Outside.in is a site I visit with some frequency. It compiles articles from local news sources and blogs, giving you a “one stop shop” for local info. It can, with the right type of article, also drive some traffic to your blog — local traffic at that, which is really what a real estate blogger wants as the odds of someone in Phoenix buying a Phoenix home is significantly greater than say someone in Wasilla, Alaska buying a home here (though curiously, we’ve had 394 visitors from Alaska this year, including 8 form Wasilla — Governor Palin, have your people contact my people…).
Last week Outside.in introduced “StoryMap” – a nifty little widget / navigation tool that displays blog posts based on the location of what the post is about. It takes geocoded information from a post and plots it on a map. Here are mine from the last three months:
I’ve been lax in properly tagging and geocoding very localized posts, because to be honest, it’s a pain and there really didn’t seem to be much point in it. But with the ever expanding blogiverse there seems like there is good reason for making it easier for people to find location specific information.
Without spewing too much technobable and boring you to tears, GeoRSS.org has some pretty cool tools for geotagging blog posts and RSS feeds and there is a growing list of media providers and applications that use geotagging for RSS feeds, photos, and web pages. With the constant evolution of “wearable” electronics like smart phones, MP3 players, GPS systems and who knows what in the future, the possibilities of what geotagging may become will really make your head hurt if you ponder it for awhile.
The applications for real estate are mind-boggling. After all, much of real estate is location base. There are already applications out there that will flag a home for sale in your car’s GPS system. GPS enabled phones allow you to find out what is around you. If you’re looking at a home and want to know where the closest Starbucks is, or where your kids elementary school would be, you can find that out. By geotagging your RSS feed, you can have your blog posts aggregated and displayed based on a users actual or desired location. One day in the not-to-distant future I think people will be using GPS and RSS and they won’t even know they’re doing it.
I’ve installed the Outside.in StoryMap widget in the “Widget test area” at the bottom of the right sidebar. Once we see how it plays with everything else, it will likely earn a permanent spot here. Navigation on a traditional blog leaves much to be desired, and StoryMap may be one small step toward making it easier to find location-specific info here, and elsewhere.
Jim Johnson CRS says
You are definitely more technically inclined than I am. It's all I can do to make a post in my Bend Oregon Real Estate Blog.
Jamey Bridges @ Real says
Cool post Jay. I think tools that integrate mapping will continue to become more and more popular. Especially the ones that are easy to use :), As real estate is generally pretty local, I think tooks like this that will be a great compliment to MLS tools that show listings on a map. I mean, think about a mashup that integrates current stories with active listings on a map? You would have relevant information at a hyper local level.
*Jamey Bridgess last blog post..The Secret’s Out Google Tells you How to Achieve Top Rankings</abbr>
[email protected] says
Thanks, I never heard of Ouside.in before. I checked it out and it automatically sent me straight to the Baltimore MD area. Boy is it smart.
I am also looking to invest in other areas of the country so this will be a good resource to check local news, jobs, crime stats etc.
*Neds last blog post..A Cool New Tool</abbr>
Nice widget, I must admit. Maybe it is not suitable for every site, but for real estate blogs like yours it is really great.
Leesa Finley says
Thanks Jay! I just became aware of this site a few days ago and I LOVE IT! Tons of potential and very interactive.
Elaine Reese says
I tried to set this up a couple days ago, but gave up. Maybe you have some advice. Many of my posts are about an area/neighborhood/subdivision/park, not a specific street address. Assuming I did it correctly, Outside.In requires a specific address and it couldn't find some of the addresses I tried. I would find it much easier if we could use the push-pin method of selecting a location as we can do when creating a Google map.
I've been creating a Google Map for the place my posts are about and including that link in the post. But I would like to use the Outside.In widget if it becomes a little easier.
Or is the problem with me?
*Elaine Reeses last blog post..Houses for sale … that are dog-friendly.</abbr>
Jim Gatos says
I'm going to try this later, assuming it'll even work on Typepad, which it should, but I'm getting a dizzy spell even from reading up on what this is and how to do it! LOL..
*Jim Gatoss last blog post..The Effectiveness of Broker Open Houses …</abbr>
John @ Maryland Real says
Thanks for the great resource. I had never heard of Ouside.in before it definitely is worthy of a bookmark. The site gave me a lot of great ideas, mapping features and real estate definitely go together. You definitely hit the nail on the head the possibilities are mind-boggling.
*Johns last blog post..Baltimore Real Estate</abbr>
Steve Krzysiak says
We have had the ability to geocode our blogs on our staff site for sometime now, yet I failed to see the potential for doing this in real estate. Thanks for the blog that brought this to light, as well as the new outside.in service!
Thanks for the nice writeup. Your StoryMap looks great. I wanted to point out that the widget is powered by our GeoToolkit, and that one of the key features of GeoToolkit is the Feed Editor. In the Feed-Editor we auto-tag places mentioned in your posts and enable you to easily add other places and neighborhoods that we may have missed. Another element of GeoToolkit is the Statistics area which can offer you all sorts of geo-insight. It shows the places you are blogging abut vs what others are writing about, what neighborhoods you cover and how you rank in that neighborhood, it also shows you your connections – who links to you, who you link to and your most linked stories. The StoryMaps are the first outward facing tool powered by GeoToolkit and we are always looking for feedback esp by Real Estate Bloggers who always have great hyperlocal content and insight.
