Category: Real Estate Commission

The Myth of the Red Summer Dog Cake

When doing business on the Internet, one of the highest goals a website can aim for is to be first on the list when someone searches for a particular term on any given search engine. There is a technique used for creating website content that lands at the top of the first page of a relevant Internet search known as Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. What is SEO? You are looking at it right now.

SEO uses metrics and calculations from various sources to develop written content that attracts search engines. For instance, if I search for ‘red apples’ in a given search engine, I’ll be given a list of websites that the search engine believes are most relevant to my input of ‘red apples‘. In its most basic form, the search may simply return the website that has the phrase ‘red apples’ appearing most often in its content. This may or may not help me, the searcher, in my quest. It will definitely lead to website creators stuffing the term ‘red apples’ into their content as often as possible. As a result, search engines have begun using more and more complex algorithms to find the best, most relevant content for my chosen search phrase.

Google, Inc. has become a household name synonymous with the phrase ‘search engine’. It has done so by developing the largest collection of information utilized by the pickiest and most accurate algorithms in the business. With its latest advances, Google can literally give a user a relevant list of websites before the user has finished typing in their search terms. That’s pretty darn quick. It should come as no surprise, then, that website creators now try to cater their content to Google specifically, rather than just search engines in general. SEO designers charge quite a bit of money to review and change your website content so that it appears at the top of the list of search suggestions on Google’s home page whenever someone enters a search term relevant to their clients’ business.

There is a definite art to SEO. Google and others have begun weeding out content that they determine to be stuffed with keywords. If a piece of content has a particular term in it twenty or thirty times in a short paragraph, the search engines assume that the content creators are up to no good, and block that content from appearing in search lists. But, if content has your relevant term in it just one time fewer than the limits set by the search engine, that content will likely pop up at the top of the list of suggested websites. How, exactly, does a website owner make the best use of this?

The easiest step is to create a title that has popular keywords in it. This is heavily weighted by search engines and can often be enough to get a high listing. Most content creators use tools such as Google Trends to find popular terms and write their titles accordingly. This is where the Myth of the Red Summer Dog Cake comes in.

Let’s try an example. By using Google Trends, look for the most popular term among the list: red, yellow, green, blue, and orange. You’ll see that the highest steady search term is red. You’ll also see that it pops up in news reports the most. Now, do the same thing for popular terms in seasonal categories, pets to keep at home, and desserts for family gatherings. In the end, you’ll most likely come up with these terms: red, Summer, dog(s), and cake. It only stands to reason that content written with a title containing all of these terms would skyrocket to the top of every search engine on Earth. Hence, my new article on Red Summer Dog Cake – The Latest Craze for Cool People.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works. If it were, I’d be rich from advertising and so would millions of other web surfers around the globe. Though many people make a very good living strictly through the application of good SEO practices, those practices don’t end with keyword selection techniques that generate such horrific ideas as the Red Summer Dog Cake, or English Hot Lunch Cereal. Get the picture?

The best way to drive traffic to your content is to create copy that tells people what they want to know about a particular subject in a fresh, straightforward, and enjoyable way. Your readers will spread the word and forward your links and your site will go viral over night while other web masters think of engaging new topics based solely on trends and soulless keyword stuffing.

Saucing it Up with Entrepreneur Chris Wallace

What do a painting and a marinade have in common? Just ask Chris Wallace and he’ll tell you that creativity plays an integral role in both. Whether he is layering color or layering flavors, Wallace looks for the proper balance to render a pleasing result.

Wallace has always liked to create. His artistic bent has played out on paper, in the layout of a room and now in bottles of marinade and barbecue sauce. The first product, Drunkin’ Priest Dipping Sauce, offers a tasty blend of teriyaki-style flavors in an all-natural sauce.

As a partner in Sauce Gods, the southern California company behind Drunkin’ Priest Dipping Sauce, Wallace and his partner wanted a name that was “in your face” and would demand notice. The partner remembered seeing a drunken priest when he served as an altar boy, and the name was born. The image on the bottle shows Wallace in a clerical collar being taken away by the law — definitely an image that’s difficult to pass by without a second look.

