Are your listings helping or hurting your Google ranking?

Services for Real Estate Pros with

Syndicating listings to 3rd party websites should be part of your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. It's a simple formula; you allow your listings to be published on other websites in exchange for a link back to your site. Link building, as the SEOs call it, is by far the most effective way to get good content to show up on Google's first page and listings are a broker's best option for link building. You may have heard it said that 'content is king' of SEO but links are queen. If two sites have similar content, the one with the most links typically wins.

The twist in this tail is that sending your listings to most 3rd party real estate listings sites is not helping your site's SEO and may well be hurting it. Many listings sites employ technologies to ensure that your site is invisible to Google. There are a lot of sneaky tricks to this but to keep it simple, there's one main thing that you should be checking your links for - and that is nofollow tags.

Checking links for nofollow tags. 

The oldest trick in the book is easy to spot. If a 3rd party site has added the tag "rel=nofollow" to your links then the search engines will not follow the link and will not find your site. For example, this link to my profile on Zillow is followed by google but this link is not yet they go to the same place. You can check for nofollow tags by clicking on View --> Source in your browser window to check your links. I personally prefer to use a firefox plugin that highlights nofollow links for me. You can get the plugin I'm using here - when it's installed, right-click the "q" in your firefox tool tray and select "highlight nofollow links" and it will cause nofollow links to be highlighted in red. For example, Prudential Northwest and Mike Kass (pictured left) have invested in showcase ads on but they receive no SEO benefit from any of the links to their websites from those listings. Mike and Prudential Northwest will get more SEO benefit from this blog post than they do from syndicating their listings to

Note: when you dive into this, you are going to see a lot of red links and it's important to remember that they are not all evil! There are some good reasons for using nofollow and google has clear guidelines that explain how nofollow should be used. All you need to know is that none of the good reasons for using nofollow apply to links on syndicated listings and honestly, it's surprising that this hostile behavior is the norm in our industry. Nofollow is the most common mechanism used to ensure that listings partners don't get SEO benefit from the links on their listings but there are two other technical issues related to this problem that I'll touch on very briefly here ...

Checking links for 301 redirects.

It's quite common that websites move their pages around. When they do that, and to ensure that old links still work, the old URLs are redirected to their new location. Redirects are how you sometimes end up on a web site that's different to the link you thought that you clicked on and are quite commonly used by real estate sites to send click traffic through an intermediary server for counting purposes (Zillow does this). Redirects will only be followed by search engines if they are of a specific type; namely a 301 redirect. Redirected links come in many flavors but all you need to look for is the 301 - links to pages with other types of redirects may as well have a nofollow tag because search engines will ignore them. Checking for 301 redirects is as easy as entering the listing's link into a form and reading the results. There are numerous free redirect checkers online - I'm currently using this one.

Beware of Java Script

If the link to your listing from a 3rd party website looks something like this: "javascript:noop();" you are probably not getting any SEO benefit from it. Search engines can't read the dynamic content that javascript delivers (which is why AJAX has lost some of its lustre.) I should add that there's currently some debate about whether google is learning to read javascript but from what I've seen, it's not happening much and it should be simple for you and your listings partner to test - just check whether a unique URI to one of your your listings gets indexed by Google (i.e. search for it) after it's syndicated to a site (like Roost) that uses javascript.

Now, go and check on your listings!

Full disclosure: I work at Listings posted to Zillow earn SEO benefit for your web site but don't just take my word for it, go and test the links to your listings on for nofollows, javascript and 301 redirects. And then go and check the links from your listings on other sites and let me know what you find - you may be surprised.

Update: ... and this is a followed link to the mortgage website findmyloanonline. If you want to know why it's here you'll have to read the comments.

2nd Update ... passing some link love on to Erc Bramlett's contribution to this discussion (see comments.) 

3rd Update ... why do I feel I've been link-baited ;-) Check out Bill Gasset's Hopkinton Homes For Sale (MLS listings.)


Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Sara Bonert 09/25/2008 12:17 AM
  2. Spencer Rascoff 09/25/2008 09:59 AM
  3. Drew Meyers 09/25/2008 10:34 AM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
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Laurie Manny
Long Beach CA Real Estate - Long Beach, CA


Further to what Misty said and beyond the fact that your advertising here is wholly inappropriate, your command of the English language and your Grammar is atrocious.  If you are a marketing expert, as you claim, then you should understand the utmost importance of professional copy, which you have not accomplished here. 

Perhaps you are just one of the many vendors who have such a low opinion of Realtors that you assume that your inept abilities are "good enough" for us. 

You should know that Realtors have become very immune to the advances of inferior vendors promoting product that their own copy indicates their inability to deliver.

So, when Misty said to you that you are actually harming Homedotcom by posting here, she is quite correct.  I would add that you actually made yourself look like a complete idiot.  


Sep 26, 2008 07:20 AM #116
Bradly Bernier
Monterey Web Design - Monterey, CA

"You can check for nofollow tags by clicking on View --> Source in your browser window to check your links."


Another great way to do this, if you use FireFox, is to "Highlight" the link, right click the highlighted area, and click "View Selection Source".


