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Archive for February, 2011

Black hat, white hat, manufactured housing

February 20th, 2011 No comments

Article by David Segal in the New York TimesIf you didn’t see it this past Monday, David Segal of the New York Times wrote an article entitled The Dirty Little Secrets of Search. It was a story about how companies use what are known as “Black Hat” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques* to try and trick Google into giving them a higher search ranking.

“Black Hat” techniques are often very successful at attaining high rankings, but the rankings are often short-lived.

In the article, Mr. Segal notes the case of J.C. Penney and their unusual placement at the very top of the rankings for hundreds of keywords through this past Christmas season.

Penney’s was using a technique where contextual links** were placed from dozens of websites around the world to specific pages on the J.C. Penney website. Many of these were paid links places on sites that had little or nothing to do with the subject matter of the link.

A spokesperson for Penney’s insists that the company had no knowledge of the links and did not contract them. I wonder who had the time and money to donate to making J.C. Penney #1 in so many search results.

At first blush, these techniques simply look like a smart marketing maneuver, and they are certainly not illegal. But Google (and all the other Search Engines) considers them an attempt to “game” the system and takes action against those using them.

The reason Google looks down on any practice that it sees as an attempt to manipulate search engines results is simple. Google’s search engine gets most of its revenue from advertising – AdWords – those paid search results you see in the right column (and sometimes at the top) of a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

For Google to maximize the return on the placement of AdWords ads, they need to return the best quality results for any given search. And manipulation of the results threatens that system.

In the case of J.C. Penney, retaliation came in the form of vastly demoted ratings, sometimes dropping from #1 to places MUCH lower. So now they are left with the time- and money-consuming effort of rebuilding their Google ranking. It won’t be easy.

‘At 7 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, J. C. Penney was still the No. 1 result for “Samsonite carry on luggage.”

‘Two hours later, it was at No. 71.’

Over the years, we’ve seen many attempts to “game” the Google results, but they all end the same. Google catches wind of the scam, changes their algorithm to compensate and the “Black Hat” marketer is left to start over.

If you aren’t a heavy-weight paid advertiser on Google, like J.C. Penney, the penalty could be complete removal from the Google search results.

I have been involved in marketing on the Internet since 1991. In all that time, I’ve used nothing but “White Hat” techniques for myself and my clients. “Black Hat” techniques sometimes offer quick results, but “White Hat” techniques provide results that last.

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* “black hat” optimization, the dark art of raising the profile of a Web site with methods that Google considers tantamount to cheating.

** A contextual link is one where a keyword-rich phrase is linked to a website, such as in the case of J.C. Penney where hundreds of websites around the world linked the term “grommet top curtains” to the page at J.C. Penney on grommet top curtains.

Special Events can help market Manufactured Housing

February 16th, 2011 No comments

Celebrate!The Welcome Message at the top of this month’s Manufactured Housing News at MHMSM.com home page by Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel pose the question “Do YOU use special events and celebrations as part of your home retail online marketing? When Valentine’s Day or other celebrations approach, do you use them in your marketing to attract buyers?”

Well, do you? And if you do, how many of these “special events” do you run every year? One? Two? Six? Twelve? If you answered less than twelve you’ve got some catching up to do.

Read more…

What if people thought Manufactured Housing was the greatest thing since sliced bread?

February 11th, 2011 2 comments

Happy Valentine's DayHappy Valentine’s Day! Hope it will be a wonderful one for you and yours. Today would also be the perfect day to begin giving the manufactured housing industry and ourselves a little more love.

The point has been made by many that the manufactured housing industry needs an image makeover. I don’t think too many of us would disagree. One question has always been what kind of image would best serve the industry and how exactly do we go about projecting that image?

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Selling Manufactured Homes Using Video

February 9th, 2011 3 comments

Video is becoming ubiquitous on the Web. In fact, web users are beginning to expect it in many situations. And since some 80% of home sales begin with research done online, it is in your best interest to know that you can do place video in your listings, too.

You can even post a video Press Release online, as here for the Great Southwest Home Show.

If you use a Content Management System (CMS), such as WordPress or Joomla!, it makes the job of inserting video into your website a whole lot easier, but it can be done with any website.

First, you need to create your video. If you have any number of devices from a camcorder, to a modern still camera, through an iPhone or Android smartphone, you are in business.

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Spam filling your INBOX? Get relief now

February 6th, 2011 No comments
21-day Spam Count

21-day Spam Count

One of the most annoying things we have to deal with is an avalanche of spam messages that appear in our email box every day. The illustration at left shows the number of spam email messages that came into just one of my email accounts over a recent 21-day period.

The spam filters in most email programs have improved vastly over the past few years and most of those 5,085 messages were trapped without my ever seeing them. I use Apple Mail as my client program. It’s spam filtering capabilities were always good and have improved steadily.

I also use Mozilla Thunderbird on Mac, Windows and Linux platforms. Thunderbird, while not as good as Mail, has performed pretty well.

But there were still too many spam messages getting through my filters and they were becoming a huge waste of time. I began looking for a better solution. The one I am using has performed virtually flawlessly and now catches about 98% of spam messages without filtering good messages except on rare occcasion.

The 98% Solutions

No SpamThe solution I’ve been using is SpamSieve from C-Command Software. Using a Bayesian algorithm, SpamSieve running on my desktop Mac also does an great job of keeping spam off of my iPhone. It needs a few minutes to react, updating my imap email accounts, but when it filters spam from the desktop machine and the desktop synchronizes with the server, it kills it there too. My iPhone then reflects the de-spammed version of my mailbox. I love that.

BTW, it is NOT free, but the $30 registration costs was well worth it to me. A trial version is available. Sorry, Mac only and it doesn’t work with Thunderbird at this time.

I’ve searched for a Windows version, preferably free, but the top free spam filters for Windows all seem to have shortcomings that make them pale next to SpamSieve by comparison. Nevertheless, there is a list of free Windows spam filters at About.com that might be worth looking into.

On the commercial side of the Windows scene, Spam Bully shows promise. It is built specifically for Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail and looks like a great candidate. I haven’t tried it, but at $29.95 it compares price-wise with SpamSieve so may be worth an extra look. It has a trial version.

If you are running Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, Mac OS X, HP-UX, AIX, RISC-OS or other *NIX OS, you may want to have a look at bogofilter, a project hosted at SourceForge. It’s free and has community support.

The 100% Solution

The ultimate spam filtering system is SpamArrest. It effectively stops 100% of spam because no one can email you without your permission. You upload your contact lists so those you trust can send you email with no interference. But when an unauthorized person or entity tries to email you, their email is stopped until you approve or reject it.

Approve and the person is added to your whitelist and is not challenged in the future. Reject them and you never hear from them again. It’s that simple.

SpamArrest has the added advantage of being fully cross-platform. It will work with any email client on any operating system (OS).

SpamArrest has a 30-day trial so you can see if it works for you. After the trial, subscriptions start as low sa $3.75 per month, a small price to pay for a spam-free mailbox.

If you’ve been plagued by spam and your email applications spam filter isn’t up to the task, try one of these solutions and set yourself free.