The Sordid Travails of Being Assasingoogled

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Greater Seattle

Apparently, the blogoshpere is getting heated, especially in our small Northwest neck of the woods. There are a few agents who've started up condo blogs using very similar, and in some cases, the exact name as my blog. But, I'm more flattered by those than annoyed.  But, recently, things have taken a turn to the nasty as I found myself at the receiving end of another agent’s deceptive Google Adwords campaign.

In respects to blogging, my primary focus is The Seattle Condo Blog. The condo blog has risen to become one of the top condo websites in Seattle - #1 in Google’s organic search results for a myriad of condo related keywords and receives the most visitor traffic (per Compete, Alexa and Quantcast metrics) among Seattle-based condo blogs and websites. And, the exclusive partnership with is a testament to the blog’s reputation. Admittedly, it’s a nice position to be in.

Well, it appears an agent with a competing condo blog got a little envious and started to play dirty. The agent bought Google Adwords with my name as the keyword search term as well as the title of the ads themselves. Thus, if someone googled my name, the other agent’s ads would show up on the right hand side of the page with my name. As users click on my name thinking they were going to my site, they were instead directed to the other agent’s site. Here’s a screen print:


When confronted the agent removed the ads.  Of course, this agent claims no knowledge of this pathetic and unethical attempt to steal traffic and use my name to mislead the public. The agent blames the webmaster, who wouldn’t...but, then the webmaster is that agent's spouse. I’m convinced this was a purposeful act on the agent’s part and speaks volumes about this person’s character and trustworthiness.



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Eliese Pivarnik
Colorado Group Realty, LLC - Steamboat Springs, CO
GRI, RSPS, ABR Broker, Colorado Group Realty
I suppose you can be flattered that your name is a high ranking keyword.  Still, what a rotten thing to do.
Apr 24, 2008 05:22 PM #20
Ryan Vivo
Gateway Realty - Fairfield, CA
NRBA Realtor Solano County, Gateway Realty 707-384-5894
I would report him to the local board that sounds TOTALLY unethical.
Apr 24, 2008 06:39 PM #21
Ann Cummings
RE/MAX Shoreline - NH and Maine - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Real Estate Preferrable Agent

Hi Ben - wow, and to think that was done by an agent right in your own company.  How slimy, and you know darn well that the 'webmaster/spouse' knew exactly what they were doing and make sure the agent knew as well.  Did they really think they were going to get away with that crap? 


Apr 24, 2008 10:07 PM #22
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
Oh my gosh, how can they deny it when they used a paid add. This is unbelievable that someone would overtly steal your name and market it. Do they think you never look at Google. 
Apr 24, 2008 11:10 PM #23
Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton
Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC - Hilton Head Island, SC
Gosh, how low can someone go?  That's disgusting!
Apr 24, 2008 11:46 PM #24
Steve Scheer
Realty Oasis - Metro Brokers - Highlands Ranch, CO
Highlands Ranch Real Estate - Denver Real Estate
Ben, I agree, pretty low.  I think that it is a good reminder for all of us to google our own names & site/blog names now and then and just check to see what, if anything, is out there with our identifiers.
Apr 24, 2008 11:52 PM #25
Diane Aurit
LKN Realty, LLC - Mooresville, NC
Lake Norman Real Estate
This is amazing!  To advertise IN YOUR NAME seems not just unethical but illegal.  At least he took removed it when you confronted him.
Apr 25, 2008 12:30 AM #26
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate


Is the agent with your company Ben?  An agent formerly with the brokerage I am affiliated with had a large "cybersquatting" enterprise.  Of course it was the "webmaster" who did it....  I had paid attention to cybersquatting via urls and ads a couple of years ago when it was a hot (actually a very luke warm topic because so few people really understood it) but very confusing topic locally because of this case that did end up in court.  In our market it is very common for agents from other companies to use trademarks from 'Real Living HER' to boost their traffic / divert traffic from the largest brokerage in town.   I turned a couple of brokerages (I'm sure it was the webmaster... not the RE brokerage) that I discovered into my boss to pass on... where I found them using trademarks to divert traffic.

