Websites that WORK

Congratulations!  You’ve  invested the time, energy, and resources to design and develop a website for your enterprise.  You now have a “home “on the Internet—a virtual real estate.  Website addresses are called “domain” names, and there are many similarities between a website and a  home.  If your site has been well-built with strong programming and software, it will withstand attacks from hackers trying to blow the house down.  If it’s hosted in a high-quality server environment, this “good neighborhood” will provide uptime and security.  Your website creates a good image with your customers and your competitors, but the best thing it can do is to help build your business.  To do that, people have to find your site.  There are about 200 Million domains registered.   How do you get found among so many sites?


Organic SEO ( Search Engine Optimization) or PPC( Pay Per Click)?

Most people–including your prospective customers–find websites by using a search engine.  Google is the most popular, with about 400,000 searches per day.  As most people know, you can pay to have your website’s info displayed prominently  on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages),while the rest of the page is filled with info about websites that appear organically—the search has found them,  and no ad fee has been paid.  If you have paid to have your ad appear, you will be charged every time someone clicks on the ad , which takes the person to your site. Thus the name, PPC—Pay per Click.  The other websites listed–the organically-generated ones–will also take the person to their website, but there is no charge when that happens.  Search engines are smart, and they remember.  They’ll remember, for example, that today, when someone searched for “homes for sale in Montgomery County,” it found your site organically.  Next time somebody does that same search, it will quickly post your website’s info.  In fact, your info will gradually get listed higher and higher on the page.  Your website builds equity in the organic search!  If you use a PPC program, once you stop paying, you were not building equity—it’s like you were renting that spot on the page, not earning it.  Once the PPC payment ends, it’s like you are brand new and your info goes to the back of the line.


Make Your Website Work for YouScreen shot 2013-10-05 at 4.45.23 PM

You can improve the performance of your website on organic searches by making it easier for the search engines to find you.  Search engines are smart, and they  have “spider” programs that crawl around the web gathering information… Cute, eh?  Spiders crawling around the web?    Spider programs look for info that will help them link searches to websites.  So, they look for words and phrases that are typical of what people type into the search for box.  Most of the time, people type in pretty simple words or phrases that  are related to the target of their search.  We call these words “keywords.”  To make it easy for the search engines to find you, you need to place appropriate keywords in the content of your site.  Picture the spider program scanning the pages in your site, reading what it sees.  What words and phrases might jump out at it?  For example, you might want to have titles on your pages and paragraphs, and place keywords at the beginning of the title.  As you can see, the concept of keywords is simple.  Next some work needs to be done to develop a program. The first step is to determine what keywords in your business processes that people will be typing —those things for which we are seeking prospects and leads.  As we said above, for a realtor, it might be “homes for sale in Montgomery County,” or “homes for sale in Boyertown.”  Determine the markets , products, and services, in which you want to compete most aggressively.  What are our  priority strategic market targets?  Then, the next step is to imagine what words or phrases people would type into the “search for” box in the search engine to try to find websites for providers of those services or products—you and your competitors.


Put Your Website to Work

Once you have determined what keywords the prospects will enter, then it’s simply a job of placing the selected keywords in the content of your site.  As we mentioned above, you may want to use titles for pages or paragraphs, but just including them in the prose content will also get noticed by the spider programs.  You should not sacrifice the quality of the writing in your content to include the keywords.  The content has another, more critical job to do—-Attracting the prospect and motivating them to contact you.

Once you have added the keywords to your site, they will start to work for you, and they will continue to keep working, 24/7/365——your website is doing the work!  For Free!


Building Equity vs.  Immediate Results

For those of  you for whom instant gratification is too slow, however, there is one drawback to using an organic program as opposed to  a PPC–Like most things with genuine value, it takes time for the organic, equity-building program to work.  It can take up to 16-20 months for a keyword program to show results in where your info appears on the SERPs.  With the pay-now PPC programs, you’ll see your ad placed very quickly.  Expensive, paying a premium for immediate results vs, do it the old-fashioned  way and working hard for lasting results that take a while . Renting vs. owning and letting your website home do the work.


Make Yours a Website that WORKS

You can start today—Make a list of the keywords for your highest priority strategic markets.  That’s a valuable exercise anytime. You can also help your website with its organic SEO work  by  adding a blog to your site .  Keep your keywords in mind when writing the blog, which will act like hyper content for the spiders.  Adding links from other websites will also help.  Blazing Systems is a web services company.  Please call us to arrange a free consultation for help in making your website work for you.


Bill Patch










Organic vs Commodity Growth

Growth by acquisition has been a viable strategy in the technology service industry for decades, and there are some large “roll-up” plays currently active in the industry.

Growth by internal sales is hard work.  Selling service is harder than it looks.  When you’re selling a product, you’re selling a thing.  It is +85 concrete, real, you can take a picture of it, you can demo it working.

When you’re selling a service, you’re selling a promise.  It’s intangible.  Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.  This requires a much more sophisticated sales model, worked by highly-skilled folks.

A services acquisition involves people (customers & employees).  The retention rate of the revenue of the base acquired is directly proportional to how well the acquired business is integrated.  An acquisition brings in a new culture.  Acquired workforces create horizontal pressure in the organization.

Internal sales growth extends the structure and staffing incrementally, driven by revenue increases.  Internally-driven sales extends the current culture.  Internal growth stretches the workforce and provides promotional opportunities.

There are some interesting parallels in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing.  Pay-per-click commodity programs can acquire immediate results, while organic programs create long-term equity.

Service organizations are best served with a strategy that blends organic and commodity growth.




Housing Headlines

Within the last two weeks we’ve heard from a variety of sources on the ongoing real estate/housing market saga.  The Federal Reserve, Harvard University, and Long & Foster, the largest privately-owned real estate company in the U.S., all weighed in on the current state of the market.

