Trulia buys Market Leader- What Does This Mean for Your SEO?

By
Real Estate Agent with International Properties and Investments LLC
http://actvra.in/Vv8

ActiveRain is owned by Market Leader- Trulia is buying Market Leader. What does this mean for your SEO? 

This post is not about making the best of what has been happening. This is not about looking at this through rosy glasses. This is not about looking at this with optimism and looking on the bright side. If you want that version, then you can read Nikesh's post on the featured posts board. Trulia Buys Market Leader- What about your SEO

This is about SEO and the reality of the power of Brand to the detriment of the individual agent and broker. So if you are not in the mood for frankness, boldness and telling it like I see it.... 

Missy Caulk asked the question in the comment stream of Nikesh's post- 

Question?  So will all of the blog posts here now somehow cause Trulia to go higher in the SERPS? Just curious because the real estate war seems to be between Zillow and Trulia and when Zillow offered free WP sites to agents it pushed Zillow to the top in SERPS? 

So will all the posts here now give Trulia a backlink to help propel it to the top?

While all the posts will not really have a backlink back to Trulia because you and I would have to physically put in the link which I am not going to do- Missy is on the right track as far as the powerhouse in SEO that the acquisition will become for Trulia. The truth is that ActiveRain will have links back to Trulia but they already do in many regards because agents put stupid Trulia widgets on their side bars on their ActiveRain blogs which are giving the link back to Trulia. Agents are the reason for their own demise in SEO as they continue to cave into the big 4. 

First, let me say, don't take my comments out of context please. I am all about free markets. I am not saying things need to be fair. There is a difference between making things fair and having a free market which is naturally fair. This is not a free market. The only place in the world that even comes close to having a free market is Hong Kong right now. So we are not even going to go there in this post.

If you are an independent agent or broker and do SEO for leads on your own websites then you know darn well that when Google did their algo shift last year it propelled the "big 4" up to most of the top 4 spots for anything with "homes for sale" after the geo specific term. Trulia is one of the "big 4". This is because of their shift to "brand". So now the "big 4" don't even have to optimize for "homes for sale" or "real estate" because they have been branded for SEO as equated to those terms.

When you pay money to Trulia for leads, you are helping them get more SEO. It is like sleeping with your enemy. First of all, if you are listing broker or a listing agent- you have been forced into sharecropping with Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. We are the ones who go through the work to get a listing, we are the ones who do the marketing before we get the listings, we are the ones who take all the liability when taking a listing and then the big 4 siphon off our listings and create the business model of selling back the leads from our own assets.

So then you do SEO on your sites so that your own listings that you worked to get will bring in the leads from your efforts. Just one year ago if you came to me to help you with your SEO and I saw any of the big 4 on page one of the SERPS, I would tell you that you can be in those spots. It was easy to dominate for your local geo specific terms. But the big 4 along with many other big brands complained that this was not fair since they paid the big bucks in PPC etc, then you see Google shift the algorithm and take out patents on branding.

Well, then we shifted to niche SEO keywords that would still generate leads for the independent agent and broker, the niche words that are under the radar of the big 4.

There is a keyword that was under the radar that did not have "homes for sale" or "real estate" in it that we totally dominated 9 out of 10 spaces on page one of the SERPS for. We have dominated that page for years. Suddenly just the other day, guess who had suddenly appeared on page one in the #10 spot for that keyword phrase? Trulia- for a keyword that was NOT even in their title of their page, they did not optimize the page for, but Google pulled them in because of the power of the branding algo to any synonym or any term that they can wiggle around to mean a synonym in or out of context. 

This was my response to Missy's comment: 

 Of course it will!!! While every post can not have a link back to trulia without us putting it there, the activerain space itself is going to give more links to trulia. But they will say, Hi Missy- I am calling from Trulia- just surrender to us and you will never have to worry about working on SEO again. Just pay for your leads from your own listings that we now have more of to sell to you.

From the SEO perspective of independent brokers, Trulia buying Market Leader who owns ActiveRain is not a good deal. 

 

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Rainmaker
1,456,492
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Big 4?  Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow and ?  Who is the 4th?  Homes.com?   

I saw the announcement this morning via Facebook and came to see what was said about the sale on ActiveRain and saw Nikki's comment that nothing would change at ActiveRain. 

