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Telemarketers in a web 2.0 world

The downside

The downside of having an internet presence with some reach is the assorted sales people and other weirdos who call or write. They mostly call because they don’t get the internet thing yet.

Yesterday as I was getting my hair cut I got to argue with someone trying to sell me some kind of SEO. (Search engine optimization) I must have been in a good mood, or maybe bored, because I actually answered the phone.

She informed me that my web site . . not sure which one she meant, think I have 6 of them now, comes up on page two of Google. I informed her that it also comes up number one on page one of Google, and probably shows up in 48,000 other places too. (I just checked and it does) She argued with me. I gave her the name of the site and the search term. She continued to argue with me. . . as if I don’t know where I stand in every search engine . .

Which search was that?

It seems that she used a search where I don’t come up number 1. I guess it would be hard to come up number one in every conceivable search term a person could use in Google to find information about St. Paul Real Estate. I get a lot of advice on which search terms I need to come up number 1 in by people who make money by selling stuff to people like me.

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I get plenty of traffic on my sites, and my very best clients come to me through the long tail searches. The kind of business that I am looking for is pretty specific, it is a niche. I am happy to share blogging secrets with others except for the one thing, the keywords that drive my business. I consider that to be proprietary. The traffic that comes to me from the term “St. Paul Real Estate” is traffic, and nice to have but not the kind of traffic that drives my business. Terms like “Twin Cities” and “Minneapolis” are not needed to drive my business.

Overcoming objections

She was a well trained sales person. She went on to “overcome objections”. She asked me who does my text links. I told her that I don’t pay for any kind of links. Not something that she wanted to hear.

She went on to ask me if I get tired of doing it all myself. I told her that I don’t and that it is kind of a game. I enjoy the challenge. She went back to the notion that I come up on page two under some search that she was unable to explain to me. I told her that it really doesn’t matter to me because the people that I want to do business with are finding me.

Keep this in mind

In the end she actually hung up on me. It made me smile. When these people call there are a few things to keep in mind:
• Do they know which term will bring you business?
• Do they know which terms people use when they search for real estate services or homes for sale?
• What does being “number 1 in Google” really mean?
• How will being number one help your business?

My blog may look random, but it is not. There is a system to what I am doing and it works. The other sites get traffic from the blog or in one case I have a site that brings traffic to the blog.

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She will call back when her company comes up with a script to overcome my objections to spending money on keywords that will not help my business. . . . and the irony of her using a telephone to sell internet marketing/SEO was not lost on me. . . maybe they will figure out how to come up number #1, for re-pros searching for SEO help.

Written By

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



  1. Ivan |

    February 20, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Hi Teresa,

    I get the same again and again. The words period is towards Christmas when all the print sales media goes to the ‘overdrive’ mode. The SEO sales people are mostly young, and (at least in Ireland) they might know some SEO, but have not much sales experience. In our case, we are a job board – they explain the difference between the print, PPC and organic listings. And no matter how hard I try to explain them that we ONLY do SEO, they keep on selling me that same service as BETTER than what we currently do…

    There should be a SPAM button on the phone too! 🙂

    Ivan |

  2. huntsville pr

    February 20, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Good going Teresa. I get a lot of calls like that from people who have no clue as to how my business operate. I am proud of you…

  3. Benn Rosales

    February 20, 2008 at 9:43 am

    I’m imagining that she now has PTSD having experienced that call with you- let that be a lesson to them to simply ‘remove you from all of their lists.’

  4. Jay Thompson

    February 20, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    T, I get these knuckleheads calling all the time.

    “Did you know your site isn’t on Google?”

    “Really? Hell it was there this morning, wonder what happened?!?”

    I love toying with them if I have the time. Sometimes I just ask them, “What are your thoughts on internal page linking structure? Is fully meshed or hierarchical better?”

    Then I listen to the sounds of crickets chirping.

    (and no, I don’t fully understand all that fully meshed / hierarchical mumbo jumbo, but I betcha 10 to 1 I know more about it than the caller)

  5. Charleston real estate blog

    February 20, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    I had one try to convince me that ad clicks were better than organic search results.

  6. Robert D. Ashby

    February 20, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    I like Jay’s response. Toying with them could be fun, not to mention a learning experience for them.

  7. Teresa Boardman

    February 20, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Funny . . I have said the same thing Jay says . . . “my site was number one on page one last time I checked”. They spam us too. The sad truth is many agents don’t know how to get traffic and even when they do get traffic it doesn’t generate business for them so they buy these products.

  8. Charleston real estate blog

    February 20, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I remember in another post somewhere that someone suggested asking how much it would cost to be on page five of Google rather than page one. I bet that stopped the sales pitch cold.

  9. KC Investments

    February 20, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    “My blog may look random, but it is not. There is a system to what I am doing and it works. ”


  10. Mack in Atlanta

    February 21, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Don’t you just love the way these SEO telemarketers start the call with the questions…Would you like to do more business this year than you did last year? or Could you stand to sell another home or two each month? And then they make the statement that they can get you on the first page of all the search engines. Fortunately I don’t have time to spend with them.

  11. Shailesh Ghimire

    February 21, 2008 at 12:38 pm


    Wow. The nerve to argue. I wonder how much business I’d get if I argued with a potential client. Usually with telemarketers I speak my native language in response to their questions and while I never say anything bad, insulting or bad (I honestly reply to their questions, only in a different language). After a while they just hang up…… I do switch back to English if they say something I don’t like.. and that throws them off… kind of toying with them like Jay.

  12. Mark A.

    February 23, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Speaking of telemarketers:

  13. John Taylor

    April 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    What an excellent blog, I’ve added your feed to my RSS reader. 🙂

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