Maintaining a property management website allows you access to customer insights that are hard to gather in other places. By encouraging customers to leave comments, you enable instant feedback. Like other social media conversations, most blog comments represent a genuine reaction to your posts. You gain a sense of how readers feel about your company, products and content.

Tracking comments also lets you gather valuable information about what type of content generates the most engagement – the number of newsletter sign-ups, in-text clicks and requests for more information. Comparatively speaking, blogs are more cost-effective than many other marketing and research tools.

Building a website that drives heavy volume takes patience and dedication. With the right content – well-written, accurate, timely, relevant, engaging and interesting – visitors will keep coming back to read your next post. And, hopefully they will share your articles on social media, allowing you to expand your online footprint organically.

Property management professionals are busy people, we all get that. But, carving out an hour or two from your hectic schedule to browse a few random blogs will help you gain valuable insight into what content appeals to apartment seekers and the companies that serve them.

Here are three reasons to add random blog reading to your schedule.

Driving More Traffic: Browsing Blogs for Insight and Understanding

Scoping out the competition is a wise strategy. When you find a property management blog that piques your interest, read the comments. Take note whether the comments originate from industry peers, rental home searchers or a combination of both. The type of comments – positive and negative – that appear in the feed, allow you understand what information appeals to visitors.

Notice whether comment moderators or administrative team members reply to questions and keep the conversation on topic.

Here’s a tip:

Before you decide to mimic writing styles, page layouts and content creation, check out the site’s traffic patterns to make sure you’re reading a blog backed by a company with consistently high-traffic volumes. You can enter any domain name at TrafficEstimate.com for instant information about SEO, company ownership, traffic stats and more. Click the link above to see AppFolio traffic patterns as an example.

Follow the breadcrumbs. Explore the outbound article links, too. While you want visitors to stay on your website to gather information, your online relationships – i.e. links – may either add to your trustworthiness and credibility or diminish your online reputation.

Look for hidden clues.

While outbound links and comments provide clues about the path apartment seekers follow to gather information about prospective properties, another thing to watch for is forum mentions. The US Census bureau reported that 37.1 million US residents moved between 2008 and 2009. Among that mobile population, 12.6% moved to another state while 17.2% moved to another county in the same state.1

Naturally, people want to learn more about their destination before they arrive. Professional moving companies and other service providers know this, that’s why the publish information about school districts, utility companies and entertainment venues on their websites. But, sometimes people want to hear from someone living in a certain neighborhood rather than a company that might have ulterior motives.

Lurking around forums helps you understand whether people moving into your city are looking for a home near shopping centers, arts and entertainment, access to public transit or a studio with a killer view of the city skyline. And, you find out what the community is saying about your property and other rental opportunities.

Tip: Don’t be a troll. Posting negative comments about your competition will most likely hurt your business and not create community goodwill.

If you discover a trend – like more families with school aged children moving into your area – tailor your blog content and static web links appropriately. Browsing random blogs gives you an opportunity to discover what residents need and expect from your property management company. Can you spare an hour or two a week to boost engagement?