I Knew Better…But Still Made These Mistakes

Scott CostelloAll, Blog 1 Comment

real estate sitesI’ve always thought of myself as very knowledgeable when it comes to technologies.  I’ve built websites for myself in the past and have been running Struggling Investor for over 7 years.  I thought I knew what it would take to get a lead generating websites noticed.  It turns out I really didn’t!

At the end of 2013 I took a step back from my websites to see how everything stood.  I noticed something interesting when I looked at my blog stats…they have been stagnant for the past 3 years!  I thought I was doing what was necessary to gain traffic but I wasn’t.  It was obvious that I needed to adjust the way I’m operated.

This is when I sought out and hired an SEO expert.

Even though this article is mostly about my blog, everything I learned I am applying to my lead generating site (WeBuyNJHouses.com).  And it’s working!

Here are the 10 stupid things I was doing wrong over the years that I needed to correct to improve my websites…

  1. Mediocre Content
  2. Ignoring onsite SEO Basics
  3. Not Keeping Things Simple
  4. Working IN my Real Estate Sites, Not ON Them
  5. Not Networking
  6. Not Guest Posting
  7. Inconsistent Posting
  8. Spending Too Much Time on Content
  9. Not Having a Good About Page
  10. Not Converting Visitors into Leads

Stupid #1: Mediocre Content

For the first few years of Struggling Investor I tried to write 3 blog posts a week.  This helped me get a lot of “Content” on my site but that was about it.  Going back and reading those posts now, they were pretty shallow and covered to many topics.  There were no answers to my problems,entertaining stories or action items.  I learned this year that it’s those three items that make good articles.

Answers to Problems – Not having an answer to your problem is like a movie without an ending.  There are 2 ways you can handle this (1) tell a story about the problem and list action items you are going to take to solve the problem.  Then follow up that article with the results of your action items. Or (2) Only write the article after you have solved the problem.  I prefer the second option.

Entertaining Stories – We all love a good story.  We also all love a character that is struggling, works hard and finally succeeds.  Be that person in your stories.  The story could just be contained in one article or span multiple articles in a series.

Action Items – If you can give easy to do action items that will show results your visitors will love your articles.  It also builds trust.  Think about what you can have motivated sellers do to help sell their house….Fill out this form, Call me today, etc…

I recently wrote a great article about how I write my content now.


Stupid #2: Ignoring onsite SEO Basics

Simply put…I did NO SEO on any of my posts up until this year.  I had a WordPress SEO plugin and would make sure I used the words Real Estate Investing, Wholesaling and Direct Mail in most of my posts.  I thought this was all I really needed to do.  650 articles later I barely got 50 clicks from search engines per day.  T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E

Shockingly I really didn’t understand how SEO worked within a site.  When my newly highered SEO guy took a look at my 700+ posts on my blog he said…

Your blog is a mess and you need to do a lot of SEO work.


Here are 6 basics SEO things that I do on everyone of my pages now that have really helped me.

Interlinking content – Linking from one article to another related article on your site.  If you write about Yellow Letters, find an older article you did on Yellow Letters and link to it or link from it to your new article.

Keyword Research – Most important.  After you write the article, go to the Google keyword tool and find a keyword that relates to your article topic.  I try and shoot for a keyword that gets around 2000 monthly searches.  Less is okay, you just want to try and maximize the potential traffic.  I wouldn’t go to much over 2000 monthly searches because those keywords are usually very competitive.  You want lower hanging fruit.

Keyword in the Slug – The slug is the actual URL of the page (http://strugglinginvestor.com/SlugOfPage). Your page gets huge benefits from having the keyword in your page url.  For wordpress you can modify the slug in the Permalink here…


Keyword in the H2 Tag – An H2 tag is a second level header.  On this post each of the Stupid # lines are H2 tags.  If you have multiple H2 tags in your article, just pick one that you can best use your keyword in.  This is a very simple action item that will give you some good SEO results.

