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SEO Tip – Create a Sitemap For Your Real Estate Web Site

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Hundred Acre Wood Map  (AKA Chritopher Robin's site map)Sitemaps help make your 100 acres easier to navigate

Welcome back.  My series of SEO Tips is winding down; I hope you have gotten a lot out of them.  If you have questions about this, the earlier tips or something I have yet to cover, please don’t hesitate to ask.

How could Christopher Robin ever find Pooh or Tigger’s place without his map of the 100 acre woods?  Without a map, how easily could you get around in a town you’ve never been to before?  Sure, you could drive up and down every street until you found your destination, but that map sure does make things a lot easier.  Sitemaps do the same thing for your Web site, they help google and the others get through your site more easily.

Sitemaps are special pages, or files, created to help visitors and search spiders more easily navigate to all of the pages on your Web site.  Sitemaps can be created in a couple different ways, either as traditional HTML files, or as XML files.  Naturally, each has its own pros and cons.

HTML Sitemaps

Sitemaps created using traditional HTML (or other standard code) layout methods can be a life ring to stranded visitors.  Done correctly they are an opportunity for you to use your preferred keywords as the anchor text (you remember how important anchor text is, right?), directing visitors and search engines in a way that most benefits you.  The sitemap at apple.com is a great example of how to build one in this style.  Take a peek….I’ll wait a minute.  You can see that they gave careful thought about how to lay out the page and the text to use for the links.  It fits the overall design of the site, making you feel welcome – not lost.

Unfortunately though, sitemaps are often treated as a necessary evil and not given the proper attention and respect.  Take a look at this sitemap for a California pizza shop…not quite so nice.  True, it does serve its purpose, but just barely.  The biggest disadvantage to sitemaps like this is that as your site grows they can become difficult to manage over time.  Keeping track of new files, files to remove or when each gets updated takes a lot of work.  Additionally, if you have a large site, listing every page on your sitemap is just not practical, forcing you to decide what pages to include.

XML Sitemaps

Creating your sitemap as an XML file almost always makes it easier to create and maintain, especially if you run your site with WordPress or another content management system (CMS). There are several plugins available for WordPress that will automatically generate and update your sitemap whenever you add to or change the content on your your site – how easy is that?

The formatting of XML files is not pretty to look at (Take a look at the one on my site). Because of this, they are not intended to be browsed by your visitors, just the spiders.  Since you don’t need to worry about how the files look to visitors, you are able to include every page on your site.  That’s good for the spiders, very good.  Some tests have shown sites that use an XML sitemap get indexed deeper, faster and more frequently than those that do not.  The obvious downside to using this style of sitemap is that you have no life ring to offer your visitors if/when they get lost in your site.  Thankfully though, WordPress (and other CMS) sites are generally pretty easy to navigate.

Two maps better than one?

If you have a particularly large site and are concerned your visitors might get lost, but you still want the search spiders to find all your pages, there’s no reason to not have both types of sitemaps – well, other than it’s twice the work for you.  But, your visitors and traffic is worth it, right?

OK – time for you to get busy creating your own sitemap so that when the Google bot visits your site it doesn’t get trapped in Eeyores gloomy place.

Jack Leblond is a SEO/SEM professional working for a large corporation full time in Austin, TX. He is not a Realtor, he is our in-house SEO expert. Jack is the Director of Internet Strategy and Operations for TG (www.tgslc.org). In addition to managing the team that develops and maintains the company's multiple Web sites, he focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-marketing and Social Media. Jack's background ranges from Submarine Sonar Technician/Instructor for the United States Navy, technical writer, pioneer in internet/intranet creation for McGraw-Hill and Times Mirror Higher Education, former Adjunct Professor for two Universities teaching web-related courses, has served as a city council member and co-founded Net-Smart, a web design and hosting company, where he managed networks and oversaw the development of hundreds of Web sites. As a free-lance SEO consultant, Jack performs SEO Site Audits for small/medium businesses that want their web sites to perform better in the search engine listings.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Doug Francis

    November 16, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Again you had me sweating technology, especially as I went through the post and looked at the sitemap examples. I quickly went to dougfrancis.com/sitemap.xml to see what I had hoping it did not look like the pizza place. It ain’t Apple, but it looks just like yours, Jack!

