Archive for the ‘Snake Oil’ Category
First of all, thanks to those of you who attended the first session of the online marketing for real estate course on Monday at the North East Association of Realtors offices. I’m looking forward to the next session which will be on February 2nd.
While I was giving the talk, I learned something astonishing and I just had to write a post about it. It seems that a large real estate conglomerate called Prudential Prime Properties here in Massachusetts made a BIG mistake. Though, I’m sure they did so unwittingly. They signed their entire 21 offices and the agents in those offices up for a website service that is, to put it mildly, holding their agents back. The company is called RLS2000 and while they’re not selling SEO snake oil, I just had to write a post and put it in this category to talk about why these sites will only hold back your real estate SEO campaign.
First of all, a basic principle of any good SEO campaign is unique content. It seems that the only page that you can edit on your RLS2000 website is the home page. One woman had shown up for the course and only wanted to know how to edit her home page in order to appear at the top of the search engines. Well, I told her that she’d need to edit many more pages on her site than just the home page. She informed me that she could not. Hmm. That’s not going to let you do any real estate seo to speak of.
Another fellow in the room had the same site – yes, it’s almost the exact same site – we looked at his. He had written a great update on his home page about IBM moving offices to his town and how this would impact the real estate market there. I immediately asked him if this was a blog post. No, he said, they don’t have blogging capabilities. What? They’re trying to help you market online and they don’t offer blogging. Run, as fast as you can people.
Here’s the kicker, many of the pages of their sites were exactly the same, and they couldn’t update them. This means that their sites are virtually guaranteed not to rank well in the search engines. I was encouraged to see that the search on the site was not in an iframe, the problem was that there are no static links to any of those pages. So, again, the real estate seo opportunities are completely lost.
So, I asked them the price. It’s apparently $350/year! Well, my surprise was replaced by disappointment. Of course you’re not going to get anything for that price. Good real estate seo is not cheap. What really disappointed me was that a company with 23 offices and hundreds of agents would set back their people so drastically and without asking someone who knew simple questions about marketing and SEO like, “is this going to help our agents?” “Are we doing the right thing to help our agents succeed by signing up with this service?” The answer, very simply is no.
With so many agents, there are great opportunities to work together and really achieve great search engine placement and generate thousands of leads. This is a lost opportunity. Now, I’m sure that this company had some decent reasons for using this vendor. I just hope they rethink their logic before the re-up for another year.
Let’s start with a big fish, they’re maybe one of the country’s largest providers of real estate websites. You may have heard of this company, you may even have a real estate website that they designed, built, and host. If you do, well, Real Estate SEO probably isn’t a priority for you.
The company is called Advanced Access. They play a simple game and their business model is a good old one. They’re what business professors call a high volume, low quality provider. More on that in a minute. They provide real estate websites based on templates. (all the sites look the same) They come with the same content, the design and user experience is horrible. Even the sites they highlight on their website are circa 1995 state of the art.
Here’s what really gets me. They claim to offer services that will help your search engine placement. Let’s start with their meta tagging service. Anyone who knows even the basics of SEO will tell you that meta tags aren’t enough. Yes, you should have a title tag and yes, you should have a meta description tag. Both should be keyword rich. But SEO does not stop at meta tags. If all you do is optimize your meta tags, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll see a positive effect on your real estate website’s search engine placement. Advanced Access claims that this can make a “profound difference.” This just isn’t true.
Then there’s the Link Tracker Service that they offer. This it seams is a service that double checks to make sure that the OUTBOUND links on your site still point to pages that exist. Please do not pay them for this service. Perform one Google search for “broken link checker” and you’ll find a score of FREE broken link checkers out there. Yes, broken links can hurt your SEO. No, you should not pay for this service. We once met with a client who thought Advanced Access was selling them SEO services when in fact, they were just checking for broken links every month. We were honestly appalled. Outbound links are generally bad for your Real Estate SEO. Please remember that.
Next, any real estate website provider who gives you content is setting your real estate SEO efforts back. The search engines want to see unique content. If you put up a site that has content that the search engines have seen before, this will hurt your SEO. If you are serious about real estate SEO, you need to have unique content on your pages. In addition, though less related to real estate SEO, it’s important to realize that it’s almost impossible to differentiate yourself when your website is exactly the same as your competition. I once walked into a meeting with a perspective client. He thought his website was really slick. I informed him that his main competition, an office about 2 blocks away, had the exact same site from the exact same template real estate website provider. Needless to say, he didn’t become a client.
How are they getting away with this? Well, like I said, they’re a high volume, low quality provider. They have a lot of clients all paying them a small amount of money every month. It’s smart business practice to offer new products and services to your existing clients. Real Estate agents know it very well that the best business is repeat business. So, Advanced Access has come up with additional low cost offerings for their many clients. All they need to do is call up the less informed in the group, tell them that this Link checking or meta tagging is going to help their Real Estate SEO and some of them are bound to listen and buy. It’s sad, but true.
So, this is just the first Real Estate SEO Snake Oil salesman that I’m calling out. As I promised in the first post in this category, we’ll be pointing more of them out. If you have questions about the Real Estate SEO for your site and whether or not your provider is selling you the Brooklyn Bridge, please post your questions or drop us an not from the contact us page.
As we meet with clients, we’re constantly amazed by all of the snake oil SEO that they’ve been sold in the past. So, we’ve decided to start an entire category on this blog where we point out bad real estate SEO and bad SEO in general. We’re calling it Snake Oil.
Yes, we will name names. We will tell you why these companies are not actually going to help you and we’ll give you the reasons why their offering is somewhere between ineffective, at it’s simplest, and thievery, at the worst.
First a word about reality and some guidelines:
- If you think you can get quality real estate SEO services for less than a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars per month, you’re fooling yourself. If it were really that cheap and easy to place on top of the search results for quality real estate terms, then everyone would do it and we’d all be out of business.
- SEO is NOT a 1 time event. You can’t just build a new site and expect it to rank well. You can’t have some SEO work done to your site and expect to rank and stay on top. Good SEO requires ongoing attention and effort.
- Just because a company points to a few successes, that doesn’t mean that they know what they’re doing. You need to interview your provider. Interview a few and go with the one that’s most knowledgeable and makes you feel comfortable.
Signs to watch out for:
- Out of date Blogs. Take a look at when their last few posts were made. If they’re not posting every other week or, at the very least monthly, run away.
- How’s their ranking? If they can’t rank for a few highly relevant and popular terms, then they’re probably not worth their salt.
- If they’re a one man (or woman) show, you should not hire them. Yes, there are very smart search engine optimizers out there who work alone, but you run a business. You need to know that your provider is going to be around next year. Remember what I said above, SEO is a long term commitment.
- Ask about their reporting. Ask to see the monthly report and analysis that the provider is going to give you. If it’s not a comprehensive SEO and traffic report, then they’re not being accountable. Just giving you an analytics login isn’t enough.
- If an SEO firm guarantees placement, they are lying to you. Make sure they’re not selling you PPC. Lots of SEO firms will sell uneducated buyers SEO when they’re really delivering PPC. If you don’t know the difference, well, you can educate yourself on this blog.
- Which leads me to my last point: Be an educated buyer. As a real estate agent, you shouldn’t learn all there is to know about SEO, just get enough education so that the thieves don’t take your money and provide nothing at all.
I’ll continue to add to this Snake Oil category as I find more of these fakers. Stay tuned.