Your Website Is Still Number One
Don’t be fooled by Google’s decision to eliminate real estate listings from its classified listings site. This doesn’t mean shoppers aren’t looking for homes online or the imminent collapse of real estate search forever! From the outside, this change to Google’s classifieds section, Google Base, sounds like a big deal (mostly because it is Google)! However, Google freely admits that their decision to make this change is a result of low usage and the increased development of agent website tools.
“In part due to low usage, the proliferation of excellent property-search tools on real estate websites, and the infrastructure challenge posed by the impending retirement of the Google Base API, we’ve decided to discontinue the real estate feature within Google Maps on February 10, 2011,” the company said in a blog post”
But let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean you won’t show up organically on Google, it simply means that Google will no longer be accepting real estate data feeds for Google Base or show real estate searches on Google Maps. The ability to maximize your rankings through search engine optimization (SEO) and integrate Google Map Pinpoints into your site still exists!
What Is Google Base?
Google launched Google Base in November 2005. It’s an online database into which any user can add almost any type of content, such as text, images, and structured information in formats such as XML, PDF, Excel, RTF, or WordPerfect. Google Base has been especially beneficial for companies with inventory data (such as product catalogs, automotive or real estate listings, etc.), since it’s an easy way to upload all that data directly to Google and have it show up in search results. In other words, it’s the Craigslist of Google.
What Does This Mean For Me?
The good news is it probably won’t affect you at all. The only websites that are going to be affected are those using certain WordPress plugins, or vendors who use Google Base as a data source, instead of IDX. Google has admitted that the real estate search function they created had low usage due to the advancements of website tools, like those Union Street Media develops. Homebuyers can still search Google for real estate information and websites, as well as the local business listings.
What Should I Do Now?
Google Base may be going away, but the focus should never have been on getting your listings there for leads. Google Base was a great way to create some solid links. The focus has and will always be on your own website. Your website is the key to selling and branding yourself and your skills. Keep working on SEO and consider developing a paid search campaign to drive more traffic and leads to your website.
How Will This Affect Google?
Don’t worry; Google will still be the multi-billion dollar company that it is today. The truth of the matter is, Google is actually making a good business decision. Five years ago when they launched Google Base, the real estate Internet market was really just starting to develop. They entered the market unchallenged. Since then, several vendors and large real estate-focused companies have developed stronger brand recognition nationally. From a business standpoint it seems that Google is trying to align their products, instead of having 20-30 stand-alone tools. The complete removal of Google Base in June is a result of Google’s new Shopping API that will probably tie into Google Checkout for one fully functional tool.