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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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.

 

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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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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