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Your Blog Is An Army


Any blog, not just a real estate blog, has the beautiful distinction that it is comprised of many separate entities represented by each published post.  The blog, when organized properly, is the ultimate content management system and SEO tool all wrapped into one.   It is truly as if each article that is published is a little website of its own, under the umbrella of the main domain.

Each published article has:

1. The Permalink: A unique, keyword laden and link popular URL:

The main URL for your site may be http://realestatetomato.typepad.com, but the URL of the article you publish looks more like this:
Example:
You notice the main URL with the addition of the date, and the words that make up the article's title - this is commonly referred to in WordPress as the "slug". 
The Beauty:
Each article can be linked to independently of the main site 
The URL actually contains keywords from the Title
The Search Engines recognize the article as an independent entity. 
The Suggestion:
Make sure your blog supports Search Engine Friendly Permalinks, and this option has been turned on.

2. The Title:

Example:
"Your Blog Is An Army" (This is usually contained within a heading tag i.e. <h1>) 
The Beauty:
Search Engines give greater value (in comparison to the content of the article) to the words that appear within the heading tags (h1, h2, h3 etc)
Example: Google search: Why am I blogging? shows this article He Asked Me, Why Am I Blogging? in the first page results 
The Suggestion:
Although 'selling' the article to your readers through the headline is ultimately important, it is the terms you include in the title that can determine how well the article is found, and by whom.  Make sure to include the most relevant terms in the title, whether it is relevance to your article's content or your blogsite's core focus.

3. The  Description. Usually the first one or two sentences.

Example:
"Any blog, not just a real estate blog, has the beautiful distinction that it is comprised of many separate entities represented by each published post." 
The Beauty:
The line one sees in the search results, below the title, is usually this excerpt.  The relevance to the search result will improve your click through rate. 
The Suggestion:
Include terms in this first sentence that relate directly to the article's content and your blogsite's core focus (if possible).  Admittedly my example above is not perfect, which goes to show it can be a challenge at times. 

4. Content: Your article's main body.

Example:
You are reading it right now. 
The Beauty:
Content is everything.  The more you produce, the more you have available for spidering, the more you are in the search results, the more you are found, the more you are read, the more opportunity you have at gaining your audience's trust, the more you will acquire clients from your efforts.
The Suggestion:   
Beyond the formatting elements that are crucial to the readability of your article, be sure to include:
Good distribution of keywords and phrases
More headers if possible (h2, h3, etc.)
Images with Title attributes (tags).  Example, roll mouse over picture above.
Links, links and more links
Link to internal articles (related posts)
Link to items of reference (inspired by blogs)
Link to call to action tools (MLS Search, Home Evaluation, etc.) 

5. Categories: Your blogsite's core focus topics:

Example:
(This article falls under) Blogging Advice and Search Engines
The Beauty:
Your categories have permalink addresses as well: http://realestatetomato.typepad.com/the_real_estate_tomato/search_engines/index.html.  Their popularity will increase with every article you write.  See this example for Blogging Advice in Google (as of today we appear at #7, and climbing?). 
The Suggestion:
Categories are keywords and phrases too.  Be sure to use category names that include terms that are relevant to your blogsite's core focus.  Avoid abbreviation. 

6. Keywords:

Example:
Real estate blog, blog, army, blogging advice, search engines, example, beauty, suggestion, content, etc. 
The Beauty:
An indeterminable number of combinations of the words found in your content will be responsible for your being found in the search engine.  Or rather, you never know what combination of words you use will have you coming up in the search engines. 
The Suggestion:
Don't over do it.  Your audience will see right through you, and you may end up doing more damage than good.  That said, it is difficult to pin down which words will be the ones that work themselves into combinations that result in you being found in the search engines, so always be sure to sprinkle in terms that are very relevant to your core focus and ones that could best represent the topics your target audience is searching. 

7. Header, Footer and Sidebar: The templates for the header, sidebars and footer are pieced together like a puzzle to form the page.

Example:
The Tomato banner top and bottom of site as well as the two side columns. 
The Beauty:
Carry information dynamically from page to page adding valuable search engine content to every page within your blog. 
The Suggestion:
Make sure your header is properly setup to correctly display relevant meta tags for different pages and articles.  Make sure that when you add links and javascript snippets, you are adding them to either the sidebar or the footer to ensure that they are present on every page within your blog.
With the sidebar, build permalink lists of your best and most popular articles.  This helps create not only greater exposure but also increases link popularity to those deserving articles.  Recent posts and recent comments should also be included for greater exposure and participation.   

