Writing for real estate clients on a weekly basis, I get to put a lot of different strategies into action. Some clients are focused on blasting their readers with SEO terms until everyone’s blue in the face, while others could care less about SEO, and would rather focus on beautiful, persuasive copy.
Frankly, as the writer, nobody really asks me for suggestions on strategy development, and that’s fine! I’m here to deliver what the client wants. However, I can’t help but think that somewhere between these two extremes of SEO and beautiful descriptive language there has to be a happy medium.
Real Estate Copywriting – SEO
I’ve written for one client that gave instructions that basically said, “I want these real estate pages to have as many keywords as possible while still being readable.” As the writer, it’s not really my job to say, “No, you don’t,” so I write according to the client’s guidelines. Needless to say, it wasn’t a particularly pretty piece of writing.
It may not have looked too great, but in this particular instance, it really didn’t matter. Real estate copywriting is in a particularly interesting type of writing. My Title Guy (great resource for realtors trying to develop an online presence) makes a solid point in this blog post. Click the link, and scroll down to the section titled “No One Cares About You.”
The point he makes is this: people search for very specific things on the Internet, and they often do their searches by asking a question. For this reason, “over 50% of all searches that happen on Google happen once and never again.” Fifty percent! That’s crazy, right?
If you don’t focus on SEO at all, how is your content strategy ever going to reach the people who are searching for homes? Honestly, I don’t know if My Title Guy is being hyperbolic or if he has a source that wasn’t included in the post, but either way, his point remains the same. It’s critical that you cover all your bases when it comes to putting key search terms on your blog and website. Otherwise, you might miss out on a big piece of the pie.
Real Estate Copywriting – Quality Content
We often construct this self-imposed dichotomy between SEO and quality content as if the two can’t coexist. Why many people tend to view copywriting in that light is beyond me. There’s no reason why high quality, well-written content can’t have search terms embedded in it. Is it difficult? Sometimes, yes, it is.
Andrew Glasscock, our main real estate content writer, wrote about his approach to real estate copywriting in a recent blog post. Andrew discusses balancing his knowledge of demographics, appropriately using industry terms, leveraging factual information, and employing descriptive language. That’s a lot to hold in your head as you compose paragraph after paragraph.
However, quality writing is just as important as SEO focus. After all, once a web searcher arrives at your landing page, you can’t expect them to hang around for long when the content looks like a jumbled mess of worthless key terms. Finding that balance is essential, and it may take a professional writing service.
What You Can Do Yourself
Then again, you should give it a shot yourself, too. We recently published a guide, 10 Big Industries and Their Content Marketing Strategies. You can find information on the real estate industry on pages 23-24. However, here are a few tips from the guide that you can probably start working on this week!
If you are in the real estate industry, and you’re not blogging, it’s time for a wake-up call. According to Realtor.org, 88% of customers use the Internet as a source in their home search. Of course, it’s 2012, so that’s not terribly surprising. But, what may surprise you is that 63% of people end up walking through a home that they view online. That’s huge!
Let’s get you rolling with some blog posts to attract these web-searchers! It’s important to remember (this is a general content strategy) that you should primarily share information that is non-promotional. When you share valuable content that is useful, you’ll be able to get your audience’s attention when you share the occasional promotional stuff.
In the 10 Industries… guide I mentioned, there are a few examples of good real estate blog posts I want to highlight. The Zillow.com blog is an all-around great example; here are a few of my favorite non-promotional, valuable blog posts from Zillow:
Two totally different posts, but both are great in their own right. The first is solid, practical advice from a professional that knows his stuff; the second is of general interest and probably attracted significant search traffic that day. Also, notice that wonderful closing sentence that encourages click-through to resource pages. Nice!
You could be creating blog posts like this. Give it a shot!
Next, I want to encourage you to create guides. Guides can be anywhere from 7,000 to 15,000 words long, depending on what you want to make of them. They are more specific than blog posts, go into much greater depth, and are designed for customers that are further along in your sales funnel.
Not only are guides informative and useful, but they allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and authority. When you publish a guide, it kind of says, “Hey, look, I actually know what I’m talking about, and you should buy from me.” (Well, hopefully it delivers that message more eloquently.)
Guides are also great ways to collect information from your audience. At the present moment, CEM doesn’t set up any barriers between you and our guides, but many companies choose to create barriers. On more than one occasion I’ve had to give my email address and other information to Marketo to download one of their guides. But, I really want the guide, so I’m willing to do it. This is a great way to get information on people who are looking for homes in your area.
Here are some suggestions for basic guides that you could probably write yourself:
· How to Buy Your First Home
· Choosing a Real Estate Agent
· Determining the Value of Your Home
Really, just about any topic – broad or specific – can be turned into a guide.
Your Real Estate Content Strategy
Wrapping it up, remember this… your real estate content strategy needs a healthy balance of SEO, quality writing, and should be heavy on content generation (blogs and guides). Simple, right? In theory, yes, but it will take a lot of work.
If you’re serious about getting started, go ahead and set up an editorial calendar for the next month, and commit yourself with full force to publishing content. Note the differences a month from now, and let us know about your results!