Finally a Google Penguin Update? Happy Now?
Google, according to one Gary Illyes might maybe be launching a Penguin Algorith refresh next week. We’ve heard a few cries of wolf before but maybe if testing goes well this might be the big one.
According to the article on SearchEngineLand.com, most people will find the new Penguin algorithm “a delight.”
Thinking of a quick rush to disavow links? Forget it. Too late. That index has been built as of a few weeks ago.
Search Engine Land says the good guys at Google are “working hard on making both webmasters and users happy. Last time someone said everyone would be happy was when the writers of the Lost series finale created a flopper that made exactly .0053% of the viewing audience happy.
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This comes down to the truth vs. the PR campaign that, just like the fun at Googoe, never stops. It also comes down to attempts by Google to put everyone’s focus on driving organic search profiteers away while sequestering to themselves an army of non-commercial content providers and paying Adwords advertisers. This is a model that the TV and movie industry could never quite achieve. Let any would-be popular star try their hand at being content producers on the web and see how they fare. Google is shoring up dollars and ad revenue with every algorithmic update and penalty.
Barry Schwartz at SERoundtable says it looks like Penguin 3 is about to roll out. I wouldn’t be too surprised. There has been some unusual volatility in search results over the last couple of days even among my customer base. Spikes in volatility are typical just prior to a major update in the Google search engine.
Penguin updates are real and harmful to a lot of businesses but Google doesn’t mind that as long as they can improve their search results to their liking. It’s our job to make sure we don’t get hammered by an update like this or any.
If your website was hit by the last Penguin update, now is the time to have already done your disavowal’s etc. If you start now it’s probably too late for this cycle.
The advice from Google will probably not change much. If you have been hit by Penguin or get hit this time around, as far as organic search rankings is concerned, it’s probably best to just start over with a new website.
In my own experience, I have, to be largely true. I have struggled for months on end with recovering websites from penalties with marginal results while on the other hand, I’ve been able to rank brand-new domains for fairly competitive markets with hundreds of thousands in population in the real estate niche on two page 1 for market high-volume terms in 60 to 90 days flat.
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Requiem For Google’s Last Honest Dance
In the movie Man In The Iron Mask, the young king spends the night with another in a series of very naïve young women who thinks she is in love by morning. She starts to talk to the king about breakfast and what they might enjoy to which the king replies, “I like to eat alone. By the way, you’re leaving tomorrow.” This in essence, is what Google has done to everyone they drew into the ballroom to dance with them in celebration of Google plus. At the end of the night, we have all been screwed and the illusion is over. One of the biggest incentives to online marketers and bloggers alike to form a new allegiance with Google on their new, if slightly clumsy social network and it’s oddly named similarities to likes and shares, was the promise of increased interactions and click-throughs because of the visibility of authorship images in organic search results.
Now they don’t need us anymore and they don’t want people to see us hanging around the palace. Best to make us invisible.
After two years of apparently feigned courtship to bloggers, marketers and business owners, Google pulled the plug on authorship images in search results.
I am not especially disillusioned and I understand that Google is a business. I am also under no illusion that what I present here is somehow a full representation of the truth about what Google is doing with authorship. The problem it illustrates however is how Google tends more often now, to treat people with disrespect especially as Google grows larger and richer.
What I say here is true, not in the sense that it is true to the exclusion of other truths and bigger truths about why Google made their decision. It is true alongside of those other truths. It well may be that Google’s intent and best effort was to improve their search results but doing so is like damming up the Yellow River in China to get more power. If thousands or tens of thousands of people live along its banks and have lived there for centuries of generations, that’s just too bad. Their homes will now be flooded and destroyed. They will be displaced and forced to live in strange new unwanted environments.
Google CFM “censorship for money” is what is happening. Maybe not from Google’s perspective but definitely from the perspective of everyone they have dismissed and disenfranchised in the course of making their large-scale decision that respects stockholders and profit margins more than they respect the people that helped get them there to enjoy those values.
Google brought all of us into a dance two years ago, promising a world where we had a voice and a means of expression like never before. We could interact with others on the web and retain our identity across search. That was until it somehow got out of their control. Once again, Google decided to take the easy route of censorship in the virtual universe. If you get too visible. If you get too much advantage. If you get out of line. Google will not hesitate to single you out and delegitimize or even punish you as an entity or as an individual. Play by our rules or we will silence you. It may not technically be a universe that they control but it is practically and functionally on a daily basis, an entire virtual universe that they control. It works like a universe and entities live and die there whether Google ever intended that or not. At some point, they began to leverage that reality with Google Plus. The problem is that this is not a universe they created. It’s not really their virtual property but they took control of it anyway. They simply came and took over a very large portion of the World Wide Web. Functionally and perhaps unfortunately, they have positioned themselves as a sole gateway and keeper of this world wide web for the majority of people who go online. They make the rules and enforcement is swift and targeted. They will punish you even if only to make you an example of you to others. They will destroy your entire business just to demonstrate that they can do so to others. This is as if to say “We can’t kill all of you but the next one we see, we will execute. Now, don’t get out of line, the rest of you.”
