Real Estate Technology with Zillow

Eye catching title isn’t it?

I get emails (and phone calls) all the time from someone or some company proclaiming they can get my site top ranking on Google. I know people that have paid hundreds of dollars for these “services”.  Do they have top ranking in Google?  Yes they do!

Is it worth anything? 


This is a scam folks, plain and simple.  The people that claim they can get you top ranking in Google are preying on ignorance.  There are several “techniques” they employ to get these top rankings.
  1. They will target obscure search terms.  If your site is already indexed in Google, all they have to do is either add an obscure phrase to a page, or pick one (or part of one) that already exists. For example, I have this sentence on my home page at “The number of homes listed in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) has increased to over 46,000.”

    If you do a Google search for “MLS 46,000” guess what site comes up #1 out of 40,700 results?

    Cool! I’m #1 on Google, beating out 40,699 other sites!

    Big deal. Who in their right mind is ever going to enter “MLS 46,000” into Google if they are looking for a Phoenix real estate agent? Being #1 for this search term is worthless.

    Let me put this on your home page, “Dhnifenka wipbnfdcljk”.  I’ll have your site ranked #1 in Google within a week for the search term Dhnifenka wipbnfdcljk, guaranteed!

  2. They will install a modified browser or spyware on your computer.  Devious programmers can write code that “hijacks” Google search results and forces your site to the top. But the key thing here is these hijacked results only show up on YOUR computer! So I sign up with one of these bozos, download their “system” and lo and behold I type “Phoenix Real Estate” into my browser and I’m suddenly at #1.  In my browser only.  In the browsers of everyone else on the planet, I’m actually #31 for that search term (which isn’t bad out of 61,900,000 results).
  3. They will set you up on a pay per click (PPC) program.  If you’re willing (and can afford it) you CAN have your PPC ad at the top of the Google “Sponsored Links” (the stuff off to the right of Google search results).  “Sponsored” links are links that people pay Google to advertise. The more you pay, the higher your ad is listed. Pay enough and you are indeed guaranteed #1 results. But be warned, for popular terms like “Phoenix Real Estate” expect to pay a LOT to get #1. These folks may be paying, $30 - $50 (or more) every time someone clicks on their sponsored link! (Edited to add: PPC is not a scam, it's legit. But some companies will sneak it in on you if you're not careful and understand EXACTLY what it is they are doing.)

  4. They employ “black hat” techniques.  This is probably the worst trick of the bunch. There are certain things Google frowns upon.  Doorway pages, keyword stuffing, hidden text and more.   Utilizing black hat techniques may indeed result in your site getting ranked #1 for something. For a short time.  Then when Google finds out about it (and they will) they will BAN your site for the rest of time.  Don’t expect to just be able to tell Google “but I paid someone to do this. I had no idea it would get me banned”.  They don’t want to hear it and won’t listen. YOU are responsible for the content of your pages. If you let someone modify your site and they use black hat techniques, YOU are responsible even if you had no clue what they were doing.

  5. They do nothing. Then there are the companies that will simply cash your check and do absolutely nothing. Once they’ve cashed enough checks, they’ll unplug their website, start a new site, and reel in more victims.

The bottom line folks is BE CAREFUL.  There are some great SEO (Search Engine Optimization) companies out there. But there are more fly-by-night ones. Think about this. If some company is going to promise me #1 ranking on Google, how is it that dozens, hundreds or tens of thousands of other agents out there are getting the same promise? There is only one #1 spot for any given search term...

Remember this age old saying, it applies to these kinds of claims – If it sounds to good to be true, it is.

Comments (14)

Mrs. Sheri Ann Johnson, GRI
Tropic Shores Realty - Spring Hill, FL
Great information! I learn something everyday on AR. Thank you! Any suggestions on a good SEO company to create my website?
Aug 20, 2006 07:17 AM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
Very interesting and relevant article - especially in how you'll show up on your own computer as #1.
Aug 20, 2006 07:23 AM
Christopher H
REAL ESTATE - Shelby Township, MI
I was contacted by a search engine opt company with the guarantee.  They tried to tell me to use some worthless search terms.  I didn't go for it.
Aug 20, 2006 07:57 AM
Gerhard Ade
RSVP Real Estate - Seattle, WA
What sets me apart, will set you apart.
Ade HouseI may have left this comment in some other words in another discussion on AR: Optimization of a website can't be an afterthought. A site and every page of a site gets optimized by the relevance of the content to the desired keyword(s). Every word, from page title to headings to body copy to captions to alternative text for pictures has to reflect the subject matter. Obviously, the selection of the keyword(s) is critical. It's unrealistic to expect a high ranking for the keyword "homes." A better choice would be "homes in xyz neighborhood."
Aug 20, 2006 10:04 AM
Toby Barnett
KW North Sound - Marysville, WA
Toby Barnett

