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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.

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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.

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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Business Marketing

Unpopular opinion: Coworkers are not your ‘family’

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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family coworkers

The season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls. I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

UI/UX design trends in 2020 for maximum user friendliness

(BUSINESS NEWS) 2020 brings back classic UI and UX themes centered on beautiful visuals, rich written content, and authentic presentation. These are the trends to know.

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UI/UX design trends for 2020

User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) protocol have shifted so much in the last few years that it can be daunting to try to keep up with what’s hip and what’s…well, not. Fortunately, Shakuro has compiled a list of trends to guide you through 2020. Here are our thoughts on design trends you can expect to see (and use) this year.

Content
When creating content this year, make sure it emphasizes the meaning behind your work rather than simply focusing on SEO. Too often, the meaning behind our words becomes more about selling a product or service and less about the product itself.

Other areas to focus on vis-à-vis content development include dynamic presentations for variable audiences, visual representations of data (charts, tables, and infographics easily check this box), and mobile-friendly UX and UI—something which should be at the forefront of your mind at all times.
Finally, Shakuro suggests taking 2020 to establish your own organic, opinionated content. Reposts and testimonials are fine in moderation, but the core of your page should belong to you.

Visuals
Desirable website visual trends are somewhat contradictory, but as long as you stick to the core premise—keeping your website organic and appropriate to your brand—you should be fine.

2020 sees the return of asymmetrical design trends; for example, you might have a logo on your landing page that takes up a third of the left side of the page. However, another trend anticipated by Shakuro is the use of negative space to emphasize an image—or, if you aren’t confused enough, an image that takes up the full screen with a focal point in the middle. A/B testing with different designs will be your friend this year.

Animation, high-definition renders of images, and a profound focus on aesthetically pleasing images (especially illustration) is something else you’ll want to incorporate into your design. One tip that holds true for all is that the integration of design and development from the bottom up; doing this will help streamline your process going forward.

Colors
Unlike in prior years, color schemes are largely unchanged; you’ll want to ensure that any changes you make evoke a subtle, soft quality, and some services (e.g., Shakuro) suggest incorporating natural colors as opposed to bright or bold ones. Aside from these two minor updates, keep doing what you’re doing—as long as your selected palette isn’t so dissonant that it causes stress, you’re probably safe. Just so you know Pantones color of the year for 2020 is classic blue.

Text
More than anything, your text should be written to be read by humans—not search engines. This is a common trend this year; you’ll notice that many of the items on this list are more geared toward making the human experience pleasant and noteworthy rather than simply “good enough.” This philosophy also carries over to your text design, which should communicate your brand via visual. In short, don’t use Comic Sans if you want to convey professionalism.

Another couple of minor text changes to make involve moving text overlays and combining text with visuals (e.g., videos or high-definition photos). These themes aren’t new to UX and UI by any means, but they were overplayed for a few years; luckily, it looks like they’re coming back into favor.

Experience
Perhaps the most difficult—and important—aspect of your website is the user experience. This is a good time to remind yourself to check on your mobile experience as well; often, a user’s mobile experience will determine whether or not they return to your page.

An easy way to stand out to your audience is by customizing your navigation options to fit your visual theme rather than using a default navigation setup. This can be tricky, however: you don’t want to create a site that’s unique to the point of being gimmicky—and, thus, difficult to navigate.

And, if you’re looking for an easy way to lower your audience’s blood pressure, designing a UX that requires fewer refreshes, page clicks, and redirects is a sure way to do so.

2020 may not be the flashiest year in terms of web development, but what these trends lack in star power they make up for in subtlety and depth of meaning. Don’t miss out on what could be the most content-rich year for your website!

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Business Marketing

Hiring Managers keep you on your toes, so you should step up

(BUSINESS MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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hiring managers interview

In an increasingly competitive job market, how do you make sure that your application doesn’t get buried in a pile of paper? How do you stand out from the pack?

According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6 percent of them – that’s less than one third. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.

Most notably, the survey found that a over 63 percent of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2 percent saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.

Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resume over and over until they got a response. One or two follow up emails after your initial application isn’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.

While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by brining them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.

Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.

It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9 percent of applicants who said they are risked an unusual strategy, 67.7 percent of those actually landed the job.

Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?

Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resume, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.

In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.
It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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