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Real Tech for Real Estate

Virtual Assistants 4 Real Estate blog covering all kinds of real estate technology tips, issues and trends.

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Cheryl Allin
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Help me get to REBlogWorld Sept. 19th

Posted on Monday, 08 September 2008 in VirtuAllin Update

Alright, folks - I'm in need of your help! I have been blessed with a ticket to the upcoming REBlogWorld event, September 19th in Las Vegas but as you all know, sometimes being an online Entrepreneur means you seldom have wiggle room in the budget for airfare and accomodations. That's where I hope all of you will come in.

I was going to raffle off big prizes for purchasing one hour of services, but realized that it would be very much against the law. So, instead I'm offering you three different options to help me get to RE Blog World:

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Our Drip Email Campaign Service Featured in REALTOR Magazine

Posted on Monday, 08 September 2008 in VirtuAllin Update

Real Estate Drip Email CampaignsIt goes without saying that having top Google placement has its advantages. The great news for us this month is the fact that REALTOR Magazine featured our terrific drip email campaign service in their Buyers Guide for the September issue !

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Install Joomla for SEO Blog Superiority: A Step by Step Guide

Posted on Thursday, 28 August 2008 in Realtor Marketing

This post talks readers step by step through the process of installing Joomla to create a blog or website with excellent search engine optimization. I'm often asked for my opinion on the best open source platform for creating a well optimized blog. I've worked in WordPress, Movable Type, Typepad and many of the free blogging platforms and I feel that Joomla is the hands down winner. Of course, many great blogs built in WordPress and others rank well - I don't debate that at all. This post is for those folks who are leaning towards Joomla for their blog.

Let's Go! I'm Ready!

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Get 50 Free Moo Cards and Promote your Linkedin Profile

Posted on Wednesday, 06 August 2008 in Realtor Marketing

moocards.jpgThe amazing Moo.com has paired with Linkedin to offer 50 Free Moo cards to help you promote your Linkedin profile and your business! Plus, the shipping is totally FREE!

The process is extremely easy, I just did it! You can use their stock images or upload your own. The entire process only took 5 minutes and soon I'll have 50 terrific new cards. I've wanted to try Moo cards for some time but never had a need - until now!

Quick, head over to Moo.com and get your 50 Free cards today!

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Buy Your Real Estate Domain Name at 1and1.com

Posted on Tuesday, 29 July 2008 in Realtor Marketing

1and1So, you've decided it's time to buy your very own domain name and now you need to know which registrar is the best and/or cheapest. Many "cheap" registrars online today give me the heebie jeebies, so my recommendation is pulled from my own experience and across only reputable registrars.

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Photoshop Tip: Fix Color Cast Issues in your Property Photos

Posted on Tuesday, 15 July 2008 in Tips and Advice

Our first post in a new Photoshop Video series, we'll help you fix color cast issues in your property photos.

This is a very large movie! Just right click the image or link below and choose "save as" or left click the image or link below to watch the movie right away.

 

 

 

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Cheryl Allin
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Get Thee to YouTube! Real Estate Shows Now Exports to Video

Posted on Thursday, 03 July 2008 in Realtor Marketing

resyoutube.pngGet Thee to a Nunnery...  er, to YouTube, that is! The exciting news from Jeff Turner at Real Estate Shows is certainly worth cavorting over, Milords & Ladies!  Jeff's RES Blog post states, "The simplest and most effective way to create real estate tours, is now the simplest and most effective way to get to video." If you've never heard of Real Estate Shows or for some crazy reason, you've hesitated in trying them out (FREE!) - then the time is NOW! You'll love how easy it is to create virtual tours and now with this exciting new feature, you can get your tours converted to video for easy upload to YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, PhotoBucket and more! What are you waiting for?

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The Google Doctor is in | Your SEO Health Checklist

Posted on Tuesday, 29 April 2008 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

googledr.pngHow healthy is your website's SEO? With the recent Google page rank update, many folks are wondering.

It pays to do your homework if you want to excel at optimization. Helpful resources abound, but a discerning approach is imperative - not all self-proclaimed "oracles" to SEO wisdom can back up their claims. Google's Webmaster Central is essential reading, and participation on forums such as High Rankings is a great way to learn from others in the search marketing community.

