You're listening to the REI Marketing Nerds podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of Adwords Nerds, a high tech digital agency focusing exclusively on helping real estate investors like you get more leads and deals online, outsmart your competition and live a freer, more awesome life. And now, your host, Dan Barrett.
Dan: All right, hello, everybody and welcome to this week’s REI Marketing Nerds podcast. As always, this is Daniel Barrett here from AdwordsNerds.com. How are you? I hope you are having an awesome week. This episode is going to be a really interesting one because I am going to relay to you this week three times I have been absolutely dead wrong about search engine optimization for real estate investors in the last year, and I am doing this episode because I’m in the process right now, as you hear this, I am working on completely revamping our search engine optimization training. [0:01:21.6]
We’ve had a coaching program for a long time that turned into the current sort of iteration, which is a 12-month program, called the REI Marketing Mastery Program. It’s really for investors that want to build out their own online marketing channels in multiple ways, using multiple channels. So people are doing Adwords, we’re helping people do Facebook; we’re helping people do SEO. We’re going to help people do YouTube. It’s going to be really, really in-depth and not like anything else, and part of that program is that we have these multiple trainings, these real deep dive multiple day-long trainings on Adwords and Facebook and SEO, and so we always base those trainings based on what our team is doing, so people hire the team, investors hire our team to do their marketing for them, and the way that I build the coaching materials, is I go to the teams, and I say, what is working right now? [0:02:22.9]
So our Adwords training isn’t about what Adwords was doing 5 years ago, and it’s not about what I learned when I learned to do Adwords. It’s what is the data telling us right now, and that’s exactly what we teach. That’s our Adwords training. We revamped that in the beginning of the year at the Search Click Convert Boot Camp and had a bunch of success with it. It’s been a really popular program. Now we’re doing the same thing for SEO. So long story short, I’ve been revamping my training for SEO, and when I first did the coaching program module on SEO, I think it was the absolute best one in the industry bar none, I think it went deeper than anything else. [0:03:03.8]
I think it was more realistic, it was highly tactical, but it had been like four years since I had done it, and so in that time, we’d actually hired and grew an SEO department. We have a full-time SEO team. So of you may know Patti Dalessio, and you may know her from various Facebook Lives that I’ve done in the REI Marketing Nerds Facebook Group, and I’m probably going to bring Patti on the podcast to do episodes of a show that we used to do that was called SEO and IPA, so you’ll be hearing more of her. We also have Jeremiah, who is our full-time content strategist, link-building strategist, and they’ve been working full time for years on this process, so I went to them, and I said, hey, I’m updating my SEO training, and I would like to get a sense of what’s working now, and I had an outline all ready of what this program was going to be. I had it all ready, what I was going to teach, yada, yada, and I was kind of looking to do I need to tweak this, it’s not… Google Plus isn’t around anymore and whatever the thing I thought I was going to have change was, and after spending a couple hours with the team, I realized there are massive, massive differences in what works for SEO today versus what worked for SEO even three or four years ago. [0:04:25.4]
The amount of change in this marketing channel has been incredibly high. It’s been incredibly rapid, and even for someone like me – this is what I do full time, I’m constantly reading SEO blogs and tutorials – I realized that my picture of what SEO had to look like for real estate investors was totally inaccurate, and part of the problem - and the team kind of reflected this back to me – part of the problem is that what most people teach about SEO doesn’t work for real estate investing. [0:05:00.3]
And, in fact, if you go to the absolute best, and I mean this, the best SEO trainings, general SEO training is out there. Like, if you go to Moz, for example, or Distilled, these companies that I really respect and do really incredible work, what they teach is not what actually works for real estate investing, and it just is the case that real estate investing is a weird industry.
