PLRHeadquarters Blog Mitch Claymore's Private Label Rights weblog

17Dec/11Off

Is your real estate blog just slipslidin’ away?

I hear it all the time, and it sounds awfully familiar. It used to happen to me, too – I’d make a new years resolution nailing down exactly how diligent I was going to be in keeping my blog and site fresh fresh fresh, and then…I bet you know what happens next…

Life happens. Business happens. Everything else in the world rains in, and when the blogger slipslidin'floodwaters recede, chances are most of us are left with blog sites with an ancient posting date right there for all to see.

 The message that sends comes over loud and clear. Last entry four months ago. Might as well say “Dead as a parrot in a Python skit”. Who wants to read a blog that’s four months out of date? When your blog is headlining Labor Day grilling notes but Santa is ringing his bell outside the mall entrance, count your readers and your blog among the dearly departed.  Potential clients who used to stop by to catch the latest on your local market will have given up. Your hard-earned SEO juice has gone bad in the fridge. You can almost see the cobwebs hanging off your byline; wrinkle your nose at the musty aroma…

 The message that sends comes over loud and clear. Last entry four months ago. Might as well say “Dead as a parrot in a Python skit”. Who wants to read a blog that’s four months out of date? When your blog is headlining Labor Day grilling notes but Santa is ringing his bell outside the mall entrance, count your readers and your blog among the dearly departed.  Potential clients who used to stop by to catch the latest on your local market have given up by now. Your hard-earned SEO juice has gone bad in the fridge. You can almost see the cobwebs hanging off your byline; wrinkle your nose at the musty aroma…

Enough! It’s almost the New Year, so what better time for all of us to begin anew! I for one have long  since determined to make it a hallmark of 2012 to put major effort into rewarding every visit to my blog (and my home page, my tweetperch, etc.) with new material.  And whenever the inevitable happens and I can’t steal the hour it usually takes to create a worthwhile entry from scratch, instead of just giving up I’ll spice up some quality Private Label Rights material and skip straight to the final edit.

 If you find yourself avoiding eye contact with your own real estate blog because the last post coincides with the Grand Opening of the Great Pyramid at Giza, take heart. RealtyPLR was founded by real estate pros who recognized that this is a universal problem in the Internet Age, and they put some elbow grease into developing a low-cost solution: http://www.realtyplr.com.

 So how is it that I, a writer/editor, could ever have fallen into the same inertia trap as everyone else? Must have something to do with this year’s massive changeover from monthly to weekly releases of new articles. Just ask the cobbler’s children. I believe even they had to make up a nursery rhyme before their father would do anything about their bare feet problem.

12May/11Off

Am I Imagining This – Or Can Google Get A Little Pricey?

Let’s try and keep this just between you and me…(we wouldn’t want any of this to get out to the other brokers and agents who are trying to grab some of that search engine traffic). Is anyone else listening? Good!

Here’s something I’m beginning to suspect. It could be that some Google AdWords campaigns might get a little costly. In fact, that might even be deliberate!

I know it sounds crazy, but just stay with me on this. Here’s what I’ve detected. When you go to the trouble to build a terrific site — including a home page that is artfully constructed to feature the keywords that will match many potential clients looking for your specialty in your area — and then designed a Google AdWords ad that features the very same keywords, and then added those exact same keywords to your campaign…after a while, you might occasionally note that the amount you are asked to bid in order to have your ad appear on the first page is sort of…well, costly.

And sometimes you’ll also notice that it isn’t because of landing page quality or loading time — it’s costly because of ‘relevance’. And since it couldn’t possibly be more relevant (since all the terms are in perfect harmony, and since your firm has been doing business for years and nobody in your office has ever been sent to prison), you may check out what Google says about this, and conclude that the reason it costs so much is because the general public isn’t clicking on your ad much.

You may also sense that the reason they aren’t clicking on your ad much is BECAUSE THEY CAN’T SEE THE DA**ED AD BECAUSE IT’S NOT ON THE FIRST PAGE!

Sorry. I don’t mean to shout.

The good news is that you can eventually cure this by paying an exhorbitant amount to get it to appear on the first page where people can see it, so they can click on it. Then it will become relevant enough to Google so that they will not have to charge you so much anymore. That is, after you’ve paid them whatever they want for however long they tell you to. They’ll be the judge of that.

