Shocking SEO Revelations from the 2012 Exit Realty Convention

Services for Real Estate Pros with Suplari, Inc.
Exit Realty's VP of Technology Jeff Lobb asked me to reveal shocking SEO revelations and speak on "The State of SEO" panel at the Exit Realty Annual Convention this year at the Gaylord Opryland Convention in Nashville, TN.  It was GREAT conference.  I have a lot of respect for the Exit Realty management.  They have a very different style from other real estate franchises.  I was tasked to speak on a panel focused on major SEO changes with Seth Price from Placester and Luke Brookhart from Onjax, two smart guys working for interesting companies providing IDX web sites for agents and brokers.  

ActiveRain SEO Secrets

Jeff asked the below questions, which aren't only about shocking SEO revelations, but some basics any agent or real estate professional can use.  In true ActiveRain style, rather than simply think about these questions, I decided to blog the answers so that the entire ActiveRain community can benefit from it.  As everyone on ActiveRain should know, there have been major changes in SEO driven by Google's algorithm changes.

Jeff's Questions on SEO:

1. What's the biggest change you have seen with SEO in the last year?  (shift in consumer search, Google ad words etc.
2. If you were an agent today, where would you be spending your time and money to get ranking ?
3. What is one of the biggest mistakes you see agents or brokers making with regard to SEO?
4. As an agent without any SEO knowledge and/or time, what do I do?

The biggest changes in SEO is Google's driving traffic to high quality, local content, on high quality domains.  Google Plus is opening up significant traffic opportunities for real estate professionals.
Google's mission is to organize the world's information.  Google indexes more than 50 billion pages of content and spiders more than 150 million blogs.  The numbers are staggering.  AND the amount of data on the Internet is doubling every two years.  If the current rate of growth continues, in ten years, there will be more data on the Internet than EVERY WORD EVER spoken by all of mankind over the past 100,000 years.  That's pretty staggering.
In order to better organize information and help consumers actually find the right data, Google implemented two major changes: Google Panda which is focused on highlighting high quality content and Google Penguin which is focused on eliminating questionable linking schemes.  Now, the most important factor in driving placement in search engine results is DOMAIN AUTHORITY or how much Google likes your web site and the content on your web site.  You can check the domain authority of ActiveRain or any other web site or web page by going to Open Site Explorer.  The higher your domain authority, the higher your content will show up in the Google results.  Of course, your need high quality, locally targeted content.  And of course, it is not that simple.
Google's move toward high quality content is GREAT for an active blogging community like ActiveRain.  ActiveRain has a domain authority of 88 which is very similar to Trulia, Zillow or, but we generate more than 1,000 pages of unique content every day, which is shared on Twitter every 2 -3 minutes.  ActiveRain has more than 65,000 Google +1's which is amazing since Google Plus has only existed for about 16 months now.
The other noteworthy change is the rise of Google Plus and Google Places to compete with FaceBook.  Google Plus offers great opportunities for real estate professionals to attract more traffic based on their social circles (literally on Google Plus), their ability to create great content (Google Authorship), and get great local reviews (Google Places).  In fact, for head terms like "Nashville homes for sale," Google is now only showing only the top  3 natural search results and is showing the seven best results in Google Places with the best reviews.  Another great opportunity for local real estate professionals to get free traffic.
Real estate professionals should spend their time on developing GREAT hyperlocal content.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.  For a strong real estate professional, that means becoming THE local expert for your community or city or specialty.  Google, Yahoo and Bing love original, authentic, hyperlocal content.  With Zillow, Trulia and Realtor becoming more and more powerful, focus on making content that a company like Zillow or Trulia can't recreate using an algorithm.  Focus on unique insights, local photos, videos, and your community.  After you develop local content, share it to your social networks.  
Finally, do some local PR.  Reporters are always looking for new content and perspectives.  Check out a great web site called (HARO)  Reporters are able to screen local professionals and experts for stories that they may be writing.  On ActiveRain, we have seen AOL Patch, the Washington Post, HGTV, and the History Channel and many other media outlets use members of ActiveRain in their programs.  
The biggest mistake I see everyday is a lack of strategy in real estate and on the Internet.

Any agent or real estate professional that "works with any home buyer or seller" or writes a blog about "how to buy a house" is unlikely to be successful in driving traffic online.   Find or discuss a differentiated strategy in real estate.  Then start with a niche.  (Ideally use a keyword tool like the Google Adword Keyword Tools or WordTracker to identify keywords).  Build out a portfolio of blog posts with niche content.  If you write good hyperlocal content with reasonable keyword targeting and have a portfolio of blogs, you will start to steady build-up of traffic over time.
Nikesh's success tips for blogging:
  1. Write what you know, but break up what you know into small niches
  2. Write regularly - blog once or twice a week
  3. Know your audience and engage with your audience.  Think about the questions your customers have everyday and answer them.
  4. Share your content.  Leverage social networks.  Use PR to get the word out about yourself.
As an agent with NO money or time, what you do?
  1. Claim your address on Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing, and the other online local directories.
  2. Get lots of reviews on Google Places, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, Zillow, Trulia, Merchant Circle, and other review sites.
  3. Make sure all these online directories and reviews sites are pointing back to your IDX web site where you can capture leads.
If you have any questions, we are here for you at ActiveRain.  Bob is also running regular blogging bootcamps.   Find out more at ActiveRain University.   (Exit Blogging Bootcamp starts on November 8th.  More details forthcoming.
Posted by

Nikesh Parekh

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Kathy Streib 10/27/2012 11:33 AM
  2. Scott Fogleman 10/27/2012 08:22 PM
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Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Niki - I've got some work to do.  HARO sounds interesting.  Does the free version do much?

