Realtors and Google's Algorithm Change

THE LEADERS POST - Issue #72 - January 6, 2004

By: Doug Towes, Editor

About the Leaders Post

The Leaders Post is the newsletter for professionals committed
to Net Success - from, an online community of
professionals dedicated to providing excellent service to their
clients. If you prefer the online version, the current issue as
well as previous issues can be viewed at

You may pass this newsletter on to others, as long as it is
sent in it's entirety.


- In-Depth - How Google's Algorithm Change Affects Realtors
- Why Some Sites Dropped In Google And Others Did Not
- What Site Changes Should You Make To Rank Well In Google?
- New Participants In The Program
- New Forum Moderators At
- Available Web Sites With Pre-Existing Search Engine Positions
- Tip Of The Day

Net Success

How Google's Recent Changes Affect Realtors

Unless you have been living in a cave, you have no doubt heard about
Google's algorithm change, dubbed "Florida", which shook the world
in late November. Realtors who in the past had enjoyed good traffic
to their web site from Google found themselves out of contention for
keyword phrases that had previously been their "bread and butter".
Realtor Forums, listserves, and publications all reported and
discussed this issue and in fact still are.

What happened and what should Realtors do? Is a rewrite of websites
needed to adjust for the new reality?

Google's changes affect only certain highly competitive keywords.
Unfortunately, this includes the most productive real estate keywords
in all but the smallest markets. Where Realtor sites once occupied
the top 20 results - those spots are now occupied by "authority"
sites - large web sites that may in fact contain little or no real
estate content.

Our own websites fared quite well as we provide a package of 5 web
sites and one of the site formats included in the packages continues
to do well in Google in competitive markets. In addition, Google's
changes only affect a couple of important keywords and our sites
place well for an average of 100 keywords used by searchers - so
traffic and leads continue. More information about this program can
be found at Websites for Realtors

There was initially a lot of speculation that Google had implemented
a "filter" to try and eliminate certain types of spam or that this
was an underhanded way of forcing people to pay for listings using
Google Adwords. Neither of these scenarios seem to fit. Google
vehemently denies the Adwords scenario and investigation shows that
individual websites are not being penalized at all.

Instead, what is happening is that whole categories of keyword
searches are being judged using a different set of rules in order to
give the results a hierarchal look where the biggest, most popular -
i.e. "authority" sites come up for the most competitive keywords.

So, what is an "authority" site and why did some Realtor sites
survive this big upheaval? Why are these Realtor sites being
categorized as "authority" sites? What can you do to become one of
these lucky sites?

Countless hours of investigation has led me to what I believe to be
the answers to those questions. In the course of providing effective
websites for Realtors, I have been involved in optimizing websites to
place well in search engines since 1994 and my living has depended on
it since 1997 - so I am not a newcomer to this. Every single year in
the autumn one search engine or another has undergone major changes
and I have learned how to analyze all of the information available
and adjust to those changes - this time is no different. I was lucky
enough to have some of my own sites thrive in this new environment
and that gave me a starting point. Google themselves, in a couple of
public statements, actually filled in the missing pieces and
revealed the answer to the Florida enigma. Most Seos dismissed these
statements as a smokescreen without putting them together or
comparing them to the reality of the search engine results.

Without boring you with the details - the reason why a Realtor site is
deemed to be an "authority" is really just a refinement of something
Google has always based the majority of its ranking algorithm on.
Simply put, an "authority" site has a lot more links coming in
(called "backlinks" - and pages within the sites domain count as
backlinks too) than links going out. Actually, it is not the website
that is classed as an "authority" but the domain - and the domain can
have many websites that all benefit.

In other words, the Realtors' domains that are doing well after Florida have
many non-reciprocal links.

This sounds simple but in reality it is not something most people
have the knowledge to easily determine since Google does not display
all of the backlinks it counts. Also, when looking at a site it may
appear initially that it has lots of links leaving - but close
scrutiny reveals that this is not the case.

Remember all those reciprocal links we have all traded over the
years? How come you traded links with other agents for years and you
have seen some of their websites rocket to the top of Google while
your site has floundered?

The answer to that is that a link pointing at your web site is only
going to benefit you if the links page on which it resides is
actually included in Google - and many of the heaviest link traders
do not have links pages that can be indexed by Google, are hosted
off site, or the links themsleves are written using scripting that
can't be followed by search engine spiders. So, some of the heaviest
link traders have hundreds or thousands of links pointing at their
sites and while it looks like they also have hundreds or thousands
of links leaving their sites usually their links pages are not indexed
so as far as Google is concerned they do not.

Aside from failing to really reciprocate in link exchanges, other
ways some of these survivors have obtained many links pointing at
their websites is by using services that place backlinks (often
hidden) on hundreds of web pages and by signature spamming hundreds
of blogs (web logs).