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Don't Slime Your Blog URLs with Poorly Crafted Slugs

Posted on Tuesday, 08 April 2008 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

sluggy.pngAndy Beal over at Marketing Pilgrim has done it again! He Twittered a recent blog post, so I jumped over to check it out -

Blog Marketing Tips #2: Increasing Traffic with Killer Slugs

Whether you're a new or seasoned blogger, you may not have known about this excellent tip. Blog 'Slugs' are the default post URL strings or permalink settings.  Andy explains it wonderfully and I picked up a new trick - while you may be crafting your blog posts to include keywords, Andy warns,

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Agent Spotlight: Greg Kime of GW Kime & Associates

Posted on Thursday, 03 April 2008 in Interviews

Greg Kime Michigan Real EstateGreg Kime of GW Kime & Associates / Keller Williams just recently started working with VirtuAllin. We've had the priveledge of creating their entire marketing plan from logo concept/creation, business cards, technology recommendations, website and will soon assist them with creation of action plans and management of their listings.

I'm happy to welcome Greg to Real Tech for Real Estate and get his perspective on Virtual Assistance.

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Agent Spotlight: Chip Hughes of RE/MAX Hills & Valley

Posted on Wednesday, 02 April 2008 in Interviews

chughes.jpgChip Hughes of RE/MAX Hills & Valley in Branchburg, New Jersey and owner of BranchBlog, a blog dedicated to real estate trends, community events and other stuff happening in Branchburg NJ has been one of my clients for many years. Chip came on board with VirtuAllin in early 2003, back when nearly all of our clients were RE/MAX of New Jersey clients. VirtuAllin's second client ever was Mark Schilling, Information Technology Manager for the New Jersey Region of RE/MAX. He loved our work so much that he recommended us to all of their (then approximately 2500) agents.

I'm thrilled at the opportunity to interview Chip and get his perspective on Virtual Assistance.

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Agent Spotlight: Bob Carney of Got Bob 4 Homes

Posted on Tuesday, 01 April 2008 in Interviews

Bob Carney - Got Bob 4 Homes Frederick MDBob Carney of GotBob4Homes , FocusOnFrederick and Bob's Brain Dump knows internet marketing for real estate.  I was fortunate enough to "meet" Bob via our shared social networking addiction, Twitter . We struck up a friendship... and then a partnership when we reworked his Advanced Access website and converted it to Joomla . It was Bob's first time working with a Virtual Assistant and he was kind enough to allow us to interview him about the process.

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What is Joomla and How Do I Get Started

Posted on Monday, 25 February 2008 in Tips and Advice
Since the wonderful Got Bob? Bob Carney was cool enough to post over at Active Rain and his 'Bob's Brain Dump ' blog about his recent experiences with the Joomla content management system, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to blog more about exactly what Joomla is and why you might find it beneficial in your real estate marketing plan.
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What is Twitter and Why Would I Use It?

Posted on Thursday, 07 February 2008 in Realtor Marketing

twitter.jpg Everyone is Twitterpated these days, right?  Well, just what is Twitter , and why would it be useful for you as a Realtor to get in on the twit action?

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a free social networking and microblogging service utilising instant messaging, SMS or a web interface.  You sign up and you get a twitter page such as @virtuallin where you can make a post of up to 140 characters to update the world about what you're doing.  If you have other twitter users who 'follow' you, they can see your posts live. 

To me, twitter is more like a cross between instant chat and a forum - you can twitter via your mobile and connect with folks while you're at lunch, in the car, on the plane, or sitting at your desk.

Benefits of Twitter

So, you've got Twitter now and don't know why?  Some of the benefits of twitter may not be apparent at first. I'll go into a few here and don't hesitate to twitter me if I leave anything out!

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Cheryl Allin
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Creating Balance in your Work Life

Posted on Thursday, 31 January 2008 in Tips and Advice

Freelance Switch has done it again - they've created yet another amazing article that makes it seem as if their writers are hovering over my shoulder watching me run my VA business!  This wonderful post about balancing your work life with your personal life when you're an entrepreneur offers excellent advice on how to set boundaries and avoid burnout.  I highly recommend you run over, read and bookmark this article!

Is Your Work/Life Balance Killing Your Chances Of Freelancing Success?

Lea Woodward

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Cheryl Allin
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Google's Ghoulish Halloween Page Rank Update Penalizes Sites that Sell Links

Posted on Friday, 26 October 2007 in Search Engine Optimization SEO
Bleeecchhh! I've gone from a PR of 4/10 to a PR of 2/10 (insert expletive here) - boy, all from having a wee few paid links on my site?  A gal just can't get ahead, LOL.  While I'm not alone - the news about Google's Halloween page rank update is all over the web - it's a shame that my small site is lumped in with some of the bigger sites that sell text link ads such as The Washington Post , Forbes , Engadget , Search Engine Journal , etc.  Technorati Profile
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Brian "Little Buddy" Allin

Posted on Friday, 19 October 2007 in VirtuAllin Update
It is with great sadness that Carol Allin, Buddy's wife , announced to the world that Buddy passed away at his home in Hemet, California, on
Saturday, March 10, 2007.

