I believe that real estate agents are either in marketing or…

  1. Google is doing a major update on their backlink calculator. One of the updated datacenters is showing over 1600 backlinks to RCG while the regular search is still only showing 733. This is great news! The more often Google re-indexes backlinks the better because we get so many more (recognized) backlinks than the typical agent website and I’ve noticed that each time Google updates these backlinks (they only do it every 3 to 6 months), we placed much better in organic search results shortly thereafter. Yum!
  2. Talking about organic search results, I let Greg know that I thought he was potentially hurting himself in Google by posting identical articles on both his regular blog and his ActiveRain blog (no longer available). Put very simply (and definitely an oversimplification), when Google sees two identical articles, they are forced to make a choice in determining which article is “good” and which one is “spam”. Assuming you don’t want either of your sites to be labeled “spam”, then don’t have identical content floating around in full. (When a spam site copies your articles in full, you’re just have to trust that Google will figure it all out!) If you’re going to put articles on more than one site, make sure that you change things up a bit, or better yet, summarize the article and link to your main site where the full article can be found. I would point out some of the other people besides Greg who are doing this same thing on ActiveRain, but it appears that word travels fast via email and most of the guilty have taken their ActiveRain blogs down (Joel being the only exception I’ve found at this point… and he really should not be doubling up his content at this point considering he’s still in the process of “teaching” google about his new domain.)
  3. However, all this makes me feel bad… Matt, I promise my intentions were good and I wasn’t looking to get people to drop their activerain blogs. I think you’ve got a great platform and others should definitely consider blogging on your site. I just wanted to warn people that they might be committing googlecide (a great phrase coined by Greg!) if they post identical content in both places! For everyone’s benefit, Matt Cutts gives a comprehensive explanation on how to get re-included in Google searches should your site ever be listed as spam, but I don’t think that should be necessary as the re-inclusion request is typically for sites that have actively tried to trick Google in ways much more devious than duplicate content.
  4. Steve Hurley let me know about his new blog for the Tacoma area (South Sound) and he asked for some advice on how to get more readers. My advice: start linking to other real estate blogs! There are a lot (a ton!) of real estate blogs with good content that will never get “discovered” because they live in their own bubble (yes, real estate has lots of bubbles!). I think a lot of real estate agents have a view that they are smart enough to be the one and only resource of real estate information. Even if that held water, very few agents are good enough to break out of the mold without some major help from other real estate bloggers. So, regardless of how good your stuff is, find someone else to link to in every post! Really, every post!
  5. Another way to drive traffic is to leave comments on other people’s blogs. The nice part about leaving a comment is that you’ll get a link back to your blog with each and every comment. However, that won’t generate traffic nearly as effectively as if other bloggers are linking to you within their posts. What is the most effective way to get the attention of other bloggers so that they will link to you? Link to them! Want more? Here are the three most important elements of real estate… blogging: Linkation, Linkation, Linkation.
  6. Greg: Ardell’s going to kill me for that title. I promise I wrote it before I became a believer in the church of Ardell! πŸ™‚ I really wish I could give you a “on a related note” to this story, but I simply can’t blog about a meeting I had last week with the master of real estate marketing…
  7. I agree with Chris Pirillo that social bookmarking buttons have gotten out of hand. I’ve not added any to RCG because it seemed like it took up valuable real estate and I’m not sure it provided a valuable service to our readers. The only one I’ve considered adding is del.icio.us, but considering most del.icio.us users have a button installed on their browser (they tend to be a tech-savvy bunch), I’ve never bothered. Adding a button for a site like digg (let alone sites like reddit) seems pointless for a real estate blog since I’ve never seen one real estate article promoted by those communities. (In other words, why would I give them an ad (i.e. their logo) on every one of my posts if they are never going to send me traffic?)
  8. I want one… Sony is preparing to introduce a light-weight geocoder with software to make geocoding photos easy. Although I wish geocoding photos was easier than dragging along another device…
  9. Taken one step further (and two steps too far): Wouldn’t it be great if you could search for an item based on where you were when you were working on the file? As in, “I remember taking those notes while in San Francisco…” and then have a document filter based on where you were when you made those edits (obviously, this only makes sense if you’re working on a laptop or mobile device). The secret weapon in this idea would be taking advantage of the wifi positioning from Loki so that you don’t have to lug around another device…
  10. Everyone knows that Loki was the god of mischief, right? (Due to a simple twist of fate, I know a lot more about Nordic gods than I do bible stories, but I can’t go there because I’ll get to sidetracked…). Well, the mischievous people over at Trulia have blocked Move’s IP address so that I didn’t read what Greg liked so much about their post until I got home. (I know I could have proxied in, but I didn’t bother). Anyway, the article is hilarious and definitely shows the benefit of not taking yourself too seriously. Tell your kids: real estate is fun!!!

