Technology for the ADHD Real Es…SQUIRREL!!!

Real Estate Agent & Trainer using the power of technology to achieve maximum productivity

Category Archives: Websites

Publishing a Google Calendar

Ok, so I got out the cart, now let me go back and get the horse. Once you have a Google account set up for the office and your Google Calendar is ready to publish on your MC’s website, follow these steps:

Log into your Google account and click Calendar. On the top right click the gear for the Settings menu, then click Settings. Click the second tab, Calendars.

(Note: these pictures have been cropped to remove trapped white space)

(Figure 1)

I recommend that first you click Shared: Edit Settings first, unless you already have your calendar set to be public. If you have it public already, click the name of the calendar.

 

 

(Figure 2)

Now check the box to Make this calendar public then click Save. This will take you back to the previous screen. Click the name of the calendar to go to the next step.

 

 

 

(Figure 3)

At this point, you can choose to use the default code, or you can customize it if you wish by clicking the Customize option (see the star). The only thing to be sure is a particular setting is to ensure that “width” is set to 800. If you choose to customize how the calendar will look, when you click the link by the star above, you’ll be taken to this screen to set your options:

(Figure 4)

After you set the calendar title, select which items to show, the default view, background color, etc., be sure to click Update HTML (top right of the screen).

Now log in to myKW (MC Tech Coordinator role is required), access the MC Website Admin tool (under Technology, click the second item, MC Websites, then click MC Web Site Admin). Navigate to section 2.1, Manage Navigation/Content. Choose to Add New Page of Create Your Own type, set the Menu Name to the name you want shown as the link on your home page, and enter the title you want shown on the browser tab in the Browser Title box. Decide whether to make it on the Top Level or under another parent item and be sure Yes is chosen to Publish the page once you are ready.

(Figure 5)

In the red box of Figure 5, above, are the instructions on how to embed a page into your website. For any basic kind of page, click the Source (★) button, then copy the code as instructed in step 2 and paste it into the Text Editor box (★). Replace the http://www.google.com from that code with the link to the page you want shown. When embedding the Google Calendar, simply click the Source button and paste the code from either Figure 3 (if not customized) or Figure 4 (if customized) above. Click Save and your calendar is now live!

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Posting ads on Craigslist

I recently saw a question on a real estate website from a consumer who wanted to list her out-of-state property for sale (by owner) and was asking if it was safe to list the home for sale on Craigslist. I decided that the answer was one that could benefit more than just her, so I wanted to share it with you here.

One of the biggest scams going on right now is people stealing the pictures & addresses of homesPosting ads on Craigslist for sale and then posting a fake “For Rent” post with that info. They’ll usually seem very legitimate to the consumer at first, and then they ask for the first month’s rent and deposit to be mailed to a PO Box somewhere different – often out of state. One way to combat this is to add your phone number or email address to the picture by overlaying it in a way that the scammer couldn’t easily remove it. This can be done with very little skill required if you can use a program like PowerPoint. Simply insert the image to a blank slide and add a text box where you’ll put your information. Place the text so that it doesn’t obstruct the view of the home, and is still in a position that removing it would render the photo useless. I’m attaching a photo of some options I recommend (using stock photos).

How to protect a house listing online

Embed the text using PowerPoint

Change your info

Can you tell me whose information is shown below?

No, you can’t. Because the agent hasn’t changed anything. Since search engines see this EXACT same content on 60,000-70,000 websites, it’s similar to you receiving 60,000-70,000 emails with the same content. What do we call that? SPAM! Do you want your website to be considered SPAM?

eEdge website with unchanged info

This is what your website looks like if you haven't changed anything.

Demystifying SEO Keywords

OK, those of you who like to keep the little man behind the curtain and believe in the Easter Bunny, stop reading now.

If you like to pull back the curtain and know the “How” behind the “What,” this entry is for you. Secrets behind the ubiquitous “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) are about to be broken down for anyone who can use Google. And if you can’t use Google, how the heck did you find my blog???

First, some ground rules:

1. There is a fundamental difference between zebras and horses. Just because it has black and white on it does NOT make it a zebra. If it’s a horse, you can ride it. If it’s a zebra, leave it to the professionals because you’re (probably) in real estate and not in web design / content management.

