Be tops in SEO? You need FUR!

Real Estate Technology with Content, coding, marketing, host.

Oh great! A mortgage guy is going to tell me something about search engine optimization, right! Actually, you may well flip that statement around and say "an SEO guy is going to tell me something about mortgages, right!"

Long before I was a full time, seasoned mortgage pro I was a computer science geek and owned one of the first hosting companies in Atlanta. As far back as 1988 I hosted a Mustang BBS service called UWDO and did my best to get my community interested in doing business online. Most BBSs back then were for gamers and porn addicts. UWDO was strictly for business and church.

By the time the WWW came around I had developed online presences for Prodigy and AOL for several customers and welcomed the open format of the Web. In 1994 I got my first copy of Linux and ran a very hacked version of a web server until I found O'Reilly's solution and the rest was history. By 2000 I had 1,300 clients renting space on my servers and had developed fully interactive solutions for companies like Hunter Engineering, SiGARMS, The National Rifle Association and many more. By fully interactive I mean with catalogs, order tracking, customer tracking, automated feedback systems, traffic analysis and reporting and more. Not using third party systems but all developed by hand from scratch between myself and my assistant.

I used all that experience to become one of the top small lenders in Georgia - just combined my two loves. So there is my short resume even though I left out the part where I developed two search engines between 1995 and 1998. Back then we called them indexing engines or search spiders. But that's a longer story! Suffice it to say when we talk about weighted algorithms, Eigenspace, link value and other words I have a firm grasp on the actual functions the code provides to use them.

Old TypewriterEnough! Here are the Three Tips

Don't write copy, write for the algorithms. Copy writers fail at writing content for search engine optimization and it is proven regularly. I have a client whose daughter is a fantastic copy writer. She can wordsmith some of the best brochures you have seen in your days. Ocassionally the man will insist the verbiage on his website needs to be more like what she writes so I let them do it. Then we watch their SERP (search engine results page) standings drop until he is out of number one, lower than number five, off the first page.

The last time they tried it their SEO was so bad they sank to number 18 on Google and not listed on Yahoo and Bing. It took me almost a full week to get them back into the top three on all three.

You can only buy your way to the top until your money runs out. Listen, I'm not going to tell you not to buy pay per click advertising from the search engines or anywhere else. What I am going to tell you is that you will only enjoy the success as long as the budget is there. You just thought, "yes but if it's successful I'll just keep doing it." Why??? Why would you do something so insipidly stupid when you can just as easily do the right thing and let the search engines work for you?

I'm sure you've had those phone calls or emails promising you top ranking on all three search engines. Have you ever gone all the way to price with them? I did. For getting my website to number one on FHA Home Loans they wanted $83,000. Per month. I joke not. Funny thing is, at the time, I was number one on Google and in the top five on Yahoo and what at the time was pre-Bing Microsoft (MSN).

Generally for somewhere well south of $5000 or the investment of some time and understanding you can get almost any website to the top 5 or better on real, viable search terms. Not FHA Home Loans but certainly FHA Home Loans in Paduka. Take the time to take some classes and learn the truth about SEO writing and website configuration. Learn the value of back linking and comment marketing.

Blog like there is no tomorrow. Content is king. Fresh content beats old content. Proprietary fresh content cannot be beaten. Nobody can beat fresh, relevant and unique content. Why do you think Wikipedia is consistently top in SERP over even the company or name you are searching for? 


  • Fresh. Wikipedia is constantly updated by the community of contributors. Pages about hot topics are changed multiple times per month, week or even day.
  • Unique. Nobody says what Wikipedia says. In fact if you submit information they can locate elsewhere it is disqualified.
  • Relevant. Wikipedia pages are only about the topic at hand and any irrelevant information is excluded. There are no banal articles on Wiki because the community will override the lack of relevance.
Do yourself a big favor and listen to Social Media Edge on Blog Talk Radio. Five seasoned veterans of SEO and marketing along with amazing guests who know their stuff. Created by Ken Cook, co-hosted by Jason Crouch, joined by tech tips from Mike Mueller, community building from Jeremy Blanton, and the sociology of online by TS Elliott.

