Major changes in how Google indexes search results
Google is a common starting point for consumers’ home search which frequently leads either to you directly or to a third party like Realtor.com that features your listings, either way getting you in front of consumers.
Google is in the process of changing how search works with their new changes to the algorithm that serves results to users. The new algorithm is referred to as “Google Panda” which seeks to punish content farms or scraper blogs.
SEOBook.com summarizes the updates as Google saying, “Trust us. We’re putting the bad guys on one side, and the good guys on the other.”
SEO experts are crying foul as Google’s definition of “low quality” is undefined and inconsistent- some content farms are not being “punished” by Google whereas others are.
“After all, if Google want us to produce quality documents their users like and trust, then why not just tell us exactly what a quality document their users like and trust looks like?” SEOBook.com asks.
How Google Panda could help and/or hurt
One of the elements that is oft overlooked in Google Panda is their punishing of scraper blogs. As a site that is frequently scraped (aka stolen from), it is personal to us when the hard work of all of the writers here shows up on another website that get paid per page impression. We applaud Google’s taking a stance against what we agree are illegitimate websites and the mounds of scraped junk passing for legitimate websites.
On the other hand, Steven Levy at Wired.com said to Google executive Amit Singhal in an interview, “Some people say you should be transparent, to prove that you aren’t making those algorithms to help your advertisers, something I know that you will deny.” Singhal said, “”I can say categorically that money does not impact our decisions,” to which Levy responded, “But people want the proof,” a line that is echoing across technology sites across the world.
HubPages which is seen by some as a content farm, calls itself the anti-content farm claiming they improve search results rather than dilute them. CEO Paul Edmondson said, “We are concerned that Google is targeting platforms other than its own and stifling competition by reducing viable platform choices simply by diminishing platforms’ ability to rank pages. Google is not being transparent about their new standards, which prevents platforms like ours from having access to a level playing field with Google’s own services. We want to comply with and exceed Google’s standards.”
Further, SEO insiders are questioning Google Panda in light of Google’s filing for a patent on their own Demand Media-like content farm.
Where do YOU fit into this debate?
Realtors, your individual websites are not the target of Google Panda, it is the Demand Medias and eHows of the world Google is after, but could it leave collateral damage along its path toward pure intuitive results?
Where Realtors most benefit from knowing about the changes from a macro perspective is in understanding what consumers see when they search for real estate from Google which is where many begin their search. Are your consumers searching for “Miami real estate” and getting an arbitrary, keyword packed content farm article written by a $10 a post intern in Newark that is about plumbing and simply mentions Miami real estate? Google aims to fix that, but in the meantime, the crux of the negative sentiment from the SEO community is that they believe Google is making changes to pave the way for the success of their own content farms.
We’re not SEO experts, nor giving SEO advice, rather noting that you should be aware of what is happening on a broader scale. We believe the ultimate questions will be- (1) when Google’s new Demand Media-esque product rolls out, will consumers see you or Google’s articles when they search for “Sacramento real estate?” and (2) will the SEO you’ve been investing in matter in coming months or years?