SEO Updates, Insights & Perspectives
Finding the latest in SEO trends with Dave Keys.
…And why is it that every board of Realtors at every board meeting taking votes on who gets a license to market with their listing… see, we don’t blame Zillow for what Zillow’s doing. It’s in their nature…
Is this the way real estate marketing is headed? To be taken over by Walmart, Amazon or Zillow? What would a real estate agent as facilitator look like? What would transactions without listing agents, or any agents look like? It isn’t just SEO that’s taking a beating from Zillow. It’s the entire industry as Zillow uses data and technology to approach monopolistic control of the entire real estate market.
Preparing for real estate marketing in a new year, are we headed for a bubble, a bust or a boom? Forbes says slow down and be cautious about buying and look for signs of a bubble to consumers at http://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2016/11/15/signs-your-local-real-estate-market-is-a-bubble/#5e31ec9d3d79 Meanwhile, Bloomberg says the biggest foreign investor real estate frenzy is coming next year.
Real estate marketing is the key to success for the individual agent, the brokerage or agency selling in any local community or city. Your product is you, your team, your services, your unique offer to a market where the homes are simply a commodity. Your business makes money when customers buy you, not when they buy a house which they can do all by themselves, at least in theory. Recent studies indicate the overwhelming majority of consumers simply work with the first real estate agent they contact.
The real threshold to a sale is solving the problem that agents are perceived as another commodity. The syndicate sites are happy to promote this idea in their commercials where you see precious little, if any, of the real estate agent. The fantasy world where people look at a house online together and walk into their new home, keys in hand is the stuff of TV ads but not the real world. You get visible in front of consumers ahead of competitors, especially in those other 11 visits consumers make to other websites after visiting Zillow or Trulia and your chance to market the first real product they will buy for the price of their email address or making a phone call, is unmatched.
This is where I come in to help you gain market visibility through SEO and digital marketing strategies that place you in front of buyers and sellers of real estate in your local market. Call now 714-222-7961 or complete the form to your right to get started now.
A lot of people are interested in knowing how hard is it to rank for terms like Franklin Tennessee real estate for sale and other terms where they know there is some traffic and that’s where the thinking terminates and they unknowingly fall into a failed strategy. While of course traffic is good, it’s only the start to proper marketing for your real estate business. Think about this, what if you treated your real estate farm in the same way? What if you simply tossed your business card at the doorstep of everybody in a certain neighborhood? How well do you think that would convert people to list their home with you? I think that might persuade people to understand who to avoid to list their home. Why do agents throw great resources at ranking in Google only to have people come to a website where there is no personal connection with the very person they need to choose to work with in order for there to be money into your business? Of course reading this, it’s clear it makes no sense but this is exactly what a lot of agents pursue because they are mesmerized by the thought of getting a lot of traffic to their website. The harsh truth is that I see agents with plenty of traffic to their website all the time who don’t get sales because they don’t deserve them. They don’t do anything to connect with the target market one person at a time. When you are selling real estate it’s a one to one proposition. You look at one house at a time. You talk with one or two people at a time. You take pains to make sure that they are seeing what is well matched to their ability and desire to buy. No less care should be taken with your website where the number one product is not the houses – not yet, but you. Yes, I want you to hire me to help you with SEO. More than that however, I want you to succeed even if for selfish reasons that I want you to be able to pay me for successful marketing campaigns online and if you’re not making money you won’t be able to do that. Much better to have such overwhelming success that there’s plenty of money to engage in more and more online marketing to capture more market share from your competitors who are too lazy to figure out what to do to improve their business and the lives of their customers.
When it comes to real estate SEO, ranking a webpage is only part of an effective strategy. Every piece of the marketing puzzle must be properly in place for success and that includes persuasion architecture and sales optimization just as much as, if not more than, website optimization.
We’re looking at the true value of a video that has received a lot of views and can be considered a success in terms of real estate SEO.
This video received 12,000 views over six years so that’s an average of 2000 views a year. I still getting use right now. The problem is your engagement once they see it and this is the problem with every online video. Many real estate agents think that they have to cover every detail and a video and they make them too long and often with too many special effects as well. This video lasts a little over three minutes and we demonstrate that over half of the audience is lost in just the first third of viewing the video. The average view duration is one minute and eight seconds and all the ranking of the world doesn’t make people like something they get bored with. This is important to remember with every aspect of a real estate website not just video. Search engine optimization simply gets you into the game but how you perform then is everything. If your bounce rate is high then it really doesn’t matter what your position is in search results and it doesn’t matter how your page looks aesthetically. What does matter is that you have a very clear compelling message that is designed specifically for your target audience person by person so that individual people are emotionally motivated by your message to take the right action. That right action is to contact you to be their real estate agent. There really is no other reason ultimately for a webpage or any online marketing to exist because you, the real estate agent are the true product here.
