Google's Penguin Update: Zaps 1 million more sites.

Services for Real Estate Pros with Virtual Pictures Corp. (VPiX)

Sorry the bartman has been away for a while. It seems that a few new clients have taken me away from my blog writing for ActiveRainers. 

If any of you watch ABC's SharkTank we picked up one of their companies that was invested in by sharks: Mark Cuban and Daymond John. The company is and it's essentially doing for night clubs and venues what is doing for hotels. 

What Happened to my site?

About Google's Penguin. What happened?

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Google actually got around to (strictly) enforcing the laws that are on the books @ Google's Webmaster Guidelines. 

For a few hundred thousand unsuspecting websites (including a few thousand real estate sites), they were dropped from Google's visibility from page one down to page 67 - the Internet equivalent of "nowhere."

Many agents and webmaster are crying foul, but the Bartman cannot feel for ignorance or stupidity on this one. Because the rules have been published for quite some time. 

If you were foolish enough to buy five thousand links with anchor text tags laced with "colorado springs real estate" or "denver homes for sale," and you used or any one of the thousands of text-link ad vendors... then you simply got caught with your pants down.

Because buying links from the Link Farms is a "no-no," if you bothered to read Google's Webmaster Guidelines. 

If your site has been affected by the Penguin Update or if you want to minimize any impact from a future Google update to Penguin, the Bartman has put together a top (5) thigns you must do to avoid getting on Google's Radar Screen.


1.) Get Real On Your Content

Nobody wants to read how good you are with horses. Nobody wants to see you posing with your dog. Nobody cares how well you know the local area. Nobody wants to read the same story you just copied and pasted from another site into your website or blog. All of this is real estate websites circa 1999. It's as dead as 8-track tape stereos are.  

You have to get real on writing content about things that buyers want to know about. What are the top (3) growth areas in your town? Where are the best schools? What's fun to do this weekend? What are the local attractions? If you write about things in local neighborhoods and let people start conversations about it, you'll do just fine.

Example: Keller Williams agents Dan and Traci Rochon have launched a new website forum. It's a bit like Trulia but has a local flavor for homes in the Virginia, Washington DC area and Maryland. It's just now getting launched at

2.) Buy Google AdSense Ads. Facebook Ads, too.

Google likes to see your website NOT as Google Centric, but more well rounded. Are you using Google AdSense ads? Are you buying Facebook ads? Do you rank about the same level on Yahoo or Bing?  How many incoming links do you have from ActiveRain or

Exercise: Take $250 a month and spread the love. $100 a month on Google.  $150 a month on Facebook. The tiny 125 X 125 box / text ads on the right side are important to do. If you'd like some help on this, I am always doing "Open Mike phone calls ,"on Fridays at 866-902-3600. Call me and get free questions to this important step above. 


3.), Spark Labs have to get fired. 

These are just two of the companies you need to fire if you are using them. is another. If the website SELLS you links with contextual kew words (KWs) in the link and they point to your site, and they point to Alice the Agent and Bob the Broker at Amazing Realty... then you are just asking for trouble.

Buying cheap links to point to your website is just not a good idea. It's building a house made from a deck of cards. There's no stability in doing this. 

Fire them now and you will greatly reduce the risk to Google placing your website on their radar screen for violating their Google Webmaster Guidelines and banishing you from a high natural page rank visibility. 

The right way to build links is to simply roll up your sleeves and get to work by posting relevant content on Facebook,,, and let's not forget

Have you created or joined a Real Estate group on  No?  Wow. Get started tomorrow. If you need pragmatic ideas on where else to go, remember my Open Mike Fridays. 866-902-3600. Call me or email and I'll send you a handful of ideas on what to do and where to go to help you start building up GREAT contacts and GOOD relevant links to point to your website or real estate blog. 


4.) /  -- Feed the Press

Press releases might seem a bit old fashioned, but they still work. I like and for $149 - $199 you can create and launch a nice PR of your own.

Here's the joint PR we released for our ABC Shark Tank client and VPiX - the company I work at. 

The PR was shown 30,337 times and was opened / read 929 times. Stats are below:


Did it work?:  You be the judge. Last week we jumped from 309 uniques a day to over 511 for three days when the PR ran.  I closed on $15,190 more in new sales.

There's no argument that a PR blast won't work. It worked like a charm.


