Here’s a little story on what helped launch RCG, while…

…previous real estate blogs weren’t getting much traffic.

About the same time I started blogging about real estate, Google came out with gmaps.   In order to build a little buzz around my new site, I built a little app on top of the their platform that put NWMLS data on top of a google map. Because Google didn’t even have an API for the service at the time, this app was just novel enough to earn a bunch of great inbound links from some very well-ranked “tech” bloggers who NEVER would have linked to a real estate site under normal circumstances.

The reason this is relevant is that these tech bloggers had much better google juice than anyone in the real estate community, and by earning a bunch of links from them, RCG was able to quickly do much better in generating relevant search engine traffic than any other real estate blog. Once I had search engine traffic, the rest fell into place. I was able to attract better writers because they could quickly see (based on the leads they were getting) that they were getting results… and in turn these great writers helped generate even better search engine rankings to RCG in a beautiful recursive process…

I mention this now because Greg seems to discount the value that new bloggers can get from reaching out to existing real estate bloggers (i.e. he says that it is not in their best interest to cloud their marketing message). However, I remember a time before Greg had hit the scene when no real estate bloggers had any google juice to give.   Those links from the tech community had a tremendous (and very quick) impact on the traffic that Google sent my way.

While the tech sites that linked to RCG were not a relevant audience, I heavily reached out to those people because I knew enough about Google’s search algorithms to know that a bunch of links from high ranking sites would only help RCG in the long run… and those links definitely had an impact.  They gave RCG a foundation to attract quality contributors because their content was getting read.

Note that last bit is extremely important… I think most local real estate blogs fail (and most do fail!) because they are not getting read quickly enough and it is frustrating to write for a community before your community has arrived.

I totally follow the logic of creating local content geared towards creating interesting content for your local community (and was dedicating serious time in my presentations to this idea before I remember hearing Greg talk about it), I simply do not think it makes sense to say that real estate professionals should not engage the RE.net on their local blogs.

As a matter of fact, if I was starting up a new local real estate blog, the first thing I’d do is reach out to the community of people who could give me links! (Never doubt the power of linkation!). You could try to get these links from your local community (i.e. the school system website, local little league site, local coffee shop websites, local chamber of commerce sites, etc.) or you could reach out to the existing infrastructure (i.e. the RE.net) that can quickly get your site ranked. Here’s a hint: getting links from well-ranked RE.net sites is MUCH easier than getting links from local community sites.
Once you’ve got some Google juice built up on your new blog, the rules change. At that point, you may want to ONLY focus on local issues… or you may find that you are getting most of your clients by taking on consumer-oriented issues as Ardell does on RCG… or you may find that you want to tackle a different approach…   The critical bit is that once you’ve stored some google juice on your URL, you’re options open up tremendously. Until you get some quality inbound links, your real estate blog is really only an idea.

So how do you get some inbound links to your new real estate blog? I can think of three ways: (1) Pay/beg other bloggers. (2) Do something incredibly interesting. Or (3) engage the RE.net community by giving lots of outbound links.

The first option is a miserable way to blog. The second takes a great stroke of inspiration. And the third option is time-consuming but something just about any real estate professional can definitely take on.  So if you do decide to start writing a new real estate blog, don’t go out on your own.   Enjoy the low-hanging fruit of the RE.net!

Published by

Dustin Luther

Current lead up the team managing Brand and Influencer Engagement programs for Dun & Bradstreet. You can find me on Twitter (@tyr) or LinkedIn (DustinLuther)

12 thoughts on “Here’s a little story on what helped launch RCG, while…”

  1. I had a glass of low-hanging fruit juice for breakfast this morning. For a healthy real estate blogger diet, I try to eat at least 1 or 2 pieces of low-hanging fruit per week. Hopefully one day this fruit will build enough brain power to allow me to do something incredibly interesting.

  2. Dustin,

    Great insight thanks for sharing.