Sure, you’ve heard of SEO but what about SEO that targets your exact market in Copperas Cove and Texas communities like Killeen, Lampasas and the 800LB gorilla of potential marketing treasure, Ft. Hood? Do you have strategies and visibility in these markets that overcome the mediocre competition? I say not because I took a look at the online presence of real estate business and I saw one thing: opportunity in droves.
Watch the video here and if you’re prepared to invest in market domination with me, fill out that form over there or call the number (714) 924-4422. (if you’re not in Copperas Cove, fill in the form first)
Our first steps involve developing a comprehensive online real estate marketing strategy and a healthy dose of SEO that takes market share by storm.
Over the weekend and into this week, it has become evident that Google has returned 7 Pack local results to most real estate and Realtor search terms.
From: Dave Keys Real Estate SEO Expert. Real Estate Marketing online. Today we’re looking at some of the biggest Google online visibility news for real estate agents in well over a year. Google has apparently shifted back to previous levels of visibility for real estate agents in local search business and map listings.
Now, wherever you may search, you’re most likely to find local results for “real estate agents” searches
and realtor searches and very often for “real estate” searches too.
Searches for “homes for sale” tend to deliver standard organic results with Zillow and Trulia leading the organic lineup in most markets.
Beginning in early May and especially over the weekend results began appearing and by now, if things remain in place, after well over a year, the ability to benefit from local results is once again available to the local real estate business online.
If you want to see where you stand for a local search and you’re not on the 7 or 3 pack, click the “Map results for link”
and see where you show up in the map listings. That gives you an indication of the work and competition ahead to get that top of the page visibility for your real estate business.
The signals for this visibility are straightforward. Generally, to rank well in local results, you need a healthy ranking in organic search. You also need sufficient data and citations for your business in appropriate Google local channels.
Contact me for details on this regained advantage for real estate agents.
Here’s how the Panda US Patent extract says it works. There’s not a lot left to the imagination about the intent of this patent. It becomes clear that Google has sophisticated scoring system and their wish is to apply that algorithmically to derive the best possible search results. Built into this patent if you look for it, is the entire concept of Google’s preference for brands that they have expressed at least since 2008 when Eric Schmidt declared that the Internet is a cesspool and brands clean up the cesspool. Although not covered in-depth in this video, google’s modification factors begin with the question of whether the query matches the resource– In other words do users tend to choose the Apple website when they type the word Apple into the search engine?
Any position on page 1 by a bona-fide local real estate agent instead of a branded national website is met by perfectly prepared leads and prospects who are now specifically looking for the right real estate agent to connect with.
As the search engine receives queries that move further away from of these brands, modification factors begin to be applied. To keep clear of modification factors, websites need authority and trusted associations to validate their qualification for higher preference in search results.
When it comes to SEO, there are a number of feared algorithms associated with Google search results ranking penalties. The Panda algorithm is considered by many to be among the most impactful if not the most. But, is that an accurate assessment? The capability of the algorithm to rank search results is the featured topic of the actual abstract of the Panda algorithm filed in 2012 with the US Patent office. Dave Keys of http://solutionsbydave.com covers this topic briefly here. Google is looking for a plurality of signals that authenticate the trust of any given web page or website. Looking for an SEO expert? Get help from Dave Keys for success in your real-estate SEO.
The opportunity for local real estate agents to fill in the gap where the syndicates fall short is still enormous- so much that I’ve seen extremely high percentages of search volume in position #5 after Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, Homes take the top 4 spots, compared to standard estimates of search volume for page one positions. So many people find themselves dissatisfied with the syndicate experience that a whopping 25% of them make their way to position 5. Any position on page 1 by a bona-fide local real estate agent instead of a branded national website is met by perfectly prepared leads and prospects who are now specifically looking for the right real estate agent to connect with. Is it you?
2014 was a year when Google started really taking things away from the local agent in droves. What’s to be done about it? I’ll talk more about what they took away, but first the solution. What can the local agent do to take back some of the territory they enjoyed in 2013 and had slapped from their hands in 2014?
Fighting head to head with the syndicates and brands for page one visibility. In essence, this is the best, although not always affordable, answer. Hire an SEO like me or a better one than me. In other words, if you expect to follow this course, don’t expect to get away with cheap because you will get away with your clothes and skin burned right off. The damage from cheap, offshore SEO can be un-repairable or so arduous as to not be worth it. The gaze of Google on you will be unrelenting even if they release you from specific penalties. Like the Eye of Sauron, they will always be looking for the ring of unapproved link building and the withering effect of that gaze may be too much to ever recover the former glory of your ranking.
Google loves Zillow and all the rest, but there’s not enough Zillow-class stuff to put all over page one so there is room for you and believe me, the people who are still looking around the Internet after the Zillow experience are available in plenty of numbers to provide you with a robust flow of leads and prospects for your business.
