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Opinion Editorials

Why Do They Call Me?



I am a Realtor® and I have a few websites. I am the primary care giver FOR these websites and am pretty proficient at getting them to rank high on search engines. Google specifically. In fact, one of my websites rank page #1 and spot #1 for a bunch of great search terms, (and several other sites are scattered among pages #1 and #2). Yay for me and my online presence.

Well, regardless of my placement in the search engines, I STILL get people (apparently they work for companies that represent the Google Search Engine) calling me asking if I want to pay them to get me to rank high in the search engines for certain terms.

What terms? Oh, the exact same terms that I ALREADY rank #1 for.

When I TELL them this, I get one of two answers:

  1. Are you sure?” Um. Yes. I am looking at it RIGHT NOW.
  2. Well, I see that you are there organically. Wouldn’t you like to pay for placement as well?” Um. Are you crazy?

Do these people own computers? Are their computers hooked up to the internet? Are they on?

Do they do ANY research on the people that they are trying to ask for business?

It would be like me going to a listing appointment at the wrong house with no CMA. It is completely irresponsible and an awful way to attract business.

I get these calls every day.

Why, oh why do they call me?

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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  1. Ines

    March 12, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Just today I received a call from Google – yes, Google called me. To tell me that they had a search term available for me, “Miami Beach Fl house for sale” – I said, who in the world types that as a search? (614,000 searches) – I said, if you are going to waste my time calling me to sell me something, sell me “miami real estate” with over 4 million results.
    Do you know what he said? That search would cost you a lot more money!! DUH! could it be because it is an actual search term? – I’m on page 3 there and creeping up slowly
    OK…..enough rant, you started it!

  2. Jon

    March 12, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    You’ve posed an interesting question. I’m wondering if you might know of any agents who have ever cold-called a “prospect” without having a clue as to their home selling or buying situation? I’ve known an awful lot of agents who do this every day…they even knock on “cold” doors with the same shotgun approach.

    And when that would-be “prospect” hangs up or closes the door, I wonder how many of them roll their eyes as they exclaim, “Why do they call me?”

    For every enlightened agent who is all about creating ‘warm’ relationships through their blogs and using other marketing strategies that help us cultivate online and offline relationships while avoiding cold-calling, there are thousands who are still at it. It appears this holds true for the SEO industry as well.

  3. Mariana

    March 12, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Ines – You lucky girl! Google called you… I assume these folks are target marketing people who know nothing. Maybe if they did just a TAD more research they could avoid wasting their time (and ours) by not even calling in the 1st place.

    Jon – You are exactly right. EVERY industry has the cold-callers and NONE of them are doing it smart. I am SO tired of PUSH marketing.

  4. Athol Kay

    March 12, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    It’s my fault Mariana. I complied a list of all the RE bloggers and sold the list to Google for $12.50 back in July 2007.

    I went to a movie and had the large popcorn with the money.


  5. Jay Thompson

    March 12, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I drank Google’s beer once. It was cool.

    Didn’t we have this conversation about 3 weeks ago?

  6. Benjamin Bach

    March 12, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I got a call today from a Toronto firm asking me if I wanted to rank well for “Investment . . . Real Estate. . . in Kitchener… and Waterloo” pausing between words since he was scanning my blog for keywords.

    Thanks Athol 🙂

  7. Benjamin Bach

    March 12, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Jon that is a very very interesting questions…

    I don’t doorknock or cold call… I attract clients through my blog and my monthly Investment workshops.

    One of my colleagues door knocks 3 hours a day, and does 250K GCI consistently for years. I think he’s the only guy in town doorknocking every day.

    Interesting question. I think I’m going to forward him this post 🙂

  8. Mariana

    March 12, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Athol – I am jealous. I wish I was clever enough to have Google pay for MY movie popcorn. That stuff is expensive.

    Jay – Google Beer? Cool! I am sure we did have this conversation on multiple occasions, but I think it bears repeating.

    Benjamin – People are so much frickin’ fun. I swear.

  9. Mariana

    March 12, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Benjamin – I think that there IS success in door-knocking, but I find the ROI too small for as much time it takes. I also more a fan of PULL marketing.