Image: Old Typewriter by Petr Kratochvil

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Web/Social Developer For Hire - I code. I create. I manage. Whether you need your website to actually do something other than look pretty or one of the following services let's talk. Anyone can make a beautiful WordPress site (all the hard work is done) but few can make it work for you. , blog content, research intense reports, data reports (and accompanying charts and graphics), ebooks, presentation content, speeches, social media management, advertising scripts, or similar, let me show you what you can have.

Listen to Social Media Edge Radio weekly for powerful tips on making the Internet pay for you. Blogging, social media, and web technology with some of the most successful and well-known guests on the Web!

I started writing on Active Rain in 2006 when I was representing the mortgage industry. I am no longer in that industry and many of the older posts contain outdated information. Please do not contact me for LENDING or MORTGAGE questions but rather contact a licensed mortgage professional from your area. I have always been in marketing and branding and that is still what I do. Thanks for reading!

Comments (46)

Raj Dhaliwal
Century 21 Coastal Realty Ltd. - Abbotsford, BC
Personal Real Estate Corporation

I do my own seo. Watch my search story here

Apr 17, 2010 03:24 AM
Bill Travis
Captain Bill Realty, LLC - Gilbert, AZ

There is a lot to learn about SEO and I'm hoping to learn much more

Apr 17, 2010 03:26 AM
Kristi DeFazio
RE/MAX Advantage - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Rea lEstate 719-459-5468

Thanks for the tips on FUR. I would also like to see more of your examples of writing copy and writing algorithms. Sounds complicated, but I am sure it is not.

Apr 17, 2010 04:01 AM
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

What you put out as "fresh" doesn't seem to be what many commentors are referring to.  Your refernece to a Wikipedia page being fresh is having a specific page being changed on a regular basis.  That's different than creating new blog posts on a frequent basis.  Are you recommending that we go back and make changes to our blog posts on a regular basis?

Organic results are great because they are free.  Who can beat that?  But your business is then at the whim of the Google algorythm.  I've read many a story of a businessman who built their business around their organic search results and then got destroyed when there was a Google Dance and things changed.

Pay per click on the other hand allows you to actually have a more controlled method of getting traffic to your site.  The key is to have a site that converts enough so that the ROI works for you.  If you get it right, it can turn into a money machine that can be adjusted to your business needs.  The problem is that many people waste money sending traffic to a site that doesn't get people to do anything.  You can spend thousands of dollars or thousands of your manhours getting free organic results but if your site doesn't convert, it's just a big waste of time.  Pay per click is a great way to do testing in order to see what pages convert the most.

Apr 17, 2010 05:43 AM
Ted Tyndall
Davidson Realty Inc. - Saint Augustine, FL
I will help You find the Home YOU want to Buy

Ken, Lets see, at $83,000 per month how many homes do I need to sell each week to cover that one expense.

Apr 17, 2010 06:05 AM
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Thanks for the info. I love the DIY attitude. I'm always looking for ways to save money.

Apr 17, 2010 09:40 AM
Rick Phillips
Appraisals Guaranteed - Alexandria, VA
Expert & Customized Valuations

Back in 94 I operated The Netherworld (4-player Doom BBS!) ...

Apr 17, 2010 12:05 PM
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


Truly a phenomenal post.  Great info on what and how to do SEO very well.  I love it.  Off to get more FUR!

All the best, Michelle

Apr 17, 2010 02:20 PM
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL

Ken - I learned my lesson fairly quick with pay-per-click 5-6 years ago, I quickly became educated on SEO, which is a constant learning process.

Apr 17, 2010 02:28 PM
Ken Cook
Content, coding, marketing, host. - Marietta, GA
Content Marketer/Creator

So many great comments! Seriously good stuff. There are a few I want to respond to and will do so when it is not so late in the evening. Perhaps over coffee tomorrow.

To the gentleman who put a link in his comment - that's a no-no for several reasons.

Social Media Edge is back online - seems the 250 meg bandwidth was only good for half a month so it has been increased to a gig.

Apr 17, 2010 03:57 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I had no idea you had such a strong background for SEO.


As to the group of professionals you mentioned, they are very knowledgeable.