78 thoughts on “I believe that real estate agents are either in marketing or…

  1. Dustin, I want to take myself to a different platform side by side, while at the same time re-writing with more transparency, on topics I wrote on way back when.

    If I start a new blog on Word Press from scratch with a different title, will that eqivocate into “duplicate content” by the Search Engines?
    Any advice before I start would be appreciated.

    If I write a new article on Earnest Money, for example. If I write aricles in several places about Earnest Money, does writing on the same topic equal duplicate content? At what point does the almighty power that be, decided that two articles on the same topic equals “duplicate content” in negative fashion?

  2. Marketing, marketing, marketing. If you build it, they will come.

    The very first thing you do in most new agent training classes, is write a list of 100 names and addresses of people you know. You then send out a “marketing piece” telling them all that you are now a real estate agent.

    Isn’t that like putting in a two page ad for a new perfume before you invent the new perfume? I am clearly not against marketing. I am simply against marketing a product you have yet to develop.

  3. Dustin (and Ardell), I would wager that there is more duplicate content out there than you might think – imagine the product descriptions on 50 different store sites. For blogs, Google does try to guess which blog is “legit” or “primary,” but I would wager that they actually won’t ban you or penalize you if the two blogs link to each other at some point – that would indicate that they’re both aware of each other and both working together. Also, if you post simulatneously, it could be trouble, but if you wait 24 hours to post on ActiveRain (which Joel might be doing?), Google will easily identify and index your “main” blog. Google engineers are clever enough to think those two scenarios through.

    So Ardell, if you start a new blog on WordPress even with the same title and content, but link to it from your old blog and post all new content to it, you should be fine. If you write about earnest money in multiple places,you’ll be fine and if you just change a few words and repost it, Google will probably figure it out. Just post away, but give us some unique stories and give your personal blog some unique stories (just like you do now).

  4. > I am simply against marketing a product you have yet to develop.

    Me, too.

    Here’s what I’m for, though: Marketing products only you can deliver. If you wanted a Pepsi, a Coke might do. But if you’re thirsty for a Limeade, you’re going to Sonic.

  5. Ardell,

    Galen’s on target there… but I would still avoid duplicate content where the posts are taken word-for-word. I still think that the reason Google stopped showing your site in search results is that it determined you were just posting duplicate content when (1) you switched over to a new domain while leaving your old domain active and (2) you re-posted a bunch of articles word-for-word that were previously posted on RCG.

    (To give you an idea of the danger I’m talking about, your main blog still doesn’t show up on Google, even for obvious searches. This was not always the case and only occurred after Google started seeing a lot of duplicate content. )

    There really is no danger posting new content on the same topic… It is duplicate content that you want to avoid at all costs.

  6. Galen,

    Why stories? I thought “engineer” types hated real stories and anecdotes and wanted “instructional” aricles?

    Some guidance appreciated regarding what you younger people call “transparency”. It seems to be the “buzz word of the day”. What exactly do y’all mean by “transparency”?

    I’m “training” a new blogger/old agent so I can do point/counterpoints with someone of like mindedness, who is not “intimidated” by me.

    I’m thinking we’ll set up side by side blogs this week. By starting them simultaneously, we can talk to the public and to each other and fine tune our “craft” in open view, to meet the challenges of the future, and market changes. Kind of like the Siskel and Ebert of Seattle Real Estate. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t.
    It will give me a better format to compare and contrast Seattle market conditions with Eastside market conditions.

    We can talk about how we are changing what we do to dovetail with technological advances, without throwing away the baby with the bathwater.

  7. Dustin,

    On a side note on marketing, there was something that happened awhile back that I wanted to mention and haven’t yet. You posted somewhere about using Realtor.com when relocating, and how it was beneficial and how it wasn’t. You wrote that from a consumer perspective and it was “spot on”.

    Marketing to whom? Who is your target market? Buyers? Sellers? Locals? People relocating from other areas? Who is your target audience?

    Realtor.com has primarily been the marketing vehicle for persons relocating to areas far from their current home. In the last five years agents are looking to market, via technology, to people who are relocating locally, as in from Seattle to Eastside or from Ballard to Greenlake or Bellevue to Queen Anne or Bothell to Lynnwood. More along the lines of HouseValues and Redfin vs. Zillow.

