SEO Worst Practices – what not to do…

An innocent question regarding SEO for real estate posted in the real estate tech support group I am a member of resulted in a few very interesting responses.  A few contributed by John Smith [name changed], from what I gather a realtor and maybe also a coach (although I could be wrong) demanded special attention, and made me feel compelled to address them in a more public forum than just the thread in question.

In an attempt to offer SEO advice to a new to SEO agent, John recommended the following, and I quote: [names changed and link redacted to protect the guilty, emphasis mine]

” Don’t forget to keyword the number one agent’s name, company and website in the area you target and do a nice blog about how wonderful they are and you will own their search results and they will thank you for having such a nice blog about them. Also; special events work good to blog on for search but provide links. Jeopardy SEO rocks as well; think in terms like you are answering a question on jeopardy; What is a short sale, what is an reo etc. Hardly anyone knows the jeopardy angle. Work the apex of the longtail and not the top for more serious buyer’s.

Here is an example of how I have the top 3 results for one of the top agent’s in our area, note the titles and keywords, I keep it cordial and they appreciate it. The idea is to own virtually every search anyone could possibly make for real estate, even things like movers you want to be at the top. Hope this helps: [link]

I clicked the link provided and lo and behold, a Google search for a specific top ranking agent in his market, let’s call her Jane, does indeed bring up John’s content in the top three positions.  Two of them videos and one a blog post on his site.  John claims that this is a standard practice across all industries and I assume honestly thinks that there is nothing wrong with this practice.

SEO advice - Don't Steal, esp from lions

For what it’s worth, here is my take on it:

Even if this sort of hijacking of one’s pr was not frowned upon by Google, it would still be wrong on many levels, too many to go into in detail.  One of them, of course, being the basic indecency this underscores, but heck, we are all pragmatists now and decency is apparently a matter open to interpretation.

So let’s say you engage in this sort of practice, and Google ignores it and so you are getting away with it for years.  What is a consumer searching for that specific agent (in this case Jane, who looks nothing like John, if only due to gender differences), supposed to think or do once they land on that top search result?  Are they really going to all of a sudden decide that they weren’t interested in doing business with or contacting Jane, and will now call John Smith instead?  I am truly confused why anyone would think that this sort of thing is not only ok (ethically and Google TOS-wise speaking, of course), but actually useful.

So for all the agents that might run across a recommendation of this nature, please think about what you are doing and the image you are putting across, and if that doesn’t mean anything to you, think about the small fact that if you do get reported for hijacking someone else’s PR – you will be delisted, no questions asked, as well you should be.

You’ll also be looked at as a schmuck by your peers, as well you should be.

And if you happen to be someone who’s page rank is being hijacked in this manner, by them doing a complimentary post about you – feel free to hit that report button.  Don’t let the complimentary or congratulatory nature of the post deter you from analyzing why anyone in their right mind would be giving public props to their competition in this particular manner, and then check the Google Results for you name.  It should paint a pretty accurate picture of what is going on.  They are not trying to be nice – they are hijacking your work. Treat it as such.


Photo by kibuyu, via Flickr Creative Commons.

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11 Responses to SEO Worst Practices – what not to do…
  1. Maureen McCabe
    May 9, 2012 | 7:18 am

    This IS the post that sent me to the tech group on Facebook! It is longer ago than I would have thought.

    Does this practice … or “marketing method” have a name? I think I may have run into it in the same tech group on a post about the San Diego person who has the Prudential website with Keller Williams contact forms and all of Roberta’s blog content.

  2. Art Hotes
    August 12, 2011 | 5:11 pm

    It’s disgusting what some people think is being creative or good for business! Highly unethical to say the least!!

    Good post. Thank you!

    • Inna Hardison
      August 12, 2011 | 5:14 pm

      Hi Art. That’s pretty much my take on it as well:-) Thanks for stopping by!

      • Art Hotes
        August 14, 2011 | 1:26 am

        One of these days, Inna, I want to re-connect with you guys! Thank you sooo much for your help on getting me rolling at my startup!

        I’m a fan of HA Media! 🙂

  3. Maureen McCabe
    August 12, 2011 | 1:21 pm

    There was a “WP guru” in Dayton Ohio who was teaching a class a few years back that promoted this concept. A friend took the class. The instructor owns an advertising company. He’s pretty obnoxious from my experience so perhaps I was already biased against his advice. He was promoting this concept at the time our brokerage was suing a competitor for cyber trademark napping… there is a term for it. Can not remember it. For stealing traffic by using urls based on trademarked terms.

    Most re agents are not going to know their traffic is being siphoned now but there are better ways to create your own traffic IMHO.

    • Inna Hardison
      August 12, 2011 | 2:04 pm

      Maureen – doesn’t surprise me. Sadly. And yes, there is a better way to score – only this one seems sooooo much simpler.

  4. Brad Yzermans
    August 12, 2011 | 12:41 pm

    Interesting. As a mortgage lender, I was planning to write blog posts highlighting my referral partners who have little to no presence online using their cookie cutter templated real estate sites.

    Would you consider this a bad idea? Because I wouldn’t really be highjacking their PR….they have no PR! I would actually be helping them gain page views and traffic by featuring them on a blog post….not to mention giving them a nice in-post content back link.

    • Inna Hardison
      August 12, 2011 | 2:03 pm

      Brad – it all depends. There is generally nothing wrong with an authentic referral directory (i.e. you featuring businesses that you would actually refer business to). Of course I’d assume they’d all be in your neck of the woods as well. So by all means. I’d also guess your referral partners are not your direct competition, right?

    • Jon Hardison
      August 12, 2011 | 2:17 pm

      Exactly Inna! I think the issue isn’t that you feature great businesses. Everyone does that all the time. The issue is whether or not you’re trying to take something from them. Whether your intent is to forward traffic, or to divert traffic.

      If you keyword your post(s) with the intent swipe ranking and traffic from an unrelated business and divert to you or your “buddies”, you are doing something wrong. If you’re doing it to divert traffic from a related business of which you are NOT a member, you are doing something wrong. If the idea is to merely make your visitors aware of your awesome friends, you’re fine, but if that is the case, there is NO NEED TO STUFF YOU POST WITH IRRELEVANT KEYWORDS. Once you do that, it’s diverting traffic unnaturally. After-all searchers are looking for them. Not you.

  5. Chuck Bartok
    August 12, 2011 | 12:49 am

    Glad I cam upon this post through Twitter.
    There is absolutely NO NEED for anyone to resort to this chicanery in order to enjoy top position in any search.

    A little planning and proper application can put anyone in the top page of all search engines. Contact me for information.
    Must be ready to APPLY diligence

    • Inna Hardison
      August 12, 2011 | 12:54 am

      Chuck – while I am all for link love and all that – this seemed just a tad self promotional, so I removed the link to your site. Nothing personal. I appreciated the sentiments, just not the pitch. And no, I don’t believe a little planning and proper application can put anyone in the top page of all search engines, unless the keywords one is going for are essentially meaningless.

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