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Real Estate websites and Google?
jady




msg:34189
 4:41 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have been reading all of the forums, and yes alot of sites that were lost a few weeks ago have come back. However I have noticed that the penalty (or whatever you want to call it) on ALL real estate sites has NOT been lifted. Strangly enough, searching on Google for REAL ESTATE in MYCITY being me nothing but newspapers, newquest links and other junk. However if I just search for MY CITY, I get a few real estate agent websites.

 

ticketleap




msg:34190
 6:37 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hey,

I'm in the ticketing industry. It is the exact same thing here....if you look on s-croogle, you'll see we were hit very very hard.

Oh well, just try to get more good links....that's what I'm doing. I never want to depend on google as my main source of traffic!

Marcia




msg:34191
 6:57 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

It's happening but I'm seeing it for the area name real estate phrase, it's not happening with area name homes for sale in the same way. That's what's making it look a little suspicious as to motivation; if it happens with one it should be happening for both.

An interesting development is that some real estate and attorney sites have crept in to the web design searches for locality.

jady




msg:34192
 2:09 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes Marcia - in the 4 years I have been "helping" a friend of the family, (a local realtor) with her site it has been #1 for OUR CITY/STATE REAL ESTATE bringing 900 or so unique hits a month from Google. This site has been FIXED in the #1 position. (I couldnt even beat it out with another site!) Now its GONE for those words, but ranking VERY well (#4) for just OUR CITY/STATE - a more competitve keyword as its more broad.

A definate sign that some penalty/block/ban/whatever you want to call it is in effect for anything with REAL ESTATE in the search.

Doing a search for RELOCATION, HOMES FOR SALE, MOVE TO, etc. all still pull the site just fine. Unfortunately, yet and still, most people search for REAL ESTATE and traffic has bottomed out. Results are directories and other garbage, hense not relevant. Who wants to search on google, then have to run through a directory to find what they are looking for? DOUBLE WORK!

tbear




msg:34193
 5:27 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, I had a real estate client. Although, because of their new webmaster, most of their site has disappeared, some obscure pages of mine (unchanged) are still in their same positions (4th/5th).
My own site has not changed at all. Nor other sites that have not been changed by others.
But then I try to optimise generally and not sharpen the site too much for google's momentary whims. Perhaps this is why some sites have disappeared.

skipfactor




msg:34194
 5:53 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>A definate sign that some penalty/block/ban/whatever you want to call it is in effect for anything with REAL ESTATE in the search.

Not true in all cases. Two small towns around me haven't been hit hardly at all. But for my town, which has a similar population(10K) but is much more popular for realty sales, searches, & Adword bid prices, etc., it's a virtual wipe-out in the SERPS for agents & agencies for 'mysmallpopulartown real estate'.

FrooglePhobia: a dreaded new 'Real Estate' category.

Nice new logo by the way.

jady




msg:34195
 5:56 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Skipfactor - I do agree. We are in Central Florida (orlando area) and all major cities have blocks for REAL ESTATE searches on agents/brokers. I have seen a few (very few) exceptions to the above for newer upcoming areas and smaller unknown areas. Almost like someone at Google sat as a desk with a map and plugged in all cities/towns on a map.

Actually looking at an atlas, the cities in my area that were not effected are not on the state map.

Sad thing is not only are real estate agents hurting from that "Extra" source of leads, but folks looking for real estate CANT FIND ANYTHING!

pleeker




msg:34196
 6:02 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Wow, that's fascinating. For our locality, a search for AREANAME REAL ESTATE brings up lots of directory sites like AOL CityGuide, CitySearch, the Yahoo Directory, and Realtor.com ... no local agencies.

As others have said, change "real estate" to "homes" and you get the local agency sites, including (thankfully) our two real estate clients. We focused on "homes" and "homes for sale" in developing the site content. :)

skipfactor




msg:34197
 6:21 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>As others have said, change "real estate" to "homes" and you get the local agency sites, including (thankfully) our two real estate clients.