How many times has Google started out as your friend and turned out to be your enemy or at least your frenemy? Google often starts out promoting themselves as being on the moral high ground but somehow they end up on the strategic high ground only, and then their supporters defend them saying they are just a corporation taking the best course for their business, so morality doesn’t apply. That’s fine as long as morality is on the same level throughout the process from beginning to end and from the start when Google attracts new customers and new subscribers, but that isn’t what they do. They can best be judged not by what they say but what they do next.
In the attraction phase, they naturally acquire and accumulate a small cadre of dedicated defenders. Those defenders are also quick to correct you and are even ready to report you to the authorities if they see you breaking either the old rules or the new ones or even one that they decide are important that they make up themselves. When you get in bed with Google, the end always turns out the same. Just as you are marveling at how cool the king and his palace are, the king says “I like to eat alone. By the way, you are leaving right now.”
As long as we are willing to put up with the behavior of a bad king, the bad behavior we get is Google as it is today. Unilateral, unfettered, unbridled exercise of power regardless of what it does to any or most or even all of us.
Next time Google throws a party, and invites everyone to come in for a great time, I’m at first inclined to say “no thank you” but like most of us, I will probably go, but with my eyes wide open. They have done everything possible to ensure that no other choices are available.
Realtor.com is almost always in the top 3 results for your real estate market. (It’s not fair and that’s the way it is.)
One of the biggest reasons why Zillow, Trulia and Realtor get the lions share of local search terms such as “Boca Raton real estate for sale” is natural link volume and diversity.
Google’s Penguin algorithm supposedly punishes over optimization of anchor text yet I have found, According to Google itself, a phrase that shows up in 11 million links pointing back to Realtor.com. How is this possible? One reason is that this particular phrase shows up as part of much longer and varied phrases but its influence on search results is clear and compelling. There are some takeaways regarding this approach to anchor text at the end of this post.
By link diversity I mean two things that are equally applicable.
1. Diverse domains.
In simple terms, Google runs a test to see who links to your website. If they determine that most of your links come from only a few people that means a lot less than you have links coming from a larger variety of people(Websites). Checking on the authenticity, server location and geographic location of domains with links to your website helps them determine your website’s importance.
2. Diverse anchors.
This is another test to see if you are over optimizing(Manipulating) the search engine by using repeated anchor text. This is with the penguin algorithm is all about. Failing this test can wipe your website off the Google landscape. The days of gaming search results for a keyword by creating a lot of links with that keyword across a limited set of websites are over. The days of high visibility for a topic, a concept and quality ideas is certainly here to stay. This is not to say that keywords and links don’t matter. It’s just that Google’s testing has become a lot more sophisticated and has really put the pressure on to stay away from artificial manipulation of specific keywords and lean toward authentic content and authentic link acquisition.
These two factors are algorithmically assessed by Google’s computers and scored.
The more of these kind of links that you have the higher you will be shown in search results.
Despite the rising crescendo of Google’s nonstop PR campaign and FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) campaign about link manipulation, links are still king in search engine optimization.
My studies continue to show evidence that these aggregator websites provide widgets that systematically and programmatically change anchor text pointing back to their particular Community search pages so that there is always a balanced ratio of anchor text to avoid the Penguin penalty. I even suspect that these widgets are programmed to display one thing to visitors and another to search engines. This is a clear violation of Google’s TOS if it is true but big brands get away with a lot of things that you and I supposedly cannot.
Realtor.com is in the number one position for the search”Miami real estate.” and a quick evaluation on Majestic SEO’s Site Explorer revealed this anchor text: “miami real estate – miami, fl homes for sale – realtor.com®” coming from several websites pointing back to the Miami page on realtor.com. Every one of them that I checked did not have the link when I visited the webpage but they did have a widget that is deployed across in about 46,000 websites (shown below).
Realtor is not the only one to provide widgets that come with their own TOS and it usage agreement which typically restricts the user from altering any code whatsoever in the widget. This leaves the owner of the widget free to create and rotate links and anchor text at will. Will Google ever do anything about this? I don’t know but they certainly will hammer you if you try it!