    Hey, that’s a “48-Hours” reference…

    I do use the plug-in for my WordPress blog and really had not thought about it. A few weeks ago I started to use a “Spider Tracker” plug-in and I see they show up twice a day to index but the Googlebot seems to do 49%, Yahoo Slurp 43%, and MSN Bot 16%.

    Why do they show up twice a day? And any thoughts on the % amounts?

  2. Noel Wiggins

    November 16, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I have always thought the purpose to a site map was solely for search engines to link to all the pages. But even with that said my 2010 version of my site will be done in wordpress and I realized that the site map wasn’t linked from the home page, and I like the wordpress plug in that shows the stats of which bots are at the site.

    Thanks and Regards

    Noel for Nopun.com

  3. Portland Condo Auctions

    November 17, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Great tips and examples, thanks for the information. I have an XML sitemap already, but that is because I had a good SEO guy and WordPress.

  4. Mike

    December 29, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Thanks for the interesting article, myself have website built on pg real estate solution, they already have this realized as well.

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Social Media

Social media is being used for hiring, and no, we’re not talking just LinkedIn

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media has evolved from being only community-oriented to career-oriented. See how users are getting jobs by being creative.

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social media, like tiktok, is being used for hiring. here are some examples of tiktok resumes.

Gen Z and Millennials are no doubt the heaviest users of social media, and perhaps the internet in general. But it’s no longer just about catching up with friends and family, posting memes, and hailing yourself as hashtag king – they are using it to get jobs in creative ways.

Kahlil Greene was a student at Yale University hell-bent on educating others about African American social movements and culture. Known as “The Gen Z Historian” on Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn, he got to posting about the lesser-known facts and stories of history, amounting to 1.3 million views very quickly, catching the attention of employers. Now with over 500,000 followers across all major platforms, Greene is heading to work in consulting focusing on public education.

“I think that’s the thing that people don’t realize that social media is everywhere, and it’s congruent with every lifestyle you want,” says Greene.

Another TikToker, Emily Zugay, has over 2 million followers on the platform from hilariously redesigning brand logos. Her personality of shooting down brand choices with such a dry delivery is sure to make you giggle. She’s appeared on Ellen, and many brands changed their logos to her suggestions, including McDonald’s, the NFL, Tinder, Doritos, and Nascar. Just announced, Panera Bread is realizing limited holiday cups by Emily Zugay, taking a stab at Starbucks who typically creates the mad rush for holiday cups. Though she hasn’t publicly spoken about taking on a new role due to her wacky design endeavors, she has been approached for many partnership collaborations and markets herself as a content creator on the platform in order to rack in the dough.

Having the perfect one-page resume and perhaps, an inkling of personalization in the cover letter (which no one enjoys writing and barely anyone reads), is no longer the secret to landing jobs. 92% of companies use social media to hire.

“Creating a personal brand doesn’t have to be scary, hard, or time-consuming. You just have to be yourself. Consistent posts, a few follows and some direct messaging can go a long way to open doors.”

TikTok launched a pilot program of applying to the short-form video powerhouse by well, making a TikTok on the platform. Within 48 hours, 800 videos were submitted with #TikTokResumes in their captions. Expanding from internal hiring to external hiring, the program allowed job seekers to apply with their videos to Chipotle, Target, Shopify, and more.

Want to get in on the action but don’t know where to start? Unfortunately, the TikTok submissions have now closed, but you can always follow these tips to start getting creative for your next career move: Embrace the tools on the platform, do your research about the company you’re applying to, make connections on the platform and within the company, show off achievements as you would in a typical resume, and be yourself!

For more cool resume ideas, check out this article on the most creative techie resumes.

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Business Marketing

Pay employees for their time, not only their work

(MARKETING) Yes, you still must pay employees for their time even if they aren’t able to complete their work due to restrictions. Time = Money.

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pay employees for their time

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a lot of insightful questions about things like our healthcare system, worldwide containment procedures, and about a billion other things that all deserve well-thought answers.

Unfortunately, it has also led to some of the dumbest questions of all time.

One such question comes courtesy of Comstock Mag, with the inquiry asking whether or not employees who show up on time can be deducted an hour’s pay if the manager shows up an hour later.

From a legal standpoint, Comstock Mag points out that employees participating in such activities are “engaged to wait”, meaning that – while they aren’t necessarily “working” – they are still on the clock and waiting for work to appear; in this case, the aforementioned “work” comes in the form of the manager or supervisor showing up.

