Marc Rasmussen’s fascinating blog post on his recent real estate SEO struggles with Google is a must-read for anyone doing real estate website optimization. It shows how you can really get caught with your pants down if you engage in linking schemes. And it also demonstrates how difficult it is to get your clients back in the SERPs if they are taken down.
Matt Cutts’ blog has some fiesty banter going on about Google’s real estate “shot across the bow,” specifically who it targeted. What Marc and many others are suggesting are that Google’s policy enforcement team are not penalizing all real estate websites equally for reciprocal linking.
What we will say regarding all of this is that Google did not penalize our real estate websites at all, simply for the fact that we never engaged in linking schemes because they are set against improving the overall user experience. Unfortunately people think they can get ahead and never get penalized for it. Google has shown in the past they won’t tolerate black hat SEO tactics that go against their webmaster guidelines, and this is simply another case of policy enforcement.
If you’re saying, “what’s wrong with having state pages on a Florida real estate website for out of state referrals?” Unless your site is a national vacation home referral website, there’s no reason to have state pages on it. The more relevant website will always be a website pertaining to a specific state. And why should a website that has more quality information on real estate in Florida be lower in the SERPs than a Florida site with less quality information on Florida and a bunch of information pages on other states with spammy reciprocal links?
Our ultimate hope is that Google doesn’t cave into these people asking for full re-inclusion because how is it fair to the people who play the game the way it’s supposed to be played if offenders can just find a sink, wash their hands, and then get back in where they started?