I like Trulia better than both ActiveRain and Market Leader at this point in my life.  I have never, ever been a fan of Market Leader.  I don't pay for ads or leads from Trulia.  I don't have any Trulia or Zillow or R.com widget's on any site but I don't hate Trulia (or even Zillow.)  I used to be a big supporter of ActiveRain and I guess I still cared enough to come see what was being said here about the sale of Market Leader (including ActiveRain) to Trulia.

What do you think about the discussions about adding author tag and canonical tag to mls in an effort to make the listing brokers / listing agent's listing fare better on Google against Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com?  Bill Lublin wrote a post about it Monday.  Gahlord Dewald (ThoughtFaucet.com, he writes for Inman.... )started the conversation a couple of months ago, two Inman articles in late March.

May 08, 2013 03:32 AM #15
Ambassador
681,432
Bob Stewart
ActiveRain - Seattle, WA
ActiveRain Ambassador

Maureen,

Katerina could certainly answer, but since I have the link up............

Yahoo could be that fourth. Although they have a partnership with Zillow and you will often see their numbers wrapped up together. Frontdoor.com is another site that has over 20M uniques per month. After them comes homes.com with about 18M uniques. 

You can see the breakdown here
(that link is showing traffic for January of 2013 but you can get the gist)

May 08, 2013 03:43 AM #16
Rainmaker
1,456,492
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

thanks!  Of course.

May 08, 2013 03:46 AM #17
Ambassador
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Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

Maureen- Homes.com is the other one that shows up all the time in local markets. 

I love Market Leader CRM, website and sharper agents. Many people have a bad taste in their mouth about Market Leader because of PPC ads. Whenever you do PPC ads, the quality of the leads goes down and cost per lead goes up. 

But I don't use Market Leader for PPC. I don't pay ML to send me leads. 

Market Leader is the BEST CRM system to convert leads that is user friendly enough to learn fast. You can use infusionsoft which is the best CRM in the market but at a cost of over $300 per month for full use. I pay Market LEader $99 per month for the best lead generation website ever created. It is right up there with Boomtown and Tiger Leads. Which are all great products BTW. 

Market Leader is the only website system that I funnel all my other website traffic to and it is all organic traffic from my wordpress sites and even my point 2 agent site since I hate their CRM. 

Market Leader's sharper agent product can not be beat for the price which is included in the $99 per month. We do all our just listed, just sold, pending, foreclosure etc postcards, farming off line and on line through market leader now. 

And we convert the leads into buyers and sellers. 

Market Leader does NOT siphon our listings and sell them back to us and they don't put a bunch of buyers agents profiles up next to our listings like they do on Trulia. 

 

May 08, 2013 05:13 AM #18
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Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

That is not to say that brokers who want to use PPC ads via Market Leader are not going to convert. I trained a brokerage a couple of weeks ago who get 5000 leads per month to their ML sites and a lot of that is PPC through ML> I just trained them in how to convert those leads into sales. The training is all free to market leader owners right on the market leader training center but a lot of brokers like to have an in person training. 

May 08, 2013 05:16 AM #19
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Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Erica Ramus has a nice article on Agent Genius today from a broker and agent perspective. Unfortunately most Realtors will not get it, just like they didn't get the free WP blogs that Zillow offered them, not realizing they were giving links to Zillow. 

(((sigh)))

May 08, 2013 07:24 AM #20
Rainer
215,891
Andi Grant
310-508-4354 | FirstTimeHomeBuyerRealEstate.com - Los Angeles, CA
Helping 1st time buyers and home sellers in LA!

Nikesh and Bob, business is business and in that regard I can understand why AR did what it did.  However, I do not see the benefit to the AR member outside of more stable hosting support as your customer support was already awesome. 

YES we have heard all morning how Trulia drives millions of eyeballs to their site as the great plus, but it only benefits the Realtor "sponsors" (the ones paying hundreds of dollars a month) to be highlighted on their site that will reap the benefit of that traffic in my opinion.  The thousands of other AR members that aren't paying Trulia will be/and are currently buried under several more clicks before the consumer can get to them.  So when counting trade-off: 
Trulia 1...Activerain Member 0

Trulia works by Realtors and R.E. industry related professionals paying for sponsored service areas and ads.  Trulia now has a database information over 200,000 real estate agents, inspectors, appraisers across the country to solicit for business.  ActiveRain members do not get leads from Trulia unless they pay hundreds of dollars for them. 
Trulia 2, ActiveRain member 0

With every blog posted I believe Trulia gets several links in the default coding located at the bottom of every Activerain page.  I could be wrong?
Trulia 3, ActiveRain member 0

For the record, I believe ActiveRain is one of the most awesome if not THEE most awesome real estate website out there for any agent, lender, stager, inspector out there when it comes to SERPS, training, networking, real estate market trends, hot-off-the-press information, etc.  I am not going anywhere if I can help it!  I would not be on Page #1 for over 14 of my keyword search terms that have to do with first time buyers and buyer programs in my service area if I hadn't learned what I learned here on AR for FREE or rather for my monthly AR membership payment.  No having to pay SEO experts, just reading and studying what they did and do.
ActiveRain WIN, ActiveRain member WIN. 