  10. Benjamin Bach

    March 12, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    plus it’s FREEZING

  11. Athol Kay

    March 12, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    “plus it’s FREEZING”

    Ah get out thar you cringing sook. Teresa has some great posts on “Dressing in layers for real estate” somewhere on AG. 🙂

  12. Jay Thompson

    March 12, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    There’s a guy here that doorknocks. In the summer. When it’s 117 outside. That’s a good way to kill yourself…

    Google beer. Long story, Inman Connect, we snuck in. More here:

  13. Benjamin Bach

    March 12, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I’m actully planning to get these really sick North Face boots with slippers in them (a client had them on today. Perfect for seeing property in the winter)

    You just have to deal… but it is -18 degrees in the mornings here………………..

  14. Charleston real estate blog

    March 12, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Mariana, I had a little time to entertain myself and I actually had one salesperson try to convince me that pay per click was better than organic results.

  15. Will

    March 12, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I got a call from them and took down all their info… then I fired off a letter to Google to let them know about these scammers. The real Google Rep was none too pleased to hear their name invoked to sell adwords and were going to look into it. Several of my colleagues got rooked in by these con artists who prey on the less net savvy among us.

  16. Toby & Saide

    March 12, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Funny, you bring this up today.

    I had a “second” call from a guy who was “very dissapointed in me.” I had talked to him last fall and said I’d give him a call when we were going through the marketing budget. Of course, I promptly recycled the call-sheet with no intention to ever return the call.

    Here I am in downtown Columbus, trying to take a beautiful photo with my phone and he calls me. I think I’ve got an easy way out “I’ve already set my marketing budget and we elected to remain consistent with our monies.”

    “But Toby, don’t get me wrong, that is a fine way to do business, but don’t you actually want to make more money than you did last year? You have to try new marketing venues.”

    I replied that I don’t like lead generators because of past experience, aww but “he isn’t a lead generator all of his clients are verified leads for me to follow-up on. And that I was throwing all lead generators into a basket like the public does to REALTORS® and how ironic was that.”

    At this point, this bleepty-bleep is starting to get on my nerves. His next question? “How are you marketing now?”

    Place Blogging

    “What a waste of time,” he replies.

  17. Ginger Wilcox

    March 12, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    I love it when they argue about your placement, or try to tell your your ranking for key words that you don’t find key. You are on page 46 for blah, blah, blah. Well good, I hope I stay there. That won’t help me anyway!

  18. Matt Scoggins

    March 13, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I wonder how much time these people waste calling agents who’s websites already rank well…I know they wasted a few hours on me over the years. It would take them all of 5 seconds to do a search for the keyword they are trying to “sell”.

  19. Sarah Cooper

    March 13, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    What’s really fun is when you tell them that you have enough business already, thanks. That is just NOT in their scripts and you can hear them turning pages. 🙂

  20. Maureen Francis

    March 13, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I think they get my phone number off my website in the first place. Perhaps they think I am stupid enough to buy their services.

  21. Melbourne Florida Homes For Sale

    March 14, 2008 at 5:16 am

    Can’t fix whats not broke right. Telemarketers gone wild your just another number they have to call. I still get calls offering me to refinace my house and I sold it years ago. They have a telephone number and thats all. My son is so bad he strings them along and sounds all interested and then backs out or ask them for there home phone number so he can call back at supper time and interrupt there family time. He’s to funny!

  22. Jacksonville Realtor

    March 15, 2008 at 9:25 am

    I gave up on door knocking in Florida when I melted one summer…

    I wonder if Realtors are like sellers and go with the first seo company that contacts them?

  23. Mariana Wagner

    March 15, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Howard – I have faced that same arguement…

    Will – Wow. Interesting! You are right. It is almost a con.

    Toby – “waste of time” as in the phone call yuo got? LOL.

    Ginger- I tell them that I know more about the keywords I want/need to be placing for and they never believe me. Oh well.

  24. Mariana Wagner

    March 15, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Matt – They would waste less time searching the keywords than making the phone calls. Definitely.

    Sarah – Yeah. That has worked for me in thepast as well. Nice one!

    Maureen – That is waht they are hoping for!

