Making a Good Scent Trail

Services for Real Estate Pros with Applied Real Estate Technology

I firmly believe that if you show your web visitors the right information at the right time, they'll love you for it. But in order to do that, you need to understand a little bit about how people behave online, what they see and do.

There was a study done a while back, the Lincoln Study, by Jared Spool, where they gaged user's confidence and success in finding something online, to try to figure out why some sites consistently are good at helping people find their target content and some just aren't. Among other interesting discoveries, they found that when users were successful in finding the target content, the description words of that content appeared on the page 72% of the time. And when users were unsuccessful in finding the target content, the descriptive words only appeared an average of 6% of the time on the page.

Which means...

Users like to see words describing their goal on a site, it helps them have more confidence that the thing they're looking for is indeed there to be found. It's called a scent trail.

In practice, that goes like this: If someone is looking for townhomes in Tucson, and they search Google for "townhomes in Tucson" and just happen to click on that page in my site from the search engine results page, then that page needs to - very prominently - repeat the words "Townhomes in Tucson." We're not trying to be subtle or fancy here. We're trying to be clear and clean and highly usable.

Which means that if I create a page on my site just for people looking at townhomes, then I need to very carefully optimize for those kinds of words, and then I need to restate those words plainly on the page.

Remember - a web page should do one of two things: it either provides the content that someone is looking for, or it provides links to that content. Otherwise, users stop looking and click away.


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Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Oh yea, they do!

Nov 28, 2008 09:36 AM #1
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

So what you are saying is that the page needs to have those words not only for the webpage to appear quickly, but for those people to stay on my page.  That makes sense, content is king, I am also trying to make a strong call to action for the people going to my site.

Nov 28, 2008 09:40 AM #2
Greg Wilson
1st Cornerstone Realty - Schaumburg, IL

Hello Kelly, thanks for the post.  The internet is so important in this day and age.

Nov 28, 2008 10:32 AM #3

What you are saying makes a lot of sense, people want to see what they are looking for. What a simple concept

Nov 28, 2008 11:01 AM #4
Kristal Kraft
The Berkshire Group Realtors - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

Oh gosh darn it Kelley, do you have to go and tell ALL the secrets?


Nov 28, 2008 11:58 AM #5
Susie Blackmon
Ocala, FL
Ocala, Horses, Western Wear, Horse Farms, Marketing

Classic Kristal response above! Enjoyed your post and wish I had a cheap guru to just do that for me!!

Nov 28, 2008 08:08 PM #6
William Collins
ERA Queen City Realty - Scotch Plains, NJ
Director of Property and Asset Management


Thanks for the post. So simplistic and so true. Amazing how we seem to gravitate toward the complex and yet it is the simple thing that can often times get the job done.

Nov 28, 2008 11:20 PM #7
Mana Tulberg
805 County Real Estate - Camarillo, CA
Real Estate Agent - Camarillo CA

Kelley, I agree with KK!! :0) And I have to agree with all you have stated.

Nov 30, 2008 03:33 AM #8
Troy Erickson
Diverse Solutions Realty - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

For those of us that are not as internet saavy as others, this is very valuable information.  I will go back to my website and incorporate this information into my pages. Thanks.

Dec 15, 2008 07:54 AM #9
Shawna Ebersole

Hi Kelley ~ Thanks so much for the good info.  I guess a lot of times it feels awkward for me to keep incorporating the keywords into the content of my post, but I guess it's something I need to start getting better at!

Feb 12, 2009 11:36 PM #10
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