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Keeping Local Real Estate, Well... Local

Tiara toting, Tomato T-shirt wearing, real estate blogging goddess, Teresa Boardman stirs the gazpacho this week with her piece examining if there is any value in local real estate bloggers to take their content national.

Local vs. National


With the explosion of real estate and mortgage blogs being written by professionals all over the country, there is a movement afoot to take these “local” blogs and make them “national”.  At least three companies are vying for our attention, and our words.

There is no other way to say it, this is just plain silly.  Real estate is a local business and consumers come to our sites for local information.  They come to our blogs from the best global web site ever created, Google.   All of our blogs are national; in fact they are global thanks to the World Wide Web.

Most of the world, including me, has not made the leap from the industrial age to the information age, we limit our thinking when we try to take new tools and use them with obsolete business models.  Models that suggest that we need a national web site, because bigger is better.  We have something great so we are going to somehow make it better by making it bigger.

Outside the box thinking says lets look at how consumers use the internet and how we can best serve up the content that they are looking for, in a way that will benefit our businesses.  Do we need to create an information factory filled with blog writers to accomplish our goals? Are we diminishing the power of our own voices by mingling them with thousands until we become a noise?  Are we at risk of loosing that which is uniquely ours?

Home buyers and sellers will find your blog if it offers the content that they are searching for.  They will rarely include the name of a real estate agent or real estate company in their search strings.  They might use searches like “condo’s by the Mississippi river”, or “bad neighborhoods in St. Paul, MN”.  (Actual search strings used by my current clients)

Is it in our own best interest to contribute to “national” web sites where local content will be categorized by locale and we can be featured right along with hundreds of our direct competitors?  How does this add value to anyone but the sites owner?

We already have global blogs, with visitors who are from our target audience’s.  The last time I measured the strength of St. Paul Real Estate Blog, I discovered that it gets more traffic than the local Keller Williams site that has hundreds of agents listed on it.  It really isn’t about the number of hits anyway.  If I use words like “sex’ or even” undressed” my hits go up but they do not bring me any business.

I have read that national web sites add value for the consumer who can go to one place for information.  Consumers can do that now, if they are looking for information about St. Paul, MN they are probably not doing much research on Kalamazoo Michigan so they can just come on over to my site and find what they are looking for.  If I keep my content focused they will find me before they find the national site anyway, because the national site is a jumble of unrelated tags and keywords.

I don’t need help from a “national” web site, but I can understand why they need my help.  Content is king and with out our local content there is no national site.  Since we are all in business to make a profit I can only conclude that my content will help others become profitable.  I admire their entrepreneurial skills, they get free content and will profit from it.

There is no evidence that bigger is better and that national is better than local.  In the real estate business local may be better than national.  In fact there is evidence that consumers are tired of huge corporations and may be pulling away from the huge and moving toward the small and unique instead.  They crave conversation with real people not pressing 1 to be put on hold longer and listen to bad music as a substitute for human contact or customer service.

Your local content is what consumers are looking for.  You don’t need to give it away to profit from it.  Your blog is global, and if small really is the new big, none of us have to be bigger to be better.  Industrial age rules state that bigger is better, information age rules are still being written and they might just say that the little guy wins.

Note:  The content I provide for the real state tomato is not the content that drives my business.  Writing it helps me learn, and giving it to Jim helps him better understand his audience, which is composed of people who are more like me than they are like him.

-Teresa Boardman
Thank you Teresa.  As always, it’s a pleasure having you 'on the vine'.

Related Articles:
Why Is A National Audience A Good Thing If I Specialize In Local Real Estate?
 
 

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Comments

I think that after it's all said and done, Teresa may have stumbled (or developed) the fundamental truth of Real Estate Blogging. It's all futile unless I can make money from it.

Here's to the little guy!

Teresa, I could not agree with you more. I suppose the "national" sites have their place but they're not going to build their kingdoms on my back. I've got a local thing goin' that's brought me more business over the years than everything else combined. I put my listings everywhere I can and I follow the numbers closely. While they boast about the millions of visitors they get, my local site always out performs our national association's site (www.mls.ca) for views and I get a much higher percentage of leads. I think I'll keep in local in my own neighborhood.

By the way, would you consider adding "sex" and "undressed" to your categories? Those posts are otherwise very hard to find. :)

Jim, I always love your stuff and you've got a winning contributor in Teresa. It's great that you provide her with a venue to speak to the real estate community. Thanks.

Brilliant. There is a reason that local is where "it's at." outside.in,localism.com, local.google.com, local.yahoo.com, placeblogger, myhousekey ... the list is nearly endless for a reason. Consumers tend to like macro real estate information, but what they *need* is local real estate information. The real estate market 500 miles away from my market has very little, if any impact on the volume of houses sold in my market.

