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
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