I clearly see the trade-off and it's been a great one!  I also love the ML tools and started the monthly membership with them as well as of last month.  With this new merger though, I do not see the trade-off for the AR member (that isn't a paying Trulia sponsor).  WP blogs and regular agent websites will be pushed to page 2 - 64 NATIONALLY for "(city) homes for sale"  and "(city) real estate" "(zip code) for sale"and other phrases that the big guys will later go for and as we also have learned here, most consumers rarely venture passed page 1. 


It's done now, so we as real estate professionals have to push-push-push more neighborhood and local blogs and posts (as AR has always encouraged) to now make our WP and AR blogs work for us, with as little cost to us. 
It is what it is.

May 08, 2013 09:12 AM #21
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681,432
Bob Stewart
ActiveRain - Seattle, WA
ActiveRain Ambassador

Andi,

I'm not sure I understand the first score for Trulia that you mention. ActiveRain and Trulia will not be merging in any way. Our members who get traffic to their blogs here on ActiveRain will continue to get that same traffic. Just like in the past a consumer can search Google and find a post you have written on ActiveRain and click on that post. Free ActiveRain members don't currently show on Trulia. If you create a Trulia account, you are a free Trulia member but the two are different sites. Sorry, I may be missing something. I guess if you are asking if there will be additional benefits to AR members on Trulia, the answer would be right now, no. Trulia will continue to operate as they do and ActiveRain will continue to operate as we do.

On your second point. Trulia already had a very large database of real estate agents. Have they added to that database, yes. Will it be a free for all to market to you.....that wouldn't be a very smart way to do business. Can any person come to ActiveRain and look through the database and start calling people? They sure can. ActiveRain will continue to use our database the same way we have in the past. We will market upcoming webinars, the occassional special offer (from Market Leader and most likely Trulia in the future). You can choose to ignore those or take advantage of them. You even have full control over what emails we send you in your 'blog settings' area. We'll comply with Can-Spam laws just like we always have and you always have the option to unsubscribe. 

Your third point. "With Every blog posted I believe Trulia gets several links in the default coding located at the bottom of the page". NO this does not happen. Absolutely not. Anyone is free to look at those links and follow them to see where they go. They go to city and state pages on ActiveRain.

Look, I'm just as passionate about AR as anyone. I've been right there with you guys building this thing. This news came as a shock to me. I wasn't privvy to any inside knowledge of this acquisition. But I listened this morning as Pete Flint the CEO of Trulia spoke to our entire team about what to expect and my initial shock (just because it's a pretty big move and pretty big deal) was quickly replaced by excitement for the potential to make ActiveRain better. For the foreseeable future we are moving ahead with business as normal. You'll see in the near future that we are making strides to make ActiveRain better. Trulia understands the value of ActiveRain is in the members and that the content here is the work of the members of ActiveRain. I think it would be unwise to make moves to upset the balance between the value our members receive from participating on ActiveRain (training, learning, ranking) and the value you provide by being a member (sharing, content, advice). Once that quid pro quo relationship is out of balance I would fully expect you (and everyone else) to pack up and leave. And then what would ActiveRain be? Nothing.......and that's not happening on my watch. 

May 08, 2013 10:01 AM #22
Rainmaker
2,937,126
William Feela
WHISPERING PINES REALTY - North Branch, MN
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Because of the controversy with Trulia and Zillow for that matter, I feel both sites have damaged the reputations of the Real Estate Profession.

I feel this could be a very sad day for AR.

May 08, 2013 11:36 AM #23
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1,003,809
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

So many changes in real estate during my career, and MANY of them alarmed agents and brokers alike. I could name at least 30, but decided not to list them because now they seem so trivial. Five years from now, this will seem trivial, too. It's the nature of things... Constant change!  Some agents and brokers will tweak their business practices and embrace change and others will whine about change. Guess which ones will survive and thrive in this industry for decades.

