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Why real estate agents rarely rank highly in search engine results

As the listing syndication debate remains contentious, brokers are battling for consumer eyeballs. A new study reveals that it is a major challenge for real estate agents to be found in search engine results.

listing syndication

listing syndication

Realtors and search engine results

The long running real estate listing syndication debate has been heated and resulted in brokers across America evaluating the final destination(s) for their company’s listings. It has been contentious for many reasons, but the underlying reason the industry remains in upheaval is search engine rankings, leaving real estate professionals to analyze whether syndicators are helpful or hurtful when it comes to connecting with consumers.

After reviewing results, brokers are coming to different conclusions to this same question, which is why Real Geeks IDX Provider studied the current state of real estate SERPS (search engine result pages) to examine how a real estate professional’s listing is showing up in search engines and why so that brokers can make more informed decisions.

In the first part of Real Geeks’ series on the topic, they point out that when consumers search for terms like “Tampa Real Estate,” it is no longer likely that an individual agent or even brokerage is at the top of the search engine results in the first, second, or third page, rather the results are dominated by large syndicators or national brands.

This is the very reason that some brokers have opted out of syndicating, as they don’t seek to help syndicators to outrank them individually, while others continue to syndicate as they continue to garner most of their business through the large sites.

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Current state of real estate SERPS

When Real Geeks did a search with “[city] real estate” (while logged out of Google, of course) with the top 50 metro areas by population, they logged the first three pages of Google results. Of the 1691 individuals collected from the first three pages of the top 50 metros, 30 percent of page one listings were local sites, 8.0 percent of which were Google Plus pages.

Fully 58 percent of page one listings were traditional organic pages rather than paid listings or ads, 47 percent of which were root pages (homepages), and 53 percent of which were interior pages (not homepages). Further, 5.0 percent of all page one results were for news organizations.

Real Geeks offers that this is a challenge for individual real estate professionals, because when you consider the number of independent agents in a given city, of the three local listings on page one (results that are not syndicators, big brands, or news), the odds are stacked against a single agent making the cut to be one of those three on page one.

Graphic depicting full study results:
real estate SERPs

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    December 6, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Looking forward to more in this series.  Our own success has been more closely linked to focusing on the long tail than attacking the #1 keywards.
     
    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    • 904living

      December 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      @Joe Loomer I need some tips from you…  I do okay in the city/area level searches but would like to be generating more organic traffic from neighborhood and street address searches…

      • Joe Loomer

        December 10, 2012 at 10:36 am

        @904living  @Joe Loomer drop me a line at jloomer@kw.com and I’ll send you some info!  Thanks! 
         
        Navy Chief, Navy Pride

        • thejorygroup

          December 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm

          @Joe Loomer  Joe, would you mind sharing your info ,re: organic traffic?  
          Thanks in advance…..Jory Blake, jory@joryblake.com

  2. MattThomson

    December 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Will you be continuing their series or should we be following their page from here out?

  3. MTrewe

    December 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    We’ll be continuing the series @MattThomson . As for visiting them, go for it 🙂

  4. AgentGenius

    December 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Real Geeks did a great job 🙂

  5. drewmeyers

    December 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I really don’t believe syndication has much at all to do with brokers/agents getting outranked.

    • bobwilson

      December 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      @drewmeyers I dont think anyone said that.

    • maloney75

      December 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

      @drewmeyers Maybe not for the City real estate terms but it DEFINITELY does for all the long tail search results.

    • bdmanson

      December 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      @drewmeyers One of the ranking factors is content. The big portals are using the brokers/agents listings as a big part of their content. The brokers/agents have empowered them by letting them use their (content) listings plus are unknowingly building their authority to help them outrank for their own content.. The brokers that are pulling out are probably sick of empowering the portals so they can sell them traffic back to their sites… That’s something to think about..
       
      The next series will cover in more detail how the brokers/agents are helping the portals like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com outrank them… Stay tuned 🙂

  6. maloney75

    December 7, 2012 at 10:30 am

    @drewmeyers  Syndication may not affect brokers/agents being outranked for the [city] real estate terms but it definitely affects the serps for all the long tail stuff.

  7. TobyBarnett

    December 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I bet many have fallen to the syndicator’s suggestion of “let me help you ad our badge to your website” that conveniently includes a link back to the “city real estate” page of the syndicator. Also, the big money in which large syndicators have over the local broker is largely unrivaled. Individual brokers don’t have an in-house SEO department or the skill level to implement current and emerging SEO techniques. Why? Most brokers are doing what they know; selling homes.

    • drewmeyers

      December 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      @TobyBarnett You mean most agents are selling homes. Brokers are recruiting agents 😉

      • TobyBarnett

        December 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm

        @drewmeyers  Nope, in Washington State real estate agents are now referred to as brokers, associate brokers are now managing brokers with every firm still retaining a designated broker. Real estate brokerages recruit brokers. Technicalities 😛

  8. RobertaMurphy

    December 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Have wondered if SERP battle is with ZTR, Google–or our own lack of foresight?  Mostly the latter, I would guess. Kudos to RealGeeks for interesting infographic; looking forward to more.

  9. AndyPiper

    December 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Big players have gained and small players have lost ground with recent Google algorithm changes.

  10. AnitaKoppens

    December 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Top competition keywords are good but long tail still means targeted and more serious buyers. I know lots of consumers will still click on the 1st result for head keywords but the user experience on many of the portals leave something to be desired. I haven’t seen any of our more authoritative sites suffer profoundly despite Penguin and Panda so there is still a lot of opportunity out there.

  11. thejorygroup

    December 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Either way, this is great information for local agents hoping to promote their online presence / lead capture abilities. Since efficiency is part of our program, knowing where to focus our efforts helps avoid wasted personnel hours.
     
    Jory Blake
    Riverside,CA Home Sales

  12. bdmanson

    December 17, 2012 at 1:14 am

    The 2nd infographic should be posted here on Monday… Stay tuned and get ready to spread the word. The more agents that become aware of how they are unknowingly helping the competitors (Z,T & R) out rank them the better.

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