BTW – in answer to one of your commenters. The story map will work anywhere that accepts an per out testing that is everywhere except hosted wordpress (wordpress.com).
Marty Van Diest says
Interesting widget. I think I'll lood into it. I do some very localized posts. And actually, there is a better chance that someone in Phoenix will buy a house here in Wasilla than the other way around.
BTW…I wonder when Wasilla will rate high enough to not be tagged by the spell check.
*Marty Van Diests last blog post..Wasilla Real Estate Monday Market Memo 9-15 through9-22-2008</abbr>
[email protected] Valley says
Gotta love maps! I really think the general public loves them too. Pictures, maps, video, etc. all help to make a site more "sticky" and keep your visitors coming back.
Only problem is, I've never Geo Coded a single blog post. After I'm done with 'em I just hit publish.
You notice that both my PhoenixHomes.com/news blog and this blog of yours are in "the list" on every local page on Outside.in? I noticed it about a month ago… take a look and see for yourself (or just look at your backlinks 🙂 ).
[email protected] Valley says
What? No "latest blog post love" for me on that last comment? Wonder if the system is buggy, or if it just doesn't work when you insert a static page as the URI under your KW's???
This comment should tell… I used the home page vs. an interior page.
*Matts last blog post..Paradise Valley Sales Report – August 2008</abbr>
Shailesh Ghimire says
Thanks for this great information. Obviously there are great applications for this outside of real estate – but regardless of which industry uses this tool, the benefit for the user is great, becuase a lot of times we're searching for local stuff. From restaurants to the place to buy the best water heater etc. so tagging sites based on geographical location is a great way to achieve this. I'm definitely going to check this out.
*Shailesh Ghimires last blog post..GM Shares its Blogging Mistakes</abbr>
Jayson @ New Homes says
That's a pretty nifty map widget, and as others have mentioned, this is a great tool for many sites – including agent blogs/sites etc… Definitely something I'll be looking into using. Thanks Jay
The features Josh mentioned seem to be beneficial as well…
Teri Lussier says
This is cool! I've been using outside.in for about a year, but I missed this. Very helpful. Thanks for the heads up, Jay.
And the commentluv is groovy…
*Teri Lussiers last blog post..More about me(me) than you need to know.</abbr>
Thanks for the post, I've used outside.in before but never really dug into it enough to realize how powerful it could be. Registered today and got thrown over to Yahoo's Fire Eagle service in order to use their Radar service – now I'm truly amazed.
I knew these GPS based service were coming, but the list of already available Fire Eagle apps blew me away. Now my mind is swimming with thoughts of how to best leverage these new tools. Well, now I've wasted a few hours and still haven't accomplished my original goal of experimenting with the map widget.
Dru Bloomfield @ At says
I just found out about outside.in and the map widget at BlogWorld. Cool stuff. Now, I just need to go back and get my locations set up in my past blog posts.
*Dru Bloomfields last blog post..Real Estate BlogWorld – How we can communicate with each other</abbr>
Steve [email protected] A says
Nice find Jay. I added my blog, and signed up for area tracking of what Outside.in is finding near me as well. Lately, it hasn't been much use, but perhaps it will get better, if more people realize Outside.in is a potentially useful resource, and begin using it more often.
*Steve Belts last blog post..Arizona Mortgage Rates Roundup September 26, 2008</abbr>
[email protected] R says
Does anyone know if this widget can be used on a Joomla plat form? I would love to add it to both my blog and my website. Thanks for posting on this really neat service as I feel that it should be deemed highly useful for the public along with agents. I would like to thank anyone that answers my question in advance.
Jay - The Phoenix Re says
It generates straight HTML code, so it's not WordPress specific. I'm only slightly familiar with Joomla. Best bet is to just try it and see if it works!
I just found out about outside.in and the map widget at BlogWorld. I am figuring out how to use it effectively…
Thanks for the post and the awesome storymap!
@James – yes, you can use the storymap within Joomla, all you need to do is drop the iFrame code into your template. You might need to use the iFrame extension from here
Also, our getsatisfaction forum is now open if you guys have questions about how to get the storymaps set up on your own site. Go here http://getsatisfaction.com/outsidein
*Adityas last blog post..<a href="http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/10/07/new_england_lottery_roundup?rss_id=Boston.com+–+Local+news">New England Lottery Roundup</abbr>
Real Estate says
Just found this and thought it looked interesting. I think it could definitely help in retaining visitors and making your posts more relevant. if the user can also dig down into the map and find nearby restaurants, attractions, etc., then it will only make the application that much more useful. Thanks for the tip.
aaron simmons says
Very nice information. Thanks for this. Got to do some workout now.
Very well-written! Just what I need. Thanks for this.
What about a camera phone? Some say it is not good for ones health due to the infra-red waves. Do you know anything about this? I am interested.
Thanks for this post. I think it can be quite useful. If I want to know more about specific area, it is a great tool. Does it work outside the USA?
Bend Oregon Real Est says
What a fantastic find! I deal with a lot of out of area buyers in my market area (Bend and Central Oregon) and my out of area buyers always love to be able to see on a map where the places you talk about and recommend are. Thanks for sharing such a great site…I'll definitely be checking it out.