Another way to go: practice yoga, and let the material world go. Or take a few deep breaths and redirect your attention to building organic (unpaid) traffic. You may think I’ve got an ax to grind by the second recommendation since it’s what we do. That would be hard to deny.

Ommmmmmmmmm…

25Mar/11Off

Tail Wags Google

This is a tale about a tail, and it’s not a short one.

Last month, when Google’s main Spokesgoogler Matt Cutts reemphasized the search giant’s renewed efforts to help “higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries”, he wasn’t talking about searching for monkeys. The “long tail” in question doesn’t belong on some long-tailed macaque: it’s a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) term,

This kind of “long tail” is what you key in when you google something like “houses for sale in Dubuque, Iowa” instead of just “houses for sale”. The longer a search term is, the longer its tail…and this is the second time in less than a year Google has led us to believe they want to zero in on long tail search results.

This is no monkey business: it’s vitally important to our websites, our industry, and ultimately, sales. You may question exactly how Google is going about adjusting its formulas, but I don’t think this particular 900 pound gorilla is kidding when it puts in print that it’s working overtime “to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users” or which “copy content from other websites”.[ Official Google Blog.]

In Google’s words, when an online user searches for “houses for sale in Dubuque, Iowa”, they want to come up with “sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on”. And those sites better have more fresh info than just today’s version of the MLS listings, because it has to be “original”.

We might call this Google’s ‘monkey see, monkey do’ penalty.

This is great news for anyone who has time to research, write and post thoughtful analyses and in-depth reports…at least a couple of times a week. Google will be delighted at your effort, but only when you keep it up month after month. Of course, if you also have the notion of running a real estate business at the same time, that might not be such good news (not by coincidence, RealtyPLR can help in this regard, but that’s a shorter tale).

Anyone who has had the delightful experience of hearing “Google has you on top” knows how important paying heed to the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) can be. It means phones ringing and appointments queuing up — especially if the other agents in town are only monkeying around.

18Mar/11Off

Betting the House (on Google)

Nothing against games of chance — I enjoy a hand of blackjack now and then as much as anyone does. I even used to enjoy an occasional tug on a one-armed bandit (but that was before they turned them all into ATMs).

Nonetheless, since I never bet enough to make it feel even slightly dangerous, you wouldn’t call me a true gambler. That puts me in the same category as 95% of the rest of America.

That’s probably why it is so maddening for anyone with their own real estate web site: suddenly they find themselves in what seems to be a high stakes game of Wheel of Fortune. They’ve invested in a quality web site, hung out their shingle, and then they discover that maybe they’ll turn up on the first page of Google or Bing search results…or maybe not. Sometimes YES!, sometimes NO!.

They can pay big bucks to get into the Paid column on the right (but lots of potential clients ignore the paid ads). It’s not Google or Bing’s fault that they come off like the croupiers at Monte Carlo. They’re in the business of bringing people to sites that have the latest info on what they’re searching for, and that means avoiding crooks who are out to cheat the system.

So last month when Google announced major changes to the top secret formula that determines who wins (the ‘big algorithmic improvement’), a lot of folks in the know did the SEO equivalent of rolling their eyes, because when Googlers significantly change their formula, the LAST thing they do is to specify what they are changing to the people who want to trick them.

It would be like Caesar’s Palace taking out a full page in the Times to explains a better way to count cards.

So, what do site proprietors and bloggers do when they’re involuntarily chained to the tables inside the Casino de Internet? Basically, play it straight: keep your site and blog up-to-the-minute with real content that targets potential customers’ search queries, avoid tricky mechanical code maneuvers (the search engines will disregard them anyway), and provide the kind of professional service that makes web word-of-mouth a definite positive.

22Jul/10Off

Think like a Google

You haven’t found me blogging much lately. For a while now, I’ve been determined to avoid falling into the annoying company of those who blog on a schedule rather than when they come across a fresh insight or other useful revelation.

But then the phone rang a few minutes ago. I found myself listening to a robotic (though admittedly fetchingly feminine) voice urging me to stay on the  line. She proposed that I press One, which would not only extend our conversation but also give me the lowdown on how it was that she could guarantee a low-cost way to get my website “onto Google’s first page”.

