PLRHeadquarters Blog Mitch Claymore's Private Label Rights weblog

24Oct/12Off

EMDs Get Punched by Panda!

THE PANDA in question isn’t nearly as cute and cuddly as the ones you see contentedly munching bamboo leaves. This is the one that is the code name for Google’s active algorithm – the top secret code the search engine giant uses to determine what list of pages appear when users type in ‘houses for sale in Kalamazoo’ or ‘listings in Peoria.’

This Panda has attitude: it can maul an innocent website it doesn’t like in a flash. It is good business practice for Realtors® to avoid offending the Panda. In fact, you’d better try to feed it whatever it wants!

The perpetual problem is trying to figure out what it does want. Its dietary preferences are fickle. A few weeks ago, it started turning up its nose at one of its previously tolerated morsels – the EMDs (Exact-Match Domains).

EMDs are the www dot NAMES that exactly duplicate a query: if, for instance, you have named your site ThreeBedroomDoubleWidesInTucson dot com, you knew Google might reward you with a high ranking for a query with exactly that term. As of the beginning of this month, it turns out, not so much anymore.

According to Matt Cutts, the public spokesman for Google’s algorithm lab (think of him as Panda’s keeper), this is just an incremental step in that direction. It’s like Penguin – another of Google’s bestiary (the one that pecks away at spam and bad links).

Through it all, you who post and blog with real content -- articles that please actual humans (the kind the staff at RealtyPLR.com send you every Monday) -- don’t need to fear the latest Panda update. You are still as likely as ever to be a favorite snackable.

18Apr/12Off

Cutting Off Your Nose (to spite your Facebook)

YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE SOCIAL MEDIA to make your peace with it/them. But just turning your back and walking away from it/them completely isn’t a very good idea, either. Unlikely as it seems to anyone over the age of 30 --  illogical as it may seem -- the social media advocates are truth-tellers: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and their cousins are POWERFUL marketing tools that fetch actual authentic bite-the-nickel OMG it’s real! real estate business. ActiveRain, for instance, is a social medium, although its one whose value explains itself better than something like a Twitter -- which at first glance seems not much more than a barely grownup version of Junior High School texting-gossip.

 After the recent realty dry spell, years when just keeping the doors open has been such a challenge, rare is the agent who willingly overlooks any opportunity to cultivate business.

So if you are a broker or agent who is canny enough to tune into the blogosphere, yet at the same time are actively avoiding the rest of social media, the chances are good that you feel awful about it. The thought, pure waste of time probably occurs whenever you think about getting involved.

 For those who may have missed it, a recent Realtor® Magazine piece had a wonderfully energizing take on how to handle the whole issue: (http://realtormag.realtor.org/technology/feature/article/2012/03/spend-only-one-hour-week-social-media) .

Author Tarbox focuses on an approach that’s remarkably similar to what we at RealtyPLR concentrate upon. It can be summed up in a single basic precept, though it can be presented every which-way: 

  • Jealously budget the time you spend creating online outreach…or
  • Don’t let the screens suck you in…or
  • Treat the Web like the pet wildcat it is...or
  • You be the Boss (else soon it will be sending you out for coffee)!

If you’ve been avoiding social media but wish there were a way you could put it to work, take heart. Just decide how many minutes you’re going to spend, go grab  a timer from the kitchen (don’t use the computer alarm -- you’ll wind up ignoring it) and stick to your guns. That’s the time you’ll give it. Not five minutes more. Don’t try to master any of it at one sitting. Just wade in now, come back later. When the timer tells you it’s time to get back to business, pay attention to it.

 And try keep in mind: you have been doing business!

22Mar/12Off

Now Here’s a Shocker: “Thanks, Google!”

I never thought these words would come out of this keyboard, but OMyGolly, thank you, Google!

A real jaw-dropperLast Thursday, the Wall Street Journal spilled the beans on what Google has been up to for the past two years -- and how it fits into the ‘next generation of search’. It hasn’t been announced officially, but the Journal reports that ‘millions of sites’ that rely on Google’s current page-ranking results will be affected. That’s every real estate shop: all of us; everybody; the whole shebang; period.

 Details are, as usual, under wraps -- but what Monolith of Mountain View does acknowledge is the shift from the current keyword-based system to one based on ‘Semantic Search’. The WSJ’s simplest explanation is that the new Google search method will “figure out which to show in search results…by examining a Web page and identifying information about specific entities rather than only look for keywords.”

 Semantic Search refers to the process of understanding the actual meaning of words, while Keyword Search rates a website based on the words it contains. If you’ve ever chuckled over a perplexing blog or article that doesn’t seem to make much sense, one that repeats phrases like ‘home sales’ over and over in awkward sentences, you probably recognized it as a way of gaming the system. The problem always remained that actual flesh-and-blood readers (clients) couldn’t help but be driven away by the less-than-scintillating wit thus produced.

Actual flesh-and-blood bloggers should be cheering (especially those who are also RealtyPLR subscribers). Their sensible contributions are certainly part of what Google has been quietly amassing: “hundreds of millions” of entries of people, places and things and the semantic sense they make.

It couldn’t be better news for those who continue to post content that people care to read on topics they seek…as opposed to only tailoring page titles, URLs, tags, etc. in a dubious SEO game.

 We’ll keep a close eye on the results as the “next generation of search” ramps up and the Google experience changes dramatically. But in the meantime, a simple, “Thanks, Google!” should do nicely.

 

27Feb/12Off

Me Like Eucalyptus!

And who doesn’t?