It’s a weird market place. This is the exact same thing that we see with paid traffic where the stuff that you learn in like “paid traffic” school isn’t what actually happens or works when a real estate investor gets into Google Ads or Facebook Ads and starts running campaigns. They see something totally different, and it’s just a fact of the matter that for whatever reason, we’re in this really weird industry that doesn’t behave like other industries do, and so most of the educational content out there is just inaccurate, and that’s reality of the world that we live in. [0:06:04.3]
If you are looking like I am to create a training in this space, it’s going to really teach people search engine optimization that works to find motivated sellers, you actually have to go out there and learn from experience, and luckily, we have a full-time team that just does this all day every day, so when they came back with their feedback on my program, I realized, oh, like, I’m wrong on a whole bunch of major issues! So this episode is just going to be me owning up to this and talking about three specific technical issues that I was dead wrong on, and to be clear, you’re going to get a lot of value just out of understanding these three things I’m going to tell you, but the most valuable thing of all, my over-arching point here, is that everybody can be wrong. Everybody can be wrong. If I’m going to be doing this full time professionally, this is what I do, it’s what I’ve done for almost a decade now, and I’m wrong, you can certainly be wrong about things that you heard from another investor or from another company that just aren’t going to reflect what reality is because even if you’re right in the moment, the universe around us is changing so rapidly, this marketing world around us changes so rapidly, that even if you’re right today, you could be wrong tomorrow. [0:07:23.1]
So I’m not calling anyone out and saying that anybody out there is spreading dishonest information. I don’t believe that. What I’m saying is that you need to constantly make sure that you’re challenging your own assumptions and putting yourself in a position where you can be proven wrong because it’s only by being proven wrong that you actually learn and grow. If everything is exactly what you already think, you’re not learning anything. You’re not expanding. You’re not becoming a better investor or a better marketer. You have to constantly be pitting yourself against reality and saying am I right? So, without further ado, let’s get into the three specific instances, not the only instances I will say, but 3 specific instances that I have been wrong about SEO for investors in the past year. So let’s get into this. [0:08:10.2]
One of these things that is very close to my heart, I’ve been developing a content strategy for real estate investors, working on this for a long time, and I thought having many blog posts would help my site rank in Google. I have been doing this for my own business. I have been posting on our blog very frequently, talking about real estate investing, talking about real estate investing marketing for real estate investor clients. I’ve been designing a service that does this, but I went to the SEO team, and they said actually, no, we don’t make a lot of blog posts for our clients, and I said, well, why not? Because obviously like the more frequently we update the site, the more pieces of content we have, the more pieces of content that Google is going to pick up and rank, right? This is the idea. Well, the problem with this comes down to the fact that in real estate investing, there aren’t that may keywords that actually drive traffic, and, in fact, when we work for the SEO clients, a lot of times they think we’re going to have this huge amount of keyword; most of the time we just focus on three. [0:09:11.4]
Literally three keywords because Google is pretty smart, and so it’s like, yeah, it’s sell house fast and sell my house quick and companies that buy houses and we buy ugly houses. These are all different keywords, but in reality, Google gets that they’re all about the same thing, and so if you rank for three keywords, chances are, if they’re relatively well targeted, you’re going to rank for all the others.
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Dan: So there are not a lot of keywords to go around. Real estate investing just in general is not what we would call a long tail market. Now if you accept that that’s the case, what happens when you produce a whole bunch of different blog posts all targeting similar keywords? What ends up happening is that Google doesn’t understand which ones to rank. They’re all kind of the same, but they’re all different. But they kind of have the same amount of keywords, they’re all about the same thing, they all tend to be generally the same amount of words, they’re all the same length. They’re all basically the same quality, but they’re all about the same basic thing. They’re all competing to rank for the same thing. And so what ends up happening is that you end up dividing Google’s rank equity, basically how Google thinks about your website among many different assets rather than focusing all your attention on ranking one. [0:11:07.2]
And so ironically, the more content that you have, not always but some of the time, the more content that you have, the harder it is for any one of those pages to actually rank and drive you traffic. It’s a really good example of something that SEO companies want to tell to do because it’s activity. It’s doing something, it’s activating. It gives you the sense that you’re getting the bang for your buck, but when you look at what actually ranks, content doesn’t help. Now I’m not saying that content is bad because I don’t think it’s bad, and I do still pursue content strategy for my clients and for myself, but we use that primarily to drive social traffic, not to drive organic traffic, and that’s a really, really critical piece that you have to understand. Blogging a couple times a week is not really going to help you rank. [0:12:01.2]
It’s only going to help you get social traffic, and that’s if you have a strategy for sharing it, promoting it, and doing all that stuff. Now the second time that I wrong about SEO this year is this whole picture of many keywords versus a few keywords, and I talked about this just now where I said, look, like every site is going to have a lot of keywords. It’s like we might be targeting a hundred keywords spread out over the entire website, we might have different pages targeting different keywords, so I might have a sell your house fast page, and I might have a we buy houses page. Those pages are going to be optimized for those keywords, and I’m going to have a bunch of keywords that drive traffic to the site. Well, when you actually look at traffic patterns, and this is something that we had to track manually across all our clients because if you look at keyword tools, which given you national traffic estimates, generally what they’re going to show you is like there’s a top 20% of all keywords that drives most of the traffic, and then it kind of trails off from there where you get keywords that don’t drive much traffic but are still there, but when you zoom in on the local market, which keyword tools don’t really let you do, when you zoom in on the local market and you look at what’s actually driving traffic to investor websites, it’s very, very, very, very few keywords. [0:13:20.3]
And this gets back to our strategy of targeting three keywords across an entire website rather than a hundred. Because when we try to target a hundred different keywords, we end up polluting our signal. We create noise, that then Google then uses this as a reason not to rank us as aggressively, but if you can go after say let’s say we buy houses and just crush it, chances are Google is going to show you for all the other stuff too. Which is why if you do a bunch of different Google searches, we buy houses, sell your house fast, companies that buy houses, whatever your thing is, the same websites tend to show up, and there may be a little bit difference like somebody is first here and third there, whatever. [0:14:01.6]
There might be some difference, but there is a ton of overlap, and that’s because to Google, most of these keywords are essentially the same in terms of what that person is looking for, so they return mostly the same websites for everyone. That was a huge paradigm shift for me, and it makes actually SEO strategy a lot easier rather than more complicated.