In short: if the reason your employees aren’t working is that the precursor to completing the work for which you pay them is inaccessible, you still have to pay them for their time.

Morally, of course, the answer is much simpler: pay your employees for their time, especially if the reason they are unable to complete work is because you (or a subordinate) didn’t make it to work at the right time.

Certainly, you might be able to justify sending all of your employees home early if you run into something like a technology snag or a hiccup in the processes which make it possible for them to do their jobs – that would mean your employees were no longer engaged to wait, thus removing your legal obligation to continue paying them.

Then again, the moral question of whether or not cutting your employees’ hours comes into play here. It’s understandable that funds would be tight for the time being, but docking employees an hour of their work here or there due to problems that no one can control may cause them to resent you down the line when you need their support in return.

The real problem with this question is that, despite most people knowing that the answer should always be “pay them”, the sheer number of people working from home in the wake of worldwide closures and social distancing could muddy the water in terms of what constitutes the difference between being engaged to wait and simply burning time.

For example, an employee who is waiting for a meeting to start still fits the bill of “engaged to wait” even if the meeting software takes an extra half hour to kick in (or, worse yet, the meeting never happens), and docking them pay for timecard issues or other extenuating factors that keep them from their work is similarly disingenuous – and illegal.

There are a lot of unknowns these days, but basic human decency should never be up for debate – especially now.

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Business Entrepreneur

Lenders need to see these 3 things to get your LLC off the ground

(ENTREPRENEUR) Securing a small business loan is tedious, but there is a shortlist of requirements you should be aware of before getting info from lenders.

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401k retirement fund lenders

If you are reading this, you probably have an LLC for your small business already, or money talk gets you going. If it is the former, let me say CONGRATULATIONS, and insist you pat yourself on the back in honor of your small business’s progression. Your arrival at a point where expansion is necessary is no small feat given half of small businesses fail in the first year. So, kudos to you.

Now, back to the money talk…

For LLC businesses looking to expand, please don’t fret about all of the information you’ve seen on the web. Yes, securing a small business loan of any kind is tedious and depends on varying lending organizations and business needs, but there is a list of general requirements small businesses should be aware of before getting knee-deep in conflicting information about lenders.

After some extensive research posing as the owner of imaginary businesses and annoying every loan officer who’d take my call, I’ve found three general lending requirements. I also provide a collection of the tangible information banks will likely review to meet those requirements. Take a gander:

Assets
Small businesses must have necessary assets: steady cash flow, financial reserves, personal collateral to support a variety of business fluctuations (i.e. unexpected employee loss), and a realistic payoff plan. These assets and financial safety nets are necessary for any lending organization to be confident in your business’s ability to support employee expansion in lieu of current expenses.

Proof of past
Just as you will come to expect from your soon-to-be employees, lenders want proof of the past and how you’ve managed past loans to align with your business goals. Historical evidence will further determine if your expansion is feasible, but also if it is worthy for the company to accept the lending risk.

Specific plans
Finally, be prepared to provide your small business’s explicit expansion plan, including how you arrived at your suggested loan amount and how you intend to divvy out the funds. It is important that you are as specific as possible in your projected numbers, seeing as one employee could make a $60,000 difference, and largely affect your expansion plan and financial need.

Before you go…

Now that you’re equipped with the magic three, you’re probably feeling empowered to walk into your nearest bank and demand your small business loan. Let’s first be sure you have all of the necessary information on hand and ready to produce.

Lenders that look for the magic three before investing arrive at their conclusion after collecting data from the following pertinent information:

– Proof of collateral
– Business plan and expansion plan
– Financial details
– Current and past loan info
– Debts incurred
– Bank statements
– Tax ID
– Contact info
– Accounts receivable information
– Aging
– Sales and payment history
– Accounts payable information
Credit references
– Financial statements
– Balance sheet
– Profit and loss history
– Copies of past tax returns
– Social Security Numbers
– Assets and liabilities details

Now, my friend, do I release you as proud as a parent unto your nearest bank to secure your small business loan and begin growing your staff the way you’ve dreamed. I’m confident you will find the aforementioned information helpful in the said quest and would like to wish one last time (because it’s impossible to over-congratulate) a sincere CONGRATULATIONS on your business’s growth.

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