Now it may be possible that since she is a robot and Google is a robot, the two of them have cooked up something that can make this improbable promise come true, but I doubt it(so I pressed Two).

This was not the first pitch for Googlic domination I’ve been subjected to this week…nor, if you receive a normal volume of e-spam, would it have been the first for you. Large amounts of otherwise productive time are being lavished in pursuit of high placement on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), because they are in fact the virtual equivalents of “location location location” for brick-and-mortar outlets (á la March’s rant).

Since claiming a URL costs a tiny fraction of renting a retail storefront, and since outfitting an actual store is likewise much more expensive than developing a website, the inevitable downside is what MBAs call a low Barrier to Entry. In other words, overwhelming competition. The reality is exactly that: since anybody can afford to go into virtual business, most of them have.

Into this daunting competitive thicket go all of us, at first optimistically hoping to find a piece of web engineering trickery that will yield bigtime Google placement. If there ever were such a simplistic fix, it didn’t last for long.  We know this because we have learned to think like a Google.

Googles are busy busy robots. Always in a hurry to finish one job and get onto the next, there aren’t enough hours in the day for them to get everything done. But that doesn’t mean they are sloppy or likely to skip over important details. But perhaps because so many SEO (search engine optimization) experts have tried to trick them, they have become somewhat mistrustful. When you think like a Google, you find yourself becoming downright suspicious.

Take, for instance, meta tags. When you whiz through a page while pretending you’re a Google, you learn to ignore just about everything jammed into those meta tags unless they relate to what’s actually on the page. You start to figure they’re put there to keep you from checking out the real deal…what a human reader sees when s/he looks at the actual page.

When you think like a Google, you  begin to actually resent pages that promise keyword riches in its meta tags, then neglects them on the actual page. Or has repetitious keyword jumbles all over the place. Or the exact same information you ran into a year ago on a thousand other pages, or phrases that any English-speaker would find unnatural, or anything else that seems out of place to a human being.

The thing is, thinking like a Google means resenting those who evidently assume you as a Google are less than human. It also can make you angry, judgmental, and even make you want to penalize somebody.

By the way, in case you actually are a real Google, I guess you know how the penalizing thing works.

-Your Human Friend,

Mitch
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22Apr/10Off

S.O.S.! Save Our Site!

Our tanker was a day off of Cape Farewell, steaming toward the Maritimes and straight into the mouth of an early spring gale – the kind the North Atlantic is unpleasantly famous for –- when the radio began to splutter the faint but unmistakable code that reads distress in any language: “S.O.S

 

Okay – we might be overdramatizing a bit.  Maybe most of the time we aren’t really anywhere near the Maritimes when the S.O.S. arrives (although the distress part rings true enough). Actually, we’re usually at our desk checking the email.

Although it is technically correct that we PLR (private label rights) providers don’t have a Code of the Sea (or even the P.C.), it is a fact that we will do our best to come to the rescue. But it would be better for everyone if the Mayday!s could be avoided in the first place.

S.O.S. (Save Our Site!) situations are often the result of neglect, absent-mindedness, and/or misinformation. When someone puts up their website in the first place, they usually inject a great deal of thought (and often budget) into its creation. Then wait for something to happen. Whether anything good happens as time passes has a thousand variations — but eventually, whether successful or not, a sort of settling tends to happen.

And the direction of almost all ‘settling’ tends to be downward.

Neglect and absent-mindedness is common because of the misinformation. The misinformation is that time alone is an internet ally, since trust and traffic build after you’ve been around long enough to establish that you are not one of the fly-by-night kind of operations. This is just about precisely half true.

True, people and search engines sometimes reward longevity, but only the kind that they’re looking for. If you have a site that has been rock solid since 1999, hasn’t changed a whit since then, Google may decide that the rock in question is a tombstone. Most of their customers (and yours) are interested in finding outfits that are actively doing business with living breathing human beings. That’s why it’s a necessity to inject a steady stream of fresh and relevant new content on a regular basis via dedicated blogging, dedicated creative staff research, or (more efficiently) canny use of the right PLR articles.

When those Save Our Site! calls come in, they’re almost always due to a period of neglect — failure to man the bridge. Suddenly the alarm sounds because inattention has caused everything to drift off course which threatens to dash the company website vessel onto yawning shoals of…well, seldom onto yawning shoals of coral.