This is an ingenious approach to link building because the anchor text is very long and does not focus on one particular keyword but rather that uses multiple longtail keywords combined with a brand. This seems to have completely bypassed the Penguin algorithm to the benefit Realtor.com.
In fact, if you have a look at the trailing part of that anchor text and search it by exact text, Surrounded by quotes, in Google, Google says there are 11 million such instances of that phrase within link anchors. I guess they get a pass because other words precede that phrase.
There is a lesson to be learned here. Google loves a brand even when they clearly manipulate links and anchor text.
Longer anchor texts appear to survive Penguin much better than short ones.
A lot of people are handing the farm to the aggregator sites so that they can use their tools.
Don’t worry, there is still plenty of room on page 1 of Google search for a well-crafted website with good quality links pointing to it and of course a good social signal doesn’t hurt at all. Contact me for help.
Stay away from repeated over-use of shorter anchors of obvious commercial intent. Penguin won’t be far away.
There has been a lot of talk about what kind of SEO works on real estate websites. What kind of content is indexed? Listings? Your blog posts? Facebook? Pinterest? The all-new potentially powerful authorship SEO on Google Plus? The real estate agent faced with increasing domination of a few familiar names at the top of every Google search finds themselves thinking, “What SEO technique will get me more traffic to my website so I can get leads?”
Are You Fighting An Opponent Who Calls All The Shots?
You’re in a fight with a behemoth, Google itself who, incidentally, calls all the shots.
This may remind you of a hand to hand combat scene in some epic movie. The call rings out, “Choose your weapon!” Someone is going to lose and someone is going to win. The greater power or prowess will determine the fate of everything. The time and place and the conditions of the battle are all set by the same party that is NOT going to lose this fight. You may hold out or even get the upper hand for a round but in the end, you’re going to be overcome. You will go down in defeat because the resources of your opponent are virtually limitless. If you’re going to survive and even thrive, you’re going to have to adjust your strategy and employ personal guerrilla tactics that work, just like George Washington did.
George Washington Faced an Insurmountable Foe
George Washington was an ant against an anteater and he knew it. Great Britain was a/the world class alpha empire. In the eyes of their overlords, the British, Americans were a fledgling hodgepodge of rugged but in military preparedness, hopelessly inexperienced and untrained farmers. They were subjects of the crown- the “brand of the day“ that mattered. We have some “brand of the day” monoliths in real estate for online search too. Google gives high priority and preference to them and generally not you, the local agent. This is the new face of real estate SEO and reality is where we forge effective strategy for real estate marketing online with profitability. A battle and a war is often won by the most agile, not the most powerful.
Professionals VS Determined Individuals With A Personal Do Or Die Cause
The British and their hired mercenary allies were all uniformed, highly trained and disciplined professionals. What chance did rugged individualists have against them? Determination and a unique, agile, always thinking on their feet populace who knew their own territory inside and out. No imported army could be prepared for the intricacies of fighters who knew every hectare and acre of the territory they lived in. They knew about every clearing, hollow and hill and where the advantages in their strategy could be leveraged.
Americans were the insurgents and they did not engage in a “gentleman’s fight.” You may be up against seemingly insurmountable opponents but you are not in the “gentleman’s fight.” You are in the fight for your own market, your own leads and your own territory in real estate and effective real estate SEO still delivers the goods when it comes to conversion. I know. My efforts in SEO was instrumental in delivering over $57 million in sales in an 18 month period for one client alone who leveraged a very local, targeted SEO strategy to gain visibility and a foothold in an extremely competitive south Florida real estate market.
A Difference Of Intent And Attitude
What made the difference? George Washington had a purpose to achieve and a message to deliver and he didn’t waste time grandstanding in epic but un-winnable battles to advance his cause. He was agile, he was deliberate and he had a clear vision of his unique idea of life independent of a monolithic empire and narrative about a people who would be free and independent. That was his message and the British with all their technical and military superiority couldn’t deal with it. There’s was no suppressing the underdog Americans.
Content Marketing In The Revolution Of Real Estate SEO
While the British were thinking they should try to win over the hearts and minds of the Americans, Thomas Paine was writing Common Sense and penning documents like the Declaration of Independence. Early content marketing that was powerfully effective against a much larger mass communication capability.
It’s about the individually tailored and crafted message directly to the heart and mind. It resonates already because it’s already in sync with the specific person who is most likely to respond based on their own needs and desires. No winning hearts and minds required. They’re already won by affiliation and understanding on a personal level.
