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How Branch Rickey Predicted Long Tail Search Success

“Luck,” Mr. Rickey once said, “is the residue of design.”

If that’s not the perfect description of life chasing the SEO long tail I’m not sure what is. Design – the deliberate use of certain keywords and phrases – has its place but often luck determines whether you are found by a prospective buyer or seller finds you.

Will then enter the phrase you envision exactly as you plan it? Or will they find you because you’re the only real estate agent in the web who discusses the concept of a kunahura and your fear of said foul beast.

Shotgun Web Presence

With just under half of 2008 gone, I’ve already surpassed my business totals for 2007. Which means both that last year was atrocious, survival through that year was miraculous, and that 2008 has been much, much better. So the natural question that arises is “how?” And for that, I almost have an answer.

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It’s not coincidence that I’ve had two Canadians close escrow, passed a third to another agent, have two more coming this week, am sending listings to a dozen or so more (and even have fired three along the way since I didn’t want to be part of an agent gang bang hoping to get a piece of the action.)

It’s not coincidence that last week someone looking for bank owned homes in Tolleson tripped over my blog and the Just Listed pages … but there’s some luck in that their offer was the one of three accepted and that they’ll be opening escrow by week’s end.

It’s not coincidence that I helped a buyer find a home in Ventana Lakes and that I’m getting inquiries about the Phoenix area’s other retirement communities.

All of these things were part of the grand design … yet I also realize luck does play a factor, in that a slight change of wording can send these buyers to other websites instead of my own. All I can do is cast a wide enough net – call it a shotgun web presence (shoot and see what sticks) and hope it works.

The Other Side of the Equation

Personal goals, however, have taken a bit of a back seat. The weight loss I’ve needed to accomplish for some time still hasn’t happened (the current 10-pound drop is like throwing a bucket of sand off the beach and into ocean.) When Kris Berg tells me she loves me biggest, it’s probably because I am the biggest.

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Combine that with a highly stressful job, the added “joy” of being president of my synagogue (have you ever seen the Israeli Knesset?) and the fact I’m still here sometimes is amazing.

I’ve unplugged over the last month out of necessity – fewer posts here, almost no time spent on Twitter, very little on Facebook, etc. My Google Reader overfloweth.

The last 18 months have been hard, not just for me, but for nearly everyone in this industry. Until three weeks ago I was arguing with my mother about the urgent need to find Wi-Fi access from the beach house my sister has rented in San Diego. Now … I’m all set to turn in the iPaq in favor of a book my wife bought me and a spot overlooking the beach (just far enough from the water that no one tries to roll me back in to “save” me.)

It’s taken 18 months of searching to find my own long tail, to find the keywords and phrases that will lead myself to the balance necessary to thrive in this job without letting it be your final job. “I’m going to make it if it kills me” seems like a really, really weird thing to say. And that’s not the long tail search I’d want to define me. Better to be found under “2008 will be the best year yet, personally and for my business.”

I’m already halfway there. The easier part should be … well … easier.

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Testing the Long Tail

Since I’m still number 2 on Google for “kunahura” – no, really, I am – let’s see what I can do with the shehechyanu, a far more optimistic and uplifting way to conclude. You never know when someone looking for the shehechyanu may want a house in Arrowhead Ranch.

Baruch ata Adonai eloheinu melech haolam, shehechyanu vekiyamanu vehigianu lazman hazeh.

I’ve found myself saying that after each house has gone under escrow this year. Who knows … maybe that’s a good chunk of the reason behind the improvement as well.

Like long-tail fishing, it can’t hurt.

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Written By

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.



  1. Dan Green

    June 19, 2008 at 4:26 am

    I wonder if Branch Rickey said the shehechyanu while Jackie Robinson was signing his contract?

  2. Bill Lublin

    June 19, 2008 at 5:21 am

    @Dan Green – Actually Jackie should have said the shehechyanu 😉
    As well as the fans 😀

    @Jonathan – Dude you gotta help the readers who don’t get what a Kaynahorah is (you may be #2 because you spelled it that way) – Here’s a definition from

    Kaynahorah: (kayne-a-hurr-rah) literally, the evil eye. Pronounced in order to ward off the evil eye, especially when speaking of one’s good fortune. “Everyone is the family is happy and healthy, kaynahorah.” “He’ll be 86 in three weeks, kaynahorah.” Another way to ward off the evil eye is to quickly spit three times (We’re not talking hawking a big loogie. This is more like lightly spitting a poppy seed off the tongue.) “My daughter found a nice guy and it looks as if he’s going to propose. Pthui, pthui, pthui.”

    Couldn’t find a definition of the shehechyanu – so we’ll just let them know that its a thank you for the good things we’re allowed to experience -ecited at every joyous occasion .

    Ok, I’m done being multi-cultural – Time to go now! 😉

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    June 19, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Kaynahorah, Bill? Is that the dance you do when you’re at a Kanye West concert?

  4. Faina Sechzer

    June 19, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Jonathan, how do you say “congrats”? Without my grandma, I am at a loss for the right words. I will say, “phui, pthui, pthui” (better safe then sorry), as there is another 6 months to go.

  5. Paula Henry

    June 19, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Jonathan – I do not understand the language you speak here, but do undertsan the language of the longtail and congrats on a good year with it!

    Here’s to a great rest of 2008!

  6. Louis Cammarosano

    September 6, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    What Branch Richey did was take advantage of the immense ignorance at the time by adding an African-American player to his team, Jackie Robinson, that no one else would take, but who would help the Dodgers win games.

    Seems like an obvious good move now, but at the time people questioned the decision to bring Jackie onto the team.

    With Jackie, the Dodgers finally won a World Series (beating the Yankees in 1955) and a few pennants along the way.

    Jackie endured a lot of crap and Branch Richey probably did as well.

    Branch Richey succeeded by doing what he thought was right and would work even though none of his peers was doing it and thought it was wrong.

    A tremendous lesson for us well beyond the long tail!

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