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.

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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.

Does Google Love New Pages?

I’m becoming to wonder if the temporary ranking successes I achieved in this contest, were due to the phenomena of new content being temporarily favored in the SERPs, but then quickly being demoted after a day or two? Although I only made it to the middle of page 2, it seems like in both cases it happened 1-2 days after I posted the content, and then lasted for only a day or so.

It seems like there is a big ranking boost given to new pages, which is then quickly taken away in favor of old pages with the most links. This would make some sense in that it allows new content to be filtered into the results, but it will only stay at the top of the results of many people like the content enough to link to it.