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Can you explain basic SEO?




From the Classroom

Once again, live from the classroom.  I was speaking about the power of social media with search engines and a student stopped me mid sentence and asked, “hope this doesn’t sound like a lame question but can you explain what SEO means?”

So we had a brief conversation and then I went to the expert. Randy Eager, a friend, fellow instructor well versed in SEO joined me on a webinar where we discussed what SEO is. Here are some of his simple thoughts.

First though, SEO defined:

  • Search engine optimization, the use of various techniques to improve a website’s  ranking in the search engines and thus attract more visitors

Okay those work for me. So this is what I learned and now share with my students

First “natural” ranking on a search engine, Google, Yahoo and MSN is the goal of SEO. We try to get as many first page rankings on as many phrases as possible.

To accomplish this there are 3 major areas to change:

  • Research the right keyword phrases for you
  • Tie these phrases into your domain name
  • Create a keyword rich title on your website or blog posts

We learned that there are very popular keyword searches, which means the probability of getting it is impossible. The point is to get as many keyword phrases that are not as popular.

Websites are likely to receive most of their search engine visitors through a large variety of low volume search queries.
So to break it down. If people are looking for Denver Real Estate and those words are in your domain name, you will show up. Even if you don’t have the perfect fit, your site will still show up.

Don’t focus on just “Denver” for keywords. Be more targeted with a whole bunch of keyword phrases. Don’t just take the large area of Denver, but put where you really live, local communities like Aurora and Lakewood. This will create more traffic and better leads.

Keyword phrases should not only be in your domain name, but metatags, title tags, alt tags and all throughout the content. make sure it is in the title of every page of your website. A different title on each page. Each title should include key words and then what the page is about, luxury homes, condos, financing, etc.
Metatags are the hidden code in the html. The Alt tags are the description of the graphics on your website.
The sum of all your minor keywords can be much more popular that the most coveted domain name.

Remember the Long Tail – Long Tail – Keyword phrases with at least three, sometimes four or five, words in them. These long tail keywords are usually highly specific and draw lower traffic than shorter, more competitive keyword phrases, which is why they are also cheaper.

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  1. Thomas

    July 5, 2009 at 12:27 am

    I doubt that the keywords in the domain are a really important ranking factor. This is old school thinking. Look at the portals that dominate the search engines in your industry:, The keywords in the domain name help, but they are not that big of a factor as you make it sound. It is important to have your keywords in the URL though. And you don’t even mention one of the most important ranking factors, backward links, in your article. Trusted links with your keywords in the anchor text are what makes your site rank high. You might argue that for the search “Denver real estate” some of the top pages have the keywords in the domain name. But if you look at another market like “San Francisco real estate” you will note that none of the top 10 results have San Francisco real estate in the domain name.
    If you want to name the principles of SEO:
    1. Good site architecture – making sure that the search engines can index your site and that the important content is linked on top pages and not burried deep within your website.
    2. Your keywords have to be in your content, especially in important places, e.g. title tag, h1 and URL (domain is part of the URL). Content has to be quality and unique!
    3. Good backward links to your site (keyword rich links from relevant and trusted sites)

    Just my $0.02 on SEO.

  2. jf.sellsius.theclozing

    July 5, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Good advice, Amy.

    Also a good idea to properly tag your images and video files. With Universal Search, your video might turn up in the SERPS ahead of your competition.,GGGL:2006-24,GGGL:en

    (you can also get visitors from Google image searches)

    The Long Tail keyword phrases can also bring better traffic (transactional visitors) and keep you ahead of the TruZilla monster: search “Denver modern homes for sale” — Not a Trulia or Zillow in sight.

    Agents oughta learn SEO techniques to take back their SERPS:

  3. Barry Cunningham

    July 5, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Nice comment Thomas….and to think you just touched the surface. SEO is in great part WAY above the paygrade of almost all Realtors. If the guy in the story didn’t even know what SEO was he is either

    a. going to intensely learn about it
    b. pay handsomely to have someone else achieve it for him
    c. find out if Walmart is hiring

    Since most Realtors don’t have websites or blogs and even of those who do most have silly , useless templates..SEO is going to beyond the grasp of most of them.

    Obviously readers here represent the more interested population of realtors…but the rest…stick a fork in them.

  4. Amy Chorew

    July 5, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the great tips. I have been tasked by Agent Genius to bring back what is happening in the classroom so we can have a better idea of the education and programs needed, plus a view of the attitude and accomplishments of our fellow real estate agents.

