PLRHeadquarters Blog Mitch Claymore's Private Label Rights weblog

11Jul/13Off

We Asked Ourselves the Same Question

Doesn't it seem like every community has someone — a broker or salesperson — who just is the one who seems to have the Internet figured out. Certainly that's what happens in small towns. Their name pops up whenever anyone queries about real estate in the community; their blog and their home page shows up more than anyone else’s whenever a search for ‘listing agents’ or ‘homes for sale’ (or anything else about local real estate) is being looked for.
 
The question we asked ourselves is HOW do they become what seems to be the local expert? Especially since there are many other equally experienced agents around. Do they spend all day on their Twitter and Facebook accounts? Do they pay hundreds (okay, realistically — thousands) of dollars for Google Adwords ads? And how do they have time to do the actual job of a REALTOR® when they spend all day fussing with the Internet?
 
It’s clear that web pre-eminence goes to those with the most recent information about real estate queries — but only when the search engines ‘trust’ a source. Search engines don’t ‘trust’ fly-by-night sites. The top-of-the-page winners are sites that consistently present valid information, not sites or blogs that are quickly abandoned (that ‘bounce’).
 
How does a practicing REALTOR® have time to consistently present updated information that is engaging enough to hold new visitors' interest for a minute or more, week after week, and month after month? 
 
The answer is by forming a kind of coop with others to share the expense of a staff of researchers and writers, and then blogging with content that’s fresh and not widely available. Of course, they add their own hyper-local, purely personal posts whenever they have time. But busy pros know that when they get busy, the blog — and the website — have to go by the boards.
 
But since subscribers need no more than 5 minutes to customize each article for their community (they get to reserve their territory’s name, like “Elk Grove” or “Miami Beach,” and as long as they subscribe, are the only ones allowed to use it to customize their blog posts), they always have time to blog. 
 
That’s all it takes for them to become their community leader — the local REALTOR® who has the Internet figured out!
9Jan/13Off

News Flash for a Desert Island!

       ON MONDAY, every Realtor® who had spent the last four years stranded on a desert island would have been astonished by the news!

        It came in the form of a release from the National Association of Realtors® and Google, who announced the results of a wide-reaching joint study. It was of interest primarily to the castaways, since every working professional in the real estate industry who has not been cut off from civilization already knows the conclusion:

 Online real estate searches have been growing in volume!

         The number of real estate searches grew 253% over the past four years. And James Bond goes after the bad guys, hobbits are attracted to gold rings, and the national debt has been growing a bit.

         Busy real estate pros won’t have time to plow through Monday’s study, but as a time-saver, here are some nuggets:

  • Buyers rely on search engines and general websites when they begin their search.
  • Buyers rely more on mobile applications toward the end of their search (equally startling, they probably use the same mobile phones to talk with people who aren’t in the same room with them).
  • 90% of homebuyers searched online during their home buying process.

        I might add, the Sun has been tending to rise in the east (though there is increasing evidence that it isn’t setting there).

        Google has a Head of Real Estate, Patrick Grandinetti. He concluded that the real estate industry would be smart to target homebuyers “where they look for and consume information.” That would be online, on “relevant websites” and the like.

         The CEO of Realtor.com agreed with us that the Internet can be used to connect Realtors with home buyers (you can check us out at www.realtyplr.com to see how we go about it). But if you’re one of those out there on a desert island, maybe not so much.

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.

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…

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…