Prize Raffled to Eco Preservation Society

The prize valued at $5,000 is being raffled, with the proceeds to benefit the Eco Preservation Society in Costa Rica.

You can buy raffle tickets starting at $35 a ticket on Eric’s Website.

We Have A Winner

It’s official, the winner is (drum roll please) the Eric Blackwell Team. The contest originator, Eric Bramlett, announced it after doing a quick check of the Google datacenters.

The Last Day Of The Contest

Less than 24 hours to go, and it looks like Google shows Eric Blackwell is still in the lead. More than anything, I am happy Eric has taken the high road with this contest and has used this contest as an opportunity to educate people, build relationships, and raise money for a good cause.

They are donating the money to the Eco Preservation Society of Costa Rica. Having personally been to Costa Rica and discussed some of the environmental issues they face, I think this is a wonderful thing.

Thanks to Morgan for making this possible and props to Eric for doing a good deed.

The Quiet Before The Storm

There are only a few weeks left in the contest, and things have gotten pretty quiet. At this point, it would be extremely difficult to break into the ranks of the top 10 and have a serious chance at winning the prize. Only someone with some seriously high powered websites would be able to do so.

Thus, with the contestants relatively well established, I know that it is only a matter of time before the last minute deal making begins. People will negotiate for last minute links and possibly redirects. Right now the leading official contestant is still Eric Blackwell‘s team, and he has offered one more spot on the team to whoever makes the largest contribution before the end of the contest. However, ironically Ardell‘s controversial entry is back at the #1 ranking at the moment.

Another Charitable Contestant

I am very happy to learn that the current contest leader, Eric Blackwell’s Team, has also announced that they will donate the contest proceeds to charity, which could be in the thousands of dollars, to the ECO PRESERVATION SOCIETY in Costa Rica. Considering that they are currently #1 on Google as of today, that is a very noble gesture, especially since they have a fair shot at succeeding. I applaud and support their efforts!!!

The Power of The People

From what I understand, optimizing a website for search engines can be broken into two main categories:

1) Onsite Optimization
2) Offsite Optimization

Now onsite optimization is the part that you control. The primary goal of onsite optimization is to create web pages/sites/tools that inspire, entertain, service, and/or educate your readers. If you create a website that is appreciated by other people, than it is highly likely that over time you will be loved by the search engines. Of course there are also a number of technical best practices that you can do to make your website “search engine friendly”, however, the power of all of these tricks are dwarfed by the power of the people.

The power of the people is based on the reality that offsite optimization is more influential in search engine rankings than onsite optimization. Better yet, offsite optimization is only very loosely within your control, and is largely in the hands of other people, which makes it challenging to influence at best. A simplification of offsite optimization, is that your goal is to get the most links, particularly from other websites that have content that is related to your websites content. Each link that is made to a website, is like a vote, and so the more people (ie other websites) that vote for your website, the more you will be loved by the search engines.

Sounds great in theory, but what everyone wants to know, is what can I do about this?

Well, you can start by creating the most brilliantly creative website that you can. Next, you can go out asking your friends with websites to vote for you, and you can certainly try to go out on the Internet and ask strangers to vote for you. However, since onsite optimization is the only thing you really control, than I believe the old adage that if you build it (and it’s interesting) they will come, and where the people go, the search engines will follow.

What does this have to do with the “greatest real estate agent in the world”? Nothing, except that the folks over at REW decided to create an seo contest for this keyphrase, and I have decided to use the contest as an opportunity to learn about SEO, and I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to learn about something is try to share what I’ve learned with the rest of the world.

February Roundup of The Greatest Real Estate Agent In The World Contest

Some time in early February, Eric Bramlett had the idea for an seo contest. He suggested the idea to Morgan Carey, aka SEO Guy, and owner of Real Estate Webmasters, who generously offered to sponsor the contest. With a prize of web services valued at over 4k, this generated a fair bit of excitement among the real estate webmaster and blogging community.

Morgan also added a twist to the contest, which was that each contestants entry must link to another contestant and do a write up of what they learned from that entry. To demonstrate this, he linked to Eric Blackwell‘s entry, who had the great idea to form a team to compete instead of going solo. By reaching out to other Realtors, and leveraging the fact that he himself is not a Realtor, he has taken an early lead in the contest.

Of course, no contest would be complete without some controversy, which has been most notably provided by Ardell DellaLoggia, who pointed out that the initial prize offering required that the winner pay hosting fees to REW which benefitted them in the long run. Morgan’s response to this was to up the prize to include lifetime hosting, which is quite a nice bonus.

Among the Realtor community, some of the other early leaders include Ryan Ward, and Richard Soto. However, the search results have been very dynamic, and many other contestants have popped in, including:

And of course there are more commentators and critics, including SEO professionals, such as Greg Boser, and Knox, who both seem to be doing quite well and have also offered some SEO insights.

Well, that’s a wrap for February, but with 2 months to go, theres plenty of time for things to change.