Buddy completed the manuscript of his life's work in Golf Teaching called "Preferences", working up until the last week of his life to ensure that his 50 years' study and thoughts on the golf swing could be brought to a
wider audience.

Buddy was indeed one of those rare, exceptional human beings who touched the lives of all with whom he came into contact. He will be sorely missed as a great golfer, an authority on the swing, and as a mentor and teacher to
thousands of students.

Good golfing in Paradise, Buddy, and give St. Peter at least 2 a side.
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8 Random Facts about Cheryl Allin

Posted on Wednesday, 08 August 2007 in VirtuAllin Update

Alrighty, the wonderful Anna Baron of The Virtual Link tagged me, so here goes nothing:

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This Joomla Virtual Assistant is Super Flattered

Posted on Monday, 23 July 2007 in Realtor Marketing

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, so {josquote}I must admit to being insanely flattered by the recent and huge influx of Virtual Assistants who have adopted Joomla{/josquote} as their content management system of choice.  A content management system or CMS is a method of creating a website utilizing software to enable easy updating of files, images and documents.  Rather than creating a website with pure HTML or be kept hostage by a template site provider, a good CMS can make it easy for non-coder's to add content to a website anytime they wish - as easy as working in a Word Document.  Drupal and WordPress are famous CMS systems, as is Joomla. 

 

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Quantifying Virtual Assistant Services What makes a VA perfect?

Posted on Friday, 01 June 2007 in Realtor Marketing

It's Friday and as an interlude, I wanted to do some quantification.  I've been reading "The E-Myth Revisited," by Michael E. Gerber which discusses taking your small business past the "Technician" stage, whereby there is no real business, only YOU - to a place where you have systems and processes in place to the point where someday if you stepped out, your business could go on without you.

Today, {josquote}I'd like to learn your thoughts about Virtual Assistant's and get your ideas on what makes a good Virtual Assistant{/josquote} and the experiences you've had (if any) working with a Virtual Assistant.

So, feel free to add your comments to this post below - include your website and you'll get a link back to your site for the effort!

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Cheryl Allin
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Advanced Access Client Websites Down for at least Two Days!

Posted on Tuesday, 22 May 2007 in Realtor Marketing

At first, I just thought it was an issue with my browser or bandwidth - perhaps I needed a quick cache clear or reboot, but I realized quickly that ALL Advanced Access websites were totally offline today.  After doing a quick search, I found news at Active Rain that indeed, AA were having some "power" issues and needed to relocate all of their servers to another location.

Of all the various scenarios I've heard over the years with multiple hosts, both big and small, this is a first for me.  I've heard the "denial of service" attack, we're working on it.  I've heard the "close your browser and reboot," it's all your own fault excuse.  I've heard the "you're using unsupported xyz."  IMHO, it just seems a little fishy.

There's an unsubstantiated rumor over at Active Rain that they're moving servers to obtain new IP's due to spam black listing.  If all of their IP addresses are black listed from most servers due to spam, few of their subscribers would be able to get any email through to anywhere. 

Follow up -  May 24th:  It's official - on behalf of a client who has an AA website and Comcast as her ISP, we contacted a rep at Comcast because she has had serious email trouble.  It seems Comcast blacklisted the entire Advanced Access range of IP's due to spam issues.  The rep at Comcast stated that the blacklisting of all AA sites wouldn't be listed unless the management at AA contacted them directly to work out the issues.

So, you can firmly bet that the "power outtage" is a cover story for AA moving their entire server base to new IP's - however, it may be a short-term solution if Comcast quickly detects this move and simply blocks the new set of IP's.  Be warned! 

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Cheryl Allin
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Prevent Plagiarism and Duplicate Content Worries

Posted on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

I usually review my website statistics every morning to track who's coming to my website and where they're referred from.  Statcounter.com offers a nice, easy interface and their free service keeps me informed.  However, today I got a nasty surprise.  I found a referrer link and after taking a closer look at the site that referred to mine, I noticed they had copied just about every page of my website and even foolishly linked to my own portfolio (very dumb).  Normally, I try to track nasty plagiarists via CopyScape.com , but their dumb mistake led me right to them.

