Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Power of Context

As traffic flows over the Internet, every click is made with purpose and quickly followed with an underlying question, "What's in it for me?". Every page that is clicked to has very little time to answer that question. Every link wanting to be clicked competes with all other links on that page. The content on the page needs to answer the basic question. If a site can not understand the visitor's purpose and answer that basic question, "What's in it for me", the visitor will leave the site. Sites that hold visitors:

1. Understand the purpose of the typical visitor,
2. Answer the question "What's in it for me"

Now, sites that do an exceptional job of holding visitors answer that basic question over and over again by providing more and more relevant content in context. Let's look at an example.

A real estate website that is discussed frequently by Michael Russer is It's an example of a site that does a good job of identifying a clear target audience, military families. The military relocation families visiting this site have unique needs and the site does an excellent job of providing unique context. Visitors are able to view real estate services in the context of those specific needs. Another great example is

Google has created the most successful ad serving platform in the world with Adsense. There are many reasons for the success of Adsense, but the main driver is Google's ability to display relevant ads to people viewing a web page, be it Adwords ad on or on another site using Adsense. The ads have context and click thrus are maximized.

A website that can present better content in better context will create a remarkable experience. Point2 has thought a lot about context. How many real estate agent directory websites have you been to? There are so many of them out there and how many provide any meaningful experience for the consumer? I haven’t found one. The directories serve real estate agents by providing SEO value, that’s all.

Point2 not only wanted to build a directory that provided SEO value but value to the consumer as well. On Point2 Homes, a drill down agent directory was created that navigated right down to the neighborhood level. If a consumer is browsing an agent directory, what matters to them? Well, from studies like the 2006 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers we can find relevant feedback that could be used. We can learn that some buyers chose an agent because the agent’s market area was where they wanted to move. One of the values that sellers looked for in an agent was knowledge of local area. So from that, we built a directory where you can find agents, by neighborhood that have listed homes in that neighborhood. The result is that you have a directory where you can search for real estate professionals organized in a more valuable context. The goal is to provide SEO value to members, but to drive traffic to member websites from consumers that find value in the directory.

In order to make a study of context valuable on your website, you have to understand your visitors. Who exactly are they? Where did they come from? What are they looking for? will not be successful if the traffic it’s attracting is not military relocation families. That seems to be common sense, but just because you build a website on topic, does not mean your traffic will automatically be that category of people. But the formula for success holds if the following will be true.

You drive targeted traffic
And you provide context
Your conversion rates will be higher

A short note I should quickly add to those points, please don’t try and choose the largest category of visitors as possible. Your conversion rates will be higher if you don’t have a lot of competition. The site will not be as effective if the ‘net’ is flooded with similar sites. What is your target audience?

So the question conclude this post, if you are a real estate professional, how can you provide a better context for your website visitors? How can you organize content on each of your pages to provide better context and engage the user better?


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Partners Added To Syndication Network

Many of our members might have noticed the silent addition of a couple new feed partners last week. We like to do soft launches to ensure things are working properly.

I'd like to welcome and to the NLS. has been around for a while matching home buyers to real estate agents. They've been successful in the lead generation space and have been successful in leveraging their URL and brand to slowly climb the search engines results page sets. They join the NLS to provide home buyer real estate listings from our members and freely pass on inquiries. is fast growing marketplace that first opened up in New York City in January 2004. It has earned numerous mentions in Inman News and was nominted for an innovator award in the category of "Most Innovative Rental or New Home Online Service" in 2006.

We're proud to welcome these 2 new sites to the NLS exposure engine.