Oct 27, 2012 03:29 PM #13
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on all things related to Google ranking!  I've enjoyed AR University and Bob's Blogging webinars. Always worthwhile information that helps us continue to improve our online presence.

Oct 27, 2012 04:04 PM #14
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Nikesh, thanks for sharing this.

not probably shocking info, but true and numbers are impressive.

Oct 27, 2012 05:29 PM #15
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Nikesh thanks for sharing.  The world of SEO is always change so it is so important to stay current.

Oct 27, 2012 06:11 PM #16
Aaron Smith
Keller Williams Advisors - Edgewood, KY
Northern Kentucky Agent & Investor
Great post. I've done some research on hyper-local content and longtail keywords. That is where I have had great success with activerain.
Oct 27, 2012 09:35 PM #17
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

Nikki, thanks for sharing...there is no doubt that hyper local & good keywords are the target for all!

Oct 27, 2012 09:56 PM #18
Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

What a great post!

Everyone should read this. .but I would write a post a little more often that once a week. .

Oct 27, 2012 10:38 PM #19
Nikesh Parekh
Suplari, Inc. - Seattle, WA
Technology Entrepreneur, Executive, & Investor

Thanks for all the GREAT comments.

Melissa - we used this card board cut-out in the ActiveRain booth at the show.  Then we put it in the middle of the aisle and people started taking pictures with it and posting it on FaceBook.  It was fun.  Everyone loves funny pictures.

Endre - so true, so true.  I look at blogging as "drip marketing" for all the people in the world that you do not know and/or have an email address for.  They are finding you on Google, FaceBook, ActiveRain, etc.  As you know, over time, when they are looking to hire an agent, you will be the likely choice since they have built a relationship with you.

Thomas - like it or not, consumers are comparing us on Yelp.  So, one way or the other, it is important to manage your profile on Yelp.

Christine, I have heard some good things in the SEO world about HARO.  I have not used it much yet.  Seems like a good idea.

Fernando, we see top members on ActiveRain posting about 2x a week.  For the average agent, I think 1x a week is plenty.  It is more about the content in beginning.  But if you are going to target long-tail search, then you need enough oars in the water or shots on goal to be successful, so having a portfolio is critical.

Oct 28, 2012 03:18 AM #20
Rosalind Nicholas
RE/MAX Condos Plus Corporation, Brokerage - Toronto, ON
Toronto Condo Real Estate Agent, Toronto ON

Thanks for the post, there is always something new with google and SEO ……….. 

Oct 28, 2012 05:03 AM #21
Ken Brandon
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage (Jacksonville, NC) - Jacksonville, NC
Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, NC

Great post full of useful and timely information. Thanks for taking the time to compile this into one source for us to reference. It is important to ensure we know where we should be spending our time to help reduce our wasting it.

Oct 28, 2012 01:01 PM #22
Norma J. Elkins
Elite Realty Group - Morristown, TN
Realtor - Elkins Home Selling Team
Thanks for sharing --- and thanks for being at the convention. I was told once a week was enough to blog. Video blogs is what really helps.
Oct 28, 2012 08:28 PM #23
Laura Spaventa

Hi Nikesh,

Thank you so much for mentioning HARO to your readers. We appreciate the shout out and hope your readers will find out service useful. If anyone has any questions about our service, please don't hesitate to reach out to me: Great tips, Nikesh! Thank you again!


Oct 29, 2012 12:19 AM #24
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Nikesh - Love the visual!  Hey, too bad I couldn't sneak into the Exit Realty Conference - my company name is so close... do you think anyone would have noticed?...  Wow, I needed this information, combined with Bill Gassett.  Feel like I 've been shaken out of a coma, and need to wake up and get serious with SEO and Google+!

Oct 29, 2012 03:05 AM #25
The Team at EXIT Realty
EXIT Realty Corp. International - Burlington, MA

Hi Nikesh - thanks so much for your kind words and for being a part of our Convention.  We really appreciate it! Susan

Oct 29, 2012 10:30 PM #26
David Grbich
Realty One Group - - San Juan Capistrano, CA
Orange County Real Estate - 949-500-0484

Great post with lots of great ideas - looking for more time in the day to accomplish it all!! Regards Dave

Oct 30, 2012 06:26 AM #27
Alicia Utz

Thanks for helping demystify SEO for fellow real estate seems to be everchanging and something hard to get a handle on.  I love the look on the lady's face in your post's photo and how it ties in with your post's title.  :-)

Oct 30, 2012 06:34 AM #28
Matthew Streff CRS, e-Pro
Southwest Realty - Rio Rancho, NM
Your Big Helper in Real Estate

I thorougly enjoyed your comments at the EXIT Convention, and I'm looking forward to getting back into ActiveRain. 

Oct 30, 2012 06:42 AM #29
Wayne Jackson
Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109 - Hayden, ID
North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake

Thanks for the great ideas on SEO.

Nov 05, 2012 03:03 AM #30
Jeff Manson
Real Geeks / American Dream Realty Hawaii - Kailua, HI

You are better off writing less and putting out good content that will get social and user engagement.. Google is putting higher value on content that has both of those :-)  Here is a link to the State of the Real Estate SERPs that shows who is dominating the GOOGLE rusults. It is a 3 part series that will also go into how agents are helping the portals beat them and what they can do to stop that.

Dec 13, 2012 07:58 AM #31
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Mar 12, 2013 04:27 AM #32
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