Freedom Of Expression and Unique Ideas in Real Estate Marketing
It is the tendency to conform that ruins your visibility and conversion in the marketplace, not your position in Google. It’s easy to get seen. A few key words and phrases in your title and content that is specific enough to be found is going to be found, especially by people online looking for answers that you’re being very specific about. It’s harder to be unique and attract and engage the right people and turn them into clients but your competition is less prepared than you think.
Much of your competition is doing the same thing as everyone else– afraid to be different and afraid to somehow look unprofessional or less convincing than the next agent who is saying and offering the exact same service and product as you. How are you going to win with that strategy? Everyone with greater resources and greater exposure gets in line first for the same run of the mill uncommitted and unfocused low quality leads.
Don’t you want to attract and acquire as dedicated clients, people who are most charged, motivated and emotionally prepared to commit to a strong client/agent relationship and cooperate in a sale that will culminate in success?
Meeting the mind and emotion of the right buyers and sellers combined with enough search visibility to be found by the best, most prepared to act leads is the key to your success- one valuable client at a time.
Content And SEO Can Be Worth Millions
My long standing track record of success and expertise in both content that sells and visibility that gets to the right person is at your disposal if you act first. I take on a limited amount of clients, especially with the demand for competent SEO and marketing talent that increases with each Google algorithm update that sends underperforming SEO strategies packing. This means, simply, there is more work and less available providers of working strategies. Now is the right time to start in a long term strategy of unique, compelling marketing messages to a target audience (your own market) that reaches well beyond the cold, impersonal mechanized approach of listing aggregators like Zillow and Trulia. The right combination of real estate SEO, real estate search marketing and delivery of compelling, value laden direct messages and communiqués to your most likely to buy or sell market audience is worth millions. It has been to my clients and can be for you as well.
Contact me now to find out for free if you are currently a candidate to deploy your unique message to an audience that brings sales to your business and money to your bank account. You may need to come up to speed in terms of your marketing strategy and/or website and online profile but a call to me will leave you better off and pointed in the right direction whether I can take you on as a client right away or not. You might as well take the first step out from behind the very online entities that cloak and render invisible your own online presence. They demand that you pay them for your own leads. Take the challenge now and take back your own market on a local level with the very things at your disposal, personal touch, personal value and expert knowledge of your market that the empirical aggregators can never duplicate and can never take from the informed and dynamic local marketing real estate agent.
Call me 888-216-1231 or cell: 714-222-7961
Real Estate SEO in 2013
Everyone virtually without exception is telling you content marketing is where it’s at in 2013 and generally they are correct but where are you putting that content? Who is benefiting most from what you do online? Syndications are rolling out more and more schemes with a front end that looks like a great benefit to real estate agents but these schemes tend to work like inverse Trojan horses gathering many elements of the work of individual agents and amassing all those small pieces of effort and energy to themselves to create massive powerhouses that dominate search results.
Trulia Stealing Your Thunder In Search?
What’s really happening: Trulia has, with your permission, installed a link with targeted anchor text on your website that gives page rank or link juice back to Trulia.com. Beyond that, the widget takes instructions by “calling home” and alters the link keywords to match your specific real estate market, e.g. “Hollywood Hills homes for sale.” These links aggregate as more people install the free widget and Trulia benefits from an array of links pointing to their website where ever they want them to and with whatever anchor text that they want to have pointing to them. In other words, they control the entire linking profile from a vast number of relevant websites all to do with real estate. What could be more powerful than that? And it works. Trulia shows up as the first search result for more and more local real estate searches in Google.
Fighting the Trend:
One thing that local agents have that is withheld from syndicates is Google’s local search. Optimizing your website along with references in Google local delivers high placement in search results, usually above all the syndicate results.
Another is local content. Agents who create content about their community on their website, their blogs and available channels like YouTube will outperform syndicates despite their domain power.
Google authorship: Nothing speaks to a local audience like the face of the local person in search results. it’s easy to cross-link your Google profile and your website. This will deliver the headshot of your choice in search results attracting attention saying, “Here is a local person who can really help you one on one.”
I spend countless hours studying and learning what the latest pet peeves and carrot and stick strategies Google is employing to get people to behave they want on their websites. It’s Google’s game absolutely and if you want to be ranked high on Google you will learn the rules or employ someone who knows them well and preferably both. If you should always be informed about what is happening in your business and SEO is no exception.
One way to get quickly informed and find out immediate strategies that will improve your ranking quickly is to take advantage of my Real Estate SEO Jumpstart this multifaceted analysis and strategy session includes full website analysis and one on one sessions along with concrete strategies spelled out for you to get guaranteed higher placement for the keywords you are struggling to rank for right now. These are steps you can take on your own, immediately that will make a difference in your real estate business visibility online.