Ross Hair is the Founder of REMCamp, a real estate digital marketing training site for Realtors.
We live in the digital world where our real estate clients go online to search for homes for sale or even for local real estate content. When consumers go online to search or purchase a home, they tend to go to the large real estate portals, like Zillow or Realtor.com. As most real estate agents know, large portals enjoy national brand awareness and dominate search engine results. But when our clients go online to find real estate content instead, they generally want hyper-local content about living and owning a home in a specific neighborhood, town or city.
Local content is our area of expertise. As real estate agents, we’re the local experts. We know the local area like our own backyard and we know exactly what’s happening with the local real estate market. Our challenge is to get that information out of our heads and into print and online media. Then, it’s our job to get our prospective clients to read that information and hire us as their agent.
The key is that the content we create needs to be relevant and interesting to our target market of local homebuyers and sellers. If it’s not interesting and relevant, no one will read it. The second key is that we need to make sure that people can actually find our content amongst all the hundreds of thousands of online real estate articles.
In this article I’m going to show you how to do three things:
Create content that your local target market of homebuyers and sellers will find interesting and relevant.
Publish and distribute your content throughout the Internet so that people can find it and read it.
Promote your content to reach a wider audience.
Part I - Content Creation.
Never forget that you’re the local real estate market expert. No data-driven, engineering solution from a large real estate portal can compete with your local knowledge. Only a local expert like you can create quality content that you can use to connect with your prospects and clients and to position yourself as the dominant local agent.
But just creating great content isn’t enough. You need to create it, publish it, repackage and reuse it and distribute it widely across the Internet. You want your target audience to read your content and you want the large search engines (like Google) to recognize the quality of your content and index it so it shows well in search engine rankings. I’ll share a number of content ideas with you. Then I’ll show you my exact content creation and distribution strategy.
Here are a number of core content tips you should implement for creating quality content for your real estate market:
Hyper local content works.
Visual content stands out.
Photo or video, and a descriptive paragraph is enough.
Sellers and buyers love niche, relevant, local real estate content. What can you buy for $400,000? Let them know. Is it, The most expensive local listing on the MLS! The Million-Dollar View! Before and After Remodel Photos! The Great Meth Lab Explosion! The House Where Brad Pitt Was Born!
The Photo and a Paragraph Method.
I take a photo of an iconic local image, building, landscape, event or personality and then write a short paragraph describing the photo. For strict search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, the 200 word posts are short of the optimal word count. However, I really don’t have time to write the suggested 3,000 word masterpieces for my blog. If you do, by all means, go for it. But know that writing a paragraph is enough as well as long as you’re writing and promoting online.
Make sure you don’t take any shortcuts when it comes to writing a title and description of your photo. The key is to take the photos in the course of your daily business. Simply snap a quick photo on your way to an appointment or after you drop the kids off at school. It’s simple. If it feels like work you won’t do it. Try to enjoy it.
The Video and a Paragraph Method
Use the same idea to create a short video and a paragraph. Shoot a short local video (under 30 seconds) and write a short paragraph describing the video. Don’t take any shortcuts when you give the video a title and description.
Reuse and Recycle
You can reuse, repackage and recycle content into different products. Here are a few examples of what you could do:
Write a blog post.
Combine similar blog posts into an article.
Combine similar articles into a report.
Combine similar reports into a guide.
Combine similar guides into an eBook.
Here’s the exact content creation process I use to create an initial blog post, which I then reuse, recycle and repackage into larger articles, reports, guides and eBooks.
In the flow-chart above you start by creating a blog post using a Word document. After you write the post, go back over it and check it against your SEO checklist to make sure Google is going to index and rank the post. In other words, to ensure that when consumers research real estate content around your area, you appear in those search results.
The next step is to add a visually attractive image or photo to the post. You can take a local photo or go to a design platform like Canva to create a specific image.
Note: If you create images on Canva I also recommend that you use their design tools to create similar but different sized images for the different publishing platforms like your blog and Facebook account. If possible you should also shoot a short video about the blog post.
Now you have the foundation for a number of different content products. Let’s review again:
You publish your post, together with your images or video on your blog.
You add your photos to a photo gallery on your blog.
You add your video to a video gallery on your blog.
I recommend that you host your photos and videos on Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube.
Repackage the above content into your FAQ section. Your FAQ section is really just a series of questions that you get asked everyday by your clients. Every time you get asked a question you should write down your answer and add it to the FAQ section of your website. Your FAQ section is also a great source for new post ideas as each answer can be converted into a new post.
