“In fact some lawyers would rather see their name…

…at the top of search results or on the back of a phone book than have a reputation as a trusted and reliable authority in a niche area of the law.”

Notorious Rob has some interesting insight around how to use social media

Danilo apologizes for writing the 2nd post on AG that hammers REALTOR.com…

in two days and it reminded me that I’m about to hammer into REALTOR.com for the 2nd time in a short-while…  but I dont’ expect to appoligize at the end… 😉

Today’s beef?

The realtor.com team managing their blog platform is acting reckless.

Here’s the background: Last week, I let the realtor.com team know that Trace at BrokerScience had found some prett bad spam was filtering into a feed of their main blog: Let’s Talk.   I know they received my message because I received both notes and calls from the team thanking me. (Trace was not so lucky in terms of getting feedback).   Plus, at some point last week, they removed the spam from all their existing posts.  So far, so good.

Then today, I noticed that two recent posts on their feed are still spewing out spam (to sites selling Viagra, vicodin, tramadol, etc.).   Here’s a screenshot from my reader to give you an idea:

spam links from realtor.com\'s feed

This is a BIG deal because it means that even after the realtor.com blog platform learned that their platform was compremised (i.e. someone had hacked into their system), they kept the site up in a compremised mode that allowed those same hackers to return and insert more spam links into their posts.

Here’s some more background on this particular hack.   In the past 6 months, I’ve seen two other blogs have this SAME issue and each time I’ve written a personal note to the host.  Yet, I’ve purposefully never blogged about any of these sites getting hacked because I’m afraid that some people will mistakenly blame the WordPress platform.  The reality is that in every case the host had not upgrade to the latest stable version of the software and when they did upgrade, the problem went away.

I honestly don’t have a problem with a host that is running an old version of the software and gets hacked as a result (Been there and learned from that).  What frustrates me in this case is that the realtor.com team knew their site was hacked, but rather than upgrade to the latest version of the software, they left a compromised site live.   That’s just reckless… especially since there are more than a few ways to automate the process

5 Reasons Microsoft Search Still Sucks

All the talk about Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google reminded me that I hadn’t checked to see if Microsoft has made any improvement to their search results in quite a while…

I know one term doesn’t make a rule, but I’ve found the term [Seattle Real Estate Blog] to be great for testing out the search engines over the years. Over the past three years, Google has always delivered relevant results for the term, while it used to be full of spam for both Yahoo and Microsoft. It’s interesting to note that Yahoo has made great strides over the past few years, while Microsoft is still lost in the dark.

Here’s the top five results by search engine:

Google [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. Rain City Guide
  2. Seattle RE Prof
  3. Seattle Bubble
  4. Ardell’s Seattle RE blog
  5. Guide to Seattle RE

All of these are great blogs and worthy of being in the top five.

Yahoo [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. Seattle RE Prof
  2. Redfin Corporate Blog
  3. Rain City Guide
  4. Redfin Sweet Digs
  5. Ardell’s Seattle RE blog

Again, all of these are great blogs worthy of being in the top five for the search results.

MSN Live [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. “Seattle Real Estate Blog”
    • Spam site that’s been around for years… A few years ago the webmaster got very pissy with me when I told him he had to stop republishing EVERY Rain City Guide article in full on his site. There’s nothing original on the site as it is all republished articles from Seattle blogs and news sources.
  2. seattle-real-estate-blog.com
    • Parked domain with no content
  3. “Real Estate Blogs”
    • Landing page with links to actual blogs. This is the best of the top five results, but still not a Seattle real estate blog.
  4. “Seattle Real Estate and Puget Sound Real Estate – A blog”
    • Account suspended by BlueHost. This normally happens when someone is posting spam.
  5. “Real Estate Blog”
    • Takes you to a landing page that says “This blog currently has no posts.”

There results are horrible. Two spam sites, two sites with no content, and one page with a few links. There are some great real estate blogs in Seattle, but Microsoft can’t seem to find them as their search algorithms are still so easily gamed by spammers.

Scoble thinks Microsoft should buy up Facebook and keep it closed to all but their search engine. Personally, I think they’d find a way to screw that up.

UPDATE: NYTs says Microsoft is getting ready to PAY people to use their search. How sad.

The best place to start is the beginning

In a recent email, someone asked me the following four questions about starting group blogs around different real estate themes:

  1. Do you think it’s a good idea to charge authors a fee, even a nominal fee, to post articles on a blog?
  2. What are your thoughts about selling ads (e.g. banners), including Google ads, around a blog?
  3. I’m considering having blogs for several subject areas, do you thing it’s better to have only one blog, or multiple blogs on the site with a blog for each subject area?
  4. How do you keep spam from filling up your blog(s) with junk?

Here are my thoughts:

  1. You’ll get no traction if you think you can charge people a fee to post on your blog.  If you really want people to post make sure they are the ones getting paid.   Either pay them directly, or do what Greg and I do which is give them links, post their phone number, etc. to make sure that they get leads from the site.  Good content is hard to come by so do everything you can to get the best content possible.
  2. Google ads are a waste for real estate websites IMHO because the most relevant ads are almost always for local competition.  If you want good writers, then you’ll need to make sure they are getting the leads.
  3. I highly recommend one blog at a time.   With each successful blog, you’ll get “permission” to start a new one.   The more niche you can start your blog the more likely you’ll find early success.   In other words, I wouldn’t start one blog with lots of themes or multiple blogs on different themes.   I’d start with one blog on one theme.  If you can get substantial traffic, then move on to starting new blogs!
  4. Akismet.

Hope that helps!

Honestly Shocked…

…that Seth has gone years without a spam filter on email. He talks about two messages getting “caught”by the spam filter in 14 hours. I know that if I had to glance through hundreds of messages visually every day, I’d probably have so many more “false hits” in that I’d assume so many *more* messages were spam because of generic titles and/or unfamiliar names.

Spam quote of the day: “Your website can literally generate leads while your sleeping!”
Where to begin?

  • Factual? Websites do not generate leads! Your marketing generates leads.
  • Grammatical? “your” or “you’re”? “literally” or “figuratively”?
  • Understanding? “while you’re sleeping”??? Duh! News Flash: Websites continue to push out pages even when you sleep!!! If this is news to you, then I hope you are a Re/Max agent because you are the only ones left who don’t need the internet.