Change Is Never Simple – Evolve
Agent Genius underwent a major site overhaul this past week, and I’ve had many many offline and online conversations since about the changes and what we’re attempting to accomplish. So now that I have some time, I thought I would dive into them because I think they’re important even in your own business.
I had a conversation yesterday with someone who acknowledges that from a blogger’s perspective, they just didn’t understand the layout, but was interested to know what I was telegraphing with a change away from forward facing content.
It’s Pretty Simple
Someone finding our content via longtail in relation to blogging have probably already been exposed to a blog, they’ll land on a blog page they’ll understand. But what about those folks who have never seen or used a blog, have no idea what it is, nor what they would be searching for in the first place? What about those folks in your office who ask about blogging, learning more, who are maybe not that savvy about internet things? What type of front facing content might they be most comfortable with?
You can essentially narrow this thought down to your own market. If you’re in the Midwest, chances are, a consumer locating your answer via longtail looking for homes, and landing on a content (blog) faced website, may be lost, take the information, and continue to skim google until they find a site face (probably static) they’re more accustomed to.
The same thing rings true for Agent Genius. You as a blog consumer already understand a blog’s basic fundamentals, but if our intent is to grow the audience, teach those that have no fundamentals, then obviously, a Ferrari may not be the best road test for a noob.
So What Have We Accomplished?
A landing page that a curious 1.0 agent has a fighting chance of navigating. It’s straight forward, it answers directly to the skimmer, it forces the author (including myself) to follow our own advice of a great title, a great lead in paragraph, and if those two things fail to grab the skimmers interest, it entices the reader with related imagery, and it also forces us to remember context and to build the story for newcomers. To discount any of these things when presenting material for some moral reason is simply a disregard for marketing philosophies, that to be honest, may be over the head of a few critics- as smart as they are.
Much of the content at Ag is timeless, it is within context of the overall conversation when it comes to coaching, training, agent tools, and discussions about some of what I just mentioned. This created a need to better present navigation options to those that are use to traditional websites. It was a shame when a great post turned the page on Ag, and this layout provides an opportunity for that content to become new once again.
Moving the traditional sidebar inside the content also serves this need, it allows a deeper access to content, authors, and current articles that might be of personal interest. It also frees up the sidebar for some very cool things upcoming in the near future- it’s a lot of real estate that can be better harnessed, sideblogs are very cool and straight forward, and can make visible content that is just too valuable to hide. You’ll begin seeing new things appear there over the next week or so.
Color & Imagery
Someone somewhere said something the other day about us being pretty, but it was more sarcastic than anything else. I’m going to take that as a compliment, but not for the reasons this person intended (as it was not their intention), but more because the purpose of presentation goes without argument, and if you’re arguing it, it’s not Ag with the problem.
The Amount of Content
In addressing the issues of content turning the page, with this layout, we’ve essentially doubled the amount of content we’re able to display in a single page load. Twice the articles, twice the <h1> tags, and twice the keywords. Add to that the sideblog forthcoming and you begin to finally see how this format adds to the audiences ability to consume content, or direction, and do it in a way that is not overwhelming, or slow page load which was a real issue in the previous format.
The site looks alive to the untrained eye. It’s stimulating, vibrant, and it looks open for business even at 3am. One of the basic issues I’ve always had with walls of text is that if you’ve read every article on the front page, then there’s nothing new to it. But if you really study, I mean really study the AG front page, you can understand how you find more and more things to get into. It isn’t busy, but it is alive, even if there hasn’t been a post in an hour or two. We want that, you want that in your own website!
Getting Started With Evolution
I’ve been making the case for some time now with folks to delve into their own demographics and it’s about time you start doing it. It you’re looking at conversion as a means to get business, then you must look at every page turn as it’s own conversion.
Constantly Evolve With These Questions:
- Is my website ahead of my market?
- Is my website behind my market?
- Does each page ask a consumer to do something?
- Am I enticing them to actually do it?
- Am I speaking over the head of someone with a simple question?
- Am I defining context in my content or speaking as if they’ve read for years?
- Will my content have context in a year?
- What is the point of the content I’m producing?
- Is my content answering to that same point?
- Can I make my site more mainstream, but keep my 2.0 philosophies?
- Am I discussing politics where I eat?
- Am I limiting my own audience by doing so?
- Am I willing to do anything about it?
The bottom line is that we’ll continue to experiment with wordpress as a CMS, take advantage of new strides and studies in content management, adapt to new ideals in design, develop new ideals based on the success of others outside of real estate, and blend as many as we can. We’ve not gotten to where we are in one year because we sat still in someone else’s definition, we got here by constantly asking ourselves more and more questions- and then setting out to find the answer.
