As agents move into blogging, and look to build up their website's content in other ways, one goal naturally is to improve search engine standing. However, we commonly hear that in order to get credit from search engines like Google, content must be "original." But what exactly does "original" mean? Since we all use quotes and statistics from outside sources at times, how should we think of the issue of originality?

In terms of each search engine's actual algrorithms, no one knows specifically.

It seems best to make sure that your content is "substantially" original, according to Google. In their words, "Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar."

Unfortunately, we have noticed recently that many real estate websites are replicating content from other sites, so that a significant amount of content is "appreciably similar" -- to use Google's phrase -- to existing content. While the effort to provide information and to build page count is on the right track, if your content isn't reworked into your own voice and supplemented with original reflections (or new data), you aren't getting the search engine "credit" that you are looking for.

No doubt, being original takes work -- but the good news is that it might not be as hard as it seems. Here are a couple of ideas. First, you can offer an original take on an existing topic so that, even if you've borrowed quotes or statistics, you put a new, local spin on it. The idea is to reinterpret information for a specific audience you serve, augmenting it with local data and obtaining quotes from local sources.

Better yet, use your own experiences as your resource. Think about it: your email inbox, your recent conversations, your phone calls, all of them are a rich mine of possible topics. What real estate questions have you been asked in the last two months? Each question (and answer) sitting in your inbox is a potential topic waiting to be "mined" into good website content. Make a blog post or custom page about it. Chances are extremely good that if one person asked you something, lots of others have the same question.

Links: This article from Google addresses why originality matters, and how they approach it in general terms.