Archive for March, 2008
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the use of certain techniques and methods to improve the ranking of your web pages in search engine results. It’s an industry in itself and a complicated one at that, but the good news is that with a few basics under your belt you can vastly improve the visibility of your blog on the web. When it comes to your blog there’s one particular area where a little thought can go a long way to improving your traffic - blog post titles.
You might know your target audience but it’s highly likely that they have never heard of you or your blog – yet! And that’s the beauty of the internet: there is no limit to the number of people or places your posts can reach. The question is, how do you help users to find your blog post out of the thousands of posts and articles on the internet?
This post was actually prompted by an article recently posted on a Voices blog, which offers great advice to home sellers on presenting their property to prospective buyers. While the article is well written and informative, the title of the post – “Tips for Presentation” – gives no indication of what the article is actually about. Therefore, the post is unlikely to be found by the audience it was intended for.
Search engines can drive a lot of traffic to your blog and they love blog post titles! The keywords used in your post titles are really the only way search engines can determine the content of your post, so to boost your search engine ranking, you need accurate, keyword-rich titles. Ideally, the keywords in your title would match the keywords that a person has entered into their search engine. In the example above, the target audience would naturally be people who are selling their home and looking for any tips to help achieve this. These keywords are likely to be included in their search criteria and so should also be included in your title.
Therefore, any of the following titles (or something similar) would greatly enhance the chances of someone coming across your post in their search:
- Selling your home: Presentation Tips
- Presenting your Home for Sale
- Tips to help you sell your home
Having keywords at the start of your titles are thought to be more powerful than words at the end. You could also use keywords that you know are popular in search engine queries but only if they are relevant to your post of course!
So when you’re writing your next post, think carefully about the title you choose. With the sheer volume of information available on the internet these days, people need to be specific when entering their search criteria so they can filter out a lot of irrelevant content. Make sure you don’t get lost in the washout!
March 31 2008 | Voices Blog | 3 Comments »
If you’ve been checking out your colleague’s blogs on Voices, then you’ve probably noticed a few agents have added their own photo to the header to further personalise their blog, as I have done! Here are a few examples:
If you would like to add an image to the header of your blog then you just need to click on the ‘Design’ tab and choose the 2 column-green theme, as that is the only theme which allows you to add a photo.
You will then see a tab called Custom Image Header. Just click on the tab and you can upload any photo you choose.
March 25 2008 | Voices Blog | 5 Comments »
Recently, while visiting an office, I met with the branch manager who told me that some of his salespeople had attended one of the realestate.co.nz seminars held late last year and had really enjoyed it. He then asked if I could explain what this “blobbing” was all about!
The agents had obviously been referring to our new blogging platform, Voices. However, the concept of blogging was clearly not something their manager was aware of. These days terms like blogging, wikis, widgets and social bookmarking are bandied about regularly in articles and conversations but if you’re not quite sure what these terms refer to, then don’t panic, you’re not alone!
Only a few months ago I thought that a widget was just something those clever people at Guinness came up with to ensure you got a nice creamy head on your pint without leaving the comfort of your own home! Yes, I may be Irish but I’m not crazy, you can check it out for yourself here. See!
Apparently – in the context of social media anyway - the term ’widget’ refers to something else entirely! Below, I’ve provided a short explanation of some common social media terms but if you’d like further details just click on the links below for a comprehensive explanation provided by Wikipedia.
BLOG - typically a publicly accessible personal website, that is frequently updated with entries that are displayed in reverse chronological order. The term is short for web log. Visit our Voices blog platform and start your own blog for free. Click here for video.
WIKI - a software that allows multiple users to create and edit web page content. The term also refers to the websites created with this software. Click here for video.
WIDGET - a chunk of code that can be embedded within a web page to add dynamic content. Widgets are also known as plug-ins or snippets.
PODCAST - a digital media file which is distributed via the internet for playback on an MP3 player or computer.