    Melbourne FHFS – Ah! That is funny.

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Opinion Editorials

Popular opinion: Unemployment in a pandemic sucks [EDITORIAL]

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) I got laid off during the pandemic, and I think I can speak for all of us to say that unemployment – especially now – really, really sucks.



Stressed man thinking over laptop about unemployment.

Despite not being in an office for what feels like an eternity, losing my job stung. Holding onto work during The Worst Timeline was rough, considering Rome was burning all around. My job was the boat of sanity I could sit in while the waves of bullshit crashed all around. Pre-pandemic, I had just separated from my wife, so my emotional health wasn’t in tip-top shape. But then millions of people go and get sick, the economy took a nosedive, and well, the world changed. When everything around you sucks, and people are on the news crying about unemployment and potential homelessness, you’re thankful as hell that you’re not with them – until you are.

I was writing for a startup, one that came with a litany of headaches thanks to fluctuating budgets and constant directional pivots, but it was steady work. When the Coronavirus hit, it was a scenario of “we’re going to get through this,” but as we switched gears again and again, I started to get an unsettling feeling: I’ve seen this story before. When you live in Austin and are in the creative field, you’ve worked with startups. And there are always trappings on when something lingers in the air – hierarchy shuffles, people aren’t as optimistic, and senior folks start quietly bailing out. Those are the obvious moves that make your unemployment-related Spidey sense tingle, but with COVID, everything is remote. There aren’t the office vibes, the shortened conversations that make you, “I know what’s happening here.” Instead, you’re checking Slack or email and surviving like everyone else.

We were happy to be working, to see the direct deposit hit every two weeks and sigh, knowing you were still in the fight, that you might see this thing through.

We saw our entire business change overnight. Leadership rose to meet the challenges of an old model rooted in hospitality, restaurants, and events, which died with a viral disease shotgun blast. Because the infrastructure was there, we managed to help out workers, and grocery stores work together to keep people fed across the nation. It was legitimately a point of pride. Like all things, though, the market settled. We bought time.

In July, I had a full-blown depressive episode. The weight of the divorce, the lack of human interaction, my work having less value, my career stalled felt like a Terminator robot foot on my skull. I couldn’t get out of bed, and everything I wrote were the smatterings of a broken man. And to my ex-bosses’ credit, my breakdown was NOT my best work, I could barely look at a computer, let alone forge thoughts on an entirely new industry with any authority, or even a fake it till you make it scenario.

When the CEO put time on my calendar, I knew it was a wrap. Startup CEOs don’t make house calls; they swing the ax. When you’re the lone creative in a company trying to survive a nearly company-killing event, you’re the head on the block. Creatives are expensive, and we’re expendable. Site copy, content, media placements, all that can kick rocks when developers need to keep the business moving, even if it’s at a glacial pace. When I was given my walking papers, it was an exhale, on one hand, I’d been professionally empty, but at the same time, I needed consistent money. My personal life was a minefield and I’ve got kids.

I got severance. Unemployment took forever to hit. The state of Texas authorized amount makes me cringe. Punishing Americans for losing their jobs during a crisis is appalling. Millions are without safety nets, and it’s totally ok with elected leaders.

There are deferments available. I had to get them on my credit cards, which I jacked up thanks to spending $8,500 on an amicable divorce, along with a new MacBook Pro that was the price of a used Nissan. I got a deferment on my car note, too.

I’ve applied to over 100 jobs, both remote and local. I’ve applied for jobs I’m overqualified for in hopes they’ll hire me as a freelancer. There are lots of rejection letters. I get to round two interviews. References or the round three interviews haven’t happened yet. I get told I’m too experienced or too expensive. Sometimes, recruiters won’t even show up. And then there are the Zoom meetings. Can we all agree we’re over Zoom? Sometimes, you don’t want to comb your hair.

I’ll get promised the much needed “next steps” and then a rejection email, “thanks but no thanks.” Could you at least tell me what the X-Factor for this decision was? Was there a typo? Did you check my Facebook? The ambiguity kills me. Being a broke senior creative person kills me. I interviewed President Obama and have written for Apple, but ask myself: Can I afford that falafel wrap for lunch? Do you think springing for the fries is worth that extra $3? You’ve got soup at home, you know.

