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I installed and activated the plugin. Now what?
You were sold on all the spectacular functionality of dsIDXpress, you decided to purchase an activation key, you installed and activated the plugin, and now you want to actually utilize it on your blog. Well thankfully, we made it super easy to get rolling with dsIDXpress. Listed below are the different ways you can use dsIDXpress for yourself.
Add the dsIDXpress widgets to your theme
Perhaps the easiest way to start using dsIDXpress is to put the included widgets into your theme. If you've ever added widgets in the past, you'll know that this is an incredibly easy thing to do. Simply go to the “Appearance” menu in your WordPress admin, go to the “Widgets” sub-menu, and drag-and-drop any of the three IDX widgets into your sidebar or sidebars (if your theme has more than one sidebar).
Once you add the widgets to the sidebar, you can click on the drop down arrow to the right of each widget to configure the data they each show and the functionality they provide. The widgets are extremely easy to customize – you'll be able to immediately understand exactly what to do when you see the configuration panels. You can add as many of the same, or different, widgets as you want and configure them each separately.
Once you're in the “Widgets” area as described above, drag the “IDX Areas” widget to the top of your sidebar. Put in a title in the top box such as “Our Coverage Areas.” Leave the “Area types” drop down set to “Cities”. In the “Areas” box, put in perhaps 5 or 6 of the cities that are in your MLS that you service. Put a check in the “Sort areas?” checkbox so that your visitors can easily scan the list when they see it. Click “Save”. When you visit your site now, you'll see that same list of cities that will each be hyperlinked for their respective areas to MLS listings on your blog.
Insert Live Listings(sm) content into your pages / posts
With dsIDXpress, you can insert MLS content directly into any one of your pages or posts, new or old. The plugin comes with the ability to insert a single listing or a group of listings using our Live Listings(sm) technology with just a few mouse clicks. When you go to add / edit a page / post, you'll see two new icons in your visual editor that look like property map markers.
If you click on the single listing icon which has only one marker on it, you'll be able to insert just a single listing based on an MLS number. If you click on the multi-listing icon with multiple markers on it, you'll be able to insert groups of listings. As with the widgets, the configuration for each of the Live Listings(sm) content builders is very easy to understand as soon as you see it.
After you click the “Insert” button at the bottom of either of the content builders, you'll see a small bit of text called a “WordPress shortcode” that will get inserted into your page / post. You can add / edit these shortcodes by hand by just editing the text, but just be careful to follow the exact text format that's already there. An easier way to edit the shortcode is to place the text cursor on it and then click on the Live Listings(sm) button that gets highlighted. The shortcode itself will look something like this:
[idx-listings community=“Turtle Ridge” orderby=“DateAdded” orderdir=“DESC”]
Let's pretend that you're real estate agent living and working in Irvine, CA and that you specialize in the the Turtle Rock, Turtle Ridge, and Shady Canyon communities. A likely goal for you would be to create a page on your blog for each of those three communities along with the 10 newest properties for each. First, you'll want to go to the “Pages” → “Add New” in your admin. Name the page something like “Turtle Rock Real Estate and Homes For Sale.” Next, you should write a couple of paragraphs *in your own words* about the amenities that Turtle Rock has to offer, the people who live in Turtle Rock, the types of homes in Turtle Rock, the history of the community, etc. At the end of your page, you can click on the dsIDXpress multi-listing icon to insert the code that shows a group of properties for the Turtle Ridge community. When you save the page and view it in your blog, you'll always see *live* MLS data for the Turtle Ridge community; the plugin automatically takes care of adding, updating, and removing listings based on what's happening in the MLS.
Another example use of Live Listings(sm) would be when you, as a sellers agent, list a new property and put it in the MLS. With dsIDXpress, you can create a blog post that shows the details of the property directly from the MLS without having to type in all of the content. To do this, go to “Pages” → “Add New”, click on the single listing icon, and follow the simple instructions. After you click “Insert listing”, you'll see the shortcode text that will get inserted into your blog for that listing. As before, when you view this blog post within the context of your blog, you'll see all of the details for that listings directly from the MLS data.
Link to groups of listings or individual listings
Finally, you can simply link to the “virtual page” URLs that dsIDXpress automatically creates for every city, community, zip code, and listing in the MLS. You can obviously use these links anywhere you could use a normal web hyperlink, allowing you to link to content from your own pages, posts, widgets, theme, etc. as well as allowing you and others to link to content on your blog from other websites.
To note, dsIDXpress does not create REAL WordPress pages that you have to maintain for these URLs. The MLS content is pulled directly from our (Diverse Solutions') servers whenever a URL that matches the dsIDXpress URL structure is loaded on your blog. In other words, the MLS content is NOT loaded into your database at any time.
Please take a look at the link structure page if you want to know how to link to specific, user-defined searches or individual property detail content from the MLS.
As a sellers agent, you're contracted to sell a particular listing. After putting the property into the MLS and on your blog using the Live Listings(sm) functionality described above, you'll probably want to post the property for sale on Craigslist and want to link directly to the property details page on your blog. If the MLS number was
S1234567 and your domain name was
yourblog.com, the URL you'd link to on Craigslist would look like this:
http://www.yourblog.com/mls-s1234567- (note that lowercase / uppercase letters don't matter for the MLS number). That URL would in turn automatically 301 redirect to the “real” URL for that listing on your blog.
Another link strategy would be to give the link on your blog for all the listings in a particular community to another webmaster who writes a blog for that area. For example, if you knew someone who write a blog about the “The Villages” community in Laguna Beach and she was willing to link directly to the real estate listings for that area on your blog, you could give her a link that looks like this:
Again, please take a look at our link structure page if you want a more advanced tutorial on how to reference these URLs.