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Pppick up a pppenguin - Google's new updateBy: Adam Samuel, AB Property Marketing

The property industry is a hard place to do business these days. With fewer buyers who are better informed and fearful of the future, getting your business visible online is more important than ever.

Everyone knows that Google Search is THE trusted go-to source for driving a steady flow of potential clients to view properties and services showcased on your website 

However, Google is a fickle friend. On one hand it can give you top rankings, bringing you business success but on the other, it can take! Fail to comply with its terms of service and you can potentially lose 90% of your traffic overnight with no quick-fix solution (Trust me I know!).

As you may or may not be aware, Google recently made major changes to the way they rank websites, generating a lot of confusion around how to rank your property website in the future and maintain current rankings.

First There Was Panda - Low Quality Sites Lose Rankings

The Panda updates began in February 2011 and aimed to lower the rankings of "low quality" sites. Google's algorithm looked at numerous factors to determine if it was spammy and ejected sites it felt were over manipulated.

Then Came The Penguin - It's Black And White

The latest update, Penguin, started at the end of April 2012 with Google allegedly heavily penalising sites that clearly violate their terms of service by plummeting their rankings.

Google Terms of Service is a vast document so this 'violation' could potentially encompass numerous possibilities, however I believe sites that have too many links that point back to their site with the same/similar commercial anchor text have been affected. This was common practice in the past when building links to a site so it's a case of carefully redoing much of the previous work and updating your future online marketing approach.

What do developers and property agents need to do today?

Real estate is a sector that commonly falls foul of Google updates because ranking high in Google for popular property keywords can prove very lucrative. If you haven't seen any changes in traffic over the past months since the Penguin update then this is testament to a good online marketing strategy.

Responding to and future proofing for Google's algorithmic changes is a full time business and this time Google is fundamentally ranking sites, which deserve to be there. They naturally attract links, because they are popular, up to date, attract comment and engage with their visitors.

One step that you can take is to look at who links to your site and anything that looks unnatural probably is, so email the site in question and ask them to remove your links."

Increasing traffic

Google's algorithm may remain a mystery but you can be sure it will continue to roll out new changes in its quest to rank only high quality useful websites.

Your site may be fine today, with plenty of traffic, but the future could be very different. My advice would be to keep on top of Google updates and constantly tweak your online strategy accordingly. DON'T implement huge changes overnight, read around the topic or consult with a professional who can keep you well informed and suggest changes tailored to your individual site.

Reliance on solely Google for online traffic is a dangerous strategy, so seek out other sources of traffic. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest are valuable tools for generating traffic if you know how to use them... but simply creating a Facebook page won't work. Like any other department of your business; sales, customer services or accounting, online marketing needs a dedicated person to keep it working.

Adam Samuel

About the author

Adam Samuel, has been dealing with property search marketing for more than a decade. When not persuading Google to rank his sites, Adam can usually be found in lycra, cycling up the nearest mountain!

Features July 2012

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