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#427471 - 08/22/13 11:08 AM 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites???
Don Price (Pine) Offline
REO-BPO-R.E. Mod
Major Contributor

Registered: 03/12/08
Posts: 3332
Loc: Pinehurst, NC
What are the best Real Estate Websites to have now, Soooo - Perhaps a new thread beginning with the most recent news and advice is in order?

Must real estate websites have dynamic IDX integration?

What is the best way to obtain leads from the websites?

What SEO works now?

How many pages of content are best?

Must they have squeaky clean CSS?

Is optimization for Google going to hurt us in Bing – or others – or vise versa?

Do you know about: Panda (1 – 25) – Phantom - Penguin 2.0 – Panda Dance - Panda Recovery – Weekly Updates? Don't know, but if you do what are the best SEO practices - now?

Right now I have junk – I don’t want junk – but I have analysis paralysis frown

So I have looked at – Real Estate Webmasters, I have explored to a small degree ‘Real Geeks’ and ‘Market Leader’. (TigerLeads and BoomTown appear to be a total package requiring a minimum monthly fee for marketing – buying google ads etc.) I don't know what annual costs will be just for a website - minus marketing costs - or if marketing is a must?

So – which road to travel at this time?

If I have it right - Market Leader bought Active Rain – and Trulia bought Market Leader, of course Homes.com owns Realtor.com and Zillow buys Diverse Solutions and most of us little guys supply our listings to Realtor.om, Zillow.com and Trulia.com – for free – but not just for free – we provide the listing without any reasonable expectation we will ever get a lead from them – for free. Now we see Zillow and Google forming an alliance – what is next – I don’t know, I can only promise it will not take long to find out.

So – knowing where we are and who the players are that seem to be emerging and given the fact that now Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia – to name a few – are pushing us further down in search results - what is our next step to survive??

I like Marker Leader – but don’t like what I have read that KW supplies agents with a ML site – which will mean it will not stand out. I also like ‘Real Geeks’ – but their site doesn’t explain enough about their sites – how many pages we can create or how we can create custom IDX searches. Of Course there are many REW sites I like – too bad so many agents deviate from the norm and make them look awkward – but SEO wise they seem to do well – not sure that they have the edge they use to.

I have discovered 1 new player I really think can be a great play – but I think they are having growth problems at the time – so I will wait to mention their name.

Doug – I would love to see you chime in with your knowledge and showing off your products.

So – who have you found to be the best website for your hard earned dollar?????

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#427477 - 08/22/13 12:44 PM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Don Price (Pine)]
doug Offline

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Registered: 12/31/69
Posts: 1096
Loc: Canada
Just a few rambling observations to start...

Originally Posted By: Don Price (Pine)
given the fact that now Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia – to name a few – are pushing us further down in search results - what is our next step to survive??


Those few words really point to a major change with how Google sees Realtor websites.

With Bing (Yahoo etc.) and new entrants like DuckDuckGo, SEO and the potential for ranking well for Realtor sites is pretty much the same as it always was. Ravaging your website to try and target Google can ruin your positions in those search engines and those search engines may be the best thing you have going at the moment.

Really, this discussion is all about Google who has made the decision that it basically does not want individual Realtor websites to rank well for the popular "money" keywords like "city real estate". This has been going on for a few years but Google has really got this down to an art now.

For the vast majority of competitive markets the top listings are all Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. and the benefit for Google in doing this is that most or all of the sites display Google ads.

"Real Estate" is all about "listings" now according to Google and so the big listing aggregators and maybe a few big Broker sites that have listing searches on their entry pages are given preference. If an individual agent site appears it is more by accident than by design.

Of course, the major selling feature of fully integrated IDX systems was supposed to be they would almost guarantee agents top search positions according to their providers. So much for that idea....

Anyway, if Google really doesn't want individual Realtors ranking then perhaps the old fixation on Google needs a rethink.

Also, with the WWW now being basically a mature industry the quality and frequency of leads has been naturally declining. If one has been playing this website game for a long time there is a tendency to compare today's results to the good old days and those days are probably long gone except maybe for niche areas like vacation properties etc.

Even when a site ranks well for competitive keywords Realtors have been seeing leads decline. That is probably a natural thing but immediately we think a major rewrite or a new website is the answer. Is it really?