Then you don't have to search through the code :P

Sep 26, 2008 07:22 AM #117
Mother Lode
Real Living Sugar Pine Realty - Sonora, CA
Real Estate Master

Thanks for filling us in on things that we would otherwise never know. The nofollow thing I had been wondering about and you've helped me understand. Thanks again. Mike C

Sep 26, 2008 10:50 AM #118
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

How come the link to my website in my property listing looks like this:


a onclick="trackPAL(this, 'OfferInfoLink',, paltrack.zpid, paltrack.zuid)" href="" target="_blank">


What is all that junk doing for my SEO?

Oct 01, 2008 11:21 PM #119
David Gibbons - Seattle, WA

Hi Karen,

Zillow employs two different mechanisms for tracking clicks. One for internal metrics and one for reporting to partners. That's the "junk" but it's not the bad-junk - it's not blocking search engines from finding your site. One of the mechanisms is a redirect which I explained above. If you put that long link into the redirect checker you'll see that it's a 301 redirect which is google friendly. The other mechanism, the "onclick" piece, is also correctly implimented such that google will follow the link - but its important to note that onclick can also be abused to prevent search engines from finding dynamic URLs.

Thanks for asking.

Oct 01, 2008 11:41 PM #120
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Dave - just was taking a look at your post and noticed the link love. Much appreciated. I also notice my profile also has some page rank:)

Oct 03, 2008 07:46 AM #121
Sergio Rebollo Jr.
Real Estate TeamMates - Miami, FL

David....great information!!!  I'm just learning about SEO.  I'm getting great results when you search my name.  8 of the top 10 or 9 of the top 10.  Now I need to learn how to get great results for my services (no one that doesn't know me will search my name).  Thanks for the info!!!  I'm going to dive into it!!

Oct 04, 2008 12:25 PM #122
Mike Davis
Keller Williams Realty, Augusta Partners - Evans, GA
Realtor, Selling Buying Homes Fort Gordon, Hephzibah, Augusta, Evans


this is alot of infomation, but i have bookmarked it and think that this is great. You have helped me as to how linking works.


Oct 08, 2008 08:10 PM #123

Great Post, I may have to read it like 10 times before it sinks in but thank you!

Oct 21, 2008 10:57 AM #124
Aspen Robinson
Century 21 Tri City Realty - Saint Marys, GA

Wow! Very informative

Oct 21, 2008 10:59 AM #125
Zachry Feuer
eXp Realty - Denver, CO


I am a rookie when dealing with this stuff. I am going to try out some of your tips to see if I can figure it out...I am sure I will be back for advice as it is clear you are a pro!

Thanks for the tips. Look forward to learning more.

Oct 21, 2008 11:11 AM #126
Amy McAllister
Amy McAllister Realty LLC - Hood River, OR
REALTOR Hood River, Oregon

David, I have read and reread your post and am trying to understand. I realize I am somewhat computer illiterate but have been stumbling my way through. I can't figure out how to check like you said on no follow tags "View --> Source in your browser window to check your links" How do I do this? Once I figure out how to check it, how do I fix it to make the links go to my site? I just want to keep moving my ranking up in google searches. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Amy

Oct 22, 2008 04:07 AM #127
Lee Cunningham
Cunningham Team RE/MAX R.P. - Greenville, SC
Greenville SC Real Estate

Awesome information. I just started using Firefox so your tips are very timely for that. I've got my work cut out for me on this.

PS. Why are you posting on active rain about zillow? I'm new to zillow, but have been using active rain for the past year. Thanks,

Oct 22, 2008 09:51 AM #128
Lee Cunningham
Cunningham Team RE/MAX R.P. - Greenville, SC
Greenville SC Real Estate

Never mind on that last question. Just looked at your profile...:)

Oct 22, 2008 09:51 AM #129
Zane Fikany Connie Hettinga
Steinborn GMAC - Las Cruces, NM

Very interesting.  There is so much to learn here it is unbelievable.

Oct 23, 2008 07:41 AM #130
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

I am just beginning to learn about SEO and appreciate informed people like yourself posting blogs about the topic.

Nov 07, 2008 08:02 AM #131
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

What a bizarre spam message, Tessa.  Have you gotten into the wine or something?

Apr 18, 2009 02:37 PM #132
Brad Andersohn
Executive Director of Education at eXp Realty - Fairfield, CA
ActiveBrad - 707.646.1876

Sure miss you posting here on AR David, hope all is well.  :-)) 

@ Karen - lol~

Apr 21, 2009 05:59 PM #133
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Hi David!  I am posting here to get a message to you that I know you'll see!  Thank you so much for attending Charlotte's first REBarCamp and being such a wonderful guest!  I loved having the honor or meeting you and look forward to seeing you around again!

Now, I also have a Zillow question for you!  I was just adding new listings in a brand new development to the site.  The street name (new) is JONES RIDGE DRIVE and the system (Zillow) keeps changing it back to Jones Street, probably because the system does not recognize the new street name.  JONES RIDGE DRIVE IS an official name in the tax records and with the city of Charlotte (and in MLS).  How do we get that changed?  I don't know how to go about contacting anyone at Zillow other than you!!!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day!

Your bull-riding-friend,

 Debe in Charlotte


May 24, 2009 06:21 AM #134
Agnes Tabor
Premiere Plus Realty Co - Naples, FL
REALTOR - Premiere Plus Realty


Outstanding post and the comments it has inspired. this "grasshopper" has a lot of homework.

Thank you.

Agnes Tabor, REALTOR
Naples florida
239 564-0384



May 27, 2011 03:38 AM #135
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