May 08, 2013 12:49 PM #24
Rainmaker
405,506
Tni LeBlanc
Mint Properties, Tni LeBlanc (805) 878-9879 - Santa Maria, CA
JD, MA, REALTOR, CalBRE # 01871795

Wow thanks for keeping me informed Katerina.

Looks like I have to think twice about what I put on AR.  I already stopped putting info on Trulia.  The other day they offered me a partial zip code ad space for $795 a month.  Ya!  No thanks.

I've had a decent relationship with Trulia compared to Zillow and R.com, but this is not good news.  I hate that I had to miss your update.  I really would've loved to hear it but I had a conflict for that exact time.

My feeling... it seems there was a window of opportunity and google now intends to close it.

May 08, 2013 01:15 PM #25
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1,620,462
Fred Griffin
Frederick Griffin, Exclusive Buyer's Broker - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Katerina, thanks for a great post.  Nikesh and Bob weighing in makes this a most interesting read.

May 08, 2013 02:44 PM #26
Rainer
215,891
Andi Grant
310-508-4354 | FirstTimeHomeBuyerRealEstate.com - Los Angeles, CA
Helping 1st time buyers and home sellers in LA!
" I guess if you are asking if there will be additional benefits to AR members on Trulia, the answer would be no."

^ Hi yes Bob that is exactly what I was asking in regards to how the acquisition announcement helped AR members. Thanks for taking the time out to respond again. Also, I can only speak for myself when I say that you and Kerrie's passion for the AR community has never been in question.
May 08, 2013 05:18 PM #27
Rainmaker
1,306,894
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This is a very interesting discussion.  I think there is no way to stop change, but this discussion is very helpful in determining how best to proceed in light of these recent developments.

May 08, 2013 11:25 PM #28
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Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

I was quoted in RisMedia for my comment I left on Facebook. Nothing like taking something negative, stirring it up and getting some great publicity from it!!! I love it!!! Thanks for all of you who follow me on facebook and repost my posts on facebook! Thanks, I so appreciate it!!! 

May 09, 2013 05:58 AM #29
Ambassador
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Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

Margaret- There are different perspectives from which to view this from. The frogs in the pot about to be dinner is one of them. It takes a long time for that water to heat up to the point that it is boiling and then it is too late. Yes, there is change, there is always change. Yes, there are ways in which the real estate business has changed. Some of it is good, some not. Going with the flow is the same as living with heads in the sand. This entire subject goes so much deeper than this and would take a thesis to address. Some changes you can take in stride and move with, others will at some point or another require us to make a choice based on principles and ethics. It is at that fork in the road where realtors will have to decide the real future of their businesses. I am blessed as I can do many businesses other than real estate. I can close down our brokerage tomorrow and it won't hurt me or my family. The entire philosophy of free markets is at stake. There is just too much to go into - in a post comment or a post- suffice it to say- we will see where the cards fall but in the meantime, I will continue to fight for the rights of the individual entrepreneur, small business owner and listing agents and brokers. At least, at the end of the day, I will not have to look back and say, Why did I did not speak up, why did I not try to do something, why did I not fight the good fight. 

May 09, 2013 06:55 AM #30
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Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

Tni- It won't hurt your ActiveRain blog. But Trulia will certainly take over more and more spots on the SERPS pushing down ActiveRain posts and blogs the more branded and powerful they become. Own your own assets, of course, use the assets here on the rain while they are working, yes, of course. 

It is the agents who don't get the SERPS and SEO part of the equation that are not realizing that they are making the big 4 more powerful than ever on the SERPS. 

May 09, 2013 06:57 AM #31
Ambassador
2,503,624
Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

Joan- Change can be good or not. It depends on a lot more than what is on the surface. Of course knowing what is going on helps each of us to decide what to do in our businesses. Thanks for commenting. 

May 09, 2013 11:44 AM #32
Rainmaker
213,320
Dave Keys
MOVE UP in Google Search Learn How Here - Brea, CA
Chief Search Strategist Real Estate SEO Expert

A while back, 2008 to be specific, Eric Schmidt, the man from Google, said "The internet is fast becoming a "cesspool" where false information thrives..."Brands are how you sort out the cesspool."

Eric's statement reveals Google's attitude and approach toward unauthenticated websites in general. This gives rise to a very simplistic formula for search rankings: PR + Brand > PR. Branding is a relatively new concept for Google since their algorithm was forged in an academic setting where any link is considered trusted. This was their Achilles' heel as was revealed when the phrase "miserable failure" delivered George W. Bush as the first result back in the 2004 election season.

