Years ago, when consumers searched for keywords like City Name + Real Estate, an actual real estate broker would appear in the search results. Those days are long gone for most cities in America. Unless a broker has invested richly in the goal to appear on page one, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and Homes.com dominate.
With the advent of mobile search and the consumer awareness of long tail search, the goal of SEO strategies by portals expanded to include property address. Again, four or five years ago, if you searched for a property by address, and that property was for sale, you would normally see a variety of broker websites with property detail pages appear in search. Today, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and Homes.com dominate the long tail SEO for property address search in most markets. Brokers align themselves with the portals in various ways, including premium advertising products to redirect that consumer back to the brokerage.
When you look at the traffic to broker websites today – and how consumers use them – beyond property search, the most popular area of the website is the agent directory and agent detail pages. Property pages dominate, but the agent pages are a clear second place. From there, any other content on the site, including blog content, is less material.
Brokers are about to lose the search battle for agent name, and soon, broker name.
In 2013, WAV Group detected an interesting trend emerging. The efforts in 2011 and 2012 by portals to get agents to complete their profiles on portal sites began to pay off. The agent detail pages for portals began to appear on the first page of Google search for agent name. Google a few of your agent names and you will see what I am referring to. No doubt, if an agent wants to enhance their leads on their own listing, they absolutely must complete their agent profile page on portal websites. The ridiculous trade-off (conundrum) is that completing the agent profile serves the portal’s goal of enhancing their ability to drive more traffic to their site rather than the agent or broker website from search engines.
In 2014, brokers should budget to begin buying advertising products from portals that are not property centric – but agent or broker profile centric. Based upon recent developments with Realtor.com, I doubt that they will have the stomach to productize this, but I would expect others to take a stab at it. In many ways, Zillow is out front on this effort with their products that include Buyer’s Agent List, Branding in Your Area, Your Photo on Listings, and Premier Agent Websites. There is an agent testimonials page that speaks to the effectiveness of this program: http://www.zillow.com/advertising/Testimonials.htm
In my opinion, the discussion about agent ratings is a really a discussion about the content on the agent detail pages that will allow portals to outperform broker websites at producing content that is engaging to the consumer and differentiated from the poorly curated agent information on broker and franchise websites today.