Apr 17, 2010 04:21 PM
Kathy Nielsen - Marietta, GA
Atlanta Georgia Home Stager

Ken - I too didn't know you had such an extensive background in SEO!

When are we going for coffee??


Apr 18, 2010 01:09 AM
Linda Lohman
Fonville Morisey Realty - Cary, NC
Former Teacher/Broker

I'm going to start tuning in to Blog Radio.  I took Katerina Gassett's SEO to the top class...priceless!

Apr 18, 2010 01:13 AM
Pam Turner, REALTOR®, e-PRO®, SFR
Century 21 Belk Realtors Dalton GA - Dalton, GA

SEO is hard to master - and when you think you've got it, things change! It's a constant battle...

Apr 18, 2010 01:15 AM
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

I agree with Pam. SEO is hard to master. Need to read and study more SEO Blogs here on Active Rain. Thanks for sharing. Great post.

Apr 18, 2010 02:19 AM
Ken Cook
Content, coding, marketing, host. - Marietta, GA
Content Marketer/Creator

William Walton - "write for the algorithms" simply means use your keywords (long tail and short tail) and your outbound links and attributes to the best of your ability. Instead of writing really good copy use the words your prospects would search for. For example if you hand someone a sales sheet on a listing it won't say, "Home For Sale Walton School District" but if you had a listing you would want your blog/page to use those words as much as possible without spamming the content. The ratio of keywords to relative words is important.

Ken Asher - if anyone is guaranteeing you top position for $250 and they are the keywords that work I strongly recommend you consider it. The actual quote I got for "fha home loans" was $83,000 per month. I didn't need that short tail anyway but was still, at the time, number three on Google for those terms. On the other hand I could reasonably guarantee top ranking for "Ken Asher Colorado Springs" for $250 per month. See what I'm getting at?

Tim Maitski - good points. Yes, I recommend to go back and revisit relevant posts to make sure the document last updated date is more current. I wouldn't obsess over it but it does help thus the reason Wikipedia has so many front page SERP listings. And you're dead on with PPC having the absolute requirement of landing on an actionable page. It's why I always do landing pages (squeeze pages) to make sure they land on a page that gives an obvious call to action. Good comment, thanks!

Rick Phillips - I may remember your BBS. I was getting out of BBS hosting at the time but the name definitely sounds familiar. I did play doom a little but not very much. Good old days ... 64 twisted pairs coming into my home connected to Hayes modems connected to a Sun Sparc (used of course). When friends would come over I would turn all the speakers on in the modems. Even had a little Whirlpool window A/C blowing full speed into that room 24/7 - it was fun!

Thanks all for your comments! The word is "dangleberry", not sure what that is.


Apr 18, 2010 04:22 AM
Rick Phillips
Appraisals Guaranteed - Alexandria, VA
Expert & Customized Valuations

You are definitely bringing back some memories ... MajorBBS + "The Game Connection" module .... later replaced by a virtual TCP thing that some guys from AZ (Red Mountain Software) wrote. 

U.S. Robotoics 28.8s making all kinds of noise in the basement :-)

Fast forward ... tell me why I'm on the first page of "appraiser arlington" but nowhere to be found on "appraiser fairfax" .... I have been waiting for a post like yours to come along for a while now :-)

Apr 18, 2010 05:32 AM
Ross Quintana
Real E Smarter - Spokane, WA
Real E Smarter Real Estate Coach - 509-362-1966

Thanks for this blog, it is straight to the point. I am not a professional, but I have been doing SEO for my sites for a while and follow much of the basics. I do need to get a little more fresh and I will. Thanks.

Apr 22, 2010 04:53 AM
Keith Landis
Keystone Home Finance - NMLS#834342 - Conventional - FHA - VA -USDA - Jumbo Programs - Direct Phone 412-726-1654 - Pittsburgh, PA
Pennsylvania - "Your Pennsylvania Mortgage Source"


Great blog.  I bookmarked this page for SEO reference.  Thanks for the links.

Apr 23, 2010 11:56 PM
Kim Delia
Remax Professional Associates - Charlton, MA
Realty Delia Group

Wow, great information, I've been thinking about this for a long time. I'm going to make some changes to my site soon.

Mar 13, 2011 12:49 AM