An interesting legal case in Boston.

By
Real Estate Agent with http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com 9023635

This is for brokers more than people looking for real estate who may be reading my personal blog.  Although, it is an interesting glimpse into some of what is going on in the real estate business apart from listing and selling property.

There is an interesting legal case in Boston MA.  As I understand it, a website has gone from being a place for posting listings to a full fledged real estate company.  Some of those who invested in the site were existing real estate companies.  They were blindsided by the switch from domain to real estate company.

Why is this interesting?  Well, which sites are you putting your listings on?  Could they switch from just displaying listings to becoming a competitor?  If you are putting your listings on a site other than your own, you may be complicating your business success rather than enhancing it.  Byhelping a future competitor establish a stronger presence than you have on the Internet, you may be shooting yorself in the business foot.

Ten years ago, agents and brokers didn't have their own web site to promote.  Today, our industry, and the customers who participate in it, are led to believe that real estate listings need to be placed in as many places as possible.  Not only are we brokers supposed to promote our own business site, but the sites of all the places on the Net where listings might be found. 

The company that invested in the website turned company, had no interest in helping a future competitor pre-establish itself.  The investor company was just practicing the idea of another place to put listings.  Their investment of time, money, and listings has come back to haunt them, and now they are having to go to court and spend hard earned dollars to reverse their efforts, and to protect their established business.

This example is another aspect of the Internet polluting notion, that listings should be placed all over the Internet in the name of "greater exposure".  Actually, real estate is still done locally.  Finding the website of a true local professional is much better for consumers, than using a site which may refer them to some agent who might only know a little about the local market but who has paid for the lead.

Happy Selling and Listing!

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Rainmaker
600,821
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

Erik - if sites like the one you mentioned didn't have data (listings) provided to them, would they be useful even if they were tops in the search engines?  And without being useful and getting visitors, would they exist?

Sonny - I wouldn't single out any site.  Your MLS stopped its feeds to sites like Rltr . com a long time ago. (Search: NWMLS stops feeds)

Fernando - is local advantage a local advertising business?  We don't have it here. 

Laura - you're welcome.

Jan 23, 2009 01:38 AM #7
Rainmaker
87,528
Riel Roussopoulos
RealtyXL Marketing Inc. - Vancouver, BC
Real Estate Marketing Expert

Thanks for your comments on my blog post about how to put your listings on other sites.

These are nteresting thoughts but I have 2 minds about it.  As someone that helps agents market themselves I do promote the use of tools to embed your listings in other places.

Including, as you know our own tool set.

My take on this is that it's a sign of the direction that the industry is going in.  The traditional model of Agents having to BOTH Market and Sell real estate is being replaced with a more efficient model of separating the marketing from the selling.

Sales and Marketing are two very differnt skills and they don't always go hand in hand.  In fact they rarely do and it's not uncommon for an agent to be an excellent sales person,  but not a strong marketer.

Agents can sit down and close the sale in a way that a website will never be able to do, but to attract the customer in the first place and be a resource for knowledge about the community, a website is a hard act to beat.  As is the case right here with Localism and A/R.

Our own community website solution is somewhat akin to that as well.

YourFarmer.com talks about how to build a local community website for your business and we have very successfully done that for one agent in particular here in Vancouver.

Why do you blog here on Active Rain and not exclusively on your own site?  Why do people put their videos on YouTube and not on their own sites exclusively.  It's because there is a crowed there that you can tap into and attract to your site.

The old "trail of breadcrumbs" strategy.

You're building A/R's business everytime you post a blog post, yet according to the header over 130,000 other agents are doing the same (and growing).  So much so that A/R has stopped selling CPM advertising in favour of selling blogs and their listings router.

This isn't a bad thing, your independent agents are not going to be able to attract and retain 130,000 other agents that they may be able to do a referral deal with them on their website.  Same with listings sites.

If a community site can do a good job of representing a local community, and you can be the one supplying all the listings for that site (yours and other peoples) you'll get all the sales from that site.

You'll have to share some of the commission with them, but you would have shared it with another realtor for bringing you that business, recognizing that you didn't have any of the marketing expencese that were associated with getting that client in the door.

I think it's a protectionist mentality NOT put listings on other websites, in the end you're limiting your exposure and that can only hurt you in the long run. 