8. Comments:

Example:
"Geez, why hadn't I thought of this post? Another good one Jim.  ...You are right, regular RSS subscriptions just doesn't cut it anymore!" 
The Beauty:
More content, more keywords, more links: see above. 
The Suggestion:
Encourage your audience to make comments on your articles by discussing topics that are very relevant to their concerns, needs and questions.  Asking for comments will usually result in the lack-thereof, but covering a topic that begs a discussion, on the other hand, will open the floor to many.
Your participation in the comments is also crucial to keep the conversation rolling.  Be sure to have a tool that will notify your readers of additional comments, ensuring their return to participate as well.
For more on this topic read: The Secret To Successful Comments and Stay On Top Of Your Comments

hard_to_argueWhat does the above add up to?  For every published article, you create a unique destination, with unique attributes, that is treated as such by the search engines.
Each article carries it's own weight and value based on the content, keywords and the links referring back to that page.  Therefore, te that is published to regularly (read: at least weekly) will eventually end up with hundreds of soldiers fighting the good fight for you in the search engines.

This conglomeration of little websites working for the greater good of the blogsite as a whole is where the magic lies.  Suddenly there is less concern about meta-tags, link count and other such guidelines for the homepage, because it is no longer necessarily the destination page it was in Web 1.0 style websites.  The focus comes back to the content, and its relevance to your perceived consumer's needs.  If the above list of items are consistently geared towards attracting your consumer then you know just about everything you need to know about optimizing your blog for the search engines. 

I'm sure the purists will argue that there still needs to be strict and detailed guidelines to truly be 'optimized', but it is hard to argue with the fact that this site is generating as much as 50% of its daily traffic through its appearance in the SERP's (Search Engine Results Pages), without me having paid the least bit of attention to the technical side of SEO.  In addition, what is also fact is that said appearance in the search engines is not due to my homepage, my metatags, my outbound link count... but rather the soldiers that I have written, keeping the above in mind.

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Comments

The beauty of the modern blogging platform is that it does everything for you. You just concentrate on good titles, content, etc. Blogs are natural Search Engine magnets due to their linking structures, dynamic content, and tendency to attract incoming links.

There is a solid argument here to ditch your SEO consultant... at least for your blog. ;-)

Thanks Jim. This is great information as always. :)

Ditch the SEO consultant, hmmm, since that's me, it doesn't pay very well, and I'd rather just write, well this is the best article I'll read today!

Another fantastic, informational post. Another encouragement to me to keep writing and to be more focused in how I write and what I write about. I'll get there, practice, practice.

Great blog information. I've been trying to convince my clients that a real estate blog is well worth the time to write. Blogs can be used in so many ways to their advantage. I'll have to send them here for more convincing.

Hey I love this blog but why does the font shrink to size 2? I hate to talk about the elephant in the room but i cant imagine im the only one who sees it like this ? any advise as to converting the blog into a readable format... or is the information becoming so good that not everyone is allowed to read it? Keep rockin it mato'

Great, current information about blogs etc. and
real estate.

Also, love your simple not overdesigned blog banner and the tomato idea..great job.

However, I'd like to give my two cents..
Just because you write and create a blog
doesn't mean you are being effective in the long
run.

There are many many people who simply cannot.... and/or should not write to begin with.
Many people are simply NOT creative or interesting in their observations or style of writing.

This results in some incredible mediocre blogs and
ones where it more than readily apparent that the
owner is merely jumping on the band wagon of blogging.

Dig?

bocaratonmike@yahoo.com
Advertising
Design
Copywriting
Satire

I was at the KW Mega Camp in Austin a few weeks ago and this thing about blogging in real estate is the biggest value I got out of the conference. I've been ready most articles on your site and will attempt to start a local blog when I get back from vacation, where I'm writing from. (I had some time for reading, so, what the heck?)

The analogy between a blog and an army was very helpful in explaining how blogs affect Search Engine Optimization to the agents in my office. Truly a helpful and informative post. Thanks for this!

Great way to explain blogging -- the army analogy is perfect.

Great way to explain blogging.thanks a lot for good information

All good advice, but to fully implement all of the above you probably need a self hosted blog. A standard SAAS type blog (lke Wordpress.com) may not offer this much flexibility.

Blogs are the way to go for developing an online business. Mediocrity in blogging is determined by the lack of genuine interest for the subject the blog was launched in the first place.

If you have something to talk about in any given subject there is room for you in that niche and people will listen. That's why I don't agree with Mike Kirner's comment above.

Your expertise will grow you blog and not so much your writing skills

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