Real Estate SEO’s Biggest Snake Oil Salesmen

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.

Thanks.

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7 Responses to “Real Estate SEO’s Biggest Snake Oil Salesmen”

  • Steve Moore says:

    I wouldn’t be so ready to jump the gun on the quality of SEO services that Advanced Access provides. I’ve been working in Internet Marketing for seven years now and while Advanced Access does indeed handle a high volume of Realtor websites they certainly provide much more than simply checking for broken links once a month and making a single change to meta tags.

    I have customers using the Advanced Access platform that pick up 100 – 150 leads per month in major areas and one particular Realtor would tell you that 90% or more of his business comes directly from his Advanced Access website.

    Advanced Access is a template based hosting company for Realtor websites. They have templates so that they don’t have to be designers or spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on custom designs. They provide an out the door website content included and then put a huge amount of importance on changing out the default content and making it the Realtors own content.

    Template based websites aren’t for everyone granted but for some people they are perfect and Advanced Access actually has one of the nicer and easier to use virtual office / control panels i’ve seen. Their back office is better than Number 1, Point 2, Superlative and Alamode. Sure there are bugs and glitches but you’ll always find that anywhere you go and with the volume of customers they manage I can’t imagine everything is a quick fix with them or the highest priority.

    High volume – Definitely
    Older looking templates – Yes but 100% customizable if desired.
    SEO Service – Yes and in many cases affective. Show me any other template provider that has more top ranking websites in Google.
    - Snake Oil – Hardy, they sell a service and it is then the responsibility of the Realtor to utilize the tools avaliable to them to make their own website a success. The alternative would be to go to another company with equal problems or custom sites at a much larger cost.

  • Anna Bourland says:

    Hi there, Anna Bourland with Advanced Access here. Thank you for your commentary regarding our SEO services. While I appreciate your perspective, I think our addendum SEO services were reviewed out of context. The services for metas, and links, etc are intended for those who don’t need our whole marketing package because they’ve done some things on their own, but they want our help with these “unbundled” services. These products were created by listening to our client requests and providing something for this type of customer.

    It should also be noted that the content writing service is not recycled content. We do not duplicate any paid custom content. We recommend to every client several times to change their default content. Should we turn away those who do not wish to change their content? Does that make our product less valuable to all because of choices outside of our control? Perhaps that is your opinion.

    Are you saying that within the context of a complete SEO perspective that metas or links are not helpful? Or are you simply saying those items alone are not enough? We do not feel the items alone are enough, but some people tackle one thing at a time, and others can do a lot on their own and just want some help.

    I also wanted to say that while we do provide templates, they can all be customized, and even bypassed to use a completely custom design. It is true many of our featured clients have been with Advanced Access for a long time and may use a more “standard” look, however, that is not an indicator of their success with lead generation and successful transactions beginning via website.

    If you have any questions about the services we provide, I would be happy to be interviewed on behalf of Advanced Access. I understand that we exist in the same “space”, so this may not be of interest to you, but I did want to offer just in case.

    Anna Bourland
    Web Marketing and Public Relations Manager
    Advanced Access

    714-685-5125

    PS – you get my first blog comment of 2009

  • Brian Rubadue says:

    “any real estate website provider who gives you content is setting your real estate SEO efforts back.”

    I have an Advanced Access website, and since the first day I got setup, all of their support staff were working with me to add my own unique content as well as customizing the template, support even offered to help me implement a custom design if I wanted to. I haven’t had another host who was willing to sit and help me in every detail of my site. I say Kudos to AdvancedAccess.

  • david says:

    Well, this post certainly got noticed. I should clarify a few points.

    First of all, thanks for your responses. We appreciate them and enjoy the discussion. I’m going to confine my responses, generally, to real estate seo issues. I can’t tell you much about a company’s back end, for example, only the quality of the SEO that I can see.

    First of all, I did not reference the content writing service. We encourage investments in well SEOed content and in content optimization. The more quality content you have, the better you will place. Content is king. The problem is that there is generic content offered with these sites. Real Estate professionals need to know that unique content will help your search engine placement and reused content will not!