That said, being smart about things and creating a site that is more than just a website with your 4 listings and some pictures of your familly is a smart thing to do.  If you can create a hub site that has read value to the community, you WILL attract more people to that site and that WILL increase your business... just as we've done for Rick with a network of local websites for each neighbourhood.

But in the end, not many agents have the skills, funds or vision to create something of that nature and as such, putting your listings on a site that has a lot of traffic and focuses on local issues is not a bad practice to get your self known.

My 2 cents anyway :)

Jan 23, 2009 03:35 AM #8
Rainer
66,325
Shannon Aldrich
Keller Williams Coastal Realty - Rye, NH
NH & Maine Real Estate Seacoast

what an interesting thought. I am going to have to chew on that for awhile.

Jan 23, 2009 11:47 PM #9
Rainmaker
600,821
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

Thanx for the comment Reil.  However, your perspective is a normal one of a programmer who doesn't know the business side of real estate.  Convenience and expense are the existing reasons for off site applications that agents use.  As applications continue to evolve and become less expensive and even free, agents are improving their own sites, rather that someone else's.  Actually blogs, videos and the like are moving to agents own sites. 

Although there are 130K on ar, that is only 5% of the licensees in the US.  And, searches for real estate are term related.  For some terms agents are#1 in their own market.  As the Z and others lose their data downloads from MLSs, they are less important in many markets, even if they continue to seo to the top of searches.  (It doesn't take long for people to recognize a site that has limited use no matter how many ads or press releases they see or blogs they read. 

An example of free things moving to agent sites rather than off site, is a code I published that makes it possible for any agent to have a value calculator on their own site.  Many use t today to make their own site more sticky.  see http://www.reindex.com/vecode.html  VE stands for Value Estimator.

"Protectionist" is another comment often thrown by programmers.  I usually ask, "What other business provides inventory for it's competitors?"  And I don't mean other real estate companies that we cooperate with in sales, I mean competitors for search terms.

Thanx for the comments.

Jan 24, 2009 07:42 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,036,603
Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results

Heath - All roads lead to home - putting listings on other sites has its merits but the first and last thing you should think about is does it lead the consumer to your own personal site and ultimately to you or does it enhance the site and line the pockets of the the site owner. The other side of the same coin is it matters not who sells the property as long as it sells. A sold property generally means a happy customer and a paycheck. Unsold listings are a drain on the pocket book and often an unhappy customer. 

Jan 25, 2009 09:50 AM #11
Rainmaker
600,821
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

Thanx for the comment Kathy.  Most brokers know that the house a customer calls on is rarely the one they buy.  I agree that selling listings is good for business.  The issue isn't selling listings, it is communicating with the most customers.

Jan 25, 2009 10:35 AM #12
Rainmaker
87,528
Riel Roussopoulos
RealtyXL Marketing Inc. - Vancouver, BC
Real Estate Marketing Expert

Haeth,

For the record I'm not a programmer, I'm a marketer (granted I have programmers who work for me)

The sites we design like http://liveonmain.com are owned by realtors and are designed to drive traffic to them faster than a site like "bobsomeguy.com" would, mainly because they are geared around the community, not the realtors name.

Our strategies are based on providing real resources to the community and developing an agents name as a trusted and well known source for quality information.

Our ViralListings.com manager allows you to place your listings on another site, but not in the form that gives over control to another site owner.  In fact it's quite the oposite.

Just like you are doing with your "free tool" (which has a link back to your site, so in fact it's not free, you are trading a resource for advertising ) we are giving agents a way to offer value to other site owners (information about real estate) that keeps control in your hands.  They are YOUR listings and typically you are not sharing space with other realtors... You are extending your advertising to include other sites and all the contact requests that are made come directly to you.

It is exactly the same as putting an ad in the paper.  Would you argue that agents should not put their listings for sale into the newspaper to direct traffic back to them?

I fail to see how this differs if you are offering a local blogger the opportunity to display your ads in a way that will benefit him only if it also benefits you.

Our strategy has come from working closely with my business partner, a successful realtor of over 25 years and has served him very well in this difficult time.  As with any sales and marketing process, figuring out a "win/win" relationship has made it easy to grow his business exponencially since we've implemented these tools.

