Lost in the noise of the proposed Zillow acquisition of Trulia, something cataclysmic occurred on Friday, July 25, 2014. Google launched a local search algorithm update. The result of the update was the removal of the Google Local 7 pack of mapped results for common keywords like city name real estate, city name realtor, and city name real estate agent.
Talk about an emotional roller coaster ride! All of this news was enough to make real estate agents (and a few marketers) pretty queazy after the last couple of days.
A Pigeon Always Comes Home to Roost!
Observant SEO’s quickly picked up on the missing 7 pack of mapped results. I, too, noted the mapped results were missing on Friday.
In the absence of a formal announcement by Google, Barry Schwartz and the team at Search Engine Land named the local update Pigeon. The logic behind the nomenclature? Barry stated, “pigeons tend to fly back home.” As we know, local search is proximity based.
Real Estate and Local Search in a Tizzy!
Obviously, this update had the real estate community in an uproar. Facebook groups, Twitter, and Google+ all exploded with posts, comments, and tons of questions. We all know what happens when we lack information – it conjures fear, and fear was running amuck!
Here at Dakno, we ran many, many search queries to see how this update was impacting our clients. Time after time, we noticed the Google 7 pack was missing for the typical keyword terms (city name real estate, city real estate agent, city name realtors). We also saw the SERPs were in a bit of a flux. I suspect this organic adjustment is blow back from the missing mapped results and Google’s desire to refine it’s SERPs.
Our initial conclusion? This was bad! Google Local SEO was dead! The Dakno team immediately went to work brainstorming how to attack local SEO for our clients.
What Have We Learned From Past Google Updates?
When they happen remember this – BREATHE! Along with that important exercise, here are a few things we have learned about SEO and Google updates:
- Don’t panic, that is unless you have been leveraging SEO tactics that would be deemed to be detrimental to your web presence. Examples of that would be buying links, reciprocal link exchanges (especially with shady link partners), abusive guest blogging practices, over use of press releases, spammy links, keyword stuffing, and similar “black hat” SEO strategies. It’s been our experience that agents seldom go down this path without the help of an SEO “guru.”
- Be patient. Wait and see how the update shakes out. Often, it’s not as bad as it seems. This is especially true if you have been practicing “white hat” SEO tactics.
- Keep doing the right thing, meaning don’t stop executing tried and true SEO optimization strategies. Avoid creating spammy title tags, meta tags, alt tags, and heading tags. Don’t stuff keywords in your copy.
- Keep cranking out great content! Google loves fresh, original, high-value content with your targeted keywords. Make your copy very specific to your hyper-local market.
- In light of the recent Pigeon update, DO NOT stop asking for reviews. It makes no logical sense to think Google is going to trash consumer feedback. Will Google refine their ratings and reviews algorithm? Yes! Test it? Yes! Trash it? NO!
Bonus Google Local SEO Tips
- Be sure you have created pages that define what geographic areas you serve as a REALTOR.
- From your service area pages, link to pages that define what services you provide as a REALTOR in those geographic areas. If you exclusively serve buyers in those areas, say so.
- This gets a bit geeky – we recommend you (or your webmaster) use the structured data markup highlighter tool so Google knows your business name, business address, business phone number, and what services you provide in your areas as a REALTOR. Google offers webmasters these resources for structured data.
Just this morning we determined the 7 pack of mapped results was back for the search term “Raleigh REALTORS“! We were logged out and in incognito mode when we performed this search. See the image to the right.
We didn’t see this universally for all markets, so it appears to still be in flux.
Be sure to leave a comment when you see changes occur in your search terms for your market with the mapped results!
We Will Keep You Updated!
Consider the Dakno Blog as your source for future updates on Google Local SEO and the 7 pack of mapped results.
Until next post,