The Federal Reserve Beige Book, June 8th, for the Philadelphia District, says:

“Looking ahead, residential real estate agents expect sales for this year as a whole to be level with last year. An agent who remarked that “we are off the bottom, but it’s going to be a slow comeback” expressed a common opinion.”

On June 10th, the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies released their annual “State of the Nation’s Housing 2011” report.  The headings in the executive summary tell the story:  “The Rocky Road To Recovery,” “Uncertainty in the Homeowner Market,” “Rental Rebound,” and “Affordability Problems Creeping Up the Income Scale.”

The Harvard studies includes lots of demographics–all of which are negative indicators for the homeowner market, which has declined 2% in the last seven years.  Immigration is lower, family formation is lower, utility costs are eliminating some potential home buyers, income is lagging.  Cheerful stuff.

And then there’s the news from Long & Foster.  The Philadelphia Region, headed by Vice President Art Herling, a Blazing Systems client, reported a 12% increase in unit sales in May compared to last year.

“Quite a few of our offices have experienced not only an increase in units this May, but also their sales volume jumped as compared to May 2010.” Herling went on to cite rises in prices in April and May, as a positive sign of recovery.

“Since the year 2000, the median price of a home in the Philadelphia metropolitan area has risen 70%, and has dropped only 7% from the peak year of 2007,” added Art.

Long & Foster attributed some of their success to the use of technology.  (Long & Foster news release, 06/10/11).  Art Herling’s website,, designed, developed, and hosted by Blazing Systems, features the company’s leading map search IDX system for lead generation, and a quick search and rotating featured properties on the Home Page.

****What can we learn from all this?

Effective use of technology can provide competitive advantage, even in the most extreme of market conditions.


REALTOR Lead Generation

About 90% of the prospective home buyers are searching for homes on the Internet.  Looking for homes is by far the leading reason why buyers go to realtor websites.  To capture share in this competitive market requires a simple two-step approach.

STEP #1:  Provide an easy-to-use IDX search of the homes available in the local MLS.  This satisfies the vistor’s need to look for available properties, and it captures the lead for the website.  The website realtor is able to get leads on all the properties in the MLS, not just their own listings.

STEP #2:  Drive traffic to the site.  A common error is to build a site, and then wait for the world to beat a path to your door.  About 50% of the traffic to your site will come through direct channels.  Individuals will type in your URL to go to your site.  The other half will find you through search engines.  You can achieve long-term results with Organic SEO programs and immediate results with PPC (Pay Per Click) Commodity SEO programs.

REALTOR Internet Marketing

Each year we work directly with hundreds of realtors–both brokers and agents–concerning Internet Marketing and Lead Generation.

Each year NAR publishes a Technology Survey.  That’s where that 87% number came from a couple years ago–87% of the potential home buyers were searching for homes on the Internet.

Our skepticism of the NAR report’s numbers has always been based on the relatively small return they receive from surveys sent.  Also, the quality of the response is worth examination.  For example, in the last one, REALTOR® Technology Survey Report
2010, 16% of the respondents had not done ONE DEAL in the last 12 months!

So, one needs to use such global survey data with a degree of caution when it comes to serious decisions like how to spend marketing funds in a brutal market…like now, in other words.

Here’s what we do know, based on observation and anecdotal information gathered by interfacing with realtors daily for the last 10 years on the subjects of websites, IDX searches, SEO, and Internet Marketing in general:

During the last three-four years the top 12-18% of the realtors have continued to complete successful volumes of transactions and invest in marketing.  Dollars have moved rapidly from print advertising to Internet Marketing.

Brokers and agents who understand that Internet marketing is not a passive, do-a-website, post-my-listings, and they-will-come, kind of process, are generating outstanding lead flow and return on investment for their marketing expense.  These realtors actively engage with work that improves SEO.  They also know how to use IDX searches on their own websites to drive traffic and leads.

In a counter to the good returns being achieved by some realtors, most realtors have squandered time and money with website providers.  We rarely encounter a broker or agent who has not had an unfortunate past (or current) experience with a web provider.  Tales of over-priced, under-delivered websites; lost money on pay-per-click (PPC) programs; long-term contracts with penalties for early termination; SEO scams; abound–but, still the serious competitors have pushed forward.

The range of technology knowledge, experience, and patience, among individual realtors is extreme.  A significant portion–my best estimate is 20-30%–are still on and  In the next group up, agents who use the MLS to search for homes for buyers and then email them the property detail pages.  These realtors tend to have websites, and  are still surprised when one of their buyers finds a property on their own, searching on the Internet.  They should be thankful that the buyer called them back.  (Buyers today increasingly want to have control over their home search.  They enjoy home-hunting at odd hours of the day, when they can fit it in.)  This second group comprise another 30-40% of the industry.  The third group (so the market has three basic segments) use their web presence to attract buyers and market sellers.  They provide the buyers with an effective IDX program, to be able to search all the listings in the MLS, and so the realtor generates leads on all the listings, not just their own.


Lower Third:  Clueless.  Some of these folks have the good fortune to be working with an effective web provider, and may have nice sites.

Middle Third:  Have websites, but don’t actively push traffic, don’t refer buyers to their own IDX search on their own websites, don’t understand keywords, or how SEO works in general.

Top Third:  Actively drive traffic to website that features a leading customer-friendly IDX search.  Uses blogs, reciprocal links, and organic SEO programs.  Updates website regularly.  Features own listings as a benefit for sellers, achieves non-listing lead generation that provides a positive return.

Segment Size Possibility:  In an industry where some pundits say the 80/20 rule is really 90/10, with 10% of the players generating 90% of the revenue, the Top Third could be smaller–as much as 15%–and the other two categories could in turn be larger than a third.