Posts Tagged ‘Snake Oil’
I got a call yesterday from a guy who wanted to learn more about our SEO services. Actually, first a lead landed in my inbox from one of our websites. I think it was bostonlogic.com. So, I responded to the lead via email. The lead had written that they were interested in optimizing their website www.harrymoore.com. So, I wrote back. Then he called me to discuss his site.
I felt like I was a mechanic telling someone that their car had been totaled or maybe like a cop telling the victim of a robbery that they shouldn’t expect to see their possessions again any time soon. All I had to do was look at the site for about 15 seconds and I knew that there was nothing we could do.
First of all, the site is built by Advanced Access. The readers of this SEO blog have read my post about them. That post met refutation from someone in their marketing dept and there was a sting of about 7 comments and responses that followed. They told me that their sites could be SEOed and yes, some of them were based on old technology, but they help lots of agents…etc, etc.
ANY SEO worth half their IQ would know that this site was built improperly if you want to achieve organic ranking. Let’s look at why. The problems with this site spell out an education in how not to build a website:
1 page website
This site is, in fact, only one page! Click around Harry’s site. You’ll notice that the pages have names like:
Now, Nav.aspx is the file name and the rest is a database query. That query is actually telling the system that powers this real estate site what page to put into the iframe on the right side of the page, which makes up the majority of the page. (more on iframes in a moment) So, as you navigate around the site, you’re just reloading the Nav.aspx page again and again with a different bunch of content in the iframe. A 1 page website will NEVER rank well in the search engines.
The “pages” of this site (I use that term loosely) are actually just 2 iframes each. There’s an iframe on the left, which contains the nav and an iframe on the right, containing the body
I-Frames = No SEO help
Iframes are universally regarded as poor SEO. Sure, they get used all the time. They are not without purpose, in some situations. Google uses them to build some of their applications, even, but this is not the right place to use an iframe and here’s why. When spidering a site and considering it for search engine ranking, the search engines ignore the content that’s inside any iframe. It may as well not exist on your site at all. Most folks would say that iframes just don’t help whatsoever. They’re certainly not the right way to construct AN ENTIRE SITE!!!
So, a 1 page site made up of iframed content…well that’s the ballgame. But let’s proceed with this analysis assuming that this weren’t the case. Maybe there’s some imaginary real estate website out there that’s similar to this one, but without the iframes and actually made up of more than 1 page.
Nav made of images
The navigation is made up of a number of images on this site. When possible, you want your nav to be made up of HTML text. If you’re implementing some design that requires a font that is not an html font, then you want to make image files with names that are the same as what the images say. You also want to use alt text to tell the search engine spiders what the images say. The file names for the these images on this site are all similar to this: 1165984.jpg. Oh, and there’s no alt text.
Before I get carried away with more ranting about the snake oil that the people at advanced access will sell you, I want to be constructive. I want to give our readers a few tips on how to avoid getting yourself into an SEO hole.
Know what you’re buying. Realize that you can’t achieve good ranking for $50/month. A $15,000 car is never going to do 150 MPH either. Don’t believe the salesman when he tells you that it will.
If the company that sells you a website doesn’t offer organic SEO services for thousands of dollars, don’t buy your website from them. I’m not saying that you have to have a huge budget. Follow this logic: If a company sells sites and then takes on expensive SEO contracts and optimizes sites for superior placements for marquis terms using the technology that those sites are built on, then at least you know that the technology CAN support good SEO. You might even try calling the company and asking them to show you some sites that rank for marquis terms (and not just the agent’s name) and then make sure your site is built on the same software platform.
Lastly, remember that if you want to achieve good placement, you’re going to need an seo expert on your side. Ask your real estate seo consultant to look at the site that you’re going to be investing in and have them give their opinion of whether or not the system running the site is suited for SEO in the future. Most honest SEOs will do this for free in the hopes that they’ll get your business later on. We sure will.
Have a great holiday weekend.
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.