You can't beat Zillow.
You can't beat Trulia.
You can't beat Realtor.com.
You can't beat the big brokerages.
But you can beat them when you pick the playing field.
There ARE opportunities out there if you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and where YOU hold the advantage.
First, NONE of the 800 lb gorillas have the same access to your sphere of influence that you do. Past clients, friends, family, coworkers (for those of us with more than one full time job) are people you have direct access to and you already have a level of trust established. For these people, ranking on the internet isn't critical, and you don't have to pay to play. So bottom line, keep in touch with your sphere using whatever methods work best (blogging, phone calls, hand written notes, etc.).
Second, YOU are the boots on the ground and you SHOULD know stuff, stuff that gives you the edge over anything national.
You know about the new construction that isn't in MLS.
You know which communities have a nice amenities package.
You know the side of the street with the lake view sells for more than the other side of the street.
You know how competitive YOUR local market is and what it takes to get an offer accepted.
You can exploit this local information to be the source of pertinent local information and that is what consumers want.
Third, my experience is the big portals are generally poor at getting REALLY detailed. They're set up for broad national coverage and don't get the nuances of local markets and local search terms.
E.g. if I want to search for Cincinnati patio homes on Zillow, there's not a category for them. And if I do search for them, what I get is "homes with patios", not "patio homes". There is a LOT of difference and it doesn't take long for consumers to figure out false information doesn't help them.
Provide relevant detailed information on your blog, IDX pages, etc. and you CAN rank Page 1 and might even claim the top spot.
Fourth, you can establish a LOCAL web presence and rank on the "near me" type searches. Google maps have been a great tool for us. Claim your Google My Business spot. Make sure you use basic SEO in your blogs to grab some geography. Spread the digital breadcrumbs that lead back to you, your websites, etc.
None of these activities are very costly, mostly just "costing" you time. Time to stay on top of your market.
Time to broadcast what you see.
Time to give consumers what they want.
You have the edge on this playing field if you just take advantage of the opportunities.
Until next Tuesday, just Ask An Ambassador if you need help,
Bill and Liz aka BLiz