Lately I've been working on my website to try and get it search engine optimized and on that note, a special thanks to Karen George, the Arizona Mortgage Lady. She's gone out of her way to provide some very valuable insight into how the search engines work and the importance of content and having your site properly structured in order to appear relevant to the most popular search terms.
One of the things that I've learned about the SEO thing is that the search engines give a lot of credence to size. That is the bigger a site is, the more relevant the search engines tend to think that it is. This also works on sites that are linked to yours. i.e. the bigger the site that links to yours, the more important the search engines tend to think that your site is. That said, I've been looking into how to get some of the bigger sites linked to my site. Well, who's the biggest kid on the block in regards to real estate web sites? Realtor.com.
Realtor.com A Rip-Off?
So, I went in for a visit. I called the site up and decided to see how I was presented on MY association's official website. The answer? Not very well. I searched the site for my name, Robert Mitchell and for my company's name, ValueList Real Estate Services, Inc. and came back with zero references. I did the "Search For a Realtor" and the only Realtors that showed up were ones who had paid to be featured. I later found out that I was indeed listed, but that I had to click on a minor link on their page, type in my specific information and then I would find my name listed with no links to my website or opportunity to email me or anything. The most minor sort of representation possible in my opinion.
To say the least I was extremely disappointed. I mean, isn't the National Association of Realtors supposed to be MY association? Isn't it there for ME and my fellow Realtors benefit? Who is this Move, Inc. company that manages the website for NAR? What exactly is their relationship?
This morning I decided to do a little research. I called Move, Inc. operating as Realtor.com and after sitting on
hold for 18 minutes, I was connected to a sales person. She was very nice and explained to me all of the wonderful options that I had to be able to stand out from the crowd of fellow Realtors.
I could purchase a package called "Showcase Listings" which would put me in the directory of Realtors that show up if a consumer does the search for a Realtor on the site. I asked how much this would be and was told that it was based upon how many listings I had carried last year. Well, for me the cost was ONLY going to be $362.00 a year since I had only carried 7 listings personally (I own ValueList and didn't take listings all that often last year) If I wanted to do the showcase listings for my entire company (which did have a fairly significant number of listings) then it was going to cost me over $2,000.00!
Also, if I wanted I could purchase banner advertising for St. Louis County for $3,341.00 a year. If I so desired, I could purchase a website from them for $34.95/month, but it would not be linked to Realtor.com unless I purchased the showcase listing package. I had to give them credit, they have put a lot of thought in how to separate Realtors money from the Realtor's pocketbook!
I pointed out to the sales lady that this was all kind of pricey and her response was, "Well, we are the NUMBER 1 real estate website. I asked her how she thought that had come to be and she said, "Because of our association with the National Association of Realtors". Hmmm, sounds like a pretty sweetheart type of relationship!
I decided to check Move, Inc. out a bit more. I went to Hoovers.com, a business research website, and looked Move, Inc. up. It turns out that Move, Inc. specialized in real estate related websites through it's association with the National Association of Realtors and several other real estate related organizations such as the National Home Builders Association and that they've been doing pretty freaking well! Last year Move, Inc. had a gross profit of $225,100,000.00 THAT'S 225 MILLION DOLLARS!!!!! Their net profit after depreciation was still over $22 million dollars. Pretty nice duty if you can get it, ya think? If you like, here is the link to their Annual Income Statement flied with the SEC http://www.hoovers.com/move/--ID__60013,period__A--/free-co-fin-income.xhtml
The future looks pretty freaking bright too! Here is their earning outlook for next year http://www.hoovers.com/move/--ID__60013,ticker__MOVE--/free-co-fin-earnings.xhtml
I don't know? I'm all for making a buck, but does it seem wrong for OUR association to allow a separate "for-profit" corporation to be making this kind of money off of us? Makes me wonder, what are the true connections here? Is this all on the up and up? If we were to follow these $225,000,000, where would they end up? I'm not an investigative reporter, but if any of you know any, maybe this is something that should be looked into? Dan Rather, where are you now???
I've emailed Pat Vredevoogd, 2007 NAR President @ email@example.com and Dick Gaylord, 2008 President Elect of NAR, @ firstname.lastname@example.org to see what they have to say,but have not received a reply as of yet (to be fair, it's been less than a day)
So Activerainers, am I tripping here? What do you think? I'd love to know. I smell a rat! Let me know if you do too!
R.B. "Bob" Mitchell