Why are the local experts invisible?

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The battle for eyeballs in local real estate search is getting uglier than ever. As real estate SEO strategies become more front and center, the smaller companies are fighting to even get on the first page in a Google world where the top 3 links make up for 60% of all clicks (Google data via AOL).

RealGeeks mention real estate professionals are kicking themselves in the foot - helping the top portals in outranking them through backlinking by placing free widgets on the site (thus exposing the real cost of free).  They go as far as to claim these backlinks are predatory. Via AGBeat:

The linking practices have been in place for years, and Zillow and Trulia have been offering free tools for real estate professionals since their inception, which is quite a brilliant business move, and although it has led to thousands upon thousands of links from agent websites telling Google that Zillow and Trulia are high quality and relevant, it is not exactly the fault of Zillow or Trulia, rather agents who like shiny widgets that don’t read or understand the implications of terms of service they agree to.

Perhaps the most disheartening stat is that Real Geeks' study revealed that searches of "[city] real estate” (while logged out of Google) with the top 50 metro areas by population, only 30% of page one listings were local sites. Isn't it a bit backwards that those with true local expertise are badly bruised here in terms of Google's perceived relevance?

Sure, the big third parties are a) reeling in a ton of traffic to help their SERP game and b) providing a great service by coding and powering an application that resides on your site. Not only is this widget strategy designed to push traffic back to their site, but the supporting SEO module is giving them Google juice. This is analogous to what "brand building" and "traffic pusher" APIs (as our own Pete Goldey calls them in his explanation of API development strategies) are designed to do. Shameless promo sidenote: Our API strategy is a bit different as we give you the blueprint to build your dream online consumer experience, and let you keep all the foot traffic.

APIs aside, the AGBeat/RealGeeks post mentions a few things real estate professionals can do. Here are a few of our own suggestions:

  • Link bank to your own site! Engage with local orgs to keep the traffic flowing back and forth or create relevant content with hyperlocal search terms (use Google's Keyword Tool to get started)
  • Be careful if you get outside SEO help: no vendor should be able to promise you a number one spot and if they do, you need to look into their BBB and SEO accreditation (like Website Magazine's top 50 ranking)
  • Fight back with a local SEO content strategy that works for you and minimizes your upkeep, like Onboard's, which has quadrupled organic search traffic for one of our clients

What are you doing to cast a wider net this year?

Image Credit: ACE Local SEO