Google recently unveiled its new search algorithm, named “Hummingbird”. Once again they have changed their rules for search engine optimization and this can have a significant impact on your luxury real estate website ranking.  

Prior to Hummingbird, their algorithm was based primarily on search terms.  But, now people are more comfortable with Internet searches. They are typing in entire questions (vs.. just “topics” or keywords) hoping to find answers to their most pressing questions, needs, or to seek relief from whatever is concerning them. 

Hummingbird is not just an update to the previous version of their algorithm. It is a COMPLETE REPLACEMENT, which is based on semantic searches. That means Google is putting emphasis on the INTENT OF THE USER, i.e. they are asking the question, “What does this user MEAN, what do they actually want?” 

Here's an example from a recent Google TV commercial.  A teenagers types in the question, "How to I ask a girl out?".  Notice no keywords like dating advice. Hummingbird's ultimate goal would be to match the INTENT of the question with the most authoritative web pages out there. And, they are being very guarded about how they do it.

So, what does this mean to you as a luxury real estate marketing professional?  It means that achieving or sustaining high ranking on Google search pages just got much more difficult. At the very least, it is the end of quick SEO: Sprinkling keywords in the articles on your luxury web sites or blogs, just to get “Google Juice”, i.e., more traffic.  

What is the point of getting traffic through your organic Google ranking, if the users who arrive on your website are going to bounce right off of your pages because they are not getting satisfactory answers to their queries?  

Think of Google as a matchmaker.  They are looking for fresh, engaging content by the authority on a given subject who can provide real, satisfactory answers to their users. Worthless content that contains keywords that happen to be contained in the users’ queries, most likely, will no longer constitute a match. 

Continued success in Internet marketing for luxury real estate, in light of Hummingbird, will require that you sharply define your unique selling proposition or your unique promise of value as an online authority in your field or your niche.  All this takes time, to build your reputation online. 

Lately, we have been asking the question, “Is it still worth it for luxury real estate marketing professionals to invest their time creating and publishing content just to establish their authority online in hopes of gaining or sustaining higher ranking?” We think it is time for anyone serious about achieving market leadership to revisit this question. 

Would the same investment of time spent on expanding your sphere of influence and broadening your local referral base, produce a better and faster ROI (return on investment)?  After all, not everyone is suited for this additional role that Google is now requiring of luxury real estate marketing professionals. And, hiring a ghost writer would mean you were an unauthentic authority.

Obviously, answers will vary from person to person, market to market. But, as we approach 2014, and you contemplate the allocation of your marketing resources, think about the value of your time. Perhaps, it may be advisable to get back to basics, and become less dependent on Google to generate new business for you.

In your opinion, if you had to choose, which would you prefer:  Top-of-mind status as the Google of your marketplace or top ranking on Google?

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel-


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