 

 

Jan 28, 2009 04:01 PM #13
Rainmaker
600,821
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

Are your semantics "marketer" vs "programmer" intended to be humorous?  In any case I grinned.

Placing my listings on a site owned by another does two things:  1) It gives them content they can use for their own seo that is competing with my site;  2) It increases the work I have to complete in order to seo my own site above theirs.    Why give another site the content they use to beat my own seo?

By the way, my request for the back link is just that - a request.  The tool is usable without the back-link - and I will modify the instructions accordingly today so that is very clear.  I do not rely on back links from that code for seo.  I am a broker and my main business is listing and selling homes.  REindex has provided free links to listing brokers and agents since 2000 - at my own expense.

Newspaper ads for real estate are disappearing.  Why do you think newspapers are dying?  My brother-in-law sells advertising for a newspaper.  His real estate clients are not only diminishing their ads, they are not paying their bills.  Print ads are no longer the best use of advertising dollars.  No offense intended, but your "failure to see" is because you are a programmer, or as you say - you're in charge of programmers - and not actually in the business of listing and selling real estate.  You are an on-line newspaper - marketer - who needs content.  Your content depends on the others who produce it.  If you don't have other people's listings on your site, what do you offer that will attract people looking for properties?

Your partner has one perspective, as do I.  I'm sure his possible benefit from the ad revenue on your site(s) helps his opinion.  Although, I acknowledge there are more opinions on this than just mine.

If you need a new direction, try making applications that will easily and inexpensively enhance a real estate professionals own web site.  Then you would be marketing your own work product and actually enhancing the sites of professionals.

Best wishes.

Jan 29, 2009 12:29 AM #14
Rainmaker
798,409
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Wow, a heated discussion!  I kinda see both sides to some extent.  Since we are in the business of selling real estate, we need other realtors to help with our sales.  In that same light, I don't want my competitors to use my listings to benefit their websites content and SEO.  We'll have to see where this one goes.

Jan 30, 2009 06:09 PM #15
Rainmaker
87,528
Riel Roussopoulos
RealtyXL Marketing Inc. - Vancouver, BC
Real Estate Marketing Expert

Heath, (and Troy)

I'm not sure how things work where you are, but here in Vancouver agents by and large participate in somehting called Reciprocity.  It's not mandatory, but by and large they almost all participate in it.

The core idea behind it is that any listing can be represented by any agent and they share the commission accordingly.

The benefit is that where you can only represent your listings to your circle of influence, others can expand that circle of influence substancially.

Yes it costs you 25% to 50% of the commission, but if you can sell the house faster and to people that you didn't have influence / access to ... then it benefits you and more importantly your client to get that sale.

Similar to how Affiliate Marketing works online.  I can make much more money by paying out 60% of revenue to 100 affiliates, even though I'm only making 40% of the money that I would have on a sale, I would never have had access to the total number of sales on my own that those 100 affiliates brought in.

I was using the example of papers to illustrate a point that agents regularly advertise their listings in other places besides just on their website, not to say that traditional media are a growing, healthy way to promote your business.  I'm the first person to tell agents not to pursue "traditional media" or "interruption marketing" as I call it, and instead focus on "permission marketing". Developing your list, your reputation in the community and the number of people that follow you online will give you much better return on your investment than a bus shelter ad, or back page of the paper ever will.

On the community websites we don't charge agents to put their lisitngs on our sites, they are as you rightly point out our best source of revenue and content.  Agents ask us regularly to include listings of theirs because their clients are asking them to make sure their listings appear on our local community websites.

We make a marginal amount of money from google ads, but they are at best a supplimental income.

We do use the "featured listing" box on the sidebar to highlight our listings over others, but just as often someone elses listing is there if we don't have one of our own to showcase, again, with no charge to the agent as we WANT clients to find those lisitngs and contact us about them.

Agents are free to list themselve in our business directory absolutely free, and if clients contact them directly, good for them, it's a true representation of the area.  However, if they request more details about a specifc listing in our listings section.... that contact request comes to us and WE become the referral agent who has brought the sale to them.

The focus is on making Rick the community expert on ALL the real estate in the area and it works very well. 

