Episode #30 - Marketing Malpractice: Investors Are Getting Their Websites Slapped By Google. Here's How To Avoid It | Adwords Nerds | Adwords Nerds

Episode #30 – Marketing Malpractice: Investors Are Getting Their Websites Slapped By Google. Here’s How To Avoid It

If your website ranked highly for important keywords, you’d get leads on autopilot. You wouldn’t worry about where your next deal comes.

Unfortunately, many investors try to get tons of backlinks as quickly as possible. They often fall prey to marketing services which are often worse than useless because they can tank any investing business.

In this episode, you’ll hear how to avoid this trap and rank highly on the search engines for years to come. Show highlights include:

– Why you shouldn’t work with anyone who keeps “trade secrets”. ([6:35])
– Which tool lets you know exactly how your website ranks on Google and what you can improve. ([7:40])
– How techniques that bring visitors to your site can kill your business. ([13:10])
– Why you need to run the other way when some promises you a certain number of links to your site. ([16:40])
– Why SEO is exactly like real estate investing. ([20:30])

To get the latest updates directly from Dan and discuss business with other real estate investors, join the REI marketing nerds Facebook group here: https://adwordsnerds.com/group
Need help with your online marketing? Jump on a FREE strategy session with our team. We’ll dive deep into your market and help you build a custom strategy for finding motivated seller leads online. Schedule for free here: https://adwordsnerds.com/strategy

Read Full Transcript

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 Ad Words 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: Alright, hello everybody and welcome to this week's episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. As always, this is Daniel Barrett here from AdWordsNerds.com. How are you? Hope you're having an awesome week. It has been a snowy one here in Connecticut. We are cold, we are gray. This is a good time to kind of curl up in your if you're like me and focus on some boring and nerdy stuff. [0:01:10.1] This episode, however, is not going to be boring. It is going to be super, super, super valuable because what I'm going to do in this episode is lay out something that is for one, very common, very common among real estate investors right now. This is something that is happening every single day to real estate investors just like you. And two, something that is incredibly dangerous, by which I mean this is something that could easily cost you tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars every single year in lost deals. That is not an exaggeration; that is a real-world number pulled directly from people that I have worked with personally. This is something that is not theoretical. This is not something that is pie in the sky. [0:02:00.9] This is not something that's like, “Oh, maybe this might happen.” This is something that is happening right now to investors like you and I'm going to teach you not only what it is and why it is so dangerous, but I'm also going to teach you in this episode how to avoid it for good. So, my goal is this episode by itself is going to save you so much money that basically you're going to name, you know, when you buy a boat from all these deals that you're going to do you’re basically going to call it the SS Dan Barrett or whatever people call boats. I don't know, I'm not a boating person. My friend Patty, who runs the SEO division, she's the boating person. I don't know much about boats. So, let's get into this.

Before I get into the actual problem, I want to tell a story to illustrate this. Recently I was speaking to someone who is a friend of mine. This is someone that I've known through the industry, is someone who'd come through our coaching programs. It was a couple of years ago, they came through. We sort of trained them in doing pay-per-click marketing. [0:02:59.8] We trained them in how to do organic marketing, so search engine optimization, ranking your website more aggressively in Google. I would kind of teach our whole process and they were really doing well. They were seeing a lot of ranking improvements, they were getting more traffic, they were starting to get organic leads, things were really rolling. They had a lot of momentum. At that point they were like, "Hey, I think I'm going to pay someone to do my SEO for me" because it's kind of a lot of work. It can be very labor intensive depending on how you do it. They're busy doing deals, that's what they needed to focus on. I was like, "Cool, all more power to you, go for it." They ended up teaming up with someone who is, I don't really know much about them, maybe they were a freelancer, maybe they had a small team but they were someone relatively new to the industry. They were saying, "Hey, I do search engine optimization for real estate investors. I'm used to this kind of client. I'm used to this group. I know what I'm doing" and they're going with that relatively cheap option but they're like, "Hey, this person seems like they know what they're doing." [0:04:02.2] And they went with that person to run their SEO. Okay, so fast forward about a year. I haven’t really talked to this person in about a year, or least about their marketing, and messages me on Facebook and says, "Hey Dan, I was hoping you could help me here. I want to come on and sign up for your SEO service." And I was like, "Well I thought you were working with this other person." He said, "Well yeah, but I don't know, it's like something's weird, it's not really working. I was having a lot of success when I was going through your coaching program but then when I hired this other person, I noticed that my website kind of dropped off the face of the planet. My rankings went down. I'm not really sure what's happening. He's being very sketchy about exactly what he's doing and he won't really tell me like what his thing is or what he's doing because he says it's like a trade secret."

