Archive for July, 2009

Response to a common SEO question

A client sent this question to us. We’re not going any SEO for them right now, just PPC Management. This is a typical question that we get from new and potential SEO clients. It’s our constant goal to educate you. So, let’s learn from each other, eh?

We Googled some pretty narrow search terms, like “their term here” and some of our authors’ names, and our site doesn’t come up in the first three or four PAGES of organic Google results. We were pretty surprised by this, so thought we’d check with you whether this is typical when you stop spending money on PPC? I would think we have enough SEO words and content on the site that we would pop up in organic search results.

OK, let’s break this down, shall we.

First of all, if you didn’t know it, your PPC spend does not affect your organic placement. SEO and PPC are not directly related. You can’t buy your way to the top of the organic results by buying sponsored ads. I just wrote the same statement 3 ways. I hope I drove the point home!

SEO, the way out of the woods

Sometimes SEO feels like you're lost in the woods. Here are some answers.

This doesn’t mean that you should spam your content with keywords. Don’t do that! Instead, write good content and people will read it, link back to it, and your SEO campaign will flourish. This brings me to the next part of my answer to this client:

The search engines look at your site and other sites out there and they see how sites link to each other. They look at the text in those links and the pages those links are sitting on and judge the quality of the link. So, if other sites about real estate have links to your site that say “real estate” then you’re more likely to rank for the term “real estate.” The inbound links you have may or may not help you rank for a particular term.

There’s more I could write on this for sure. URL age, how new your content is, even the code of the site, all play a role. SEO answers are often complicated. I hope this sheds some light.

The client is mulling all of this over. I highly expect more question soon. If you have questions about real estate SEO, just drop us a note. Thanks.

Where can this really go?

I saw this post on a Yahoo Group that I’m a part of. It’s amazing to me that anyone would even consider this business in 2009.

Hello to all
I am looking for some help. I’m looking for an investor or angel investor. I am looking to start a hobby store in my area. What I would be selling is. All kinds of sports cards. Video games and acssereis, (I think he meant Accessories) and lastly all kinds of coins. If there is any one that could help me. I would be very thankful for the help. If you would like to contact me, my email address is xxx@yyy.com or my phone # is 555.222.4444. if I don’t answer my phone please leave me a message. thank you for the help.

Sincerely.

Wow, this brings back memories. I was a hobbyist when I was a kid. Baseball cards were all the rage. There were coin collectors and memorabilia shops, but those are tough businesses these days. Let’s look at why.

Well, it’s obvious that the internet has changed things in big ways. eBay really killed the collectibles market. Think about it. If you wanted a rare coin and you live in the countryside, well, you’re really pretty limited in your options. So, there’s the local hobby shop or memorabilia shop. Maybe you have a book that tell the prices for things. Remember those books? They were published annually and gave you the going rate for a 1989 Gary Carter baseball card in Mint Condition. PUBLISHED YEARLY.

These days, you can go online and see the last 100 transaction where a Gary Carter baseball card changed hands. The market and the buyers in that market have MUCH more information. The result is that people know what they should pay and the margins are razor thin.ebay-logo

Now you’re thinking, ‘I’m a realtor. What’s this got to do with me?’ Remember, the buyers you’re working with have access to information. They have more than they ever did before and they can get their hands on more every day. The thing about real estate is that you work on a percentage. The guy at the office around the corner is likely charging the same rate for his services. Probably 5 or 6 percent. So, you don’t have to worry too much about eBay coming along and taking your business. In fact, you’ve been able to sell a house on eBay real estate for years and the impact on the industry has been small.

This means that to get ahead of the other real estate agents in your town, you need to capture the market. You need to get your marketing in front of more people. Then you need to provide great service. Now, we’re here to help you with the first part, Real Estate SEO is how you capture more of the market. Providing great service is your job.

You should also realize that the buyer can find out a lot about homes and they can find out a lot about you! They can look you up on LinkedIn and Facebook. They can Google your name and your real estate firm’s name. You need to have your Social Media profile in order, just in case someone goes out looking for you. Luckily we wrote a post about this a while back. Check out how to do social media right.

Lastly, realize that we’re not going into hobby shops any more. We’re shopping on the internet. We’re searching on Google and letting our fingers do the walking. The Real Estate search starts on the web. Realtors come second. Yes, it’s true. The first thing they’re going to know about you is that they found your site and it was helpful! If your site isn’t findable then you need to do some real estate SEO work NOW. If, when they find your site, they’re leaving or not signing up, that’s an issue of design. We can help there too.

Thanks for reading.

Microsoft and Yahoo! vs. Google, Microhoo SEO?

What the new deal between Microsoft and Yahoo! means for Google.

It’s amazing what happens when a dynamic goes from three players to two. This is the crux of the result of what this deal will mean for Google and SEO.

First of all, SEOs everywhere will not need to work quite as hard. We used to have to worry about building pages that work with all 3 algorithms. Of course, Google has the most market share. So, most SEOs, whether they focus on real estate or not, are going to try to get you ranking in Google before worrying about the other search engines.3-search-engines1

That said, Yahoo! always had about 25 percent of the market and Microsoft about 10 percent – these numbers fluctuate of course. So, when you’d done a lot in Google, you move on to Yahoo!, then MSN. Well, that’s going to change and the argument for splitting your time gets a little stronger. Google, with double the Yahoo searches was the obvious first choice, and Yahoo a distant second. Now, there’s an argument for splitting effort 2/3 to Google and 1/3 to the combined Yahoo!/Bing platform.