Troy, rather than feeling like it's "competitors using YOUR lisitngs to benefit their website and SEO" I encourage you to think of it as someone who is paying to market your listing for you at no charge to you.

And just like them, rather than simply focusing on the half dozen listings that are "YOUR" listings, put all the real estate that is for sale in your area on your site.  If you don't provide a true resource for someone that is looking for a home, and you are only representing a small handful of the properties in the area, why would they choose to come back to your site over and over again to see "what's new" if nothing is.

It's the same reason most MLS software offers a way for you to "brand" the local search with your header, it's to provide you with tools to market everyones properties, not just your own.  We're just taking that a step further and packaging those listings in what we feel is a more distinctive way that what every one else is doing, redirecting clients to the MLS and looking basically the same as every other agent in the city.

As for your last comment Heath, my direction is doing just fine and I'd like to think that the tools we've created are very cost effective for the value they provide.  Our software / websites are available for anyone who wants to make the investment in building their online profile, Rick is just one client amongst many who use our strategies and software to run their business more effectively.

I encourage you to sign up for a free account and give them a spin.  I'm confident our platform could add a lot of functionality to your REindex site.

Incidentally, your site REindex seems to opperate on a similar principal of "put your classified on my site", so I fail to see why you seem to resist the idea. Unless I'm missing the point, it's exactly what you're doing on that site already.

You can visit XLsuite.com and go through the installation process for a new account.  Choose the "tribeXL" skin and you'll have a community site with all the same features as Rick's site does absolutely free for as long as you'd like to try it out and experiment with it as a subdomain.

Please don't take this as an attack in anyway, I'm really interested in this discussion as it is at the core of the debate of how agents approach their marketing.

Jan 31, 2009 03:13 AM #16
Rainmaker
600,821
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

This is a discussion I have with programmers often.  What you fail to see, is that you are not the only one with your idea.  All of you (programmers) together require our (brokers and agents who actually work in real estate) time to update your pages, require our listings for your content, and maintenance of another site or program that does what our MLS already does only complicating our own efforts to have our personal web site found.  Think of it like this - I have an office.  You want me to have a desk in your office that looks like my office.  And, there are programmers all over the Net that want the same thing from me and every other agent or broker.  But your office makes it harder for people to find my real office, because you compete with me in getting people there.  Your ideathat you'll "send them to my real office for free" is a deception, because you want them in your office first.  Then, after they have looked around your office, maybe they'll come to mine.  I'd rather have them come to mine first.  Why not invent a program that helps them find my office and then after they have looked around my office, maybe they'll go to yours.  Of course, this is not appealing to you for the same reason it is not appealing to me.

In this case, your comment that it is free is not correct.  It costs time, work, and it costs traffic to my site - even though the premise is that your site wil drive more traffic.  How many people looking for my site get distracted by yours and never make it to mine when you grab their attention first?  It can't be measured.

(No offense intended, but your comment about reciprocity re-endorses your lack of knowledge of the real estate business and not only how it is done, but what terms to use.  Of course Iam not well versed in programmer speak conversely.)

You can't make Rick "the community expert".  You can display him as such, and label the text on your site as such, but labels do not a fact make.  And what about other agents that want that labeling for the same town or area? 

Bottom line - I prefer to have my office found.  I prefer not to have other offices screening, filtering, or referring customers who are looking for my site but who end up getting detoured because I allowed my "fake" office to help other offices in their detour efforts.

I'm off to go look at a new listing.

Happy listing and selling!

 

Jan 31, 2009 06:45 AM #17
Rainmaker
87,528
Riel Roussopoulos
RealtyXL Marketing Inc. - Vancouver, BC
Real Estate Marketing Expert

Actually Heath,

You're backing up my point very nicely.

That's the elegant part of ViralListings.com you DON'T have to update sites all over the web.

You simply install an iframe code, similar to a youtube video embed on a page or blog post

And you'll never have to update anything other than your main website again.  You can see this in action right in a blog post on active rain, I don't come update them here, but everytime new listings are added they update on the AR page where I posted the embed code.

Every time you add a listing to your site (which BTW I notice you have listings that are on your site, so obviously you don't just refer people to the MLS for listing searches?) it gets updated on every site that has embeded your Iframe code on it without you having to do a thing.

