Internet Marketing Basics: Time-sensitive blog topics

Stimulus Bill Compromise...Image by MotherPie via Flickr

Sometimes news breaks that is very interesting to your target audience (usually something that has an impact on their wallet). When the news breaks, there may be a lot of stories and reports about the topic in general but often there is very little useful reporting on how that bit of news effects your local market or how people can make the best use of the information.

Adding local context and use to a time-sensitive news event is different from writing about a seasonal or recurring event (4th of July Fireworks, for example, happen every year). With a time-sensitive news event you want to publish quickly and get right to the point with your useful, localized tidbits; all the big news brands will handle the general context for you.

What makes for a good time-sensitive blog topic?

Writing a post about a time-sensitive topic means you have to stop what you’re doing, understand the issue and then figure out how your audience can use the information about that topic. Since it isn’t a recurring event, the post may have limited long-term value. So you want to pick the right time-sensitive topics to blog about. Here are some characteristics to look for:

  • There’s something in the topic that has a direct impact on the lives of your audience
  • Other news outlets are providing the general overview information (so you can focus on how your audience can use the information)
  • You can afford to take the time to write your post before the news cools down

Once you have your topic, pound away on the keyboard and get your post out there.

An Example: February 2009 Stimulus Package

As I write this blog post, there’s a new stimulus package going through Congress. This stimulus package will likely have some impact on housing markets across the nation. If you are marketing real estate, I bet there’s something in that bill that will be of interest to your audience. Here is the search data from Google Insights about the stimulus bill:

Google Search Volume for "Housing Stimulus"

Looks like a rising trend, something you can perhaps use for your internet marketing.

Since stimulus bill is a national topic other news organizations are doing the heavy lifting for explaining what’s happening:

There’s probably more, those are just the ones that I found at 3pm on the day the news is breaking. Somewhere in that bill is likely some information that real estate agents could find that might be helpful for home buyers or home sellers.

If you can find that information and, ideally, put it together with actionable local resources for readers, then you’d have a blog post to help insert your name and brand into the national conversation about real estate and the stimulus bill.

So go write your post and be sure to do the following:

  1. Insert local context wherever possible
  2. Include some step-by-step ways to make use of the information wherever possible
  3. Get the post live as quickly as possible

Guess which post I wrote, in order to capitalize on the current time-sensitive topic of the housing stimulus? ;)

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Internet Marketing Basics: RSS Feeds

Blue stringsImage by Mirko Macari via Flickr

You’ve probably seen the little orange icons and “subscribe to my feed” buttons on sites you’ve visited (you can see some over to the left of this blog post, in fact). You might even have read articles where people argue about things like RSS and Atom and so on. Maybe you’ve heard of things like Google Reader. This is an article written to help you start using RSS feeds to help your online marketing efforts.

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Other Readings: Thinking about Search

Legacy 2400 baud modem for leased lines. Proba...Image via Wikipedia

A lot great articles about search lately. Not just search engine optimization, but the whole concept of what search is and how it can be used for engagement etc. Here are some that I’ve been reading:

Mobile Search

People search for things in a context. They are somewhere in the universe and they need to know something. Ten years ago if we wanted to search for something we could use this fancy new thing called the internet and it was awesome. We logged in on our dial up modems and typed our questions. We used computers weighing at least eight pounds to interact with the data. The screens were maybe a foot wide or more.

Increasingly, we’re out in the world and looking for something. We use devices weighing a few ounces. The screens are a few inches wide. We can’t type into them and a noisy real-world environment surrounds us. But we still want to search for something.

Mobile Search Engine Optimization” describes some of the different ways we use search on the go. We think and act differently when using mobile devices. Your search engine optimization that works so well on a desktop at your office, might not be reaching and engaging a customer who is standing within ten feet of your product or service. This is an emerging area of research so expect more in this vein.

Want to get ready for a mobile search world? The future of the mobile web is available to you every weekend.

Lifestyle Real Estate Search

While Union Street Media customers have been using our One Click Real Estate Search technology to craft custom lifestyle real estate searches on their sites for some time, there are an increasing number of services and aggregators focusing on creating real estate searches that highlight more than just price and location. Joel Burslem gives a roundup of several, including the Onboard Infomatics Lifestyle Listings Engine (which looks pretty sweet).

How do people search for real estate?

Understanding what people type into search engines is very important to getting the reach you need for your site. It helps you put your site in front of people that may find your site relevant. There’s been a fair amount of chatter about “natural language search” vs the “old” checkbox-zip-code-how-many-bathrooms approach. The FBS Blog (quickly becoming one of my favorites, by the way) gives a quick take on natural language search and whether it applies to real estate.

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Blog Year in Review: 2008

So I’ve finally had some time to review some of the analytics of this blog from last year. I figured that sharing what I’m reviewing might help some of you think about your own blogging efforts. And I’m also hopeful that I’ll get some suggestions on improvements from all of you. So here’s a year in review for Real Estate Internet Marketing by Union Street Media.

Business Blogging in Context

I started writing in this blog consistently around February of last year. I’d just come back from my first Inman Connect and figured I had some perspectives of value to share. When I’m blogging I’m getting paid, so it’s important for me to be able to articulate the business objectives for blogging to the guys that sign the paycheck. Here’s what they are:

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