at any time. This protects your inbound links, search rankings and all that SEO goodness you’ve built.
Leverage Your Strengths
What do you have that the portals don’t? While the big players have huge digital footprints, they do not have the one thing you do. Local knowledge and expertise. So leverage that to your advantage. You can do that in two ways.
1. Write regular local content on your website.
The first rule in real estate – All Real Estate is Local. If you are not writing regularly on your website you are missing a huge opportunity to promote your brand in local search results.
Here are some suggestions on what to focus on:
- Local neighborhoods
- Clubs and organizations
- Community activities
- Local market trends
- Homeowner maintenance tips
- School information
- Property Tax Information
- Current Events
Once you’ve written a post, use the social media outlets to drive traffic to your website content. Write a few sentences with a link to your post and share that on Facebook and Twitter. Share photos from your articles on Pinterest that link back to your website.
2. Add your local MLS IDX feed to your website and showcase listings in the area.
Be sure to select an IDX provider that uses an SEO friendly method to integrate the data into your website. I found that IDXBroker offers a flexible solution that is easy to customize and style. Get creative and insert listings into the posts you write. IDXBroker makes that easy to do. Create separate pages for each neighborhood you focus on and embed the listings into those pages. The listings will automatically be updated based on the criteria you’ve selected. Now your static pages are dynamic, and search engines visit pages where content changes frequently.
Remember that building a presence online takes time. Write local content regularly. Be consistent. Use social networks when appropriate to drive traffic to your website.
Over time, your efforts will help you win the battle for search results.