Of course, we won’t be changing our tactics just yet. Yahoo’s search technology isn’t integrated with Microsoft’s yet. It actually sounds, according to early news, like the Bing algorithms are going to replace Yahoo’s search formulas. So, when that’s put into place, SEOs will then change their techniques and their focus. You might see your rankings change at some point to look a lot like they do in the Bing results.

Alternatively, personalization of results is the new vogue. Ranking, while still important, means less and less. What really matters, as we’ve written about numerous times, are results. Search results for me might be different from search results for you.This might mean that results will still vary in MSN vs. Yahoo! depending on how well they know you and how much you use your Yahoo! account or your MSN account. In fact, I’d count on that.

OK, that’s about it for today. Rest assured, we’ll be talking about this more soon. Thanks.

WordPress for your Blackberry

One of the best ways to get ahead of the content challenge is to find ways to use your time efficiently. Blog when you have the time. But who has the time?

I’m at Jiffy Lube right now. This means I’m sitting in a waiting room and I have some time to hop on my Blackberry 8830 and search for a way to blog. 1 google search and I found this app which allows me to link my blackberry up to WordPress, which is the system behind this blog.

Here’s a link to the app, click here using your blackberry and the device should begin to download for you.

http://blackberry.wordpress.org/install

There are also wordpress apps for the iphone and probably apps for most smart phones. Just do some searching and ye shall find.

So, in less time than it took to get the oil in my car changed, I’ve installed the Blackberry wordpress app and written a blog post. Just think of all the places where you could find yourself with a few minutes to spare which you could dedicate to you seo campaign.

Content!
As a real estate agent, you’re not alone if you are struggling to find the time to blog. Your real estate seo compaign depends on fresh content. We’ve been chanting the battle cry for years: content is king! Content takes time. This app will give you some time to write it!

It happens in real life and on the web

Lots of folks wonder why the search engines have written their algorithms in certain ways? Folks ask us how and why social media is going to help them build their brand and generate new business? The high level answer to much of this is that most of this actually parallels a real life situation. The analogs are quite stark. In this post, we’ll examine a few of them.450px-orange_question_marksvg

In the SEO realm, there are lots of factors that affect ranking. Many of them actually digital analogs to the pieces of evidence that we all look for when evaluating the quality of a potential service provider.

URL Age
Do you want to hire the guy who’s been in the business for 6 months of 10 years? I think the answer is simple. All other things being equal, the search engines are going to rank the site that’s been around longer higher.

Links
Well, as we know, quantity of links is not as important as the  QUALITY of those links. That said, a link is like a vote. The more votes you have, the better off you are. Still, people tried to exploit this and just get as many links as possible. So, not all votes are created equal. i.e….

Link Qualitygood-links
If you wanted to buy a new car, would you take a survey of your friends? Or might you go to your 1 friend who really knows a lot about cars and ask for their expert opinion. Most of us would go straight to that friend. To us, they are the authority on automobiles and their “vote” is more valuable than 10 votes from friends who don’t know anything about cars.

Google uses some sophisticated analysis to determine which sites are authorities. If there’s a website about BMWs and on that site there are links to another site about BWMs, then that other site about BWMs will rank well for the term BWM. The Search engines also look at the text in the link itself. If the link reads Ford Cars, then the search engines conclude that this link points to a page about Ford Cars. Similarly, if the link reads BMW, it’s like the originating site, where the link resides, is voting for the other site in the search results for the term BMW.

New Contentquil
Search engines want to see new, unique content. Why, well, which report do you trust: A report about the best cars on the road from 2004 or a report on the best cars on the road from 2009? Similarly, 2 reports about the best Realtors in the neighborhood might give me the same ranking order, but one might give me more detail as to why someone is ranked at the top of the list. Most of us would like to see the supporting details. So would the search engines.

Unique Content
If all you do is republish everyone else’s content, then why should I ever visit your site? Republishing content, with today’s technology, is relatively easy. If anyone can do it, then many sites will republish the same old content. Why would Google want to send you to one of those unoriginal sites over another. Instead, they’re going to send you to the site with the most unique content and with the most recent posts on it.

Social Media Profiles
Smart consumers do their research. We want to know more about a real estate agent than where they work and what their sales performance looks like. These days, it’s not that hard to look someone up and check them out. Make sure that what they’re going to find looks good. Update your Linked-In profile and your Facebook page. If you are trying to sell the clients on your use of technology, then you better have a Twitter account and your tweets should be relatively current. Google your name and see what comes up. If it’s not flattering, you’re liable to lose a client as a result of the fastest background check in the world.

Social Media Connections
Are you a networker? Do you gain much of your real estate business by relationship and referral? Lots of us do. Social media is an analog to what you’re doing already. Thing is, you can network in your jammies on a Sunday morning. Get connected, remind people you exist and what you do,  and don’t forget to make it personal. Have a real interaction with them. Don’t just friend them or follow them or link to them, ask them how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can do for them. They may just have a job for you.

BLOG!rss
This one is maybe the most powerful. When you blog and give people insight, they immediately begin to see you as the expert. The more you blog and the more you educate your readers, the more you will position yourself as the expert. If you blog about real estate, when it comes time to buy, the customers will come to you for help in buying their new home.

To boot, blogging means generating more new content. As I said above, more content means better search engine ranking. Blogging is essential to good SEO…Just one of the many benefits.

Thanks for reading our blog. Have a good weekend.

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