Sorry the bartman has been away for a while. It seems that a few new clients have taken me away from my blog writing for ActiveRainers.
If any of you watch ABC's SharkTank we picked up one of their companies that was invested in by sharks: Mark Cuban and Daymond John. The company is EzVip.com and it's essentially doing for night clubs and venues what Expedia.com is doing for hotels.
About Google's Penguin. What happened?
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Google actually got around to (strictly) enforcing the laws that are on the books @ Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
For a few hundred thousand unsuspecting websites (including a few thousand real estate sites), they were dropped from Google's visibility from page one down to page 67 - the Internet equivalent of "nowhere."
Many agents and webmaster are crying foul, but the Bartman cannot feel for ignorance or stupidity on this one. Because the rules have been published for quite some time.
If you were foolish enough to buy five thousand links with anchor text tags laced with "colorado springs real estate" or "denver homes for sale," and you used Fiverr.com or any one of the thousands of text-link ad vendors... then you simply got caught with your pants down.
Because buying links from the Link Farms is a "no-no," if you bothered to read Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
If your site has been affected by the Penguin Update or if you want to minimize any impact from a future Google update to Penguin, the Bartman has put together a top (5) thigns you must do to avoid getting on Google's Radar Screen.
1.) Get Real On Your Content
Nobody wants to read how good you are with horses. Nobody wants to see you posing with your dog. Nobody cares how well you know the local area. Nobody wants to read the same story you just copied and pasted from another site into your website or blog. All of this is real estate websites circa 1999. It's as dead as 8-track tape stereos are.
You have to get real on writing content about things that buyers want to know about. What are the top (3) growth areas in your town? Where are the best schools? What's fun to do this weekend? What are the local attractions? If you write about things in local neighborhoods and let people start conversations about it, you'll do just fine.
Example: Keller Williams agents Dan and Traci Rochon have launched a new website forum. It's a bit like Trulia but has a local flavor for homes in the Virginia, Washington DC area and Maryland. It's just now getting launched at GreetingsRealty.com
2.) Buy Google AdSense Ads. Facebook Ads, too.
Google likes to see your website NOT as Google Centric, but more well rounded. Are you using Google AdSense ads? Are you buying Facebook ads? Do you rank about the same level on Yahoo or Bing? How many incoming links do you have from ActiveRain or Localism.com?
Exercise: Take $250 a month and spread the love. $100 a month on Google. $150 a month on Facebook. The tiny 125 X 125 box / text ads on the right side are important to do. If you'd like some help on this, I am always doing "Open Mike phone calls ,"on Fridays at 866-902-3600. Call me and get free questions to this important step above.
3.) Text-Link-Ads.com, Spark Labs Pay-Per-Post.com have to get fired.
These are just two of the companies you need to fire if you are using them. Fiverr.com is another. If the website SELLS you links with contextual kew words (KWs) in the link and they point to your site, and they point to Alice the Agent and Bob the Broker at Amazing Realty... then you are just asking for trouble.
Buying cheap links to point to your website is just not a good idea. It's building a house made from a deck of cards. There's no stability in doing this.
Fire them now and you will greatly reduce the risk to Google placing your website on their radar screen for violating their Google Webmaster Guidelines and banishing you from a high natural page rank visibility.
The right way to build links is to simply roll up your sleeves and get to work by posting relevant content on Facebook, ActiveRain.com, Localism.com, Curbed.com and let's not forget LinkedIn.com.
Have you created or joined a Real Estate group on LinkedIn.com? No? Wow. Get started tomorrow. If you need pragmatic ideas on where else to go, remember my Open Mike Fridays. 866-902-3600. Call me or email and I'll send you a handful of ideas on what to do and where to go to help you start building up GREAT contacts and GOOD relevant links to point to your website or real estate blog.
4.) PRWeb.com / PRNewswire.com -- Feed the Press
Press releases might seem a bit old fashioned, but they still work. I like PRWeb.com and for $149 - $199 you can create and launch a nice PR of your own.
Here's the joint PR we released for our ABC Shark Tank client and VPiX - the company I work at.
The PR was shown 30,337 times and was opened / read 929 times. Stats are below:
Did it work?: You be the judge. Last week we jumped from 309 uniques a day to over 511 for three days when the PR ran. I closed on $15,190 more in new sales.
There's no argument that a PR blast won't work. It worked like a charm.
5.) Website + IDX + WordPress Blog + an HTML 5 Mobile Website = MORE LEADS.
The formula for success for today's Modern Real Estate Warrior is not hard to understand. The writing's been on the wall for two years now.
You need a clean, SEO friendly website that is usable. Steve Krug has a book called Don't Make Me Think. Get the 2nd edition from Amazon. Read it and follow it.
IDX. You have to have one. If you cannot afford a custom one, then get one from iHomeFinders.com. It's $99 set up and as low as $59 a month with a Mobile IDX website, too. Call me and I'll get you set up.
The other issue is the lack of a LIVE account management team. Hosting with a managed service level with Rackspace is just $100 a month tacked onto nearly any plan.
Real estate websites are a bit complicated today. We have your website, your IDX, and a WordPress blog. In addition, you need another separate website just for your mobile users.
If you don't have $250,000 to build a Real Estate APP like Realtor.com, Zillow or Trulia -- then you really need to create a mobile website so people can use your website on a tiny, 4-inch screen. For les then $500 bucks, you can create one and have it linked to your IDX. If you are not sure how to do this, call me or email me.
Geet a managed service level with a complete team ready to help 24/7. You're a REALTOR and might not be a rocket scientist in XML, AJAX, PHP or WordPress. Most REALTOR's don't know their AJAX from a blue can of the powdered cleaning stuff. This is okay.
Once the websites are set up and humming along, thigns will break from time to time and you can either;
(a) spend a fortune yelling at an expensive $75 an hour local Web guy or girl,
(b) trying to get the Indian service desk team to understand your problem and fix it or
(c) hire a U.S. account management, IT and server hosting team for $100 bucks a month.
Trust me, I've seen grown men and women kick and throw things across the room because of technology headaches. $100 a month added to any hosting service plan is a really cheap way to get 100% peace of mind. So when things go wrong, you call a toll free number. 7 days a week, 24-hours a day including holidays. Things get fixed instantly so you can go back to being a REALTOR.
I recommend the 40-gig cloud server and the $100 monthly managed service plan.
If anyone has questions on any of this, where to go on getting these, email me or call me.