WannaGirlFriday.com is the site in question, and they've just been reported to Google for copy theft.  Why should I bother?  Because Google hates duplicate content - and while Google might realize that my content is the original, I'm not willing to take any chances on getting a ranking hit.

Just about every single page of this site is a carbon copy of mine - the owner even put a Meebo widget on her contact page!  While this angers me, if I suddenly have less relevant content at Google because of it - I'd take an economic hit.

The lesson to everyone:  Once you achieve high ranking, you absolutely need to take time to hunt down and deal with thieves. 

 

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Terrific Tool to Grade your Search Engine Optimization

Posted on Monday, 09 April 2007 in Search Engine Optimization SEO
Another late night, uploading files and cleaning up some of my bookmarks.  While I was browsing through Del.icio.us , I found a really terrific website to help with your Search Engine Optimization! 
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Don't Fall Asleep at the Wheel

Posted on Monday, 09 April 2007 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

There is a Virtual Assistant that I owe a great deal of gratitude to - today she saved my hard earned Google ranking simply by being kind enough to let me know that I was asleep at the wheel. 

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Communication is key, especially with a virtual assistant

Posted on Friday, 23 March 2007 in Realtor Marketing

One of the biggest hurdles in my business so far has been effective communication - keeping clients updated, returning calls and emails promptly and just ensuring my valued partners know I haven't died or dropped off the face of the earth.  When you're deep into an exciting new website design, sometimes you look up and realize it's three days later...2:00am....and you forgot to eat again.

As a person who balances analytical and creative skills daily, I've often found communicating effectively difficult.  There have been times where my communication has been excellent (several calls and emails per day) and my turnaround time stellar (same day results) with a brand new client yet they've expressed disfavor due to some unexpressed need.

 

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Keep track of your real estate leads and contacts online free

Posted on Thursday, 22 March 2007 in Realtor Marketing

Yes, I'm still alive - although rather sleep deprived due to a gigantic influx of prospective new clients.  I'm not sure who's been out there raving about me or if it's just a search engine thing, but my phone is ringing off the hook!  Bear with me if you're waiting to hear back, I haven't yet gotten my new assistant up to speed.

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Seeing spots - How not to design your real estate website

Posted on Friday, 26 January 2007 in Realtor Marketing

I was doing my usual morning search at Google News for real estate items when I stumbled on an investing blog hosted at Blogger and now I'm seeing spots!  While the content of this blog - The Millionaires Blog is interesting and worth grabbing the RSS feed, the layout of his blog is awful on the eyes.  The Millionaire's Blog has a 100% black background with white text - and while this format may capture attention for its' uniqueness in a world stuffed with white backgrounds, the content is difficult for the eyes to adjust to and once I left to view another site with a typical white background, my eyes were burning and seeing black horizontal lines. 

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Unusual Winter Weather in the North West

Posted on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 in VirtuAllin Update

Once again, we've been hit with a blast of snow which is quite unusual for the North West.  In the last ten years, I can count on one hand the number of times we've seen snow and it's only ever been a wee bit - but this year, our weather has been quite volatile. 

Of course, us Washingtonians barely know how to drive in the rain (if you can believe that, with 99% of our days being rainy) not to mention how bad we can be trying to navigate in the snow. 

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Finding time to blog is rough and takes determination

Posted on Thursday, 04 January 2007 in Realtor Marketing

Lately, despite my conviction that blogging is a terrific and necessary tool to market your business online in the world of Web 2.0, I've discovered that in the real world daily grind, blogging often ends up way at the bottom of the priority list.  I have a short litmus test that I try to reference whenever I get that haze of "what precise next action should now be taken" at any point in the day.  It's ranked on a point system:

When is something worth doing?

 

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No Electricity for two days

Posted on Saturday, 16 December 2006 in VirtuAllin Update

Well, we're finally back online after the giant storm late Thursday evening.  We had wind gusts up to 70 mph and the giant oak in the backyard seemed so close to toppling that I was having a bit of a panic attack.    We lost power about midnight and broke out the flashlights and radio.  Thanks to having a gas stove, water heater and fireplace - we weren't as bad off as many all over the state, but it still was very trying.  We could see transformers blowing on the horizon every few minutes and knew we'd be in for quite a bit of damage and the reports were widespread from Issaquah in the north to Olympia to the south.

Update Jan 5th, 2007:  Well, after two weeks of nearly no service, Comcast has finally fixed whatever infrastructure that kept our internet service offline.  Do they offer a discount?  Duh, of course not... :( 


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Is your SEO team a bunch of Lame Ducks?