 

More often, just shoals of yawning.
- Mitch
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8Mar/10Off

The Oscars, PLR, and box-office magic!

Why anyone other than a film historian would continue to punish himself by watching the entire Oscarcast year after year is often cited as one of life’s minor mysteries. Year after year, critics and the public at large wind up agreeing: Too long! Too boring! Too few bright moments!  Yet even in off-years, the size of the audience is massive.

I, for one, have to watch in order to keep tabs on the commercials. Like the Superbowl, the Academy Awards show is an occasion for Madison Avenue’s media creatives to capitalize on the outsized viewing audience by displaying their shiniest new wares. Last night’s sampling lacked the usual luster, but I hung on to the bitter end. And last night I’ll admit to also being drawn by the cliff-hanger about whether history’s highest grossing Best Picture nominee (Avatar) would be able to overcome the dramatic intensity of history’s lowest grossing Best Picture nominee (Hurt Locker), and either way, how the respective Best Director nominees, ex-husband- and ex-wife, would handle the excruciating on-camera announcement moment. As it turned out, both handled HL’s win with yawn-provoking grace.

Like clockwork, the overnight ratings confirm that an outsized viewing audience was again in attendance. It used to be assumed that the simple explanation was the drawing power of the planet’s most glamorous stars, but for about a decade that hasn’t made any sense. These celebrities are available on the tube 24-7-365, plugging their latest project on talk shows morning noon and night. So if not star power, how to explain?

I think the answer is the same as it is for the Super Bowl (indeed, to greater or lesser degree, sportscasts of all kinds). The same answer that draws huge numbers to the reality shows.

It’s the allure of content that’s fresh – but more than just fresh – unpredictably fresh.

Traditional theatrical television series are at a disadvantage in this department to an extent that is all but threatening the very survival of their species. The problem is that no matter how superbly written and produced, we all know that the dramatic hero will survive in the end because like their comedic sitcom star colleagues, they have to return for next week’s episode.

That bottom-line predictability is fundamentally unlike the sports team that may at any moment fail or succeed to win the day, or the reality contestant who might get voted off the island/dance to victory/get fired. Since we never know, we have to watch, don’t we?

PLR’s principal contribution is to tap into that same human response.  A web site that succeeds in answering a search query provides answers or information that was not known to the seeker. It was important for that moment, but once the answer is known, the site will lose its drawing power unless it also holds out the promise that it will in future dependably provide more new and otherwise unpredictable information  Even more powerfully, if the site is prominently changing every week, responding to changing conditions in its area of interest, visitors will be impelled to revisit to see if new trends have surfaced, possibly answering questions that he or she could not have anticipated. In even the most superbly-designed static website, the unpredictability factor is null and void.

In a site where a new headline seems to pop out every time you visit, the unpredictability factor screams, ‘Bookmark me! Don’t forget!” In Hollywood terms, PLR can be sheer box office magic.

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22Feb/10Off

Linking for Dromedaries

The above title may be a cheap trick , but it’s there for three important reasons. They will be fully explored in a moment, but first it’s time to disclose something of a trade secret:

It’s a thought that is discouraged by our Private Label Rights brethren and sistren. It has to do with the theme that PLR providers (as well as hucksters) are forever harping upon — namely PLR’s core value:  the importance of fresh, relevant content to any web traffic-building campaign.

 Web content is just about the most important aspect of building your web site’s traffic!”, we will say.    Or,

It’s near the top of any list,” we will say.

If you come across these sales points when your eyes are bleary (probably from reading so many conflicting opinions about Search Engine Optimization strategies), you might just nod and read on instead of leaping to the implied follow-up question, “Uh…then what’s at the top of the list? What’s that most important aspect?”

Admitting this may be close to apostasy in the Private Label Rights community, but here it is, anyway: linking, not content, is what’s  most valuable. Linking to quality sites in your keyword universe will move your site toward the top of the SERPs more quickly and more reliably than anything else. And maybe even keep it there for a good long time!

So why wouldn’t every sophisticated web entrepreneur just concentrate on link-building and forget about coming up with fresh content [by subscribing to a PLR resource like ours at PLRHeadquarters]?

First, wrangling links to quality partners takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, and also doesn’t get you anywhere if the site you’re building isn’t worth visiting in the first place. Google and Bing! and Yahoo Search have campuses fully-manned with pocket-protectored software folks using megacomputers to keep on top of that determination. If your site is static, they’re going to notice.

