Linkation, Linkation, Linkation

(I enjoyed writing my previous article on the reasons that real estate agents should blog, and it got me thinking about all the other bits of advice I’d like to share with real estate agents… I have a bunch of ideas, many of which are still only half-baked, so I’m looking toward your comments and suggestions to see where I should take this mini-series on blogging basics for real estate agents.)

What are the three most important factors in determining the value of real estate?

  1. Location
  2. Location
  3. Location

grow-a-brainWhile this well worn mantra forms a fundamental building block of real estate value, the concept of location is nearly irrelevant in the on-line world. I’m located in Seattle, WA, the servers hosting this site are in Santa Monica, CA, and you could be reading this from anywhere in the world.

If you’re an agent thinking of moving on-line, there are a bunch of real estate fundamentals that you’re going to want to relearn if you are going to be successful. I’ll start be revising the well-worn mantra to make it relevant on-line…

What are the three most important factors in determining the value of your real estate site?

  1. Links
  2. Links
  3. Links

And just as all locations are not created equal, not all links are created equal.

If you’re looking to build up a website that ranks well with search engines, then you’re number one focus should be on getting high quality inbound links (i.e. other sites linking to your site!). In particular, you want to build up as many inbound links from popular blogs and websites as you can. It’s common knowledge that 3 high-quality inbound links are more valuable than 1000 links from lame link farms… You want links into your site, but more importantly, you want quality links into your site!

Note that you do not get any search engine benefits from outbound links (links from your site to other sites). At best, outbound links won’t affect your ranking and at worst, they can seriously damage your ranking should you link to spam sites. In other words, if you’re linking to quality sites, you’re fine… If you’re linking to spam sites, you can expect the search engines to label you as spam.

Since there’s no benefit to outbound links, does this mean that you should not link to other sites?

No Way! Quite the contrary! Linking to other sites is critical to building up your site’s credibility with other bloggers. Join in some of the wonderful conversations that makes up the web and you’ll likely find that more and more people begin to link to your site. Find a blog you really like and then write articles about their articles! Link back to them and you’ll be surprised how quickly they start linking back to you! It’s actually a lot of fun to be part of this process.

There are very few sites that can build up credibility without linking to other sites and if you’re reading this blog looking for advice, you are probably not one of them. My advice to new bloggers: link… link… link… and link some more. Link to a blog saying something nice about their site, and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll link back to you!

So why are links so important

Links are the lifeblood of the web. The search engines rely heavily on links to determine how to rank your site. And more than any other factor, the rank of your site on search engines determines the value of your site. Granted, if you’re writing a blog for personal reasons, then you might not care how many people reach your site via search engines, but if you’re blogging to get clients, then you’re sites success depends on your how you are ranked by Google. Ranking high on Google searches generates web-traffic which generates leads which generate sales.

There are other ways to generate web-traffic, but none of them are as cheap and/or effective as generating leads through searches. (This site has a nice overview of how of how search engines work!)

So, all of this leads to an obvious question… How do you generate inbound links? Check back in a few days. I’ve got a bunch of ideas/thoughts on this subject. I’ll try to gather my thoughts and turn them into a post!

On a related note, I get asked by other bloggers on a regular basis if it is okay if they link to Rain City Guide. My answer is always “Yes”. I love links! Any business blogger who refused a link would be nuts.

137 thoughts on “Linkation, Linkation, Linkation

  1. Keep on LINKING!! Thanks for the link to the SEO site. I am still trying to make the most of my site positioning with search engines (without using pay-per-click service) so I appreciate this post GREATLY!

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  3. You have a really great blog – information, opinions, interviews – tons of useful information. I started an Austin Real Estate blog in November and people have actually found it. Your information about linkation, linkation, linkation was also great.

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  11. In NYC we have a disadvantage because things are a little backwards compared to the rest of the country. We just put out a new website http://www.placeEasy.com to make finding, renting or buying a place EASY. It has an agent center to connect agents with their clients. In searching for ways to promote it I found out that Raincityguide was a #1 rated site. I sincerely appreciate the fresh ideas found here and the great tips. Will be back!! Thanks

  12. This is so true. I have just started my own blog bergproperties.com/blog and you are the first site that I have linked to. I too have spent a lot on an SEO firm with mixed results. I am just starting to see some rankings but I hope that blogging will put me over the edge. Good job on the site.

