A Silver Lining in Zebragate for Web Marketing Geeks

As you may have heard, the whole Zebragate scandal appears to be coming to a close, with Daniel Rothamel offering to settle with The Lones Group. Once again, I am totally uninterested in weighing in on the legal issues themselves, unless someone wants to retain me as legal counsel, but this settlement will provide a rare, totally unexpected, learning experience for those of us interested in interactive marketing and things web-related.

See, in the settlement, Daniel has offered to surrender usage of the URL RealEstateZebra.com under which he has been blogging since October of 2006.

Within segments of the real estate marketing circles, we’ve been having a lot of speculation of late about the SEO value of blogs. There is significant suspicion that the older blogs have a major advantage over the newer ones because it is suspected that Google counts the age of the URL in its ranking algorithms. Thus, we theorize, blogs of people like Jay Thompson, Daniel Rothamel, Heather Elias, and others are solid lead generation sources because of the SEO value they provide, while the newer bloggers won’t see nearly as much benefit simply because of the age of the URL.

With Daniel, one of the oldest and most prolific members of the RE.net, having to surrender that URL, we’re about to see what the impact is on SEO and on lead generation.

I assume that Daniel will migrate all of his content over to the new blog/website. So all of the longtail keywords should remain exactly the same. I assume he’ll maintain the same blogging platform (WordPress), so there can’t be much of a difference there.

The major wrinkle in this is that all of the inbound links will likely break, unless Daniel somehow undertakes the significant effort of contacting everyone who has ever linked to his posts and to his site and gets them to change the linking URL. But if there aren’t thousands of such inbound links, he may even be able to get those replicated in due time.

The only factor that will have changed, then, is the actual age of the URL. This is a fantastic, rare learning experience. I hope Daniel will keep careful track of web stats over the next several months. In fact, I call upon Gahlord Dewald of Thoughtfaucet to work closely with Daniel, in exchange for that data and that insight. šŸ™‚

I suppose you gotta look for some positives out of this whole mess. Might as well be this one.

-rsh

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8 Comments

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  1. I don’t believe that Daniel actually agreed to give up the domain name only to quit using it.

    1. I didn’t mean he’d give the url to Lones; but he does have to use a NEW url, no? That’s what I’m talking about.

  2. Hey Rob — Please clear up some confusion on my part about Daniel’s site and lead generation. Am I mistaken, didn’t Daniel say in his video that his blog never made a dime? What lead generation? Much thanks.

  3. Rob – If Daniel is simply doing a 301 from realestatezebra.com to a new URL, he’ll be OK – provided the permalinks and redirects are done properly to reduce the amount of broken links.

    We just did a 301 from about 8 different seasoned domains to a fresh URL, and we did not lose any rankings. Google PR is back down to 0 from 4, but I’m not too concerned since the site is still performing like a PR 4 in the SERPs.

    We also imported about 600 pages of old content, and were able to get mostly everything de-indexed / re-indexed within a few weeks. A few bugs here and there, but a success.

    So, hopefully this will give Daniel a little encouragement.

    However, if The Lones Group is taking his seasoned domain, and all of the backlinks he’s spent years building… then that’s a different story.

  4. Well we could all give him a link back to his new site once it is set up. But I agree Mark above when I changed my web master from Number 1 which I was with for 11 year years to a Dakno site they did a 301 permanent redirect and I lost nothing.

  5. According to Yahoo Site Explorer, Daniel has 7800 (strong) links. So, he’ll definitely want to make sure they make the switch the right way. Rob mentioned that Gahlord might help him, so Daniel doen’t have anything to worry about.

    Missy – glad to hear you had a similar experience as me with the 301 from a seasoned domain to a new url. I’m still nervous that something will go wrong, but it’s good to know you didn’t lose anything.

  6. I’ve also done a 301 and didn’t lose rankings for most of my pages. Some dropped a little but they can be built back up over time. No point for him to lose all that hard work. I would definitely recommend the re-direct as Missy and Mark have said.

  7. Funny you should mention that Rob. I’ve already extended an offer to help make the transition. šŸ™‚

    The 301 redirects shouldn’t be too hairy to implement. They don’t pass the same amount of PR as an actual link, but it should be close enough to get a sense of it.

    The real problem with measuring the business value is that Daniel doesn’t really use realestatezebra.com to generate new real estate business. But the raw traffic can certainly be measured.

    Hopefully Daniel will let me help him with the transition, which of course I offered to do for free given his situation and the fact that he is one of the very first people to connect me to the real estate industry.

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