Under Google's new algorithm reciprocal links basically cancel each
other out if they are truly reciprocal. They do not help you nor do
they hurt you. The problem is that most link exchanges are not truly

If you have a links page that is not indexed in Google and have been
trading lots of links with others whose links pages are indexed -
then you will have more incoming links than links leaving and have
the basis for ranking well in Google in keyword categories affected
by Florida.

If you have a good links page that is indexed in Google and have
been trading links with those that do not - then Google looks at your
site and sees way more links leaving than coming in. You are seen as
an unimportant web site and ranked accordingly.

It may be time to scrutinize your links pages and get rid of some of
those links that are not really reciprocating to make that ratio of
incoming to outgoing links more attractive to Google. You can find
instructions for checking whether a page is actually included in
Google at

Google was built around the idea that when a web site links to you
it is a vote that yours is a valuable site. Reciprocal linking was a
fly in the ointment for Google - a phenomenon they did not originally
foresee. Their new ranking algorithm nullifies the effect of true
reciprocal linking for competitive commercial websites which were the
biggest proponents of reciprocal linking.

With Google, ranking well still comes down to link popularity but,
in Google's eyes, it is now a little more difficult to achieve good
link popularity that will help a site place well for the most popular
keywords used by searchers.

Having a content-rich website that people want to link to because of
quality and are not expecting a reciprocal link in return will still
work well - and that is just what Google would like to see!

Participants in our own web page program can be assured that since
Google's November changes a number of changes of our own have been made
that will result in more targeted traffic to participants' websites. The
benefits of some of those changes are already being felt but Google may
take a couple of months to factor in some of the other changes in their
ranking. We are also testing other strategies and will incorporate them
in the future once proven effective.

Google has already tweaked this new algorithm since they originally
unveiled it and will likely modify this new algorithm in the future as
they have built their reputation around providing relevant search
results and the current search results for affected keywords certainly
do not meet their prior standards.

Whether Google abandons their new algorithm or not - getting rid of
unnecessary outbound links and acquiring new inbound links to your web
site will help in either case. A good place to start is by purging your
web site of old links that were supposed to be reciprocal but in
reality no longer are. Then, carefully scrutinize new link exchanges to
make sure they are truly reciprocal and also try and obtain links to your
website where you do not have to reciprocate. In addition, adding more
valuable content to your web site is always the right thing to do.

If you follow the path outlined above your website will be on its way to
being classified as an "authority" site and Google will reward you for it!


As mentioned above, I had some sites survive and thrive after the
Florida update. This is now benefitting all of the Realtors who are
participating in our web site program which provides a package of
multiple websites (one main site plus 4 mini sites) for each
participant. The program of multiple sites was designed for
situations just like this and the value of the program is certainly
being proven now! More information about the full program can be
found at

In light of the recent Google changes, we are now allowing our
package of websites to be split up which allows Realtors in smaller
markets to enjoy good search engine positioning at a reduced cost.
This is your opportunity to enjoy excellent search engine positioning
- even in Google!


The EPowered Professionals Real Estate Directory places very highly
in most major search engines for real estate agent related keywords
and will send prospects to your web site. In addition, the directory
has excellent Page Rank in Google and because of that significantly
enhances your own web site's link popularity and your own search
engine rankings.



What works for you? Your suggestions and submissions are gratefully
accepted, and if used you will receive credit along with a link to
your web site or (e mail address if you don't have a web site yet).
Send submissions to

Of course, that link to your web site will also help your search
engine positions because this newsletter is archived on the web at and will contribute to your link
popularity and raise your Page Rank!


You can promote yourself very well by participating in the
Real Estate Forum,
which are visited by hundreds people who are each viewing
several messages a day now looking for real estate information,
agents, and property listings! All are welcome and
participating in the discussion with over 3500 other members and
sharing your insights is great FREE advertising!

Welcome to Michael Krisa, Richard Shaw, and Dan Anderson, three new
moderators at the forums who are doing an excellent job.

This And That

WANTED! Realtors wanted to participate in our program and take over
web sites with existing top 10 search positions - start receiving
leads without having to wait the 3 or 4 months a new web site usually
takes to rank in major search engines!

Areas available with pre-existing search engine positions are:
Albuquerque, NM
Durham Region, ON
El Paso, TX
Kansas City, MO
Lincoln, NE
San Jose, CA
Las Vegas, NV
Boca Raton, FL

All web sites will be customized for you and your business! For more
information visit

Tip Of The Day

It helps if you take the blade guards off of your ice skates before
stepping on the ice! Failure to do so will result in a nasty fall and
amuse a lot of people! - Voice of experience, Doug Towes

=============================================================== is an online community of professionals
dedicated to providing excellent service to their clients.

This newsletter is Copyright (c) RNC Internet Services 2004


E Mail Us  Internet Marketing Tips For Realtors

Copyright 2002 - 2004