  13. Scott,

    A few suggestions. You need more blog stories about your local service area and you need to link to and sidebar the most popular blogs in your local area, in addition to.

    Specific info and Categories re CA houses make it look like you are from CA. And BE ON your BLOG. You are fairly anonymous there. You can’t build up “A following” if no one knows WHO they are following πŸ˜‰

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  16. Great idea Jim… But all the links within the comments are automatically given the ref=”no follow” which tells the search engines not to give them any value… Sad, but true!

  17. Thank God for nofollow, otherwise every robot in the world would be commenting all day long on posts.

    I have an old version of WordPress running for a friend’s site and we have problems with it all the time.

  18. Great post about SEO and links. As inbound links are probably one of the top SEO factors to high rankings, also make sure you properly name your page titles with keyword rich terms. I’m not saying stuff the title with a ton of keywords, but rather use important keywords that describe your post and attract a large amount of searches.

    I’ve spent a lot of time optimizing and building out my new Real Estate Investing site which I’d recommend you looking over. I rank real well for many terms I’m targeting. http://www.realestateweblog.org

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  21. For a great linkage opportunity I have discovered http://www.condocompare.com, a website for both brokers and customers to compare condo’s in seattle. Attached to the site is a blog which recieves a high amount of traffic. Might be a good opportunity for some of you, my link is there!

  22. I really enjoy your blog – a number of authors. You are exactly right, and that’s what’s great about the Internet as well, if you have something to say and say it well you can grow an audience just by partnering with others in your niche and writing on a regular basis.

    We have an investment properties educational site, that is continuing to grow, please take a look: http://www.investmentpropertiesinfo.com/

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  24. I’ve heard that a stupid questions is a question not asked. How do I link to some of these sites? And thank you on all this information it comes in very handy.

  25. Jose, happy to help!

    The process of creating a link really depends on the tools you’re using to publish your content to the web. But just to be clear, the “link” you are trying to create is something like the words “Jose” above that link back to your website.

    In terms of creating a link, all blog platforms make this quite easy… Typically, when you’re writing a blog post, you’ll see either a little icon that looks like the “earth with a chain link ” or simple the words “link”. (Microsoft Word uses the “earth with a chain link” so it has become somewhat of a standard!).

    In terms of the actual steps, I created another post that details them… All you have to do is follow this link! πŸ™‚

  26. After starting blogging a year ago on another site, I decided to start over and completely redesign and base my website around a blog. After wading through the technical design and implementation, and somehow keeping the business afloat at the same time, I realized my posting had gotten quite rusty.

    Well, the new site is up, and I took the plunge to bring someone else on board (to help with a zillion things, including posting content on the blog – http://www.Allcary.com )

    Now, we both decided we needed to brush up and start watching how the pros do it. I told him, first stop – RainCityGuide.com

    Fantastic content hits the eyeballs immediately!

    Thanks for the nice summary and I’m off to think about looking for some high-quality inbound links πŸ™‚

  27. Having links to your sites is a little like having friends all over the world.

    I’ve built the sites – the first – http://www.SantaMonicaLandmarks.com because no one had done a landmark site – and once it’s done, it’s got minimal update.
    The second – http://www.SoCalInvestmentRealEstate.com – for business.

    Next I built the the blogs

    http://www.santamonicapropertyblog.com
    http://www.socalindustrialrealestateblog.com
    http://www.socalofficerealestateblog.com

    Now I’m working on getting the sites to work together and to develop a following. The latest project – finding moderators.
    Any other suggestions anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

  28. Dustin,
    Allow me to make a confession. After starting a blog myself, i wanted to just go do it myself without the help of anyone.(linking, commenting etc) I just felt awkward doing it and hoping for a return favor (linkback) but after reading your post about the importance of linking and building relationships online and that even at your ‘stature’,being one of the top real estate blogs, you still appreciate links from people (‘i love links’) SO this is my very first time truly commenting on a post. Cool. I’m actually excited about this.
    Thanks for the post.

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  32. Thanks for the great advice. I am just starting a blog for my 1031 exchange company, 1031 Exchange Coordinators in Bellevue, and have been scouring the web for ideas. I have always heard linking is the key, but I guess this is just more proof.

