Linking from your posts to your IDX home search site should be one of the primary strategies you employ as you create content for your blog. How you create these links and where you send the person clicking on them could make the difference in how your readers interact with you. The proper implementation of this strategy could be the difference between converting your blog readers into clients and ultimately business and simply being someone providing information out of the goodness of your heart.
Remember, you should be blogging for business!
It is no secret that consumers want the information they are after in the easiest, most direct fashion possible. One need only look at Google's insane traffic numbers to prove that point. Google does a great job of letting consumers search for exactly what they want and returning results that are relevant to the search they just did. Are you employing a similar technique when you create links on your blog posts? In most cases the answer is NO.
Sometimes the answer is no because you don't know where you should actually be linking (or maybe even that you should be linking at all) and sometimes the answer is no because even if you wanted to, your site doesn't allow you to link to the right place. In a lot of the cases I come across on ActiveRain it's probably a combination of both.
So first let's deal with where you want to be linking when you create links in your blog posts. You want to send the person to the exact information you just told them you were going to provide with the link you created. Does that make sense? Let's do an example:
The correct way:
(Click on the link below and see where it takes you. DO IT, I'll wait! Now once you are taken there, pay attention to the URL that we land on. It is specific to the exact link that we created, and more important takes to the results that we said we were going to deliver)
- sends us to: http://www.bellinghamrealtyexperts.com/listings/areas/29127,29128,134715,136174,29129/community/Bellingham/maxprice/200000/beds/3/ See that URL? It's exactly what we just said we were going to send them to.
Maybe our blog post for this specific search was referring to affordable homes for new families in the Bellingham area. New families need at least 3 bedrooms, and they generally can't afford much more than $200,000. So does it not make sense to send them to a SPECIFIC search on your website that delivers the information that your reader thinks they are about to find?
The way many people are doing it:
(In this example you can only mirror the wording for the above link if you can create a unique URL to a search of that nature. Otherwise, you are simply sending them to a page where they expect one thing, homes for sale in Seattle under $300,000 with 3+ bedrooms, and they get something else.........the home page of your website or a search page where they can then do that search on their own)
- sends us to: http://www.bellinghamrealtyexperts.com/ See that URL? It's the home page of the site. Now she has to depend that the person will actually perform the search once they reach the site. Her site makes it really easy to find that search function. It's right there, at the top left of the page, the place a person's eye naturally falls so she has a better chance of them performing the search then most people do.......but why even take the chance if the post they were reading was about affordable homes for families buying their first home?
Biggest Folly I see when people include a link: Linking to your home page
What if, unlike our home page above, the home page of your website doesn't make it so obvious how someone actually searches for homes? Here are three completely random examples that I just pulled from ActiveRain members in Seattle:
- Affordable homes for sale in Seattle (http://www.murphybrown.com/)
- Affordable homes for sale in Seattle (http://www.seattlecondohotline.com/)
- Affordable homes for sale in Seattle (http://mssold.net/)
Please click on those sites and you tell me how long it takes you to actually get a list of homes for sale in Seattle? 5 seconds? 30 seconds? you couldn't figure it out? (I'm dead serious!! This is important!! Do it! Click on those links and figure out how long it takes the consumer to find homes for sale in Seattle) How about on your own website? It's going to be hard to judge your own website, hopefully you know how to quickly access your search feature. Have someone else try it then, your spouse maybe or a friend. Stand and watch them do it. How long did it take them?
"Remember, consumers have an average attention span of 3-5 seconds. When they’re scanning your website for an answer to their question or problem, they want to find it quickly. An effective website doesn’t force a customer to frantically search their website." Is your website consumer focused?
The better place would be to link them directly to the home search function on your site:
Most of you have the ability to do this with your site. For the three examples above, here are the links to the home search portions of their site:
- Affordable homes for sale in Seattle (http://www.murphybrown.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Listing.SearchPropertyNeighborhood&st=wa)
- Affordable homes for sale in Seattle (http://www.seattlecondohotline.com/Seattle_WA_listings/index.shtml) This one was actually tough. I still couldn't really figure out how to access a complete home search and I've seen way more real estate websites than any consumer
- Affordable homes for sale in Seattle (http://lakere.com/search/property_search.php?county=no_king) This one redirects away from her site to what appears to be the brokers site. I wonder if it tracks that traffic as having been sent from her and if that consumer registers does she get the contact?
The best place to link them is directly to a specific search that best matches your blog post:
Of these three completely random sites, none of them have the ability for you to create custom URL's out of the search functionality. They all use database queries to pull up the results that you search for. Anytime you are searching on the murphybrown.com site, you remain on that same URL and the home search results load in a framed solution. There is nothing wrong with that per say, but if you are writing a blog post about Affordable homes in Bellingham under $200,000 with 3+ bedrooms, the only options these sites provide for linking out of the post to the home search is to drop the consumer on the front of the home search page. And if that's the case, can you really make your link say 'Affordable homes for sale in Bellingham under $200,000 with 3+ bedrooms' if the link actually takes them to a default home search page?
What kind of options does your current home search solution give you?
If a consumer is reading your blog post, chances are they are already a highly targeted visitor. Does it make sense to take a highly targeted visitor that knows they want to look at affordable homes in Bellingham under $200,000 with 3+ bedrooms and send them to a page that forces them to figure out how to actually navigate a search to obtain the information they desire? Remember above? You have 3-5 seconds.
The site I was using above in the example is a site developed by Market Leader, bellinghamrealtyexperts.com.
You can have a Market Leader representative contact you about trying out there IDX product by going here.
(Disclaimer: I only used $50,000 in the title line to grab your attention. I don't know how much you will add to your bottom line. The more content you produce the better your chances and the more targeted your links the better your chances of adding real dollars to your bottom line.)