That is totally true...when they call em ask if i would like to be number for my terms it tells me they havent even doen there homework. Because the search terms they show me I'm already number 1, lol. PPC is a waste of money as well. It is also funny when a company calls trying to sell you a website when you already have one....i have fun with those...or when people ask for my mailing address and info so they can mail me stuff for a website. I tell them to go to our website and get all the info from there...hehhe that usually gets their attention :P

Aug 20, 2006 10:26 AM
Teri Isner
Keller Williams Realty at the Lakes - Orlando, FL
So many of these programs are such shams..I especially like the usual line opener ...would you like to do more business?  I always ask is this in addition to the 182 web leads we got in the last 3 days I think with 60 coming in everyday we are doing just fine.  Thanks for calling but our team of 4 guys in India keep us right where we want to be.
Aug 20, 2006 10:29 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn
I always ask them "so how did you find me"?
Aug 20, 2006 11:38 AM
Jay Thompson
Zillow - Seattle, WA

Sheri Ann wrote: "Any suggestions on a good SEO company to create my website?"

It kind of depends on what you are looking for. Real Estate Webmasters does some great custom and semi-custom sites. (they also have a great SEO forum).

Most of the larger template providers (Advanced Access, Point 2 Agent, etc) have people that specialize is working with those products. One of the best for Point 2 sites is Kathleen Allardyce (an Active Rain member. She does more than Point 2 also..). I'm sure there are AA experts out there too. 

You can also go to the AR forums and ask about SEO companies. I'm sure you'll get responses.

Aug 20, 2006 12:26 PM
Sherri Berry
Reliant Realty, Murfreesboro - Murfreesboro, TN
Murfreesboro TN Homes & Real Estate

The best call I've had was from a company that wanted me to pay $500+ a year for an ad on their webpage which was suppose to pull up in the top spot for people searching for the term Murfreesboro TN Relocation.   It would be great exposure for me and increase traffic to my website through this ad which would get top reocognition.

I was at my computer when the guy called so I went to Google and typed in Murfreesboro TN Relocation.  His website was no where to be found.  But, my website was number four on page one.  When I pointed this out to him he politely hung up.   

Aug 20, 2006 01:03 PM
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

I love to get calls from these guys when I have a few minutes to spare.

It's usually very evident after I ask them 2 or 3 questions that they're pretty clueless about their product and rely on their customer's greater ignorance to try and sell them something.

Sheri Ann wrote: "Any suggestions on a good SEO company to create my website?"

Often good webmasters and SEO companys are 2 different entities. does my website and has been doing my SEO for many years now.

Aug 20, 2006 02:40 PM
Eileen Landau

Thanks usual, you're right on the ball.

I, too, love to "play" with these guys. Especially since I've had a computer since 1989; a website since 2000; and...all the other goodies that these youngsters don't even understand.

But, I'm sure that there's a lot of "ego" agents out there who will pay whatever they can to be #1.

Aug 20, 2006 04:17 PM
Peter Andres - Lic. in FL & NY GRI,SRES,CNE
REALTOR - The Villages, FL
I wish I could go a day without geting an e-mail from an SEO. I would also be really happy not geting a call on my cellphone from one of their salespeople.
Aug 25, 2006 04:03 PM
Tracy Santrock
Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. - Cary, NC
Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge
It's pretty scary but true...........Let the buyer(of SEO) beware!
Mar 23, 2007 10:03 AM
Bob The Hook Up Guy
Go to for your chance at winning $1,000 every month! Also check out "Bob The Hook Up Guy" on "You Tube".
Jun 15, 2007 01:56 PM