I am very critical of web sites. I always have been. For me, usability has come naturally. Design quality isn’t as natural, but I work hard at it because I know there are sites I like and sites I don’t. I studied (briefly) journalism, so I have a good idea of what is technically correct for content. I understand SEO so I can quickly identify content written for Google.
I’ve been teaching classes in my area for over a year encouraging Realtors to consider blogging. I share the many benefits, I harp on sites made by Advanced Access, Point2, Number1Expert and others and I’ve convinced a few Realtors to get going. Now that a few of these are really getting going, I’m questioning myself. Should every Realtor blog? I’m beginning to think not.
I keep seeing the same sites (blog or not) over and over again and A) it’s getting boring and B) as a consumer, if your blog/site look so similar to the next guy’s, why would I pick you? Maybe it’s a generational thing (I love reading the comments when I make a statement like that), but I just read a great article about “Why Gen Y Is Going To Change The Web”. The only part I disagree on is the “going to” part. I think we already have.
These are the ones from before that I mentioned harping on. I know about 99% of Realtors I talk to who have a site beyond their company site have one of these. They have worked well in the past and for a small handful of people who update their sites frequently (like a blog) they still work well. But in my eye, (almost) all of them look virtually identical. As someone who uses the Internet as my primary source of information, a site either has to wow me with content or design or both. Too many links down the side, animated images all over the place, old information – it all doesn’t work. But it’s easy, so I understand. It’s a presence, which is better than nothing.
Blogs for People Who Shouldn’t Write
This is the new unfortunate trend I’m seeing. I’m fortunate to be a part of such a great team here that doesn’t fall into this trap, but I keep seeing blogs that are either A) an outlet to bash on “stupid” customers, B) “I’m being trendy by blogging, but I have no idea what to say so I’ll just regurgitate the same thing my neighbor put on their blog”, C) One post every 6 months or D) “Now is a great time to buy!”
Unfortunately, a few people have made some good money off Blogging For Dummies types of books (some even specific to this industry). Should Dummies really blog? Maybe I’m being an elitist jerk, but methinks not.
(And yes, I can VERY easily tell when you are SEO spamming, so please stop or I will never come back to your site again. Even friends who don’t understand SEO can tell your site reads “funny”.)
Blogs for People Who Get It
Go through the authors here. Check out their many blogs. When I teach, I use their sites as examples. Yes, they cover local market conditions as MLS’s and area associations and national publications release new information. But they go beyond; they give their own thoughtful analysis of the information. They keep up to date on current events that may impact the community they are blogging for or the real estate market in general. They get it. They are truly writing for their customers, not Google, not their ego, but to be a great information source. To me, that is blogging done right.
(Their sites are also appealing on the eye, which keeps me from cringing when I try to read the great content.)
Am I Being a Web Elitist?
Maybe. But I would wager I’m not the only person with these thoughts. You could potentially be wasting your time and money while scaring people away when you could (easily) be marketing yourself online correctly. Heck, I’ll even give you my honest $0.02 on your site if you’re curious 🙂
One final word: Thank you all of my wonderful Twitter friends who listened and offered great words of encouragement during this difficult time in my life. I plan on being back next week to share in some great conversations.