Meta Title and Descriptions – Your WordPress SEO plugin will give you the ability to customize what the search engines use to describe your article.  A Google search for Yellow Letters returns some of my articles….

Yellow letters   Google Search.

If you take a look at my articles SEO information, you can see that what I placed in my SEO TITLE and META DESCRIPTION fields is what shows up in the Google search results.

Yellow Letter Resource - SEO


Stupid #3: Not Keeping It Simple Stupid

I’m a Shiny New Toy kinda guy.  It’s in my nature to go with something that looks good over something that performs good.  Cars, computers, phones and websites. I also want every feature I can squeeze in whether I need it or not.  What happens is that my struggling investor website got so cluttered and fragmented it was turning people away.

I still am learning how to simplify everything but through my research I’ve found that the best sites are simple,no frills sites.

Limited Menu Items – At one point last year I think I had 14 menu items at the top of my website…14!!?!  I then listened to a podcast by Derek Halpern from social triggers.  In this particular podcast he told us about the Jam Study.

When 24 jams were available, 60% of the customers stopped for a taste test and 3% of those bought some. When 6 jams were available, 40% of the customers stopped for a taste test, but 30% bought some.

The point of the study was to prove that when people are presented with to many options they will leave without purchasing/visiting your links.  So what I did was cut the number links down to 6.  I instantly noticed more engagement on my site.

Clear Path – I’m still working on this.  My site was a complete mess with only my most recent articles displayed on my homepage. The idea is that you want your visitors to be able to find what they are looking for.  A couple of examples would be…

  • Getting Started area
  • Resources
  • Reviews
  • Top posts

Your visitors should be only one click away from those areas right off your home page.  Direct them to these areas, don’t leave it up to them to find what they are looking for.

Clear Message – I used to write about everything that I was doing.  While it was all under the umbrella of Real Estate Investing, that topic is way to broad.  There are many aspects of real estate investing and I needed to concentrate more on a single avenue.  I ended up choosing “Generating Leads” and more recently I’ve narrowed down even further to “Generating Leads through websites.”

This is why I advocate having separate websites for your buyer, seller and company websites.  Mixing them all into one website meant I would have had multiple messages.  Not a good idea.


Stupid #4: Working IN my Real Estate Sites, Not ON Them

I tried to write almost every article for my lead generating websites.  The first handful I had my SEO guy write and it was great, but cost to much money.  I then spent the next 5 months writing them all myself.  This was a huge waste of my time.

When it comes to your real estate websites not everything has to be in your words.  It’s not like a blog.  I was spending all my free time trying to write 4 articles a month.  I started asking around and found this great copy writer, who was reasonably priced to take over for me.  Now I get a brand new article on the 15th and 30th of every month.  Not only that I can now concentrate on more important things in my business.


Stupid #5: Not Networking

In the beginning I would spend a lot of my time visiting other people’s blogs.  Commenting, getting to know the other blog owners and building up some nice relationships.  Some where along the way I forgot that those people were the most instrumental in where I am today.  They offered support, pushed me when I needed it and told me when I was doing something wrong.

I can almost make the correlation that when I stopped networking…my blog stopped growing.  I must always remember that it’s not what you know but who you know.

The same can be said for real estate investing in general.  You can greatly increase your business and website visibility by forming relationships with other investors/businesses in your area.


Stupid #6: Keeping all my Articles to Myself

Furthering Stupid #5, I felt that it was more important to keep pumping my site with new articles then putting them out on other sites.  In the blogging world this is called “Guest Posting”.  And the more I learn about the reasons for doing it, the more I wish I would have done.

Here are some of the key reasons for putting your content on other sites…

Introduce Yourself to a New Audience – The best way to get new eyes on your site is to get those eyes from another sites readers.   Having an article posted on other sites instantly gives you credibility.  You don’t get that level of credibility from just showing up in a search result.  This is really the quickest way to grow your audience.

Improves your offsite SEO – With every guest post you do, you will certainly have a link that goes from that article back to your website.  This is called a Backlink.  Backlinks from good sites are like gold in SEO.

