Tag: SEO

Website not optimized for these 2017 Google trends? Kiss your leads goodbye.

As Published on ActiveRain:

For those of us in the web engineering and marketing business, 2017 is going to be a memorable year as far as Google search goes.

For real estate agents without websites that stay compliant with Google’s changes? They may well be forgotten altogether.

For starters, Google has already quietly altered their search algorithms a few times this year alone. What’s the Google search algorithm and what’s in it anyway?

Well, only Google really knows.

But, when they change the criteria they use to rate and rank your site for how it shows up when customers search for things you sell? Well, you feel it fast.

Or maybe you don’t.

You see, most real estate agents are paying good money for bad websites. Most pay a national or local hosting company to put up something that looks good, then they assume everyone can see them. In fact, many agents put up a website and don’t touch it again for years.

And therein lies the problem.

If you – or someone you hire – isn’t constantly tuning and optimizing your site to keep up with Google’s changes, well you might as well not have a website.

Think about it this way: If Google constantly changes the way they value the features of your site that make it show up in search and you haven’t touched your site in years, how many home buyers and sellers do you think are landing on your site?

For well over 95% of customers who we serve here at HomePocket with our Websites for Realtors and web Marketing Insights, the answer is……zero. No customers ever see their site.

And that brings us to this…


The Big Year Ahead

Over the course of this year, Google will continue to change the way it ranks and rates your site based on its features. This is especially important this year because Google has already made some very big changes that leave 99% of agent sites out in the cold.

  • Google’s index is now mobile-first: That’s right, more people are searching the web and visiting sites from their phones than desktops now (and doing so from Android than iPhone), so they’ve begun favoring websites with “responsive” features. That means they look – and act – the same on mobile devices as they do on desktops. In fact, if your site isn’t also built with “AMP,” or “Accelerated Mobile Pages,” you’re soon going to be like a Ford Model-T at in a race with a Ferrari. Not only will you suffer when customers get frustrated they can’t use your site on their phone, they won’t ever even see it from a search at all because Google’s going to factor this feature heavily into their new index scoring. Even if you’re site is brand new, chances are it’s not compliant.
  • Page loading speed – If your site isn’t fast, it’s going to drop way down in Google’s index. It’s just a fact.  That is if it’s in the index at all yet. Most bargain-basement hosting such as GoDaddy, Real Geeks, Placester and the like don’t optimize for the speed of your site or spend valuable resources making sure your site is on the fastest hosting. It’s just economics. If you’re paying $19.99 a month, do you think they’re going to make it a priority your site gets blazing speed? Nope. Not happening. Get fast or get gone.
  • Mobile display and AMP – How your website displays and acts on mobile are vitally critical now for good search visibility. Even if your site is brand new, I can almost guarantee you it isn’t built with “AMP,” or Accelerate Mobile Pages. It’s an emerging standard now for Google that ensures a good user experience when viewing a site from mobile. Why? Well, as of last year,  internet traffic from mobile phones and tablets has now exceeded that from desktops – and it’s growing.  Don’t have AMP and good mobile display? Well, you won’t show up anymore.
  • Your content matters even more than before – The writing on your page, your page titles, headings and other technical SEO writing has always been huge, but now it’s getting kicked up another notch. You see, Google relies in part on artificial intelligence technologies to actually “understand” in human-like terms what your site is saying and what that means. It uses this kind of semantic processing to categorize, rank and rate you based on what say you are and an automatic ability to understand that. If your site writing is bad (and writing for the web is an art and a science, folks!), Google doesn’t know what you are – and you lose out in their search.
  • Get social or become a “shut in” – To put it simply, sites without relevant social content linking back to their site won’t rank as highly as the ones who do. Don’t think taking the time to post to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or Instagram is worth it? Think again. It’s kinda like your health. Working out sucks, sure. But, if you don’t do it regularly, you get fat, slow and you’ll die sooner. It’s the same with social and searches. “Work out” your social regularly or, well, you get the idea.

Simply put, web search is changing. Largely, for the better of us all. Google’s aim is that people find exactly what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), that means if your site doesn’t keep up, you can forget customers finding you on the web through search.

Find out if your site is “up to speed” with a free scan and stay visible on search.

Realtors: want a site that has all of the above (and stays that way each month) for just $999?

Get a custom site in just a week with MLS listings. No strings attached, just a great site built just for you by a team of practical, talented software engineers who have been at this for over 20 years.


Stay “searchy,” my friends.


How Home Buyers Find Real Estate Today

A while back, here at HomePocket we decided to poll our registered users and anonymous web and mobile app visitors to find out how they started their search for a new home.

We placed a widget on our site and mobile web app using a service called Ramen (awesome stuff, btw..great work over there folks!). The way it works is simple:

A user visits our web or mobile web app and a little widget pops up in the bottom left to ask a simple question…

The best way to find a new home

In this case, we asked:

How do you start a home search?

The possible answers?

  • Search Google
  • Call local agent
  • Go to Zillow
  • Other Option (with response)

Here at HomePocket, we think the US is on the cusp of big strides in the real estate industry over the next 5 years due mainly to technology and its effects.

Yet, on the other hand, real estate – at present – remains a highly traditional and highly “technologically inconsistent” from top to bottom and sideways of the industry on both the consumer and business provider side.

Let’s just say, there are challenges and problems.

In particular. we wanted to find out if the way people start a home search is changing. Traditionally, people called a local agent and that’s how it all started. Is it still that way? If so, what does that mean for consumers? For Realtors? Mortgage lenders and more?

Some of us here at HomePocket had former (very low-paying) jobs in college and professionally as political pollsters and analysts. As such, we looked at this survey, if you will, as as simple “straw poll” using a healthy sample size of around just under 50,000 people.

Here’s what we found:

How do people find real estate for sale

  • 33% of home seekers search Google as their first step
  • 40% chose “other” then we asked them to say what “other meant” and 99% of the time they entered “Google” (not sure why they didn’t just pick it, but…hey, whatever)
  • 20% Chose Zillow
  • 7% Said they contact a local agent

Pretty interesting numbers that, to us, allow for some conclusions.

Interestingly, the single most popular way people start a home search is, well, Google. Around a whopping 73% start there. It seems most people Google things like “real estate in Atlanta” and make a choice from those results (usually of a Realtor’s site on one of the first two pages of results).

As well, the data allowed us to make some pretty (I’d say) decent assumptions.

Despite more than two decades of terms like “SEO” and “SEM” becoming more and more haggard around marketing circles, perhaps our current day mobile, social and media web habits are making search “hip” and important again? I’d argue it never left. Not for a second.

Some other hints?


Get digital exposure or don’t get sold. Period.


Does your agent’s site have good search visibility? It matters. A lot. Check it out before signing up.


If you don’t have good search visibility, well, I’ll leave the conclusion to you….