A Decade Of Evolution: Real Estate SEO

By James Sheldon
A Decade Of Evolution: Real Estate SEO

SEO is one of the oldest methods of marketing in the book. It is also one of the most influential. However, it is by no means easy. There is no guarantee, no matter what you’re promised, nobody can guarantee top position for every page of your real estate website. That’s not the only thing that has not changed over this decade. You still need a lot of patience to achieve any sort of result. SEO is not a get-rich-quick scheme, to see results you need a lot of time and patience. Below I am going to cover some of the things that have changed since 2010. Also, what the SEO landscape could look like for estate agents in 2020 and beyond.

What Did SEO Look Like Circa 2010?

Link Schemes Were Everywhere

If you did not have a link scheme, you were missing out. One of the biggest changes Google made was making sure that link schemes do not benefit SEO. In the past the more links you had, the better rankings you got, no matter where they came from. Entering 2010, Google created link building guidelines that are still in use today. Link building now can only have a positive impact on your SEO if the links you gain are natural and not toxic. Guest posting has also been clamped down upon and you must be careful when publishing links on forums.

Site admins know that if they don’t keep their sites free of spammy, toxic links, Google will penalize them. And if Google catches what it considers to be spammy links, it will neutralize the link’s value, leaving you with no authoritative gains. If Google detects a pattern of spammy links, you’re likely in for a manual or algorithmic penalty.

A manual penalty will drop you from the SERPs. Recovery is always possible, but these types of schemes have the potential to set you back months.

The Rise Of Local Search

You want your estate agency to be found by local people who would be interested in using your service. Local SEO has become more important over the years thanks to Google’s Pigeon update in 2014. This Google update allowed for well-optimised websites to be rewarded by giving them an edge in local searches. This update also gave a significant rise to location-specific searching. 

  • Well, in 2019, 72% of people who performed a local search end up visiting a store within 5 miles of their current location. (Junto Digital)
  • 46% of all searches on Google are for a local business or local service (SEO Expert Brad)
  • 28% of local searches result in a purchase (Google)
  • 18% Of Local Mobile Searches Lead To A Sale Within One Day (Search Engine Land)

So, moving forward into 2020 and beyond, what can we expect to see regarding local search? The best part about local search is that it does not take the size of your real estate business into consideration. If your product or service is most relevant to the search term and your website is optimised correctly, you will be seen.

Mobile First Technology

Where would we be these days without our smartphones? These devices have exploded in the last decade and marketing is still catching up. Making sure your estate agency website is optimised for mobile devices and utilising property portals with mobile apps is vital so not to miss out on a huge section of your target audience. 

In the last few years, smartphones have overtaken desktop computers as the primary digital device for viewing websites with now over 50% of website traffic coming for mobile devices. The daily time U.S. adults spend with mobile media increased from 46 minutes in 2011 to 258 minutes in 2017 (Statista) and it’s still growing, with potential to overtake TV on viewing minutes this decade.

From an SEO perspective, Mobile First Indexing did not come around overnight, it had started to be developed in 2015. 

After a year of development it was rolled out in 2016 via open testing.

In 2017 it was confirmed that mobile first was going to be rolled out, but not until 2018.

In February 2018 a significant number of websites were switched to the mobile first algorithm.

Then, one month later, Google rolled out the algorithm via a large scale launch.

Finally, on July 1 2019, Google declared Mobile First Indexing as the basis for ranking a website. 

Constant Google Algorithm Updates

Almost everyday Google makes a small tweak to their algorithms, but we are going to look at the 9 major updates of the last 10 years.

9 Major Google Algorithm Updates

  • Panda

Release Date: February 24, 2011

The Panda Update was pushed out to reward well optimised websites and rank down low-quality websites.

  • Penguin

Release Date: April 24, 2012

Google Penguin was released to decrease the amount of websites that violate the Webmaster Guidelines in the SERPs.

  • Hummingbird

Release Date: August 22, 2013

Google Hummingbird was released to place a greater amount of emphasis on natural language. This was to counteract keyword stuffing.

  • Pigeon

Release Date: December 22, 2014 (UK)

The Google Pigeon update is aimed to increase the ranking of local listing in a search. The changes will also affect the search results shown in Google Maps along with the regular Google search results.

  • Mobile

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Google’s Mobile First Update ensures that mobile-friendly pages rank at the top of mobile search, while pages not optimized for mobile are filtered out from the SERPs or seriously down-ranked.

  • RankBrain

Release Date: October 26, 2015

RankBrain helps Google to process search results and provide more relevant search results for users.

  • Possum

Release Date: September 1, 2016

Google Possum was introduced to diversify the local SERPs. Adding more businesses to the local results and giving a boost to businesses located outside the city centre.

  • Fred

Release Date: March 8, 2017

Fred targets websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. The majority of affected sites are blogs with low-quality posts that appear to be created mostly for the purpose of generating ad revenue.

  • BERT

Release Date: October 21, 2019

The BERT algorithm (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a deep learning algorithm related to natural language processing. It helps a machine to understand what words in a sentence mean, but with all the nuances of context.

The Future of Digital Marketing for Estate Agents

With huge changes already in the evolution and complexity of digital marketing, algorithms and trends, it’s likely that this will continue in the current decade to advance and evolve. 

It’s becoming increasingly important for property businesses to keep up to date with their knowledge of digital marketing. It’s integral, especially those that are without a marketing department, to form relationships with expert agencies in the field to get the most out of their budgets and stay ahead of the competition in a competitive market. 

The future of digital marketing sees a huge focus on automation, personalisation and artificial intelligence, and these aspects will continually develop, creating new features to some of the key marketing platforms. 

Personalisation in particular will play a big part in the development of Real Estate marketing, as customers are house buyers seek that personal touch helping them to feel secure when it comes to making some big decisions and purchases. 

Is your Estate Agency performing online?

Is your website under performing? Are you struggling to generate traffic and leads? Not sure if your website is reaching its full potential? Here at Property Webmasters we can help, we provide SEO, PPC, Social Media Marketing & Email Marketing.

Is your estate agency interested in SEO? Get in contact with us today to book a call and discuss your requirements and what products might best suit you!

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