    I have been paying a lot more attention and am realizing that answers need to be technology or organically achievable. Either do it yourself or know enough to hire someone to do it.

  5. Esko Kiuru

    July 5, 2009 at 10:27 pm


    I’m starting to put my arms around the theory that a bunch of low volume search queries will attract nice, solid leads. Mixing and matching is the fun part here, figuring out what combo will work.

  6. Glenn in Naples

    July 6, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I agree with Thomas’ comment that the domain name a real ranking factor.

    However, I wonder if outbound links to enhance a visitor’s experience on a site have any influence on the rankings. If there are no outbound links – the site is merely a brochure site and may not have good rankings. I think Matt Cutts may have mentioned this in one of his posts or at a seminar,

  7. Lee West

    July 13, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Let me begin by saying I’m an SEO and here are some thoughts to consider. By the way Amy, good job on the post.

    First I have seen real estate agent websites rank very well (first page) in the SERP’s for high volume keywords with horrible SEO, but a great keyword rich domain name. Keyword rich domains are not the “end all – be all” but they do carry weight and one should try to have one if possible. If you don’t have a keyword rich domain, then you can always get the backlinks to overcome this shortfall. You can still have a good keyword rich domain just by adding a different word on the backend of it like or (the lw on the backend of the later domain represents your initials). Whatever the case good keyword rich domains are still to be found.

    Targeting local communities beside your main city can be done, and should be done as Amy points out. One way to do this is by creating a separate page for the new locale. Make sure your Meta tags have your keywords for each page and make sure your page URL has your keywords in them. This can be a great way to get multiple pages ranking for multiple locations. This saves you from having to jam multiple keyword phrases in your home page text, thus reducing the amount of natural text that should be there for your potential clients.

    Definitely look for the long tail, but don’t give up on the most searched. Barry makes a good point about the amount of knowledge Real Estate professionals have, which means the SEO competition may not be that high for your area, therefore with a little effort you could have both the long tail and the most searched in your pocket.

    Barry Cunningham – shamefully true, but ahead of a lot of other industries.

    Esko – Low volume search queries can give you solid leads because they are more target specific. I try to educate the real estate agents I work with that it’s better to fish in a pond that has 1,000 fish and 10 boats then in a pond with 10,000 fish and 1000 boats. Always look for the low lying fruit to pick. Keyword Research will tell you what pond is the best.

    Glenn in Naples – outbound links do make a difference, especially if you link out to relevant sites. I have created a boost to real estate websites by creating outbound links to local and county sites from the home page. This too can be overcome though with quality inbound links with good keyword anchor text.

  8. Shane

    July 13, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Amy, good post. SEO is a full time job in of itself. Here are just a couple of quick tips I have picked up:

    1. Dont try to cram a bunch of high ranking KWs into one page. Instead, try to focus on 2 or 3 KWs per page.

    2. Use meta information as well as ORIGINAL and CREATIVE content to backup the page’s KWs
    A. Do not stuff the content with the KWs you are trying to rank for.
    B. Make sure your content is your own. Re-writing someone else’s content IS NOT ORIGINAL CONTENT!

    3. Longtail KWs is a gold mine for the real estate market.

    4. Google has a good KW research tool for free.
    A. You want to focus on the less competitive but still popular KWs (Please see Lee’s fishing reference above)

    5. Backlinks and anchor text. You can never have enough backlinks to your site.

    6. As Thomas pointed out, dont get hung up on a domain name. Just do a few test searches on Google terms to prove it.

  9. Amy Chorew

    July 13, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks all. Your input is invaluable. Now I understand SEO a bit better. Fantastic information!

  10. John Kerr

    December 10, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Long tail keywords are much more effective. 3 most important things to learn on seo – keywords, link building, and content writing. Being an seo writer is tough, it is an art to be mastered.

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Business Entrepreneur

Tips to professionally approach your business partner with feedback

(ENTREPRENEUR) You and your business partner(s) are in a close relationship, and just like a marriage, negative emotions may play a role in the relationship.



Woman on computer discussing feedback to her business partner.

You and your business partner are in a relationship. Your business was born when you shared a common vision of the future and became giddy from the prospect of all you could do together that you couldn’t do alone. Now, you spend much of the day doing things together in collaboration. The stakes are high; there are obstacles to overcome, decisions to make together, deadlines to meet, and all the stresses of running a business.