The two perfected the recipe for the sauce from a base of soy sauce, ginger and garlic. What began as a marinade has become an all-purpose product, suitable for a wide variety of uses. A spicy version recently joined the original recipe in the Sauce Gods online store.

“My whole goal for all this was to create something delicious, entertaining and healthy. Food should be fun and shared. People gather around for food,” says Wallace.

The road to sauce success hasn’t been a smooth one. A company in North Carolina bottled the first batch in 2008 because Wallace had trouble finding a local company to handle the small run. The cost of shipping the product back to California ate into the proceeds. Later, they found a family-run company in Westminster, CA to handle the bottling chores.

Wallace makes a point of being present when the sauce is bottled, ensuring that each batch meets his specifications. A typical run constitutes 1000 bottles, a two to three month supply for the businessmen.

A new product, Skiny’s Pomegranate BBQ Sauce, joined Wallace’s line-up this year. Subtitled “Southern Style BBQ meets Southern California,” the sauce uses a pomegranate base for a sweetness and tang and all-natural ingredients. Wallace aimed for a healthier barbecue sauce that would appeal to health-conscious customers. The recipe is gluten-free. Wallace hopes the sauce will appeal to a even more people and reach a client base that might not be interested in the teriyaki sauce

Marketing receives a personal touch. Wallace makes appearances at farmers’ markets and swap meets across the state. Events like Girls’ Night Out at El Dorado County’s David Girard Vineyard take him into Wine Country. All along the way, he stops at mom-and-pop stores to offer his product. He likes the freedom of dealing with independent shops, feeling that they can make purchasing decisions on whether or not they like the product.

While the company hasn’t made a profit yet, it is close to breaking even with anything over costs going back into marketing. His near-term goal is to become self-sustaining so that he can work with the sauce full time. Longer term, he would like to have a chain of eat-in restaurants featuring his products. The legacy he wants to leave is a simple one.

“Don’t cut corners and don’t cheapen your products. I want even big companies to see that people’s health is at stake. I want to have a business that’s profitable even though it’s healthy,” says Wallace. With his attitude and dedication, he just might make that mark.


Are Real Estate Agents Making Too Much Money?

This is such a loaded question. On one hand real estate agents make a lot of money for selling a home–somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 percent of the price of a home is paid in commissions–this rate varies and is alway negotiable. On the other hand, real estate agents spend a lot of time, energy and money on tasks they receive no compensation for… A real estate agent can drive a person around house-hunting for weeks on end–who knows if that person is really serious or “just browsing”. No one but the agent pays for the gas, time, use of vehicle, etc… The agent has to pay for advertising, signs, phone, etc… I guess you can tell that I am a real estate agent (actually, a real estate broker) so I can be a bit defensive about this.

But I have to sit back and take a look at the ENTIRE picture. This is where my opinion begins to wain a bit…

Housing values have increased tremendously in most areas of the country. Additionally, people are making more money and spending more money everyday. Incidently, like Dick Cheney, I do not attribute this to the government–in fact, I say it is in spite of the government…and their spending. At any rate, the average American stays in their home 5-7 years–that’s quite a few homes selling over and over again…and quite a few commissions.

My main pet peeve is that real estate commissions have gone up at a much higher scale or rate that normal cost-of-living increases given to employees. That translates into a very beneficial situation for the agent.

I know that real estate commissions are negotiable–but I do not see many agents negotiating them. I have a problem when a homeowner has to come off their selling price by thousands of dollars–and the agent refuses to budge on their commission percentage.

I feel this trend is going to cost the agents more and more money in the long run as homeowners are going to wisen up to the trend of selling their own home. This is unfortuneate because most agents are highly skilled and worth every penny–and also don’t think twice about helping the seller save a buck or two.

The way the system (or lack therof) works now is that the successful sale pays for all the wasted time spend on “dead” customers–ones that never buy–or listings that never sell.

Take some time to discuss commission arrangements with your real estate agent and see where they stand. The agent that is upfront and honest…and will to not be so rigid will turn out to be the agent most looking out for your best interest!