One of my favorite clients and good friend, Long Beach Real Estate agent Dave Harbison, sent me an article last week – “Google Hides Search Terms from Publishers and Marketers” – along with the question “How do you think this will effect us?”
My answer is that I think it will affect a lot of people in different ways, both good and bad. The real question is what is Google up to and why?
After years of SEO “experts” gaming the system to prop up certain websites for their own financial gain, Google has decided it doesn’t want to be “gamed” anymore. They’ve let everyone know the “ground rules” for years. The difference now is that for the last 2 years they have been enforcing them.
Why now? Because Google wants to stay on top and to continue to be the world’s #1 search engine. To remain relevant. To not “jump the shark.” I have read some articles the last few weeks about how Facebook has started to lose favor in many demographics. Google seems to have a plan to not let this happen to them.
It’s almost like they have integrity.
Google’s strategy seems to be centered on tweaking their search results so that they are sending their users only to sites that have the best, freshest, most relevant “content.” Imagine that. Sounds very consumer oriented in many ways.
Google’s previous (and now abandoned) practice was to basically hold an incoming link popularity contest, with the winner riding on top of Page 1, but this became a farce after years of fake link-building schemes by thousands of people worldwide.
With the release of Google Panda in February 2011, and Google Penguin in April 2012, we saw Google emerge with a new set of know-all see-all eyes (They see you when you’re sleeping, they know when you’re wake…)
Google was also throwing down the gauntlet on professional SEO companies who charge a fortune every month to do black magic to your website so you will rank higher. Truth be told, most of them have no idea if what they are doing will even be relevant next month.
I have a wonderful client in Minneapolis who has fired countless SEO “specialists” the last few years, again and again and again, from lofty promises never delivered because nobody can guarantee you any kind of placement with Google… unless of course you pay for Premium Placement with Google themselves.
Google doesn’t like other people deciding who gets on top of their search engine any more than Led Zeppelin doesn’t like other people selling bootlegged T-shirts of their band in the parking lot of their concerts.
So What Did Google Do?
First step was to penalize anybody engaging in the fake link building schemes.
Second, was to go after websites using a term called “keyword stuffing” where a single search term was used ad nauseum on a page for no reason.
Third, was to identify people using “Duplicate Content” on their site. This could be OPC (other people’s content) in their blog postings. Not just simply sharing links to stories, but copying and pasting them wholesale into their own blog. Or even copying their own writing into many different places online, like eZines and Article Directories.
For thousands of unfortunate Realtors around the country, they woke up one day to find their Page One ranking that they had bragged out for years was suddenly no where to be found. Many found themselves all the way on page 47 or beyond… or simply… gone.
It was carnage, and it happened to almost everyone… almost.
Albuquerque Real Estate Agents Tego and Tracy Venturi understood the importance of Blogging and posting to Social Media regularly, and sailed through the recession at the top of their category in Google, at the same time as they built a large team to handle all the business. It wasn’t witchcraft or luck… it was focusing on and delivering what Google truly wants and not trying to “trick” them.
What Does Google Want Now?
Its quite simple… Google wants you to write content on a regular basis and they want you to use their tools. That is why they created GooglePlus, the “social network” that relatively few people use now to create social “Circles.” Their idea was to create something called “Authorship” for everything you write so that your written works are “registered” with Google. And should they find large portions of your official authored works used elsewhere, the offenders will be penalized.
Another tool Google has that they love when you use is YouTube. If “Content is King” then Video is truly Queen right now. Google is the #1 search engine in the world and YouTube is #2. (Seriously. YouTube is a Search Engine.) And Google and YouTube are integrated so they share what’s hot with each other.
Also, Google wants to make sure your website is “responsive” and is able to be used effectively on any mobile device or tablet.
What can a simple real estate professional do?
The easy answer is to stop looking for the easy answer.
First thing, stop thinking you can rank higher through taking a magic SEO pill instead of blogging or creating videos. That era is now gone.
A solution to help jump start you while you build organic equity is to buy Premium Placement for your search term(s), something now known as “Paid Traffic.” That can easily run you $1,200+ per month, which is actually a good price to pay if you do it with the right company that can deliver an even better return on investment. In bigger markets, you’ll need to have an equally big budget to compete for that Page One position along side Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, Redfin, Homes.Yahoo, Movoto, and all the big nationwide brokerages.
Enter The Equalizer
On a smaller budget? Here’s what you can do: Embrace a new mindset. Simply love on your community, write about it, and create videos about it. Become a cheerleader using your Blog as your main sharing place. Then, use your social media accounts to write an enticing blurb about your blog or video, and link them to your website where they can read the whole article and view the embedded YouTube video. Be fun and engaging and stay away from divisive or negative thoughts or comments. People will always gravitate towards the positive.
This is it, pure and simple.
Stop the Negative Thinking
“I’m too busy to blog!”
“I’m too busy to make videos.”
“What would I talk about?”
Do you realize the above 3 statements are standing in the way of you doing what you know you should be doing? Your competition are overcoming their issues with these questions are moving ahead of you.
There’s a parable I use quite often. “When is the best time to have planted a tree?” The #1 answer is 20 years ago. The #2 answer is right now.
The Steps You Need to Take:
1. Make sure you have Authorship in GooglePlus and start posting regularly on your own website’s blog.
2. Create videos regularly that are posted on YouTube, then embed the Videos in your own Blog posts.
3. On your Social Media accounts, tell people ABOUT your article, but don’t post it right in your Social Media. Only link to it. You want Google to see people clicking to your website from your social posts.
4. Do this all regularly. At least once per week, but 3 times a week will give you 3 times the results.
5. Make sure on your website you have an enticing “Lead Magnet” or what is also called an “Ethical Bribe” to get visitors to enter their name and email address into your database in exchange for something they want, perhaps a report on “Best Tips for Selling Your House” or “First Time Home Buyer Must Do’s,” or something even better. This is called “Building Your List” and it will Google-proof you from any new changes that Google may do in the future, allowing you to market directly via email for free.
6. Make sure you have a Responsive website that can be viewed effectively on any Mobile device or Tablet. In 2014, it has been predicted that more people will be engaging with the Internet from their mobile devices than from their desktop or laptop computers. And Google now give higher scores to websites that are ready to roll with a great mobile experience. Is your website ready for 2014?
Also, please realize that your Webmaster is not responsible for every new change that Google implements, you are. You need to be a student of the game and not abdicate your responsibility to know and adapt constantly. Your business and your future depend on it.
Get to know your website’s inner workings and search on Google and YouTube for tips on how to implement new strategies as they happen. Realtors are paying thousands of dollars per month to SEO experts and Consultants to do these things for them, and these geniuses still are guessing or working off yesterday’s paradigm. Unless you have a budget like the big companies, its time to look in the mirror and to meet your new best friend. The person who is going to make this happen is nobody else but YOU.
Just make sure your website can do what you need it to do, like a high performance racing car… then learn how to drive it… get behind the wheel… buckle in… put the pedal to the floor and GO!
Brett Miller is the co-founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, a company dedicated to marketing and training motivated real estate agents who wish to stay ahead of the curve. If you’re looking to upgrade your web presence and be ready in 2014 with a Responsive Real Estate website, contact Brett and set up a time to talk about your plans.