Friday, January 30, 2009

Are Old School Linking Strategies Still Relevant?

The short answer is yes. Typically, websites have used linking to build page rank and compete for search terms. Over the past number of years, those search terms (across the board) have become more and more competitive. Linking to build site traffic is harder and harder. But one area of linking that is very effective and relatively easy is the area of ORM or reputation management.

Not a lot of people take ORM seriously and thus competing in search for your name is easier, in general, than competing for broad search terms. Obviously ORM for search is harder, the more common your name is, but using links properly can catapult rankings for even very common names.

I wrote a basic background on linking over the our StepRep ORM blog this afternoon. Next week, I'll be supplying some concrete strategies for building a personal search profile.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Traditional Models and New Media

I was reading Seth Godin's latest post called That's a Special Case and it got me thinking about traditional businesses and online models. He says that everything is online because there is a different experience, different expectations and different rules.

I don't think there is such a clear line in the sand. Traditional businesses are being affected by online models because user expectations are changing. The problem is that the 'online user' defines almost everyone. Search created a greater expectation and desire for instant gratification (instant results). I think that social media played a big part in the US election. I think you can say that social media is creating a larger desire to participate and be heard. Social media is creating a greater expectation around openness,transparency and truth.

The mobile world is creating a more connected individuals. People are now always connected to their online tools.

The game is changing now for all businesses because the mobile Internet and social media are changing they way people do things and what they expect. It's no longer a matter of companies 'needing' to get online or have a website because other businesses do. They need to recognize how technology is changing expectations and behavior.


Advertising and Promotion in 2009 and Beyond

I tossed up a post on our StepRep blog about Belkin paying people to write positive reviews. I really hate the practice - it's just generally bad form, but it had me thinking how it's really different from other forms of advertising. How do you think advertising is going to change in the future. Love to hear some thoughts from others. Join the conversation.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Yahoo Real Estate Getting it Right... But Could Be Better

A couple weeks ago, Yahoo! Real Estate launched and new and improved real estate section. I've spent a lot of my time in the past few years thinking about real estate search so I'm going to fire away some of my likes and dislikes.

1. First, it has a nice homey look and feel on the front landing page. This is the way a real estate site should look:

2. The slider bars for narrowing search criteria are really the best way I've seen for effectively narrrowing search criteria (Roost does a nice job using these too).

3. The Map Search on the other hand is in sufficient IMHO. My best experience with a map is when I can select an area either with cross hairs ( or draw a polygon !) and then use advanced search options like the sliders to refine the home price and size criteria for that area. To be perfectly honest, the vast majority of map implementations just make my life more frustrating. They are too clucky and slow.

4. When I search down into an area, such as Denver, when I click on the top menu to find foreclosures, or REALTORS®, I'm taken back to a landing page for that section, rather than foreclosures and REALTORS® in Denver. You have to maintain the user's context.

5. I love the image overlay telling you how many photos a listing has. The most important content for people searching real estate is photo and video content. So part b) to this point is that I don't think Yahoo! should be displaying listings without photos. They are useless to home hunters. Moreover, a listing with no photos certainly should NOT be a featured listing. It's the Prudential agent's fault here, but it makes Yahoo! look bad.

6. This could start a huge never ending debate, but if Yahoo wanted to fully support it's content, it's search engine should return results from Yahoo first. Why wouldn't they? I don't mean to get into the whole natural, organic, unfiltered, and egalitarian virtues of search results. Yahoo! search should return content on their portal first if available.

7. YRE should filter out duplicate listings better. This one in particular doesn't even come from different sources. They both link back to metrolist!

8. Spare me the click through! As a user, I can't figure out if YRE is part of a search engine or a portal. It integrates a lot of information in one place like a portal would but then sends me off to the broker portals for more info. In the complicated real estate business, this seems like a reasonable compromise to YRE and real estate brokers, but as a user, it frustrates the hell out of me.

So if the appropriate phone number and email address show up, why is it necessary to send me on a mad user experience nightmare to view listings and see all the info for each listing on hundreds of different sites? Furthermore, if the agents or brokers recieve the phone calls and emails and also get analytics to show their clients, it seems like it shouldn't matter where the view is ...
You see the problem it creates for the user in the image above. If you have any doubts whether you can create a comprehensive portal with all the listing information available, one only needs to look to

... So just a quick look from my perspective. Some things can be fixed easily here, others are symptomatic of larger issues.