Now I'm going to come back to the story in a second but I want to take a second right now to talk about this idea that something that an on-line marketing person is doing is a "trade secret". [0:05:02.7] Okay? This is simply not the case really. Okay? There are moments in time where you have a slight knowledge advantage over someone else. Let's say you've figured out YouTube ads today. You have a slight knowledge advantage over someone else, absolutely, but the knowledge of how to do YouTube ads and how to do them well, none of that is a secret. Google doesn't publish a guide where they directly say how to rank a website in Google, so no one really knows exactly what's working. So, no one's got a huge knowledge advantage over anyone else. And even if they did, even if I found some weird Google loophole that's going to let me rank my website really, really quickly, what is going to happen over time? Other smart people are going to see what I'm doing, they are going to copy it, it is going to become standard practice. Alright? This idea that like I can't show you my stuff because of my secret stuff, it's just nonsense. [0:06:03.1] Now at AdWords Nerds do we have a ton of our own kind of private data set? Yes. And do we have campaign builds and keywords and ads that we’ve based off that data set that we believe what works best and we consider that our intellectual property? Yes. But there's nothing magic about it. There's nothing magic about the keywords that I choose or the ads that we run or the landing pages that we run. We don't use some kind of weird trick, right? The basics are available to anyone. So, whenever you see someone that's like, "Well I can't tell you exactly what I'm doing because it's a secret, it's my secret, marketing secrets" that is a huge red flag, it's a huge red flag for me. Because it either means one, what they're doing is sketchy and they don't want you to know about it. Two, they're not doing much of anything and they don't want you to know that, or three, they are outsourcing network to someone else and they don't even know it's going on. [0:07:01.8] So, it’s a very dangerous situation to be in. So, there's no such thing as trade secrets in that sense in the marketing world.

Now to get back to the story, so I was like, "Aren't you working with this person?" He said, "Oh, you know, I hired this person to do my SEO, the ranking's kind of dropped off." So, I was like, "Alright, let me take a look at the website." And this is something, by the way, that anybody listening to this can do for really cheap. It is not super, super complicated. What I did was I went to an SEO tool that I happened to pay for. Anyone can pay for it; it’s like 40 bucks or something like, that that's called SEM Rush, SEMRush.com and that's just an SEO tool. There are a lot of them like that. I happen to like that one. I plopped his URL, his website into SEMRush and I said, "Tell me who is linking to this man's website." [0:08:01.7] We all know that links are an important part of SEO. Links are very important in terms of telling Google that they need to rank your site more aggressively, so show me how many links he's got. First thing I noticed when it popped open, he's got almost a 1000 links to his website. Now as someone who works with investors and directly works on getting links for investors and thinks about building more links for investors literally almost every single week, I can tell you it is very, very, very rare for an investor site to have a 1000 links. Why is that? Well the fact of the matter is, it is hard to get links for investors. It is hard to find people who naturally want to link out to real estate investors. Realtors generally don't want to do it. Sites like Zillow and Trulia, they don't want to do it. Chamber of commerce, maybe, yeah. There are some out there that you can certainly do, but generally it's hard to find people where they naturally want to link out to a real estate investor, and so it's very hard and a slow kind of laborious process to build these links. [0:09:07.6] When I see a 1000 links, the first thing I think is something weird is going on. This is almost too good to be true. I want to dig into this a little more.
On SEM Rush what you can do is you can click on their backlink profile. You can see who's linking to them. What websites link out to this website, how do they do it, and I can see some information about those websites that are linking here. As I'm going through the links here, the list of links that link out to this person, my ex-client, I can see blog directories. I see all these weird WordPress blogs that are kind of about real state but they only have one or two posts. It doesn't look like anyone up-keeps them. It doesn't look like anybody would actually read it. They're all at random domains that don't make any sense. [0:09:59.9] There are all these free websites that people made in places like Zynga like all these sorts of weird things. As I'm going through this, I'm seeing hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of these links. What I'm starting to notice is that a lot of these websites with nothing on them, these shell websites, these zombie websites with just a couple pages that have a ton of SEO keywords and just these weird articles, and then these links to this person, my ex-client, what I'm starting the notice is these websites link not just to my ex-client but they link to each other. So, one of these kind of like zombie websites links to a different zombie website and that zombie website links to a third zombie website and then that zombie website links to my ex-client.

