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We work in a wonderful industry, don't we?  In this digital age, we are afforded the flexibility and freedom to work darn near anywhere and anytime.  At the beach, in the mountains, at the local coffee shop, or at the not so local cafe in Venice, Italy, we are able to log on to any one of the estimated 1.5 million public WiFi networks available in the world.  With all of this freedom comes some very real risks, mainly being hacked and unknowingly sharing all of your private information with a stranger who has bad intentions.  There are some precautions you can take to protect yourself, and your information, when you are using a public WiFi connection.  Here are 3 tips for you to safely use a public network wherever you may be.

  1. Use only secure websites when transmitting sensitive data.  You know the ones I'm talking about – the ones with the "https" in the address bar.  These sites scramble the information being sent or received so that it is much more difficult for the bad guys to get info they can use.
  2. Install and use a Virtual Private Network on your device – Virtual Private Network (or VPN) software encrypts the data you transmit across the internet to all sites (secure or not). VPN's have been used by large corporations for years, and now they are available to individuals for small monthly fees.  Companies like Private WiFi and VPN4ALL charge anywhere from $9.95 to $19.95 per month depending on the amount of data you transmit and receive.
  3. Do not automatically connect to a wireless hotspot – Change the settings on your laptop or iPad so that it will not automatically connect to WiFi.  Some hackers will setup fake WiFi hotspots to make their job of stealing your information easier.  Don't fall prey to them.  Use only Public networks that use WPA2 technology.  The network's security system is displayed in the box where you enter a password to connect.

Follow these 3 tips to protect your info and save yourself from a huge headache by having your computer hacked.  If you've had your computer hacked or your identity stolen electronically, then please share your story with us below.  It is a great opportunity for all of us to learn how these bad guys are doing their dirty work.

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Every once in a while I find something online that I absolutely fall in love with and I have to share with everyone I know. Well, I wish I could say that I was the first one to discover this site, but I cannot.  I wish I would surprise you with the name of this awesome site, but I will not.  The site is not a new one, but it probably does have uses that you were unaware of.  And, that is my main reason for today's blog post.  The site is Stumbleupon. There are two reasons I love Stumbleupon and you will too.  

The first reason is obvious – the site is just cool. Stumbleupon describes itself as follows: 

StumbleUpon is a discovery engine that finds the best of the web, recommended to each unique user. It allows its users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.

While setting up your profile, you tell Stumbleupon what interests and likes you have.  After that you can click on the "Stumble!" button, and Stumbleupon will search the interest to find photos, videos, blog posts and websites that fit your likes and interests.  So, when you have time to kill and you want to learn more about your favorite hobby, you click the "Stumble!" button and Stumbleupon does the dirty search work for you. 

The second reason I like StumbleUpon is for the traffic it can generate for your own website.  There is a difference in traffic and quality traffic, and Stumbleupon can generate both for you.  Here are 5 steps that you can use to generate your website with Stumbleupon.
1. Install the toolbar – I have to be honest… I hate too many toolbars on my browser! But to use this tool properly, you really need to install the toolbar on your browser as it makes finding, sharing, and communicating with the community easier.  
2. Install the Stumble Button – This button is similar to the Facebook like or Google+ buttons many of you have on your website.  Put this button on your pages and blog posts.  
3. Connect with other Stumblers – Connect to Stumbleupon via Facebook to see if any of your other contacts are using Stumbleupon.  If so, connect with them, and they will likewise return the favor.  From there you can encourage your following to like each other's relevant content to get more bang for your Stumbleupon buck.  Note: you really want to connect with others who have similar interests to make this strategy take off for you.  
4.  Consider Stumble Paid Discovery – This can be a low cost way to send a surge of traffic to a particular blog post that you have.  The quality of this traffic is not the greatest; however the volume of traffic will help make up for that. 
5. su.pr – This is Stumbleupon's own link shortner (muck like bit.ly). This su.pr tool makes submitting your content to Stumbleupon at the same time you send to Facebook and Twitter very easy. 
So, go on out there and setup your Stumbleupon profile if you don't already have one and start playing with Stumbleupon.  While you are there playing, spend 30 minutes each week using Stumbleupon to drive traffic to your website.  Your checkbook and SEO will thank you.  
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Google AdWords is a great way for Realtors to increase the amount of prospective buyer and seller traffic to your website.  Charts show that more people actually click on the first few "organic" search results than click on ads listed above them; however, the evidence cannot be ignored and Google AdWords does work to drive traffic to your personal real estate website.  Just like everything else in life, the unknown in real estate marketing is scary.  So, let's eliminate this fear of the unknown of Google AdWords by showing you how Google determines what you pay for your ad.

