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To SEO Or Not To SEO

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I’ve read a lot of the controversy over whether or not we should be focused on SEO results.  I don’t comprehend the criticism.  I’m in business to make money.  I believe my blog is a business generator.  That’s what I work towards.

When I wrote the very first few posts on my website I wrote purely for myself and out of the love of writing and expression.  Not having a comprehension of the potential power, I didn’t realize the results that were possible.  After awhile I came to understand and agree with the school of thought that says if you want to attract the consumer to your blog you should focus on that consumer and write to their needs. 

Fortunately for me I have a place to whine and vocalize my concern, aggravation, ideas and whatever else catches my attention – like a shiny penny – here at AG.  If not, then my blog would still be mixed use. 

I’m new to the blogging world.  I’m still learning and there’s a lot of that to do.  I appreciate transparency.  What I don’t appreciate is giving the store away for free.  I write posts for the same reason I network, keep in contact with my sphere, do open houses and all the rest.

If you’re critical of a blogger for writing to attract the attention of Google and thus the consumer, what are you criticizing?  The writer’s desire to have a profitable business? 

I absolutely love to receive comments from my peers on posts I’ve written, but that’s not my main goal – unless you have a referral for me.  I’m writing to attract the attention of someone who’s going to buy or sell real estate with me.  That’s my job – to bring home the bacon.

In my internet travels today I found SEO Book, a site that offers training.  Not understanding the inner workings of SEO, I can’t tell you if what this site offers is good, but you’ll probably learn something – whether you disagree with it or not.

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Todd Carpenter

    May 6, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    SEO Book is a great site. I interviewed Aaron Wall for Blog Fiesta this year, so check it out if you’d like his take on real estate blogging.

    In the mean time, I don’t think anyone means to criticize other bloggers for writing Google friendly content. Only that some can become so consumed with it that their blog isn’t worth reading. Google can drive traffic, but the words on your blog have to turn that traffic into clients. Writing to Google vs Humans It’s not an either or. It’s more like a moving line.

  2. Vicki Moore

    May 6, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Maybe that’s the point I was missing – that the writing may not be worth reading. I didn’t get that from what I read. But like I said, I’m still trying to figure out what all the huffing is about.

  3. Jim Duncan

    May 6, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    When I read bloggers writing blatantly for SEO content and not quality content, I do get perturbed. There has been significant discussion about it over the years, and the result has traditionally been (IMHO) – the consumers, and perhaps most importantly, Google, will figure out that the “author’s” intent is to game Google (and other search engines)

    Trying to game Google is generally not a good idea – they’re smart. Really, really smart.

    My advice has always been to write about what you want to write about and what you think your audience wants to read – stick to that tactic and the SEO will follow.

  4. Vicki Moore

    May 6, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Jim – Can you write for SEO content and have it be quality? I won’t sacrifice quality. But can’t you do both?

  5. Jim Duncan

    May 6, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I do come up fairly well on organic search for a few key search terms. I’ve found that those who focus on the SEO content tend to spend too much effort on plugging the “right” keywords into the posts rather than focusing on providing good information.

    I like to think that consumers know when they’re being played; it makes me feel better.

  6. Trace

    May 6, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    While there may be debate in the RE blogosphere about whether you should be writing for machines or people, there is little to no debate among top SEO’s about who you should write for. You should write for your audience.

    If you are writing about “round orange balls”, this term will naturally find it’s way into your content as you write. If you find that is not the case, then make an effort to add the term where it makes sense and reads well. If there are other terms you would like to be on the radar for, find a way to include the topics / terms in your content and do so in a common sense way. “SEO Optimized content” and “content created for end users” are NOT mutually exclusive!

    Quality content is king, but you are also well served: 1) using your keywords in your title 2) using keywords in url 3) making sure titles are H1 tags 4) using H2 tags where arppropriate 5) linking to relevant and useful resources within your content where it makes sense and will help the reader 6) building quality links (duh!) 7) include targeted keywords in the anchor text of your inter-linking structure where links point to that page.

  7. Vicki Moore

    May 6, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Jim – Thanks for clarifying with: plugging the “right” keywords into the posts rather than focusing on providing good information. Got it.