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[0:11:19.9] Now what this is, this idea of having all these kind of like zombie websites out there that don't really do anything that nobody ever really looks at but they all link to each other and then they link out to you, this is called a PBN or a private blog network. This was a common way of trying to rank sites let's say five to ten years ago. The idea being that you could create a whole bunch of cheap websites. I might create a hundred of these websites, populate them with paper thin content, link the 100 websites to each other so they each get 100 links and then a link from those websites to my SEO clients. [0:12:02.1] I might have a hundred SEO clients, I charge them let's say a $1000 a month and then I send them a 100 links for that $1000 a month, all from these same 100 websites. I own them all and I can link out to every single client I have. That's a PBN, private blog network. The advantage of this is that if you are a search engine optimizer, you're an SEO provider, you can turn around and look your investor client in the eye and say, "I'm going to generate you five to ten links a month every single month for the next 10 months." And you can do it. The nice thing is that a lot of the times Google rewards you for this. So, in the beginning you see a spike. Why do you see a spike? Well Google is looking at your website, indexing your website and it says, "Whoa, hold on, hold. Why is this person is getting a lot of links all of a sudden? [0:13:00.8] They’re getting a lot of links all of a sudden. All these links are about real state. That's interesting, this must be a really great site." And they bump up your ranking and you do get traffic from it, absolutely. You can absolutely move the needle with this technique.

So, what's the problem? Well my ex-client, the person that bought this to me said, "I hired this other SEO guy and he was doing my SEO and I was doing really well and then I dropped off the face of the planet." He found this out the hard way because PBNs are specifically against Google's terms of service. And in fact, over the last couple of years they have rolled out specific algorithm changes designed to find these networks and de-rank them and de-rank the websites that they link out to, because Google's not stupid. They know that this is artificial. They know this is you trying to game the system. [0:14:01.2] This is not real motivated sellers rewarding you with links and testimonials and stuff because you're doing such a good job. this is you trying to jump the queue. this is you trying to beat the system and Google's not going to reward that, because if they rewarded that, what would everyone do? Well everyone would try to game the system and there'd be chaos. So, Google's rolled out multiple algorithm changes directly targeting these kinds of networks, directly trying to de-rank them. This is exactly what my ex-client saw. He saw a huge jump in his traffic for about a month and a half and then all of a sudden nothing. Goes dead quiet. And as I'm looking at this I'm saying, "Hey, you know the problem is not just this thing worked and now it doesn't work anymore, the problem is now you are in a hole because now you have all these spammy links, you've got thousands spammy links pointing to your website. [0:15:00.5] And Google knows that they are spammy and now it thinks you're spammy, and so you not only have to crawl out of the hole, you've got to crawl out of the hole just to get back to zero and then to get from zero back to where you were is going to be even harder." This is what private blog networks do in the real world.

Now, the issue here is that there are people in the real estate investing space directly marketing to real estate investors right now that are doing this that know full well that this is a dangerous, dangerous game to play. They know this. They absolutely know that they have every possible chance of getting your website taken down for good. They know this but it's so attractive. If you are an SEO person, you're running a company, man, everybody wants links. Every investor that we talk to at AdWords Nerds says, "How many links are you going to build me? [0:16:01.6] How many links did I get this week? Are you going to make me links? How are you going to give me links?" Everybody knows, right? If you know anything about search engine optimization, if you know anything about online marketing, you know links are good. So, more links must be really good, right? But that's really not the case. It is not the case that more is necessarily better. It is the case that better links are better. So, if you can build a 1000 garbage links or one or two really great ones, you should go for the one or two really great ones. But as the SEO person, as the person that's trying to make their living off of getting investors as clients, man, it is so nice to be able to say, "I'm going to give you five to ten links every single week. Yep, you're going to get 30 links a month, I can guarantee that. I can guarantee you 50 links a month." And as the investor, that feels really good, right? You can see activity, you can see stuff coming in. This person must be working really hard. [0:17:02.4] Meanwhile, all of this is artificial, none of it means anything and absolutely you are running the risk of getting yourself slapped down by Google.

