Last month Google started penalizing a number of real estate websites that had previously ranked well for competitive phrases in their respective cities. Two large networks (website providers) that had numerous sites penalized were Advanced Access and Real Estate Webmasters. The biggest reason seems to have been interlinked state directory pages filled with agent to agent reciprocal links.
Recently Matt & crew had sent out some warnings that suggested thin-content pages were going to get hit & there have been plenty of suggestions that search engines consider these agent to agent directories spammy.
Lot of agents call these “relocation guides” and try to justify them as useful, but their arguments are BS – these are nothing but useless (spammy) link pages that once upon a time helped you rank better – back when recips were all the rage. They provide zero value to the user. If you’re an agent who disagrees, check your logs. How many actual visitors have any of those pages referred to your site? You and Google both know this statistic (and you were probably helping them if you had Google Analytics installed).
The issue is that some of the sites that were hit were actually really good sites, other than having a relic of a spam directory attached to them. Hopefully they can get back on G’s good graces once they remove the directories – but who knows how long this G (tough) Love and its Special (SERP) Sauce for agents will last…
State pages on real estate sites was an easy target, but this is a sign of a larger trend – if you have lots of pages that are not “valuable” – ask yourself if it might be a good idea to eliminate them. What’s “valuable” is a whole another discussion. Google’s dominance and ability to guide a market to what their own perception of “valuable” might be, well, that’s an even lengthier discussion.