Posted on Thursday, 30 November 2006 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

If you've tried search engine optimization on your website ever, you've probably done a lot of research at a lot of different websites.  You've also probably been spammed by some pretty creative boneheads that promised the moon and never actually visited your website before spamming you.

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Posted on Monday, 27 November 2006 in VirtuAllin Update

Well, here in the great northwest we're a few pounds heavier thanks to a yummy turkey with all the fixin's and we're now getting hit with the most snow we've seen in a few years.  Here's my 8 year old Madison enjoying the snow!

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Happy Thanksgiving

Posted on Tuesday, 21 November 2006 in VirtuAllin Update
 Here's hoping everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with their family - enjoy the parade, catch the game with Dad...and be prepared for that oh so nice drowsy feeling after dinner.    See everyone back on Monday!{tagbot} 
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Easy way to add Flash tours to your site

Posted on Friday, 03 November 2006 in Realtor Marketing

Looking for a simple and easy way to spice up your website?  You may have considered adding some Flash elements, but didn't relish the idea of trying to learn a complicated program or spending tons on a Flash designer.  Well, you can now get the spice you were hoping for free - and without a huge learning curve!

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They say laughter is the best medicine

Posted on Friday, 03 November 2006 in VirtuAllin Update
After some very wet, gray and murky days - one tends to get a little blue.  Well, if you're feeling the same and need a little pick me up, you have to check out this video from YouTube!  Click here to get a healthy dose of pure laughter!
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Performancing launches ad network for bloggers

Posted on Wednesday, 18 October 2006 in Realtor Marketing
{tagbot} Performancing, home of the “jobs for bloggers” board and the much loved Firefox blogging plug-in, has added an ad network to its family of services. Performancing Partners is accepting bloggers and advertisers now. Bloggers drop javascript into their sites, prices are either set by the bloggers themselves or by an algorithm relative to traffic and market sector and then ad buyers purchase 125×125 graphic ads for a 30 day period.
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Centrally locate all your stuff

Posted on Thursday, 05 October 2006 in VirtuAllin Update

If you're like me, you go to a lot of different sites every day - your own site, news sites, blogs, you do searches, etc.  A few months ago I found an excellent free tool that has increased my productivity by leaps and bounds.  

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Captain, we have Page Rank!

Posted on Tuesday, 03 October 2006 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

Hoorah for Google as evidently last Friday, September 29th 2006 - Google updated those Page Rank toolbars and we now have Page Rank, Captain!  Go, now!  Take a look at your site - check all your pages and see how your page rank is doing!  If you've been in the sandbox, you may be out!  One day you're in, the next day you're out. (In my best Heidi Clum german accent).

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Getting Diggy with it - A must for real estate marketing

Posted on Wednesday, 27 September 2006 in Realtor Marketing

If you're in real estate - or even online these days and you haven't heard of Digg.com yet, then you're probably either selling too much real estate or very little at all.  Digg is a news website with an emphasis on technology and science articles. It combines social bookmarking, blogging, and syndication with a form of non-hierarchical, democratic editorial control. News stories and websites are submitted by users, and then promoted to the front page through a user-based ranking system. This differs from the hierarchical editorial system that many other news sites employ. (Definition from Wikipedia )

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Beware of 1and1 Web Site Hosting Unless You're Very Hosting Savvy

Posted on Monday, 18 September 2006 in Realtor Marketing

It seems 1and1 - the webhost I've recommended for so long has completely dropped the ball.  For the second time this year, a client of mine and a 1and1 customer has gone to upgrade their hosting account and unknowingly wiped out their website!  The first time, I thought it was simply an accident of choosing the wrong package, but it seems that 1and1's backend assures that this will happen for everyone.  What has happened is my client was on a Linux shared hosting account and when she went to upgrade for more features, the backend only offered her one option:  an MS hosting account.  Of course, you would say - so what?  What's the difference?  Well, MS hosting accounts do not have MySQL databases which means no Joomla support.  It also means that 1and1 immediately removed ALL of her files and deleted her databases!  

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Google Base - Get your listings on there!

Posted on Thursday, 31 August 2006 in Realtor Marketing

Hello folks! As you know, I’m always on the lookout for tips and tricks to get more visibility for my clients. This tip is so juicy, I just had to blog about it!