The last piece that I was totally wrong on is the role of regional pages, and this is sort of funny because this is something that Google directly tells you, but if you go to Google’s guidelines for SEO, Google doesn’t tell you how to rank your site. They don’t reveal how their algorithm works, but they do put out guides for people that want to improve their website performance, and one of the things that they say is no gateway pages, and what they mean by a gateway page is just like a page that is meant to rank for a specific keyword and then shoo people in different directions. A good example of this is like if you have a website, and this is very common across all website systems for investors whether using investor InvestorCarrot or REI Black Book or whatever, and they’ll have like you’ll have your home page, and then you’ll have a thing that says like service areas, and every single service area, it’s like Hartford, Connecticut; New Haven, Connecticut; Windsor Locks or whatever. Each one of these is a different page. Well those pages are gateway pages. [0:15:24.8]
They’re essentially the same as every other page, but they’re supposed to rank for that one particular area and act as a gateway to the rest of the site, and Google specifically says they do not want you to do this. They consider this to be low quality, they consider it to be not adding value, they’re not going to rank these pages, etc., etc. And so for a long time, I was thinking, okay, what we would do is pursue a keyword-based strategy. So rather than targeting a geographic area, I might have a sell your house fast page or we buy houses page or we buy ugly houses page, etc., and I’m optimizing those pages for that keyword and including my service areas in it. [0:16:10.2]
That’s what I thought would work because, again, Google says no gateway pages. Well, if you look at what actually ranks, it is almost always the gateway pages. For real estate investors, it’s almost always those geographical pages, and it’s nearly impossible to get other pages to rank over those regional pages. This is a real good example of Google doing the polar opposite of what they tell you to do, and if you go to any SEO training, they’re going to tell you the same thing because, of course, you base your SEO training on what Google says, but when you look at what Google actually does, it’s very different. This literally blew my mind, and it’s a perfect example of why I am working so hard to base everything that I put in this podcast, everything that I put in our Facebook group, everything that I do with my coaching students, and everything we do with our service clients, and base all of those strategies and tactics on real world experience on what we actually see, on what we test and what we get back, and I think if we can do that, we can move towards a place where, yeah, I’m not going to be right all the time. [0:17:28.6]
No one is every going to be right all the time, but we are trying to be right most of the time and right at a level to which I don’t think our competitors can really face, and I want to pass that advantage to you.
So I want to say thank you for listening to this podcast. Thank you for following along with us and being a part of this thing that we are trying to do at Adwords Nerds because it is really fun, and it’s constantly challenging, and it’s constantly changing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. [0:17:59.6]
By the way, if you want to keep in touch with us, come to our Facebook Group. It’s totally free. You can get there at AdwordsNerds.com/group. That will forward you to the Facebook Group, and as always, you can get Show Notes and all sorts of other podcast episodes and blog posts and everything over at AdwordsNerds.com/podcast.
All right, I’ll talk to you guys next week, and let me know if you have any questions about SEO or anything that’s on your mind, let me know because I think I’m going to be bringing Patti on in future episodes of this podcast. We have like really fun chemistry where we taste beers, we talk about SEO. I’m really looking forward to those. So if you have a question, shoot it over to me in the Facebook Group or a Facebook message. I’d be happy to answer you on the air.
All right, everybody, talk to you soon! Bye!
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