    Next, I love that the Advanced Access folks were up at 4am on new year’s eve writing blog comments. That’s some good media relations. My PR guy is in the Bahamas right now.

    Most importantly though, is how these services are sold and what customers are lead to believe. It’s all good and well for their PR person to say that the intention of these ‘A La Carte’ SEO services is to help real estate agents who are SEO do it yourselfers, but that’s not how they’re selling these services. We see this all the time. Realtors don’t truly understand what they’re being sold and they think they’re signing up for SEO when they’re signing up for a small piece of what they need to be successful.

    I just reviewed the Advanced Access offering again. For SEO, all I see is content writing, broken link checking, and meta tagging. The other search engine marketing offering is PPC. I didn’t see anywhere that they actually offer true, results oriented SEO services. If these minor investments in SEO are enough to rank your site for highly trafficed terms, then you’re working in a real estate market where there is little competition for top search engine ranking, consider yourself to be a lucky Realtor.

    Yes, some of their sites may be ranking for any number of reasons: The Realtors may be doing their own SEO. They may have invested in some content writing, possibly done by Advanced Access. It’s also quite possible, as I mentioned, that the site isn’t posted in a competitive market or it has a mature URL.

    Steve, 150 leads per month. That’s 5/day. It’s enough to sustain 1 agent, if they are quality leads, but for real lead traffic, you’re going to need to invest in real SEO. Thanks for the comment though.

    I will say that it’s nice to see a company whose customer services is lauded. So, compliments where they are due. Kudos for that.

    Happy New Year all.

  • Anna Bourland says:

    Hello again,

    I thought I would provide the link to our Premium Marketing Package page where we talk about our full SEO package. http://www.advancedaccess.com/productsservices/premium-marketing.html. Perhaps it is not as clear since we last updated our site. If this is what you are basing your review on, I encourage you to give me a call if you would like more info. As with any business, we have much to do and only so many hours in the day. I personally write the website content and am in the process of revising all our pages. It is quite an undertaking! There is always room for improving our information.

    Our Marketing Specialists work with each client who uses our package to talk about results. We get feedback about leads from our clients to help them make changes. For example, we have a client that ranks number one for his main phrase, however, he wasn’t seeing the lead numbers go up. He worked with his marketing specialist to makes adjustments to the home page and incorporate more listing content, and the leads are now increasing.

    In addition, you may want to note that our weekly marketing tips have consistently covered content as a lifeline for SEO and user experience. This is one of the main ways we teach our clients how to get the most return from their real estate website.

    I appreciate your opinions, I am just not sure the commentary on “how we sell these services” or other information was 100% fact checked. I am glad you wanted to chat about Advanced Access nonetheless!

    Having said all of this, I want to assure you that we will continue to improve the quality and relevance of all our services to better serve the real estate industry.

  • david says:

    Anna,

    Thanks for responding. I hope the weather in CA is better than it is out here in Boston.

    Yeah, I read that page already. It sounds to me like you’re talking about PPC. If it’s an SEO service, then you should say so. Also, PPC is NOT a new market. We’ve been managing PPC for Real Estate companies for 5 years. Please don’t tell me you folks just learned about it. I’m sure that’s not the case.

    Also, I should point out, there’s seo and then there’s SEO. I think we’re really talking about 2 different things here. I’m sure that many of the regular readers of this blog know what I mean.

    Regarding my fact checking. I’m not making this stuff up. I’ve walked into real estate offices who think your broken link checker service is their all they need to be getting search engine traffic. We do our best to tell them that for a few bucks a month, they shouldn’t expect much. There’s no fact checking required. I’m the primary source on this one.

    I’ll be evaluating some of the other high volume, low priced providers soon. This thread has kept me busy lately.

    Also, if you’re in the north east. I’ll be teaching a 4 part course on online marketing for the real estate. Here’s some info on it.

    http://www.realestateseo1.com/web-presence-optimization-course

  • Anna Bourland says:

    Our content will soon be updated with the most current info. We do not offer the link service any longer, and again, the content is outdated. However, PPC is *new* to many agents. We serve many people who have never had a website before.

    I appreciate your perspective and it has prompted me to have our team change this content sooner than later.

    Thank you.

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