5.) Website + IDX + WordPress Blog + an HTML 5 Mobile Website = MORE LEADS. 

The formula for success for today's Modern Real Estate Warrior is not hard to understand. The writing's been on the wall for two years now.

You need a clean, SEO friendly website that is usable. Steve Krug has a book called Don't Make Me Think. Get the 2nd edition from Amazon. Read it and follow it. 

IDX. You have to have one. If you cannot afford a custom one, then get one from It's $99 set up and as low as $59 a month with a Mobile IDX website, too.  Call me and I'll get you set up. 

The other issue is the lack of a LIVE account management team. Hosting with a managed service level with Rackspace is just $100 a month tacked onto nearly any plan. 

Real estate websites are a bit complicated today.  We have your website, your IDX, and a WordPress blog. In addition, you need another separate website just for your mobile users. 

If you don't have $250,000 to build a Real Estate APP like, Zillow or Trulia -- then you really need to create a mobile website so people can use your website on a tiny, 4-inch screen. For les then $500 bucks, you can create one and have it linked to your IDX. If you are not sure how to do this, call me or email me. 

Geet a managed service level with a complete team ready to help 24/7. You're a REALTOR and might not be a rocket scientist in XML, AJAX, PHP or WordPress. Most REALTOR's don't know their AJAX from a blue can of the powdered cleaning stuff.  This is okay.

Once the websites are set up and humming along, thigns will break from time to time and you can either;

(a) spend a fortune yelling at an expensive $75 an hour local Web guy or girl,

(b) trying to get the Indian service desk team to understand your problem and fix it or

(c) hire a U.S. account management, IT and server hosting team for $100 bucks a month.

Trust me, I've seen grown men and women kick and throw things across the room because of technology headaches. $100 a month added to any hosting service plan is a really cheap way to get 100% peace of mind. So when things go wrong, you call a toll free number. 7 days a week, 24-hours a day including holidays. Things get fixed instantly so you can go back to being a REALTOR. 

I recommend the 40-gig cloud server and the $100 monthly managed service plan. 

If anyone has questions on any of this, where to go on getting these, email me or call me. 


Posted by

Bart Wilson | CIO
Virtual Pictures Corp (VPiX®)  
iPhone: (719) 645-9940  |  Skype:  vpix360 


Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. 1~Judi Barrett 05/13/2012 04:43 AM
  2. Don Sabinske 05/13/2012 05:09 AM
  3. Kim Carlson 480-993-9384 05/13/2012 10:48 AM
  4. Eileen Burns 06/06/2012 01:19 AM
Real Estate Best Practices
Blogging & SEO
Tech Corner
Getting Visible on Google. How To's
google penguin update
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Gretchen Bradley
Realty Source Inc. - Roseville, CA

Fantastic advice & tips.  Thanks so much for the blog!

May 14, 2012 01:03 AM #43
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

Definitely this is great information.  We have never participated in buying link's and it looks quite clear that we are smart not to do so. 

May 14, 2012 01:05 AM #44
Tammy Emineth
Personal SEO - Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing - Marysville, WA
Content Marketer, SEO Teacher, Website Fixer

I do agree that Google is all about getting people to spend their money and I don't really agree with putting a lot of it into ads when you can get similar results from a little online elbow grease. Your points are pretty on target though and writing what people want to read is key ALL the time. Natural, consistent back links help greatly as does PR and article submissions. Guess I missed you last year but fun to keep up with simliar fields. Congrats on the feature.

May 14, 2012 02:44 AM #45
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc.
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc. - Camden, NJ
28 years in So. Jersey and the Greater Camden area

Nice post. This is really great information....thanks for sharing it!

May 14, 2012 03:15 AM #46
Deb Espinoza
Stage Presence Homes, San Diego Real Estate - Ramona, CA
GRI, Broker, SRS,ABR ePro, SFR, CNE

awesome tips Bart! Thanks for sharing them, can't wait to get started on tweaking my site and internet ads..

May 14, 2012 03:27 AM #47
Michael Murphy
Bienvenidos Real Estate - Parksville, BC

Thanks Bart, you might be getting a lot of phone calls. I for one have a number of questions I would like to pick your brain about. When is the best time to call?

