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The other day, while doing some client research on a paid for real estate plugin for WordPress, I had a concerning experience I felt might be useful to folks. Namely, the person I spoke with told me their solution generated SEO. Before getting into that claim, it may be best to define SEO per Wikipedia.org:
"subset of search engine marketing that seeks to improve the number and quality of visitors to a web site from "natural" ["organic" or "algorithmic"] search results. In effect, SEO is marketing by appealing first to machine algorithms to increase search engine relevance and secondly to human visitors. The term SEO can also refer to "search engine optimizers", an industry of consultants who carry out optimization projects on behalf of clients."
Going forward, I believe there are IDX plugins that offer content value and we'll certainly share that with our clients so they can choose from a position of understanding, but I won't dare suggest there is some SEO magic... like I was told. The suggestion that someone or something is outsmarting Google and you can just buy SEO off the shelf is highly unlikely!
This is important! - The dynamic nature of a networked web, the constant modification of search engine ranking methods/ algorithms and the random local competitive activity surrounding content online makes organic search results unpredictable from day to day. If anyone guarantees or even suggest top organic search results, ask what proprietary information they have about the constant adjustments made to [content] ranking search algorithms? And then ask what exactly they know about your specific competitions content, day to day activity online and how it will affect competitive search outcomes?
There are pros' out there who actually sit on the leading edge of research and technique, like Aaron Wall and Rand Fishkin. And they'd probably tell you that even if there were proven gaming techniques, the reality of the environment we compete in is... it's never standing still! For some more detail, give the ‘Laypersons Guide To Understanding SEO' a try.
We're not trying to expose anyone here - we don't suggest we're perfect, so we wouldn't. Not at all and there's too much misinformation out there anyway. If anything, maybe this can serve as an example as some caution about buying SEO. Anyway, never taking anything for granted, I asked why the plugin was so key for SEO. The first argument was that clients normally outperform Realtor.com & Zillow.com. I thought, "Hmmm, do some searching and so do many of our clients for various target phrases. And, to date, without this particular plugin". I should add that neither Realtor.com, Zillow.com or Trulia.com, nor any experienced WordPress Managers like us for that matter, have ever outsmarted Google's ranking algorithm. We may all be doing some of things right some of the time, but no one should ever believe they've gamed Google for top search results. Certainly not when over 200 hundred signals are used to compare your page to all the others with that same phrase. Think of it this way: if every time you searched real estate in a local area the Google search results page served up Realtor.com why would we need Google? If so, we could just go search Realtor.com... and that would be limiting. Being Google depends on [content driven organic search result] consumer satisfaction, loyalty AND pay per clicks, how would Google make a living?
Moving along, the gentleman asked I go to a clients' WordPress blog: a particular WordPress blog [it just so happens] I have observed for several years as one of the more well documented, back linked and organically search engine optimized real estate blogs in North America. A blog I later found out had only added this plugin a month or two ago. Again the content value of the plugin is relevant, but regardless of what we were going to find results-wise it would be very difficult to take credit for SEO in this blogs' case.
We pulled up, copied and pasted a particular posts' title into Google so that we could search it as 'proof' of SEO. The post was titled by its' exact street address, town, state abbreviation and zip code. When we searched that exact address, the posts highly specific title was the 3rd result in a little over 1,500 pages indexed. Number 3 in 1,500 is pretty good, but was it the plugin or was it the years of time, effort and money invested in this blogs competitive placement? And if not all that effort, could it have even been that Wordpress, when configured correctly, is highly search engine spider friendly?
Flaws In the this SEO Results Argument
With over two hundred signals used to compare pages, is it the plugin?
Is the result due to the plugin or all the positive organic SEO signals this blog has accumulated [back links, subscriptions, book marks, feed connections, SERP choice activity, etc., etc.] in 5 years time?
Is the actual phrase we searched even sought after by the competition? If not, why wouldn't it be high up?
Without the use of quotes around the phrase itself, does the phrase searched exist on any other page in that exact word sequence? If not, why wouldn't it be high up?
Search results change every day: is anything we're seeing going to sustain competitive positioning tomorrow and the next day? Not unless you keep it moving and there are measurable reactions to your effort.
Google search results are now personalized, so does this example even matter to the personalized masses who receive results based upon past search history?
Folks, our point here again is NOT to suggest anyone is purposefully being misleading. Yes, they may be less informed than they need to be to make any SEO claims, but they wouldn't be the first. And we've certainly heard much worse claims for ‘the silver bullet SEO solutions.' No, the point here is to give a 'heads up'. Understand some things about SEO before you try and buy it! Discern what is being sold as SEO! SEO is really based upon 1) consistent focused & well formed content, 2) a measurable reaction to that content [back links, bookmarks, feed connections to other sites, direct subscriptions, SERP choices, etc., etc.] and also 3) well configured / easily crawled site platforms.
The fact is, there is no silver bullet... and even if there was - the truly sustainable SEO you want requires time and some effort!
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.