PLRHeadquarters Blog Mitch Claymore's Private Label Rights weblog

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.

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
Back to RealtyPLR

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.

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.

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…

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.