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Real estate searchers are changing the order of results on Google.

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Real estate searchers are changing the order of results on Google.
I'll start this article off-topic, but I need to make it clear that a decision I made a few years ago about SEO and PPC, Pay Per Click, hasn't changed. I found that I was spending huge amounts of time and a lot of agonizing when dealing with my real estate site and search engine optimization. I would make my first computer action every morning a search on my top real estate key phrase in my market. If my position had moved, up or down, it was a big thing, and if it was lower, I was distraught.

I made a decision to devote far less time to SEO, though I still do all of the normal and accepted things that help for SEO of a real estate website. My decision was that my time was more valuable doing other things, like creating great website/blog content and working leads for commissions. So, I set a small budget of $150/month for PPC with Google Adwords. It's been in place for several years now, never increased or decreased. I get the vast majority of my traffic from my first to third position at the top of the page, spend around $0.76 per click, so get more than 200 clicks to the site per month.

I also have been tracking with Google Analytics, and there is a really important trend that never seems to change. I get a lot of traffic from normal SEO to my site, some on real estate related terms, some on area searches that have nothing to do with real estate and aren't bringing buyers and sellers...at least they're not buyers and sellers now. What I've found is that there is a consistent almost four-to-one increase in page views and time spent on the site from visitors who come from the paid search. It's due to the wording of my ad that tells them they can search ALL local listings, and I get a much more focused visitor. So, now you know that I don't get all hyper about SEO, but I still try to do the normal things that bring higher positions for my articles and blog posts.

Now for the real topic of this article. Search is no longer something out of the control of the searcher on Google, though Google tells us some good info about search algorithms here. There are various ways in which their actions, whether taken during the search or elsewhere on the Web, influence how they see your site in results. For my top search term "myarea real estate," I did some tests, and here's what I found:

  • Normal search w/no special conditions: my site has slipped to #20, bottom of second page for the most competitive term in my market. (Remember, my PPC paid result is still at the top of the first page.)
  • When someone has connected with me on Google+: my site is on the first page in free results three times, once for the site, once for images, and once because of the connection.
  • User-modifying the search for results within one year: in other words, I don't want really old back-dated static articles, and the site moves from #20 to first page #7.
  • Electing results from previous week or month: my site is in position ONE for both.

These tests make it very clear to me that regular new content through blogging is EXTREMELY important if the searcher is modifying their search based on time. No, not all do, probably less than 20% now, as I couldn't find data. However, the number who understand this is growing, and I've tested search phrases that brought people to my site and found that they would never have seen it if they hadn't modified the time.

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