    Trace – no debate among top SEO’s about who you should write for…Good to know. I gather from what you’re saying is that if you write for the machine, once the human gets there they’re not going to be interested – you’re not going to hold their interest.

    Could use your help with H1 and H2 tags, anchor text, interlinking structure. Went right over my head.

  8. Todd Carpenter

    May 6, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Vickie, you just illustrated my other basic objection about spending to much time worrying about SEO. You have a great blog, and not paying attention to H1 and H2 tags has played almost no role in it’s success. Many Agents read advice like that and get psyched out of blogging in the first place. I don’t use H1 or H2 tags either. Luckily, the CSS code in my blog does a lot of this for me.

    Your blog automatically places an H2 tag around the title of your post. That’s how a web browser knows to make it bigger.

  9. Trace

    May 6, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Vicki – You are correct, once readers find it they will not be as interested, but google is also continuously getting better and better at telling the difference between content that is written purely for seo optimization purposes and content that is natural. So if the meaning of the content and usefulness of the content is compromised for the sake of reaching a 6% keyword density ratio, for example, there is a greater likelihood that google will now or in the future give this page less importance.

    At the end of the day there really is no shortcut to good rankings with google, some tricks may work in the short term, but inevitably will not work in the long term. That’s why google is the best, don’t bet against the algorithm. 😉 Keep in mind that “optimized” pages and “great content” pages aren’t mutually exclusive though….google realizes that very useful content may not always be the most “optimized” content and they are continuously working to recognize and give importance to content that is useful regardless of whether is is the most optimized in terms of keyword density and other technical factors…. Always remember, google is not perfect, but they work in very common sense ways….. Just think in the future SEO will not exist and quality / useful content will reign supreme…or something like that.

  10. Vicki Moore

    May 6, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Todd – 😉 Okay. I’m learning.

    Trace – That’s sound advice. Makes sense even though I’m still not totally sure what you’re talking about. 🙂

    I think the bottom line is that there is no easy way to get to the top – what a surprise. Sounds like if I stay on topic and be consistent eventually I’ll see results. Dang. I wanted instant gratification.

    I love this place. All you have to do is ask.

  11. Trace

    May 6, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    A website that does not have correctly optimized URL’s, H1 / H2 tags, interlinking structure, titles, correct usage of nofollow tags, and a handful of other technical factors may very well do fine in search results, you can still leave a lot on the table if you don’t take advantage of these tools to help spiders understand what keywords are the most important in the theme of your content.

    Take this example from tracecapital.com: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=active&q=no+closing+cost+refinance&btnG=Search

    While I bump around from #2 to #8 on any given day (at the time of this writing I’m showing at #7 and #8 behind Wells Fargo, Countrywide, Eloan, and Quicken Loans) notice how I’m the only person on the page that has two results on top of each other with the bottom result indented. This changes from day to day but most of the time I am taking up two spots…. I do this consistently for most terms I rank for and being at #7 with two listings like this will often bring me more traffic then when I’m #3 with a single listing…. sometimes I’m #3 or #2 with a double listing as well…. The point is that among other things, this will not happen as often and your overall rankings WILL be affected if you have a sloppy theme…. all the technical factors (not talking about content) are tools NOT tricks, to help spiders understand what the hey.

    H1 tells the spider that this title is MORE important then other content and thus, keywords in that content are given more weight….same with H2, same with keywords in URL’s, anchor text, etc…. so if all these factors combined CAN make a difference…. it doesn’t mean you won’t do well if you don’t take care of these items, but they do help spiders understand the overall theme / focus of your content more optimally, at least that has been my experience….. keep in mind for everything I say, there will be somebody saying the opposite… if all else fails, use common sense. Ask yourself, what is best for the end user? That’s what google does and that’s what they strive to do…. if they can serve the BEST content to the end user, they stand to make the most money…..just like you or i do when we deliver what our clients need / want.

  12. Vicki Moore

    May 6, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Trace – Sounds like I need to understand it somewhat. What are the top 5 things a novice can do to get good results in the areas you mentioned?

  13. ines

    May 6, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    The whole SEO concept was foreign to me when I first started blogging – it’s gotten a bit more clear now, but I’m not there yet. I think you can write quality content, content that captivates and that you are passionate about and be able to use keywords without overdoing it.