FORUM - a web based application allowing multiple users to post discussions or add to existing discussions. Visit the realestate.co.nz forum - for New Zealand real estate professionals only!
SOCIAL BOOKMARKING - a system allowing users to save links to their favourite web pages or pages they would like to share with others. Click here for video.
SOCIAL NETWORKING - This is the ability to make new friends while alone in a room (well, with the help of a computer of course)! Facebook, My Space and Bebo are popular examples of social networking services. These services allow users to interact in a variety of ways, including email, messaging, photo sharing and chat. Click here for video.
March 20 2008 | General | No Comments »
Take a look around your office. Is your desk swamped in paper? Are there boxes of files in every corner and overflowing cabinets by your desk? If you’re well on your way to becoming king of your own paper empire then perhaps it’s time to think about how you can remedy this.
We’ve all been hearing about the elusive ‘paperless office’ for years but the reality is that most companies will never truly reach that end goal. However, the important thing to remember is that every little helps and we can get you started with step one - tossing that realestate.co.nz folder out of your filing cabinet (and hopefully into a recycling bin!).
Well, we’re aiming high and this month we’re climbing another rung on the ladder. You will no longer receive paper statements or invoices from realestate.co.nz. These documents will now be sent via email, and from next month you will be able to access your payment history at any time on our private site. We are after all an internet company and online is our business, so we’re putting more of our business online!
The practical benefits of using less paper and storing your data electronically include increased productivity, cost savings and in time, more space in your office. On top of that you reduce your company’s environmental impact and that can’t be a bad thing.
So, if you’re keen to start making some small changes in your work environment, then here are a number of ways to reduce paper waste in your office:
- Print as little as possible. Review and modify documents on screen. Reduce the number of hard copies and paper drafts you make.
- Make double-sided prints or copies whenever possible.
- Use a smaller font for larger documents.
- Recycle waste paper.
- Before recycling single-sided printed pages, use them for scrap paper or for printing drafts.
- When sharing documents within an office, circulate one copy rather than printing out a copy for everyone.
- Send faxes directly from your computer and if you must send hard copies, don’t use a cover sheet where possible.
- Avoid needlessly printing out your emails.
If you want to take things a step further then the following article should give you some idea of what’s involved.
March 14 2008 | General and Website Services | 1 Comment »
While visiting offices in the South Island recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Bluff and catch up with Alan Mitchell, one half of the South Island’s most southerly sales team! Alan manages the Perpetual Real Estate office in Bluff, along with his wife Jan, who unfortunately couldn’t join us due to other commitments.
Born in Bluff, Alan has lived there all his life and has spent the last forty years working in the real estate industry. Jan – originally from Invercargill – has been in real estate now for sixteen years. It’s not clear whether it was a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, but they’ve been working as a solid team ever since!
When I ask Alan if he has any advice for other husband and wife teams, he states that “it’s all about give and take – it’s as simple as that. You have to make it work, and that means biting your tongue sometimes”. Then he cheekily adds that when he and Jan disagree over real estate matters, “I’m the boss and that’s that”. But don’t feel sorry for Jan – apparently she is well able to express an opinion!
Alan’s enthusiasm for the industry is obvious and when I ask him what he enjoys most, he replies without hesitation: “I enjoy matching people and houses. I particularly get a real kick out of seeing people get into their first home. That gives me just as much satisfaction today as it did forty years ago”.
He also enjoys the fact that no two years are the same. During his career, Alan estimates that the real estate market has gone through three to four complete cycles. A definite low point, both personally and professionally, was the closure of the local freezing works in 1991, resulting in the loss of 900 jobs. Alan believes that it is only really in the last five to ten years that the town has begun to recover from the resulting slump.
While driving me around town to view the sights, Alan points out some of the houses in the area and recalls the stories behind them. There are some homes in the town, which he has sold several times over, and families that the has dealt with through four generations of real estate needs!
