It’s a question we receive all of the time here at Artifakt: “Does my site need neighborhood guides?”
Years ago, the answer would have been a resounding, “yes!” But, things have changed, and the way you share and promote community information has changed along with it.
That’s due to a multitude of factors, but the major one involves search engines.
Overall, search engines have a more difficult time parsing through community data — meaning that, on the whole, these pages have become less meaningful for domain authority.
So, should you start writing neighborhood guides for everywhere you work? Let’s break it down a bit more…
The Case For Neighbourhood Guides
The thought process behind writing neighborhood or community guides is rather straightforward for many agents. It all comes down to sharing with users where they work.
After all, if you share information about where you work, a picture of the market in that community, and maybe some hidden gems, clients will know to reach out to you when it comes time to buy or sell in that area.
It’s a pretty direct value proposition. You share what you know, and a potential lead shares their trust in working with you to execute a deal in that particular area. Everybody wins!
At this point, though, things get a bit tricky. In order for someone to engage in this kind of trade-off, they need to be able to find your community guides in the first place — that has become a lot more difficult.
Search algorithms are always changing. Further to that, we have witnessed a fairly steep decline in search momentum when it comes to including community guides as a key pillar of a website’s structure.
What does that mean? It means that when you bake community guides into the “bones” of a website, and not as part of an ancillary piece (like a blog), search engines simply don’t value them as much.
This means that, for an agent or team’s website that has existed for 10+ years and has many neighborhood guides, they should keep them. That authority is already banked.
For an agent or team that is just starting out, the need isn’t there. In fact, it may even get in the way of user engagement if you make it too prominent a piece of your website. No one will arrive and no one will engage.
A Brief Note: Neighbourhood Guide Copy
Keep in mind, though, something dangerous that we see all too often. Many times, agents have simply copy and pasted community information from other websites or have used information from their brokerage which they have supplied to each and every one of their agents.
In either of these cases, your website is suffering.
Google specifically dings websites that have duplicated content, effectively categorizing them as plagiarism if another site exists with those same words.
In either instance, your site would be better off removing your community information immediately.
How Do You Properly Incorporate Community Information?
At Artifakt, we’re still huge fans of community information as a lead-generation tool. We just advocate doing it a bit differently than the traditional community or neighborhood guide format.
That’s because all of this data doesn’t negate the fact that you should still tell clients where you work and how you can help them.
While we may discourage agents from making neighborhood guides a focal point of a digital strategy, it doesn’t mean we can’t pivot to still get our message across.
Instead, we try to think of things in a more holistic fashion. Rather than reserving community insight for its own siloed corner of any site, we bake it into every page.
This includes more keyword variety in terms of geography, more unique calls to action that play off those areas, and even creating pages that encompass an entire region (rather than smaller guides).
Not only does this allow us to still serve that message, but to do so in a way that “plays well” with user preferences. As we’ve noted before, users only have the appetite for a certain amount of pages, so less-but-more-impactful pages matter.
Every agent’s market is different, whether they work in a bit city, all over the map, or down to the street — community guides are a one-size-fits-all solution to a problem that has changed, we like to think beyond it.
The ultimate idea here is to streamline the experience so a user can have all the information they need, all at a glance, rather than having to search for it.
A similar logic applies to listings searches. Why would you have a user excavate their way through hundreds of listings when they could simply fill out a form to have you help them build a better search?
Neighborhood or community guides operate on a similar wavelength. A user should feel empowered to put their trust in you, as their agent, to help determine where they would most feel at home.
On the selling side, it also ensures that an agent is telling a potential lead how they operate in that area in terms of expertise — and not simply where the best coffee shops are, which might not matter to a seller.
While guides may have become a passé format, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t include where you work. You just need to do it better, and in a way that is unique to your approach.
Guides Still A Priority? Start Blogging!
The fact is that search engines are more likely to tank your community information when you blog about it.
That’s why we always advocate for more blogs about where you work, and any specifics you want to include. This also has some side benefits that are worth mentioning.
- The first is that the information doesn’t need to be as evergreen. A blog post has a definitive lifespan that a website page does not, so you don’t have to go back and update it any time a restaurant closes or updates their offering.
- Next, you can truly cover what matters to you in a certain area. Setting up a page requires a certain amount of stylistic guidelines and copy demands for each area, which they may not have. A blog is a blank canvas.
- Finally, you can offer distinct calls to action, if your blog has been developed properly, that apply specifically to that area. This is especially useful for planned communities or reconstruction projects changing the face of neighborhoods.
Does Your Website Really Need Neighbourhood Guides?
As is the case with pretty much every agent’s digital needs, it all depends!
If your website has been around forever, and you have written a lot about each neighborhood, then you can easily see why keeping them is the right call.
But, for a newer website, things get a bit murky. The impact may be substantially lower, especially when compared to the impact that a well-thought-out blog strategy could ultimately have.
The most important thing is to work with an agency that can understand your needs, what you currently have, and what the best use-case scenario is moving forward for your success.
Overall, this is the best way to ensure that you’re incorporate community information that not only speaks to your users, but reaches them in the first place.
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