Recently, a few real estate website providers have been penalized (especially in Yahoo) for excessive reciprocal linking throughout their network of client sites.
Reciprocal linking is where I link to you if you link to me.
Sounds fair enough, except some real estate website providers got carried away and linked a lot of sites together that really have little reason to be linked together.
And they’ve been doing it for some time now.
In a nutshell, search engines are in the business of helping people find exactly what they are looking for on the internet. The better they do that, the more people will use them, the more advertising revenue they will generate and the more revenue the search engine will make.
These reciprocal linking arrangements mess with the search engines being able to dish out good results to their searchers. That is why they are starting to incur penalties.
Back to the real estate example…
If you are a Realtor in Alabama, why would you have links to Realtors in the other 49 states on your website? Is that helpful to your clients searching to buy or sell in Alabama?
I don’t think so.
But that’s what a lot of the reciprocal linking sites caught up in this mess were doing.
What’s even worse is that on many of the sites whose rankings got hammered, the links “happened” to be customers of the same real estate web provider.
That’s called gaming the search engines. Sometimes it takes them a while, but they eventually catch on.
And then your problems begin…
How do you know if you’ve been penalized? Just check your search engine rankings by going to http://www.yahoo.com, typing in your targeted keywords and seeing where you are.
Most of the penalized sites have had their rankings drop a huge amount.
So if you are a customer of one of these providers and just saw your web traffic tank, what should you do?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Number one is to take matters into your own hands. Don’t wait for the real estate website provider to sort this out. After all, whose name do you think is at the top of their list of priorities? (I can assure you it probably isn’t yours.)
2. Turn this into a marketing opportunity. That means you send out a mailing to your house list, letting them know kind of what happened. The gist could be that your website is currently going through rough times in the search engines and you want to make sure they know how to find you in case they have real estate needs or have a friend/relative or colleague that needs your services. You get an extra contact, based on a very good reason, to build your relationship. Take advantage of it.
3. Start taking control of your website and its marketing so you don’t encounter another situation like this. Success on the internet isn’t easy and it isn’t quick. If that’s what you want, it is best to keep your business offline. Learn the basics of internet marketing, even if you hire a professional firm to do work for you. You need to know ENOUGH so that you can keep yourself out of hot water.
4. Stay away from the masses when it comes to marketing matters. Real estate website providers that cater to the masses are not the way to go. Not everyone can be successful. That’s just the way it is. And following the masses in anything rarely leads to success, so this idea should not be a new one for you.
So if you are in fact a victim of this latest search engine mess, don’t worry, just get to work.
There is still opportunity for you on the web. You just have to work a little harder to draw it to you.
I almost forgot… What’s the best type of a link to get for your site?
A ONE WAY LINK
That is where someone links to your website, maybe without you even knowing it, because they find your website a helpful and valuable addition to the internet.
Those are the hardest to get, but they are the best.