Blogging: WordPress vs. Active Rain
Blogging: WordPress vs. Active Rain
In today’s world, specifically the real estate industry, blogging is still incredibly powerful! It’s a solid way to generate leads, build Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and is also a great way to compete with the likes of Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. Digital marketing geeks like us at Mail-Right, are all about finding ways to optimize search engines and get placed higher, and blogging is no exception to this. One of the questions we often get about best real estate marketing results is guidance on where to blog and where to start. It’s true, there are so many options out there in the online world that we live in, that it can be mind boggling! So let us narrow it down for you by comparing WordPress (WP) and ActiveRain (AR), so you can decide for yourselves. We should also let you know that we use WP for our CRM website and blogs, but we’re not coming from a point of being biased, but experience since we have also used AR.
The ActiveRain Pros:
- Get your feet wet: AR is a great place to start and learn the principles and techniques of blogging.
- Education: There is a lot of information and things to learn on AR like: Marketing, digital and pre-digital, sales tactics, processes, operational tips and more. And there are also classes you can sign up for as well to get training.
- Real estate referrals: Across the USA and the world. (See their Referral Exchange)
- Reviews on Real Estate Technology: Active Rain Reviews are done by Realtors, for Realtors, with no motivation except education and information. Real Estate Lead Generation review
- Networking: With over 300,000 members, it’s a great place to see and be seen! Whether you’re in title, escrow, lending, inspecting, appraising, home warranty or you’re an agent, you’ll be able to take advantage of these groups!
- Realtor blogging: Active Rain blog posts are read by other Realtors.
- Increased SEO: AR has “Google juice” as we like to call it. Imagine all these blogs around a similar industry, and they all have fresh content and links…you better believe Google loves this! Some have even been able to rank on the first page of Google with their AR blogs (something that may take years on your own site).
- Back Links: AR is a great back link. Post content on your AR and link it to your website or blog for increased SEO. (Back Link defined)
The ActiveRain Cons:
- Eggs in one basket: If you’re relying only on AR, then all your eggs are being put in one basket, which is extremely risky to do, and not very wise. If AR goes down (like it has before), you’ll realize very quickly how vulnerable your web property is.
- Leaks in your funnel: Sure, AR has “Google juice,” but anyone you attract to your AR blog can also be directed to your neighbor’s blog on there too, so this may create a leak in your sales and marketing funnels.
- Technology: Let’s face it, their technology is a little old now, with significant drawbacks in the design and HTML area.
- Cost: AR has a monthly fee, which you may want to compare to doing your own blog using WordPress.
Let’s dive a little deeper into it with ActiveRain. AR is a real estate blogging platform that has more than 300,000 members. It’s the largest, most active social network in the real estate industry (https://activerain.com/about), that’s a community of people who are brokers, agents, home stagers, mortgage brokers and lenders, inspectors, appraisers and the like. It also has SEO structured content and the ability to post your blog on a website that has extremely high domain authority (DA). DA is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages (SERPs). (https://moz.com/learn/seo/domain-authority) Domain Authority scores range from 1 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to greater likelihood of ranking. So it’s very important to have this as part of the deal because it helps your blogs rank higher than the average website blog.
ActiveRain also has over 400 million blog posts specific to real estate. You can expect to learn about best practices, other’s success and failures, and also find high quality training through the Active Rain University. But know this: It’s not only about blogging, it’s really about a community, and community means relationships and a national referral network of like-minded people. You just might find life-long friends along the way. AR is also a place the consumer can seek out real estate knowledge too.
The main reason people love ActiveRain is because you can blog about anything! The platforms outside blog posts are for consumers and SEO. Likewise, you’re also able to blog to other agents and industry professionals. You can share ideas and information, and the comments part of ActiveRain is effective with its two-way communication. AR is also good for posting real estate listings. These posts tend to do well with SEO and they don’t gum up the consumer facing sites with homes they may or may not be interested in checking out. On those sites, we would write about houses in that price range or style, and share a link to those types of homes where the listing is included in the list.
The WordPress Pros:
- You own it!
- SEO: Google absolutely loves WP!
- Plugins: Plugins are applications that enhance your WP blog’s capabilities, and there are more and more options every day.
- Themes: Unending options when it comes to changing the look and feel of your website blog.
- Open Source: Anyone can and does create for WordPress.
- User-friendly: It’s easy to use for most, but not for all. If you’re familiar with Microsoft Word or Mac’s Pages, then you can learn WP.
- Social Media: WP is easily compatible with all the important social media platforms that we know of.
- Updates: WP is continuously updating from spam and viruses…so be sure to keep your blog updated so you don’t open yourself up to unnecessary threats.
- Integration: WP can be used as an ECommerce site, and can do contact forms as well.
- Support: There are endless sites and chat rooms dedicated to WP.
- CMS: WP is a great Content Management System that allows many people to contribute to it and also share their data.
- Cost: Custom WP sites can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000 on average depending on what you’re wanting.
- User-friendly: As mentioned above, beginners may have a more difficult time understanding, becoming familiar with, and navigating the WP platform.
Now let’s look a little more in depth at WordPress: As a CMS initially designed for blogging, it’s grown leaps and bounds from there (if you’ve been around the past decade or so, and you’re familiar with websites and blogging to some degree, you’ll know what we mean). WP is an advanced blogging tool that provides a rich set of features. Through its Administration Screen, you can set options for the behavior and presentation of your weblog. WP goes to great lengths to see that your blog posts look good, the text is beautiful, and the html code it generates conforms to web standards. In addition, over half of the top 1 million websites use WordPress. Many established real estate website providers build their sites on WordPress, and all the good IDX companies build WP compatible plugins. (See how it gets a little more techy than the ActiveRain option?
So which should you choose?
When it comes to ActiveRain, this is a great option for the newer blogger, not only because it’s powerful, but it also includes a point system that holds people accountable and helps you gauge your blogging efforts. There also happens to be other realtors on there, so you can view what they’re doing and glean from them!
WordPress on the other hand is our method for niche blogging. We’ll create a specific blog that’s geared for SEO in a particular area that we’re looking at targeting. For example, you can do a Reno, Nevada Real Estate Update blog that’s aimed toward home sellers, and then a Reno, Nevada House Hunter blog that caters to home buyers. These typically place well in search engines and literally drive traffic back to our main site.
In short, both WordPress and ActiveRain are very effective ways to blog, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. It really comes down to your experience with websites, your end goal, and how simple or in-depth you want to go with your blogging. WordPress tends to be more than a beginners blogging option, and is somewhat better for those who have some technical background in them…or you should at least be willing to go through some training to learn it. Don’t think that you also need to be limited to only one blogging platform either since both have their strong purposes. And in doing so, you can also link each of the sites together for SEO purposes.
Now that you have a better understanding about both WordPress and ActiveRain blogging websites, which do you, or would you choose? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear what you’ve experienced.