I hope that some if not all of this helps you in your own journey with your own sites, and heck it may just reaffirm your own belief in your own techniques. I know of some very very successful local sites with forward-facing content, but never let that fool you. Those same folks succeeded by their own trial and error experiments- watching them may give you some insight, but I’ve warned in the past of imitating your competition. Follow the ball, not the player, and your likely end result will be success if you remember to ask questions of your audience but also watching what they do, and then repeating that success even if you may not look like everyone else.
We’re very excited about the future in our space, and at the prospect of bringing new faces into the conversation, and just this week we’ve approved a few handfuls of new commenters, and we’re seeing action on older material as we expected- we welcome all of the new faces and thank all of our regular ones.
If you find any kinks, feel free to click Submit Tip in the top nav and drop me a note.
Zillow launches real estate brokerage after eons of swearing they wouldn’t
(MEDIA) We’ve warned of this for years, the industry funded it, and Zillow Homes brokerage has launched, and there are serious questions at hand.
Zillow Homes was announced today, a Zillow licensed brokerage that will be fully operational in 2021 in Phoenix, Tucson, and Atlanta.
Whoa, big huge yawn-inducing shocker, y’all.
We’ve been warning for more than a decade that this was the end game, and the company blackballed us for our screams (and other criticisms, despite praise when merited here and there).
Blog posts were penned in fiery effigy calling naysayers like us stupid and paranoid.
Well color me unsurprised that the clarity of the gameplan was clear as day all along over here, and the paid talking heads sent out to astroturf, gaslight, and threaten us are now all quiet.
We watched The Social Dilemma – here are some social media tips that stuck with us
(SOCIAL MEDIA) Here are some takeaways from watching Netflix’s The Social Dilemma that helped me to eliminate some social media burnout.
Last weekend, I made the risky decision to watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix. I knew it was an important thing to watch, but the risk was that I also knew it would wig me out a bit. As much as I’m someone who is active “online,” the concept of social media overwhelms me almost more than it entertains (or enlightens) me.
The constant sharing of information, the accessibility to information, and the endless barrage of notifications are just a few of the ways social media can cause overwhelm. The documentary went in deeper than this surface-level content and got into the nitty gritty of how people behind the scenes use your data and track your usage.
Former employees of high-profile platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and Pinterest gave their two cents on the dangers of social media from a technological standpoint. Basically, our data isn’t just being tracked to be passed along for newsletters and the like. But rather, humans are seen as products that are manipulated to buy and click all day every day in order to make others money and perpetuate information that has astronomical effects. (I’m not nearly as intelligent as these people, so watch the documentary to get the in-depth look at how all of this operates.)
One of the major elements that stuck with me was the end credits of The Social Dilemma where they asked interviewees about the ways they are working to eliminate social media overwhelm in their own lives. Some of these I’ve implemented myself and can attest to. Here’s a short list of things you can do to keep from burning out online.
- Turn off notifications – unless there are things you need to know about immediately (texts, emails, etc.) turn it off. Getting 100 individual notifications within an hour from those who liked your Instagram post will do nothing but burn you (and your battery) out.
- Know how to use these technologies to change the conversation and not perpetuate things like “fake news” and clickbait.
- Uninstall apps that are wasting your time. If you feel yourself wasting hours per week mindlessly scrolling through Facebook but not actually using it, consider deleting the app and only checking the site from a desktop or Internet browser.
- Research and consider using other search tools instead of Google (one interviewee mentioned that Qwant specifically does not collect/store your information the way Google does).
- Don’t perpetuate by watching recommended videos on YouTube, those are tailored to try and sway or sell you things. Pick your own content.
- Research the many extensions that remove these recommendations and help stop the collection of your data.
At the end of the day, just be mindful of how you’re using social media and what you’re sharing – not just about yourself, but the information you’re passing along from and to others. Do your part to make sure what you are sharing is accurate and useful in this conversation.
WeChat ban blocked by California judge, but for how long?
(SOCIAL MEDIA) WeChat is protected by First Amendment concerns for now, but it’s unclear how long the app will remain as pressure mounts.
WeChat barely avoided a US ban after a Californian judge stepped in to temporarily block President Trump’s executive order. Judge Laurel Beeler cited the effects of the ban on US-based WeChat users and how it threatened the First Amendment rights of those users.
“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote.
WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging and social media/mobile transaction app with over 1 billion active monthly users. The WeChat Alliance, a group of users who filed the lawsuit in August, pointed out that the ban unfairly targets Chinese-Americans as it’s the primary app used by the demographic to communicate with loved ones, engage in political discussions, and receive news.
The app, along with TikTok, has come under fire as a means for China to collect data on its users. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”
This example is yet another symptom of our ever-globalizing society where we are learning to navigate between connectivity and privacy. The plaintiffs also pointed out alternatives to an outright ban. One example cited was in Australia, where WeChat is now banned from government officials’ phones but not others.
Beeler has said that the range in alternatives to preserving national security affected her decision to strike down the ban. She also explained that in regards to dealing with national security, there is “scant little evidence that (the Commerce Department’s) effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns.”
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