    Now to using blogs as a marketing vehicle. Polly said a few words which were soooo profound, that no one seemed to tap in on and stood out for me like a neon sign. Something like, “I know this is a site for insiders”, but if I may as a consumer, comment… RCG a site for insiders?

    I had this trouble originally with my blog when agents were coming around to talk about blogging. There is a fine line between blogging and talking about blogging. Of course, RCG talks about technology as much as it talks about real estate, which is the beauty of it. It is also why some people (like Joe if you will recall) hated the real estate stuff and wanted a way to tap into only the technology stuff. Others are vice versa.

    Clearly defining your target audience, and staying true to that audience, and somewhat ignoring those that come that drag you into a different audience, is clearly the challenge of blogging today. An individual blogger talks AT. A group blog is still being defined and tested. I’m going to try a side by side blog approach with another agent and see where that goes.

    It’s exciting!

  8. Ardell, I’m not convinced you’ll find any agent in Seattle who won’t be intimidated by you after a few posts! LOL! BTW, if you want to use RCG as the forum for your Siskel and Ebert of real estate, I’m definitely game! πŸ™‚

  9. Ah, duplicate content penalties, probably one of the most misunderstood, and mischarcterized functions of Googles algorithm…

    From a duplicate content perspective the chances of someone’s personal blog being penalized to also posting on ActiveRain is effectively zero. It usually takes a lot of duplication of the same piece of content to trigger Google to realize it’s a dupe, and typically the wrapper around the content (blog engine) will be enough to set it apart.

    Also, if you think about it from Google perspective in the Web 2.0 world with RSS feeds simply penalizing duplicate content willy nilly simply would not work. Think about news stories written by the AP, they can often appear hundreds of places without an impact on the hosting site. If they did in fact simply penalize people for content dupes, people could very easily destroy competitors by duplicating their content. A quote I read from Google’s, Matt Cutt’s, “Honest site owners often worry about duplicate content when they don’t really have to,”

    Regardless Google would choose the original source and remove the duplicated source (ActiveRain) from their index (not penalize the site).

    Trust me Greg was benefiting a lot more by the added visibility he was receiving via ActiveRain than it hurting his original blog. For bloggers like Jim Cronin (Real Estate Tomato), Greg Swan (Bloodhound Blog) that tend to write long well thought out articles I would recomment posting the first half of the article plus a “read more…” link pointing to their main blog at the bottom. That way they get the best of both worlds.

  10. We’re doing some side tests via email on how it flows. So far so good. She is switching her license over on Monday, so we can be point counter point, without brokers getting ticked off in the process.

    I’m going to write an Article on my true objective.

  11. Matt and Dustin,

    Which blog platforms are the most user friendly for us agents who arent html writers by and large, but also have the “read more” type of technology and good access to commenters.

    Blogger seems to make people who want to comment go through too many hoops. Bloglines is strange. This format works well, except I don’t know how to do the “read more” or make the blue background around a “quoted” section. When you see that in my articles, Dustin has stepped in and done that for me. He also seems to be putting on my tags, unless that function is somehow automatic…I doubt it.

  12. I have to get to an Open House by 2:00 πŸ™‚ Hope to have more answers when I return so we can move forward on the side by side blogs this week. Don’t want to start them on the wrong platform.

  13. As a side note for bloggers like Jim, Joel and Gregg who do want to dupe post to ActiveRain.com to receive additional exposure, but are still afraid of dupe content penalties they can make the posts “members only”. That way they’ll never be picked up by Google or other search engines yet be available for the member base to read.

    I was just kinda sad to see a whole bunch of posts made by these guys and much more importantly the comment conversations that went along with them dissappear this morning.

    And by the way Ardell you should try joining the ActiveRain Real Estate Network, you’ve already got a bunch of fans of your writing over there.

  14. Thanks Galen,

    I was planning my Monday morning “story” about the $50,000 income supplement…maybe I’ll tell it anway πŸ™‚ I do think people like real stories about real people who made real money, or saved real money, right here in Seattle. I have enough of a “collection” to mix them up so people can’t track who the people are. I was going to wait until Jan. 1, 2007, but I think it’s time for people to see how I DO put my money where my mouth is. Time to add “transparency” to the rhetoric for Eric’s sake πŸ™‚ and Russ who keeps asking me HOW I “negotiate” with buyers.