One of the things that I tell everybody that I talk to about this is that anybody who tells you anything other than building links for investors is hard, it takes a long time and it takes a lot of work, any time you hear anything other than that you should run. Not walk, run in the other direction. This is obviously, like honestly, it gets us in trouble sometimes with our clients because we will have clients that say, "I want to see more links coming in. I want you to be doing more." And it's hard for us to tell them like, "Hey, we are doing everything we reasonably can, and the things that we get you, even if they are fewer and farther between than you may have seen at another company, our work is actually going to be of more benefit to you long term." [0:18:05.8] That's kind of a hard sell honestly. It would be a lot easier for me to just say, "Yeah, no problem, let's just throw out five crappy links." But we don't do that. So, to me any time I hear someone say, "I'm going to build you a lot of links" or "I'm going to build your links really fast" or "I can guarantee you links,” that's all huge red flag for me, huge red flag.

Now, if you are having any kind of SEO done or you have had any SEO done in the past, you can check this for yourself, and I highly recommend that you do this. The process, I talked about it a little bit before, the process is relatively simple. Go to an SEO tool. I like SEM Rush, that's the one that I like, SEMRush.com. Go there, sign up for it, pop your website in so you can see your backlinks. You want to go through the list of backlinks and say “Who is linking to my site. Are they legit? [0:19:01.4] Are they a real website? Did this website have a real reason to link to me? Is the content written for actual humans? Does this look like a website someone would actually use?” If it looks like a blog that someone set up in five minutes, chances are that's what it is. If it's some kind of low rent blog directory, guess what? It's going to hurt you more than it helps you. What you're looking for is websites that people actually use with real intent that link to you for a legitimate reason.

If you start to see a lot of these kind of low-quality websites, these like blog posts or these like weird websites that just have like weird content on it that doesn't really make any sense, this is a really good sign that what you are looking at is somebody who is essentially using what we call black hat techniques. These are spammy techniques, techniques that are basically meant to do an end-run around Google and get you a temporary boost in results, but will put you in a lot of danger long term. [0:20:08.2] And as an investor that is out there trying to grow your business for the long term, you've got to understand SEO, search engine optimization. It's an investment that has an incredible return on that investment, incredible payoff but it takes time. It would make no sense for you to invest in a house where you knew that like, "Hey, I'm going to buy and hold this, but I'm only going to buy and hold it for a week." If you do that, you know it has to appreciate in that week or you are going to lose money when you sell it, right? When you invest, you invest long term for that kind of investment, for any kind of buy and hold investment, for any kind of stock investment, right? You're usually investing long term. That is what SEO is. [0:20:56.8] So, any time that you let someone go behind the curtain and do something in secret and guarantee a result that should be really difficult, you are allowing them to damage and endanger your investment, which means that you're going to put the money in up front and you're not going to get anything out the back. I think that's the nightmare scenario for any investor.

I hope this was useful guys. This is something, I'm not exaggerating, I see this all the time so if you think this is happening for you or you're worried that this might be happening to you or you're not sure what's going on, you don't know how to read your results, we have a free Facebook group. It's the REI Marketing Nerds Facebook group. You can get there by going to AdWordsNerds.com/group. That's AdWordsNerds.com/group, come into that group and just post and say "Hey,” tag me in a post or just post in the group and say, "Hey, can someone check me out? I'm worried I might have a private blog network or PBN linking to my site." [0:22:02.4] I'll be happy to look at it for you, okay? Really great group of people in there, really awesome investors, sharing tips. I'm in there every week sharing content, doing trainings. We do Facebook Lives. It's a really fun place to hang out. So again, that's the REI Marketing Nerds Facebook group, AdWordsNerds.com/group will take you right there and I will see you guys next week. I hope you have an awesome, awesome, awesome rest of your week and I'll talk to you soon. Dan Barrett signing off, cheers.

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