Mobilegeddon for real estate is here! Websites forecast to drop from SERPS April 21st
Tomorrow is April 21st, 2015 which is the date Google has announced for their new algorithm aimed at improving user experience for mobile searches. A few weeks ago I wrote a quick blog post on how to test for mobile friendliness and what to do if your website is NOT mobile friendly and gets hit by "Mobilegeddon" - you can read that blog post here.
In case you missed it: Website Mobile Testing
If you missed the last update on how to test your website for mobile, you can visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ put in your URL and you will get a pass or fail (and some helpful hints on how to improve mobile experience - Thanks Google!)
One thing that was NOT mentioned in my previous article however is that this algorithm is "page specific" so you need to go deeper into website testing if you want to ensure device agnostic awesomeness!
What does this mean for my website? Well - real estate web pages generally have several "types" of pages and each of these types should be tested.
Here are a few web pages you should test:
Homepage: Just like www.realestatewebmasters.com type it in, and BOOM! "Hopefully" you see a green message from Google that says "Awesome! This page is mobile friendly"
IDX Search: Almost all websites for realtors have some form of IDX / MLS search - this should be tested as well. Type in your "main" URL (for search) and see what you come up with. I typed in one of our new Barbara Corcoran websites http://www.paranych.com/idx/ and was met with this screen (this is what you want)
SRP (Search Results Pages): Perform a search, and grab a URL - post it to the tool and make sure your SRP's and the listing results produced are mobile friendly as well. I used Realty Austin's featured listings for my test.
PDP (Property Detail pages): These are the "detailed view" that you will generally find on real estate websites such as this one on Nashvilles MLS
Blog pages: Just like this page URL which is http://www.realestatewebmasters.com/blogs/morgan-carey/mobilegeddon-for-real-estate-is-here-websites-forecast-to-drop-from-serps-april-21st/show/
Content pages: Content is king remember! And it's often our community / content pages that rank for many of our terms. Be sure to test these pages as well - example Mark Spain's Atlanta page
That should give you a good start in terms of testing your website for mobile friendliness.
Have a page that you want tested? Post it below, we're happy to take a look for you :)
The 2 most asked Realtor questions about Mobilegeddon:
Question 1: My website is not responsive, is the world going to
end? (Will I be penalized forever?)
Question 2: My pages are NOT mobile friendly, what do I do?
Answer 1: No the world is NOT going to end and you most certainly will NOT be penalized forever! However, what will most likely happen is virtually ALL traffic you received from Google via mobile devices and iPads etc will likely cease. Yes, it will stop, you won't get any more traffic via Google from mobile devices.
BUT! Google has said that unlike previous penalties or algorithms, this "per page" algorithm is more forgiving thus once you address the issues (i.e. make your pages responsive) they theoretically should be able to rank on mobile just as well as they once did.
My 15+ years in search tells me that this will "sort of" happen. Generally what Google does is make great plans, communicates those plans and then often times "shit happens" (sorry, that's pretty much how it goes) - but for the most part, 90% of folks are generally fine, it's the other 10 that somehow get royally caught up in some crazy algo'ness
Answer 2: What do you do if your website is not mobile friendly? THROW IT AWAY! Seriously - if you're running a non responsive website still, it is TIME TO LET GO!
I get it - it's likely served you well in the past, made you some money, and hasn't cost you much because you really haven't been keeping it up.
Or maybe you're an "uber custom" person who has invested so much into their website (4+ years ago) that you simply cannot fathom walking away from your investment even though it is no longer paying the dividends it once did.
Worst of all - maybe you made it yourself and you're PROUD of it! Pride is a sin people! Especially when it comes to not letting go of your old, non responsive website! Again - I'm jesting a bit here, in all seriousness - I respect anyone who puts time and energy into learning how to build a website - it's not an easy task, and it's a real labor of love - something you SHOULD be proud of! But take it from me, DIY is a thing of the past when it comes to technology - most "technology companies" and "professional designers" cannot keep up; to hope that you can stay ahead of the curve as a full time Realtor is just not realistic.
What IS realistic though is that if you are trying to be a web developer, you are costing yourself more than you are saving. It's time to hire a professional.
Pitch time! I should hire Real Estate Webmasters right?
Well, obviously I'm biased, so OF COURSE I think you should hire Real Estate Webmasters and I'll explain why below - but the reality is, even if REW is not for you - you NEED to hire someone! I'd rather the business went anywhere than have you stuck in limbo not getting mobile traffic but more importantly providing a poor user experience (the whole reason Google is doing this) - it's time to adapt, so PLEASE throw out your non responsive website and get a new one.