Besides having more features than typical listing engines, it can track which sites your contact requests are coming from so you can see which sites are performing and which ones aren't.

We've built our web platform so that you can run multiple domains out of one account pannel.  So there are no "fake" offices as you say.  Sites that Rick controls he enters content once, and then chooses which of the domains he wants it to appear on (not just listings but pages, blog posts, directory listings etc...)

For sites that he doesn't control, as stated above, it's an iframe so he doesn't have to lift a finger to keep them up to date.  (another reason other site owners like Buisiness improvement Associations and local community papers love it, as you state they get lots of valueable content that is always up to date.)

As a further time saver, we have built in RETS access, so listings from the areas he concentrates on are automatically loaded onto our sites and ones that are not, it's a simple matter of plugging in the MLS number and tagging it with the site you want it showing on, and the listing imports.  Of course that's specific to Vancouver since we don't have RETS access to every MLS (someday hopefully).

Anyway, I can tell that I'm not going to convince you of the benefits of having your listings show up on other sites, but I just wanted to correct your misconception that you had to update "your fake office" on other sites.

I'll let you have the last word on why this is a bad idea.

 

Feb 01, 2009 04:55 AM #18
Rainer
2,916
Lee Down
OMC Social Media Solutions - Vancouver, BC

Heath

You use the word compete a lot. As a professional coach, I can honestly say that attitude is your number one issue that will completely interfere with your site being found, seen, and your business growing. All your business is about us vs them, being the top dog, and beating out the other guy.

And yet, your business is to serve me - the buyer or seller - and represent my best interests. Somehow, I don't see any of that here in your post.

As a semi-involved tech project manager I have more to say on this subject. And I'm not a programmer either, just been doing business with technology tools aiding me for ... geez I hate dating myself now :p ... 26 years.

I work with people all the time who are trying to start their own business, just like I did 5 years ago with my coaching site. YOu have any idea how many coaches are out there "competing" for attention online?

If you think of search ranking as your measuring stick, and your site as the sole source of keywords and promotion, well you're going to be spending a truckload of money on SEO gigs that get you nowhere. But the SEO guys will love you.

Do you truly understand the Internet? Not business, or the business of real estate. They're less relevant than the vehicle - a website and online "spaces" that are no different than a newspaper or other real estate office.

  • Did you know that your listings can show up on any realtor's site?
  • Did you know that I click on a realtor's idx feed page - a listing link will take me off their site?
  • Did you know the more places you expose these things, the more "eyeballs" get to see it?
  • Did you know that ranking values links back to your site?
  • Do you know how social engagement online increases ranking?

What I'm drawing your attention to with this direction I've chosen in response, is to evaluate what you don't know rather than what you do know and how that translates into what you think you know.

Visit what I've written to bust some chops about search and internet marketers on my own social media consulting site. Educate yourself more on the Internet mechanics and worry less about your fears of loss. Fears of loss with something you don't understand is interfering with your ability to grow yourself, your site, your sales, and your business. These are tough times, and the bigger the heart, the better you'll do.

Wishing you all the best with your endeavours. My best tip for the day: Don't compete, it sets up a loser. Collaborate, work well together, create more win-wins... and don't do it with those who burn.

Cheers, Lee

Feb 01, 2009 05:20 AM #19
Rainmaker
600,821
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

Riel - the last word is - I don't want to update other sites.  Without the content that agents provide, other sites don't have relevance to consumers.  Local professionals provide the best relevant local information.  Thus, consumers are better served by finding true relevant local professionals rather than a referral service.

Lee - WOW.  You are pretty aggressive with the attitude and assumptions.  Chill dude. 

There is no fear of loss.  I am a broker and I have the information that consumers are looking for.  The fear of loss is on the sites that are worried about the growing trend to stop feeding sites content.  If their content ends, they are irrrelevant - not me.

You are correct in that the goal of all good businesses is to serve the consumer.  The question is how best to do that. 

I believe that talking to my office is the best way for a consumer to be served for real estate information in my town.  Maybe I am wrong, but when I personally look for real estate in another town or state, I want to talk to a local pro.  Speaking to the source of the information is best for me. 

And, a web site that is only referring me to the source of the information only delays my getting what I am looking for.  Agents and brokers are the best source of real estate information, so I think their web sites should be easier to find than any referral company web sites are.