I’m not unique. This is the American Experience. We’re stuck in this self-perpetuating hell. We keep looking for jobs. We want to work. There are only so many gigs to fill when there’s constant rollercoaster news on unemployment recovery. And as long as unemployment sucks, there’s going to be a lot of people bracing for impact come Christmas. Hopefully, the brass in Washington can pass a few bills and get us back to work. At least get Americans out of the breadline by pumping up what we’re surviving off of – across the board. Working people shouldn’t have to face getting sick to bring in an income, while casualties of the Corona War should be able to look at their bills and not feel like the assistant on the knife throwers wheel.

I’m about to be a line cook to make extra cash till an intrepid manager hires me. Who doesn’t want a writer working the grill who reads French existentialist essays for enjoyment? I’d rather sit on park benches and day dream, but that ain’t reality. I’ve got bills to pay in a broken America. Who wants a burger? Deep thoughts come free but an extra slice of cheese is extra.

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Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.



Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

Improve UX design by tracking your users’ eye movements

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Research shows that the fastest way to determine user behavior and predict their response is by watching their eyesight. Use this data to improve your UX design.



UX design being created by a designer on a laptop.

By design, an ice cream truck is meant to entice. It is colorful, stupidly loud with two whole songs from the 30s (usually off key because no one is left alive who can service those bells), and lots of colorful stickers that depict delicious frozen treats that look nothing like reality. If you need an off model Disney character that already looks a little melted even when frozen, look no further.

This is design in action – the use of clever techniques to drive engagement. Brightly colored decor and the Pavlovian association of hearing The Sting in chirpy little ding dings is all working together to encourage sales and interaction.

These principles work in all industries, and the tech sector has devoted entire teams, agencies, companies, groups, and departments to the study of User Experience (UX) explicitly to help create slick, usable applications and websites that are immediately understandable by users. Tools to improve utility exist by measuring user behavior, with style guides and accepted theories preached and sang and TED-talked all over.

The best way to check behavior is to observe it directly, and options to check where someone clicks has proven invaluable in determining how to improve layouts and designs. These applications are able to draw a heat map that shows intensified red color in areas where clicks congregate the most. An evolution of this concept is to watch eyesight itself, allowing developers a quicker avenue to determining where a user will most likely go. Arguably the shortest path between predicting response, this is one of the holy grails of behavioral measurement. If your eyes can be tracked, your cursor is likely to follow.

UX design can benefit greatly from this research as this article shows. Here’s some highlights:

Techwyse completed a case study that shows conversion on landing pages is improved with clear call-to-action elements. Users will focus on objects that stand out based on position, size, bright colors, or exaggerated fonts. If these design choices are placed on a static, non-interactive component, a business will lose a customer’s interest quickly, as their click is meant with no response. This quickly leads to confusion or abandonment. Finding where a person is immediately drawn to means you should capitalize on that particular piece with executable code. Want it boiled down? Grocery stores put Cheetos front and center, because everyone want them thangs.

Going along with this, Moz found that search results with attractive elements – pictures and video – are given much more attention than simple text. We are visually inclined creatures, and should never undervalue that part of our primal minds. Adding some visual flair will bring attention, which in turn can be leveraged usefully to guide users.

Here’s an interesting study – being that we are social animals, follow the gaze of others. If you’ve ever seen kittens watching a game of ping pong, they are in sync and drawn to the action. Similarly, if we notice someone look to the left, we instinctively want to look left as well. While this sounds very specific, the idea is simple – visual cues can be optimized to direct users where to focus.

The Nielsen Group says we look at things in an F pattern. I just think that’s funny, or at least a funny way to describe it. We follow from left-to-right (just like we read, and as websites are laid out using techniques first developed for newspapers, it naturally makes sense that we’d do the same). Of course, cultural or national differences arise here – right-to-left readers need the opposite. Always be sure to keep your target audience in mind.

Of course, there are several other findings and studies that can further promote idealistic layout and design, and it should always be the goal of designers to look to the future and evaluate trends. (Interestingly, eye tracking is the first option on this list!)

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