PLRHeadquarters Blog Mitch Claymore's Private Label Rights weblog

6Oct/12Off

Web Location Location Location!

If you’re the lucky one in charge of boosting your website’s traffic (maybe because you own the place), you’ve already come up against the need to spend copious amounts of otherwise productive time pursuing high placement on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Strong SERP placement is, after all, the precise equivalent of location, location, location in the brick-and-mortar world. If your store faces the busiest mall in town, boy! have you got business!  On the other hand, if your store is across the alley from a back-street mortuary, it might as well be inside.

There is one huge difference, though. No matter where your hypothetical brick-and-mortar store were located, at least you would be able to count your competitors within a given radius. No such luck on the internet. There may be hundreds or hundreds of thousands of existing competitors, with hordes more able to pop up or disappear on any given day (see PLRHeadquarters’ SEO SERP count for an amusing live demonstration).

The Search Engine Optimization experts will advise you to test search using terms your target visitors are likely to use when looking for you. That’s good (as well as obvious) advice. What is also true is that all your serious competitors are doing the same thing, and since they all can’t place on the first page, there must be something more to it.

There is.

Links are involved, and life is involved.

Links are discussed everywhere, and building high-quality links should occupy something like 90% of your traffic-boosting time and/or budget.  Life is the other factor (as in the opposite of death).

A dead site – one that never changes, and never offers anything new to return visitors – will inevitably fall from grace with the search engines as well as with the link partners you’ve sweated bullets to gain.

As usual, my major point here is the need for you either to devote the time to updating your site’s content at least a few times a week, or else find and subscribe to a high-quality creative PLR outfit.                                  (I think you know a couple I’d recommend).

-Mitch
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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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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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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.

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