George W. Bush Google bomb

This may have been the exact truth to some, but it was not good news for Google whose vulnerability to link manipulation was made very public. In the almost 10 years since, Google has adjusted their algorithms to limit and eliminate this vulnerability. One of the factors that will not go away is the preferential page rank flow given to brands.

 One has to admit that this is troublesome for local agents who in some cases, are relegated to the seven pack of local results if they get anything at all. As an example, in my own locale (I do not have any clients here) of Fullerton, California, a search in Google for "Fullerton homes for sale" provides only one local website in organic results. The top of the search gives you Zillow followed by Trulia and all the other usual suspects. The local agent is at the bottom of organic search. Of note, that particular website is directly supported by some brand metrics of its own from a very well established local website with nearly a decade of search engine optimization and branding of its own.

 There are two takeaways here: the syndicates are not going away and development of personal brand along with continued refinement and optimization of your online content are a critical factor if you wish to enjoy organic search as a lead and income source.

The way that Pagerank formulas work in Google is largely an unknown. Most of us know little about how a 747 aircraft operates. A few of us are pilots and they know a bit more about how a commercial jet operates but still pilots know a lot more about flying them than they know about the engineering of them.

 The ROI of visibility in Google can be very high for real estate agents since 90% of buyers start their home search online and the largest percentage of those buyers begin at the Google homepage.

 Will Trulia benefit from owning Activerain? Yeah, probably so. They didn't make the acquisition for any other reason than profit and their bottom line did they? Will it hurt the average local real estate agent website? At this stage, it probably matters little. The damage is done as far as local agent visibility is concerned. Trulia is simply trying to trade places with Zillow anywhere they can. Here in Fullerton, Trulia is number 2. Being number one increases your click through rate about threefold.

 The good part about all this is that a recent Realtor.com study indicated that the average person goes back to the Internet about 20 times before they buy a home. You can be certain they are not going back and searching once again for "Fullerton homes for sale." They are looking for details – details about the community, about schools, about at least 19 different questions on average. Answer one of those questions in a powerful way and you have yourself a likely client despite syndicates and big brand names who thus far have been unable to meet consumers at this level and probably never will.

May 10, 2013 02:50 AM #33
Rainmaker
192,270
Jan Chilton
Myrtle Beach, SC
Real Estate Marketing

Katerina, you are 100% right to think that Trulia buying Active Rain will push them to the top with the other big guys. Active Rain's homepage right now is a PR5 in Google.  That's not outrageous, but it's stronger than most real estate websites.  In the old days you'd see agent sites that were PR6's and 7's, but that hasn't been true in 3-4 years now.  Pagerank or PR is determined completely by link power...how many incoming links a site has, and how much THOSE links are worth as well. And using a scale like 1 to 5, it might well be a very high 5...almost a 6.  Anyway, it's worth a bunch.

One homepage link on Active Rain back to Trulia will boost them considerably.  They will probably put a small link on every page in the footer.  If you and I did that, Google would shoot us down.  It ignores the big brands doing it.  In turn, if Trulia owns other websites, it can throw a link to Active Rain from them and make the PR even higher on here.  What does that do?  Just that much more power to Trulia again!

Unless someone can convince Google that it's not in the consumer's best interest to have every real estate search end up on Realtor.com, Yahoo, Zillow, or Trulia, then this is going to hurt everyone. But Google is likely seeing dollar signs too...if every agent suddenly has to buy Adwords ads to show above the big 4, then Google is really going to rack up.  The big 4 also buy Adwords, and placement on Adwords works just like an auction.  So their huge pockets will run up the price for ads about real estate so high you won't be able to compete there without going broke.  Either way, Google will get more...from them bidding up to rise above you, or from you trying to compete.

It's a sad day for everyone.  And now they are talking about every local MLS board having a website too. They'll likely be right up there with the others...making it the big 5.

I saw that post about putting your Google Plus authorship on your own listings.  Right now our board won't let you mark a listing in any way.  I doubt seriously if they will ever allow you to claim authorship for the listing.  If you can, however, it will make those listings duplicates on the other sites...so it would be a good thing.  I don't see it happening.

Are you allowed to put links on your listings on Realtor.com and Trulia?  If so, I'd sure put the Google Plus link on them pronto.

May 31, 2013 06:20 PM #34
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