Outside of real estate, Alan enjoys gardening, bowls and fishing. Both he and Jan are also heavily involved in community events. Alan is currently chairing the subcommittee for the Oyster Opening and Eating Races, part of the popular Bluff Oyster Festival, an annual event, which this year will be taking place on Saturday 24th May.
However, if Alan considers real estate to be his forte, then Jan certainly takes the lead when it comes to community involvement. As chairperson of the Bluff History Group, Jan was the driving force behind the establishment of the Bluff Heritage Trail, which features seventeen sites of historic interest around the area. She is also a Justice of Peace, a marriage celebrant, chairperson of the Bluff Community Board and – as if that wasn’t enough – she is also the editor of The Bluff Beacon, a popular community newsletter.
Through Perpetual Real Estate, they often sponsor local events, the most recent of which was the Lands End Garden Club Flower Show, which took place on February 9th and 10th at Bluff Town Hall. Their participation included the donation of trophies for the prize-giving and helping to promote the show.
Alan believes that, living in a small town, you have to be prepared to give. Unlike in larger towns and cities, where commercial events help to bring people together, towns like Bluff rely on members of the community to organise events and keep things vibrant.
Given all this, I think Jan and Alan are the perfect candidates for a ‘Voices’ blog, as they obviously have a wealth of knowledge to share with prospective buyers. Although Alan wouldn’t claim to be the most computer-savvy person around – daughter Megan helps with updating the company website - Alan can see the importance and benefit of the internet when it comes to real estate marketing. The company receives frequent enquiries via the internet and has sold properties on the strength of those enquiries.
So, is blogging about to hit Bluff? Watch this space!
March 06 2008 | Meet Your Colleagues | No Comments »
The skills and capability of the “early adopters” of the Voices blog platform are beiginning to pay dividends and I wanted to share this insight for the benefit of other bloggers new to this area or for those looking for advise and inspiration!
The heart of social media for real estate is the ability to build and manage a powerful online profile. To establish that you need to be seen to be an expert – specifically a subject matter expert. Your expertise can be for your local area in which you work if you are residential sales specialist, or it can be for a certain segment of the market – such as investment properties or lifestyle properties. If you are in Business Broking or C&I or rural equally your subject matter expertise is key. It is desired by those who want a knowledgeable individual to act for them in a real estate transaction, that perception of knowledgeability will come in the future ever more from that persons’ (ie. your) profile online.
So returning to my praise of others. I have two I want to single out.
Ross Brader - Ross is a residential specialist in the Pt Chevalier area of Auckland. His blog titled Pt Chevalier – Auckland City is well managed and rich in relevant content. His last 6 posts which cover the last 5 weeks are a healthy and engaging balance of property news and local community interest – just what someone looking to buy in the area would be interested in. They do not want endless stats and great things about what real estate people do – they want to be able to get a sense of the place, some of the local colour and flavour (note the use of images – they are emotionally engaging). Certainly Ross provides valuable insight into the real estate market – but it is not in a “rammed down your throat approach” – it is warm and insightful.
Sharon James – Sharon write a specialist Business Broker’s blog suitably called “Business Broker” (she smartly grabbed this unique blog name and now commands the category!). Sharon recognises that for her audience she needs to be detailed and factual and this is what she is doing – adding a regular stream of content that shows her skills and knowledge in business broking. It is irrelevant as to where Sharon lives as her skills are easily transportable and I would suggest that before long Sharon maybe advising clients on sales and purchases of businesses across the whole country – all from the beautiful Coromandel where she lives – the power of the internet to afford you the chance to choose where to live rather than work dictating it.
Now one more aspect of the value of these new skilled bloggers is the fact that their content (initially with Sharon) is so valuable that I have added a new post to the Unconditional blog just about Business Broking and sighted Sharon as an expert based on her content and value she is creating – effectively putting her up on stage to showcase the talent in this industry. You could be next!
As ever please feel free to share feedback on this blog post with comments or post a comment or question on the secure environment of the Forum.
March 03 2008 | Advice | 1 Comment »