It’s no wonder a business partnership can often be just as complicated and emotional as a romantic relationship. If you are struggling with your business partner, you might find helpful advice in resources originally targeted towards troubled couples.

Relationship expert Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein has explored how to share “toxic thoughts” with your partner. In a linked article, Bernstein describes toxic thoughts as distortions of the truth that cause us to overemphasize the negative attributes of our partner.

Some examples of toxic thoughts include blaming your partner for larger problems that aren’t really their fault, inaccurately assuming your partners intentions, or resenting your partner for not intuiting your needs, even if you haven’t expressed them. The defining characteristic of these toxic thoughts is that, although they may be based in the truth, they are generally exaggerations of reality, reflecting our own stresses and insecurities.

Just as much as in a love relationship, these toxic thoughts could easily strain a business partnership. If you find yourself having toxic thoughts about your business partner, you will need to decide whether to hold your tongue, or have a potentially difficult conversation. Even when we remain quiet about our frustrations, they are easily felt in the awkward atmosphere of interpersonal tension and passive aggressive slights that results.

Dr. Bernstein points out that being honest about your toxic thoughts with your partner can help increase understanding and intimacy. It also gives your partner a chance to share their toxic thoughts with you, so you’d better be ready to take what you dish out. It might be hard to talk about our frustrations with each other so candidly, but it might also be the most straightforward way to resolve them.

Then again, Bernstein points out, some people prefer to work through their toxic thoughts alone. By his own definition, toxic thoughts are unfair exaggerations of and assumptions about our partner’s behavior. If you find yourself jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, or blaming your partner for imagined catastrophes, perhaps you’d better take a few minutes to calm down and consider whether or not it’s worth picking a fight about. Then again, if you’re self-aware enough to realize that you are exaggerating the truth, you can probably also tease out the real roots of any tension you’ve been experiencing with your business partner.

If you are going to get personal, shoulder your own emotional baggage and try to approach your partner with equal parts honesty and diplomacy. Avoid insults, stay optimistic, and focus on solutions. State your own feelings and ask questions, rather than airing your assumptions about their intentions or behaviors. Keep your toxic thoughts to yourself, and work towards adjusting the behaviors that are making you feel negatively towards each other. Your business might depend on it.

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Business Entrepreneur

5 side hustle ideas that could change your career trajectory

(EDITORIAL) You may be feeling the desire to explore something new or actually make a career change – Here are 5 side hustle ideas to consider.



side hustles

When you think of finding a side hustle, you might picture yourself finding an obscure job as a bike courier three nights a week or maybe even walking your neighborhood dogs. Both of these positions can be fun and pay extremely well depending on who you work for.

There are endless opportunities for part-time, enjoyable, profitable side hustles. However, if you take on any of the following gigs, you could end up with a new career.

1. Day trading

Day trading is the purchase and sale of a stock, bond, or security all within the same day. Many entrepreneurs are drawn to day trading because it’s fast-paced and risky, but with the right skills, day trading presents a potential for serious profit.

If you’re curious about day trading, RJO Futures published a guide on how day trading works. RJO’s article explains that whether you trade from a large firm or on your own, you’ll need three tools:

  • Access to a trade desk. This will give you instant order actions the moment your trades are placed.
  • Analytical software. Analytical software will help you identify key indicators to inform your next move.
  • Access to news outlets. Day trading – specifically day trading futures – is volatile. Prices move by the second and having access to news outlets will give you a heads up if your market might be affected.

Be aware that if you enjoy day trading and get good, you might want to go full-time. It’s possible to turn day trading into a career, but the learning curve is steep.

2. Investing in real estate

Real estate is a lucrative industry, but it’s not for everyone. Popular among entrepreneurs, investing in real estate requires long hours of study, extensive research, and getting your hands dirty.

Usually, real estate investors have side hustles to supplement their income. However, many people get into real estate as a side hustle and end up turning it into a career.

If you want to get started in real estate, don’t jump to investing right away. Take the expert advice from the folks at Bigger Pockets and start by learning about the industry. Get a part-time job as an assistant property manager to pick up industry knowledge and learn your local landlord-tenant laws. If you’re going to invest in real estate to rent out, you’ll be a landlord at least for a short period of time until you hire a property management company.

