Blogging tips for success

As an appraiser, you should definitely consider publishing a blog on your XSite. A blog, or web log, is nothing more than a journal about your professional opinions on a variety of topics. They're a great way to keep your content fresh and bring visitors back over and over again. They'll also go a long way to positioning you as the expert in your field and they'll help boost your search engine rankings.

While blogging has been the real estate marketing trend of the year, we think it's particularly useful in appraisal marketing. Why? Because agents and mortgage brokers typically market themselves more than appraisers do and everyone knows they aren't the objective party in any real estate transaction. That's you! If you publish a blog correctly, we think it will go a long way to increasing your non-lender business and making you known as the real estate appraisal expert in your area. Priceless.

Here are eight tips that will make your blog a success.

1. Write about what you know. Write about the hottest areas, neighborhoods making a comeback, property taxes, PMI, property development, even property rights issues. Mortgage trends, mortgage laws, even mortgage rates, are topics that are interesting to your readers and can be keyword rich for search engines.

It's easy to fall into the trap of making your blog about everything. Pick one topic or area and focus on it. You wouldn't market yourself as an appraiser covering the entire state of California. Likewise, concentrate on a niche when you blog and you'll be seen as more credible and more of an expert.

2. Make it relevant. You may be keenly interested in, and know tons about, political issues, impressionist art, Pfaltzgraff dinnerware, the Houston Astros or tarpon fishing, but visitors to your site aren't looking for your insight into those issues. They're looking for an appraiser. Adding irrelevant information may cause them to pass you by.

3. Write for the people you want to find your site. You're writing for people who are trying to find a real estate appraiser in your area. Write about what they want to read about. Local events, regulations, market trends—things like this will attract their interest.

4. Express your opinion. Dry, objective blog posts about the housing economy may help your search engine rank some, but a more human, opinionated blog "personality" will keep your online visitors interested. Strike a balance between topics that you know people are interested in keeping up with and keyword rich general information that will boost your search engine ranking.

5. Write for Web readers. Visitors to your site aren't looking for in-depth essays. Web surfers scan pages to pick out relevance, they generally don't read beginning to end. You can cater to your visitors by using bulleted or numbered lists, bold and italics and subheadings for longer posts. Also try to limit yourself to a single idea per post and don't wander off.

6. Fill the screen if you can, but stay above the fold. Short posts may not have much content of interest to a new visitor and aren't likely to help with your search engine visibility, either. But if you make your posts too long—say, as a rule of thumb, more than one screen—you'll lose your readers' attention. Find a point somewhere in the middle.

7. Commit yourself. A blog is a powerful marketing tool because search engines love fresh, relevant content and visitors will find something new each time they stop by. But it's almost better not to have a blog than to have one that is updated infrequently. If a visitor sees your last entry was posted months or even weeks ago, they'll assume your site is out of date, or that you don't maintain it consistently. You don't need to post every day, but you do need to make an effort to do it regularly.

8. Keep it positive. It's not uncommon for things to turn negative whenever people start expressing their opinions. But remember, your blog is a reflection of you and your business. Being negative probably doesn't attract the kind of clients you're looking for. Unless you want negative clients.

Activate your XSite's blog right now by logging in, clicking the XSites icon at the top of My Office, and then clicking the Blogging icon.