May 14, 2012 03:42 AM #48
Jennifer Chiongbian
Specializing in all types of Manhattan apts & townhouses - Manhattan, NY
Real Estate Broker - NYC

Great info!  I went to to see if the pand affected me.  Thankfully not :)

May 14, 2012 04:24 AM #49
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Bart,  Lots of red meat here.  AR is lucky to have so many great SEO folks who are willing to share.

May 14, 2012 04:55 AM #50
Bartley Wilson
Virtual Pictures Corp. (VPiX) - Monument, CO
VR Software and 360° Solutions

Thanks everybody.  Buying links from anyone is simply a bad practice.  Google is proving there are no short cuts when it comes to getting relevant links to your site from natural, organic sources.  You have to do the math and you have to do the homework.

In addition, Google does not want you to see your site as a one trick pony being Google centric only. Meaning you need to be ranking about the same on Yahoo, Bing and using Social Media to point and link to your site, too. The fast way to do this of course is to buy $250 worth of ads a month. Google Ads, Facebook ads and even a broadcast tween or two on Twitter will help. 

Learn to post content on AR and link them to your site using the relevant KWs (key words). But drive people to different landing pages, too.  Don't just drive all eyeballs to your home page.  Driving all eyeballs and all KWs to one home page is a really stupid idea and can backfire, too.

Google allows for up to 3 KWs per page. So if you have a KW rich landing page for a neighborhood -- make the url, a friendly, KW rich long tail KW link.  

Like:    - NOTE this is not a home page. 

See this example?  Notice we have a folder / director called PLANO.  This is how Google bot looks at and PRERFERS your site. Yum Yum. Googlebot will eat this up.

The rest of the URL has the name of the neighborhood or development in thr URL. Try to follow this example in your website.  This is the long tail key word structure you hear about in the Boot Camp seminars, but they rarely teach you. Why? They don't want you competiting for one of the 10 natural SERP slots on Google.

For more details, email me or call me on open mike Fridays. 866-902-3600.

-- bartman 

May 14, 2012 05:11 AM #51
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Great tips, I guess you're back from hiding out. Don't agree about the Ads though - money down the toilet!

May 14, 2012 06:20 AM #52
Andre R. Aragon
Greater Tampa Real Estate Photographer - Tampa, FL
Real Estate Photographer

Cool Batman - Get in touch when you are in NY. I've been wanting to meet the Great and Powerful BOZ in person for a long, long time.

May 14, 2012 11:33 AM #53
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND

"dead as 8-track tape stereos are" Please say it isn't so.

May 14, 2012 11:49 AM #54
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Great tips.  I have been thinking about the need to get a mobile app.  My clients are already using them.

May 14, 2012 01:38 PM #55
Mary Stewart
HomeTrust Real Estate, LLC, Homes for Everyone - Wilsonville, OR
Wilsonville and Surrounding Portland Metro Areas

Such great information, I bookmarked it so I can re-read later.  So much to digest if you are a little technically challenged in the KW and SEOs and on and on.  Thanks

May 15, 2012 02:51 AM #56
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Bartley, welcome back.  Great post and very useful information.

May 15, 2012 04:11 AM #57
Kerry Jenkins
Prime Properties - Crestline, CA

I always get so upset when i see those websites at the tops of the search pages and they have no relevant content and are just landing pages with tons of links. Glad that Google finally did something about them! Thanks for the rest of the info, I have some new things to look into!

May 15, 2012 12:08 PM #58
Jack O'Neal
HomeSmart Elite Group - Gilbert, AZ

great post

May 16, 2012 01:29 AM #59
V Dr.
jump2top - Miami, FL

 GreetingsRealty is not working it says under construction. I did not know PPC ads effect organic rankings. I will do a deep research on that to see how much effect it has. Thanks

May 18, 2012 04:27 AM #60
Bartley Wilson
Virtual Pictures Corp. (VPiX) - Monument, CO
VR Software and 360° Solutions

We are changing the URL / domain to:


Sorry about that. A client mandated change.

- bart

May 18, 2012 04:45 AM #61
Edward Smith



We have highlighted your site as a great resource and we have a client
in a related industry to you that is looking to spend money on linking

We have budget immediately available to sponsor & advertise on the
most relevant sites in their industry and I would appreciate you
confirm the following:
Do you have text link advertising available? If so what are the costs?
And also if you have any other site so please let me know.

I look forward to your response and working with you in the future as a partner.

Kind Regards
Edward Smith

Feb 13, 2013 08:28 PM #62
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