Both agent review sites I mentioned…

last week have officially launched:

In terms of design and functionality, Incredible Agents is clearly ahead of the game at this point, but that is probably to be expected of a site in it’s second iteration

Incredible Agents has two features I find particuly interesting:

  • A scoring system that gives every agent a value based on their experience (years in business, number of homes sold, etc) and activity on the site.
  • Agent Interviews. This allows a consumer to “interview” multiple agents with a set of questions while remaining anonymous.  From a consumer point of view, this is a fascinating feature and it would be interesting to see if Incredible Agents can get consumer interest around this feature.

The features that make AgentRank interesting:

  • An API so that anyone can access their database of agents and reviews
  • Potentially more objectivity since agents can’t buy ads or placement on their site.

I find both of these sites interesting.  Assuming that one of these review sites starts to get some serious consumer traction, then that site will have just added one more thing for agents to track.

(By the way, I can’t help but note that, at least according to Google, the best agent recommendations still come from a real estate professional on RCG as oppose to an automated scoring system.  😉 )

Inbox: How do I connect my blog with my website?

I got an email this morning with a question I’ve received many times in different formats, so I figured it was worthy of a blog post:

Hello Dustin,
I am just reading the article in the Realtor Mag. I would like to talk with you about blogging. How do you set it up to connect to your web site? Is it easy? Are their any cost?

I broke your question into two parts.

Part 1: How do you set it up to connect to your web site?

As I see it, there are three main options:

1) Your blog is hosted on a different domain than your agent website

  • Link from your blog to your website (and assuming you want to send traffic the other way), then a link from your website to your blog)
  • Use a widget to grab the latest headlines from your blog and add them to your website. I don’t recommend grabbing ALL of the text from the post for duplicate content reasons, but there is nothing wrong with grabbing the headlines and/or a snippet of text

RCG Screenshot

2) Your blog is hosted as a subdomain or subdirectory of your agent website

  • It is a very viable (and not necessarily difficult to implement) to have your blog be part of your website and this has the benefit of concentrating the inbound link benefits that you’ll get from having your real estate site.

3) Your blog is your agent website

  • I got tired of managing a largely ineffective agent website and actually took the site down completely once we started to get so much more traction through Rain City Guide. There’s no reason you couldn’t still have all the typical features of a agent website (about me, testimonials, MLS search, etc.) on a typical agent blog.

Part 2: Is it easy? Are their any cost?

Easy is very relative depending on the outcome you want to see. Setting up a blog is relatively painless (and free) on WordPress.com or Blogger. There are also real estate specific blogging solutions, some of which are free (ActiveRain, Zolve, RealTown, and REALTOR.com) and some of which cost money (Incredible Agent, Ubertor, Real Estate Tomato, RSS Pieces and Realivent). Obviously, when you’re willing to pay, there is often better integration, education and the ability to customize the blog to fit in with your online marketing plan. (Don’t have an online marketing plan? It might be time for a 4realz Education. 🙂 )

I’ve had it in mind to do a bit more research on existing blog platforms specific to real estate (costs, features, etc.). I should have something ready to publish within the next few weeks.