A Tucson Realtors Journey in Web Presence

Things have been very busy here at the lab over the last month.   I know the number of posts don’t reflect that, unfortunately some experiments and setting them up takes  time to perk and have some results worth sharing.   There are a number of those brewing as I write.

The latest is one of the most exciting for me personally.   Without risking boring anyone with a lengthy post (of course meaning this will be a lengthy post), I’ll try and give this history in a short form with photos to keep attention spans from drifting.   We are a visual society after all.   Keep those images coming.   I’m sure there are others that have a similar path or story to tell.

The Canned Site

 It was 3 years ago when every agent was told “You have to have a website”.   Like most Barbara was encouraged to buy a domain of her name before anyone else got it.   She did and www.barbaralasky.com was born.   Then she needed a website to go with that domain and she chose a company that was used by a top producing agent in town figuring “good enough for them good enough for me“.   How’s that for SEO 101.

Here is what that site looked like:
barbaralasky.com first website

Wow that’s a beauty isn’t it? It was something to behold we were on the web now all we had to do was sit back and wait for the leads to come rolling in.   It had all the cool things, the buttons gleamed as the mouse moved over them.   There was community information, contact, Relocation form etc.

The opening paragraph described us as “Not Your Typical Realtors”   I’m not sure what people think of as a typical Realtor. . .   I’m just glad we didn’t use “For all your Real Estate Needs”   I almost barf, for Greg Swann defecate, every-time I read this phrase on a real estate website.   I digress, sorry.

There was no way to input keywords, meta-tags, descriptions, etc.   The editor broke often while trying to make changes.   There was no way to check traffic to the site.   There was never a lead, there was no finding the site on any search engine except under a search for Barbara Lasky.   I wasn’t into the web, I was a serious Database guy using SQL Server, the web to me was like Myspace, a toy for the masses but not for serious folk.

Honey, Can You Take over the Site

Okay, I buy some books on XHTML   I get a copy of Macromedia Suite including Dreamweaver 8 and Fireworks 8 etc.   I buy more books on those programs and read and read and read.

I start adding pages and fresh content, I tweak the title tags and add keywords relevant to each page.   I discovered a few things along the way as well that made me wonder.

Discoveries of the Black Hat Order

Tiny white text with lots of keywords
I loaded the index page into Dreamweaver and was looking around at the page when I discovered at the bottom of the page what looked like a white smudge of some kind.   It turned out to be more than a hundred keywords in a font size of less than 1 and white so it wouldn’t show up on the page and located off the screen.   I called tech support and they said this was for search engine placement and needed so the keywords could be found.   A which search on Google and I discovered this was asking to get your site banned from the web.   I removed it from the site immediately.

Participating in a link farm

I learned how to generate a sitemap and submit it to Google.   I discovered 17 pages on our site I didn’t know anything about.   It turned out to be a link farm of pages that were once again hidden but for the purposes of backlinks to all their clients sites from their clients.   When I asked to have those pages removed from the site since I wasn’t granted access I was told they were server generated and they couldn’t stop them either.   Time to find another Hosting Company for the site.

Honey, my site looks like something out of the 70’s can you change it?

A couple more books on CSS and site design Flash embedded on the site and here came the new site look and feel, with even better SEO management of the Title tags, Meta tag descriptions keywords, CSS formatting in a separate file streamlined to make it easy for the bots to scan quickly.   It looked almost like it does today.

barbaralasky.com current web site
There were more things that happened:

  1. addition of more content pages,
  2. more SEO management,
  3. click counting from the home page.
  4. State directory pages instead of “Links” pages. This was for a referral network and a clean place to organize backlinks to the site.   (This is not longer being done, sites are getting banded and penalized for having State page directories on them.

We began getting some leads coming in from the site.   We started showing up for some terms about Tucson real estate.   There are almost 50 pages in the Google index of the site.

Lets Start a Blog | The birth of Tucson Real Estate in The News

More reading, buying of books, research.   I start reading Arizona Real Estate Blogs. ( I could give out some link love here, but will refrain at the moment, but it will come.)

Tucson real estate in the news blog imageThe short form of this:

  • Hosted on our site
  • WordPress format
  • directory of home domain
  • Focus Localism Tucson

The Result:

  • Increase in traffic exponentially
  • A wider audience
  • Quick increase in Page Rank
  • Fast building of quality backlinks
  • Around 600 pages indexed in Google
  • Becoming a part of a quickly growing Real Estate Blogging community.

The original idea behind starting the blog was to try and provide a place for honest analysis of the Tucson Real Estate Market in two ways.   First, detailed analysis of the Tucson MLS Statistical Reports that are released each month for the previous month.   Second, provide commentary and analysis of Real Estate related articles in the local and national press which we felt often was all about headlines and selling papers and not providing a true picture of the state of real estate in Tucson or the nation.

Over time it added more content and posts about living in Tucson as well.

The Rest of This Long Short Tale

Where we are today is enjoying fair placement for the major search terms for our market and great placement for the “long tails” of searches in our market.   We have helped a lot of people with information from “What is a post tension foundation” to “How do I clean a Saltillo Tile Floor”.   We have picked up some clients and made some friends along the way.  

These are the good things that have come to pass over the past year.  

It has been a learning experience to say the least.

The Real Estate Blog Lab

The real estate blog lab was an outgrowth of all the real estate bloggers that provided support and invaluable information and advise when I was faced with starting a new blog or incorporating the lab post into the Tucson Real Estate posts.   The overwhelming majority advised, “Keep the message focused, start a new blog”   I have never regretted the decision to create this site.

The journey continues, I hope this overview of the path so far is in the least an interesting read for some.   Possibly a chuckle for others that have walked this path themselves.   Maybe, some subtle advise to others that are struggling with some of these issues themselves.

The journey now is taking another turn in direction.   I want to put it all together I want to see if by starting over from scratch and applying what has been learned along the way a better blogging experience can be created for the reader.   It all has to do with one of the big questions in Real Estate Blogging, “Why are you Blogging?”   I have my answer, “I blog for the readers.”  

Now, I have to make sure the readers can find me.   This is the next step in this journey of Real Estate Blogging.  

BTW, in case you haven’t figured this out, this site is for Real Estate Bloggers : )