Some of you agents may have already heard about Google Base. Google Base is a place where you can post all types of content and have it show up on Google (including real estate listings). If you have a Point2 site, you know that they’ve been feeding your listings to Google Base and Trulia since last March. Do a Google search for Real Estate - and you’ll see the Google Base functionality that allows users to bring up a map of all listings available in that area.

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We're here, just swamped

Posted on Monday, 21 August 2006 in VirtuAllin Update

Hi folks,

Thanks for your patience this last week and this week. It’s been one awful August. As some of you know, my husband Vance slipped and did quite a number on his ankle - view the horrible photo here. So, he’s not getting around too well and just hates being immobile - and that means I’m running around fixing meals and helping him get around.

I’m sneaking work time in when I can, but it’s hit or miss. Hang in there with me! Thanks!

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Isn't technology wonderful?

Posted on Tuesday, 18 July 2006 in VirtuAllin Update

Yes, I love tech! This week is the Bergstrom annual family reunion and I’m posting this from Fort Warden (where the movie, Officer & a Gentleman was filmed) with my PC which now is sitting on the picnic table next to my father-in-law’s huge RV. He was nice enough to allow me access to his satellite internet connection, so it’s a working vacation for me!

I’m here plugging away at projects and just wanted to share how quirky it is these days with technology that all the neighboring campers are giving me very odd looks as I type away.

With today’s tech, location isn’t nearly as vital as it used to be. If I had my own RV with satellite, I could work from literally anywhere! The breeze is a bit chilly coming off the water, but I could always move inside the RV.

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3 Keys to Success in Online Business

Posted on Thursday, 29 June 2006 in Realtor Marketing

I’m constantly being asked by clients and prospects “how do I market my business successfuly online?” They tell me that they hear reciprocal linking is what they need to do or some even tell me that they want to start a blog but have no idea what to do or what to write once they get one. They get so much information and mis-information from so many sources, they often just give up and stick to the old fashioned methods.

The three steps you must take before you can be successful in any online marketing goal are:

1. Know what everyone else is doing right now!

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Links are content, too!

Posted on Wednesday, 14 June 2006 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

Yes, I bet you think this is yet another blog post about search engine optimization and reciprocal links, but I promise it isn’t!

So often, my clients and us web gurus are so totally focused on how to get our site linked from other sites that we sometimes forget that we can have great success the other way around, too!

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Five Steps To Choosing A Great Website Provider

Posted on Tuesday, 16 May 2006 in Realtor Marketing

As a real estate professional, you already know that close to 95% of internet empowered consumers start their home search online. This means that it’s vital that you have a fantastic website with tons of amazing content and the lead generation tools to land those hot new prospects.

So - tell the truth - Just how much have you invested in - The Most Vital Tool - to your real estate business? How much time have you invested to add relevant content to your website? Does your website look just like thousands of other real estate websites?

If it does, you’re making a critical mistake that could cost you thousands and thousands of dollars in lost business.

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Getting things done - the art of stress free productivity

Posted on Friday, 12 May 2006 in VirtuAllin Update

…That was the title of a book I purchased recently off of Amazon. As many of you know, business has grown at times beyond my capacity to keep up. Hiring Keely back in February has helped a great deal, but things still become bumpy once and awhile what with 30 clients, a new mortgage, a teenager, a husband with a very fragile case of Type 1 diabetes and two wee ones to manage.

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Is reciprocal linking dead?

Posted on Thursday, 27 April 2006 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

This is a response I posted to the Real Talk listserve - thought I’d post it here as well…

Reciprocal linking isn’t quite the panacea it once was, but there is a reason. Google’s Oct 2005 algo change adopted a
means of checking those recip links and analyzing the sites you’re linking to - they analize that link partners links and so on and - if your link partner links to less than relevant sites, then the impact of their link to you is lessened.

In other words, you have to take extra time to actually check out the sites that you’re ‘recommending’ with your link exchanges to make certain that they’re actually a quality site.

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Desktop Publishing Tips for Real Estate Agents

Posted on Tuesday, 21 March 2006 in Realtor Marketing

Desktop Publishing

First of all what the heck is it?

It’s when you use a computer to create documents for printing. So, real estate flyers, newspaper ads, manuals and more are often designed by desktop publishers.

What’s the difference between using a virtual assistant desktop publisher and creating your own designs with Publisher or similar program? Often, your real estate virtual assistant has the skills and experience to produce much more effective results. Your specialty is real estate, while the real estate virtual assistant has honed his/her skills over several years and has learned what works and what doesn’t.