    Thanks for lending the time to always write great stuff here on Rain City Guide. You guys are great and I have to confess that a dream of mine as a new blogger is to be able to be a contributor to the Rain City Guide on a consistent basis. I and our firm have all the 1031 knowledge, we’re just getting going on making our first forays into the blogosphere. So, thanks again.
    Chad Hallberg

  33. Thanks Chad for the encouragement… I know another contributor, Eileen is really interested in 1031 exchanges, although I must admit they are a mystery to me. πŸ™‚ Nonetheless, I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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  35. Ryan,

    I am offering this as an explanation and not as a reprimand.

    When you click on your name in your comment, it goes to the same place as your link posted in the comments of comment #55. So there is no need to post it a second time inside of the comment.

    Redirecting people to your site from someone else’s site is kind of like if I came to your Open House and sat on the front step and handed people my card from the steps of your listing. Clearly that would make me look bad the same as advertising yourself on someone else’s blog looks bad.

    When you “spread yourself around” on other people’s blogs, you do so by adding intelligent comments that add to the conversation of the post. If you add info of interest in the comments, more than simply a one line “tag your it” type comment, people will click on your name to see who you are. They then go to your site or blog in that manner.

    If you need a better explanation, feel free to email me or give me a call.

  36. Thank you Ardell. I do sincerely apologize for being rude. I did not want to be rude as I was merely trying to test your site and see how it works. I should have learned more about what I was doing before I did it and will further research, what seems like a foreign language to me, before being so haste. I appreciate your kindness and your offer to help. The integrity of you and your site impresses me greatly as I am sure it does so with your readers too. Can you explain to me how you link through common words such as “investment real estate” or “1031”? Also, is there a place where I can type my informative posts or replies, sort of as a rough draft that I can see my links, before posting a final here? Thank you!

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  38. Ardell – I’m new to blogging, and have been trying to learn everything I can. I’ve continually seen articles that talk about links (this is one of the best I’ve seen!). But, I’ve struggled with the concept that bloggers are encouraged to leave comments to create links to their sites, but that it is bad ettiquette to actually put a link into your comment. Your explaination to Ryan using the front porch analogy finally drove it home. I get it now. Thank you!!!

    And, I’ll start following the suggestion of clicking on names when people make good comments to see what they are all about.

    Another question about ettiquette…I’ve written a few posts, linking to another blogger’s article, and then gone back and left a comment mentioning another thing to think about, and then including my new post link. I’m guessing now that I shouldn’t include the link. Is it taboo to mention that their post inspired you to write a post yourself, or is that too much self promotion and considered in bad taste?

    BTW…I’d love to get added to linkation if you think my site is worthy enough. Please ignore the bad banner…I’m working on getting that replaced (if I can just find someone that knows how to put one together for me for cheap). I thought I had done good until I asked someone younger than me in my office what she thought and she said it reminded her of a 1980s postcard. Yikes!

  39. Ryan, I just came back here because I happened to catch Karen’s comment addressing me in the sidebar.

    To both of you, ONLY the post author is notified of comments by email here. So if you are talking to me on Dustin’s post, Dustin gets the email and not me. If I miss the comment in the sidebar because other comments “bury” yours and push it out of the sidebar, I will not see it, as in Ryan’s case.

    Now, to Ryan, you are on the wrong track with your question. Call me or emailme directly (or Dustin) and we will answer that one.

    Karen,

    You’re on the right track with asking someone younger. The only reason I was able to better explain linkation to you is because I put it in real estate agent terms. I am not the link pro around here and rarely use links.

    Links in comments are rarely appropriate. Sometimes…but rarely. The manner you described is not appropriate. Appropriate would be to give more info to the readers of the other persons blog by providing a link that has nothing to do with you, and adds value for the site where you are posting it. Once in a blue moon that is your site. But if you’re doing that more than once every three months or so, not likely an appropriate use.

    As to being linked to here besides your name in comments, that is Dustin’s call and not mine.

    “is it taboo to mention tht their post inspired you to write a post yourself…”

    It’s all about intent, Karen. If you are clearly only interested in thanking the blog owner for the inspiration, sure. If you are even a little bit doing it to get people to your site…not OK.