The issue isn't competition with other real estate companies, agents, or brokers.  I cooperate with them every day.  There are 50 companies in my small town.  Not all of them are a member of an MLS, and we work with them all.

Search ranking is not the issue, but results from search is an issue (in any search topic).  The more easily consumers can be finding the source of information the better served they are. 

I don't go to a drug store web site to find a doctor.  I don't go to a book store web site to find a lawyer.  I don't go to an office supply store web site to find a business coach.  Yet you almost demand that I go to a non-real estate company web site to find the best local real estate information.

You are certainly entitled to your "experienced" opinion.  But as a consumer myself, I like to get to the source.  When I look to fix a car, or when I want to to learn about wind power, or when I want to read about a political candidate - I want to be at the source of the information and not an interpretation of the information.

My idea is to have the real estate agent web site be the "Snopes" for real estate.  But, maybe I am too inexperienced.  And of course, I have never been a consumer before, so how could I think like one?  I guess I should just be content being referred all over the Internet to different opinion sites that refer me to another place that might have more opinions about the information I actually want.  LOLOLOL.

Real estate is not the only category of Internet search with this problem - but it is one of the most searched topics and thus attracts a lot of attention - even from business coaches.  LOL.  Take the real estate category away and there may be more clarity for you.  And, find a warm beach and catch some rays!  You'll feel much better.

Happy listing and selling!

Feb 02, 2009 01:17 AM #20
Rainer
2,916
Lee Down
OMC Social Media Solutions - Vancouver, BC

Okay, rather than try telling you anything more, let's try a new approach.

You stated

Search ranking is not the issue, but results from search is an issue (in any search topic). The more easily consumers can be finding the source of information the better served they are.

How are the search paths created?

Feb 02, 2009 10:36 AM #22
Rainmaker
600,821
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

Ok, Lee.  How about if we return to topic of the original post, rather than whether I have an understanding of links, content, backlinks, anchor text, html, .asp, .php, flash, xhtml, Web 2.0, virtual assistants, IDX, lead generation, code validation, 301 redirects, cold fusion, web hosting, email, adsense, cuil, bombing, black hat tactics, list generation, webinars, alt tags, meta tags, and the like.  LOL.

The case above is about how one company unintentionally helped create a competitor for both real estate sales and real estate search results.

But to address your path question, there are two thoughts here: 1) place listings at the start of a path  or 2) Keep the listings at the end of a path. 

I am a Texan.  All cattle trails in a pasture lead to water.  Water is not at the beginning of the trail, nor on the trail.  Trails cut through every pasture from all corners and end at a water source.  If the water were at the beginning of the trail, there would be no trail.

Some think that listings should begin a link path.  And others think the reason for a link path is the content at the end of the path.  Some believe that a customer on any site looking at pictures of my listings is as good a business opportunity to me as a customer looking at listings on my own site.  I disagree, and licensees across the country have the same understanding.

Further, the real question that isn't being addressed is "why do programmers need listings on their site?"  The only answer is to get the same search traffic I am also trying to get - or put another way to compete with me for the same searches I want for my local market.  And, I believe that I have enough competition for searches from actual real estate companies, agents, and brokers without adding programmers to that list.  That's all.

Paths all over the Internet that lead to my site will definately help my site.  But I, and more and more brokers also believe, that listings should be the content at the end of the path.

Feb 03, 2009 03:36 AM #24
Rainer
2,916
Lee Down
OMC Social Media Solutions - Vancouver, BC

No one disputes where you want people to be. This is why I speak of paths. I think the industry needs to

  1. look at the facts of how search works and work with it - adapt to it - it always changes to fight against the spam terrorists (term I like) who like hijacking traffic - Google's on it man. If you've been to my site you would read a very well explained article on the subject called Where Search is Going.

  2. look at human behaviour when searching

See that item two? That's the biggie, and the important thing that you forget in the equation. What you feel or think is the way it should be as a Texan who knows cattle trails etc. leading to water is irrelevant. You and I both know animals smell it and they follow the trails there. 

