Seeking feedback: Crowdsourced research on Google Algorithm change and real estate

Update: Google’s algorithm has spread to all the proxies I have access to. So the research will change accordingly. A shortened version of what I discovered before the changes when examining four different markets in the US can be found in my Inman Column on the new algorithm. Free on March 1st, 2011 and paid subscription required after that time.

Google’s new algorithm change has an effect on more than 10% of search queries. My initial investigation into how the algorithm update has effected real estate searches has yielded a few surprising insights.

I’d like to do something a little more comprehensive.

A real estate search query census

In order to do a more in-depth comparison of the old algorithm and the new algorithm I’ll need to block out some time to do research. I’m not entirely sure how/if I’ll monetize the results but likely Kickstarter if I openfund it.

  • Gather SERPs for the top 3 most populous DMAs in each state + state abbreviation + real estate. So an example might be: burlington vt real estate
  • Index each search result in the top 10 for the following site factors: on-domain blog, on-domain MLS data
  • Index each search result in the top 10 based on business model: Aggregator/Advertising, Agent/Broker, National Franchise
  • Analysis on composition based on the site factors and business models
  • Analysis on ranking based on site factors and business models

Thoughtfaucet is a good outfit to conduct this research for a couple reasons:

  • Respected within the industry
  • Not beholden to specific platforms or vendors
  • Business domain knowledge in real estate
  • Technical knowledge in search ranking factors
  • Technical knowledge in code-related factors

In order to conduct this census I would need to release some of the resulting analysis and data to the public because releasing data to the public is good. Perhaps just at a high-level (US or regional data). Ideally some good-hearted soul would come forth and stroke me a check and say “Go do your thing and release all the data to the world.” But I’m guessing that the contributors to this project would like to have some sort of exclusive ownership of something.

Kickstarter is set up to offer benefits at different tiers of donation so I could scale things according to donation. This could have to do with access to the data or also requesting an additional town be added to the census. I’m open to suggestion here, but it has to be tied to a dollar amount.

Please give me your input so I can make the best possible project outline. Include dollar amounts you would contribute to go along with your suggestions.


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  1. I’d (selfishly) like to see:

    – if longevity of domain/content is more or less relevant with this change, looking at domains that have 6 months, one year, three years and five years.

    – what impact, if any, IDX results have on sites’ rankings

    – What the average drop in ranking is/was for larger sites with little to no unique content

    – one or two less populated areas studied, in at least five states. One of the benefits of real estate content is the “small pond, big fish” theory. Is this still as relevant?

    – results from an Asian domain. Looking solely at US results is short-sighted, but I understand the study will be limited by cost.

    What do you think?

  2. Good list, Jim. I like the “small pond, big fish” theory.

    What about the number of, and strength of backlinks? How well can a new site (6 months old) compete if it has a little help from a few authority links?

  3. Good idea Mark. Backlink checking has been requested by several. Definitely makes it a more massive undertaking. But I like solving big problems so you can be sure that backlink analysis will be part of the census.

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