A Special Tribute for RCG's 3rd Birthday!

When I told my wife that RCG turned three years old today, she looked at me in disbelief…
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Not because the site has been around so long, but because it seems impossible that RCG has brought so many (wonderful) changes to our life in only three years.

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While RCG started out as an experiment to cheaply market my wife’s new real estate business, it turned into an epic personal journey that has allowed me to foster a fabulously healthy real estate community, learn a tremendous amount about building and marketing real estate websites, and make a living educating real estate professionals on how to improve their online marketing.

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No part of this journey could have been expected or predicted, and yet, my wife, Anna, has been more than up to the challenge every time I choose to pursue another wild idea (such as spending hours each day writing posts on RCG back when we had no readers, moving to Southern California to pursue a new profession, leaving a well-paying executive position to start my own business, etc.) with my usual caffeinated gusto.

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And while I normally try to take every opportunity to thank the RCG community for making everything possible (I am truly appreciative!), I want to take this special opportunity to give thanks to Anna for giving me so much support as I continue to chase my passions.

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The ride has just begun!

Are you going to Vegas?

or more interestingly, are you going to my presentation on Tuesday morning?

If so, I’d love to know. I’m just finishing up the presentation now and would love to include a few screenshots of people’s blogs who will be in the audience.


By the way, the impetus for this blog post is that I like to localize my presentation. But considering most of the people in the audience will not be from Vegas, I’m looking for another way to personalize the show… Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t… but it won’t do much harm to try.

And there are lots of clues for what the talk filed under the seminar tag

In good company…

Over the past two years, the team over at Inman has done a particularly good job reaching out to the real estate blogging community (RE.net for short), and their latest article listing the top 25 most influential real estate bloggers was not only a great outreach tool, but particularly flattering of the Rain City Guide team.

If I had to hazard a guess as to why RCG was so well represented, two ideas come to mind… One is the good fortune we’ve had to bring on a group of engaging (and downright fun!) contributors and two, we’ve had awesome source material with interesting start-ups and a great local blogging community that goes beyond RCG contributors. Inman recognized as much by not only including Ardell and myself in the list, but also including a slew of Seattle bloggers including Marlow Harris, John Cook, David Gibbons and Glenn Kelman. All great people who have engaged and improved the RCG community over the past two and half years!

Don’t miss:

How about those SEO tweaks?

I thought about labeling this post “Does SEO work?” or something similar until I realized that is just stupid. SEO stands for search engine optimization and not only does it work, but in many ways, it is the basis for why blogs work so extremely well for promoting yourself as an expert within a niche topic (as Rhonda has done… Or even a nationally recognized expert!)

So where am I going? I recently had another meetup with my project blogger and I realized I hadn’t made some simple SEO-related tweaks to his wordpress blog that I made to RCG last December. The tweaks I made were to:

  • edit the title tag of all my posts
  • add keywords to the blog

I gave one update to this post, but essentially failed to follow through, so I’m hoping to remedy that right now. 🙂

First, I’m a bit surprised that many of my one week observations held steady. For example, RCG is still the #1 result for [Agent Recommendations]. Also, RCG has essentially dropped off of Google’s radar for a search that used to be our #1 organic traffic generator: [Seattle Real Estate]. My expectation was that Google’s algorithms might be temporarily confused by my changes to the site, but that they would pick up our new configuration after a while and continue to drive us traffic on this key search term. No such luck after four months.

As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that Google is still somewhat confused. My logic stems from the fact the page Google has decided is most relevant (using this search term) from RCG changes on a weekly basis. This week it is the link to Robbie’s articles which shows up somewhere down the middle of the page (if you show 100 results per page on Google as I do)


However, the real genesis of my SEO tweaks were to see if I could get the “other” search engines to send RCG a higher percent of our organic traffic. The idea is that Google was sending about 92% of the organic traffic to RCG and I wanted to see if I could get MSN and/or Yahoo to send more. As you can see from this Google Analytics chart for stats from the month of March, 2007, I failed:


Google sent 91.73%, or approximately 92% of all organic traffic to the site in March of 2007, which means there was essentially no change at all! In other words, the SEO-related changes I made did not have the intended effect of increasing the percent of organic traffic that RCG received from non-Google sources.

However, I’d be ending too soon if I made it sound like the SEO changes were not beneficial. Here is the marketing summary from Google Analytics for the month of March 2007 compared to the month of November 2006 (i.e. well after the changes to before the changes!).


What you see is that our visitors from organic sources is up 138% between those months and the visitors from organic Google searches is up 139%. This is almost double the increase from “referral” sources which makes me think that the changes I made to the site were effective and not just background growth!

(Of course, it can’t go unnoticed that the Seattle Bubble sent us over 2000 visitors in March. Wow! That’s well worth a juicy link to the most bubblicious real estate site in Seattle. 😉 )

Also of note… Google really seems to like our article on moving to Seattle. I love that my “little bit of serendipity” has turned out to be so helpful. You can never tell what post is going to kick start an interesting conversation.

