With the recent changes to Google’s algorithm and the impact it has had on the real estate industry, chasing the long tail is something that can not be overlooked. Penguin and Panda are reeking havoc on the local realtor. We’ve all but been replaced by websites like Trulia, Zillow, Homes and Realtor.com at the top of most common search terms. I believe that Google’s algorithm is not yet capable of discerning the best search results in the real estate category. Certainly when one considers the integrity of the data found on the above mentioned sites and compare it to the information and accuracy of listings that local real estate agent and broker websites can provide, it can be said unequivocally that Google is getting it wrong. There can be no doubt about that fact.
If the idea is for search engines like Google and Bing to provide the most accurate, up to date information and listings to consumers, they fail completely by giving the weight they have given to these large sites. It seems the search engines and consumers are the only ones who don’t know that the quality of those sites is much lower than the accuracy and data integrity provided by local real estate professionals. Terms like “city homes for sale” and city real estate” provide huge traffic and really should be going to local sites, but that is not the case and there seems to be no indication that the search engines have any way of learning how to get it right. At least not yet, but I suppose there is hope for the future.
Since these terms now go to the big players, the local guys like myself really need to dig deeper and find new ways to stay relevant especially if organic search results play an important part of your overall marketing campaign. To stay relevant, it’s long past time that we look to the long tail to find business. No, this isn’t a new topic, but it is become more relevant today than ever before since we are being pushed down the page, and often below local results for major keywords more and more often.
There is light at the end of the tunnel though because the long tail should convert better than the general terms do. That’s because the long tail is a much more specific search than “atlanta homes for sale”. There are also going to be less people competing and your chance at success will be higher. Let’s take a look at why…
If someone is searching for “atlanta real estate” or “atlanta homes for sale” (insert your city for mine), they are looking very generally. However, if they really know specifically what they want, they will search for something like “homes for sale in alpharetta high school district” and that’s where we need to be! Think about this: if the consumer is search for something like this long tail example above, they are much farther along in their process…since they are still searching, it probably also means they don’t have an agent doing this type of search for them yet. If they are looking at Atlanta, they are looking at some 30,000 listings. By the time they are narrowed to a specific high school district, they are looking at only a couple of hundred homes and once they select their price point, they are likely only looking at 20-30 homes to choose from. THAT, is where you want them to find you. This is a person much closer to buying and if they find you on their very specific search and your information is helpful to them, you will appear as the expert they need at just the right time for them to need the help. You are that expert, right???
So, what are some good long tails to think about trying to provide information to consumers about? Here’s a short list to get your mind going. They are endless though:
- homes for sale by school district (elementary, middle and high school all separated into their own searches)
- homes for sale by zip code
- homes for sale with basements (maybe even another with only finished basements)
- homes for sale with pools
- ranch homes for sale in “city”
- homes for sale in gated neighborhoods
- homes for sale on golf courses
- homes for sale in golf communities
- homes for sale in swim/tennis neighborhoods
- homes for sale with land (maybe something like “over an acre”)
Ok, that’s a short list for some ideas. Did you notice the term real estate isn’t mentioned very frequently? More and more I believe that “real estate” is an industry term and homes or homes for sale is a consumer term. Remember that when you are creating long tail searches.
So I’ve set off to start getting more specific on my site with the long tail. I’ve recently created a homes for sale by school district in Atlanta page and under that, a list of the most popular elementary, middle and high school districts. I’ve also created a couple of searches for things like “homes for sale in alpharetta with basements” and I will continue adding pages like these. Another long tail group I’ve started is that for zip codes. I’m not sure about this one yet, but if someone is searching for a zip code in an area we specialize, I really hope they will find us.
What other long tails should we be going after? I think it’s a must. Yes, it’s going to be a good bit of hard work, but success generally goes to those willing to do the hard work.