Also by adding just about anything to 'mytown real estate', I get what I see as relevant results:

'mytown real estate homes'
'mytown real estate agents'
'mytown real estate purchase'

>> We focused on "homes" and "homes for sale" in developing the site content.

Hopefully, everyone diversified, but I've seen a hit on these terms as well, though nothing approaching a wipe-out.

Paranoia: it will trickle down to smaller searches.

ASPwiz




msg:34198
 7:18 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I am number 5 for <search term>
and number 3 on www-in ....

I'm obviously pretty happy with it :)

[edited by: Marcia at 1:00 pm (utc) on Dec. 15, 2003]
[edit reason] No personal specifics, please. Thanks! [/edit]

Marcia




msg:34199
 11:41 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Sid, the non-template site I watch was done to replace a dodgy template site in frames, and it's definitely custom. Fortunately, I included real estate and homes for sale both because I always try to put myself in the surfer's shoes and think about how I'd search as a consumer.

>>This dupe filter seems to work on duplication between pages on the same site and same IP range.

The dup filter is seriously flawed in some instances. I finally caved in after finding a blatant example of the failure on -in (not a real estate site at all) and sent in a detailed explanation, carefully pointing out that it was NOT on the site owner's part, but was strictly on Google's end.

To be perfectly objective and fair to everyone, I think when looking at specific terms that appear to be targeted, we might do well to balance how we view it by realizing that the more valuable some search terms are the more they'll be heavily targeted by using artificially contrived means.

Not that it does anyone any good if they've been hit hard for their prime terms, but if there can be more than one reason for something being done it can take a lot of self-restraint to not automatically and arbitrarily interpret the motivations as being inherently evil.

jady




msg:34200
 11:55 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I dont buy the template idea - only because we have 5 real estate clients - we dont belive in any over-optimization, keyword domains, etc. - just good text and techniques. Sites all ranked well in the past few years until now. Everything we have done is custom.

Also watch competition sites - they are msotly all custom as well.

allanp73




msg:34201
 1:04 am on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Skipfactor,

I just tested:
"Also by adding just about anything to 'mytown real estate', I get what I see as relevant results:

'mytown real estate homes'
'mytown real estate agents'
'mytown real estate purchase' "

This doesn't work. It seems that once a site is filtered for real estate or homes then it won't appear for phrases that conclude these terms. The problem I am having is my agency's name is "Virtually mytown real estate" and my site doesn't show for this at all. It not a competitive term. Results show mainly sites (directories) which link to my site.

skipfactor




msg:34202
 1:38 am on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>I just tested...This doesn't work.

totally edited: You're right, forgot the state:

MSG#112
[webmasterworld.com...]

Marcia




msg:34203
 4:56 am on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Something interesting. It'll happen on city names but seems to have slipped by with "area names," maybe because they're not searched as much.

I'm looking at two SERPs, one for which I would assume all web design sites would have been zapped. Most all were, but 3 out of the first 30 results have remained.

For another search, I'd have expected real estate folks' sites to all get zapped, but there are a few remaining, including 1 in the top spot. And that would most definitely fall into "whatever" for backlinks if we were to assume that had something to do with it.

Hissingsid




msg:34204
 5:27 am on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi,

OK skip th assumption that templates had led to lazyness. Do any of you have pages which have the words real estate within the first three words in the title of every page?

The same question but for meta description?

Best wishes

Sid

Marcia




msg:34205
 5:44 am on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>have the words real estate within the first three words in the title of every page?

On the main area pages yes, and yes for meta description, but there's only one on the main index page. But looking at both MSN and Yahoo right now (looks a lot like clustering to me) there's not a chance in the world of changing it and losing those. I'll slap it in even one more time and call it done.

kaled




msg:34206
 10:51 am on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

While mulling over another problem, I had a quick play with real estate searches. I found that using the allintext: prefix worked quite well - certainly the results seemed ok but I didn't go through each one.

Kaled.

jady




msg:34207
 2:19 pm on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>>Something interesting. It'll happen on city names but seems to have slipped by with "area names," maybe because they're not searched as much.

