Brian Rayl of B & B Realty Group - Keller Williams Elite wrote an informative blog helping to explain how Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com use their links to out rank us on the search engines.
I am removing all links to those on my websites. Thanks Brian!
You are here on Active Rain because you want to attract clients, draw traffic to your sites, and garner some referrals from people right? Yet many of you are helping Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com (aka ZTR) and probably not even aware of it. So many agents here on Active Rain don't care... or don't know how to stop it.
Before we begin, you have to know how Google works. Let me describe Google like this. Let's say that you have a lot of questions on a transaction you are doing and you are calling another agent for some help. Let's call him Bobby.
You: Excuse me Bobby, can you answer this question?
Bobby: Oh yes. I had this issue a week ago, and Tom helped me out.
You: (couple hours later) How about this question?
Bobby: Yup. Tom helped me out there too.
You: (couple hours later) How about this third thing?
Bobby: Tom all the way.
The fourth time you have a question, are you going to call Bobby or Tom? It seems that Tom has all the answers right? Well, in this scenario, you are Bobby. You have the answers (your blog posts/website) but you keep telling Google that Tom has all the answers because you keep linking to Tom. Google sees this, and decides why should I send them to Bobby when it is clear that Tom has all the answers?
And thus, when your clients do a search in Google, Google will send them to Tom, aka ZTR. But did you even KNOW that you are telling Google how great Tom is?
What Zillow/Trulia/Realtor.com Are Doing
ZTR create pretty little widgets and icons and shiney badges that agents like to put in their profiles and in their signatures. A quick browsing of the "Featured Posts" will reveal a number of them.
Each and every single one of these provides at least one link over to your competitor. And if you look closely, they probably have a discription in them that uses YOUR keywords. This means that you are telling Google that ZTR are IMPORTANT for THOSE KEY WORDS. And it shows up on every single page of your blog or website or here on Active Rain. The blog one to the left actually sends at least 9 different links over to Trulia! Wow, Google assumes that you think Tom is a great real estate agent...
How To Get Tom (ZTR) Out Of The Picture
I'd like to get a little techy on you to show you how you can stop this. It may be over some of your heads, but hopefully some of you will get it and correct your own mistakes and help others to correct theirs. If anyone would like some assistance but can't figure it out, please feel free to contact me.
When you add a link, you click on the little chain icon, put in the URL and done right? Wrong. Did you know that THIS LINK and THIS LINK are different? They both go to the exact same place. They both have the same anchor text. So what is the difference? Nothing to you or me or anyone who reads this blog. The only one it is different to is Google. Allow me to explain.
If you go into your editor as if you were writing a new post, have you ever noticed the HTML button on the far right of the menu bar? It is next to the Spell Check icon. (You do spell check every post, don't you?!) That HTML button opens up a screen that looks like a lot of jibberish, but this jibberish is what Google sees when it scans your posts and pages. So what is the difference between the two links above?
<a href="http://finddallashomesforsale.com/" target="_blank">THIS LINK</a>
What this does is provides a hyperlink to another website. The href is the URL that you are sending people to. The target="_blank" means that you are opening up that URL in a new window. Google looks at this link and says "This URL that they are sending me to has something to do with THIS LINK" so let's add that to our database and give them additional credit if someone searches for THIS LINK.
<a href="http://finddallashomesforsale.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">THIS LINK</a>
Almost the exact same, but you see the rel="nofollow" part in there. This link looks and functions EXACTLY like the previous link, but this time Google says "Whoa! They are telling me NOT TO GIVE CREDIT to that link. I'll let people click on it, but I'm not going to give that site any bump in their search results." This means absolutely nothing to your clients and readers of your blog because it doesn't change how the link functions, but it means a LOT to Google and how it ranks the links.
These Links Hurt EVERYONE
So, you don't have any of these links on your profile. THANK YOU! But you still need to spread the word. Why? Because these links hurt EVERYONE. The person with that Trulia widget is sending 9 linkbacks to Trulia. How many external links do you have coming to YOUR website? It doesn't matter that the person with that Trulia widget is talking about oceanfront property in Arizona. It still affects your business in New York, because the more links Trulia has, they higher their overall page rank, which plays a huge factor in how websites get ranked in the search engines. The guy in California is hurting me in Texas. The lady in New York is hurting the agent in Washington. The people in Canada are hurting those in Mexico.
What Can You Do?
Remove every widget you have. If you really want to keep your 5 star agent link in or a link to your profile or your reviews, add the rel="nofollow" tag to the link using the above example as a guide on where to put it. Again, if you need assistance, contact me.
Finally, SPREAD THE WORD. If you learned ANYTHING in this blog that you were not aware of, REBLOG THIS. If you have seen any of these widgets on Active Rain today, REBLOG THIS. If you have widgets yourself, fix them and REBLOG THIS. And if you agree that this is a problem, REBLOG THIS. The only way this issue gets solved is by spreading the word.
(and if you comment on this article and have one of these widgets in place, you will be called out publicly and beated within an inch of your life with a wet noodle)
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