Whenever I fall for a blog title like the above, as often as not I’ve already whizzed past it while speed-scanning for something else. But if there is such a thing as latent curiosity effect, I’ve got it. The chances are pretty good that a few moments later I’ll be thinking, ‘What th??? and go back to see what the heck this is about…

 Koalas? An obscure Aussie dance craze? Lovin' them eucsNo matter what it turns out to be, I probably won’t be able to resist going back to find out. So that blog’s author wins the first big battle: the one for eyeballs.

Which is what prompted this discussion: it's about creating titles for real estate blog entries.

It is said that blog authors fall into one of three categories: those who blog to entertain themselves, those who blog to entertain others, and those who (like us) blog as part of their marketing strategy. We blog first to attract attention, then to establish and build relationships.

Since we are local, we can't match national firms who can mount expensive TV and print campaigns which do little more than repeat their brand name with some positive association (an association which sometimes can be amazing in how little it has to do with what they are actually selling). In residential real estate, the odds of gathering the kind of eyeballs we want with a title like Me Like Eucalyptus is remote.

For us, a great real estate blog title may incorporate the curiosity factor (or the surprise factor), but that’s only half the assignment. It needs also to connect in a real way with our customers’ hot buttons. Examples might be “Home Sales Hit Apple!”; “[town name] Realty Dervish Whirls Clockwise”; “The Movers Blocked My Escape Route!”… or just about any curious title that touches on some aspect of listing, buying, selling, moving in or out – the issues that are floating close to the top of prospective clients’ consciousness.

While it’s not always easy to lasso a wildly improbable blog title and tie it into a meaningful blog entry, when you succeed in doing so you have a true real estate blog title champ: one that's both informative and memorable.

 “Home Sales Hit Apple”, for instance, might deal with the prospective Wha?home seller’s need to become their own William Tell by keeping their eye on the target -- buyers who appreciate their property’s unique features; “Dervish” might be a tongue-in-cheek way of announcing recent closings; “Escape”, could chronicle a recent client’s moving adventure.

Me Like Eucalyptus? Did I ever tell you about the time I was living near the beach in Southern California? A doctor friend from back east insisted on taking home some leafy branches from my back yard. I'd always thought those trees were just sort of smelly, but he told me…

5Jan/12Off

Google’s New Eye-Opener: More Than Just Caffeine

Yup. It’s the Freshness Algorithm, announced late last year on the official Google website. It’s one of the 500 or so changes they make every year to keep everyone coming to them first whenever they search for anything. 

In case youCuppa haven’t had that first cuppa yet, that was no misprint.  500 changes a year, They have buildings full of bright techies working day and night to keep us all off balance.

 Last year they finished perfecting their “Caffeine Web Indexing System” which they modestly described as allowing them to “crawl and index the web for fresh content quickly on an enormous scale.” If you have a web site, in 2011 you’d already noticed how well it works: if your site isn’t updated regularly, it’s been sliding sliding sliding…

In case that wasn’t enough, in November Google went a step further in their push for up-to-date relevant results: it’s the Freshness Algorithm. It looks for the ‘latest news’ for every search query. I hope you’re sitting down. They say it will begin to yield more results that “might only be minutes old.”

 Of course, harried real estate web owners can choose to ignore the announcement. (They can also move to a nearby desert, find a sand dune, and stick their head under it). Or they can glue themselves to their computer and just keep posting new blogs until the electricity is cut off, which will eventually happen since they’ve been too busy blogging to pay the electric bill. Or they can subscribe to a high quality Private Label Rights service, and use it to painlessly keep their web and blog pages at the top of the Caffeine/Freshness results. If that’s the choice, we here at RealtyPLR.com will of course be delighted, and possibly you will be, too – since so few realtors are even aware that the fresh content competition has gotten so –– caffeinated.

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…

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
Back to RealtyPLR

2Jan/10Off

Less than a 2009 PLR ‘Top Ten’ List…

The year just over — so what have PLR users and providers learned? I’ve been trying to compress the jumble of change and growth into something less breathless than a ‘Top Ten’ list. In fact, I’ve decided it’s more useful to just chuck the list and acknowledge the single preeminent trend: the now (finally) undeniable ascendence of web search knowhow as the clear in-your-face marketers’ top-performing gottahaveit Skill Set of the Year.

You hear the term ‘Web Informatics’ to describe the greater arena, but it’s all really devolving into ‘web search’, or ‘web search-for-marketing’, or — to be rigorously honest – ‘web search-to-snag-new-customers-to-keep-the-doors-open’.

Nowhere we traveled in 2009 could we find much more than a vestige of earlier reluctance to recognize the merit of practical PLR to focused search engine optimization strategies – most notably among proprietors of smaller businesses. The SES last March in Manhattan was an early indicator, for it turned out to be more than the usual nice excuse to spend a few days in the City. Despite the economy, the floor was fairly mobbed with small shop entrepreneurs; they looked and talked less like techies and more like business people; and many of them seemed a bit longer in the tooth than in previous gatherings. Most seemed focused and determined in a distinctly non-hobbyist sort of way and not nearly as distracted as usual by the Gotham diversions  (and keep in mind this was long before we knew that even the Tavern on the Green would find itself among the fallen!).

We chatted and eavesdropped and observed. By the final day, we’d seen what amounts to an economics-driven sea change in web enterpreneurs’ perspective. Whereas two or three years ago a typical small company website may have been gathering dust as little more than a vanity accessory for the boss (or else a project to keep Junior interested in the family biz), by the end of the year just about every content consumer we deal with had redrafted their priorities: the site had to be more than competitive – it had to PULL, it had to RANK; it had to PRODUCE!

Sigh. Here we’re in the content, not the web redesign business.  But the number of sites that now have to actually perform means, quite often, sites that have to be redesigned from the ground up, because now it’s really serious.

But of course it always was.

Back to RealtyPLR