In 2006 I wrote a post about it on Columbus Best Blog (my RT blog which is now known as Discover Columbus) ... the entry was called something like "Why are they sitting in a tree?"  because of a very odd url that the brokerage accused of cybersquatting purchased. I was reading a great blog about cyberlaw back then but have not read it lately, I remember cases about ads, keywords. 

ooooooh I do see in the comments where Ben said this is someone with his company.  Yuck!

Apr 25, 2008 01:00 AM #27
Tiffany Stevens
1st Metropolitan Atlanta Realty - Villa Rica, GA
Villa Rica & Carrollton, GA Real Estate
Now that's definitely low.  It seems that with all of the competition on the web these days, people who are insecure about their abilities to make their own mark on the internet or don't have their own edge, will just sit on your edge.  Very lame, indeed. 
Apr 25, 2008 01:17 AM #28
Buddy Pope
BEAN GROUP - Bedford, NH
Do you really want to work at a company where the powers that be have no backbone?  Parlay your dismay into an increase in commission splits at another company and use the threat of lawsuit legal action as a way to bring over your current listings as well to the new brokerage- then once moved leave it all behind you
Apr 25, 2008 01:46 AM #29
Lisa Bosques
Burien, WA
That's terrible, and it's the sort of behavior I thought was reserved for prescription drug peddlers and the like.  I constantly have to battle the low-level criminals who hijack my website and e-mail address from my small tea company.  I hope that agent really understands the error of his ways.
Apr 25, 2008 02:36 AM #30
Geordie Romer
Windermere Real Estate / NCW - Leavenworth, WA
Serving Leavenworth, Lake Wenatchee, and Plain
I'm pretty sure this is both a NAR ethics violation and a WA state licensing violation. I would take the matter up with both.  Our Code of Ethics doesn't mean much if we don't all work together to clean up our profession. This agent needs to grovel for forgiveness in front of an ethics panel.
Apr 25, 2008 02:52 AM #31
Kim Harris
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA
Designated Broker/Owner/Sound Realty
          Hi Ben,     This is just underhanded and sneaky.  Time for you to start yelling at all concerned. You have built a great site that needs to be protected, including being protected by "the powers that be" at your office. And this is happening in your own back yard!!!!!
Apr 25, 2008 03:10 AM #32
Christy Powers
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Pooler, GA
Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent
Wow, now that is horrible. Wouldn't that be considered closely related to identity theft. I wouldn't leave any sensitive information around this person. I don't know why people do that kind of stuff and also think they will get away with it. Not only that, the people who were trying to find you weren't happy to be somewhere else.
Apr 25, 2008 04:06 AM #33
Richard Lecinski
Long Realty Company - Oro Valley, AZ
This certainly is a vioalation of the ethics rules. Stay on him and report him to your broker.
Apr 25, 2008 04:11 AM #34
Chrysti Tovani
eXp Realty, LLC. - Sacramento, CA
Sacramento Real Estate Agent
I wonder if Google would do anything about it if you filed a complaint with them?  It's a shame what some people will do. 
Apr 25, 2008 05:17 AM #35
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos
Well, give them points for creativity and deceptiveness.  Penalty points for impersonating a real person !
Apr 25, 2008 08:35 AM #36
Melina Tomson
Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon - Salem, OR
Principal Broker/Owner, M.S.
SOmeone within your own company...I guess I would be talking with the broker about it. I think WA is like Oregon in that brokers need to oversee all ads, including blogs.
Apr 25, 2008 10:00 AM #37
Angela Clark
Tony Clark REALTORS - Owensboro, KY
CRS, Realtor, Broker
Way to go for confronting this agent, and protecting your online reputation!!   
Apr 26, 2008 07:44 AM #38
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Ben, I missed this post when it was first written, but I'm glad that Renee Burrows mentioned it on her blog today.  Amazing the lengths to which dishonest folks will go.

May 16, 2008 06:31 AM #39
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Ben Kakimoto

Seattle Condo Specialist
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