I wrote another blog about how I can't compete any longer on the search engines. Consider this, in 2007 around $8,000,000 to $9,000,000 out of the $12,000,000 in total sales I did that year came from my website. I've never been able to match that, especially since the real estate bubble burst, but for the first time since I've had a real estate website I'm wondering if the little local sites will be relevant any longer.
This is from someone who considers her sites her "babies." I've been so proud of all of my websites and blogs. I've learned how to master Wordpress and I can do certain customizations through studying plus trial and error. I consider it a hobby that happens to pay.
I recently created some new hyper local websites since I thought maybe by only focusing on one town I could work my way back to top search engine positions. One of my new sites is for Orland Park homes via Wordpress using Genesis parent theme and AgentPress child theme. Unfortunately, AgentPress is not responsive and has no plans to change in the near future. I love the theme and did a lot of tweaking and I feel I'll need to change it once again as I believe in having a mobile friendly website. As it stands, I used a plug-in that helps a little but it's not truly responsive.
For many years I've held #1-3 spots for all of the keywords I've worked for, and now I'm lucky if I'm still on page 1. I've dropped to page 2 for many of my keywords. These are on aged sites that I am active on. They have indexable IDX pages. I've even made sure to limit the IDX sitemaps for each site for the particular town the site was created for and on my main website I have it set to the 3 towns I work most in.
How Will This Affect Future Website Providers and SEO?
My question is, why pay a lot of money for a custom or semi-custom site when you're probably going to have to spend even more on PPC since it's so difficult to compete with the big portals? The last Google change dropped my sites further down. I'm at a crossroads with one webmaster as I have to upgrade my site and it will cost thousands - until the next needed upgrade, or I have to move on.
Many custom sites boast about their built-in seo and that's why their sites are better. I don't think I believe that any longer with the new Google algorithm changes. Wordpress sites are supposed to be created with seo in mind. So if you create content properly I don't think there's that much of a difference where it relates to search engine position. There were some real estate website providers in the past that offered zero seo, in fact some sites couldn't even be spidered by search engines, but I think the public became more aware and I'm not sure any of those site providers are still in business, or their offerings have changed.
In other words, the only benefit I can see with expensive custom or semi-custom sites today is the backend/CRM that is available. For example, I've been studying what's been happening with recent Google changes and it's affecting those with all kinds of websites. Big, small, custom, semi-custom, DIY, Wordpress. My local competitors have moved down with me to allow all the big real estate portals in - no longer just ZTR.
Many custom designers state that their sites are better for prospects. Easier to use, better IDX, etc. With the webmaster I'm currently working with that is forcing me to an updated template, I think the new templates are too busy, therefore confusing for the average site visitor.
I've read that SEO companies are going to be affected. If they can't help us achieve and keep top positions then what will their value be? They might have to go deeper into providing PPC.
Our Other Internet Alternatives
Do we just throw in the towel and join Boomtown, Market Leader, Tiger Leads, Zurple, etc. They provide the website and the ppc campaign, but some are simply too expensive for most single agents. Will we be forced to pay for our zip codes (or a portion thereof) with the other portals we dislike so much?
Since I'm hands-on because I enjoy it, I'm going to try my own ppc campaign. If that doesn't bring good enough results I will hire out someone that will manage a ppc campaign for me using my current sites/landing pages.
I'm just sad that my lovingly created content might not matter any longer and that I can't compete against the deep pockets of the big portals. I'm going to keep trying and see if I can do it - I feel like the Little Engine That Could - but I'm not sure I can.