Welcome to Week Four of the Website 101:
Working with Websites Self Learning Tutorial

During this week we delve into content writing. How do you get started? Which content works?

  • Importance Of Having Unique Content
  • Daily Content Updates
  • Are your pictures worth a thousand words? Select the right ones that clearly identify your area of expertise.

Importance Of Having Unique Content

Good content can have your phone running off the hook. Content is the foundation of your website’s success. By including interesting and valuable information, you will capture your reader’s attention. Every visitor you capture will help you build your position in the search engine results, which in turn will bring you more visitors.

  • So what is good content? Your content needs to be customer focused. You need to know your customer, understand what they’re looking for and present it to them in a way that you capture their attention. Ask “What do they want to know?”, not “What do you want to tell them?”.
  • What are the benefits you are offering to them? Write from the point of view of your new potential client. Providing useful information is an excellent way to get them to pick up the phone and call you. Keep in mind that real estate consumers spend about 8 weeks researching before they contact a Realtor®. If your website is full of valuable information, they will bookmark your website and visit again and again. This increases the chances that they are going to call YOU when they are ready to take the next step.
  • Make sure to include clear benefit focused calls to action through your content. Once you’ve hooked them with your content find ways to get them to call or email you. Whether it is to get more information, see a property or a market report. Ask!
  • Change your content, change your results. Do not copy content from elsewhere or settle for the boilerplate content that comes with your website. Google has been around the internet millions of times. It will know if your content matches the content of other websites. When this happens, you will not show up in the search results. Your web page will be exiled to the dreaded ‘similar pages’ link in the search results. This is not as bad as being black listed but is a virtual no man’s land for web sites. Avoid at all costs.
  • The good news is that writing for your web site doesn’t have to be a chore. Internet users are looking for compact and concise information. You’re not writing a book. In fact, one effective approach to writing is to give your visitors just enough information to make them want more.
  • Get in the habit of looking out for topic ideas and start a list. Do your research. Once again, what are your future customers looking for? Once you have your topics, make an outline of the key points. Then write a paragraph or two about each of those points. Have someone proofread it for you and then post it on your website. Make sure to optimize your content.
  • And don’t stop there. Put aside time to write and update your website on a regular basis. Always make sure that the information you are providing is fresh and up to date. Google likes to see fresh content.

Your website is a powerful marketing tool. It is not static, like a business card or brochure. Committing your energy and time to it will bring you more internet traffic and ultimately improve your success.

Daily Content Updates

Keeping your content current and up-to-date is very important to achieve and maintain a high rank on search engines. Web pages need to be current in order to be relevant, and any site you find at the top of the search engine results is likely updated on a daily basis.

This is because search engines like Bing and Google “crawl” your site regularly to see the most recent updates. If they “crawl” your site without finding any new updates or content, they assume your site is not relevant because it is not current, and your search engine ranking goes down.

Here are some suggestions on items you can add on a daily basis to keep your content fresh and increase your search engine ranking.

  • Post new listings.
  • Add open house information.
  • Write editorial articles
  • Generate new messages on your main page about local events.

Daily content updates can be important for encouraging return visits as well as for search engine rankings. If you use Twitter or have a Blog for Real Estate you can also add RSS feeds to your website that will display these on your pages. RSS feeds won’t count as fresh updates in regards to search engine ranking, but they will give returning customers new information when they are visiting your site and a reason to return again, which will increase your ranking indirectly.

Below are some helpful links:

Using Images In Your Website

The strategic placement of images on your website can help improve the quality of your content and give your visitors a positive impression of your site. When using images, there are several very important concepts to remember, each of which can positively or negatively affect your site. Click a topic below for more information:

Optimizing Images

The images on your website should be “optimized for the web”. That is, the file-size of each image should be reduced to the smallest possible size that will still provide the necessary image quality. Large image files can increase the time it takes your web page to load, especially for visitors that do not have a high-bandwidth internet connection.

Note: Remember that File Size is not the same as Image Size, or Image Dimensions. While the two are related (larger image dimensions typically require a larger file size to maintain good quality), it is the file size that affects download time.

