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2010-06-04 16:50:12

Search Engine Changes May Be Impacting Your Website Traffic

If you've noticed your real estate website traffic fluctuating, it could be due to changes in Google's world.  Two changes are happening with Google, and have been ongoing for the last few months.  Here's the short version explanation.
Google's Caffeine Update
Google’s Caffeine update is said to be making changes "under the hood".  The objective is to make their indexing capabilities much more powerful and flexible, although there is a possibility that some rankings will be affected, too.  I don't believe this update is fully completed at this time, but it may be having some impact on your rankings and therefore, your traffic.
The "Mayday" Update
This update represents a change in Google's algorithm for ranking websites.  That means that this change isn't a manual one - it is incorporated into the way Google's ranking is determined.   Matt Cutts, who is one of Google's voices to the outside world, has published a video on YouTube discussing Google's 2010 Mayday algorithm change.
In the video, he notes that the algorithm change:
  • has most impact on how websites are ranked for "long tail" search terms.  Although, there are many reports around the Web about main keyword phrase ranking being drastically changed.
  • is meeting Google's objective to provide what they believe are more relevant results for the long tail terms.
  • isn't a temporary change - it is a permanent part of the algorithm.
 What To Do If Your Traffic is Changing
1.  Don't Make Assumptions - There are any number of reasons why your traffic could be changing, don't make any assumptions!  Analyze your traffic over the last six months to identify as much about your change in traffic as possible.
Have your referrals from Google actually gone down?  Are there specific terms that were generating higher Google referrals in January vs now?  Is the change related to seasonality in your market? 
2.  Make Sure You Have Accurate Ranking Information - Remember, if you are logged in to Google, your search results won't reflect what the rest of the world is seeing.  Make sure to logout of any Google application before you do a search to determine where your site is really ranking.
In fact, the safest way to determine your rank is to use one of the many tools available for tracking your website's SEO issues.  An easy online tool can be found at Mike's Marketing Tools.  Mike's Search Engine Ranking tool checks the first 10 pages of search results.  Using a tool like Mike's will also avoid any impact of Google's local result orientation.  That may not be active unless you're logged in, but just to be on the safe side....
3.  Analyze the Competition - If you have identified changes in your ranking for specific search terms, take a look at the sites that are now ranking above you.  What can you see on the better ranking site that might make it rank higher?
Can you add relevant content?  Create a separate page to address the subject of the keyword phrase if it isn't already?  Improve your internal linking structure?  Raise your site's authority on the subject in the search engine's "eyes".  And, the list goes on.
Anyone seeing changes out there?  Have you found ways to offset any negative movement in the Google results?
Kathleen Allardyce is the founder of Getting It Write, Inc. The firm specializes in providing Web-Centric Real Estate Marketing services to agents and brokers – a one-stop service that establishes clients as true Internet professionals. Services include developing brands, logos and lead-generating websites. Visit her real estate marketing website, real estate marketing blog, and Point2 Agent real estate website for more info.

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