…and I’m surprised that Greg has such a lowly view of Google’s algorithms. I’ve found that the traffic that comes to RCG from search terms like [moving to seattle] and [agent recommendations] is highly relevant and RCG contributors get more than a few clients out of search terms like these each month. Having talked with many people who do lead conversion for large brokerages (including being on a panel at an Inman with a group of these people), I can confidently say that the conversion rate from leads to RCG blows away what any big company is doing today. I attribute much of our success at converting leads to the fact that the users who contact us are highly relevant and seeking out exactly what we offer.
In terms of people who transact with us, there are two types of people (Note it is “people” not “traffic”):
- Type 1: Those people who did a couple of searches on google, came up with are now looking for someone who can help them find a home.
- Type 2: Those people who are soaking up all the local real estate information they can get and they contact one of the contributors when they are ready to transact. Google Analytics trending shows that in the past month RCG has had over 2000 people who have visited the site more than 200 times… Often when I gets emails from these people, they appreciate and feel like they know everything about the site.
Type 1 tends to be home buyers while Type 2 tends to be home sellers.
To reach the first type, you really need to do well in search engines (or by buy the traffic) because these users aren’t doing a lot of long-term research and are often making their agent selection in a matter of minutes (no kidding…. you get 10 minutes to get back to the potential internet buyer or they move on to someone else they find in a Google search).
So, I’ve always assumed that Greg’s “local” site is really a play after the second type of person… i.e. home sellers who generally do a bit more research before contacting an agent. To create real estate content that will inspire these people to return day after day (or better yet, subscribe to your feed) takes a tremendous amount of time. It could very well be worth it, but there’s no free cake here in terms of time.
There is a third option in that I’ve heard some people talk about being the local online newspaper for an area (i.e. reach everyone in a local farming area). This appeals to a lot of agents (Blogging Systems has tried to made an entire business around this idea!) who haven’t tried it because it would be somewhat powerful to “own” the site that attracted a large swath of your local community. However, if that means you’ll need to start answering questions about when the next community council meeting is, when little league start-ups are or what the best coffee shop in an area is, then we’re talking about hugely irrelevant questions to the process of transacting. With that said, Marlow has done something similar to this in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle, so she’d be in a much better place to talk about this type of site. But even if she said it was successful, Marlow is no ordinary blogger and could easily be the exception that proves the rule.
Overall, I always recommend that agents create a place on their blog that is a great resource for the Type 1 person (i.e. buyers who are moving to an area). While this may not be a majority of the people who transact in any given area, I’d argue it is the majority of people who are looking to the internet to help them make decisions before they contact an agent. It should be no surprise that the best way to get in front of the Type 1 people is to rank really well in the search engines, which means you’ll want to seek out any and all quality links you can get to your domain.
The Type 2 person is tricky… My guess (and I’ve seen data but don’t have it in front of me) is that most users will not bookmark a site (or subscribe) on the first visit. It takes multiple visits before someone decides that a resource is really useful. The most obvious way to get in front of someone who is interested in local real estate content multiple times is to show up well in the search engines when they are doing their searches related to local real estate. There are many cases where word-of-mouth has been enough to spread a good site, but you’d better be one hell of a writer if you are going to get others to share your local real estate site with their friends/family/co-workers. Again, it should be no surprise that the best way to get in front of the Type 2 people is to rank really well in the search engines, which means you’ll want to seek out any and all quality links you can get to your domain.
Either way, it would be a huge mistake to discount the value of people that Google can send your way just because there are a ton of them! Google sends very relevant traffic from people who are looking to transact with a real estate professional each and every day.