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VirtuAllin Newsletter March 2006

Posted on Monday, 13 March 2006 in Realtor Marketing

SEO - The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Inspired by a recent article blogged out by Mike Davidson we felt compelled to try and enlighten as many as you as we possible can by giving you some handy dandy tips on the wonders of SEO (search engine optimization) and how to get right to the tip of the top of Google ranking wonders.

………….Of course that’s why you pay us the big bucks right?

Well….yes you are right, but we wanted to let you know in a little more detail what can get you a #1 ranking and what will get you a ranking on page 4098 (that’s a lot of hitting the *next* link on the bottom of the Google search page…..


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SEO and Real Estate Template Sites

Posted on Monday, 13 March 2006 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

Hello folks! Just to give everyone an update, with the intense changes at Google and the increased difficulty in getting most real estate template sites such as those from Advanced Access, Z57 and others - we’ve made the difficult decision to no longer offer SEO services to clients who have a template site. While it may still be possible to get those sites to the top of the search engines, the time and expense to do so is just not cost effective to our clients. It was a tough decision, but we feel compelled to only offer truly valuable services to our clients and the wide range of difficulties in getting those sites to rank just costs to much.

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BigDaddy Means Big Changes at Google

Posted on Friday, 27 January 2006 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

One of the most popular forms of exercise among many search engine optimizers—both the third-party firms that do it for others and the advertisers who spiff up their own Web pages for better natural search rankings—is a periodic workout called “chasing the algorithm”. The race begins when Google or Yahoo! updates some portion of the software that determines how they look at Web pages and decide which are most relevant and valuable to a searcher. The engine makes that change; Web operators see their rankings rise or fall as a result; and they, or their outside search engine optimization (SEO) firm, scramble to get back the old rank by providing the new elements the search engine now needs. After a few months, the engines make another change, and it’s off to the races again.

Well, optimizers on Google are lacing up their running shoes for another race. Only this one promises to be more a marathon than the usual sprint. Google is testing a new data center infrastructure, a feat much bigger and comprehensive than an algorithm change. Dubbed “Big Daddy” both in the search marketing blogs and forums and by the friendly folks at Google, this new data center—still in shakedown mode—will reportedly add new ground-level capabilities into the Google search function and drive those powers deep into all the algorithms with which Google searches, studies and indexes the Web.

Read More!


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First Impressions Count in Website Design

Posted on Friday, 27 January 2006 in Realtor Marketing

First Impressions Count in Website Design

Web designers have as little as 50 milliseconds to capture the interest of potential customers. Through the halo effect, first impressions can influence subsequent judgments of website credibility and buying decisions.

Web users form first impressions of web pages in as little as 50 miliseconds (1/20th of a second), according to Canadian researchers. In the blink of an eye, web surfers make nearly instantaneous judgments of a web site's "visual appeal." Through the "halo effect" first impressions can color subsequent judgments of perceived credibility, usability, and ultimately influence our purchasing decisions. Creating a fast-loading, visually appealing site can help websites succeed.

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Google October 2005 Algorythm Update

Posted on Monday, 24 October 2005 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

Matt Cutts, the 'Net's resident Google Doctor of deciphering crazy rank changes has confirmed that we are in the midst of a heavy duty Google algorythm change. For the first time in over three years, our very own website ranking has veritably disappeared for all but our main homepage keywords. Our inbound links according to Google have dropped by 50% and as a result, many of our clients websites have also dropped off the map. Some dropped from the top ten at Google to below 10,000 and are slowly climbing back up - several now in the low 40's.

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Guaranteed Top Ten Placement Scam

Posted on Thursday, 20 October 2005 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

You've been approached by an amazing search engine optimization team that promised they can give you top ten placement for "Your Seattle Real Estate," and you can't wait to sign up! But, you have a little nagging doubt in the back of your head... Would anyone really search for "Your Seattle Real Estate?"

That's a really smart question! Absolutely, it's very important that if you try to get great ranking that it be for phrases that real people would use to find your services! And yes, beware anyone who promises to get you in the top ten or top five for ANY keyword phrase, because there are NO guarantees in search engines.

Google is doing one of their algorithm updates this very minute and it's a mess for some sites and an amazing boon for others.


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What is a Search Engine Spider?

Posted on Wednesday, 19 October 2005 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

A search engine spider, (also sometimes called a robot or crawler) is no creepy bug! It's simply a small program that the search engines "send out" to travel, or "crawl", from link to link throughout the 'Net, reading and saving content from websites and adding it to search engine indexes (also called the "cache".)