Marcia - interesting concept. I did note one very obvious exception to the rule. A new and upcoming town here in Florida - we have a client that receives 1200 to 1400 hits for MY TOWN REAL ESTATE searches. This town was NOT effected by this update as it is a new town. But it receives a TON of hits.

Another client we manage is in a established town in Florida, and too was in the #1 spot but only got 600 to 700 hits per month for MY TOWN REAL ESTATE. Reason is, this more established town (that is on the map) is basically FULL - not much available. While the first town I refereced is NOT on any state maps but is one of the fastest growing areas in Florida.

Rizzo




msg:34208
 2:55 pm on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a real estate website. I was hit hard by Florida. I was in the number 1 position for several phrases, but was no where to be seen for a few weeks. All the sites coming up for those keyword phrases were spammy sites. One day I looked at all the sites in the first ten pages. Only 3 of those 100 sites were for realtors. The rest were garbage. If someone was actually looking for a realtor they would have had a really hard time.

I followed Brett's advice and continued adding content every day to my site. Last week I jumped back up to the number 3 position. Mine is the only realtor site in the top ten so it is getting actually more traffic than it did when it was number one.

I think a key is to make sure to add new content on a regular basis. Since the Florida update I haven't done anything to my site, other than adding new content. It sure has helped me.

subway




msg:34209
 3:02 pm on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

The second that the keyword becomes one people will pay money for (e.g. Florida Real Estate") - it get's tranferred to the "Google's Most Filtered" list where it then undergoes a series of rather harsh and unique filters. The "New Town" you are talking about Jady probably doesn't have enough people bidding for the keyterm and hence avoids the filter.

I manage two real estate sites

The first has been hit with the filter, but also attracts tens of thousands of dollars in ppc every month.

The second is a sleepy little town in the middle of no where that absolutely no body bids for, the site has every single possible SEO technique applied it - but is still sitting pretty at #1 for all it's main keywords.

I think Real Estate appears to have been hit the hardest because agents make HUGE commissions from real estate and therefore spend more on Adwords. I don't think it's been singled out in particular, just the way it pans out.

This filter is directly related to the keywords people are willing to spend money on with Adwords.

caveman




msg:34210
 6:09 pm on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

I can confirm that in another category (not mentioned) in this thread, the same sort of phenomenon applies.

SEARCHES

kw1 + kw2 (primary phrase for the category)
SERP's completely different since Florida, most commercial sites wiped out. Edu's. gov's, Book sites, etc. took their place.

LargeGeoArea + kw1+ kw2
SERP's completely different since Florida, most commercial sites wiped out. Edu's. gov's, Book sites, etc. took their place.

SmallGeoArea + kw1 + kw2
Good mix of sites, including but not limited to, commercial results.

CONCLUSION
Harsh filter in place, based on kw1 kw2 searches. Filter applies to some but not all geo terms. Largest ones filtered. Nature of SERP's completely different depending upon whether filtered or not.

FUTURE
A) Google normalizes its searches in this area and more commercial results return, making SERP's more well rounded/complete. (Smart money *not* betting on this scenario.)

B) This bizarre situation continues, and is based on $ or volume of searches. (2:1 odds)

C) They haven't got to the smaller geo terms yet. (1:2 odds)

Trawler




msg:34211
 11:14 pm on Dec 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

In MHO, This is from what i have been seeing the last few weeks.

The filter is most definatley applied to (1st) large geographical areas, (2nd) major cities, (3rd) smaller cities.

Two weeks ago I tested a page in a smaller community outside a major city for my specific two keyword term. Seo'ed the pants off the page and got a # 1 ranking. I mean I really went all the way with the SEO

My other pages relating to the greater city area surrounding this same location were then and still are being filtered.

Lo and behold - As of the 13 th tags, the smaller city is now being filtered also. I made no changes to the page and it now resides at 672 for the two keyword term.

There are no older cached pages to be concerned with affecting the ranking. The page I added was new as of two weeks ago.

Also the serps for that particular location are now very very different from two weeks ago.