Right from day one in the late '90's I have been saying that if one gets more that 30% of their business from the internet it is a bad thing for a career. Some agents continue to strive for 100% and change websites on a regular basis. Maybe what most should be doing is accept the fact that the WWW is mature and work harder on their conventional business to lessen their dependence on the internet.
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#427660 - 08/27/13 04:30 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: doug]
DueDiligence Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 1635
Loc: Wild Wild West
One of the best explanations of what's going on with G. I've cut/pasted it and sent it to colleagues who are wringing their hands and frustrated, following all G's instructions, blogging their heads off, changing their websites constantly to try, try, try to be Google "good".

One of the things that occurred to me was that, G is not FREE. You DO pay G in a very important way. G tells us they want to see G analytics on your website, and they certainly do. Because, what you're giving G is valuable beyond $$$: information, lots of it. And they want you to use G+, too. MORE information. How visitors find you, what keyword combinations they use, what keywords are most valuable, etc.

Should we be bold and strip analytics from our websites? STOP giving G one of the tools they actually use against us?

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#427668 - 08/27/13 08:11 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Don Price (Pine)]
doug Offline

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Registered: 12/31/69
Posts: 1096
Loc: Canada
I have never used Google Analytics. Google uses it (and Adsense accounts) to determine ownership/control of websites to identify linking patterns for which it then penalizes.
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#427688 - 08/28/13 02:25 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Don Price (Pine)]
Bigtoe Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 2238
Loc: Outer Banks
I stopped using analytics and gwt a long time ago. There are better, more accurate tools available. g is not our friend and anything they give us for free has hidden motivations.

One trick they have is to ding a site and then watch to see what how the owner responds. If the owner starts removing links and making changes then they can be fairly sure the owner knows they did something wrong and they can track what the owner did.

Stay away from the disavow tool, it is an admission of guilt.

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#427732 - 08/29/13 08:24 PM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: doug]
Don Price (Pine) Offline
REO-BPO-R.E. Mod
Major Contributor

Registered: 03/12/08
Posts: 3332
Loc: Pinehurst, NC
Glad to see some serious thought and observations and of course agree that it will be tough to beat the big guys playing king of the hill for our typical keywords and phrases - but I have even noticed the big guys are dominating the long tail phrases even more then the typical 'city real estate', and this might be because many agents are fighting hard and structuring their sites specifically for that battle and not paying attention to the war.

AA had now told me I will 'have' to switch to their homesconnect (or whatever it is) website soon as they apparently are not taking on new customers, but I really do not see the use of that design and - connect once and import all your Facebook leads and LinkedIn in their backend - Hmmm - I believe I will keep those data bases separate.

They also have developed their own platform - not typical CSS static or Wordpress - but their own - hmmm -well they did buy AA.

What I am looking for is a reasonably priced website that has integrated idx in the site so it becomes part of your pages - the ability to be able to arrange listings on the home page - and to create custom searches as needed. Of course a great CRM backend and lead capture - and - a good name in the industry and that is important.

I am not looking to pay to have someone else manage my marketing with Google ads etc. - I would rather do that and see what is happening - at least until the price is driven down.

But Doug is certainly right - my site has been knocked off the first page now - where I was 3-6 for years - and with AA not maintaining the idx well it is hard to keep up with what works and what does not - so like a rat on a burning ship at sea - I might as well get ready to get wet and jump in. AA sites never did convert well with what they set up.

So who are the players now - but I will probably purchase 1 or more of the Websitebox sites - just to see if they work for the price. Remember you saw it here and from me - if it works link back to my site - if they don't - you lost very little.

Now on to find a good developer and host I can afford - REW??, RealGeeks??, Market Leader??, Doug??, anyone know about 'brokeridxsites??

If I had millions of people in my area I wouldn't be so concerned - but with a small population even a good size piece of the local realty pie may not produce enough to warrant the really good sites hosts - and that is why I am so tight - lol
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Pinehurst, NC

Pinehurst NC Real Estate | Fayetteville Real Estate | Blog | Join active|rain

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#428068 - 09/07/13 06:38 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Don Price (Pine)]
Eric Estate Offline
Member

Registered: 03/17/12
Posts: 61
Loc: Austin
I believe there are still A LOT of opportunities to have a private website rank VERY WELL in Google, despite what Trulia, Zillow, and the other big sites are doing.

It's what I'm doing with my site, and it's working very well for me.

I don't play the game the big boys play.

What does that mean?
I don't have IDX integration. I don't try to rank well for Austin Real Estate and other associated keywords. I don't syndicate listings on my site.

Instead, I am hyper focused on a very narrow section of the market. My website focuses on Luxury Modern Homes in Austin.

