Play ButtonWAV Group just completed providing our broker clients with a review of their Google Analytics for September. Something rather remarkable happened this month that has confirmed a strategy that we have long suspected, but have not had enough data to confirm. Virtual Tour Videos Drive More Traffic Than Listing Syndication on Broker Websites.

Quite a number of WAV Group broker clients have been publishing automated virtual tours to YouTube for a few years now. They are using vendors like Property Panorama, RealBiz, Virtual Tour Café, Imprev, VHT or some other solution. We do not endorse any product over another but encourage brokers to chose a vendor based on product design, customer service, and cost. The product that tickles one broker and not another is a space that I do not fully understand. They all work as far as we are concerned. Customer service and cost are our key considerations.

Through August of this year, brokers who have been publishing all of their listings to YouTube have seen that traffic volume grows to 5th or 6th in their overall ranking of traffic-by-traffic-source.  For most brokers – Direct or None is the top referrer. This means that Google Analytics could not track the referring website or the user typed in the domain name – ie Also at the top is Google. The Google Search result is important for two reasons. First, more consumers use Google than any other search engine. Second, Google displays YouTube results in the search results above the fold. Meaning that the video gets great SEO – usually better than the broker’s listing detail page. This is the driving force behind the strategy of publishing virtual tours on every company listing. A small handful of brokers are creating virtual tours on every IDX listing – but I am not sure that is IDX compliant – so I would not endorse that without discussing it with the MLS first. Some say its ok, others say its not. There is no clear rule.

Below Google and Direct traffic come the other search engines. Bing has passed Yahoo in most markets. For some reason, AOL is very popular in the eastern United States. As we have noted before, Bing and Yahoo traffic have more value. The time on site and page views per visit is higher for those search engines – generating more leads and indicating that PPC campaigns may be better investments. Some of our broker clients are using Cerulean or Adwerx for buys on these networks and having pretty good results.

Social media Facebook is falling right in behind Search Engines at driving traffic to broker websites. The strikethrough was for effect. Facebook is the only social media site that plays any significant role in driving traffic. They have won the social media war, and I would expect that their investment in Instagram will pay future dividends as soon as they figure out how to drive referrals to advertisers. Twitter is almost dead with one exception – a broker who has a chief economist that tweets a lot. Pinterest continues to do well, but the audience is small and does not seem to be growing at any significant pace. Note to brokers – lean into Facebook and don’t sweat the rest.

Next up is syndication.  The overall numbers for traffic generation from syndication websites continues to decline despite traffic to the top sites of Zillow, Trulia, and Homes continuing to increase. This trend keeps growing as the portals are destination websites. Consumers are finding fewer and fewer reasons to click though to the broker website. As a note, Homefinder delivers good results when they are the search provider on the local city newspaper website. Overall – the complete volume of traffic from listing syndication normalizes at about 10% of overall traffic. Some WAV Group clients do not syndicate at all. Others enhance on some or all of those sites. Others just send the data and hope for the best. Not syndicating at all or enhancing on each site are the two most successful strategies. Sending data without enhancing delivers negligible results.

If you want to see more detailed analysis – please download some of the following free reports

2013 WAV Group Broker Website Effectiveness study.

2014 WAV Group Broker Technology Adoption and Satisfaction Study

2014 WAV Group Broker Road Map to Listing Syndication