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Las Vegas Real Estate Blog

Your Las Vegas real estate information source. The latest news, new construction, scandals, additions to the strip and other Las Vegas and related information.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Realtors BEWARE!

With more and more people starting their home search on the internet, even agents that were skeptics are starting to take notice. Google saw an increase of over 200% for indexed pages relating to the term Las Vegas real estate in past 18 months, and that number will continue to increase the remainder of the year. Online ad revenue has also steadily increased, making many traditional advertisers take notice. During the Dot com explosion, the url business was red hot. Companies and individuals made a killing on selling name specific urls. As the tech bubble popped, so did the inflated prices for urls, although some will still claim top dollar, especially in the real estate market. With so many real estate agents now competing for top spots online, city named urls are becoming scarce to non-existant. Many agents think that having a website will magically produce a steady flow of leads, leading to a quick high level income. There are several companies who help promote that myth, ranging from website providers to hosting companies to search engine optimization specialists. Now, when I mention SEO's, I'm not talking about legitimate companies and individuals (you know who you are). People with proven track records and many, many happy and repeat clients. I'm talking about spammers who prey on the uninformed with promised of "submitting your site to thousands of search engines" and the like. Now to the specific problem.

With the scarcity of region related urls, many agents are thinking that they have gotten extremely lucky when they purchase a url with the term realtor in it. Normally it would be. House hunters regularly do search for region specific realtors, according to word tracker. The problem is that the term, realtor is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORSĀ®. Any realtor, real estate agent or company that has a website that uses the term realtor in the url, is subject to action unless they have been given written consent to use the term. Generally its only granted for the local realtor association member sites. Naturally, many people don't want to hear this. Especially if they have invested a significant amount of money in either buying the url or promoting it. Personally I know of one realtor who had a site for years before the NAR requested that the url be changed. If you own such a site, eventually you will receive a notice from the NAR. The best thing to do would be to buy another url and start promoting it.

The other major trouble issue is directly related, copyright infringement. For some reason, some people feel that if its on the web, anyone can use it. Copyright still applies to all electronic media. Popular realtors' sites are constantly being copied by the ethically challenged. Some times the owner of the site has no idea that the material on it was copied from someone else. In these cases, they are as much a victim as the owner of site whose material has been stolen.

Usually it does the copier more harm then good. Copying someone else's content will not get you good search engine rankings. Search engines like Google and Yahoo employ sophisticated filters to weed out duplicate content. When its found, the page is excluded from their indexed, meaning it will never be found by an online search. Victims of theft have many legal remedies to combat theft, including making sure the copier is dropped from the major search engines as well as other remedies under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA.

So what can you do about it all? First, when getting a url do a little research first. Make sure the url you want will not cause you any concerns later on. Obviously a url with a trademarked name in it will not be suitable. Second, either write you own website content or hire a professional copywriter to do it for you. Unique content is a must with the ever increasing competiton on the web. A small investment now can lead to big dividends down the road. There are plenty of free tools out there to help you with your investment. Sites like copyscape.com will ferret out copies of your site, helping you to identify what has been copied and by whom. You can also register your work as well through the site below:

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