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How WordPress MU Will Change the Online Real Estate Market

WordPress has almost become synonymous with the new internet, or Web 2.0, for its versatility and ease of use. Millions of people daily from homemakers that have rarely touched a computer before to experienced web designers and SEO specialists use WordPress to voice their thoughts, build backlinks, share their thoughts, and interact with others. WordPress is simple enough to be used by all, yet also recognized as on par with Joomla and other such CMS (Content Management Systems), if not better.

I was recently turned on to WP-MU, or, WordPress Multi-User, and the only way that I can describe it is WordPress on steroids. New evolutions in the internet, such as WPMU, and Google Wave, are going to drastically change the way we receive and present information, especially in the Real Estate Industry.

WordPress MU is a multi-user blogging platform, allowing the webmaster to easily manage hundreds of thousands of blogs from a single WordPress installation. Rather than simply having a blog and the extent of user interactivity being limited to allowing the posting of comments, or forum interaction, a WPMU site allows your visitors to create their very own blog, become friends with other users, join and create groups, and interact on a level that static websites and basic blog sites simply cannot compare with.

Additional features include the ability to pull site-wide news feeds of all recent posts from all forums and blogs across the installation and the option to prompt newly registered users for email addresses of friends they would also like to join the site! *Hott!*

Let’s say a Realtor is running a WPMU website, and most of his clients create blog accounts. Not only are they going to be kept up to date of the Real Estate Market through the main website, they also will be (hopefully) actively involved in blogging about their home, how happy they are with the Realtor, and connecting with other homeowners and having their friends join and blog on the site.

This does a number of things for the Realtor. First and foremost, the Realtor can easily stay in touch with past clients. Secondly, through referrals and good link building strategy, the Realtor will achieve a huge influx of new clients. Part of ranking well in Google is having a good deal of return visitors, as well as a low bounce rate. If people are signing up for a free blog, they certainly are going to be spending a good deal of time on the website, and of course, if they are writing blogs, they certainly will return regularly.

Thirdly, and this is so cool it gets its very own paragraph, each blog created is its very own sub-domain! To those not familiar with SEO, a sub-domain appears to Google as its very own website, meaning, that each blog that a user creates counts as a back-link to your main website (provided you place links on the created blogs)! The higher the amount of links you have, the higher the website ranks. The higher the website ranks, the more clients, wealth and prosperity for the Realtor!

In additional to individual use, WPMU is great for Company use; a Real Estate Company can create a WPMU site, and allow each and every Realtor to create their very own website and blog, easily and painlessly!

Take a look at http://mu.wordpress.org for an overview of WordPress MU. I’m in the process of tinkering with WPMU at http://loancure.org, still a work in progress, but you can get a good idea of just how much additional user interaction you can get through a WPMU installation. More and more people are being introduced to and impressed with WPMU, and soon many Realtors, Homeowners, Appraisers, Loan Officers, Title Companies and Mortgage Brokerages will be using this powerful application.

On a side note, Toni Braxton is facing foreclosure! This strikes me as so sad as I recall she went through the whole bankruptcy ordeal just a few years back. Toni, we love your music; don’t let them take your home without a fight!

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  • WordPress MU is a very powerful platform (we run MU for Zillow Blog and Mortgages Unzipped) – and I'm surprised it doesn't come up more in conversations. However, I will say it's not without its drawbacks. Getting WP plugins to work on MU, and video embeds, have been a nightmare in many cases.

  • Video embeds are handled easily with a plugin. I like this one:
    Plugin URI: http://www.daburna.de/blog/2006/12/13/wordpress

    Users just have to use a shortcode to embed a video from pretty much anywhere.

    (this process is changing slightly in wp 2.9 as well, so improvements here are coming.)

  • OBX

    I would disagree with WPMU for company use. If it's a main site, I'd prefer all realtors blogging under one blog, as separate authors, then having their posts defined by categories.

    If it's for Realtor's websites. I haven't seen IDX play nice with anything along those lines.

    There was mention of WPMU in an earlier post. I think it'd excel at standalone property sites. They can each have their own template, include the Local Market Explorer, contact form. And then you have good SEO, and long tail keywords possible.

    As for subdomains counting as indepedent sites. Has that been verified since about 2007? I'm pretty sure Google isn't fooled by that anymore. Otherwise any site with endless subdomains pointing back at main domain, with minimal content would start ranking very well.

    • I have sites in our MU network that are ranking in the top 10 for their niches, but I dont use subdomains.

      I think we sometimes over analyze what google does and doesn't do. I try to remind myself that no one really knows what Google does, its all speculation.

      Bottom line is if you have a web site that is structured well, if it has a keyword rich domain or subdomain, and it is loaded with relevant content and not spam, and as long as we dont try to trick Google or build crazy link farms, the sites will rank well.

      In our MU network I encourage all our agents to buy their own keyword rich domain so they build up domain name value over time for themselves all on their own.

  • Mu is awesome, but is being rolled into WordPress at some point in the future. There is some contention in WP community about how that will be handled and the effect it may have on existing MU installations and providers.

    The groups capability you mentioned is actually part of what is called BuddyPress, a plugin for MU. It creates groups, group forums and a whole lot more. You can find it at buddypress.org. We use it on our Campus. 🙂

  • dustindempsey

    Nice post on MU.
    I've developed some large scale sites using WordPress MU (15,000+ users) and some of the comments here are correct about having difficulty using/adapting plugins to MU. The most popular ones usually work as there has been a need for it but the less popular ones usually don't work out of the box.