Google Taketh Away and Google Giveth
Here’s a quick list of what Google took away from the local agent in 2014: Authorship (that gave you the photo by your site listing in search results), HTML5 video thumbs (gave you an image for self-hosted videos), Google Local Business results (the 7 Pack went away for most RE queries), overall continued favor to big syndication brands like Zillow, taking away increased visibility on page one for primary search terms.
What’s the big search engine advantage to the local real estate agent now? Free inclusion in the big boys club. It’s not automatic but it is indeed free.
The Panda Misinformation Campaign
Ask anyone familiar with SEO what the Panda algorithm is and they’ll probably express it in terms of how it will penalize your website. Dr. Pete said as much in his Fat Pandas and Thin Content article way back in 2011 and I reflected that sentiment for the next three years with everyone else but no more. Matt Cutts appeared regularly on Q & A videos and forums to talk about Panda penalties and the chase was on to avoid yet another awful bird released by Google that might come and kill your website while you were sleeping or just having lunch.
What happened to change my mind and how do I see it now?
What Is The Panda Algorithm Exactly?
In 2014 Google published what was already a public record- its patent filed with the US Patent office for the Panda Algorithm. You can read it in all its glory at http://www.google.com/patents/US8682892 but below is the Abstract that describes just what Google regarded as important enough for patent protection. The funny thing about a US Patent filing is that you can’t mislead the US Patent office because if you do, someone with a more accurate filing can come along and patent your idea by being accurate in describing it when you weren’t. In other words, there’s no lying or misdirection with the patent office because you might jeopardize your proprietary invention.
Check out the abstract with my highlighting:
Let’s just look at the words that are repeated and understand those but first, let’s look at the opening statement. It tells you in explicit terms just what Panda is. It is a method for ranking search results.
I’ll repeat that for emphasis.
IT IS A METHOD FOR RANKING SEARCH RESULTS.
Now, how it does that involves, as stated four times, a plurality of groups of resources. You can read the abstract and go on and read the patent and associated illustrations all you like and I’m not going to argue too long on the merits of my explanation because the actions I’ve taken on that understanding have transformed my own search results. I’ve used this method to rank pages instantly upon indexing with zero links. Zero.
Let’s look at what the plurality of groups of resources means and doesn’t mean by way of illustration:
The important thing is that Panda is not page rank. Panda is Google’s new, preferred method to rank websites and pages. In the absence of good strong plural resources from authority groups, Google will step down and use more traditional signals like single inbound links and other signals. Given the chance, Google will go with the group consensus.
Become a member site. The memberships are out there for the joining- mostly free. Engage, create content and make your website a member of that plurality and you’re on your way to aligning with the latest shiny positive ranking Algorithm in Google’s toolbox.
As always, if you need a robust, effective real estate SEO campaign to put your website into overdrive in 2015, contact me. Fill in the form to the right or call 714-924-4422.
Real Estate SEO
Real Estate Marketing Expert
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In Like A Lamb… Penguin 3.0? If so, it seems fairly gentle for a Penguin update. Lots of changes in search results for some. Lots of chatter about Penguin 3.0 or Penguin 6 etc. The obvious is that something event-class happened early Saturday Oct 18, 2014. Anyone’s guess what it could be if not a Penguin refresh. That’s my vote but Google hasn’t confirmed. I have seen a few things improved where I knew someone had a Penguin penalty. Waiting for confirmation from Google if it ever comes.
Here’s what it’s not:
These are my observations only. Any of them could end up being off center of what is really happening but one thing is clear, the update seems to have extremely little or no impact on higher quality links.
The weekend has been abuzz with an obvious update in the algorithm. Recovery of websites, including some that I have managed, disappearance of other websites (none of which I have managed) seem to fit within the definition of a Penguin algorithm refresh or update. There are a lot of things this update is NOT (yet) which should be paid attention to until more information can be verified. Here is my short list:
• Not confirmed by Google (Now it’s confirmed)
• Not necessarily Penguin as we know it – far weaker right now than previous updates
• Not necessarily completed. Anything could follow this. It could
roll back, stay the same or get more intensive.
• May not be too strong because of the reported difficulty in distinguishing between negative SEO and intent-to-rank SEO.
May not be permanent. Could be just another test. Previous reports show penguin like recovery followed by repositioning to penalized rankings.
• Seems to more clearly target lowest quality automated link building such as GSA, Magic submitter, SENuke etc. This would certainly be the easiest footprint to separate from the rest and this update has done just that by my observations. This is also the more likely source of negative SEO as well so it’s hard to say what will happen next if a lot of complaints about negative SEO flood Google in the morning.
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.
Get help with Real Estate SEO
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.
Need SEO Help? Contact me now using the form to the right, or call 714-924-4422.
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!