How a ‘what if’ approach grew a publisher’s real estate content

By: David Arkin
April 8, 2024
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When you find something that works, stick with it and even build on it.

I think this really rings true when we’re talking about content that readers seem to be engaging with.

I was reviewing metrics with a client this week and we could clearly see a trend around a few kinds of stories that were performing well that their digital team was producing. 

One was in real estate and the other in education. We discussed how to build on the popularity of the content they were creating with more breakout stories within that niche. The idea is that if readers like the feature, wouldn’t they really love this one that is basically a niche within the niche.

I’d like to share why I think this is a good idea and how to think about pulling it off.

Let’s focus on real estate stories

After co-founding Check Out DFW, a website that centered on helpful real estate information, I have some very first-hand experience around knowing just how popular real estate content can be.

The engagement metrics we saw running the site in Dallas were eye popping at times. And we were doing everything from scratch. It’s why the opportunity for media companies that already have a built-in audience can drive an incredible amount of engagement with this kind of content.

For months now, we have been working with a client on a range of real estate content and it’s just been really explosive from an audience perspective. I think that’s because we saw what worked and did more and more and more.

We started with the basics, which was writing about unique and expensive homes. Here’s an example that’s similar to what many other media companies do:

https://www.abqjournal.com/business/albuquerque-home-flaunts-heated-pool-year-round-greenhouse-and-breathtaking-views-for-1-3m/article_6a7ed3f8-e56a-11ee-9b9b-1fcaf26d7a94.html

We then discovered that readers also really liked knowing what they could afford, so we
started doing more galleries like this:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/local/heres-what-you-can-get-for-under-200k-in-the-albuquerque-area-real-estate-market/article_d5158a42-b0e5-5f8a-aff9-79e884fdd02b.html

Because we could see engagement with content that wasn’t just million-dollar homes but those who average people could afford, we mixed the high dollar stuff with more reasonable posts like this:

https://www.abqjournal.com/clickable/on-the-market-for-350-000-take-a-look-at-this-spacious-2-story-home/article_83554930-d7f9-11ee-8ccc-6b54a5f7ca43.html

But we wanted to expand our idea with real estate to not just focus on entire homes but specific parts of homes. That would be interesting to our audience because it was fun to look at it but could also give someone ideas for their space. Here’s one we did on bathrooms:

https://www.abqjournal.com/clickable/check-out-these-5-albuquerque-homes-with-show-stopping-bathrooms/article_a5ae95c8-c50b-11ee-b67a-67c608a333d1.html

We want content creation to be efficient and since all five of those bathroom stories had a gallery of a home with it, we opted to take one of those galleries and make a separate post about the entire house, not just the bathroom. Here’s an example of one of those:

https://www.abqjournal.com/clickable/take-a-look-this-spacious-4-bedroom-home-in-las-cruces-hosts-a-treehouse-in/article_f5410820-ed45-11ee-b276-8bb4c7600c4e.html

One of the trends we have seen with a lot of evergreen content is that you can take an idea that is local and then expand it to a more regional and statewide lens. We have done this with food content (best burgers in your city, best burgers in your county, best burgers in your state). It works. So we applied that idea to real estate, with posts that rounded up homes in areas of the state that followed some of the popular trends noted above, like what you can afford or a unique hook. Here’s an example:

https://www.abqjournal.com/clickable/3-houses-on-the-market-perfectly-situated-for-ufo-sightings-in-roswell/article_50a48c12-f05e-11ee-9373-8ff36e1a50e8.html

Let data and creativity lead the way

The client clearly isn’t writing 20 real estate stories a week but they’re definitely doing more than they were a few months ago. 

In some ways, they’re following the numbers but they’re also using their creativity to make this work. There’s a lot of “what if” conversations happening around their real estate content. Not all of it has worked, but a ton has and there’s an appetite to try lots of different tactics now.

This idea of taking a niche or a topic and building it out, isn’t isolated to real estate. It works in education (think school profiles, rankings) but can also be effective for ongoing news coverage, like the hiring of a new school superintendent or a vote on a bond. Follow what people are interested in — use your SEO keyword research and analytics — and discover useful follow ups or features you can do throughout the process that your audience will love.

I’d love to tell you more about how we can help your media company with strategies like this. Contact me at david@davidarkinconsulting.com.

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