Builds a New Relationship – Not only are you giving great content to another site you send your readers over to that site as well.  Its a true Win-Win situation.  These relationships can really prop up your website because they are more likely to recommend you and share some of your future awesome content.


Stupid #7:  Inconsistent Posting

3 posts one week, then none for 2 weeks and then 1 more on Saturday.  People are a creature of habit and like consistency.  If I go to a website and see that articles are posted sporadically, I usually leave.  My feeling is that this person isn’t serious and only an “If I have the time” person.

I fell into the sporadic posting the last few years.  I honestly had trouble coming up with topics after a while.  I didn’t know about editorial calenders and I wasn’t good at just planning future posts.  Like I said before, I just wrote about what ever came to mind.  If nothing came to mind I didn’t post anything.

To help you stay consistent with your article writing you can learn more about Editorial Calendars here…

Create a Blog Editorial Calendar


Stupid #8: Spending Too Much Time on Content

I had to buy a course by Derek Halpern to really get this to sink into my thick head.  All I ever did was write…write….write.  To truly get your message out there you should be doing 20% content writing and 80% marketing/networking.

Even though I’m doing a better job at this, I still spend to much time writing content.  What I’m finding to be the hard part is the marketing of my content to other websites.  There is some fear of rejection there I think.

Writing less content, but being consistent with when you publish will actually grow your blog faster.  That is of course if you really spend all your new found time marketing your website.


Stupid #9: Ignoring my About Page

One of the most visited pages on a website is the about page.  So please tell me why I practically ignored it for 6 years?  Sure I had some random stuff on the page about myself and what the site was about.   I’ll be the first to admit that it was complete trash. Even on my Scotty Buys Houses websites I left the default about page info there.  This might be the ULTIMATE STUPID.  

After talking with some website owners that I respect and pulling some knowledge from the Derek Halpern course that I bought, here is what you should have on your about page…In this order

What You Can do for Your Visitor – Basically the same thing you would put in your direct mail letters.  Talk about the benefits you can provide them and solutions to their problems.  If you are good, you can wrap all that into a story about an experience you had.  I’m not that good.

Links to Some of Your Best Content – This is the perfect time to guide a visitor to some of your best content and resources.  Don’t over load this section, just pick 3 to 5 articles/resource to use.

Opt-in form/Contact Form – When someone reads your About Page there is a good chance that they will connect with who you are and your message.  No better time to try and get them to opt-in to a mailing list or submit a form to get an offer on their house.

Then a Little About Yourself – Now all of that “selling” stuff is out of the way talk about yourself.  Don’t over do it, just share who you are in order to make the site a little more personable.


Stupid #10: Not Converting Visitors Into Leads

Just like my about page, I neglected to build up an email list of leads.  I always figured that I’d start collecting email addresses once I got enough visitors.  Well 6 years later I had no email list.

I started one a couple of months ago and just received my 50th sign up.  Not a lot by any means, but imagine how many people I would have if I started 6 years ago?  Stupid stupid STUPID!

When dealing with my Business website, I record all names and email addresses.  Doing this allows me to put these people on a follow up email marking campaign.  This is a great way to keep in touch with potential leads and possible turn some of them into deals.


Final Thoughts

For sure I’ve done many more stupid things over the years, but these are the cream of the crop.  The sad part is that… in many cases I knew better.  Many of these items are simple actions that take almost no time.  Throwing up an opt-in form, doing a little SEO keyword research and setting up my about page would have made a huge difference.  I kick myself when I think about where my websites would be if I just did the above 10 things from the start.  Hindsight is 20/20 though right??

So be honest…I am I stupid??


photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/troll_food/12823707614/”>mikafowler.com</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

Scott Costello
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Comments 1

  1. Great List Scott! Good reminder (or lesson) for me to follow. I’ve never really worried about SEO as my blog is more about personal accountability. But I think if I had more visitors and more comments going on it would drive that accountability even further.

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