In most cases, an image that is less than 100KB in size will be of sufficient quality to be used anywhere, at any size, on your site. In fact, for most images placed inside your content, a size of 20KB – 40KB will be sufficient. For smaller images like buttons or logos, a filesize of 2KB – 20KB is usually acceptable. If you have obtained your images from another source, or taken a photo with a digital camera (which often produces a file over 2MB), you will likely need to use an Image Editing Program on your computer to reduce the file size before uploading the image to your site.

Important: Resizing the dimensions of an image with a large file size inside the Content Editor of your website does not reduce the file size – it merely loads the original large file and then tells the website browser to visibly “shrink” the image dimensions as the page loads. It is always recommended that you reduce the file size in an Image Editor prior to uploading to your website.

When creating and saving your images, it can help to know the difference between the three most common image formats used on websites:

  • JPG: The most common image format, it is a lossy compression format – meaning the smaller the file-size, the more unclear the image will become. The JPG format is best suited to photos or other images that have a large number of gradiated colors, as it can support up to 16 million colors. As the size is reduced, the colors are maintained.
  • GIF: This format uses lossless compression and is best suited for images with minimal colors – like charts, diagrams, line-drawings, and simple illustrations – as it can only support up to 256 colors. As a GIF file size is reduced, the image remains crisp but the number of colors displayed is reduced. It is not suitable for photos should they need to be reduced.
  • PNG: The PNG format is often considered the newer replacement for GIF, as it is also lossless while supporting colors on a scale similar to a JPG. It is best used for small icons, logos, and simple graphics.

When is doubt about which file format to use for the best results, try saving your image as all three, then compare the file size and image quality. If it does not appear to make much difference, JPG is the most commonly used image file type.

Placement of Images

Page Layout Example with alternating images - left to right to leftIt is important to carefully consider the placement of an image in your page content. When placing an image within a large body of text, it is generally good practice to align it to the left or right of the page, allowing your content to “wrap” around it. Be sure to leave enough space between your image and the text so that they do not run together. Your website comes with pre-made free-form layout page designs that make placing images easier: Top Left Alignment, Top Right Alignment, Left to Right Alternate, and Right to Left Alternate.

It is also important to place your image near the relevant text on the page. This not only helps the reader establish the context of the image, but when making use of Image Alt Text, can improve your SEO.

Remember that more is not always better. While a series of strategically placed images can enhance the look of your site, too many images can dilute the message of your content and leave a negative impression. In most cases, the purpose of an image will fall into one of three categories: Decorative, Descriptive, or Functional.

  • Decorative: These images are purely for asthetics and do not usually relate directly to the content of a page. The most common examples are images used in the background of menus, or as a visual divider on your site, which both come as part of your website design. While placing decorative images inside your content can sometimes be useful and appropriate, always ask yourself “Does this need to be here? Can I use another image that is relevant to the content?”.
  • Descriptive: These images are directly related to the content on your page and help enhance the message. For instance, when writing an article about training a dog to play fetch, inserting a photo of a dog playing fetch helps to illustrate the message. Sometimes descriptive images are only incidentally connected to the content, instead intending to convey the mood or feeling of the message.
  • Functional: These images serve a direct function on your site, such as an advertisement, a button, a menu item, or a call to action (Book an Appointment Today!). These images are also a hyperlink to another page or feature on your site and can be clicked. Although extremely useful in encouraging visitors to explore other parts of your site, they should be used in moderation. It is considered good practice to place these at the top or bottom of your content (not in the middle), or on the side (as a Web Box).

Local Images vs. External Images

There are two methods to display an image as part of your website: using a locally hosted image, or referencing an external image on another website. Using a locally hosted image is always the better option. Inserting an image that is hosted on another website has two significant drawbacks: You have no control over the image source, so if that website changes or moves the image it will break your link, and the image will not assist with your SEO – instead possibly helping the other website’s search engine ranking.

To insert a locally hosted image into your page content, see Adding an Image to a Page, below.

Steps to for Adding an Image to a Page