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Confused in Minnesota – Cold Too

There are companies out there spamming daily with ads for search engine optimization. They send spam inviting me to spend money to be number one in the search engines by optimizing my site. What is “number 1” and how will it help my business? Number one for which keyword search? Does everyone use the same search strings when they look for St. Paul, or for real estate?

I am not an SEO expert, which might be why I am confused. I have a basic comprehension of math, almost good enough to get through the captcha on this site, but I don’t get number 1. When I Google my name my web sites come up first. Kind of nice, people find me that way but if my name was “John Smith” I am not sure I could ever come up first. People who search for homes don’t usually use my name so if it were John Smith I would not be left out in the cold. (It is so cold here today you wouldn’t believe it).

Since last January (it was cold here then too) my blog has come up first in search engines using the keywords that the spammers are trying to get me to pay for. (They don’t target their spam) It is nice to come up first and it does help my business but more people find me through long tail type searches and those are the folks that hire me. Most of my business comes from specific content that struck a cord with the buyer or seller, who found me using some obscure string of words, and then read some of my blog. Which is good news because there is only one number one spot, and writing a blog is just more fun if someone reads it and makes contact.

Some web site owners go to Google and type in search terms like their domain name, or real estate blog and get all excited when they come up first. (excitement keeps them warm) Others Google the title of a blog post and it pops up. Does any of that matter? It shows that pages are being indexed but beyond that I question the value. My business blog comes up fifth in Google under “virtual pumpkin carving contest”. I get tons of traffic right around Halloween but have not seen any evidence that it is helping my business, it does jack up my bounce rates and screw up my analytics. (Yes I really am a geek, when I am not cold) All traffic is not equal, and not all pumpkin carvers are looking for a Realtor(R).

Then there is the whole domain name thing that I don’t understand. People seem to find my information about St. Paul and about real estate without using a domain name at all. It is nice to have a domain name that is easy to remember and that is why I purchased the domain names that I currently use. If I were starting a new blog today, in the cold, I would not spend much time worrying about the domain name, I would focus on content. Since I can’t spell I would pick one with three of four letters in it, like the word “cold” or “ice”

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I learned a lesson about domain names, you might say I had a “well duh” moment. I was working with someone and asked her to look at my blog. I gave her the domain name and she typed in “saint” instead of “St”, as a result I now own SaintPaulRealEstateBlog.com, and StPaulRealEstateBlog and both are pointed at my site. You never know exactly how people are going to search, or even how they will spell a domain name.

I have never paid a dime for my position in any search. Some believe that web sites and blogs need a lot of expensive marketing, they don’t. They can be promoted inexpensively through directories and by putting the domain name on marketing materials.

Friends don’t let friends spend money on SEO, unless they are sure there will be a healthy ROI.

Did I mention it is hella cold here today?

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Written By

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Mariana

    November 30, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Yeah, Brr chilly here in Colorado-Land as well, even under 4 layers of shirts and sweaters…

    …target spamming? Now that would defeat the purpose, no?

  2. Charleston real estate blog

    November 30, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Hey Teresa, it’s still November, and a long way until spring but I’ll bet you enjoy the North anyway.

    And you’re number one in my SEO book for your great blog (even if I don’t want to move to Minnesota).

  3. Teresa Boardman

    November 30, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Who wouldn’t want to live in MN? It is supposed to snow all weekend. How cool is that? LOL

  4. Charleston real estate blog

    November 30, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    High 60’s and sunny in Charleston this weekend. (I am originally from windy and snowy Chicago).

  5. Todd Carpenter

    November 30, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    I should charge for SEO. For example, due to my donated gift of link love, Lani’s RE Revealed now comes up above the fold on Page 1 Google for the term “”awesomest real estate blog”. It’s number 1 if you use quotes. How can you argue with results like that?

    I know everyone on this blog is now jealous of Lani, thinking, “I wish I had the awesomest real estate blog”. Call me, maybe we can work something out.

  6. Steve Belt

    November 30, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Teresa- When it’s crazy hot here in Phoenix, we tend to get a little cranky. I’m thinking this may be a similar phenomenom with your cold weather.

    It’s funny you mention your own name’s google ranking. Before I started my blog, my own name couldn’t be found in the top 100 for google. It was truly pathetic how poorly my Web 1.0 website.

    Having grown up a little in the last few months, my name now refers to me for 4 out of the top 6 results in google. My own blog strangely is 3rd, but at least 2, 5, and 6 are all references to me. Steve Belt the java developer is topping out ahead of me, but I have a feeling we are neck and neck…hehe

  7. Benjamin Bach

    November 30, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    It was -4 this morning when I went to the office. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  8. Lani Anglin

    November 30, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    1. Teresa, what’s snow? Oh, and you’re spot on- the “be #1 in Google spam” is almost as frequent as the pharmaceutical spam now. About as effective too…

    2. Todd, if you offer up my #1 spot on Google, I get 60% of whatever your cut is…

    3. Bach, wth are you doing working at 4 am????

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