After you write a number of blog posts about a similar subject you can package them together to create a free report that you give away to your website visitors.
Then you can take a number of similar reports and turn them into a free guide or eBook. As an example, you can take all your posts about buying a home in your area and repackage them as a Home Buyer’s Guide.
The key is that your blog posts are the core of your entire content creation strategy. They’re the building blocks for a number of content products that you can use to grow your real estate business. Nothing goes to waste and everything can be reused, repurposed and repackaged. The best part is once the heavy lifting is done you will have a number of excellent content products that can be created with very little extra work.
Part II - Content Distribution.
After you create content, you need to publish, distribute and make sure you reach a wide audience of prospective clients. I use a checklist to distribute all my content. I follow this checklist every time I post a new blog post.
Here’s a flow-chart to help you visually map out how to distribute your content.
And below is my step-by-step checklist:
Write your post in a Word document.
Review your post for SEO purposes.
Create images for your post; including different versions of each image for the different publishing platforms (like Facebook or Twitter).
Publish the blog post with images on your blog or website.
Encourage engagement on your blog post. Comments and social shares are key SEO activities.
Write a new status update in Google+ with an image and a backlink to the original post on your blog. Publishing on Google+ is essential for SEO purposes.
Write a new status update on Facebook with your image and a link to your original post. Do not auto-post but instead, manually create a new post and make sure you include your image. The image will help the post stand out in the News Feed. Encourage engagement within Facebook.
Repeat the above for Facebook Group(s).
Repeat #8 for Facebook Page(s).
Send a Tweet on Twitter. You must also include an image.
Syndicate to LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. You can use automation tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to send a single message across multiple social media networks.
Convert your post into a video and upload your video to YouTube. Take the time to add a full description of the video and include a title. Then copy the embed code of your video and paste it onto your website.
The above steps are the minimum distribution steps I take for every post. It can get quite tedious but you need to do it every single time if you want to see your real estate content be at the top of the search results from consumers.
Part III – Content Promotion.
In addition to basic content distribution, you also need to promote your content.
Most content promotion ideas involve buying ads or publicity for your content but know that there are also a number of simple activities that will help boost your content reach for free.
I make sure I do the following for every piece of content that I post:
Broadcast an email about your post to your email list. This is the most powerful way to promote your content for free. You need to create an email list of prospective homebuyers and sellers so that you can push your content to them. Make sure that you segment your email lists so that you only send relevant content to your segmented lists (for example, dividing your list between home sellers, homebuyers, homeowners, etc.). There is no point in sending a post about appealing your annual real estate tax assessment to a list of buyers. This is information that is more relevant and interesting to owners, not potential buyers.
Boost your social posts by purchasing Facebook or Twitter ads. The key is to only advertise to the exact target audience that you want to see the ad. As an example, on Facebook, I only use the Power Editor to place ads and I only advertise to custom audiences. This is an advanced tactic but it is a very powerful way to affordably promote your content.
Encourage engagement about your post within your social groups. Social groups have a free internal broadcasting feature that will distribute your post to group members. It’s the last of the really awesome free tool available on Facebook.
Share your post with local and social influencers as they will often repost or share it with their network. To do this you need to build a list of influencers, one at a time, and cultivate a long-term relationship with them where you promote each other. The key here is that you will start to get access to their network. If you can get a local media company to feature you as a local real estate expert, you have hit a promotional home run.
Do a press release for all your major content products like your reports, guides and eBooks. For example, “Just Released - The 2016 Denver Real Estate Investor Guide”. It creates immediate authority for the author.
Remember that engagement and social sharing are important for SEO purposes. Aim to get at least two comments and two shares on your original post (even if you need to ask a friend or colleague to get it started).
Generate social engagement. Get at least two comments, shares and likes on each social media post.
Get influencers to direct their audience to your content (this is called generating backlinks). Get at least two backlinks to your original post, aka get two influencers to direct traffic to your content. Note: when you repost your content to the various social networks, you get to create your own backlinks from your social media accounts. You need to get at least two additional independent backlinks (even if you, again, need to ask a friend or colleague to drive traffic to your content).
If this all sounds like a great deal of work it’s because content creation, distribution and promotion is hard work. But it’s worth it because it creates a long-term lead pipeline and positions you as the local real estate market authority. People may read your blog for years before the ever contact you. When they do, they will already know and trust you – and be ready to hire you as their real estate broker.