It is a self hosted wordpress blog that I curate with the best of the best properties for my genre. As far as google is concerned, I am the expert in this section of the market, as demonstrated by the keywords used to get to my site.

I'm not going after every buyer or seller. Just the opposite. Only a very small percentage of the market.

I use Google Analytics, and Keywords, and don't pay a penny for advertising. I'm getting 2-3 calls per week from people interested in these properties. That's enough to keep me busy, and wearing nice new shoes.

The big real estate websites want you to pay them, somehow. But then you are their prisoner. I didn't get into real estate to be like everybody else. I doubt you did either.

Cheers,

Eric

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#428071 - 09/07/13 08:59 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Don Price (Pine)]
doug Offline

Admin
Veteran Member

Registered: 12/31/69
Posts: 1096
Loc: Canada
I have a love / hate relationship with IDX Listings.

I love the idea that individual agents can present the MLS listings and have their contact information right here for site visitors.

I hate the fact that when IDX listings came along the quality and number of internet leads dropped drastically for Realtors who had well ranked websites.

Prior to IDX, agents relied on fill-in home search and evaluation forms on their websites and when these forms were submitted agents contacted the prospects and began building a relationship that down the road often led to $$.

When IDX came along I had website customers arrange to have it set up on their sites. Once they did, their leads would drop drastically. After a few months some would ask that the IDX be taken off and they would immediately get their leads back.

Of course, they eventually had to relent as the competition eating up the ad messages extolling the virtues of IDX eventually forced it in many cases.

At some point IDX providers began to "sell" the idea of fully integrated IDX listings with search engine friendly URLS as being the way to go. Guaranteed to give one top rankings in Google was the way it was sold because an agent would then have thousands or tens of thousands of pages of "content". It didn't work that way, but the cognitive dissonance of many who bought into the hype and paid thousands of dollars for the privilege means this expensive idea is still promoted.

Hard to get excited about IDX listings - especially expensive options - when one knows how comparatively poor the leads are. In this day and age with the internet no longer being a new experience, pretty much everyone knows to go to one of the large portals if they want to surf the MLS. If they are searching for the expert in their area however they often go to the search engines and search accordingly. To these prospects the expensive nuances of IDX listings they find there are probably not important at all.

When they find Eric in Austin the fact that he doesn't have IDX integration doesn't bother them at all. Eric may not get a high volume of low quality "leads" designed for database marketing followup but he ends up with a better quality lead he can follow up with personally, build trust, and acquire a client.
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Increase Your Search Positions By Building Your Brand Online And Offline

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#428083 - 09/08/13 06:33 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: doug]
Eric Estate Offline
Member

Registered: 03/17/12
Posts: 61
Loc: Austin
Nice insight. Obviously I completely agree with you Doug.

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#428721 - 09/25/13 12:12 PM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Don Price (Pine)]
Don Price (Pine) Offline
REO-BPO-R.E. Mod
Major Contributor

Registered: 03/12/08
Posts: 3332
Loc: Pinehurst, NC
A niche market works fine if that is your goal and you appear to be good at what you are doing - kudos - not many of us could pull that off. So what has been happening to the real estate online market will not affect you in the same vain as it does many of us that cast a broader net.

So back to the topic of how the rest of us will survive, I have been studying many websites trying to understand better what has been happening - and like Doug says - Things have changed drastically.

While an integrated RETS feed or IDX will help you keep visitors on your site - that doesn't mean they will sign up so you have them as a lead - and since that lead will probably sign up on a half dozen sites - good luck with them.

Also - as Doug indicated - having a bunch of pages indexed because you have 20,000 listings indexed as pages doesn't work anymore either - not since Google made changes to their magic formula - like in Panda, etc. In fact now you can get penalized if your have too many pages and your site is not a=known as an authority - what ever that means.

I don't think we're ready to be buried yet, not without a fight, and Eric has proven at least one viable alternative to consider, but for the rest of us - we need to work smarter and make use of the tools that are available.

Social media and phone searches are the 'now' items - I don't see that going away soon - but probably morphing into something else.

Sometimes it is easier just to acquiesce and fit into what is offered and not try fight what appears as the inevitable.

Meanwhile - everyone will place tehir hard earned listings on Trulia, Zillow, Realxor.con, Homes.con and complain about how they are being pushed down the rankings.