It ( the filter) is also is applied to country specific search terms with some of the countries still not filtered out.

This is because some country designations sush as CA for Canada might be mistaken for CA California.

Right now in my area the CA for California is subject to the filter but the CA for Canada is not. Same holds true for a small number of other countries.

I am more than ever, convinced that this is a well thought out campaign that was planed by google for quite some time now, to as they say:

"return revelant results to the user"

In MHO you can read that as "massage the results the way they feel they should be."

allanp73




msg:34212
 4:25 am on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I do marketing for about a hundred agents across North America and have made a list of areas targeted by the filtered. I see that it definitely associated with the size of the market and Adword potential.
The list includes not the just the terms "city real estate", but homes, condos, and many real estate related terms.
The adding of content doesn't seems to help get back onto Google. It seems like ranking is based on links out.

EliteWeb




msg:34213
 4:35 am on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

A real estate information site I was working out, all gone. p00f. Comes up for city name but not for RE related terms that they were setup for. Has quite a few links to it also.

jady




msg:34214
 12:11 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>>I do marketing for about a hundred agents

I feel sorry for you! Ever think about a change in client base?

We have a large client base, but only 6 realtors but it took HOURS to explain to them what happend and show them working examples of how NOBODY in our area is ranking.. Some of o ur Clients kept asking, well whatever it takes to get back to #1 - but this time I can honestly say that I DONT KNOW HOW TO GET IT BACK!

Elite - SAME THING HERE! <REAL ESTATE IN MY CITY> results are JUNK - just <MY CITY, STATE> puts a few of our clients on the first page.

Wouldnt you think that just searching for city/state is broader and more competitive? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

Kirby




msg:34215
 5:42 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

>The adding of content doesn't seems to help get back onto Google. It seems like ranking is based on links out.

Allan, I'm back in top 5 along with a competitor, without changes. I tend to think it is still about onpage text and links and google's attempt at semantics.

brett said this in message #25 of [webmasterworld.com...]

Why does 80% of it explain Florida? Because most of the utterly bizarre searches we've seen since Florida, are in sectors that have very little text on the page. Most are in keyword spaces where generated pages are the norm (travel, hotel, weather, drugs, shopping/commercial product cats, shopping cart driven purchase pages, and ultimately - every ones index pages). There just isn't enough text on those pages to make heads-nor-tails of. It explains the "dictionary" phenom and the "over optimization" phenom.

I don't think it explains everything and I do agree there must have been some specific filters that nailed people in certain categories.

I tend to agree with this overview.

HenryUK




msg:34216
 6:11 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just to give an alternative perspective, not seeing any major change in the positions of searches of the form [commercial real estate type key phrase] [town] here in the UK. Others may disagree, but my pages have held up fine. (Never spent a penny on Adwords).

And there are some extremely competitive high-spending phrases in this market over here (up to 30 sterling to get top spot...)

Suggestion would be that whatever this phenomenon is, it isn't universal, and therefore not algorithmic - ie it has been "manually" applied, or at the very least "manually" restricted to the US.

Of course, we don't call it "real estate" over here either ;-)

Kirby




msg:34217
 6:21 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Suggestion would be that whatever this phenomenon is, it isn't universal, and therefore not algorithmic - ie it has been "manually" applied, or at the very least "manually" restricted to the US.

It can still be algorithic. If it is semantic in nature, it would be reasonable to assume that Google would start with one language set before expanding. As with English, it would be different in the US as opposed to the UK or Australia.

allanp73




msg:34218
 6:25 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Kirby,

I checked out your site and noticed their are atleast 5 outbound links on your index page. This would fit with the Hilltop theory of ranking. I don't see anything special about your text compared to mine, so I don't think this is the factor. I read the Applied Semantics theory, but it doesn't explain how sites with little or no text rank well and it doesn't explain why so many real estate sites were filtered out. I know many sites with excellent text (written for people not search engines), which are gone.
I think you are luckily to have gotten back in the serps. Possibly it is as I believe that you outbound links makes you look like an expert site and therefore enables it to be re-included.

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