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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dear Google: Please Get Your Sh*t Together

Message to Google (See Above*)

Don't be evil.

--Google corporate motto

I suppose it's the blogging equivalent of losing an election to a deceased opponent, or "none of the above" on a ballot.

What am I talking about?

Routinely being buried on Google's search engine rankings by dozens of other Twin Cities real estate blogs.

That's quite an accomplishment, given that there aren't dozens of such blogs; charitably defined (see next), I come up with no more than 8-10 real estate blogs locally (including some truly excellent ones, by the likes of Aaron Dickinson and Teresa Boardman).

What constitutes a "genuine Twin Cities real estate blog?"

My three criteria are: 1) regular posts -- if not daily, at least multiple times weekly; 2) original (vs. "borrowed" or syndicated) content, with a consistent point of view; that 3) regularly discusses and analyzes the local (Twin Cities) and national housing market(s), respectively.

Bone to Pick

So, if you search "Twin Cities real estate blog" on Google this morning, what will you find?

Here's a (partial) roll call of putative Twin Cities real estate blogs that currently out-rank "City Lakes" (which, for the record, pops up 17th in response to the query, "Twin Cities real estate blog"):

--"Living Twin Cities" (#9): last three posts are Oct. 5, Aug. 11, and July 20 (less content than I've posted this weekend).

--Pete Aplikowski's Real Estate Blog (#7), featuring all of three posts in October, and none yet in November.

The blog's solitary September post largely consisted of this zinger:

If you know anyone who needs help renting their property, please let me know. Sometimes it makes more sense than selling it given the current market conditions. I can handle all the details, showing property, drafting lease, etc.. The fees for this are very minimal compared to selling.

--"Minneapolis Real Estate Blog" (#5): Visit this one and you'll see that the author abandoned the blog in favor of a new-and-improved one last April; the post prior to that is from July.

July, 2009.

Search Engine (Dis)Optimization

Honestly, I'm delighted that anyone reads my blog.

And I certainly wouldn't expect every Realtor-blogger out there to generate original, quality content on a daily basis.

Or for Realtors to blog at all.

But that hardly explains getting lapped by less active (or defunct!) local realtor blogs.

So what does (explain it)?


I'll leave the search engine algorithms to Google's quants, but you'd certainly suspect one (or a combination) of these explanations: 1) Google searches can be gamed; 2) Google searches aren't so smart after all; 3) they're bought and paid for.

Can you say, "pay-for-play?" (or more to the point, "Google Adwords").

If it's #3, how about ditching the false piety (see, corporate motto) and providing disclosure to that effect ("our search results are dictated by corporate sponsors")?

And to think, all this from the search engine not owned by Microsoft (don't even get me started on "Bing").

The graphic above shows the number of visitors and page views for City Lakes Real Estate from Sept. 15-23.

The "spike" (statistical middle finger) was Monday, Sept. 20, when my post on Elizabeth Warren ("The Wall Street Journal Whiffs on Warren") got picked up nationally.


Aaron Dickinson - Edina Realty said...

Unfortunately Google is not as geographically intelligent as we might hope. Until it gets more so, if you want to rank for "twin cities real estate blog" those words (and preferably that exact phrase) needs to appear in your page content with a frequency high enough to make Google think it is important. It also helps when that phrase links back to your site from another site.

Ross Kaplan said...

It may just be my imagination, but it sure seemed like this blog got a big spike in traffic last week, when I popped for Google Adwords for the first time (key words: "Minneapolis real estate blog"; "Twin Cities real estate blog").

So, my premise is still that "pay-for-play" is a big factor (vs. Google learning curve/lack of intellgence).