    Upon reflection, I suspect that most RE types quickly forget that blogging efforts are not dissimilar from daily prospecting activities. Building a business takes time, a massive effort and knowledge.

    Your 1,2,3’s add to the knowledge.

  3. “(1) Pay/beg other bloggers. (2) Do something incredibly interesting. Or (3) engage the RE.net community by giving lots of outbound links.”

    Instead of paying or begging, often just asking nicely works.

    Doing something incredibly interesting is a much better way, IMO, to create incoming links and to engage other Realtors with you online. Every Realtor I meet who wants to blog has something interesting and unique to blog about.

    Yes, outbound links will work as well.

    The bottom line is that Realtors need closed transactions to justify the time spent on blogging, like any marketing activity.

    I am ready for real estate agents to come clean with exactly how many closed transations they are netting from their blog alone.

    Ardell is an anomaly. Not all agents can write like Ardell. Agents are asking for raw numbers: Leads v. closed transactions. What do we have to show them?

  4. I remember that map. That’s when I first realized you were smarter than me. I remember that is was inspired by a craigslist/google maps mashup.

    You could argue that in a lot of ways, that map, and much of what RCG was not so much about reaching out to tech blogs as it was about reaching out to local blogs. There’s just a lot of local tech blogs in Seattle.

  5. Jillayne says: “I am ready for real estate agents to come clean with exactly how many closed transations they are netting from their blog alone.”

    I get asked that question a lot, and it’s very difficult to answer. Mainly because my blog isn’t my only “web presence”. Often when I ask a client where/how they found me the response is, “On the Internet”, or “Your website” (many can’t tell/don’t know/don’t care about the difference between our static website and our blog). So “on the internet” makes it hard to determine how they initially found us, or what it was on the internet that made them decide to come to us.

    Measuring closed transactions isn’t the only measure of a blog (or static sites) “success”. I have over 2,000 “contacts” in a database that were gathered from the blog and static site. They are all on drip mails, auto-listings, newsletters, etc. That “pipeline” is incredibly valuable and will no doubt lead to closed transactions sometime in the future. How many of that 2000 will lead to a closed transaction? Beats me. Nor do I know when they might. My personal record is setting someone up on auto-listings and not hearing a peep from them for 29 months. Then one day they came forward and we were under contract in a week.

    I agree completely that agents need to see tangible results from blogging (or any marketing effort). But a blog is pretty unique in that much of what it does is intangible and often difficult to measure.

    Let’s say someone calls me from a yard sign. They live in the area, saw the sign and want to talk about listing their home. So I say, “Sure, let’s get together tomorrow afternoon. In the mean time if you get a chance, read through my blog. It’ll give you an idea of who we are and how we work.” When we arrive at the listing appointment, the seller says in a nutshell, “Skip the presentation, where do I sign?” They read the blog and made up their mind.

    Is this a client gained from the blog? Or do they fall under the “saw a yard sign” category? I could argue that they might have turned into a client without the blog. But who knows. Maybe not.

    So the blog is often a compliment to the marketing effort. How do you measure that?

  6. Todd: No doubt I was inspired by Paul Rademacher after he put housingmaps together. It’s too bad that Paul jumped to Google b/c he clearly could have had a much larger impact in our little niche of online real estate!

    (by the way, I won’t play the who’s smarter than whom game, but between your list of bloggers, toolbars, RE.net search engines, etc. I’ve been inspired by you so many times, I feel very comfortable saying you’re one of the people whose contributions to the RE.net could never be overstated!)

  7. Kevin and Jay: I like to tell the story that I got rid of my wife’s website shortly after starting Rain City Guide because I didn’t see the purpose of supporting a website that had so little opportunity for generating inbound links. While I don’t think most agents are ready to take things as far as I did in 2005, I view a blog as just an optimized version of an agent website! 😉

  8. One of the biggest benefits I have enjoyed from blogging is the networking with other re bloggers. I’ve met some facinating people and have developed friendships that most likely would not have occured without blogging.

    BTW I dumped my website a few months ago. 🙂

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