Foundations of Real Estate Blogs. Setting up a blog is an important step towards maximizing your visibility online, but your audience will want a very different experience versus that of a traditional blog and you must plan accordingly. The most basic principles of design all involve identifying both your audience and their needs. Only then can you truly begin to put together a cost-effective and worthwhile web presence. For example, instead of large groups of text, your visitors will want to briefly read the features of the property, possibly in list for for easy scanning for items that might interest them. They’ll also want to see pictures, and lots of them. With this in mind, it’s important to select a layout built to handle these types of designs.
By limiting yourself to the traditional one-column design, you are seriously hindering the volume of properties your visitors will be able to view at one time. To avoid this, it is crucial to display as much relevant information as clearly as possible near the top of the page.
Some of the key elements bundled with these designs include a scrolling featured property listing, a two, three or four column base list of properties available and a basic and advanced search option. The first two clearly and efficiently display relevant information to perspective clients while the third allows them to find exactly what they may be looking for.
Because WordPress is open source, there are literally hundreds of pre-branded real estate themes ready for use to fit a variety of color schemes and site visions. These can be easily installed into your existing WordPress installation and tailored to your needs without losing any of your pre-existing content.
Keeping statistics on your website allows you to detect how many visitors arrive at your site and how they go there, among other things. WordPress, one of the most popular and widely used blogging platforms, has various plugins that you can use to keep statistics about your visitors. One of the best plugins is Slimstat 2. A basic plugin, it requires you to have WordPress 2.9 or higher and only 5 MB of web space and DB space. You must also have MySQL 5.x or higher and PHP 5.1 or higher in order to properly install and run it. The information stores directly on your server and is completely private, so only you have access to the information.
It keeps track of user sessions for up to 30 minutes and tacks both outbound downloads and links, along with internal searches to allow you to manage and view how visitors are navigating around your site. So you can tailor your site to the majority of visitors, it also keeps track of the browser that your site was accessed on and the screen resolution. Your site should be designed to accommodate a variety of screen sizes and resolutions. Information about each visitor is recorded including their IP address, users, permalinks and how they arrived at your site. This enables you to track which links are generating traffic to your site. You can also specify the settings to exclude pageviews based on a specific browser, IP address, referrer or permalinks if you need to get them without factoring this specific set of viewers. The world map that comes with the plugin also enables you to see just where your visitors are coming from, literally.
If visualization is your preferred method of viewing information, the real-time charts allow you to view trends with visitors as they happen. The plugin doesn’t require you to do complex customization and can be enabled or disabled with a simple click. Thousands of users have currently downloaded and use the plugin to track their sites so they can be more responsive to their viewer’s needs. You can also get Slimstat as an wp-plugin on wordpress.org
WordPress Tips: Finding the Right Plugin: With the wealth of plugins available on the WordPress platform, it can be a difficult task to determine which ones are right for your site. There are many basic tips and tricks that can help you with this, but ultimately, only you (and your readers, perhaps) know for certain which plugins will be the most useful for your site. In many cases, choosing the best WordPress plugins for your site depends largely on the type of content you produce. For example, a news blog may rely heavily on high volume readership, so you would want to install a plugin that easily allows users to share the content on your site with their friends. This can be in the form of email, but willy most likely be on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Virtually any social media plugin should accomplish this task with relative ease.
Meanwhile, an e-commerce site may choose to install a shopping cart plugin that allows users to make purchases directly from the WordPress platform. This is a useful (and free) alternative to using third party services that can sometimes frustrate visitors. There are some plugins that most, if not all blogs should find useful. These include items like SEO packs, contact forms, anti-spam comment filters, and advanced search options for your site. Email subscription tools are also popular because they allow visitors to see the latest happenings of your site without having to leave their inbox.
Depending on your blogs’ content, you may also be tempted to monetize your blog. Rest assured, there are plenty of plugins available for this purpose. However, remember to place ads in such a way as to not frustrate and alienate your visitors. People don’t like being interrupted from reading by pop-ups or ads that appear over content. Placing relevant ads tastefully can be difficult, but it is the best way to ensure that you will gain maximum results without losing traffic. As engineer of your blog, you are tasked with finding which specific plugins meet the needs of both you and your visitors.