  40. Ardell – Thanks for the quick response. I knew that the great post itself was written by Dustin (thanks Dustin for all that great info!). But also wanted to thank you for the follow up analogy that really hit a home run for me in my getting the bad manners concept.

    Like I said, I’m still pretty new to blogging and am excited about joining in the conversation. If I like a post enough to actually link to it in my blog, and knowing how much most bloggers like comments, I like to give back by giving them some sort of meaningful comment.

    The rest of the posts I only comment on when they really strike me. I’m trying to avoid all the ‘great post’ comments.

    With both of your help, I’m one step ahead of where I was before I stumbled upon this post.

  41. ARDELL, there is so much unknown and wide varying opinions on blogging etiquette. After reading your comment, I realize that sometimes I’ve beenΒ linking back to some of my articles for purposes of a deeper explanation…however, if this is not appropriate, I certainly don’t want to do that. Maybe Miss Manners should do a post on proper blog-havior! πŸ˜‰

    I have learned that blogging is much more about “giving” freely without expectation than “taking” (self promoting).

  42. LOL Ryan, yes, we take our blogging very seriously here.

    Rhonda, People are writing entire books on Blog Etiquette. A post wouldn’t cut it. I think Dustin does it for a living day in and day out. It could fill ten books by now, I think πŸ™‚

    When people are stopping by “just trying to make a living” like Ryan, that is considered spam commenting. But we’ll let him get away with it a couple of times :), mostly because it’s not my post and it’s a post about linking and Dustin is having too much fun in NY at Inman.

  43. Thanks for the insight Dustin! I’ve just started my real estate blog and have been searching for some advice. First I found Brian Brady’s blog (http://activerain.com/blogs/azbrady) from an interview I read with him. He had a link to linkation, linkation, linkation…I’m glad I followed it. Now I’ve got to start linking. Keep it up!

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  45. It’s crazy that it’s been over 2 years since you wrote these words. There is no doubt it’s one of the best once-in-a-lifetime reads for real estate bloggers and it’s almost like a yearly pilgrimage that every real estate blogger should make.

    still good stuff

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  48. I am truly new to the SEO game and appreciated your article. I have a new site that is in beta testing now and I am a fledgling blogger. Right now I am working on trying to have good content for readers that do come to my site.

  49. Hi John,

    I blog about what’s going on during my day. Ardell does this, too. Sometimes the blog articles that generate the most response are the articles that I didn’t sweat bullets over, instead, the content just came to me during the day. It might have been an event, a question from a client, something I observed, something I overheard, or something I read on someone else’s blog that triggered a response which would be way too long for the comment box.

    Hope that helps!

  50. What attracted me to this blog was the topic of linkation…

    “If you’re looking to build up a website that ranks well with search engines, then you’re number one focus should be on getting high quality inbound links (i.e. other sites linking to your site!). In particular, you want to build up as many inbound links from popular blogs and websites as you can. It’s common knowledge that 3 high-quality inbound links are more valuable than 1000 links from lame link farms. You want links into your site, but more importantly, you want quality links into your site!”

    I think I finally got it, thanks! I have added your site to my website, I thinks it is a quality link πŸ™‚

  51. Dustin,
    Thanks for explaining the difference between links (inbound & outbound). Alsways thought that if I put a link outbound on my website that it was helping with CEO, but now I know that’s not the full truth. It’s time to start concentrating on the inbound links.

  52. Hi Dustin,
    As a newbie blogger, I found your article on inbound links very informative. I was under the mistaken assumption that outbound links meant a great deal in SEO. Through your article, I have found out differently. I am going to work on getting some good inbound links.

  53. I just ran into your blog on the Seattle real estate market.
    As a resident of Kirkland for over 25 years and Bellevue based Broker this looks interesting. I also have a blog for the mortgage market, fun stuff and informative.

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  55. My question is whether it helps one’s “linkation” to have links on pages that require you to log in to view them, e.g. facebook. Does the Google Bot consider them as additional links or are they not viewable by the Bot?

  56. I put my blog address on everything now — great way to get fresh content out there. Also, when the advice I am giving clients happens to pop up in a news article, it reinforces the idea that I am giving them good advice, not trying to “sell” them. I add news feeds and other industry newsletters to my blog frequently and I really think it helps.

