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!
10Mar/13Off

Finally: Staylight Davings Time!

For those of us who always feel a little creeped out when it’s pitch black outside long before we head home (even when work ends early), it’s worth losing an hour’s sleep in order to nudge the sunset back a little.

They say Benjamin Franklin thought the idea up, and I don’t doubt it. Anyone who, like Ben in his Poor Richard days, scribbles away the daylight hours in cramped little rooms with only a dictionary or two for companionship, applaud messing with the clock if it means we won’t have completely wasted what little daylight there is.

 Just when it seems as if the long winter won’t ever peter out —  voila! — the TV, radio, and bloggers all chime in to remind us it’s time to spring forward.

 I’m glad it happens on the most appropriate day of the week, Sun Day: it’s only fitting for an institution like Staylight Davings Time.

 Strange, though, how almost everybody mispronounces it.

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If time saving is a constant issue, and more and more often a week passes when you find yourself too busy to blog...my team is here to do it for you!

Mitch Claymore is the Editor of RealtyPLR -- leading ghostblogging service for real estate and mortgage industry professionals too busy to blog as much as they’d like.

 

24Nov/12Off

Thanksgiving Week Blog Tips

RealtyPLR subscribers should have received this Monday's brand new PLR articles to use in your holiday blogging this week.  Here are four tips for extra credit: 

1.ThanksKitchenis a season-specific blog aimed at SEO term “real estate listings.”
 In case you'd like extra customizing: This blog could be used to highlight your support of your own local non-profit. Substitute your local charity’s pitch, leaving out the national Red Cross. You can link to it to your charity to add SEO for you AND your cause!
 
2.REO – Bankers’ Codeaimed at high target value search term “REO.”
 
Extra customizing: Check your local MLS for current REO data in your central zip code, then insert one or two of your local statistics.
 
3.Interviewing for Remodels brings in the“home values” SEO search term.
 
Extra customizing: If you have a great contractor to recommend for an interview, why not add a line or two to the end of this blog as your personal endorsement?Don’t forget to link directly to his or her company website; your vendor will greatly appreciate it -- and your blog will benefit from added local SEO juice!
 
4.Virtual Toursfocuses on keyword phrase “virtual tours.”
 
Our research points to “virtual tours” again scoring as a high-flyer in the most-trafficked recent searches (if virtual tours are not part of your marketing already, this may not be an article for you – but based on what we learned in Orlando at the NAR convention last week, you might want to consider adding it!)
 
Extra customizing: If you do use virtual tours in your marketing, add hyperlinks to one or two of your virtual tours. Be sure to mention the address (street, town, state) specifically for GEO-coding bonus points!
  
That's all there is to it. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
 
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.

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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