    I confess than when I try to be “SEO smart”, it’s when I mess up and Google punishes me……I’ve decided to be myself and hope the SEO follows (but it doesn’t mean I won’t be smart about it)

  14. Trace

    May 6, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Vicki: First thing would be this, any technical stuff I just threw out there that makes no sense…. IGNORE IT. Just write about what you know about and write well and often…..

    Keeping it simple: We’ve decided we are going to write about “phoenix golf course homes”…. simply write about the topic and include that phrase where it reads well…. use variations such as “phoenix golf homes”, “phoenix golf living”, “phoenix golf condos”, or any other variations that you think might be what end users are looking for information about… and provide that information…..the key here is use these words in the natural context of your writing, don’t repeat them over and over and over under the assumption that more is better….. simply write well and be conscious that you include these terms where appropriate. Then include your main keywords in your title such as “Phoenix Golf Course Homes Information” “The ABC’s of Phoenix Golf Course Homes”…. or whatever you choose…..

    If you do this you will have created unique content that provides value, is SEO optimized inherently for specific keyword phrases with and SEO optimized title. That wasn’t hard was it?!

    You will find seo basics / primers ALL over the place but once I finish up my ipagio projects and finish building out brokerscience, I will create primers that start from step one (with videos) to walk through everything SEO. It will be a lot easier understanding h1 tags, alt tags, titles, anchor text, etc. when they are in the context of video…..

  15. Chris Shouse

    May 7, 2008 at 9:22 am

    WOW my mind is boggled, Vicki you brought up a subject that has been very frustrating for me for a long time. My new blog is a WP and it has things on there that I am in the dark about. I have never figured out what trackbacks are and where do I send them, It says I can add a custom field? It has a key and a value? What is that? What do you write in your excerpt and do you get SEO from that? I am so confused:)

  16. Trace

    May 7, 2008 at 10:14 am

    @Chris: google is your friend! There are many people with the same questions as yourself, so many people have written articles / guides about the very questions you bring up. You will also find those topics covered extensively at wordpress.org …… btw: a trackback is when you link / reference sombody elses article in a post you make. This will leave a “trackback” in their blog post near their comments section…. if they link to a story you’ve written, you will see trackback on your post in your comments section…..the trackback is created automatically.

  17. Jay Thompson

    May 7, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Of course search results are important. If your site can’t be found in search engines, then it won’t do much good.

    Not a whole lot to add to these great comments.

    The “SEO Abuse” is see (frequently) are posts where there are so many “key words” interjected into the post they become a chore to read. I saw a real estate blog post once that had “city real estate” *19* times in a four paragraph post.

    It was like this:

    As a Phoenix real estate agent, I can help you find a home in the Phoenix real estate market. There are many great things about Phoenix real estate, not the least of which are the buying opportunities that abound in the Phoenix real estate market.

    What utter dreck.

    The guys at Google are *smart*. You don’t need to jam that many keywords into a post for them to figure out what it is about.

    Write original, compelling content, in a voice that you would use in a conversation, and the search engines will get it.

    And your readers will appreciate it. And return.

  18. Vicki Moore

    May 7, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Chris – I new I couldn’t be the only one!!

    Trace – IGNORE IT. Done! I tried reading the SEO website and lost interest rather quickly. It’s too technical. It’s like reading a book with the dictionary next to me. Not fun.

    Jay – I’ll take it from an expert and follow your advice. Now returning to regular programming.

    Ines – I wouldn’t know if I was being punished or not. I’ll try to be smart – if I knew what being smart was.

  19. Glenn fm Naples

    June 21, 2008 at 6:41 am

    Vicki – I am not great at blogging, but what I found is if you write about what you think people will find interesting, they will find your blog. We need to find the balance between search engines and people. This is probably the best thing – quality content.

  20. Gordon Baker

    September 25, 2008 at 12:38 am

    It is an educational process just reading the comments on this post. I’ll retain some of it and forget much of it, until I read another article. In the meantime I’ll try and apply what I’ve learned, but always focusing on great content and what keeps the reader interested. Supplement the content with SEO principles.

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Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.

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Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.

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Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.

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Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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