  15. I was out enjoying a Hollywood afternoon and missed out on all the great SEO conversations… I’d agree with most of the duplicate content conversation except one thing that Matt had to say. It is quite self serving for him to assume that the ActiveRain site is the one that would always be penalized. I’ve read enough SEO material to feel pretty confident when I say that the site with the higher google value is going to prevail in a duplicate content war (with the other site dropping off Google’s radar).

    Despite other’s protests to the contrary, Google failing to return a website in search results because of duplicate content is real. Again, here is a search that Ardell used to show up #1 and now her main site never even appears. The only explanation for Google dropping her is due to duplicate content since I’m pretty darn sure Ardell was not doing any devious SEO stuff.

    Now, we can argue back and forth about if the published date matters or not, but the reality is that the ActiveRain domain is sure to carry a lot more weight into the future due to the shear amount of original content and backlinks that will blow away any agent domain. If someone wants the content on their original domain to show up in Google searches, then they would be well advised to not post duplicate information anywhere else.

  16. Let’s see what I’ve learned so far…SEO…hmmm I’ll take a stab at it Search Engine Optimization? How does this stuf creep into my brain and manage to stay in there, along with what Jim Czukor told me about yellow lines in the street from 1992? Do brains have maximum capacities like computers do?

    Now “devious” SEO stuff…I can’t even BEGIN to fathom.

    Dustin, from your Bloginar post…how can “content” NOT matter? You lose me there.

  17. Ardell,

    If you check out item #4 in this post, you’ll see there is a guy with great content that is not being read at all… Good content is only one small piece of the puzzle. My point was that it is much more important to be interesting. One way to “be interesting” is to “be interested” in what others are writing by linking to them and leaving comments on their blog (that is only one way!).

    In many ways, my answer to “does content matter?” is “of course!”, but not nearly as much as engaging your readers in a unique and personal way.

    And if you want to learn more about devious SEO stuff, a great place to start is the SEO Black Hat blog.

  18. #4 is Galen…it’s a map…what’s to read? How about a place to go for non-devious SEO stuff? I don’t do very well at devious.

    Dustin, is WordPress the place to do my “Ardell & Oxford”? Kind of sounds like Siskel and Ebert. It has the right number of syllables in parallel format. I don’t think we can do it ON RCG. If I did, how would that work? What’s your “vision” oh Great Blog Visionary

  19. Dustin, the published on date really should matter – if Google sees an article show up on a little site days before it shows up on a big reputable site, they can easily identify that the article came from that site.

    That said, I wouldn’t 100% duplicate post to two blogs – there’s basically no point. The conversation (replies) gets scattered and your readers can get confused.

    Pick the appropriate place for each post and, if you must, point people to that place from the other. In your case Ardell, I would put an embedded “Ardell’s Posts at Rain City Guide” on the sidebar of your new blog.

  20. I have no clue what a spam blog is, but here’s what happened. I was typing away doing my beta test of the blog softwhere for a friend. When Dustin asked me to come here too, I was fine in January, but then when I got busy I started cutting and pasting across to keep up with both “jobs”. I had no clue about the harm it might do to Dustin’s site. I was only beta testing, I never started blogging with the intention to have a blog or to be a blogger. Just doing a favor for a nice guy.

    Which is why it is so funny that the gal who never intended to be a blogger at all… I honestly never sat down and said, I think I’ll have a blog…until now.

  21. Ardell,

    I hope you know that I’m only picking on you because it is so obvious that you have done nothing “wrong” and yet Google is picking on your site. In other words, I know that you didn’t have any intention of creating duplicate content and you didn’t do any harm to RCG in the process. RCG was already very well established so all the duplication did was convince Google that your site was not all that valuable. (BTW, this doesn’t mean Google thinks her site is spam and as a matter of fact it is ranked with a PageRank of 4… but the reality is that Google never displays her website, so I happen to think Google has three tiers: (1) spam, (2) probation, and (3) good. My guess is that Google has put your site in probation and with more unique content you’ll get out soon enough! πŸ™‚

    Galen, and with the time thing, I’m simply not convinced that would do any good. At best, Google might index RCG twice a day while there are a TON of spam sites that take my feed and reprint every article moments later. There is no way that posted time would make a good indicator of which article appeared first. (If it did, any good spammer would take my content and time-stamp it an hour before!!!).

    And finally, to Matt’s comments that duplicate content from AP stories are everywhere, and yet sites like CNN are not getting penalized. I’d have to agree that this is a correct observation. Even in my post, I was saying that my “duplicate” content description was a simplification. In reality, my view is much closer to the three tier system I described in the first paragraph. If a site is well established (like CNN), it likely never makes it into probation for duplicate content, whereas most real estate agent blogs simply don’t have such strong domains.