Second, quality link partners decide whether to link to you after they’ve checked out your site’s content. If they’re true quality sites, they’ll check back, too – and more than once. They’ll drop you faster than a Texas hailstone if you let your site go stale.

Last –and we owe the blog at linksmanager.com a nod for this–:

“Never forget: The search engines are trending the rate at which you obtain links, so slow and steady beats fast and furious.” [our emphasis added]

In other words, effort over time works: blasting away in a hurry looks like what it is: a short-lived stab at popularity. In all cases, even while you’re tending to all the parts of the equation that will bring SEO success, the one foundation component that has to be there and has to be changing is your content. Either hire those writers, do it yourself (and abandon everything else you should be doing), or subscribe to a service that does what PLRHeadquarters does.

Now, back to the beginning: why is this entry called “Linking for Dromedaries”?  Again, there are multiple reasons. First, “Linking for Dummies” is not only already taken, but it’s derivative and, frankly, just not original enough. Second, dromedaries are quite fascinating animals with a name you don’t see every day. At least not nearly as often as ‘camels’. Third, it got you reading and you’re still reading, so it proves the point that amusing and interesting content tends to get and hold readership. You might say it gets you over the hump.

(Then again, it might be better if you didn’t.)
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14Jan/10Off

Change change and more change

I was sharing a cup of coffee with a good friend and long-time client last week, and the familiar topic of watching TV/Movies on the Internet came up.

I admitted that after years of successfully avoiding watching ANY entertainment on cramped computer screens, I was finding myself sporadically having to do so, most often after forgetting to record something on the DVR. People like me have a fondness for BIG screens, not itsy ones. But lately I’ve come to notice how many pieces of video are only available on the web – especially the short, controversial (frequently hilarious) ones.

My friend was more easy-going. His kids keep sending him links, he keeps clicking on them; the consequential lean-forward viewing is inevitable. He’s gotten used to it.

So we are both arriving at the same conclusion: like so many other facets of present-day media, the value of resisting change seems to fade and disappear ever more quickly. PC Magazine, for example, advises against ever buying another old-fashioned DVD player (at the moment it’s surrendered to Blu-Ray, and soon enough online streaming will destroy them, too). Tweeting’s another case in point: fad or not, its allure is undeniably strong…enough to cause a planetary sensation. For a web owner to refuse to even consider its possibilities (especially the commercial ones) is about as defensible as a newspaper media buyer refusing to check out circulation statistics.

The analogy to Private Label Rights is direct. To succeed on the web, a site has to do more than greet visitors with the information or entertainment they’re after. It won’t even get the chance in the first place. It has to ‘get found’ first — and the proliferation of sites makes the odds of that happening by accident highly unlikely.

Originally, anyone could live with the straight-out-of-the-carton Company Web Site (just a Home Page housing the Company Blurb and the Stuff Being Offered;  or maybe a premium version with a captive search box leading to the Exact Stuff Being Offered).

No more: to keep up with today’s changing search requisites, the Company Site has got to pump iron, bulk up with current content of pointedly relevant interest, and then keep on keeping on! Change change change!

But seeing as the Company keepers of the brand are correct to insist that the Company Blurb never change, and seeing as the Home Page really needs to provide exactly the same kind of visual continuity so return visitors feel warm and comfy — keeping fresh becomes problematical. If a Home Page looks and reads the same to the loyal customer, it also reads the same to the not-so-loyal search engine spiders (and they don’t like that so much). True, the Stuff Being Offered may or may not change – but unless that Stuff is totally unique, by itself those edits arent likely to score big points with Google or Bing or their arachnid minions.

Updated content (and PLR is only a very convenient way of achieving it), when created intelligently, and integrated gracefully, rewards the visitor with the latest in what he was seeking – which is exactly what the SERPs are designed to list.

However awesomely web site owners may have created their original sites, if they haven’t kept abreast of the search engines’ demands for new, changing content, they are increasingly likely to find themselves pitted up against competitors who have.

Like giving in to laptop video or tweets in the afternoon, accepting change means keeping time with the changing marketplace and its customers. And — who knows ?– if we hustle to the front of the parade, we might just become a leader!

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