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.

The 1st 4RealzEd event was yesterday and…

4ealzEdI think I’ve recovered enough now to actually post about it! 🙂

Despite our best efforts to be prepared, the day started off a bit rough with a nearby mudslide taking out power in our building in the morning (meaning no hot coffee and no projector) and a 9-car pileup on a nearby freeway slowed me down tremendously. AHHH

So, to say it started rough would be an understatement… But once it started, things seem to get on a roll quickly.

I started with an overview of consumers expectations in a web2.0 world to set expectations for the day… Jim followed up with presentation on optimal features and design for a real estate website. Then it turned back to me for a presentation on social networking… lunch… then another presentation by me on creating value through blogging about communities. And we returned for the day’s finally with Jim giving a engaging presentation on measuring and tracking marketing results to ensure a positive ROI.

All around, it was a wonderful day! And, maybe they were just being nice, but the attendees who talked with me said only good things about the education.

Because I promised attendees I would give them a list of all the sites I mentioned in my presentations (so that they wouldn’t have to ask me to spell out each URL), here is the list for everyone’s benefit.

Consumer Expectations in a Web2.0 World:

Engaging in Social Networking to Earn Clients

Using Blogs to Build Communities

I wasn’t tracking the sites that Jim mentioned, but there were not nearly as many of them in his presentations…

And thanks again to all the bloggers who have helped spread the word about the event, the sponsors who helped us keep the price low and all the attendees who made the day possible!

I received some incredible feedback from all three groups, which is going to lead me to make some changes to the upcoming events (I’ll announce those early next week!). Great stuff all around. Thanks again to everyone!

RE.net Acronyms

Jim got me thinking about some of the acronyms that I use on 4realz and other common terms I’ve seen others use:

  • AG: AgentGenius.com
  • AR: ActiveRain
  • BR: BlueRoof
  • BHB: Bloodhound Blog
  • CB: Coldwell Banker
  • CH: Cyberhomes
  • CL: Craigslist
  • CMS: Content Management System
  • CRM: Customer Relationship Management
  • FBS: FBS Blog
  • FOREM: Future of Real Estate Marketing
  • FORET: Future of Real Estate Technology
  • FD: FrontDoor
  • G: Google
  • GDH: Garage with a Detached Home
  • HV: HouseValues
  • HG: HomeGain
  • IC: InternetCrusade
  • KW: Keller Williams
  • M: Microsoft
  • MBL: MyBlogLog
  • MLB: MLBroadcast
  • MLS: Multiple-Listing Service (this means different things to different people!)
  • MLW: MyLevenworth
  • NAR: National Association of Realtors
  • P2A or P2: Point2Agent
  • RCG: Rain City Guide
  • RCV: RealCentralVA
  • RDC, R or R.com: Realtor.com
  • RE.net: The real estate blogosphere
  • REB: The Real Estate Bloggers
  • RES: Real Estate Shows
  • RET: Real Estate Tomato
  • REW: Real Estate Webmasters
  • REZ: Real Estate Zebra
  • RF: Redfin
  • RT: RealTown
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization
  • SEM: Search Engine Marketing
  • TP: Top Producer
  • TPG: The Phoenix Real Estate Guy
  • T: Trulia
  • WM: WellcomeMat
  • WP: WordPress.org
  • WP.com: WordPress.com
  • Y!: Yahoo!
  • Z: Zillow

UPDATE: Based on suggestions in the comments I added a few more names to the above list and decided to alphabetize them. (I also went back and added links to the various sites, which I should have done from the start!)

I read about the tracking of feed views…

…that WP.com is automatically doing of my posts the other day, but didn’t play with the new feature right away. My loss. This is great stuff.

For any posts, I can now see how many times the article is read in a feed reader in addition to how many times is is read on this site. Interestingly, it appears that any given blog post on 4realz gets between 100 and 200 views from feed readers.

What does this mean for 4realz traffic?

On a recent article about Altos Research, you can see that almost all the traffic came from “syndicated views” or feed readers.

Altos Research article stats

Whereas on my recent post about Zillow’s auction patent, most of the traffic came from links from other blogs, so this chart looks very different:

Zillow auction patent article stats

This is good stuff and I’ll be fascinated to see how the syndicated views change over time.