The Auction -

Google uses an "auction" in determining which ad gets placed in a certain position in their search results.  The auction determines 3 things:

  1. Which ads show on a particular search results page – Google first looks for all eligible advertisers based on keywords and other target settings, such as geographic location.  Each search results page can have up to 15 ads per page.
  2. How the ads are ranked (order of placement of your ad) – Google now uses AdRank to determine where ads are ranked in their search results page.  AdRank is calculated by multiplying the advertiser's maximum bid by their Quality Score.  An advertiser's Quality Score is a measure Google uses to determine how well your ad and the page where you direct your visitors match what searchers are looking for.  Google will then rank the ads for that keyword from highest to lowest based on AdRank.  Below is a picture of how AdRank works to give you an example.
    Google AdWords for Real Estate
  3. The cost each advertiser pays per click – Your AdRank is divided by your Quality Score and you will pay $.01 more than the maximum bid of the next advertiser.  Therefore, you often will pay less than your maximum bid.  You should note than an advertiser with a better quality score can actually pay less than other advertisers and have its ad appear higher up on the page.

So having success with Google AdWords is more than just outbidding the last advertiser since Google's "auction" is not  really an auction.  Your Quality Score plays a huge role in determining which ad shows up where and how much that ad costs.  Google AdWords allows advertisers to choose how much it will pay for an ad and how often that ad displays.  You may even set a daily budget to limit your spending on the service so that you don't wake up one day to find a huge advertising bill being charged to your credit card.  Take some time to learn a little more about Google AdWords and begin implementing it in your business this Spring to help increase your pipeline of prospective buyers and sellers.  If you are already using Google AdWords in your marketing efforts, please tell me how it is working for you in the comment section below.

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Scientists call it "friggatriskaidephobia."  You and I say it is the fear of Friday the 13th.  I often run across those who are more superstitious than I am, and today someone made me wonder where this fear of a day, one certain day, comes from.  so i took a few minutes to visit a few sites on the internet to find when and how this fear of Friday the 13th started.

It appears there are conflicting reports out there as to the origin of the superstition, but the consensus is this… the fear of Friday the 13th is a modern creation of two older superstitions – That Friday is an unlucky day, and that the 13th is an unlucky number.

Here are some facts that may help to explain these fears:

  • In numerology, the number 12 is considered to be the number of completeness – 12 hours on a clock, 12 months in a year, 12 apostles of Jesus, etc.  But 13 is considered irregular, overstepping that completeness – 13 people dining at the last supper of Jesus, etc.
  • Friday has been considered unlucky since the 14th century novel The Canterbury Tales.  Here are some examples of unlucky Friday – Black Friday (Crash of the US stock markets), according to Christian scripture the crucifixion of Jesus Christ took place on a Friday.

I, obviously, am not going to try to dispel your superstition of Friday the 13th, so here are some notable occurrences of Fridays the 13th:

  • Four of the 12 films in the Friday the 13th series were released on … Friday the 13th.
  • Tupac Shakur was pronounced dead on Friday the 13th.
  • Black Sabbath's debut album was released in the UK on Friday the 13th.
  • Astroid 99942 Apophis will make a close encounter with earth on Friday the 13th.

The effects of friggatriskaidephobia are great.  The Stress Management and Phobia Institute estimates that the 17 – 21 million people are effected by this day and that $800 – $900 million is lost in business on a Friday the 13th.

Don't let the fear of today take money out of your pocket because you are in hiding.  Get out there and make the first of the 3 Fridays the 13th this year a great day.

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