(any time I write or talk about about SEO, I always like to preface it with the fact that I don't consider myself an 'expert'. However, I did stay at a holiday inn express last night and we have had decent success over the last 11 years getting stuff to rank)
Search engine optimization is a full time endeavor. The benefits of showing up on the first page of Google (or any search engine) are clear for just about any business. In real estate, over 85.3% of people start their home search online (I threw in the .3%.......depending on who is reporting, that number varies but it's about 85%.....and it's a statistic. Aren't they all made up to fit a narrative?)
In a time gone by, you could rank on the first page of the search engine simply by writing on a site like ActiveRain. It didn't matter what you wrote, you would rank. As Google gets better and better at giving their searchers valuable information, what you write has become more important. No longer can a thin piece of content (thin means shitty not your best effort) rocket it's way to the first page.
More and more, Google is trying to identify truly valuable content. In the last two or three years, social signals have emerged as a new factor in search engine rankings. It makes sense......if people are willing to share the content you've created, it must be decent. From my experience, (and the experience of some real SEO experts) Google + sharing and +1's on that social platform seem to have a little extra weight for Google search rankings. But I have no doubt Google is pulling as much data as they can on how things are shared online. They are absolutely using this in determining how to rank content.
What's Next for Real Estate SEO?
I believe the next major factor in determining how your content ranks will be Google Author Authority. I am by no means groundbreaking. This has been bubbling under the surface for a while. Google Authorship (here's a link for how to set Google authorship up for your ActiveRain blog) was the first step in Google learning who you are. It will not be the last step.
What is author authority? It's essentially, how knowledgeable are you on the subject about which you write.
Let's make up an example.......
If I am a nobel prize winning astronomer and I've written an article about oblateness (look it up you non-nobel prize winners!). I should probably rank really really well for that article, wouldn't you think? But how can Google understand that I'm the foremost authority on the subject? There are a lot of ways. Let's think about this.
There may be a video of me speaking at some conference about oblateness. I'll bet the person that posted the video put my name in it and probably some glowing review of how amazing I was and how I made them wish they too were a nobel prize winning astronomer with such a vast understanding of oblateness. That video is probably on Youtube....Google owns youtube.
The Journal of Ridiculously Smart Scientists published an article about oblateness a few months back. I was quoted in that article as 'an expert on oblateness'. My fame is absurd!
I went on the TV show 'The Science of Being Smarter than You' and talked about oblateness. I'm glad they have a website and post clips from the show. Google found them. Google read my name in the video. They freaking love me!
I have a blog where I am constantly writing about my findings on a variety of astronomy topics, not just oblateness. I always share these posts on Google+ and in other social arenas. My blog is really really good! I'm considering charging people to read it!
I wrote an e-book about oblateness. It's on Amazon. People have reviewed it. My fans can't get enough of me!
My local newspaper had a small little blurb about a discovery I made related to oblateness (it was a small blurb because their pea brains couldn't comprehend the magnitude).
On Yelp I've gotten a ton of 5 stars for my seminars on oblateness. One idiot left me a 4 star. It was obviously over his head.
You Get The Point
I'm an expert. And with everything going on in my world related to oblateness, Google knows I am an expert. They know because other sources are telling them I'm an expert. And what better way to figure out who is really the expert on something than to have credible sources confirm you are an expert. There should be little doubt when I publish my in depth article about oblateness, Google will rank me number one.
Can anyone see why author authority should emerge as a really big deal? If I had to bet on one dominant new SEO factor emerging from 2014 it would be author authority. At ActiveRain, we're really starting to think about this as it relates to real estate and how we can help our members prove their authority. Our media team (you should really check it out, its free to join and if you just read this post, it will make sense why you should join it) is one way we are starting to think about how you can enhance your author authority.
What about in Real Estate?
I'm willing to bet that if you looked at our example of the brilliant astronomer, you could probably think of how those same examples could apply to your real estate business. Any one of those examples could apply to real estate as well. Were you cited in a local paper? Did you get a chance to be the local expert on a short segment on the local news? Has your business been rated on Yelp or Trulia or Zillow? Google knows.....believe me, they know. And I think they are starting to use this to determine if they should rank the content you write.
What Can You Do Now?
Stop writing thin (remember from above what thin means?) content. You're hurting yourself. The days of throwing something up and having it rank are over. Content is no longer king. Great content is king! If that means you write 3 blog posts per week instead of 7, fine. 3 great pieces of content are better than 20 thin pieces of content. Why? Because those 20 thin pieces aren't going to rank and are probably going to damage your credibility as an author. Our astronomer would NEVER post something really quick about the Heliosphere just to get something up. Doing that over and over would only hurt him.
Look at the content you've produced in the past. It might make sense to go back and update some of that content to make it better. Add some additional facts. Make the content a better piece of content. When you start to realize that Google is taking the entirety of your library of content into consideration it makes sense to bolster content that isn't great.
Start sharing your great content on Google+. Or at least the stuff that you write about the topic you hope Google will consider you an authority on (that is poor sentence structure I'm sure. I promise Google doesn't think I'm an authority on grammar). Not only should you share the content you create on Google+, you should take full advantage of setting up your Google+ profile. Make sure it links to all of the other places on the internet where you do work. If you have 3000 followers on Twitter, I'd want to let Google know about that. This Google+ profile is going to be the catalyst for how they view you as an author. Take full advantage of it to tell them as much about your expertise as possible.
In the next few weeks we will have our first webinar where we talk about author authority. Between now and then I'll be doing lots of research to figure out how to help your author authority. Until then, let's hope Google keeps marching in that direction and doesn't decide to make something else more important.
(Edited on 8/4: Does this larger edit make the date on the post reset? Adding one word to a different post did not reset the date)