If you know someone who can help you make your first investment, you don’t need to wait. However, to be successful you have to think outside the box to gain a full spectrum of industry experience.

3. Content writing

Every business needs content writers and many are willing to settle for any level of proficiency. If you have any writing skills, you can easily pick up some content writing gigs on job listing sites.

If you love writing, you might start out writing one blog per week and decide you want to pursue writing full-time. If it’s truly your passion, stick with it and you’ll find the right clients who will pay you generously for your work.

4. Coaching

Whatever people are struggling with, there’s a coach to save the day. Life coaching and business coaching are the most popular, but you can coach people on anything you’re passionate about.

Being a coach isn’t easy. Even people who intentionally start a career as a coach struggle. What most people don’t realize about coaching is that passion does not equal profit. Coaching is a hard sell, but life coaching is especially difficult. Running a coaching business requires more than business skills – you need to be proficient at helping people solve their problems.

If you’re good at helping people solve their problems, there’s a chance you might get addicted to being a coach. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping people grow and transform their lives.

5. Thrifting

It’s not hard to find sellable items at your local thrift stores. However, you need an eye for what people want to buy. If you’ve got that eye, you could end up with a new career.

For example, Natalie Gomez, a former merchandise planner at Macy’s, took on thrifting as a side job and wound up making thousands of dollars. Gomez was interviewing for a new job when she realized she was already making a good living selling clothes.

Enjoy your side hustles

Even if you don’t turn your side hustle into a career, take on gigs you enjoy. Money is necessary, but it’s never worth sacrificing your happiness.

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Opinion Editorials

4 ways to stand out against the competition in today’s job market

(EDITORIAL) Are you trying to figure out how you can stand out to recruiters and hiring managers in this job market? Look no further than these 4 steps.



Woman doing a job search on laptop in the hot job market.

Are you trying to figure out how you can stand out to recruiters and hiring managers in this job market?

Recruiters often have aggressive hiring goals and are sorting through many resumes to discover the hidden gems that will help organizations achieve their business transformation and growth goals. If you have had a non-traditional education or career path, or have a resume gap due to a layoff, being a caregiver, or any of a multitude of other reasons, it’s important that you know how to share your story in a way that will empower recruiters to advocate on your behalf in this job market.

When I’ve mentored diverse job seekers through the years, these are the four key steps I recommend they follow:

  1. Develop your personal brand

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If so, when is the last time you audited it? Is it telling the story of who you are now and where you want to go?

It’s important to make the most of the eight (8) seconds that recruiters are spending on your profile. Because, on average, and as lazy as ‘we’ recruiters sound, unless in that time we can tell what you do, who you are, etc., we might not keep reading on.

  1. Tell your story

You have probably heard the phrase “elevator pitch,” but did you know this doesn’t just apply to businesses? As a job seeker, you need to know your story and how it aligns with the roles you are looking to get hired for. If you were to record yourself and tell YOU how great YOU are, would you hire you? If not, remember what value and experience you bring (no matter how seemingly small), your story is you and some of the best stories can be told badly, and some of the most challenging stories can become the most inspirational. Only you have the power to decide what you want your story to be.

  1. Build your network

Your network is your net worth. The more contacts you have, the more chances you create, and the single hardest part of the journey is just to start. Have you built a network in the job market that has the type of job you want? If not, how do you? First, go and find hiring managers. Start by searching on Linkedin, use “job title” and “hiring” in the search bar. Then connect with the people who have posted that they are hiring, sending them a message about your interest, and/or asking them for help (industry tips, thought leaders to follow, who else is hiring). People are generally very open and friendly, and in this landscape, they will be willing to either hire or connect you with someone else. If they don’t, is that someone you would want to be connected with anyway?

  1. Focus on your goals, your “why”

The most important thing! Focus on your WHY. No matter what, job searching can be one of the most challenging things in the world! So don’t just focus on the results, because you will get a job; focus on why you are doing this. Remember you are going through a journey and that you will have a good day, and you will have a bad day, and the best advice I can give (which I repeat to myself ALL the time!) is this… “You either WIN or you LEARN.” Make sure you remind yourself of this and remember WHY you are doing this because the why will keep you going and the experience is something you should embrace, no matter what.

Job seeking can often be all about the numbers and let the saying “Your network is your net worth” be inspirational to build your personal brand and grow your network daily. You will be amazed to see the kinds of opportunities that the network will open for you!

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