There was an interesting discussion over the weekend about the value of Real Estate agents posting their house listings on Google Plus. Some people absolutely hate the idea of other real estate agents posting their listings on Google Plus citing it has no value and serves no good. Other’s go on to say that it contributes nothing to the much sought after social signals that someday might be a contributing factor to Google Authorship and Authorship Rankings.
I’ve been studying this closely for the last several weeks and wasn’t going to talk about it until I was closer to finishing a course on the same subject, but I can’t contain myself any longer. In my estimation much of we we’ve been told about marketing with Google Plus and authorship may not be exactly so.
Let’s start with the question of the value of real estate agents posting their listings on Google Plus. Believe it or not, in the early days I was just as much opposed to this practice as some people still are but for a different reason. At the time I was enthralled with the idea that any real estate agent can get a G+ Post on the first page of the search results that could be seen by everybody who had them in a circle. While I was studying this process I came across those few agents that would dump up to 10 house listings at the time onto Google Plus. I would often check how many people they had in their circles and would discover that many had less than a couple hundred people and most of those people were other real estate agents. No real buyers.
I thought what a waste of time because my experience at the time was that only the people who had them in a circle would see those listings in the search results, if these listings made it into the search results at all because most of them were keyword deficient. As part of my research I occasionally verify that the listings were indeed not in the search results by searching “house for sale” and the name of the city attached to the listings.
Then one day, I was checking out the search results for an agent that consistently posted listing for their houses for sale and to my surprise I saw their listings also on the first page of the search results, along with their Google Authorship photo. This seemed to contradict some elements of my theory so I dug deeper. I checked out their personal profile and 95 percent of their posts were houses for sale.
One aspect that was compatible with my thoughts was that all of the posts were keyword rich. They either matched my exact search phrase, house for sale, or they were about the community. This real estate agent had created a profile and body of work that was all about “houses for sale” and the specific community the agent worked in. If there is Google Authorship and Author Ranking and if Google was indexing the content of writers, this person clearly was about houses for sale in their community.
However, some of the other stuff we hear about Author Ranking was lacking. This agent only had minimal social interaction on their posts. I wouldn’t say it was non existent, but it was certainly minimal.
One might argue that it was other traditional SEO signals that was landing this agent’s content on the first page of the search results. So I continued my research. I honed in on other real estate agents that primarily posted their house listings on G+. I quickly found 5 other agents who were getting the same type of results. And to be thorough, there were a few agents that predominantly posted listings for houses who didn’t get first page results. But this could easily be explained. These agents weren’t effectively using keywords.
I then expanded my research beyond the real estate community. I noticed that in other disciplines the people that were having the best results in Google’s search results were the people that posted exclusively about one or two things.
Looking at this through my SEO lens I started to see Google Authors as living websites. When we optimize a website, basic SEO still works. Keywords and keyword density still matter. But instead of www.something.com, it was now the author as the umbrella website and everything he wrote was the content of that website. If a writer consistently writes about a specific topic, the writer, like a website will rank high for that topic.
Another factor is also at work. Each post links to the agents real estate website. Each post is a powerful inbound link functioning like anchor text and contributing to the appearance of the agents content on the first page of the search results.
Still this might not be enough evidence for some that the Google Plus posts of house listings do have value and are contributing to the first page organic rankings. After all, these agents are also using other established SEO techniques. And to those people, I lay down a challenge. Show me real estate agents who have implemented Google Authorship, are not posting their listings on Google Plus, and are appearing on the first page of Google’s search results for the keywords, “house for sale + their city”. Because bottom line, this is what most people search when they are looking for a house.