Speaking as if I was any random human searching via Google:

  • Why would I click on any link out there just to go see one site over any other site?
  • What's the fodder?
  • Your good reputation?
  • Should I take your word on that?
  • Over all the other marketers, the shifty, the good, the bad, and the ugly?

You see, not only is my expertise steeped in my history with technology, it is also with the evolution of technology, how it has been received by the general audience, how slow they are to adopt, how slow they are to adapt, how hesitant they are to trust. etc.

Then there are the shifty business people out there - Realtors and Car Salesman included, just like some Internet Marketers we've all been spammed by. You see, there really is no safe corner in an industry that doesn't come without bad apples creating bad experiences for the people we want to trust us.

No matter how much our integrity is intact, our sincerity firm, and our care devoted, when they Google you, me, and the next guy, they aren't reading your words, they're feeling with their guts based upon their experiences. Who they can trust, who they cannot: They smell it... you and I have made assessments this way too.

Much has changed over the years with the Internet. Why would a programmer do this?

Who said he was a programmer? My gut suggests the guy was a marketer, probably a pretty smart one. Maybe he was studying for his license after he decided he didn't want to work in Technology. There are a number of reasons and possibilities, and questions that still come up for me. However, I do not wish to focus on one instance there.

I wish to focus on solutions that get me business and help me leverage the shifting landscape that is the Internet. Your point is made, it still doesn't change the fact that "bait" needs to be out there for the Cattle to Smell in the Air so they can follow the Trail to the Waterhole.

People aren't as simple as animals on a trail though. There's a wide range of them out there. Trust Google to take care of you, I, and the rest. We have to ensure that what we're doing works and keeps working as Google changes to combat the crappers.

I really encourage to read my article. It's very simple and well explained. It isn't just about you, it's about the consumer and that is what I will keep saying.

Tell me what other carrot, other than a listing, would make me click to your site.

Would you be curious to know what I feel (as a consumer) your rationale is for having the listing at the end of the path alone?

 

Feb 03, 2009 11:26 AM #25
Rainmaker
600,821
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

I thought you'd camp on the cattle aspect of the path.  it was too easy.  Aaaaneeeeway...

I am a consumer, too.  I have built my site to do the things you say consumers want.  I did it with my two perspectives - a consumer and a broker.

Trust is key.  When people use my site, they can be assured that the links on each page have been visited by a human already and we have verified that they are actually an agent, broker, or company that works in that town.  Trust-worthy.

Search is not trustable.  Try a search for real estate in any town.  How many pages are in the results?  Now, how many of those sites are actually real estate professionals' sites?  Only a few in each search term/phrase are actually real estate professionals' sites.  Untrustworthy.

People aren't as simple as animals.  Every one searches from a different perspective, so the words/terms/phrases they use are all different.  My site allows them to get more relevant information from the source of the information without picking a "correct" term.  They only need click on the state and town they are interested in.

The carrot?  The links on my site are hand placed, after a human has been to the site.  We even put a (Sound) description in the text so if they are surfing in a private area (like work) they don't disturb people.

Why should/would you click on the links on REindex.com over search results?  You miss the idea that REindex is not a search site.  It is a find site - that is why I trademarked REindex.com, The Site Engine.  Not search - just find.

REindex is a niche web site.  I started it 8 years ago so I could use it to look at the sites of the companies in my town (Falmouth MA) without bookmarking them all.  It grew to a national site because I thought other people (brokers and comnsumers) would like to do the same thing.  I now use it myself to research my own interests in other states, because I don't have to spend so much time finding relevant sites with search.  I provide links to the other listing agents as a service to them and to consumers, because both consumers and professionals are trying to find each other faster and with more relevance. (You can watch my 2 minute youtube for a humorous explanation.)

You write that "Everything on the Internet continues to evolve and change to feed the consumer demand for a better experience."  I think REindex does for real estate professionals and consumers what G and all the others are trying to do with computers and local searches.

Maybe I'm stupid.  I need a programmer like you to help me build it more efficiently, but the programmers I have "met" are so focused on search and putting listings at the beginning of the path that they lose track of building a better experience.  They are focused the current experience and on optimizing for the latest algorythm change.  They can't see beyond keywords, title tags, domain names, and alt tags, etc.  REindex doesn't pay attention to optimization.  Instead it is focused on relevance.