Finally, as a treat, I thought I would present the chart that never fails to impress at my seminars. In March 2007, there were almost 25K people who came to RCG once and never returned. 🙁 (that is NOT the impressive part…). On the flip side, there are over 1,800 people who have visited the site more than 200 times.


For the RCG contributors (and commenters!) who wonder how widely that your stuff gets read, realize that there are a HUGE number of people who read without ever letting their presence be known. If you fall into that category (at least 95% of the regular readers do), feel free to introduce yourself in the comments any time! (The first comment is free.) 🙂

So, to wrap this up as a “project blogger” post… I’d highly recommend that anyone starting their own blog get Google Analytics. It’s free, easy to use, and provides a wealth of information about how people use your site! 🙂

Owning the Malibu Community

About a month ago, I got a call from a friend who highly recommended that I give a chance to a real estate agent who is working very hard to break into the Malibu market. The idea of “owning” a piece of Malibu is somewhat irresistible to me (even if it is only the digital dirt!), so I couldn’t refuse, despite the many wonderful options (or maybe because I had too many wonderful options!)

[photopress:madison.jpg,full,alignright]Anyway, to make a long story short, I met up with the agent for breakfast, had a wonderful conversation and decided to coach him as part of Project Blogger. So, without further ado, I’m happy to introduce Madison Hildebrand and his most wonderful blog, InsideBu.com.

Probably one of the most appealing aspects to working with Madison is that he already understand how to use self-promotion in the real estate context (he could teach me a thing or two!), so our conversations really get to focus on the ways in which he can use the technologies behind online social networks (we’ve got ideas for Flickr, YouTube, ActiveRain, the Move Blogs, etc. in addition to consistent and inspired blogging!) to build up a healthy online community around a local real estate market. Malibu is an incredibly challenging market where a few big names dominate the local scene. I am thrilled to have this chance to work with Madison to bring this unique market into the digital age! 🙂

Do YOU have a durable power of attorney?

So, I haven’t been on RCG for a while because I am gone from Seattle to Wichita, KS where I and my siblings are on hospital watch. My parents were hit by a drunk driver on Monday night and so I caught a flight here immediately since both of them were in the hospital with injuries. My dad has a brain injury and has been unconscious for several days now. For anyone that is interested in reading my blogs about the experience feel free to do so at this link: http://blog.myspace.com/teamreba
When I’m working with clients there are always situations that come up where we have to deal with difficult circumstances. My partner, Michael, and I frequently ask our clients if they have a durable power of attorney. Typically we make it for a specific property based on the transaction and usually the title company has to approve the POA to insure the purchase. Sometimes the POA is put in place under in the context of just making sure we are able to get signatures if there is a spouse or partner that travels a lot or an out of country trip is planned that would make it difficult to get notices or addendums signed. I’ve used these when I have siblings in multiple states as well who are buying or selling property.

Thankfully my parents did put together POA’s about 4 years ago. My mother is a REALTOR(R) in Wichita and my dad works with her as a licensed agent. They also own several rental properties and they had just received mutual acceptance on an offer for one the day they got in the accident.  My mother is conscious, although on pain medication for her broken bones, and she is aware enough that she knows what is going on and can sign things for herself. However, while I am my dad’s medical POA one of my siblings is his financial POA.  I’ll likely have my sister sign for my dad just so there is no question about mental faculties with my mom when the additional paperwork for this transaction is turned in.

It’s been a relief for me (and I think my mom too) to be able to come in and help out with her business while she and dad are in the hospital. I can’t practice real estate agency in Kansas but I have contacted some other agents that know my mom (she’s been an agent 20 years) and they’ll help with any items that require licensing and I’ll be a knowledgeable “gopher”. This also relieves stress from my siblings who may not know what they should do for her contracts and listings. I hadn’t really considered I’d have to help out in this way, but I sure am glad that I can.  It helps to also give me something else to think about rather than my dad in ICU.

My comments to all that read RCG is that if you don’t have a durable power of attorney for your personal affairs you really should do it and the sooner the better. You never know when a truck will slam into you and render you unconscious and you’ll need help with your medical and personal affairs such as paying bills. We stress this kind of long term planning to pretty much all of our clients and we host a client event every year that covers things like this to prevent more cases like Terry Schiavo. I hope you’ll consider it and go do it soon yourself.

Top Down – Bottom Up

I was helping an agent with a listing that hasn’t sold yet, and one of the simple, yet dramatically effective things I did was rearrange the blind openings. This is particularly important for view property and any property where cars or the street show when you raise the blinds from the bottom up.

If you see two sets of strings, one on the right and one on the left, this usually means they are “Top Down-Bottom Up” blinds. This type of window treatment allows you to cover the low portion of cars going by, but let in light and sky and sometimes tree tops from the top view.

They are great for view property if the windows are low and tall, because they allow you to enjoy the view from the inside without the neighbors seeing you in your boxers 🙂