Web consultant Brad Bombardiere of Reality Concepts neatly summarized the biggest obstacle—and irony—of blogging at the very beginning of his online presentation Thursday. “A blog is designed to be quick, fast, and easy to do,” he noted. “So why is it so hard to get going on it?”
Depending on the would-be blogging builder, the answer to that question will vary, of course. But the reality is that social media outlets such as blogs have become critical pieces of many companies’ sales and marketing strategies as consumers do more and more research and shopping online, for everything from clothing to homes. “The real benefit of a blog is what it does for your website and brand recognition,” said Bombardiere during the webinar, which was presented by the Colorado-based Shinn Consulting and Builder Partnerships.
He offered a number of simple steps for builders who want to end their online inertia and develop a successful blog.
1. Consider what blogging platform you want to use. Blogger, which is owned by Google, is very popular, but Bombardiere cautioned that it may not be the best platform for a builder; if your blog reaches a certain level of popularity, Google may start placing Google AdSense on your site, which means you could have ads from the competition streaming onto your site. He said he uses WordPress.
2. When you first start the blog, plan on posting three times weekly for one month. This will build your audience and connect your site with the search engines. If your reaction is “Holy cow, that’s a lot of information,” Bombardiere suggests breaking longer blog articles into multiple posts. After the first month, your frequency can drop to between one post weekly to one post monthly.
3. Do more with your blog than just post the details of your latest spec for sale. “Social media is like a cocktail party,” noted Monica Wheaton of Builder Partnerships during the webinar. “If all you’re doing is talking about your own homes, people are going to stop listening to you.” Diversify your content and prove your value to your customers (and the search engines) by doing posts on how to take care of a house, why it’s a good time to buy a home, and other common questions that your customers may be asking.
4. Get the entire company involved in feeding the blog if you can. Posts by your construction superintendent, sales staff, warranty department, CEO, and more “give the blog a personal touch and let everyone know that the whole company cares,” Bombardiere said.
5. Show a sense of humor and occasionally offer your readers some fun content too. “Do a post about ‘why we don’t do avocado refrigerators anymore’ or ‘why avocado refrigerators are coming back,’ said Bombardiere. “Write about how your grandmother had a pink refrigerator.”
6. Add interest (and search engine appeal) to your blog by adding images and video when appropriate. Many websites and retailers offer free and for-sale clip art and photographs for online usage. Don’t forget about photos of your own homes, especially those with special details worth highlighting.
7. Add appropriate links (new home and real estate websites, neighborhood information, and more) to your site. This also builds relevance for your blog and improves its search engine rankings.
8. Use RSS feeds and other widgets to update your company website and related social media outreach (blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) automatically. Frequent updating is a “major criteria for getting [your website] to the top of the home page” when someone searches for keywords relevant to your business, Bombardiere reminded.
9. Broadcast your posts. Bombardiere recommended Pingoat, which notifies multiple websites that you have updated your blog.
10. Once you have established your company blog, look for opportunities to write guest blogs for other relevant websites. “They get your content; you get the link,” Bombardiere said, calling it “linkage on steroids” that boosts your search engine rankings and your traffic.
Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine.