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By Kelly Roark

RISMEDIA, September 6, 2007-During the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, many of us heard about the now-famous online political spoof video by JibJab titled “This Land.” It featured animated caricatures of candidates George W. Bush and John F. Kerry going through a mock debate in song, generating more than 50 million individual viewings online.

Why? The video’s unique, engaging content captured the pulse of voter discussions across the country and included local, relevant, visual and highly, highly viral content. Three years later, the real estate media is promoting the content bandwagon as well, hyping buzzwords such as “unique content,” “rich content,” “sticky content” and “user-generated content.”

With more than 80% of consumers searching for homes on the Internet (2006 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers), everyone is looking to get a piece of the action. Real estate brokers and agents are being approached daily by new data services, listings portals, blog developers and other providers with offers to help deliver a better search experience to home buyers conducting research online.

Employing the right Internet content strategy for your Web site can help you broaden your consumer reach on a mass scale and focus your marketing at a hyper-local level not achievable in past years:

1) Consumers demand it. There are more than 124 million Gener-ation X and Y home searchers (2007 Swanepoel Trends Report)-potentially your customers-who grew up with the Internet and rely on it for the bulk of their information gathering, as well as many of their purchases.

2) It is a low- to no-cost way of attracting and retaining customers at your Web site. Even if a home buyer or seller is not yet ready to transact, delivering fresh content on your site and on partner portals is a simple, low-touch way to begin to develop future client relationships.

3) You can leverage the work of others and benefit from Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Media companies such as Trulia offer free content and widgets (data tools) that you can use to attract more customers to your own Web site.

4) You’re investing in your future referral network-online. Participating in forums where you can contribute good real estate information is a prime way of expanding your networking opportunities from the office to the Internet.

But what kind of content is good Web site content?

– Sticky content-meaning unique, relevant content that makes your prospects stay at your site.
– Content with lots of images and/or multimedia.
– Local, relevant content that changes not only day-by-day, but hour-by-hour.
– Highly visual and/or functional content.
– Viral content that people want to share with their friends, family and

How can you easily develop good content to get more business from consumers searching online?

Get fresh, relevant content from other sources to include on your own site.

Today, there are numerous sources for free Web site content. But if you’re looking for a single source where you can capitalize on free, quality real estate-related information and SEO that drives more traffic to your own site, consider working with sites that are well versed in creating unique content designed to attract mass traffic.

Trulia offers free widgets, or data tools, that you can easily customize and place on your own site.

Creating your own expert local content on targeted sites other than your own allows you to market your brand. Trulia Voices is a prime example of an online community that offers real estate professionals the opportunity to answer consumer questions and become the local expert for your neigh- borhood on Trulia.

Finally, sites that offer highly visual, interesting data such as Trulia Hindsight or CNN Money’s Best Places to Live can help you differentiate your brand from the pack.

In other words, you can leverage the traffic momentum generated by this content without having to make the same investment in resources and technology to develop it.

Kelly Roark is vice president of Industry Development for Trulia. For more information, visit