  22. Well MSN just seems to love me, and my philosophy is…”All in God’s good time”. I’m hoping to correct the error of my ways before making it to the “Big Time” πŸ™‚

    Seriously, to new bloggers. Go off somewhere quietly first and make all of your mistakes in the quietness of a Google off limits environment. It’s been eight months for me and you learn a lot about yourself from blogging. Grow a little before you let Google count you. #1 Question you need to answer is Who IS your Audience? Begin with the end in mind and try not to forget who you are writing FOR…whomever that may be. Clue. It ain’t to hear yourself talk.

  23. Ardell,

    I just realized that I blew right through your question about the best place to host your dual blog. In terms of a fun way to approach the topic, I really like what Beyond Brilliance does on this urban planning blog. They have two blogs side-by-side… One for “brilliant” developments and one for “stupid” developments. I love it!

    I think that would make an ideal format for you and your mystery guest, but that would take a little bit more development work to set up on the back end. Also, notice that one of the blogs (“Beyond Stupidity”) hasn’t been updated since March, which kind of defeats the whole purpose.

    The beauty of your position is that you now know enough to be really dangerous! πŸ™‚ Dream it up and I’m sure someone can build it for you using a WordPress blog pretty darn easily.

    If you want to go a much easier route, then I’d probably go with the hosted version of either Blogger or WordPress. Personally, I’d go with Blogger because their themes are infinitely more configurable, and I’m definitely a sucker for being able to really personalize the look of a site! The trade-off with using Blogger is that the service is seriously lacking some of the plugins that are freely available on WP!

  24. Geez – A guy goes away camping for a weekend and comes back to all of this to think about… And I thought you could just get away from it all… πŸ˜‰

    Dustin – I’m very glad you brought this up. Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about it until right now.

    Being that I’ve just moved to my new domain, I feel particularly exposed to this. So, to be safe, I’ve removed all my posts from AR.

    Matt – I was just getting to enjoy the community on AR (despite my early comments to the contrary πŸ™‚ ), so I’ll give some thought as to how to continue contributing. I might suggest that you offer bloggers the option to republish their RSS feed on your site for people who have external blogs that want to continue being part of the site…

    In the meantime, I’ll have to give it some more thought on how to deal with this situation. But for now I have to get back to unpacking the car.

  25. For everyone still interested in the duplicate content issue, I just remembered a recent video that Matt Cutts put together that discusses the duplicate content issue. For those that don’t know, Matt is one of the lead engineers in charge of Google’s search algorithms, so his opinion carries more than a little weight. His response to the duplicate content issue is so relevant that I decided to transcribe the whole thing. (His response begins at 1:12 in the video).

    When does Google detect duplicate content and within which range will duplicate be duplicate?

    That’s not a simple answer… We do a lot of duplicate content detection. It is not like there is one stage where we say “Okay, right here is where we detect duplicates”. Rather, it is all the way through the crawl, through the indexing, through the scoring, all the way down to just milliseconds before you answer things.

    And there are different types of duplicate content. There is certainly exact duplicate detection… but at the same time, it is not the case that pages are always exactly the same. So we also do detect near duplicate content and we use a lot of sophisticated logic to do that.

    In general, if you think you might be having problems, your best guess is probably to make sure that your pages are quite different… because we do do a lot of different duplicate detection to crawl less and provide better results and more diversity.

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  28. Dustin,

    Back to this thread…the whole Turk think scared me off from Word Press…don’t you think? I couldn’t have fixed that like you did. Great job BTW…beyond my talents, for sure!

  29. Ardell,

    There are at least two or three ways to look at it.

    If you are using the hosted version of wordpress (as in http://ardell.wordpress.com), then you should have no problems like this whatsoever because other people are in charge of the security (and they do a bang-up job).

    If you are hosting a generic wordpress blog yourself and you aren’t doing anything fancy, then you should also have no problems…

    My problems crept up because I had been fiddling with the backend and making files writable by the server when I wasn’t exactly sure of the consequences.

    Does that help?

    Another option is simply to find a darn good engineer to host your files… Hacks are always a reality so having someone around to fix those issues is always a good idea!

  30. Thanks Dustin,

    Having been married to a top notch computer CTO guy for 20 years did have its advantages πŸ™‚ Until my site got mysteriously crashed during the divorce πŸ˜‰

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