Hey there, fellow real estate enthusiasts! Just as the housing market evolves, so does the digital world that showcases it. This month, Google rolled out a significant update, one that every realtor and real estate marketer should understand. Let’s dive into the September 2023 Helpful Content Update and explore its implications for the real estate industry.
The Helpful Content Update 101
Imagine you’ve just redecorated a house. You’ve added new furniture, replaced old fixtures, and maybe even knocked down a wall or two to create a more open plan. Google’s September 2023 update is the digital equivalent of that – revamping the way it views content.
The Helpful Content System is like the framework of a house. It helps Google determine the value of the content – deciding whether it’s a newly renovated penthouse or a neglected fixer-upper. This system, designed to prioritize genuine content crafted for people (think bespoke home designs) over content tailored just for search engines (think cookie-cutter houses), has seen three critical changes:
- Machine-Generated Content: Google’s prior view of AI-created content was a bit like preferring handcrafted wooden furniture over factory-made pieces. Now, the guidelines are more open, suggesting that as long as it serves its purpose and looks good, it doesn’t matter where it came from.
- Hosting Third-Party Content: Think of this as renting out a room in your home. If you lease it to someone whose habits align with yours, harmony ensues. But if their lifestyle clashes with your home’s primary purpose, chaos can erupt. Google advises the same – if you’re hosting unrelated third-party content, especially without direct oversight, you might be inviting trouble.
- Self-Assessment Guidance: Google has sharpened its advice here. Just as a real estate agent walks through a property noting what might boost its sale potential, Google suggests a thorough review of content. Avoid superficial ‘renovations’ just to appear fresh in search listings. Genuine, quality changes matter.
The Impact on Real Estate Websites
Now, let’s relate this to our turf – real estate.
- AI Content Acceptance: Many real estate websites utilize AI for property descriptions or chatbots. This update means Google is recognizing the value in such content, as long as it’s user-centric. If you’ve got an AI tool drafting descriptions that genuinely reflect property features, you’re in the green.
- Third-Party Listings: For those hosting listings from other agents or agencies, especially on subdomains, be cautious. It’s like advertising a property you haven’t inspected personally. If it doesn’t align with your brand or is of questionable quality, Google suggests reconsidering.
- Consistent Reviews: Much like regular property maintenance ensures no sudden market devaluation, consistently checking and updating your website content is crucial. Keep content fresh, relevant, and, above all, valuable to your audience.
Road to Recovery After the Update
For those in the real estate domain who felt the tremors of this update, think of it as a property inspection that revealed some issues. It’s not about the problem, but how you address it. Here’s a structured recovery game plan:
- Comprehensive Website Audit: Start with Basics: Just as you’d begin a property assessment from its foundation, commence your audit by checking for broken links, slow-loading pages, or any technical glitches. Content Quality Check: Examine your content’s depth and relevance. Ensure that all listings have comprehensive, accurate details and that blogs or articles offer true value, much like a home’s amenities.
- Engage with Your Audience: Sometimes, the best way to understand an issue is to get direct feedback. Conduct surveys or polls. Ask your audience what they’d love to see or what might be missing – akin to asking potential buyers for feedback after a property viewing.
- Reassess Your AI Tools: If you’ve been leveraging AI for property descriptions or chat services, now’s the time to refine them. Ensure they’re aligned with Google’s new stance, producing content that’s both genuine and user-oriented.
- Reevaluate Third-Party Content: Scrutinize third-party listings or content hosted on your site, especially if they’re on subdomains. Make sure they align with your brand’s standards and purpose. If a particular listing feels out of place or doesn’t match your brand’s quality, consider removing it.
- Refresh and Update: Don’t just remove the unhelpful content; replace it. If a property’s outdated kitchen deterred buyers, you’d renovate it, right? Likewise, outdated or irrelevant content should be replaced with fresh, pertinent, and engaging pieces that resonate with your audience.
- Stay Educated: Google’s updates are a bit like shifting market trends. By staying informed about SEO best practices and any pending algorithm changes, you’ll be better prepared to adjust your strategies, ensuring your website remains in prime digital real estate territory.
- Seek Expert Insights: If you’re uncertain about navigating these changes, consider consulting with an SEO expert, just as a property seller might consult a real estate agent to better market their property.
- Monitor and Adapt: Use tools like Google Analytics to keep an eye on website traffic and engagement metrics. Monitor bounce rates, session durations, and conversion rates, making necessary tweaks based on these insights.
Takeaways from the September 2023 Helpful Content Update
The September 2023 Helpful Content Update is Google’s latest attempt to refine the digital neighborhood. Just as prime real estate locations evolve, so does the digital landscape. Adapting to these changes ensures your online property – your website – remains a hot listing in the vast digital marketplace.
Want a deeper dive? Check Google’s official documentation on the Helpful Content System.