The worst part of this is - at one time we could count on Google and Yahoo to help the little guy and make the playing field level for us. However now with the updates and letting the aggregators sites knock us down were are forced to PPC and or to buy leads from the aggregators - so Google, Bing and Yahoo actually have a financial benefit by not making the playing field level. Our only hope - and I believe there is hope in this - is to have Google, Bing and Yahoo understand what is being done and once again change their magic formula to make it so the little guy can compete. Matt Cutts - I hope you're listening - we need your help too.

We also never give Doug enough credit for having made this forum where we can learn and share out ideas and thoughts - and learn from his SEO and website building expertise.

Thanks Doug
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Don Price
Pinehurst, NC

Pinehurst NC Real Estate | Fayetteville Real Estate | Blog | Join active|rain

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#428728 - 09/25/13 02:54 PM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Don Price (Pine)]
doug Offline

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Registered: 12/31/69
Posts: 1096
Loc: Canada
Thanks Don.

Quote:

Sometimes it is easier just to acquiesce and fit into what is offered and not try fight what appears as the inevitable.


I think that is probably what the message is here. We have been here before. There have been a few #1 search engines before Google and at some point they each ceased being the top traffic providers for real estate websites. We had to stop relying on the old #1 and begin generating traffic from new sources and we need to do that again.

This time is is a bit different though as not only is the # 1 search engine failing to deliver the traffic it once did but it looks like the whole idea of search engines is really being diminished. Whereas people used to discover websites almost exclusively using search engines, Google Trends is showing that searches for real estate keywords have declined drastically over the years.

The web is no longer new and exciting and attracting new participants. The web has become more of a boring phone directory now with websites being like yellow page ads. You still need to be there though.

People's participation in social media probably has taken away a chunk from search engines. I am more likely to discover new sites through social media and not by searching Google.

Realtors probably have to get used to the idea of less traffic from Google and realize that perhaps our energy is better spent trying to increase business from other areas.
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#428750 - 09/26/13 02:28 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: doug]
Bigtoe Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 2238
Loc: Outer Banks
Originally Posted By: doug
I think that is probably what the message is here. We have been here before. There have been a few #1 search engines before Google and at some point they each ceased being the top traffic providers for real estate websites.


Back before google was known by most people I was using the search engine du jour when I typed in a nasty symptom for a ailment and had amazon show up as the number #1 result. Amazon had worked their way into this search engine to where it showed up for almost everything. That was the last time I used that search engine and also when I discovered google.

Now, when i do a search on google I get almost the same results. If amazon has everything I need, then I don't need google. People searching for real estate don't need google either, they just use the app from one of the big brands that google pushes as the best. Google is putting themselves out of business. Which is expected since they hired a big gun ceo. His strategy, like all ceo strategy these days, is to maximize the company profits so they can cash their stock incentives, even if it takes the company down.

I don't use google any more for personal searches. History is repeating itself, and I have found another search engine that helps me find the things i am looking for.

Try duckduckgo. The results are better and they don't spy on me.
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Your Outer Banks real estate agent. Helping people buy and sell OBX real estate since 1989.

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#428753 - 09/26/13 02:52 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Don Price (Pine)]
doug Offline

Admin
Veteran Member

Registered: 12/31/69
Posts: 1096
Loc: Canada
That is exactly right Bigtoe. Back then we all just stopped measuring "success" as being placement in the old #1 search engine and started talking up Google which in itself contributed greatly to its rise until it became the new #1.

I too have greatly reduced my use of Google for searches. I too have found amazing sites in DuckDuckGo that don't show up at all in Google.

We are indeed moving away from the era where Google was everyone's search engine of choice.
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Increase Your Search Positions By Building Your Brand Online And Offline

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#428788 - 09/26/13 08:02 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Bigtoe]
Mark Brian Offline
Member

Registered: 11/08/07
Posts: 479
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: Bigtoe
Try duckduckgo. The results are better and they don't spy on me.


Totally agree. Google has become very frustrating to use for me. duckduckgo helps me find more stuff related to what I am actually looking for.

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#429386 - 10/15/13 02:46 AM Re: 8/22/2013 what are the best real estate websites??? [Re: Mark Brian]
Don Price (Pine) Offline
REO-BPO-R.E. Mod
Major Contributor

Registered: 03/12/08
Posts: 3332
Loc: Pinehurst, NC
Wow - I must have been in a time-warp or something - I did not know about www.duckduckgo.com before reading the posts - I tried it now and I liked it.

however - it too places the aggravating aggregators at the top too - frown
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Pinehurst, NC

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