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How Google Reads Your Real Estate Blog

This article has been provided by our Director Of Education & Training, Chris Hotz.  Thanks, Chris!

OompaLoompas_GoogleEveryone wants their real estate blog to appear on the first page of a Google's SERP.  

Why not? 

You're the best real estate agent in your area on the web, right? 
Of course you are...

Yet when you consider that a search of "real estate" in Google currently brings up 312,000,000 results you must realize that you will have to do a little more than just throw your site into the mix.

The Oompa Loompas in the mysterious Google factory work hard everyday to make sure users are returned the most relevant search results when a query is created.  Much like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, few outsiders are allowed within the confounds where Google engineers are constantly strategizing better methods to organize data and spit out the best results for your queries. 

Until now...

Recently Google allowed a New York reporter within their factory to sit in on a "confidential quality meetings at Google".  You can read the article here at the New York Times.  While no great secret was unveiled to Saul Hansen during his visit, his article does illustrate the complexity of search and reinforces those qualities that we do know Google looks for when determining whether your blog receives the placement it deserves.

Here are two specific factors that Google is looking at that one can argue bloggers have the most amount of control over.  These items also seem to be 'staples' within the algorithm, making them a constant factor in your success.

  • PageRank
PageRank is not determined by pigeons.  As Google explains it, "PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at considerably more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives...Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."

With PageRank, five or six high-quality links from websites such as www.cnn.com and www.nytimes.com would be valued much more highly than many links from less reputable or established sites.  You can increase the number of inbound links your site receives by participating within the blogosphere through value filled comments.  For more information about how to write comments that get read, The Secret to Successful Comments.
  • Keywords
Content, content, content.  Keywords are the bread and butter of how your site appears in SERP's.  Every post you write is new content.  Every comment left on your blog is new content.  Google looks at many factors to decide how the words on your site are relevant to the users query.

  • 200_factorsLocation:  Where are those keywords placed within your website?  Keywords are given more relevance in the title of your article than in the body.  This applies to your category titles as well.  I like to use the example of "Blogging Advice" with clients.  On the first page of Google results you will find the Real Estate Tomato's category entitled "Blogging Advice". 
    Although none of the titles of the articles Jim has written actually contain the words "blogging advice" it is the strength of the number of articles that fall under that appropriately named category that have propelled him to the first results page for the term.
  • Intersecting a Posting List:  When someone searches for "real estate blogging advice" Google first finds all the pages they have indexed that contain one or more of those words in no particular order.  So every page with "real", "estate", "blogging" and "advice" is pulled from their index. 

    After this Google must decide which of these pages deserve the highest ranking.  To do this they look for pages with all four of these words after which they rank those pages that use all four of those words in the same order as the query with higher placement.  Again, location of these keywords matter as well.  For more information read this article from Matt Cutts.

There are over 200 factors Google looks at when determining which pages should get top placement under certain queries

Most of the factors Google uses in their algorithm will never be made public and are always changing.  This post's aim is to illustrate two of the most natural ways you can positively affect your search engine success.

Write and
participate.  If you do these two things your site will naturally earn good search engine placement, with time

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Comments

I was rhapsodizing about this very subject today at www.repdx.com. I haven't spent much time on optimizing or analyzing, but I am pleased with the search rank that blogging consistently for 18 months or so has produced. I plan on a more organized approach to maintain that position. Thanks for the info.

This piece was of great interest to me since the bulk of visitors to my About.com site come from Google, from keyword searches. Sometimes I get lucky, no doubt about it, but much of the time it's strategy, future projection (OK, and throwing rubber darts at my monitor) that lets me hit the jackpot.

For example, a year ago last spring, I searched for "short sales" on Google and found very little. Even a person with the brains of a monkey could figure out that short sales were rising and would become a popular keyword search. So I started writing about short sales. Today I am number one. My reign may be short-lived as tomorrow I could be number 11, victory is often short and sweet, but today I am enjoying that position. See: http://homebuying.about.com/od/4closureshortsales/a/shortsalebasics.htm.

Of course, the downside is I am bombarded by e-mail and phone calls from readers asking if I will do seminars for them -- no, no, outstretched arms and crossed forefingers, let me hang some dry garlic around my neck, stay away -- or else it's sellers who insist I list their overpriced (potential) short-sale home in Elk Grove, a lovely community south of me with a glut of inventory and nothing moving.

But that's the price of an E-ticket to this amusement park.

Great content Chris-
I was teaching a class yesterday to Agents who were interested in blogging.
The Search Engine ranking topic is always a hot key for them.

After a lengthy discussion on how search engines rank, my message to them is like yours. Just do your thing, add quality over quantity, and the results will come.

Mike Mueller

Good info Chris. I really don't have a clue how SEO works. Jim told me to be patient when I first started, now I come up on the first page for most relevant searches in my area. I just talk about real estate in Alaska and it happens.

I'm always a bit confused when those spammy blogs with nothing but a lot of nonsense keywords typed into run-on sentences get in the top natural search results for Google. Is this a Google goof, or can't they tell the difference between a bunch of gobbledygook and proper sentence structure? Is there any way to report these irrelevant search results to Google so they'll learn from this type of search error?

I don't think there is a way to report that to google. I think it has something to do with the spiders.

You guys know your stuff. I also like to boil down the Google ranking system to simple terms, like sales volume: those with the most closed sales for the highest price, usually are the highest ranking agents in office. If you want to get to the top, the best way to go is start getting posts under your belt and focus on your topic in almost every article. Thanks for the info!

For the spammers, As we all know, there was no such thing as perfect system. Even Google cannot avoid system glitch.

maegan@Realtors

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