Your "real change is coming to search and its focus will be upon the user experience" comment reiterates the ideas that started REindex almost 9 years ago in March.  I am not at odds with search as you may understand me.  Search is.  But I am focused more, and mostly, on find.  Helping consumers find more relevance, faster, and easier.  Helping the relevant real professionals be found faster and easier.

Happy listing and selling!

 

Feb 04, 2009 03:27 AM #26
Rainer
2,916
Lee Down
OMC Social Media Solutions - Vancouver, BC

Hi Heath,

It's been a busy week.

Search is not trustable. ??  This dubious statement creates much confusion for me. How can you possibly suggest search is not trustable? It's a search request and the words I choose are the influencing factors, along with where I live, and what my search habits have been.

I can do a search on real estate here in Vancouver and find oodles of sites with real estate related information, yes. You're implying in many cases that it is a tech company or some other non-real-estate person posting them intentionally, without permission, without collaboration with a Realtor. I can't see this reality as you pose it.

Your carrot (as I see it) is something you feel, something you've done with intention, and you believe that by doing so that anyone surfing the net will know this. Well, maybe they will, and maybe they won't. I won't make an assumption as to how others might decide to view your site over another site, though myself, I didn't have the same response to what I saw with your sites that you have expressed throughout this post. In fact, my impression is more the opposite I'm afraid. Nothing personal, just framed around my experiences and expectations of what I think I should be seeing on any business professional sites.

Search is changing - it always has and always will. Your understanding - or lack of - regarding technology in general - a statement made in simple light of the fact that you think it all boils down to a "programmer" - indicates that you could use some guidance around these subjects. Programmers are often not the ones that take the actions you've suggested throughout this thread. The people that do, are most often savvy business people who can afford to hire technical help to implement their ideas.

So if a savvy business person sees a gap and a hole they want to fill, then why can't someone who is a professional in real estate?

I've looked at Riel's business model, sites, and clients by the way - search wasn't so unreliable in helping me there. What I found is a deep connection of websites that promote realtors in a strategic way using the advancements of technology today. Very interesting by the way Riel, if you're still following the thread.

More than anything else Heath, this is what I have to urge you to shift yourself with: If not you, then who?

As I observed, I saw a specific realtor jumped on that bandwagon early on and has enjoyed more than a 30% increase in business. I think this supports the adage that we can fight fire with fire - that the technology is there - that search does change - that software and publishing systems online can simplify your website updates, and even going so far as to say that the update in one place, can update 30 other website pages. The cool things that technology does in the right hands.

Rather than fight it - why not become the right hands? If not you, then who?

Cheers, Lee

Feb 07, 2009 05:15 AM #27
Rainmaker
600,821
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

I will refer you to a recent article produced by another programmer to push their latest web invention.  "Study Finds Most Online Home Seekers Searching Through Incomplete and Inaccurate Listings."  I didn't invent the idea that search is not as trustable/useable/useful/relative/beneficial to consumers as it could be.  This is a discussion going on in many, many places (and more often without the personal attacking).

The information in the article, about the flaws of real estate search, is interesting, although this is an article that is basically an ad for their new service. 

So can consumers find actual real estate agent web sites?    Some. 

With REindex.com, The Site Engine® I am doing my part as a fellow broker to provide a place where  agent web sites can be found faster, easier, and without optimization.

Less than 1/2 of all licensees in the US are in ANY MLS.  Many areas of the country have no MLS.

So how do consumers find more property?  Find agent/broker sites. 

Are they (agents/brokers) all able to get their own sites to the top of search for the convenience of consumers?    Nope, because they often do their own programming.

REindex.com, The Site Engine® links to actual agent sites.  Where THEIR personal listings are located.    Without optimizing.   Regardless of their programming skill.

Find more.  Find more faster.  MLS and NON-MLS listings.  REindex.com, The Site Engine®.   Simple.

Good for the consumer.  Good for the agent/broker.    Find.

By the way, you can chill out a little.  There are plenty of agents and brokers that are going to use services like your's.  REindex.com, The Site Engine® is not going to replace your seo, social media services, and we will never approach your technical knowledge.  We just list and sell real estate.

Happy listing and selling!

Feb 09, 2009 12:53 AM #28
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Rainmaker
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Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker

Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA
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