    Another big problem is spam which can be lessened by the use of captchas and other spam catchers but you'll usually always have spam blog signups which is 8+ more tables in the ever expanding database.

    Not sure what the feature you're talking about where users can invite more friends. I don't think this is an available feature out of the box, maybe you use a plugin for this? or you saw it on WordPress.com?

    And as Trace mentioned, there is some confusion as to what the direction of WordPress MU is. Some say it will merge, and some say it will be discontinued. I hope it will be merged if anything. This will really strengthen it's following and make it more functional in terms of plugins and themes.

    • It will merge with regular wordpress, thus being discontinued as a stand-alone separate program.

      If anything, a single blog instance of wordpress will cease to exist. After the merge, anyone running WP will be able to flip a few things and have multiple blogs.

      • dustindempsey

        Cool, thanks Andrea.

    • If you'd like a copy of the friend invite plugin shoot me an email at justin@modificationzoom.com and I'll send it over 😀

      • dustindempsey

        I'm fine, thanks anyways though.

        I already have a friend invite plugin but the way it was mentioned here in the article is that it was an “additional feature” of WordPress MU, making it sound like an out of the box feature. That's why I inquired.

        Thank you though for offering.

  • So what is the use in everyone having a blog? Wouldn't you want people to interact w/one another?

    I tried to log in to your site to explore the interactivity and answer my own question. But are the accounts not activated? Wouldn't let me login.

    • The use of everyone having their own blog is that each agent can share their knowledge in preferably a niche market. So they can be found by customers searching for that knowledge.

      Think of a blog for real estate investors and a savvy agent publishing information dedicated to only that topic.

      Think of a blog for river front properties run by an agent that has been living on the river for 30 years.

      It allows agents to speak up and be heard. There are plugins for the blogs that encourages interactivity. BuddyPress is one of them which turns the network into a full blown social network. And countless plugins that encourage users from Facebook, Twitter etc to participate in conversation.

  • I love WordPressMU. Where else can you create a network of websites that allows you to:

    1) Run an unlimited number of web sites with their own domain names (I dont use subdomains, I use a plugin from wpmudev that does domain name mapping).

    2) Be able to administer, upgrade, add new plugins and features to all these sites from a single location (saving an enormous amount of time).

    3) Be able to properly configure the base install of WordPress for all the sites at once, amplifying the agents efforts to get found online (using simple plugins like sitemap generators, SEO plugins, search engine notifiers, etc.).

    4) Be able to monitor the statistics of all the sites in the network, and allow the agents to monitor their own stats.

    5) Be able to offer customizations on the sites so each agent feels they are an individual and not stuck in template land (setup one theme and tweak them with a different background color and header image and we have unlimited possibilities with little time spent to make the design changes).

    6) Do all of these and so much more for the price of a good web host.

    There are drawbacks, but I have been able to find solutions to almost every problem by searching online, and by joining communities like wpmudev.org. People mentioned spam and video embedding. Both of those can be fixed in less then 15 minutes by adding a couple of plugins and locking down registration to a single domain (your company provided email address).

    IDX is an issue still. But iframed solutions from vendors like Diverse Solutions and Cevado work well. If you create keyword rich landing pages for neighborhoods for example, and then iframe in that specific neighborhood search, that is still very effective. I have been watching the ListingPress development for awhile now, looking forward to seeing them pick up momentum for a fully native IDX search.

    And I hanvt even mentioned how well wordpress integrates with countless 3rd party applications. This is what makes WordPress REALLY shine.

    WordPressMU is amazing and is the foundation for our online efforts for the foreseeable future. Brokerages that are serious about helping their agents in their online efforts should invest in learning wordpress and in educating their agents how to use the sites. The alternative is to push agents out to 3rd party vendors. We all know how many vendors there are that take advantage and do little to nothing to actually help an agent in their business.

    I am building a sleek vehicle with wordpressMU for our company, now I am working on teaching our agents to jump in and drive.

    • Wow Brian – your comment is a great blog post in itself

      • Thanks Drew. I struggle with giving too much information away because the position I'm in. Our competition is brutal. And anytime I mention something we are doing, they have it too in less then a month! lol… but I love WordPressMU, I had to jump into this one.

  • Justin, I'm in agreement that WordPress MU has great potential use for real estate agents. If you haven't already, you should also take a look at BuddyPress (http://www.buddypress.org); it's a collection of plugins that run on top of WordPress MU and allows users to perform various social networking type functions in addition to what WordPress MU already allows.

    I use WordPress in my web development work with real estate agents and am always interested in finding out how others use WordPress in their work.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Fabulous tips and definitely it would helpful for realtors. Thanks for sharing.

  • In the real estate market anything can happen from the time you sign the contract to the closing of the sale. Remain as flexible as you can be, you could come across concerns during the home inspection that the seller is unwilling to fix or the repair costs are more than the amount that was stipulated in the contract.

  • In the real estate market anything can happen from the time you sign the contract to the closing of the sale. Remain as flexible as you can be, you could come across concerns during the home inspection that the seller is unwilling to fix or the repair costs are more than the amount that was stipulated in the contract.

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  • I was been looking the google for such info and i wanted to thank u for this post. By the way, just off topic, how can i get a copy of this theme? – Thanks

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