2. As Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in moderation…including moderation.” Don’t go overboard with your keywords and make your content read like an instruction manual for an Asian product so cheap they couldn’t afford to hire a real translator.

3. Blog. Period. Just do it. And when you do, the conventional wisdom (of this second, but hang on and it’ll change) is to keep your post between 300 & 500 words, with your keywords making up 2-5% of your text. In other words, a post of 500 words should repeat your keywords 10-25 times.

4. Keep your content fresh. You can write the perfect blog entries for a month, but if you don’t keep it up and those dozen blog posts are all that you have for the next year, you wasted your time.

5. Don’t get cute. Plastering your keywords all over your website in 4 pt type and in white letters on a white background will not help your site – it will get you blacklisted and banned from the search engines. I’m sorry, did you say you wanted to be on the FIRST page of Google or NO page of Google?

Now, with our ground rules in place, here is MY formula for finding the right keywords:

1. While logged in to your Google account (you DO have one, don’t you???), go to https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordTool.

2. To establish a baseline for how well your current website targets your pool, enter your website name in the “Website” box and click ‘Search.’ Are these the phrases used by people you WANT to attract?

3. You know who you want to attract, and you know what they would probably put into Google to find someone like you. Type those words / phrases in the ‘Word or phrase’ box, one word or phrase per line. For example, “find a home | homes in Chicago | real estate,” then click ‘Search.’

4. When the results come back, there will hundreds of them. Look at the first page and make sure you haven’t made a huge error in the keywords you used. If you are trying to market your Dallas real estate business and “morticians in Cheyenne” comes up, you might want to try again. Just sayin…

5. On the bar right above the results, click “Download,” then “All (###)” and save this file in the CSV for Excel format. Open the file in Excel, then save it as an XLS file (not CSV) in a directory that makes sense with a name that makes sense. In Excel, do the following:

a. Change “Global Monthly Searches” and “Local Monthly Searches” to GMS & LMS, respectively.
b. Move the LMS column before the GMS column.
c. Insert a column after LMS and another after GMS. Label these two columns “Local Rating” and “Global Rating,” respectively. Highlight these columns and click Format > Cells. Format these as Number with 2 decimal places (the default). Select all the columns after these columns and hide them.
d. Assuming that you still have a header row, Competition is column B, LMS is column C, and GMS is column E, paste the following formula into the first open “Local Rating” cell: =((1-B2)*(SQRT(SQRT(C2)))*3). Now paste this formula in the first “Global Rating” cell: =((1-B2)*(SQRT(SQRT(E2)))*3). Not to bore you to tears, but this is a formula I created inverts the amount of competition into the marketing opportunity, boils down the number of searches to a number to eliminates wild swings, and multiplies it into a number between 1 & 100 (ish).
e. Highlight the entire worksheet and click Data > Sort, sorting by Local Rating first and Global Rating second – both in DESCENDING order.
f. Pay attention to the top 20-25 results. These are the keywords / phrases that are being searched at a high volume and the competition for the user’s eye is very low in proportion.
When you create this spreadsheet, you’ll probably be amazed at some of the things you didn’t think about. For example, in my area, the phrase “property tax” is searched 823,000 times PER MONTH on average. In other words, every 2 minutes there are 3 people near me who type it into Google. For some reason, only 20% of websites comparable to mine have the words “property tax” in them. How fast do you think I put “property tax” in my META tags and wrote a page for homeowners wanting to appeal their “property tax” assessment???

What works for you?

Favorite Websites vol. 1

Frequently I’ll be working with or talking with an agent about how to improve their business and/or life, and I find them scrambling for a pen as soon as I say “.com.” In order to keep whiplash injuries down, I thought I’d start listing them here. Of course, this will only be a partial list, but at least it will provide you with some helpful – or just plain cool – websites I often use and recommend.

Social Media

Digsby (www.Digsby.com) – Does your notification area look like a small town with the icons for AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and all of their cousins? Digsby allows you to incorporate all of your chat programs into one stream and shows a dashboard for notifications & pending messages from sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, etc. Contacts can be segmented into groups, and an icon will tell you which service they’re using.

Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) – IMHO (In my humble opinion), THE BEST service to read & post updates on Twitter, Facebook, and other sites. Design your screen with 1-4 “streams” (basic Twitter stream, keyword streams, list streams, etc.) and connect with up to 5 services for free. My favorite feature is the ability to pre-post updates. Schedule a reminder about Daylight Saving Time to go out to your sphere. Tweet posts of your favorite quotes on a set schedule. Going on vacation & don’t want people to notice your absence? Post random notes throughout the time you’ll be gone. The possibilities are endless!

Computer Safety

AVG Antivirus (free edition: free.avg.com) – My preferred antivirus program. ‘Nuff said.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (www.malwarebytes.com) – It removes malware and it’s good. What else can I say?

Financial Protection

Home Inventory (www.KnowYourStuff.org) – If you were the victim of a theft, fire, or natural disaster, would you have any idea where to begin in listing your assets for the insurance company? You will if you use this program. Designed & maintained by the Insurance Information Institute, you can rest assured that the list won’t fall into the wrong hands. Create a room-by-room inventory of your home, list the model & serial numbers, all the purchase information, and even upload a picture of the item AND a scanned copy of your receipt. Online storage allows you to access it anywhere, or download a copy onto a CD & put it in your safe / safe deposit box. (NOTE: A business version is available at http://www.BusinessInventory.com)

They’re charging WHAT?

A colleague just approached me to ask if I could help him with a website redirection. I asked for more information and found out that he had signed up for a service that allegedly helps promote you and/or your business online (SEO). He was in his free trial period for the “Personal” service, which was about $10/month, so I told him to expect them to evaluate what he was using the service for and move him to the “Business” plan. Then I looked at the business plan and saw what they were charging for promoting a business to the top of Google – $350.00/MONTH!!! When I looked at the screenshot on their website I realized what a farce this was. Over the next 10 minutes, I told him as much as he would have gotten to in the first month on this service. I couldn’t believe that 10 minutes of my time was worth $350 in the mindset of this company.

Paid SEO website

Screenshot from an SEO promotion company

In case you’ve got a couple thousand dollars burning a hole in your business pants pocket, go ahead and sign up for this service. If you’ve got more sense than you do money, let me break down the above screenshot for you and tell you much of what they’re going to. Keep in mind, they’re not doing it FOR you, they’re simply telling you WHAT to do.

1. “Check Your Search Results” – Perform an online search for your name(s) (personal name and business name if you are doing business in a corporate name). The household term for this, of course, is to “Google yourself.” But don’t stop there. Try multiple search engines, or try a search aggregator like Dogpile.com that goes out and does the search on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. all at once.

2. “Build Your Website” – Get a website if you don’t have one, and this doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Get your own domain name for this website, one that is short and descriptive. Now flesh out your website with good content. Don’t try to write for search engines, write for your customer. You don’t write brochures to catch the eye of marketing companies, so why would you write your website to do that? Put your value proposition on your website in a way that tells potential clients exactly what you do and why you’re better than your competition. Learn about meta keywords and meta tags. You can’t beat a good Wikipedia entry, but also check out descriptions on sites such as WebDeveloper.com, and always remember that Google has tools to help you understand how to do all of this stuff yourself.

3. “Add to Your Online Profiles” – Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Digg? Delicious? MySpace? StumbleUpon? Have a Google account? Have a WordPress blog? Then you have online profiles. Make sure your website and, if possible, a bio of you and your business are filled in and current on these sites.

4. “Add Yourself to Professional Directories” – Are you signed up with LinkedIn? (For Real Estate Agents…) Do you have your Realtor.com directory entry updated with your website? Do you have an ActiveRain account? a Trulia Profile? a Top Producer Blog? Check your information there and make sure it shows your web address. Wherever you can put your web address online, DO IT!

5. “Verify Mentions of Your Name” – Rinse and repeat #1. Make sure that what you want to come up is coming up, and if someone is trying to harm your reputation, address that issue. Don’t try to cover it up or you’re violating the digital version of the old adage “Never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” You’ll always lose the battle to have a good reputation online if you fail to have a good reputation OFFLINE.

Those are the 5 visible hints about what they’re ‘teaching.’ If I can find out from someone what the others are, you can bet I’m going to pull back the curtain and let you see the man behind it.