And yes, I'm going to pitch you :)
Why choose Real Estate Webmasters for your responsive website? (Just a few reasons)
#1: Experience: We have the most experience with mobile friendly products in the entire industry. In fact we launched the very first out of the box "responsive realtor websites" 4 years ago. Many of the contemporary products are only just now starting to adapt their process and launching new, largely untested platforms. We've been doing this since 2004 (myself personally a lot longer) - and with over 130 developers and support staff we have hundreds of years of developer knowledge under one roof.
#2: Flexibility: Not only are we the largest truly custom website development firm specializing in real estate, we are quite literally the ONLY large custom house there is! Yes there are a few firms out there (usually smaller) that might take on a few minor customizations here or there, or you could go the wordpress route and hire in someone who knows nothing about real estate (and even less about the needs or compliance regulations surrounding our industry) to try to hack something together - but by the time they are learning on your dime what they learned will have already been deprecated and you're now 3 years behind again. What is the next thing after "responsive websites"? We will already know and have told you about it long before it becomes "standard" in fact, we'll probably have invented it!
#3: Collaboration: We have a HUGE community of
supportive customers. At REW, people band together to solve
problems, teach each other, take on collaborative projects and so
much more. REW customers are the best customers because they "get
it" and they are as innovative as we are. Come to our
Summit in Nashville May 28th and 29th and see for
Bonus: be wildly entertained by Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank who is not only our keynote speaker, but also our business partner! The coolest part is you can win an all expenses paid trip to NYC for a private 1 hour consultation with Barbara and then I'll personally spend the afternoon with you helping you solidify your strategy towards web dominance!
#4: ROI: We are a "returns" not "price" based
company. Our goal is to have you pay us more than you ever imagined
possible for a website and online marketing campaign. We "race to
the top" and as we grow together we want to you smile every year
when you write a bigger cheque than the last - why? Because that
cheque should represent only 10% of revenue generated via your
activities with REW.
Note: Just because we want you to be a millionaire spending hundreds of thousands of dollars with us doesn't mean we don't have a "start small" package for those "thousandaires" out there that want hep to get the next level. In fact - we have a promotion on our premium sites putting them just under $1,000 setup and $199 per month which compared to other premium product offerings, we are actually quite economical.
"The Barbara" - our BarbaraCorcoran.com inspired design which is $5,000 USD and $199 per month - created with Barbara herself it represents the next generation of Realtor website focusing on high level mobile experience and personal / team brand. You can read more at our Barbara Corcoran Website page.
"LEC" (Limited Edition Custom" - every year I personally work with the team to develop "one" special design that will be "market exclusive" (by major city). Because of the level of technology, design and exclusive nature - these award winning websites are offered at $10,000 USD + $199 per month. This is for the "elite" teams and brokerages. You can check if your market is available at our LEC page.
"Full custom" - start from the ground up and pay $125 USD per hour to invent the most awesome, locally inspired, completely tricked out envy of all realtors website. The catch? You'll probably need $30-50k when all is said and done, and it will take 6+ months. Honestly we only recommend custom sites for the highly experienced / high volume teams, brokerages and franchises. Agents and smaller teams are far better served launching say an LEC / Barbara and putting the funds they will save into SEO / SEM and start generating leads right away.
Speaking of SEO / SEM (Search Engine Optimization / Marketing)
When you switch your website you MUST do it properly! A lot of people just "throw out" their websites and start a new one. I know it sounded like I said to do that too, but realize there is a difference between your "website" and your "content".
YOU DO NOT THROW OUT GOOD CONTENT!
If you were ranking well before and you need to change sites, you must handle with care. Title's, filenames, links, architecture, just to name a few things are elements you need to make sure you transition whenever possible. If you can't - proper use of 301 redirects, custom 404 pages and other handy techniques can mean the difference between switching to AWESOME and fading into obscurity.
We have professionals that can help you with this of course, and we LOVE to dig into SEO - but don't forget that amazing community I mentioned before. Many of them have already been helped by someone - and now they are on our boards happily paying it forward. You will not be alone either way - we all want to make sure you succeed.
Hopefully - this has helped shed some light on the whole mobile optimized website update coming tomorrow. I want you to know that I am here to answer your questions and address your concerns. If you need your web pages checked, by all means post your URL below, we're happy to do it for you. If you want help making the decision on which design / product you should move to - happy to help with that too. Or if you just want piece of mind knowing a professional has confirmed "Awesome: Your website is mobile friendly" - let us know - we'll take care of it for you.
Please post your comments below :)