  57. Thanks for the great info., I am in blogging training with the Tomato and they also strongly recommend building relationships with other sites and then linking to them in hopes that they will link back to you. But I have found that many of the RE blogs that I enjoy reading are already extremely popular and I feel as though it’s too hard to build a personal relationship with them because they have SO many other people commenting and reading. Do you agree?

  58. Riley… You might be surprised how easy it is to make connections, but it does take a bit of persistence. Some quick tips: Link out regularly, write interesting stuff, leave lots of comments and try to meet people in your community offline whenever possible. And note: these type of strategies work whether you are reaching out to real estate folks or people local to your community. πŸ™‚

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  61. Luckily, the culture of blogging makes this significantly easier than with traditional web sites. If you have been reading blogs for any length of time, you have likely noticed that bloggers hand out links like cheese to the poor. One way bloggers give links is through a blogroll. This is a list of other blogs that the blogger recommends.

  62. Beautiful blog, Dustin, I can only aspire to something so professional. I just started my blog and trying to maximize the information therein without overdoing it. I am most certainly not an expert, but I do a great job for my clients and go out of my way to get the answers I don’t know.

    Would love to contribute where possible, and I know that linking is important. So I will be patient, pick up ideas where possible, and hope that I can provide value to others.

  63. Wow, Dustin, here it is Q2 2009 and this timeless article is still helping folks like me figure out Web 2.0. Just goes to show the value of killer content. Thanks for paving the way for us.

  64. Mark: so glad you find it helpful. It is kinda crazy to think how much things have changed since 2005, but some things (such as the value of inbound links) are pretty timeless!

  65. Dustin,
    Oh my goodness!!! You don’t know what a breath of fresh air it is to find this article. Now, I just need some time to make this work. I bought a very good domain name years ago–before I even understood domains (probably still don’t). I have emailed this to my partners! I certainly look forward to reading more from you!!!

  66. Can’t believe I just NOW found this article!
    Still, valuable, killer content! (I found it through a slide presentation that Jay Thompson had on Linked-in.)
    I guess better late than never! I look forward to reading and learning more.
    It’s funny…..I’ve seen so many “social media gurus” lately, and most I think are full of it. You are one that consistently proves that you know what you’re talking about!

  67. Walter,

    Submitting your site to directories can definitely build up inbound links to your site, but the quality of the links is generally really low, so you won’t get much benefit from the practice. Defining quality links is a bit much for this comment, but if you want to get some more information, check out this article I recently posted on AR: Blogging SEO

  68. Wow, a post with legs! The value in this post is as great as it was when you wrote it in 2005! I just started blogging a few months ago and although I have not developed a great following yet, still find it useful for collating my thoughts. I believe this makes it easier to serve my clients more effectively.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Thanks for stopping by! Out of all my “advice” posts, this is almost definitely the one with the most legs. Truth be told, getting good rankings in google has never really changed and isn’t all that hard to understand… It’s all about “linkation!” πŸ™‚

    • Jane: Wish I could completely agree with you… but I find the “build it and they will come” approach isn’t enough for most folks. There are some solid strategies for generating inbound links… and having a plan to get some should be the key piece of a blogging strategy.

      • This is really true. My blogs have fantastic information that no one reads. I’m pretty prolific in getting my names out there. In January we started a campaign to get the sites organized. Now we need to get linked in as many places as possible. It takes out reach.

          • Yes, consistent updates of content. A post a day gets traffic.
            In terms of links I comment regularly. It takes time each day, but I was surprised that my hits, or returning users, were pretty high. I don’t have the same tracking system as before since we went with all Word Press.

          • Interesting you mention commenting on others… I’d bet that’s probably the single easiest way to get some return links. It doesn’t work with every blogger, but if you find some bloggers who have quality blogs AND who link out often when they post, then commenting on their blogs makes a ton of sense!

  69. Well, yes commenting is easy, but it takes time. Over time it has given me some repeat readers. It’s all about content and controversy. In terms of hits and repeats Marlow’s Blog at 360 Digest is the best. Your blog is second, and Seattle bubble, even though I comment there the most is third. Yes that has to do with the linkage.

    OK, you have this site that is a tech site, really, it’s a tech site. The content can be related to Real Estate, but ultimately I come here to see what you do. In the world of Real Estate, even though around 90% of people start a search for homes on line there is only a 3% closed sale part of the market. It’s a high priced ticket item that people want hands on attention to.