Spiders, while great, aren't too smart. They can only travel from link to link, from one page on a site to another page, from one website to another site. It can't "guess" at where your site may be, nor does it automatically know when you put a website up on the Internet. This is why inbound links to your website are so very crucial in generating results in the search engines.

 

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Crucial Search Engine Optimization Checklist

Posted on Tuesday, 18 October 2005 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

Have you been trying to get your site to the top of the search engines, but you're confused about just how to do it? Don't worry, you're certainly not alone. Even within the SEO industry, experts argue quite frequently about the real 'how to's' of good ranking.

So, why would you want to try and figure the whole mess out? Because the benefits far outweigh the pain of wrapping your brain around the concept of SEO.

You can take some of the pain away by simply trying to understand the mind and needs of your target consumer and building a site that delivers those needs. The goal of any good search engine is the same.


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Avoid Google's Yellow Flag

Posted on Monday, 09 August 2004 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

Are you avidly seeking good ranking at Google and other Search Engines? Then you may want to pay close attention to your web host or website provider and ensure you have only one chief domain assigned to your site. It's fine if you have other domains that point to your site via a forwarding feature, but if they're all assigned to the same folder or to the same template account, you could be "telling" Google that you have multiple websites, all with the same exact content.

How can you avoid the Google "Duplicate Content" penalty? Simple... Contact your website administrator and ask them how your secondary domain names work - are they assigned to your main website with a 301 redirect? Are they pointing to your main site with a forwarding feature? If not, then your webhost should be able to adjust your domains for you. If you manage your own website, what you'll want to do is create a separate folder from your main website and 'assign' your secondary domains to that new folder, then create a simple plain text file called htaccess.txt - all it needs to contain is a line like this for each secondary domain:

Redirect permanent / http://www.yourotherdomain.com

The performance of your other domains won't suffer in the least, but this way Google will realize that you only have one main website and several other domains pointing to it. Good luck in all your SEO efforts!

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Spam Savvy Google

Posted on Monday, 09 August 2004 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

Google is experimenting with a new feature that lets someone block unwanted sites from showing up in their search results.

Now "with one click you can drop that URL," Google software engineer Matt Cutts wrote in a recent account on his blog. The new feature was developed to sate Google users that wanted to "block unwanted sites," he adds.

The feature is available to anyone with a Google account and can be activated through Google's My Search History/Personalized Search. The offending site must first show up in search results.Only then will the feature stop it from showing up in the future. Google also allows users to block domains' worth of Web pages, Cutts wrote.

Before Google began testing the remove site feature, the only options users had were to ignore the dubious-looking listing, or report the Web address to Google via its spam report form. 

The feature is in line with the commonly held belief that most search engines' success depends on more easily letting users personalize search results. The new removable site effort, which is similar in intent to one from Google rival Yahoo, is in line with those core beliefs. But it's not without problems, according to some of those with knowledge of the feature.

"This may be a good way to get rid of spam in your search results, well, after you find it, which is a little too late," blogger wrote on the site Googleblogscoped.

 

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Get Automated

Posted on Monday, 09 August 2004 in Realtor Marketing

If you're anything like me, you spend countless hours in front of your PC answering email. Have you often found yourself typing some of the same messages or phrases over and over? Have you ever tried to automate the process a bit by having a word document open where you could cut and paste some of your oft used phrases?

While that can help speed up your email composing time, I found it a bit cumbersome and usually I would forget to even pop open that document, especially when I was in a hurry or under a time crunch. So, I went on the hunt for a software utility that could somehow help.... and found it!  

Robo Type is an amazing and small utility that you can program to memorize your repetitive phrases and it will easily add them to any email, website or document you're working within. You define abbreviations for the words, phrases, and paragraphs that you frequently type and RoboType 3 does the rest, replacing your abbreviations with the expanded text.

Check it out here!

 

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Reciprocal Linking

Posted on Wednesday, 07 July 2004 in Search Engine Optimization SEO

Should you exchange links with a site whose links page has zero PR?

The page rank of the link page doesn't matter too much, provided you can drill down to that page from the homepage with a spider simulator. If it has a PR of zero - that's not too uncommon. If it isn't cached by Google, it could just mean that the page is new and hasn't yet been spidered.

Typically, you'll want to look at each potential link partner carefully - what you're looking for:

1. PR of the homepage - the better this is, the more impact you'll get

2. Can you use a spider simulator to drill down to their links pages?

3. When you go through the site, are all the pages on the same domain name? (i.e. - the homepage is www.myREsite.com but once you start clicking it changes to www.myOTHERsite.com)


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