Consumers are looking for local school information, local cultural offerings, local property data ... the national sites may provide an excellent starting point, but unless the consumer ends up at my local real estate blog they are going to end up at someone else's.

--Jim

Teresa - Well said. I have been going through this thought process and checking to see how people are coming to my site and I agree with you - people are NOT using my name or even my company's name - they are searching for "Houses for sale in Whitestone", "Co-ops for sale in Beechhurst" and even "buyer brokers". But, just yesterday, I got a listing because someone type a search about a co-op that they are looking to sell. They found me. So yes, the return will be good because of my blogging. They knew me before I knew them. They even quoted me on something that I typed and I actually wondered how they knew that about me.
When I went to the Inman connect - I wanted to meet the bloggers there - because in my mind, I have some sort of a connection with them. I felt badly when I did not get to meet everyone (actually Pat recognized me), but all the vendors that were there got me thinking. There is just SOO much out there. There is not just one AVM companies like Zillow, there are now 10. There is not one company like Mapquest - there are 100. There is not 100 listing portals - there are 10 THOUSAND - and not ONE of any of those will send traffic my way - WHY? Because they are too big, there are too many. So that day at Inman, I decided to keep my stuff local. My buyers or sellers don't know Redfin, Allan Dalton or maybe even Zillow. I don't think half of the agents here even know about all that.
But, I do know that buyers and sellers are watching locally - and that that is what I want.

I am banking on the fact that my local blog will drive traffic to me and others have already said how both have their place but real estate is local not national. It's a microcosm (or maybe a macrocosm lol) of the real world where I have the chance to show through blogging who I am, what drives me, what local issues are important to me, and what market information I can analyze and provide to people who might be looking to buy and sell. If they like me they will want to check me out further. It all makes perfect sense.

Teresa,

The whole thing is still perplexing me. I see the value of my local content. Believe me, I know it is worth something. But I also know the value of incoming links, and so far those are coming from other real estate bloggers in far off places and national web sites where I am syndicating my content.

If you find value in having your listings on realtor.com or craigslist, then you already know the advantages of being a local affiliate / publisher to a national website.

What about the value in affiliating with a national real estate company that takes a percentage of your commission?

Is blogging really any different?

Content may be king, but distribution pays the king's mortgage.

Robert - I do find value in the local Craigs list and do not find value in Realtor.com or being affiliated with a national real estate company. I think most of the company web sites are poor and some steal agent leads. I contend that my web sites are all national anyway. I don't need everyone to find them, I need buyers and sellers in my local market.

Teresa:

I would argue that buyers and sellers like being able to go to one place where all the listings are kept/marketing/shown. Our personal websites, while national (and international) all depend on google to get us that traffic ...

I agree wholeheartedly that local content is king. We rarely even talk about real estate on our blog. We talk about our area, about local happenings, about what local people are interested in. Heck, we're in danger of turning into a sports blog for the Patriots run through the playoffs! I highly recommend the book "Applebee's America" to anyone who is interested in the concept.
We used to be a Sothebys affiliate but dropped them when they asked us to become a franchise. They kept saying they had a great brand name. Well guess what? We have the best brand name in our area, what do I care if they have great brand name somewhere else?

Drilling down your national audience into a more targeted local one is tricky but it can be done and done well. The more targeted local traffic you have, the more leads you can generate. I love the idea of using both the national and local audiences effectively. I recommend that clients blog for local traffic at least 4 days a week and take one or two days to hit the national or industry markets so they can build their credibility and readership among multiple audiences for the best results.

There are no "audiences". There are spiders, prospects, and competitors. The goal is to use A to take B away from C.

No one's reading this drivel.

Ah, yes, localism at its best. Teresa, I don't know anyone who does the local part of blogging better than you have from the very beginning. Whereas comments from across the nation are encouraging, it's ultimately the local market we are targeting in real estate!

Hi John,
Thanks for stopping by. :)

You're welcome. I'm going back to my island now and wait for the next uboat to come along.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:LandThatTimeForgot.jpg

I'm on the patch, though, so I expect to be down to one uboat a month by March.

Great post, Teresa. Like Maureen, I am somewhere in the middle, but the real value I see in the broader exposure is not the exposure itself but the exchange of information and knowledge base I am consequently exposed to.
John, I beg to differ that people do indeed read this "drivel". Not all or even most people, but some, and I can point to three listings in the past year which were arguably due in part to our online blogging presence.

I agree that it may some time be a good idea to keep local things local. Anyway, this is a rather interesting posting.

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