    On the other hand our cleaning business, by taking what I have learned about blogging, has increased by 30% the last 18 months. I don’t link those sites to my name at any time, but the organic search for the domain name SeattleHouseCleaning is at the top of the list.

    So in the world of Real Estate it’s hard to hit the top of an organic search, if you apply the same principles to other businesses it’s pretty easy.

    Which brings us back to linkage. If I do link nationally, like with a Merchant’s Circle, or I have the option to buy the House Cleaning Alliance, my question would be what that does for me or my business? I understand the eye balls, but ultimately what does that do for our business?

    Here’s an example; I have a blog at the domain name FixerFixer which I’m closing. It was immediately attacked with comments from contractors. My thing was that you are a capable person, you can do it, contractors wanted me to know that they knew better. After that it was a spam attack. Last, was the amount of time the site took to keep running, versus the return in dollars. Bottom line, house cleaning good, Real Estate bad, contracting bad.

    Now you can sell your services from what you do here. Your site has legs, and eye balls, but your money is in selling your personal services. In talking with other bloggers or other people who use the internet for business, it’s just an on line business card.

    • David Losh makes a very good point here:

      “Now you can sell your services from what you do here. Your site has legs, and eye balls, but your money is in selling your personal services. In talking with other bloggers or other people who use the internet for business, it’s just an on line business card.”

      (emphasis added by JG)

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  71. One of the points I’ve noticed when it comes to the real estate industry is the number of people to do attempt to build an online presence themselves and end up giving up too early. I think of of the most important things in this whole process is consistency (exactly what David is Saying).

    I actually do outsource some of this stuff but I am actually the rarity. I simply like to focus on doing what I do best, which is managing property and I must admit it sort of does my head in thinking I am competing with guys that do this stuff for a living.

    I also agree with David when it comes to the mention of being more pro-active then simply building it and they will come. There is so much stuff out there and there are so many people competing for the same space that unless you’re doing something way out there than no-one will even notice you. A few of the guys within my industry have played around a bit with You Tube and have had some good results, but I still think it’s important to outsource the stuff.

  72. Out sourcing is the conclusion I have come to.

    What we have done is set up five Word Press sites that all lnk to each other. Keeping up content is a challenge. One site does have a lot of content that can be shared, but since the content is already there I can turn it over to an editor, I think.

    It has to be consistent. new posts need to be there at regular intervals. Real Estate is unforgiving in this. Without adding content to my main Real Estate site for about a month my organic search got pushed back two pages on Google. There a re a lot of busy beavers in Real Estate on the internet.

    • David,

      I had a company set up something similar. They basically set up 10 blogs and have content generating and sending back to my main site. They’re really transparent and they use a wordpress management site to update the posts. Let me paste what they sent me below:

      “Guys,
      This process I am using is through a site called wpdirect.com. It has all the features of a normal wordpress blogs, but it automatically sets up all the cool SEO features and has an extra feature called traffic trappers that lets you update blog post in less that a minute. There’s some extra stuff I did in the background to make sure each blog is seen as unique and passes on the maximum link cred…”

      I mean this stuff is way above my head and don’t quite understand what they are doing, but I know it works.

      Good to hear something similar from another source aside from them. Sort of backs up what they are doing.

  73. There is no substitute for good old fashioned content! Answering questions that people are asking and posting original articles that relate to current topics. Whilst rankings matter there is no point in having sites that no-one will stay on.

  74. For the life of me I cant remember now what I was searching for and low and behold, a Dustin post from over 5 years ago pops up…still as valid today as it was all those years ago. Just scrolling through some of the comments is like reading a who’s who in online Real Estate. Love it.

      • lol, I remember how I found the post now btw, it was via an article you wrote on 4Realz on the importance of creativity in SEO campaigns. Gia and I are doing great – hoping to see you soon whether it’s at NAR in CA or maybe at REBarCampSouthFL (Gia says hint hint)… πŸ™‚

        • I’m pretty sure I’ll be floating around NAR this year… especially as it’s in my backyard! πŸ˜‰ And would love to make it to South Florida and barely need an excuse, but alas, no plans to make it to the RE Bar Camp there this year.

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